Perhaps too often we use terms in our churches that sound strange to twenty-first century hearers. Some of these, like “making a decision for Christ”, are not found in the Scriptures and can be safely abandoned. But other terms, such as “covenant”, are good Biblical terms and need to be defined and explained. On the simplest level, we can say that a covenant is a contract or an agreement. In the Bible we find five covenants between God and man clearly mentioned: the one made with Noah, the one with Abraham and his seed (also called the “promise” in Galatians 3), the covenant made with David, and two covenants dealing with the life and worship of God’s people: the law or old covenant and the new or better covenant.
The writer has been presenting the great benefits of this new and better agreement. In chapter eight of Hebrews we read of four major provisions of God’s new agreement with us.
- God is our God and we are his people. This is the basic promise of the contract. God enters into a personal, dynamic relationship with us, individually and corporately.
- God’s laws are written on our hearts (the heart meaning the inner person). This means that the Holy Spirit gives us an inner responsiveness to God’s directives. Our minds agree with the truth of the Scriptures and we desire to see them actualized in the way we live, even if we know little about them. Truth resides in us.
- We know the Lord. Since we are in a living relationship with the living God, we know more than facts about him or how to approach him. We also know him (John 10:27).
- We have the forgiveness of sins. God does not hold our acts of rebellion against us. Instead, we are right with him.
Now since these things are so, the writer draws a few applications from this truth. We have already considered the first (“let us draw near to God”); now let us examine the second.
The writer directs us to something believers have made: “our profession or confession of hope”. What is the meaning of “profession or confession”? He is not speaking of a written document. Confessions of faith or doctrinal statements or catechisms are useful if used properly (sadly they are too often misused), but he is not talking about such documents in this verse. We should periodically examine such documents to see if they are communicating what we want to say in the present generation. Word meanings shift; errors and opinions change and we must guard the truth (2 Timothy 1:14). We should avoid empty talk about “always reforming”, until we are actually willing to evaluate what people before us have written and what the Holy Spirit is teaching us from the Word in our generation.
Instead, the writer is referring to an open acknowledgment or public declaration about our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. This confession should be made early in your new life by the means of believer’s baptism, Acts 2:41; etc. (The Bible knows nothing of such human rituals like “confirmation” or “walking forward”.) The confession leads necessarily to an ongoing, public testimony. We do this among God’s people by such means as sharing in the Lord’s Table (1 Corinthians 11:26), attending the meetings of people who follow Christ (Acts 2:42), and responding to the truth of the preached word by saying “Amen” (2 Corinthians 1:20) and discussing the truthfulness of what has been taught (Acts 17:11). We do this outside the assembly by living and speaking in such a way that seeks to draw people to our Lord and Savior.
Are you regularly participating in a local gathering of God’s people (a church)? Are you building up and encouraging those that are your gospel partners? Do they experience you sharing life with them? Do they help you in your walk with the Lord?
Grace and peace, David