Another year gone and another beginning. A blessed new year to you and your family! With the year 2021 we are another year closer to the coming of Jesus Christ.
Are we looking for His return? If so, how confident are you that He will come? How anxious are you for that swift return of our Savior? Time has quickly passed us by in the year that is gone. It is true that Christ has not yet come as some have predicted. But this does not stop you and me from faithfully looking for and longing for that coming. That return of our Savior is exactly what should be the light of the new year and the hope of all the saints. We should pray once again in this year for the coming of our Savior. This is why we have chosen the passage for today’s broadcast. It is my hope that it will move us to pray for the coming of Jesus Christ.
We consider Hebrews 10:35-37: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense 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.”
I know the passage seems a bit long and complicated, so let me read it one more time: “Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense 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.” We wish to have this Word of God in our hearts and souls as we begin a new year once again.
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 promised. When we do that to other Christians who know us, then our word is sufficient: they know that what we promise we will do or not do. But in other cases it has already been necessary even to swear an oath to assure another that we will keep what we have promised to do or not to do. 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 ye might receive the promise.” But the promise of our text is not a promise man makes. It is God’s promise to His people. It is a covenant promise. You see, God has established His covenant with His people. It is the bond of friendship and fellowship into which He has entered with us. God has from eternity chosen to be our sovereign Friend. He has chosen to be a God unto us and our children, and those whom He has chosen to be that people He calls by His name.
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. God promises us that He will lead His church to the heavenly land of Canaan, there to dwell with Him in perfect fellowship forever. These are promises God has given to His church of all ages. Just as is the promise that while He is accomplishing these 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. That promise is given in verse 37 of the verses we consider, “For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry.” That is the central promise God gives to His people and church of all ages: “Behold, Christ comes!” That was a promise given first of all to the Old Testament saints. To them the promise was also given: the Messiah comes! And in faith, in confidence, God’s elect few looked for that birth of Christ. They longed for it. Why? Because they knew they could have no fellowship with God, that God would not be their God or they His people, except that Savior 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 only as 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 Testament church have the same promise that the saints of old had then: Christ comes! He comes to bring salvation to His church! I know 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 what the writer to the Hebrews writes: “he that shall come will come.” The Bible does not waver as far as this promise of God and of 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 moment of the very fulfillment of His plan for all things. As God has set it, it shall never be changed. It is as immutable as God is immutable.
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 the year 2021 we hear the Word of God say to us, dear listener, “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 will come.” And He will not tarry either! Such is the promise of God to us today as we look into the year to come. Christ will not be slow in His coming. God will not be lax in 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.
II. A Patient Confidence
Ah, the doubts that can creep into our hearts. How long ago was this epistle written to the Hebrew saints? About 2,000 years ago, I’d say, is a safe approximation. The Word of God to God’s people then was, “yet a little while.” Now, some 2,000 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 God makes us really so sure? In our impatience, our confidence in Christ’s return can be shaken. Our faith can waver. When this happens, the result is, as verse 36 teaches us, that we will cease to do the will of God. When our hope for Christ’s return grows dim, then our affections are no longer placed on the things that are above. We become worldly minded. Eventually we will then cease to do the will of God. That concern is certainly a legitimate one, because this is exactly what happens to that church and to God’s people when they 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 sub-consciously? 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 the kingdom of heaven is not ushered in. The things of this earth are so real and concrete. Why must I constantly have to say “no” to myself? 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 in 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 into perdition.
“Well,” we might say, “at least Christ will not be coming in 2021. 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 desires, I can indulge in this world, because there is no way Christ will return so soon. 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.” 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 this year! Again, though He may not arrive this year (but then again He may), Christ comes and He is not tarrying!
For that reason, we receive the exhortation of the verses we consider: 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 this 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 once again 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, we are casting away our confidence. How easy that can happen, fellow believer! But listen: those who believe on Jesus Christ are not those who draw back into perdition! We are those who believe, to the saving of our souls!
We cast away our confidence only when we are impatient. This is why we are reminded today in Gods’ Word that we have need of patience. We lack it. We have need of 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. 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 minds do little more than drift back once in a while to thoughts of 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—instead of that, 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, fellow saints! 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 that which endures, but only as a means we can use in this life to sustain us until we receive that which endures. And sin? We will fight it again in this year. We will commit ourselves once again to a life of holiness so that we need not be ashamed when Christ appears. Patient confidence, that is what God’s people need again in 2021.
III. A Great Reward
If, then, we remain confident in Christ’s coming, we are told in verse 35, this has great recompense of reward. The terminology “recompense of reward” very simply means that the returns we receive by keeping confidence are wonderful and great. God gives us in return for the confidence we have. We are rewarded greatly for the patience we show in looking for Christ’s return. So the idea of verse 35: 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 this 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, we learn! What more could 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. 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 the promised land flowing with the milk and honey of God’s presence.
That will be the greatest of all rewards! Let us long for that day in this year to come! “For yet a little while and He that shall come will come!” God keep us faithful unto that coming!