Summary: A look at issues of confidence and stadfastnes in the life of a believer
March 9, 2003
First Church of the Brethren
H. Kevin Derr
“Confidence and Steadfastness”
13When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” 15And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
16Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 18God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. 19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
The promises of God are a major theme that spans the book of Hebrews. In an attempt to bolster the faith of those he was writing to, the Author of Hebrews brings us again to point of remembering that God’s promises are valid, trustworthy and safe. We are given an example from the life of Abraham, the Father of Israel. If God was faithful to his promise then, he will be faithful to keep his promise now. This is the point that the author of Hebrews is trying to drive home to us this week.
He wants to help his readers to hold fast to the fath that they have professed. He is attempting to enable our hearts and minds to endure through the difficult and painful times. He is trying to give us a strong and dependable hope. What God has promised to his people, this he will do. It does not seem like a big thing, but in reality it is foundational for faith and life. If we do not believe that God will do what he has said, how can we have faith. It seems like a simple thing, and in that regard it is, but the more that you and I trust the living God, the more robust our fath will be. It comes back to this point, you act on your beliefs not your opinions. If you want to know what you believe, Look at what you do. If you believe that stealing is wrong, you won’t do it. If you believe that life is precious, you will not kill be it the unborn, the aged or the infirm, the criminal or the enemy. You do what you believe, if you believe that God is trustworthy, you will hold fast in fath trusting in God’s promises.
I. Oaths, swearing an oath, making a pledge, your word is your bond.... all these expression are
used as a means of saying, “I am telling the truth.”
A. For example, if you go to court to testify you will be asked to swear an oath to tell the
truth. Brethren and others protested the swearing of oaths, because we took Jesus
instruction seriously, to let your yes be yes and your no be no. So, if you go to court
today you can affirm not that you will swear an oath but rather that your word is
1. But, what does God do to make the point that he is trustworthy? There is no
one greater for him to swear by, we swear to God in court, but what about
2. Remember that most of the world’s God’s are not trustworthy. Most must be
persuaded to do something for people. Make an offering, kill an animal, kill a
person, all of these and other things were done, not to remove guilt, but to control a god.
A. The notion of a Holy God, who demands holiness in his people is not
the norm of God’s in the ancient world.
B. In some cases a farmer would visit the temple prostitute to ensure good
fertility in his crops and animals
C. In the time of Abraham, it was customary to offer the firstborn son to
your God, to ensure that your household would be safe and prosperous
D. All these things were done in the sense of magic, if you do rite “X” the
god will do “Y”. This is in essence, incantations to force the deity of
your choice to do what you want them to do. God’s could not be
trusted to do what was required of them, they had to be forced.
E. You will see more of this notion emerging in our culture as the neo-