An Admonition to Stand Firm in the Faith, with Patience and Thanksgiving.
The necessity of holding fast the profession of faith:
v. 19. Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the Holiest by the blood of Jesus,
v. 20. by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh,
v. 21. and having an High Priest over the house of God,
v. 22. let us draw near with a true he art in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
v. 23. Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering, (for he is faithful that promised,)
v. 24. and let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works;
v. 25. not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as ye see the day approaching.
On the basis of the entire doctrinal discussion as the author brought it in the first part of his letter, he now offers various admonitions, since it is self-evident with a Christian that sanctification follows justification. The connection with the pictures of the entire preceding section is very skillful: Having, then, brethren, confidence for the entrance into the Most Holy Place in the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He has consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, through His flesh, and a High Priest over the house of God. Because Christ Jesus, as the true High Priest, through the one sacrifice of Himself, has perfected us forever, therefore the writer may freely talk to us in this strain. It is the form of address which always makes an impression and usually has the desired result in the case of Christians. Our confident expectation of entering into the most holy place of heaven is not based upon any merit or worthiness in ourselves, but upon the blood, upon the merit of Jesus. For Jesus Himself is the new, the living Way. If we are but united with Him in the intimate fellowship of faith, then our way, with Him, will lead us through the veil of His own flesh into the very presence of the divine glory. For just as the high priest of old pushed aside the veil which barred the way into the Most Holy Place, so Jesus laid aside the mortality of His flesh, the weakness of His earthly life, and opened unto us heaven itself, giving us free access to the Throne of Grace, Mat_27:51; Mar_15:31; Luk_23:45. Nor is that all. Not only did we have, when Jesus was living here on earth, but we have even now, a great High Priest over the sanctuary of heaven; for it is now that Christ is performing that part of His work which assures us of the fact that the mansions above are ready for our occupancy; for He is our Advocate with the Father. And who else would be qualified to plead our cause in the same measure as He to whom we owe our salvation? Knowing this, we have boldness and confidence of faith. We know that the way is prepared for us, and that we may enter into the sanctuary of heaven, into our home above, whenever the Lord calls us.
This being the case: Let us keep approaching with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, sprinkled in our hearts from an evil conscience, and having our bodies washed with clean water. Using a term which is taken from the Old Testament cult concerning the regular and repeated entering of the priests, their drawing near to the altar to perform the work of their office, the inspired writer urges us, as true priests of the New Testament, to approach to the Lord with the confidence of faith. With a true heart we should come, not with hypocritical sanctimoniousness, but disposed in such a manner as to be really interested with the whole soul in the worship of the Lord, seeking His grace. In full assurance of faith we should draw near, not in absolute certainty, but in firm reliance upon the salvation earned by the blood of Jesus, since the correlate of faith is always the Word of the Gospel with its message of redemption. For that reason faith is not a subjective matter, not a matter of feeling and disposition, but an objective certainty which clings to the promises of the Lord. We should come having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience; being assured that the filth of our hearts has been washed away by the blood of Jesus, we can prepare our hearts for the work of priests to the almighty Lord, Exo_29:4; Exo_30:20; Exo_40:30, even as our bodies are washed with clean water, the cleansing water of Baptism having washed away all our sins, Eph_5:26 : Tit_3:5. Thus prepared, we are privileged at all times to approach the heavenly temple and the eternal altar by a new and living way, enter its inner sanctuary by faith, and present ourselves in the presence of God.
This being the situation, it follows: Let us hold fast and unbending the confession of our hope, for faithful is He that promised, and let us consider one another for the purpose of inciting to love and good works, not forsaking the assembling together, as is the custom of some, but admonishing one another, and this the more so, in proportion as you see the day drawing near. ALL Christians may be so firm in their faith and in their hope because this hope has such a firm foundation, one that does not rest upon the uncertain sands of human opinion or protestations of friendship, but upon the faithfulness of our Lord, 1Co_1:9; 1Co_10:13; 1Th_5:24. We are not yet enjoying the fullness of the blessing which He has held out before us, we are not yet experiencing the consummation of our salvation, but God's promises cannot fail, not one of them will ever fall to the ground. But while we are still walking in the flesh, we must take into account our own and our neighbor's weakness, and for that reason, in a tactful way, incite and stimulate one another to love and excellent works. See 1Th_5:11. This constant stimulation and emulation cannot take place, of course, where the Christians do not meet together, both for public worship and for other assemblies in which the weal and woe of the work of the Lord is discussed. The writer, therefore, urges the believers not to neglect such meetings. Even in those days, as the writer is obliged to remark, some of the members of the congregations had the bad habit of staying away from such meetings of edification, probably with the plea of pressure of business or from fear of persecution, just as it is today. The nearness of the last day, however, and the remembrance of the account which we shall be obliged to render on that day should make us willing and eager to heed the admonition here given. If people professing the Christian faith neglect churchgoing and attendance at the meetings set aside for mutual encouragement and admonition, they not only give offense to the weak in faith, but are themselves endangering their Christianity, their faith. The change from faith to unbelief often comes on so gradually, so imperceptibly, that the damage is done before the deluded victim is aware of it. Faithfulness in the regular use of the Word and the Sacrament should characterize all true Christians.