If there is any doubt in your mind that we are approaching the return of Christ, let me assure you that it is coming near. In 2 Thessalonians 2:3, the Apostle Paul gives us a quick list of things that will take place before the return of Christ. This is what he writes, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God.” The Greek word for apostasy does not mean a falling away. It means to rise in open defiance of authority. We are seeing this not only in the United States but in many countries of the world. It is a condition that Paul says will happen first. Then we will see the man of lawlessness arise from this group of people. He is also known as the anti-christ. This uprising against authority is happening now. We have seen our own leaders rise up to defy the laws of the United States of America and this nation is not the only one that is experiencing this.
So, we know that the return of Christ’s coming is near. I want to look at three things that Paul, the writer of Hebrews, said that needed to be done as that day draws near. It is in Hebrews 10:22-25. In the verses prior to that, Paul tells us of the confidence we have because of what Jesus has done for us. We have confidence because Jesus is our high priest. Before I get into these verses, let me remind you that Paul is writing to Jewish believers who were dispersed around the known world because of their faith. Hebrews was written to encourage them and instruct them in their faith.
In verses 22-25, Paul gives us three things that we need to do. The first is we must draw near with sincere hearts in full assurance of faith. Paul is telling us to draw near to God, to Jesus our high priest. Now is the time to use your faith to get close to the Lord. It is the assurance of faith that causes us to enter His presence and experience things that we cannot experience in any other place such as His love, peace, healing, and strength. We can draw near any place in the world. We are not drawing near to a physical place but a spiritual one. We can draw near to God because our hearts have been cleansed from an evil conscience. During this time of turmoil and lawlessness, God is asking us to draw near to Him. We can enter His throne room and find all that we need. He is our Father and we are His children. As we move closer to Christ’s return, draw close to God. That has been His desire from the day
that Adam sinned. He wants you and I to be close to Him. I remember as a young boy living on the farm in Iowa there would be times at night where tornados were around our farm. I always felt comfortable in the presence of my father. That is what God wants us to do during these storms. He wants us to draw near to Him.
The second thing is found in verse 23. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering. When Paul wrote these words “hold fast” he used a word that means to stick to firmly. Paul did not tell us to hold fast to faith in this verse. Instead, Paul said to hold fast to our hope. The hope that Paul is talking about is the return of Christ. The people that Paul is writing to are suffering for their faith. They have seen family members and friends lose their lives for their faith. Paul is telling them to hold fast to the hope they have that this life is not the end. There is much more to come after this life is gone. Hope is an expectancy of the future. We as believers need to hold on to the fact that whatever happens in this life, it is not the end. There lies before us an amazing future that we cannot fathom. So, as we see this world and even our nation dissolve in a lawless mess, we keep holding on to our hope.
The third thing we are to do is we need to think about how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. The Greek word for stimulate is only used twice in the New Testament. It is used in Acts 15:39 where Paul and Barnabus had a sharp disagreement about Mark. The second time it is used is in this verse. Here it is not used as a disagreement but as a stimulating conversation. Its motive is to cause something. The thing that is being stimulated is love and good deeds. Paul tells us to think of how we can motivate each other to love and good deeds. The way it is worded here is that this motivation can be intense. How does this happen? Paul tells us. It happens by not forsaking the assembling together.
During the writing of this letter, many believers went into hiding. They were not getting the motivation they needed to love and to do good deeds. It was those who continued to assemble that continued in the faith. It is believed that if the church had not done what we see in the book of Acts, it would not have survived the times they were in. The New Testament motivated its members to love each other and to do good deeds. (Acts 2:44) During these lawless times, we need churches that motivate us to love and to good deeds. That means a kick in the pants. Remember, stimulating is something intense. If your church is not stimulating you to love and good deeds, find a church that is doing this. Your life depends upon it.
Paul concludes this area of teaching by adding these words, “but encouraging each other as the day draws near.” All of us need encouragement. In the days we live in, it is a necessity. Your encouragement as believers comes from our assembling together as believers. Is your church encouraging you in your faith? Find a church that is encouraging you in your faith.