Dear Radio Friends,
Another year gone and another beginning. Another year closer to the coming of Jesus Christ. But Christ has not yet come.
As we look ahead to yet another year of time, how anxious are you for that return of our Lord? The year of our Lord 2018 is upon us. The year 2017 has quickly passed. But does this stop God’s people from faithfully looking for and longing for that coming? That return of our Savior is exactly that which should be the light of the new year, and the hope of all the saints. We should pray once again in 2018 for the coming of our Savior.
This is why I have chosen to speak to you for a few moments on Hebrews 10:35-37. These verses read: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” It is this Word of God we wish to have in our hearts and souls as we begin a new year.
So we ask the question again: How confident are we that Christ returns? We are called to live a godly life in order that when Christ returns we will not be ashamed. We pattern our lives therefore after the heavenly and not after the earthly. We pursue things heavenly and not things earthly. But then Christ has not come. Has this godly life in which we deny ourselves the sins of this world been for nought? Does Christ really come? Today we renew our faith in the coming of Christ. Faith: the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen. In faith we must not place our confidence in things seen, but in things not seen. Christ has not come yet—just as He for hundreds and thousands of years did not come initially in the Old Testament. Yet, just as the saints then waited patiently in faith for their Savior, so also must we. The just shall live by faith.
CONFIDENCE IN CHRIST’S COMING
I. A Sure Promise
When we make a promise to another person, we declare to him that he can, of a surety, expect us to do or not to do something specified. We pledge, we give our word, we vow that we will bring about what we have said. When we do that to other Christians who know us, then our word is sufficient. They know we will keep that promise. But in other cases it may be necessary even to swear an oath to assure another that we will fulfill what we have promised. That is the nature of a promise. It is a surety or pledge that what has been spoken will truly come to pass.
Our text speaks of such a promise. In verse 36 we read, “for ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” But the promise of our text is not a promise that man makes. It is God’s promise to His people. You see, God has established His covenant with His elect people in Christ. God’s covenant is the bond of friendship and fellowship into which He has entered with them. Already in eternity, in His counsel or plan for all things, God chose to be a sovereign Friend and Companion to His elect people. He chose to be a God unto them. He chose to call them by His name. God has fulfilled that covenant throughout the generations of this world. With each new generation God has entered into this bond of friendship with His people. He still does that today with us.
Well, to those whom God binds to Himself in such an intimate way, He makes certain promises. Not just one promise, but several promises. These promises God makes to us are mentioned in several different places. For example, God promises us in the Scriptures that His church will be as many as the stars in the sky in number and as the sand by the seashore. God promises us that He will lead His church to the heavenly land of Canaan, there to dwell with Him in perfect fellowship forever.
God has not as yet entirely fulfilled these promises. But they are promises, promises of His covenant that He gives to His church of all ages. Just as is the promise that while He is accomplishing these promises, He will never leave or forsake us. That is a promise God gives and of a surety keeps. He guards and leads His church unto their final salvation when they (a throng unable to be numbered) will stand before Him in heaven.
But there is one promise that is central to all these other promises of the covenant. It is a promise by which God’s covenant is fulfilled and by which God keeps all these other promises. That promise is given in verse 37 of our text: “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” That is the central promise God gives to you and me and to His church of all ages: “Behold, Christ comes!”
That promise was given first of all to the Old Testament saints. And in faith, in confidence, God’s elect few looked for the advent, the birth, of Christ their Messiah. They longed for it. Why? Because they knew there was no fellowship with God, that God would not be their God or they His people, except that Messiah come. They knew that the church would not be gathered and saved, that it would not have a place in heaven, except that Messiah should come. The Messiah, after all, is the Savior. He it is that must deliver you and me, the church, from our sin and guilt and reconcile us to God. Otherwise, we would remain aliens to the covenant and its promises, strangers to God. Sin would remain a barrier that would keep us from the fellowship and friendship of the holy and just God. Christ had to come and die on the cross and be raised again in order for our salvation from sin to be secured. Christ had to come and pay the price of our sin in order that all guilt might be removed and we might have a right to heavenly glory. Salvation depended upon that first coming of Christ.
But salvation depends also upon His second coming. So we in the new dispensation have the same promise that the saints of old had: Christ comes! And He comes to bring salvation to His church! It is true, of course, that salvation has been secured already at the cross of Christ. In principle, all that is needed for us is found in the cross of Jesus Christ. But are we yet totally free from sin? Do we yet experience in this world the highest possible fellowship with our sovereign Friend? Does the church stand united in its praise of God and the Lamb? No, the final fulfillment of our salvation comes when Christ returns on the clouds of glory. So, God makes us a promise, a pledge: Christ comes!
Notice the surety of that promise in this Word of God before us as well: “he that shall come will come.” The Bible does not waver as far as this promise of God and Christ to Their church is concerned: Christ shall come—there is no doubt about it. Christ shall come because God has promised it. That means that it is a part of His immutable counsel. In other words, God has established the coming of Christ from before the foundations of the earth in His eternal counsel and plan for all things. This second coming of Christ is set by God eternally as that very moment of the fulfillment of His counsel and covenant. As it is set, it shall never be changed. It is unchangeable as God is unchangeable.
But there is more. Not only does this promise assure us that Christ is coming, but God added to this promise an oath that He has sworn to keep this promise. He did not need to, of course, but for our benefit He did so. The writer to the Hebrews explains this oath of God to His people in Hebrews 6:13-18. How sure, then, is the second coming of Jesus Christ? Well, how strongly do you believe in God Himself? Your faith in God and in our Savior will determine how strong your faith is in Christ’s second coming.
As we now enter into the year 2018 we hear the word of God say to us: “for yet a little while.” It will not be long now. It is but a short amount of time, soon and very soon, “and he that shall come (and Christ we know of a surety shall come) will come.” He will not tarry! Such is the promise of God to us as we look into the year 2018. Christ will not be slow in His coming. God will not be lax as far as His promise to us is concerned. Right now all things are being accomplished exactly in order to bring about that coming of Christ. Right now, God who is not willing that any of His people perish, but that all should come to repentance, is gathering His church toward that end. When everything is ripe in history, in nature, and in the church, then we must look up, for our redemption draws nigh. Christ does not tarry.
Will 2018 be the year of His return?
II. A Patient Confidence
Ah, the doubts that can creep into our hearts as we attempt to answer this question. How long ago was this epistle written to the Hebrew saints? A little more than 2,000 years ago. The word of God to His people then was, “yet a little while.” Now, some 2000 years later, the same word comes to us and says, “yet a little while.” From our human perspective anyway, it sure seems as if Christ tarries. Is this promise that God makes to us really so sure? In our impatience our confidence in Christ’s return can be shaken. As a result our faith can begin to waver, and we will cease to do the will of God. Our text speaks of that in verse 36. This same exhortation is given in Hebrews 10:38-39: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” The writer to the Hebrews is concerned that God’s people not grow weary in well doing, because they no longer look for the coming of Christ.
That concern is certainly a legitimate one, because this is exactly what happens to that church and to God’s people when they grow impatient and lose confidence in Christ’s return. “What’s the use? Christ is not coming today. He is not coming tomorrow. I am wasting my time in constantly fighting to do God’s will in my life.” Is that not often our reaction, if not consciously, at least subconsciously? Fighting the good fight of faith is so wearisome. Day in and day out we must mortify that old man of sin in us that is so attached to the things of this world and the pleasures of sin. We are told in God’s Word that this earth is not our home, that we are only on a pilgrimage, and that we must seek heaven. But Christ does not come, and heaven is not brought to us. And the things of this earth are so real and concrete. Why must I constantly have to say “no” to myself and give myself over to the things of this present world? Why do I constantly have to live a life of holiness? Why keep up with the good works? Why keep assembling myself together with the other saints? Why constantly look when Christ is simply not coming?
As a result, we cast away our confidence, our faith in Christ’s return and the fulfillment of all the promises of God. We throw it away from us in disgust, we turn our back on God and His Word, and we draw back unto perdition. “Well,” we say, “at least Christ will not be coming in 2018. Why worry for this year? I will worry later on, when it calls for worrying. This year yet I can carry on in my earthly pursuits, I can follow after my sinful lusts, I can indulge in this world, because there is no way Christ returns. And if Christ does not return then I will not be ashamed at His coming. Maybe later I can again take up doing the will of God.”
Young people, that is a common way of reasoning when we are young. We think life goes on forever and that we will have plenty of time later to get serious about life. Well, let me remind you of what God’s Word says about all this: Christ is coming in 2018. Again, though He may not arrive (but then again He may), Christ comes and He is not tarrying! For that reason we receive the exhortation of our text: cast not away your confidence. Do not discard your trust and conviction that Christ comes soon. On the contrary, we must be assured again in the year ahead that our Savior comes in judgment. That must be our determination once again in a new year. We must focus our assurance on that fact and we must again determine to live in that assurance. Christ is coming and I must prepare myself for that coming. I must be busy leading a life of holiness. I must be exercising myself spiritually so that I will not lose myself in the things of this present world only to allow my confidence in Christ’s coming to grow dim and vague. When that happens, then we are casting away our confidence. And how easy that can become, beloved. How easy for us to throw away our faith. But listen: we are not those who draw back unto perdition, are we? We are those who believe to the saving of our souls!
We cast away our confidence only because we are so very impatient. This is why we are reminded in our text that we have need of patience. We lack it. Listen, we are children of the culture in which we live. We too, sad to say, are affected by the society in which we live. Everybody in our society is in a hurry. Everybody. We are so busy that at times our heads whirl. That busyness in itself is bad for us and our families. But as a result of this, we have become the most impatient of all societies. When we desire something, we want to have it right now. We have no patience to wait for it. We go to a store to pick up an item for our house, and we are annoyed if that store does not have it. We do not want to place it on order, we want it now. And if we have to wait in line, then we can become very vocal about the poor service a store is giving us.
That impatience becomes ours too, oftentimes, when we are called to wait upon the return of Christ. We do not wish to spend too much of our time waiting and looking. We have better things to do. There is the here and the now to worry about, and our thoughts do not have the time to drift back once in a while to Christ’s coming. Instead of sitting back at the beginning of this year and regrouping and planning how in this year we are going to seek the coming of Christ the more in the year to come, we plunge blindly into the new year and whatever it is that confronts us at that moment. We do not look much beyond.
We have need of patience, people of God! Calm, steadfast, unwavering waiting on the Lord! This patience brings quiet, brave endurance. Oh yes, we will have to go about our everyday tasks as God commands us, but we will then begin to look at these tasks in a different light. They will become mere means that we use to sustain us in our confidence that Christ returns. We will not view the things of this present world as enduring, but only as means we use in this life to sustain us until we receive that which does endure. And sin? We will fight it again in this year. We will commit ourselves once again to a life of holiness, that we need not be ashamed when Christ appears. Patient confidence, that is what we need again in 2018.
III. A Great Reward
If we remain confident in Christ’s coming, then, we are told in our text, this has great recompense of reward. The term recompense of reward very simply means that the returns we receive by keeping confidence are wonderful and great. We are rewarded greatly for the patience we show in looking for Christ’s return. So the idea of verse 35 of our text is, “By all means, do not cast away your confidence, for the returns are fantastic! What are the returns? What is the reward if we confidently look for the coming of Christ in the year to come? It is the reward of God’s grace in this life. God will direct us in the way of faithfulness to His cause and kingdom in this world. He will grant us the necessary grace in this year to combat sin in our lives and to persevere in the faith. God will grant us the confidence to come boldly unto His throne of grace in time of need and find comfort. God will grant us the grace to live a life that is consecrated to holy service, a life that is pleasing to Him and one of which we need not be ashamed when Christ appears. That already is a reward in itself. It is a great reward! What more do we need as we walk through this world of sin? God’s grace is always sufficient for us in every aspect of life—especially as we look for the return of Christ.
But here is the greatest aspect of our reward. When we in patient confidence wait for the coming of Christ, then we will do the will of God. And having done that will of God we shall receive the promise! We shall see that promise fulfilled. I know that at the end of time I will behold the coming of Jesus Christ and that He shall indeed call aloud and raise the dead. I know that I will stand before Him in judgment and be declared righteous in the blood of Christ for all to see and hear. I know that the wicked will be judged worthy of condemnation on account of their sin and unbelief. And I know that I, together with all of God’s children, will experience the highest expression of God’s love and fellowship in heaven!
Then God’s covenant will have been ultimately fulfilled. Then all the promises of that covenant will be established forever. The church of Christ will be an innumerable throng sharing together in the promised land flowing with the milk and honey of God’s presence. That will be the greatest of all rewards! Let’s long for that day in this year to come, people of God! “For yet a little while and He that shall come will come!” God keep us faithful unto that coming!
Dear Radio Friends,