I know it’s been a few weeks since I have written, but I am going to shift to a less frequent publishing regimen. I will continue with at least one blog a month, and possibly two – but no more.
My schedule has picked up as we have entered the next phase of step-down in our state. That means I can do limited one-on-one meetings at some facilities (hospitals, nursing homes, long term care). The requirements are very stringent, but I will do what it takes to get back in touch with people.
But that leaves less time for crafting blogs – (at least that’s what I call it).
To the point – I was struggling with what to write in this period of Jim Class. I kept waffling between Unity and Boldness and finally realized – “I can do both!” Hence, my title!
As a general rule I have rarely been accused of being shy or reserved – or even quiet, for that matter. As I began to put some thoughts down on paper and look into the concepts of unity and boldness, I realized that the two may be intrinsically linked.
Concepts of unity abound. There’s the idea of loyalty to a person, a team, or a cause that comes up when unity is mentioned. Also, the opposite side of unity – “If you don’t agree with me, you’re not my friend!”
Under those guidelines we are faced with the possibility of having to choose between a strongly held belief or moral code and our best friend – the one I became blood brothers with – down by the creek – using a dull, Boy Scout pocketknife.
Reminiscing about those loyalties I had with friends in my childhood – swinging on a rope across the raging river (really a trickling creek that was barely ankle deep), or riding my Schwinn Gold Crate at break-neck speed (hesitantly, while applying a bit of pressure on the brakes) and doing a power slide into the driveway (really, it was a slow lay-down in the soft grass next to the driveway) at the end of the cul-de-sac – brought me to a bit of a revelation.
Unity may not always reside with those to whom you are loyal!
That’s when I realized – if I want to keep my friends and my core beliefs – I have to be bold. My concept of loyalty typically falls to a person (although I am loyal to Extra-Crunchy Jif peanut butter and Red Wing work boots). Unity, in my estimation, is with an idea, a code, or, more specifically, a moralistic choice based on a large overarching doctrine – like religion, education, or politics.
I am not bold enough to cover all three of those topics in one blog, but I will cover one – religion – more specifically, Christianity.
Hebrews 4: 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)
I have heard many wise and seasoned ministers say, “If the Bible says “therefore” you better stop and see what it’s ‘there for!’”
The implication with this verse is that the conditions set forth for Christians to “come boldly to the throne of grace,” are stipulated in the previous verses of Hebrews chapter four. So, let’s take a look at this verse in context.
Hebrews 4:14 Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (NKJV)
The idea that unity and boldness are “intrinsically linked” can be shown to be true with a closer look at a statement made in verse 14, “Let us hold fast our confession.”
There are two critical elements that can be lifted from this portion of the verse. First the phrase “Let us” implies that the author (many believe it to be the Apostle Paul) is addressing a group of people in which he is included, and that group of people should “hold fast” their “confession.”
Who is the target audience of this letter we call “Hebrews?”
There is much debate over, not only who wrote the letter of Hebrews, but also over who the intended audience was. Some say it was written to the Christians in Jerusalem and others say to the Christians in Rome.
There is also a group that believes the letter was written to be read across a wide swath of Christianity like other of Paul’s writings along with John’s first epistle and the Book of James.
Dr. Christopher R. Smith, pastor, theologian, and biblical scholar, addressed the authorship of Hebrews in his blog, “Good Question, Reflections on Questions About the Bible,” where he stated, “All of the biblical documents arise out of real-life experiences of communities of believers.”
Debate and discussion over these topics can be intriguing and even invigorating, but for the purposes of Jim Class let’s rest on the idea that, regardless of the author’s intentions, the Book of Hebrews holds many valuable insights for all Christians. Hence, it’s entrance into the Holy Canon of Scripture!
That being said, it is clear to me that all Christians can benefit from a better understanding of “holding fast our confession,” and learning to “come boldly to the throne of grace.”
Now that we have that cleared up, my point is that this group of people (Christians – en masse) need to unify on something – and that something can be found in whatever this “confession” is. That is where I want to go.
The word confession, (translated “profession” in other translations) as used in Hebrews 4:14, is the Greek word, homologeo (ha-ma-LA-gay-o). It is a compound word made up of the words, homo and logos. According to Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible (entry G3670) homo means, “the same” and logos means “words or speech.”
A basic translation of “let us hold fast to our confession” is, “let us hold tightly to the things that we are saying, that are the same.” The Good News Translation of the Bible puts it this way, “Let us, then, hold firmly to the faith we profess.”
These things that we are saying are heard by our “High Priest,” Jesus. The author goes on to mention the things that tend to be hindrances to the target audience – Christians. Specifically, verse 15 identifies temptations, weaknesses, and sin as issues that must be addressed before we come boldly to the throne of grace.
My understanding of mentioning these things is that Jesus knows there are things in our lives that we aren’t proud of or things that can cause us to feel condemned or embarrassed to even approach Him.
But if we look to Romans chapter 8, we can see that Christians – endeavoring to serve God faithfully to the best of their abilities – need not suffer from condemnation.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, (NKJV)
This idea can easily be seen to go hand in hand with Hebrews 4:15, which is a list of things that could easily create some level of condemnation. And, as a result make a person less than confident to approach our savior. So, in order to reinforce the idea that we are not condemned, we need to be bold with what we bring to Him.
Finally, what do we need to be bold with? What we say. That begs the question, “What, specifically, to we need to be saying?”
Simply – God’s Word. We need to put Him in remembrance of what He promised. Not because He forgot, but as a demonstration of our faith and He told us to – to show that we believe what He said.
Isaiah 43:25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins. 26 Put Me in remembrance; Let us contend together; State your case, that you may be acquitted. (NKJV)
We may not all like Extra Crunchy Jif or Red Wing shoes (why, I don’t know), but as Christians we must agree on the Word of God and walk in the truths laid out there for us.
When we become unified in what we say – based on God’s Word, we will see a boldness like we never have and need desperately. So, take this as your bold confession.
“I am the head and not the tail, I am above and not beneath (Deuteronomy 28:13). I can come confidently to the Throne of Grace and declare God’s Word (Hebrews 4:16) He will hear me, and He will answer me (Jeremiah 33:3) and show me His loving kindness (Ephesians 2:7) all the days of my life.”