Derek shares two pictures of hope from the New Testament to show us how to hold on to hope in God no matter what circumstances we face. There is a place to go, a refuge in God’s Word to cling to. When times of instability come, we have an anchor to throw out that will catch hold and keep us, and that hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ.
It’s good to be with you, as we draw near to the close of another week. Our theme this week has been: Where to Find Security. I do trust you’ve found it helpful and comforting.
In my talks this week I’ve brought out a vital distinction that Scripture reveals between two contrasted realms: the temporal or the temporary and the eternal.
Left to himself, man can achieve a limited measure of security in the temporal or temporary realm, but he has no control whatever over the eternal. Any “security” that ends at death is totally inadequate to meet the deepest needs of the human heart.
On the other hand, the Bible presents a different kind of security, one that commences in this life, but continues on into eternity. This security is based not on human effort or planning, but on a direct, personal relationship with Jesus Christ. This relationship is beautifully summed in two verses of Psalm 23, verse 1, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing.” That’s security in this life. Every need of mine will be supplied. The Lord has accepted responsibility for that.
And then in the 4th verse David looks ahead. He says:
“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (NIV)
That’s security for eternity. When I step out of time, when I say farewell to all the things of time and the world that I’m familiar with into a new world, an unknown world, an eternal world, I do not have to say “good-by” to the Lord. He’ll be there to meet me in the valley and escort me through, and I shall be forever with the Lord. That’s the assurance of every soul truly committed to Jesus Christ.
The here-and-now product of this eternal security is hope. And yesterday I spoke about the contrast painted in the New Testament between the death of the believer who falls asleep, who simply says, “Good night. I’ll wake in the morning.” And the unbeliever who dies without hope in his death. I quoted that Scripture in Proverbs, “...the righteous has hope in his death.”
True, enduring hope is a very rare commodity in this world. It’s so precious that today I want to dwell on it more fully. I have to tell you frankly as a preacher, I have certain favorite themes and HOPE is one of them. When I get on to the theme of hope I just love it. So I’m going to dwell on this theme again today. I believe it will bless you too.
I’m going to share with you two beautiful pictures of hope found in the New Testament. Each of them is found in the 6th chapter of the epistle to the Hebrews, they follow one another just in swift succession. We’ll turn now to the first picture of hope which is hope as a refuge. This is found in Hebrews 6, verses 16 through 18.
“Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because 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. God 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.” (NIV)
The writer of Hebrews, there, assures us that our confidence in God may be based on two absolutely sure and unchanging things, first, God’s word and second God’s oath. Actually it wasn’t really necessary for God to do more than give us His word but He was so concerned that we should have total assurance, that He gave us His word and then He confirmed it with His oath. And the writer says, “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.”
Then notice the phrase that the writer uses there about hope that’s based on those two unchangeable things, God’s word and God’s oath. He says, “...we have fled to take hold of the hope” That picture is taken from the Old Testament. In the Old Testament if a man was being pursued by an avenger of blood who wanted to take his life, there was one place he could flee to and be secure and that was the altar of God. If he fled to the altar of God and caught hold of the horns of the altar, then no one dared to drag him away from that place until he was assured of a fair trial.
And so the writer of Hebrews takes that picture of fleeing for refuge to the altar of God and catching hold of the horns of the altar and he says that place of refuge, that altar, is our hope in God’s unchanging word and oath. And we catch hold of those horns and hold onto them and there’s nothing that can drag us away. We may be pursued by all sorts of fears, by our guilt, by our insecurities, by the fear of the future, by the fear of sickness, but if we can only make it to that altar of hope and catch hold of those horns, then nothing can drag us away. That’s the place of true and permanent security.
The phrase that we “flee to the hope” suggest urgency. It suggests that the pressures are mounting, the forces against us are gathering and we have to be very swift, very urgent, we have to make it to that altar before those forces sweep us away and we loose the opportunity that God has given us. And that’s how I view it. I view it as a matter of urgency, that we put our faith and our hope without reservation in the faithfulness of God and His commitment to us through Jesus Christ. And we do that before some calamity sweeps over us and we’re no longer able to reach out and grasp the horns of that altar of hope. My counsel to you today is, flee to that altar, catch hold of those horns and be sure that you will not be carried away by some calamity, some force, some power before you’re in a position to be assured of that eternal hope.
In the next verses of the same 6th chapter of Hebrews, the writer gives us a second picture immediately following the first. In Hebrews 6, verses 19 and 20 he says this:
“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain [or the veil], where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.” (NIV)
So that’s the second picture of hope. It’s an anchor, an anchor of the soul. It’s firm and secure and it passes out of time through that veil that separates time and eternity. And it’s fastened in the very Rock of Ages, in the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s no longer subject to the pressures and changes of this temporal world, but it has reached out beyond time and it’s been deeply and securely fastened in the rock that never moves, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now, there was a time in my own experience when I desperately needed to understand the nature of hope, and this was one of the passages that God gave me. And I have an analytical type of mind. I used to be a logician before I became a preacher. And so as I read this passage I reasoned it out this way and I want to share it with you. I believe it will help you. I said to myself, “So hope is the anchor.” And that gives us a picture of a boat that has an anchor and is secured by its anchor. And then I said to myself, “Why does a boat need an anchor?” My answer was, “Because a boat by its very nature floats in a totally unstable, insecure, impermanent element in which there is no security. The element of water.” You cannot grasp water, you cannot lay hold of water, you grasp it with your hands, it just runs out. And there is no security in water.
So to achieve security that boat has to pass its anchor through the unstable element of water into another more stable element. The picture is the rock, or the earth, or the bed of the sea, whatever it may be. And then God began to show me, “Your life is like that boat. You’re on a sea. You’re in a world in a situation that’s totally unstable. There’s nothing permanent. There’s nothing you can lay hold of. There’s nothing you can grasp that will give you security. So if you want true and enduring security you have to do the same as that boat. You have to pass that anchor of hope right through the realm of time and into the realm of eternity. Because only in the eternal unchanging realm of God, His presence, His word, the very person and nature and work of Jesus Christ, is there permanence, is there security.”
And I did that. I had a transaction with God that changed my outlook on things. I passed my anchor right out of time, into eternity. I fastened it in the person and the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. And I gained a new peace, a new security which has been mine ever since.
Well, our time is up for today. I’ll be back wit you next week at this same time, Monday through Friday. I’ll be continuing with this theme of SECURITY. I’ll be dealing with various aspects of security in the temporal realm, security in time of trouble, financial security, emotional security, and so on.
My special offer this week is suited to our theme. It’s my book Foundation for Faith. This book can do for you just what its title claims, it can provide you with a strong, scriptural foundation for a life of total victory. Countless people have written to me personally to thank me for the help they’ve found in this book.
Also, my complete series of messages this week on Security (Part 1) is available in a single, carefully edited cassette.
Stay tuned for details.