Guarding and proclaiming the unchanging truth in a changing world

In thanksgiving… for Corporate Worship (Hebrews 10:19-25)

20th November 2020
Audio: 

In thanksgiving… for Corporate Worship (Hebrews 10:19-25)

The Rev. Tim Taylor

“What is your only comfort in life and in death?” This penetrating question begins the much beloved Heidelberg Catechism and directs our thoughts to what matters. What do we find our ultimate comfort in? When the trials and hardships of this life weigh us down, where do we find hope? When we reach the end of our earthly journey, whether in old age, youth, sickness, health, persecution, or peace, where do we find our comfort? If our answer is anything other than the gospel, then we don’t really have any hope. 

In Hebrews 10:19-25, the author makes this same point by directing us to the new and living way that Jesus has opened for us. He makes it clear that our salvation has come through the redemptive work of Jesus. He is our only hope and comfort, and we receive his benefits by grace through faith. Having established the basis of the gospel, the author offers us three ways to respond to it. 

First, in verse 22, we are called to approach God with true hearts in full assurance of faith. For those of us who struggle with our sins and fear to approach God in worship and prayer, this verse is wonderfully encouraging. It reminds us that we can approach God, not because we are worthy, but because we are sinners who have been made worthy by God. He has done the work of saving us and he has cleansed us from our sins. When Satan whispers to us and reminds us of all our sins and how wicked we are, we can rest in confidence that God knows about all of them too, and that’s why he came to save us.

Our second response to the gospel is confidence that our hope in Jesus is firm and secure. In verse 23, we see that the gospel is based on the promises of God. Unlike politicians, corporate executives, friends, family, and even church leaders, we don’t have to worry that God will change his mind. The gospel will always be true, because God cannot lie nor can he ever change. Because this is true, we can hold fast to our confession of the gospel without any wavering or uncertainty. 

Finally, our third response to the gospel is love for Christ’s church. In verses 24-25, we are called to encourage and exhort another to love and good deeds. God has saved us by grace alone through faith alone, and he has created us in Christ Jesus to do specific good works. Sometimes we are reluctant to do them because of our sin and pride. That’s when we need other Christians to come alongside us and encourage us to do what God has called us to do. This isn’t always easy to do, whether you’re the one exhorting or being exhorted. But we are saved into the body of Christ and called to build one another up. 

And the context for all of this should be the corporate worship of God. The people we serve, exhort, and encourage should be the ones we kneel down with in prayer, confession, and absolution. They are the ones we sit next to while God’s Word is proclaimed and stand in line with at the Lord’s Table. This means that we should be present at corporate worship and not lightly abandon it for sleep, sports, or other distractions. 

In conclusion, let us give thanks to God for all of the blessings that we have received in Christ. For we are not our own, but we have been bought with the precious blood of Jesus.

The Rev. Tim Taylor
Assisting priest at Holy Trinity Parish in Hillsdale, Michigan, a parish in the Anglican Diocese of the Living Word, a diocese in the Anglican Church in North America.

Prayer: 

A prayer for the local congregation:

O God the Holy Spirit, Sanctifier of the faithful: Sanctify my local congregation by your abiding presence. Bless those who minister in holy things. Enlighten the minds of your people more and more with the light of the everlasting Gospel. Bring erring souls to the knowledge of our Savior Jesus Christ; and those who are walking in the way of life, keep steadfast to the end. Give patience to the sick and afflicted, and renew them in body and soul. Guard those who are strong and prosperous from forgetting you. Increase in us your many gifts of grace, and make us all fruitful in good works. This we ask, O blessed Spirit, whom with the Father and the Son we worship and glorify, one God, world without end. Amen.

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