Many people may not know that the term “con”, as in “swindle” or “deceive” is actually a shortened form of the word, “confidence”. A “con-game” is a “confidence-game”, at least that’s how it’s played. Someone uses their projected sense of confidence to deceive another, or others. But, when we hear the word “confidence”, we don’t immediately go to that negative inference. And that’s good, because confidence is good.
In fact, an argument could be made that the reason such deceptions work is only because of the attractiveness of confidence. People can be thought of as having an innate desire for confidence. The alternative is fear. The greatest solid basis for confidence is Jesus.
Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.Hebrews 4:14-16 ESV
Jesus instills confidence in His disciples, or at least in His sincere disciples. And it is this confidence that the writer of Hebrews is trying to use as an inducement to faithfulness. Entering the rest of chapters 3 and 4 is only possible through faith (Heb. 4:3), and part of what is enjoyed in this “rest” is confidence before our Savior (Heb. 4:16).
Views either for or against eternal security miss the point here. The point for the author, the goal he’s trying to accomplish, is the perseverance of his audience. Arguments about the state of a person’s salvation while they walk this earth is outside the view of the author. He wants these Hebrews to make it across the finish line, and into the eternal rest of our Savior.
Jesus is the One, the High Priest and Apostle, making the rest of God accessible. We experience that rest when we respond to the access through faith. Part of how we experience this rest here-and-now is through our ability to approach Jesus’ throne with confidence. There is a future aspect, but there is a present aspect as well, access to Jesus.
So, what is our confidence based on? It has to be based on something for us to be convinced of its validity. Our confidence is based on Jesus’ example. That may sound peculiar, but Jesus laid out a path for us to follow (see my last entry The Walk). Our confidence is experienced as we obediently follow the obedience of Jesus:
Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.Hebrews 5:8-10 ESV
The writer here isn’t concerned about theological arguments about the immutability of God any more than he is exploring eternal security. His point is that Jesus laid out a path for us to follow, and we too are to be obedient, we are to be made perfect, we too are to follow the role to which our Creator has designated for us. In so doing, we live out our faithfulness, experience the rest of God, and confidently approach the throne of Jesus.
That’s the lesson I see in these chapters. Hebrews hasn’t been about what I thought it was about. It has held challenges I didn’t expect, and made assertions I didn’t expect to find. I’m sure I’ll find a lot more as I go along. As you read chapters 4 and 5, what do you see through this “knothole” of Scripture?
Ever consider the amount of faith today’s believers must have in comparison to the audience of Hebrews? They lived in the time of Jesus, actually knew and listed to people who walked with Jesus. It was as real to them as, say, Kennedy is to us. We can download and listen to live speeches made by JFK, read books written by those who knew him. Jesus? Our belief is totally based on faith. Even if we had access to the most current “original” manuscripts of the NT books they are anywhere from 30-150 years *after* the documents penned by their authors, with no idea just how true they are to the originals. Much of what we read aren’t even first-level translations from those manuscripts, and there are disagreements over how accurate they are. We may not have the faith of a mustard seed, but we’re pretty close.
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That’s probably why Jesus prays for us specifically in the High Priestly Prayer in John 17. We need special help 😉
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