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The Advent of Hope

November 28, 2021 Speaker: Chris Jessee Series: Advent 2021

Topic: Sunday Sermons Passage: Hebrews 10:19–10:23

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” - Hebrews 10:19–25

 

What do you want for Christmas?

I mean beyond the list, beyond the ‘things’, ‘food’ or ‘trappings of the season’. I’m asking this: what do you want to get out of the season for yourself?

Seems selfish to ask this, doesn’t it? I mean, we all know: “It’s better to give than receive” - there’s joy in giving, fun to see the lights in the eyes of a child, enjoyment from seeing someone get the thing they asked for and knowing you helped make that happen!

(uh-oh, seems like we might be trying to get something, sometimes even when we’re giving something…)

We all want something out of this season… what might that be for you?

ILLUS: For myself, I know I’ve shared this with you all before, I want ‘world peace’ - when my kids ask for my gifts list I simply say that… then tell them I don’t need anything from them other than that! As a family, we’ve become more experience-over-things when it comes to gift giving.

Make no mistake, there are stockings filled on Christmas morning and gifts under the tree but our primary efforts, the main thing we think through as a family is one gift that is our ‘experience gift’ for the year.

It’s fun to plan -but- it comes with expectations to be sure!

We expect to have time together, we expect it to be fun, we expect memories to be made… these expectations aren’t bad in-and-of-themselves. But they turn when they take over the day together, when what is ruling my heart begins to try to rule our time… perhaps you’ve seen this in yourself or experienced this with others.

I’ve been helped by authors like David Powlison and Tim Keller (many others do the same) in boiling down some of our longings in these 4 categories:

  1. Power: Influence or Recognition
  2. Control: Everything going according to MY plan
  3. Comfort: Pleasure and Ease
  4. Approval: Acceptance and being Desired1

Scripture calls these things ‘idols’ when they take over our thoughts, longings or actions/words toward others. You may think, WHOA! What a way to start Christmas - talking about IDOLS - yeah, we need to… here’s why: they can take over so easily.

More than just talking about idols, I want us to better understand that we have a hope that will see us through eternity. The kind of hope that we’re talking about today doesn’t change, there’s no backup plans, it doesn’t waver when things don’t go according to plan, when life feels like it’s at its best -or- worst. It is a hope that is secured by something precious and costly - and it will NEVER FAIL. That sounds like a hope I would want, I think you do as well...

[19] “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh…”

Through his flesh - EMMANUEL! (God with us…)

ADVENT meaning: ARRIVAL - we’re talking about the 1st Advent, the 1st ARRIVAL -or, coming- of EMMANUEL (that is, God with Us - now, and throughout eternity).

But we’re looking forward to his 2nd arrival as well- that’s why I appreciate that our devotional this year starts out with eternity in mind. Eternal Hope is what we’re really talking about today…

By the Blood of Jesus - the work which he alone could accomplish. Our sin required a price to be paid… one that we could never ourselves pay… Jesus paid that blood price for us

‘Look! God has shown up to put things right. In becoming man, the Lord of all has taken the wheel of this world, switched on the GPS, and pressed ‘Home’!’ - Glen Scrivener2

We are invited to Know & Worship God

[22] “...let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”

We are invited to draw near. Not shrink back
Hearts that are informed by the work of Jesus, that it alone is enough to allow us to come into the Presence of a Holy God
Faith, that is receiving the gift of salvation through believing in Christ’s work
Conscience cleared by the blood of this perfect, spotless lamb
Baptized with pure water, an outward sign of inward change and radical, eternal transformation

This gives us confidence to know that...

Jesus is the deliverer from idols that cannot deliver.
Giving us hope in the one who can see his work through.

We have a HOPE that preserves us, so we can persevere

[23] “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”

Hope is foundational in our lives - it’s why we’ve started there in this season, as the foundation for what we’ll consider in the weeks ahead: Peace, Love & Joy!

But, do we really understand what ‘hope’ is according to scripture? Let alone, how it is that we might receive it as a gift in this season of life?!

HOPE: A desire of some good, accompanied with at least a slight expectation of obtaining it, or a belief that it is obtainable.

Hope differs from wish and desire in this, that it implies some expectation of obtaining the good desired, or the possibility of possessing it. Hope therefore always gives pleasure or joy; whereas wish and desire may produce or be accompanied with pain and anxiety.3

Hope is a repeated theme in Hebrews. 5 uses…

  • Hebrews 3:6 - but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house --whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
  • Hebrews 6:11 - And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,
  • Hebrews 6:18 - so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us.
  • Hebrews 7:19 - (for the Law made nothing perfect ), and on the other hand there is a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
  • Hebrews 10:23 (our passage today) - Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful;
  • “O Holy Night”
    • A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices…
      • Placide Cappeau 1843 (French Poet)
      • Adolphe Adam 1847 (composer & music critic)
      • John Sullivan Dwight 1855 (minister & america’s first influential music critic)
    • A version of this song over the years translated this line: “A thrill of hope, the weary SOUL rejoices…:
      • I think I like this way even better!

You see, hope can only be ‘thrilling’ when it is ‘secure’

“Hope is for the soul what breathing is for the living organism.” - Gabriel Marcel

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life

Romans 5:5
and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Eternally:
expectation of evil, fear
expectation of good, hope

We can love in a practical way because of the love we’ve experienced in Christ

[24] “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

We’ll examine the subject of Love a bit more in a few weeks (12.12) but for today, let’s take a look at how what we HOPE in serves as a foundation for how we express that in our lives - through love.

Because of our hope, in community with one another, we can stir one another up - let’s be clear, this isn’t ‘whipping each other into an optimistic frenzy’ or anything like that - we stir one another out of our circumstances, our mindset, our outlook to the perspective we should have of our current circumstances, mindset or outlook in light of an Eternal Hope.

We also urge, cheer and set each other up for success in good works. Restorative work, work that builds each other up, gives courage - but why do we do this?

Because, as amazing as it is to consider, our passage today reminds us that…

Jesus is the deliverer from idols that cannot deliver.
Giving us hope in the one who can see his work through.

Closing Considerations

How should I respond if I’ve been putting my hope in things like: Power, Control, Comfort or Approval - it’s very simple: Repent.

But, how do we repent of what is going on beneath the surface, driving us to do the things that we do?

How do we keep ourselves from idols?

Well, we do so as the apostle John instructed (I John 5:21)

1 John 5:21 - Little children, keep yourselves from idols.

(some translations - children, don’t let other things “take God’s place in your hearts.”)

“The best way to overcome the world is not with morality or self-discipline. Christians overcome the world by seeing the beauty and excellence of Christ. They overcome the world by seeing something more attractive than the world: Christ.” - Thomas Chalmers, Sermon: The Expulsive Power of a New Affection

If we see one of these idols: Power, Control, Comfort or Approval as taking over our hearts - taking the place that God should have in what drives us - a right response today would be repentance…

Repentance is a turning from sin, and—along with faith—is a foundational part of Christian conversion.

Repentance is a key component of our initial turning from sin to Christ, but is also a necessary part of the ongoing Christian life.

Biblically, sorrow for sin is associated with repentance, and it is understandable that repentance is at times accompanied by a deep and heartfelt emotion, repentance is not necessarily tied to a certain type or kind of emotion.

We don’t repent of idolatry by looking in the mirror and declaring we can overcome it in our own energy, might, or goodness.

We repent by remembering the Great God who is above all gods - the one who sent his son for our redemption, who calls and draws us into his presence, who empowers us for the good works of restoring his creation to its original intent.

This means we can repent of our longing for:

  • Power - by submitting to His greater power within me
    • “And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit,” - Ephesians 5:18
  • Control - by surrendering to His ultimate control
    • “I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” - Ecclesiastes 3:12–14
  • Comfort - by remembering He is the greater comfort
    • “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” - 2 Corinthians 1:3–4
  • Approval - by rejoicing in His gracious approval
    • “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, ‘Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree’” - Galatians 3:13

His power is greater.
His control is perfect.
His comfort is satisfying.
His approval is eternal.
There is no god like our God.

Communion

Jesus provides a way for us to not only look to him as the God above all other gods, the only one who would willingly lay down his life to save people.

Communion allows us to remember His completed work - as I just said; not my energy, might or goodness.

He alone provides the right standing that I need before God to be able to enter in.

Invitation to participate by placing your full faith in him…

Closing Song

Benediction

Jesus is the deliverer from idols that cannot deliver.
Giving us hope in the one who can see his work through.
Consider these eternal words of blessing over you as an expression of acceptance by God through Jesus Christ!

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. - Numbers 6:24–26

And may God bless you this week, as you live for his glory, alone!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endnotes
1. https://ericgeiger.com/2013/10/four-root-idols/ - a helpful summary of the concepts captured in Keller’s book: Counterfeit Gods
2. https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/glory-to-god-lowest/
3. http://www.webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/hope

More in Advent 2021

December 19, 2021

The Advent of Joy

December 12, 2021

The Advent of Love

December 5, 2021

The Advent of Peace