“The Day Is Drawing Near: Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

Twenty-fifth Sunday after Pentecost
November 14, 2021

“The Day Is Drawing Near: Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up” (Hebrews 10:11-25)

“The day is surely drawing near,” we just sang. And our reading from Hebrews 10 closes with similar words: “as you see the Day drawing near.” What day is that? Let’s find out. And let’s consider what the implications are for us as we see that day approaching. Our text will tell us: “The Day Is Drawing Near: Let Us Draw Near, Hold Fast, and Stir Up.”

The day is drawing near. The day of Christ’s appearing, his “parousia.” The day of Christ’s return, his second coming. That will be the Last Day, Judgment Day, when our Lord Jesus Christ “will come again with glory to judge both the living and the dead.” On that day all humanity will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, and he will separate the sheep from the goats, the righteous from the wicked. The righteous will enter into eternal life; the wicked will go away into eternal punishment. That day is drawing near. On that day, God’s people will be delivered. There will be a general resurrection of the dead. Some shall awaken to everlasting life, but others to shame and everlasting contempt. That’s the day being spoken of in Hebrews, where it says, “as you see the Day drawing near.”

That day is coming, be assured of that. It may seem like it’s a long time coming, but it will come. God’s Word leaves no doubt about it. It will be a day of wrath for this evil world. Judgment will come on this world. We see the signs all around us: disasters, wars and rumors of wars, political and economic turmoil, religious deception, the persecution of Christians, a decline in morals, our culture now calling good evil and evil good. This world is falling apart. It’s coming apart at the seams. How much longer till God lowers the boom one last time? We don’t know. No one knows the day or hour. God has more people he wants to hear the gospel and believe in Christ before that day. But it is drawing near.

Judgment and wrath will come on this world on the day of Christ’s return. Will you be able to stand in that day? It will not be because you’re such a good person. It will not be because of your inner goodness or outward good works. Nor will it be because God is an old softie who sweeps sin under the rug and winks at bad behavior. No, Judgment Day will not be like that. God’s justice demands more. Where will you flee? Where can you turn? How will you stand? Look to Christ, trust in him. He is your only hope. Only Jesus, the Savior of the world, can save you on that day.

Christ won your salvation by taking away your sins. Hebrews puts it in terms of a priest making a sacrifice. The priests of Old Testament Israel made many sacrifices, the same ones over and over again. Those sacrifices could never fully or finally take away sins. But then Christ came, the one those priests and sacrifices were pointing ahead to. Jesus is our great high priest. He made the perfect and final sacrifice, the one that really does take away sins. Hebrews says that Christ “offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins”: “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.”

Friends, this is how you will be able to stand in the day of judgment: Christ made the perfect sacrifice on your behalf! It’s nothing you did. He did it for you! Jesus, our great high priest, made the once-and-for-all sacrifice for sins when he offered himself into death, shedding his holy blood for you on the cross. “Himself the victim and Himself the priest.” Christ the Lamb of God takes away the sin of world. Only God could save you, and he has in Christ. Trust in him, as you see the day approaching. In him you have forgiveness, in him you have hope, according to God’s promise: “I will remember their sins and their lawless deeds no more.” The day is drawing near, and we will stand secure on that day. Jesus our great high priest made the perfect sacrifice and won forgiveness for our sins.

The day is drawing near. What are the implications of this for us? Our text gives us three things to do: Draw near, hold fast, and stir up. First, draw near. Hebrews says this, again using the language of priest and tabernacle: “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.”

“Let us draw near.” Christ has opened the way for us. Now we have confidence to draw near the holy presence of God. Our confidence is in Christ. He ushers us in to the throne of grace. This gives us the confidence and boldness we need to draw near. “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.” This is the way of repentance and faith. This is the way of Baptism, of Confession and Absolution. “Let us draw near with a true heart.” You heard that today at the start of the service, when we were invited to confess our sins to God our Father. And God is faithful; he does forgive us for the sake of his Son. Does your conscience accuse you? Do your sins weigh you down? Then draw near to God. He will cleanse your conscience and purify your heart.

The day is drawing near, so let us draw near. Confessing our sins, receiving God’s forgiveness, hearts cleansed and our bodies washed, now we are ready to speak aloud the hope that fills us. We confess our faith to one another and for all the world to hear. Our text says: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.” So first, let us draw near to God. And second, let us hold fast our confession. The faith we confess we will hold fast, even when the world mocks our faith. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope. Our hope is the sure hope of everlasting life, as sure as Christ’s own resurrection. Our faith is rooted in the faithfulness of God. His promises are sure. The Lord God remembers his promises. And all his promises are “yes and amen” in Christ. So let us draw near to God, and let us hold fast our confession.

And let us stir up one another to love and good works. That’s the third exhortation given here to us Christians, as we see the day drawing near: “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.”

You are not an isolated individual, trying to live the Christian life on your own. No, you are part of a community, the church, God’s own family. We meet together and encourage one another and stir one another up to a life of love and good works. You don’t do that on your own. You need your fellow Christians, and they need you. The church is God’s plan. There is no Plan B. There is no such thing as, “I believe in God, so I don’t need to go to church.” That is absurd. It’s ridiculous. We were made for each other. That’s how God made us as Christians. We are meant for community, brought together by God to be his people in the world, in this family, in this community called the church.

“Not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some,” our text says. Even back in the first century, apparently, they had a problem with some Christians not going to church. Missing church is a bad thing. How can we “stir up one another to love and good works” if we’re not there? How can we receive the encouragement we need? How can we stir up if we don’t even show up? Answer: We can’t. It is discouraging and demoralizing to our brothers and sisters when we don’t show up. They see an empty space where your body ought to be. Or to put it positively, it is encouraging, it lifts our spirits, it builds up the body of Christ, when we do show up and we all meet together. Your very presence in the pew is encouraging to your brothers and sisters. Your voice, added to the voices singing the hymns and speaking the Creed–the very sound of your voice is an encouragement to others. We need one another in this family of God called the church. Every church member’s physical presence every Sunday is more important than people realize.

We help one another in this family, the church. When you or I find out the needs of a sister or brother, then we can help that person in practical ways. This can only happen when we show up and meet together and get to know one another. “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.”

The day is drawing near, the day of Christ’s returning. Therefore, let us draw near to God, in full assurance of faith, through the way opened for us by our great high priest, Jesus Christ. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope, bold to speak our hope in Christ. And let us stir up one another to love and good works, continuing to meet together, which in itself is a great encouragement. Because of what God has done for us in Christ, let us draw near to God, let us hold fast our confession, and let us stir up one another to love.

The day is surely drawing near. For us Christians, that day will be a day of great rejoicing. Our Lord and Savior will return and take us home to live with him forever. As we see that day drawing near, let us this day ourselves draw near, near to God and near to one another.

Published in: on November 13, 2021 at 6:51 pm  Comments (1)  
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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Thank you for this. What a wonderful sermon. I thank you for printing this for me to read as I missed church Sunday.


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