What’s Holding You
October 29, 2023 | Jess Rainer
Passage: Hebrews 6:9-20
Opening Illustration: Skycoaster at Kentucky Kingdom. If you’ve picked up on something in my sermons as of late, you’ll notice that I don’t like heights. For some reason, and I still haven’t figured out why, I get compelled to try to overcome my fear of heights. And for the record, it never works…Around my senior year in HS, two friends and I decided to ride the highest ride at an amusement park in Kentucky. It was called the Skycoaster. The three of us all jumped into one big harness, they attached us to a metal cord that was hanging down from these massive towards and pulled us 180 feet in the air. We were to be released and go swinging through the air. Even as I talk about it now, the whole thing is so dumb! The whole time they were getting us hooked up, I wasn’t listening because I was trying to overcome my fear. And what I didn’t realize is that when we got to the top, there was this release handle that had to be pulled by one of us in the harness. I looked over and the friend that I trusted the least had his hand that release handle. I immediately said to him, “Don’t do anything stupid.” He just smiled at me. I realized at that moment, I was completely helpless. I had zero control over what was going to happen in the next 60 seconds of my life. They started the countdown for the release cord to be pulled, I closed my eyes, and waited for zero to hit. Well, zero hit and nothing happened. I opened my eyes, looked at my friend, who then smiled, and pulled that handle. I don’t know what was more evident in my heart – the fear or the anger. As I contemplated my life’s choices, I went from fear to assurance to exhilaration. As they unhooked us once the ride was over, the workers asked, “How was it?” I said, “That was amazing. I never want to do that again.”
Life is full of those moments and full of those seasons. And the longer those moments and seasons last, the harder it becomes to know what to do. Todays’ passage is design to hit all of us in some way. Those who suspended in the air with their eyes closed. Those who feel like they have zero control and someone is getting ready to yank the release cord. Those who are in a free fall. Those who don’t know what they are supposed to do next. Those who are finding their new norm after the dust has settled. And those who are looking around going, “I’m okay.” No matter the season, we are called to this: Hold on to the hope that is holding on to you. We are in our current Sermon Series: Hebrews: The Complete Work of Christ. There are two big lessons we’ve learned so far: 1) Jesus is better. Better than what? Better than the angels. Better than Moses. Better than the Old Testament priests. 2) Draw near to Jesus. Stay close, don’t drift. Let’s open up our Bibles to Hebrews 6. As a reminder, we are about to hear God speak – this is His Word. Let’s ready our hearts to listen. Read Hebrews 6:9-20. Pray.
Last week, we walked through one of those passage that can be tough to digest. But once you do digest it, it’s good. We saw that spiritually maturity isn’t optional. We went to be different in a year from now than what we are right now. In shat passage, we saw maybe the sternest warning we see in all of Hebrews. It was the warning that there are people who experience the work of the Holy Spirit, but don’t believe in Jesus. The reality that someone can come so close to Jesus, but never surrender to Jesus is sobering. I didn’t say this last week, but those who are in that position are not lost forever. It’ll be hard, but the journey to Jesus is still possible. For all of us, it’s a reminder that our faith must be our own. Now, there is a clear shift from last week to this week. There is a big dose of encourage in these verses. Here’s that does: God sees you sticking with it.
1) God sees you sticking with it. (vs. 9-11) Notice how the writer of Hebrews starts of verse 9. He says, “Dear friends”. Which is often translated “Beloved.” And this is the only place in the letter that “beloved” is used. It’s quite the contrast from talking about crucifying Jesus again in verse 6. What does verse 9 say? 9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. The writer of Hebrews starts off by saying, “That warning about not truly believing in Jesus wasn’t about you.”. “It’s a reality that exists, but it doesn’t exist for you.” And not only does that reality not exist, but you look at what he says they are meant for. I love this: “We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation.” It would be easy to take this verse out of its context and say, “Christians are meant for better things.” The term “better things” could then be applied in so many ways. But we see what those better things are. What are they? “Things that come with salvation”. It’s all the things that come with a relationship with Jesus: Confidence, Hope, Fruitfulness, Assurance.
Why is he confident about these better things? Look at verse 10: 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. He’s confident because they’ve demonstrated two key things in their lives: They have worked hard caring for others which shows their love for God. These believers have demonstrated their love for God and their love for others. The Church can’t miss either of these. We are called to savor God and serve others. If we are ever missing one of these, we will be unbalanced and ineffective. If we focus on just serving, we become a humanitarian organization. And while it seems unlikely, it’s possible that we could become so focused on gaining knowledge about God that we fold our hands and lay them on our chest. Verse 11 builds on this idea: 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. What’s the test of our faith? What does 1 John 3:14 say? If we love our brothers and sisters who are believers, it proves that we have passed from death to life. But a person who has no love is still dead. We have to stick with it as Christ-followers. Why? Why is that important? What does that to do with “holding on to the hope that is holding on to me?” When you continue to savor God and serve others, it demonstrates the hope you have. When you are able to see the demonstration of your hope, it’s a lot easier to hold on to the hope you already have.
And here’s the other side of it: What does verse 10 say? 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do. Someone needs this encouragement right now: God sees all the work you are doing for Him and He can’t forget it. Illustration: I ripped the skin off my hands during a mud run. I realized that I have a lot of “rope stories” today…After the race, I showed my wife – look at how hard that was and I still finished the race. I know some of you all are walking in here with spiritual hands that are all torn up. You’ve been laboring and working and doing all these things that are unseen. But God sees it all. He sees those little acts of kindness, those small gifts of love, those late night conversations, those prayers you are praying, the holding back of the tongue – all that you are doing for Him – and He sees it all and His character won’t allow Him to forget it.
God sees you sticking with it. That hope you are holding on to is seen. God knows it’s not always easy. And the writer of Hebrews knows this, which is why he takes a minute to point to Abraham who held on to hope. That’s what we see starting verse 12: Look to those who have held on to the hope of Jesus.
2) Look to those who have held on to the hope of Jesus. (vs. 12-15) Verse 12 connects back to what we saw last week. This group of Christians lost their appetite to grow. They had become spiritually dull. Now, in verse 12, we see the effect of when we grow and keep holding to the hope of Jesus: 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance. Not only will those who keep sticking with it bring glory to God, but they will become spiritually vibrant. And when we are living spiritually vibrant lives, we fall in line with all those who have walked before us. If you were doubting that God sees you sticking with it, the writer of Hebrews points back to Abraham – someone that clearly stuck with it. And this won’t the last time we see those who came before us in this book.
Look at verses 13 through 15: 13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying: 14 “I will certainly bless you, and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.” 15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised. Do you all remember the faith of Abraham? God promised Abraham many children (do you remember the old kids song…?) But Abraham got a little too old for having kids – just around 100 years old. Eventually Abraham did have a son and God tested Abraham’s faith by telling Abraham to sacrifice his son. We’ll come back to Abraham’s story later on in Hebrews, but what do we learn about his faith? What does Romans 4 tell us? 18 Even when there was no reason for hope, Abraham kept hoping—believing that he would become the father of many nations. For God had said to him, “That’s how many descendants you will have!”]19 And Abraham’s faith did not weaken, even though, at about 100 years of age, he figured his body was as good as dead—and so was Sarah’s womb.20 Abraham never wavered in believing God’s promise. In fact, his faith grew stronger, and in this he brought glory to God.
Why are we pointed to those who have been spiritually faithful? First, it’s encouragement. Illustration: Mom’s cancer battle. This week, when I thought about the faith of my mom, it produced something inside of me that hasn’t been there before. It should me what holding on to hope in the face of uncertainty looks like. Second, it shows that our God is committed to working for our hope. Think about this…God isn’t some distant God that dangles a carrot in front of face and say, “I hope it works out for you!” In fact, God could just tell us, “Get out and do the work. Don’t worry about the future or whether or not you have hope.” Instead, God makes these promises and works to fulfill them! Our God cares about our hope. Our God is committed to working for our hope. That’s we look at those who have walked before us because it shows us a God who is committed to us. That’s the kind of God that makes you want to hold on to His hope! And we get one more incredible truth about our hope: The hope you are holding on to goes all the way to heaven.
3) The hope you are holding on to goes all the way to heaven. (vs. 16-20) We arrive at a peculiar section of verses starting with verse 16. It’s clear the writer of Hebrews is reflecting on the idea of God not only making a promise to Abraham, but taking an oath. When someone is trying to stress the validity of their word, what is the typical progression? “Did you eat the last cookie?” “Are you sure?” I promise I didn’t eat the cookie. “Tell me if you ate the last cookie.” I swear by (whatever is most important to them) I didn’t. It goes from your word to your promise to taking an oath. The writer of Hebrews is seeing this progression with God. Look at verses 16 through 18a: 16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. We see the character of God in these verses and it’s impossible for God not to follow through on what He says.
Now we see what that means for us: 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. You can be confident in the hope you are holding onto because that hope goes all the way to heaven. That hope goes all the way to God. And we know the character of God. When tug on the hope of salvation, it is anchored to God in heaven. It’s a hope that will never fail, never fall, and always prove true. There is the other side of hope though. Look at verse 19: 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. I love that verse – it’s one you underline. The hope of Jesus is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. Illustration: The time I forgot to tie the anchor to the boat. How does an anchor work? It grips the bottom in order that the boat won’t drift. What makes an anchor not work? The weight of the anchor, the weight of the boat, and the speed of the wind – if one of these is incorrect, the boat won’t hold. The anchor isn’t tied to the boat. I learned this first hand when a friend asked me to throw out an anchor on a boat and I didn’t check to see if it was tied to the boat…
Here’s why the hope of Jesus is anchor for your soul.
- It’s anchored in heaven.
- It’s anchored in the character of God.
- Our hope is immovable.
- Our hope is tied around us.
- Our hope is holding us
- That’s what Hebrews 3:14 tells us.
- We are already partakers of Christ.
- And what does verse 20 tell us?
- Jesus has already made the way to heaven
- 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
- Our hope comes from the salvation that was provided by Jesus that is secured in heaven.
I think so many of are holding onto our hope thinking that if we let go, our hope is gone for good. That’s not the case at all. In some ways, God wants us to let go of what we are holding on to so we can experience the fullness of His hope. VCBC climbing “Let go and hold on to the rope”. Hold on to the hope that is holding on to you.
I’ll close with this challenge…Trace your “hope rope” back to its origination.
- What’s at the other end?
- Are you holding on to your self-reliance?
- Are you holding on to your net worth and financial security?
- Are you holding on to your friendships?
- Are you holding on to your spouse and kids?
- If you are holding on to anything other Jesus as your hope, that hope will fail you
- If you want your soul to be anchored in this life, you must grab a hold of the hope of Jesus
- GOSPEL PRESENTATION
- For those who have the hope of Jesus anchored to their soul, keep sticking with it
- God sees you
- It may not be easy right now, but He’s still good
- He’s a just God that doesn’t forget
- He’s holding the other end of your hope and one day you’ll see that hope realized
- And oh, what a day that will be
- Let’s pray.
Sin causes us to experience shame, rejection, and pain. This series highlights the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in the Book of Hebrews—offering hope to all of those struggling with self-doubt and seclusion. By exploring the passages that connect Jesus' ministry to the fulfillment of the Law, this guide will help you not only better understand the Old Testament, but also how Jesus completes the story of God’s redemption. This is a great series to remind others of God’s love for them, as well as the sacrifice He made to bring them back to God.