Christ Our Hope

March 10, 2024 ()

Bible Text: Hebrews 6:13-20 |


Christ Our Hope | Hebrews 6:13-20
Brian Hedges | March 10, 2024

Let me invite you to turn in your Bibles this morning to Hebrews 6—the letter to the Hebrews, the sixth chapter.

While you’re turning there, let me remind you that in the early church Christians left their mark behind by leaving numerous symbols, symbols that in some way exhibited their faith. We are, of course, familiar with the fish symbol, the ichthus. The word “fish,” of course, in Greek is something of an acronym for the various names of Jesus, Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior. Those first letters of those names make that word ichthus.

And then, of course, there’s the cross. But there’s also an anchor. You can see one of these early symbols; this is from the catacombs in Domitila, in Rome. Someone put all of these images together—a cross and an anchor with two fish flanking the anchor—showing something of their faith, something of their hope.

You might wonder, Why did they use these various symbols? We can understand the fish, we can understand the cross, of course, but why did they use the symbol of an anchor?

I think one of the reasons is because of the passage that we’re going to look at together this morning, a passage that uses this imagery of an anchor to describe the hope that we have in Jesus Christ.

Hope, as you probably know, is one of the key themes in the letter to the Hebrews. Hope pops up again and again and again. In Hebrews 3:6 he talks about boasting in our hope; in Hebrews 6:11 he speaks of the assurance of our hope. In Hebrews 7:19 he says a better hope is introduced, part of the overall theme of this letter, that Jesus is better, and he’s introduced a better hope. In Hebrews 10:23 we read about holding fast the confession of our hope. Perhaps the most familiar verse of all, Hebrews 11:1 says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Today we’re going to be talking about hope in this passage in Hebrews 6. We’re going to be reading together Hebrews 6:13-20, and it’s really completing the interlude in this argument that the author has introduced. He began talking about Christ as our high priest in Hebrews 4, and then he interrupted himself in the middle of Hebrews 5 and he says, “I want to tell you more, but you’ve become dull of hearing; you’ve become sluggish of hearing.” So he warns them. But that warning is followed by assurance and by comfort, and now he’s bringing that comfort to them in the terms of the promises of God and the hope that is given to us in the gospel. Then he’ll return to this great theme of the priesthood of Jesus Christ in Hebrews 7. Today we’re looking at this paragraph, Hebrews 6:13-20. Let’s read it. He says,

“For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, saying, ‘Surely I will bless you and multiply you.’ And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

This is God’s word.

This is an amazing and dense paragraph in Hebrews! Believe it or not, in thirty years of preaching I’ve never preached on this passage before; I’d never really even studied it in depth. Over the years, it’s been one of those passages that I knew was significant, but I didn’t quite grasp the significance of it. There’s no way we can cover all the details in it this week. The Puritan John Owen, in his exposition of Hebrews, spent eighty pages, with thirty practical observations, on this passage! That would take about ten sermons.

We’re not going to do that, but I do want to dig in this morning, and I want to organize it around this theme of hope. I want you to see three things this morning. I want you to see:

1. The Foundation of Hope
2. The Life of Hope
3. The Anchor of Hope

1. The Foundation of Hope

First of all, the foundation of hope, and that’s really the first half of this passage, or maybe a little more, Hebrews 6:13-18.

We all know that for there to be a hope that is more than a mere wish there has to be some basis for it. It’s important for us to understand that in the Bible, in Scripture, when the Bible talks about hope it’s not talking about a flimsy wish that may or may not come true. That’s not the definition of hope in the Bible. Hope in Scripture is a conviction of a sure and promised reality that has not yet fully come to pass. That’s the idea of hope in the Bible. It’s a conviction of something that is yet to come, but it is something that is based on a solid foundation. We see that foundation in this passage.

(1) We see that the foundation of hope is laid in, first of all, the promise of God. You see that in Hebrews 6:13-15, where the author talks about God making this promise to Abraham. In fact, the word “promise” shows up three times in this passage.

Of course, we know that the Bible is full of promises. Someone once said that the Old Testament is all about promises being made and the New Testament is about those promises being kept. In truth, we can say that the whole of Scripture is organized around the promises of God, and in particular, these great promises that were made to key figures in the Old Testament. Abraham is one of those people.

You may remember that in Genesis 12, when God first called Abraham out of the Chaldeans and told him to go to a land that he would show him, God gave him certain promises. He said, “I’m going to give you offspring; I’m going to give you a son. I’m going to give you land. And through you and through your offspring all the nations of the earth will be blessed.” So Abraham—his name was Abram at that point; God changed his name to Abraham—Abram became a sojourner, a pilgrim.

As he’s wandering about as a nomad, waiting for God to fulfill this promise—he’s an old man—and he waits for years before this promised son, Isaac, is born.

You may remember that through the life of Abraham God again and again confirms the promise. He does it in Genesis 15, in a strange ceremony where God puts Abraham to sleep and this smoking torch passes through the animals. God is confirming the promise to Abraham through a Chaldean covenant ceremony. We see God do it again in Genesis 17, where he gives him the sign of circumcision.

But the passage that’s quoted here Hebrews 6:14 is from Genesis 22. You may remember that Genesis 22 is the climax of the Abraham story. It’s when God had told Abraham to go to a mount that he would show him and to offer his son, his only son Isaac, to offer him as a burnt sacrifice to the Lord.

You remember that Abraham, in agonizing surrender but with deep faith in God, is ready to do it! He’s ready to plunge the knife into the son, the one son for whom he had waited for years, the son in whom all the promises of God rested. If he kills his son, it seems that the promise is over.

Of course, God didn’t want him to actually offer his son as a sacrifice. That would have been abhorrent to God; God says that many times in the Old Testament. He didn’t want human sacrifice at all. But he wanted to test Abraham’s faith. Having seen Abraham’s faith, God stayed his hand, provided a ram in the thicket, and then God spoke to him and said, “Surely I will bless you and I will multiply you” (Genesis 22:17). That’s quoted here [in Hebrews].

So Abraham obtained the promise in part—not fully, but in part he obtained the promise. It’s the promise of God made to Abraham, and then another promise later made to David—those very promises are the promises that are fulfilled now through Jesus Christ, who is the offspring of Abraham.

If you want a good commentary of this passage, go read Galatians 3-4, and see how Christ is the offspring of Abraham, and now all of us who believe are included in that promise. It’s a promise not just of a piece of land in the Middle East, it’s the promise of a new world, the new heavens and the new earth, that comes through Jesus Christ, who makes all things new and who brings blessing to the nations.

Sometimes we sing about this. We sing those words,

“God of Abraham,
You're the God of covenant
And of faithful promises.
Time and time again
You have proven
You'll do just what You said.

“Though the storms may come and the winds may blow,
I'll remain steadfast.
And let my heart learn, when You speak a word
It will come to pass.

“Great is your faithfulness to me.”

The promises of God are a foundation for our hope.

This passage is concerned not just with the promises of God, but with even more, that God did something more to confirm that promise.

(2) He swore an oath. So the oath of God. You see it in Hebrews 6:16-17. I think the NIV is actually a little more clear here, easier to understand. It reads,

“People 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 swore an oath. He not only made a promise, but he swore an oath. You remember when we were kids and trying to prove we were telling the truth—are you really telling the truth? What did you say? You’d say, “Cross my heart, hope to die, stick a needle in my eye.” Now kids, don’t do that. Don’t say that. Don’t take oaths in an unserious way.

It’s much more serious when someone is giving testimony in court. They put their hand on a Bible and they promise to tell “the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God.”

But what is God to swear by? He doesn’t swear by the Bible. There’s nothing greater than God. So what does God swear by? He swears by himself.

That’s the point that the author’s making here, is that God not only made the promise, but, in a desire to confirm that promise to Abraham, he swore an oath and he swore by himself. So by two unchangeable things—first the promise and secondly the oath—God confirms the promise to Abraham and gives him hope that these promises will be fulfilled.

(3) All of this is ultimately founded not just on the word of God, but on the character of God. You see that in Hebrews 6:18: “So that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie . . .”

There are some things that God cannot do. God has all power and he can do all things that are possible that are consistent with his character. But what thing that God cannot do is tell a lie. He is a God of truth, and he is true to his word, and if he said he will do something then he will surely do it. So the very character of God is the foundation for hope. Because God is unchanging in his character, he is unchanging in his word, his promises don’t change, we can trust in him.

Brothers and sisters, this gives us a great foundation, a wonderful foundation for hope in our lives.

Let me ask you—here’s the application—have you learned to strengthen your hope by trusting in God’s certain promise and in God’s unchanging character? Have you learned how to do that? So that when you are faced with trials and with struggles in life, when you know that God has promised certain things but you haven’t seen the fulfillment of that promise yet, do you know how to hold onto the promises of God? What would that involve?

One thing it involves is you have to know the promises. If you don’t know the promises, how are you going to trust them? You have to know the promises! That means we need to know.

Of course that means knowing specific promises. One of the things that can help you in your spiritual life is, when you’re struggling, you have a specific promise of God to hold onto, to think about, to dwell on at night and pray back to the Lord. “Lord, you’ve said you’ll do this; now, I’m holding you to your word! Lord, be faithful to your promises.”

But we also need to know the structure of the Bible and how the Old Testament relates to the New Testament, and how the promises of God made to Abraham and to David and to Israel are fulfilled in Christ and to the church today. Knowing your Bible well will help you know the promises of God and help you then strengthen your hope in the promises of God.

It’s not enough to just know it; you have to believe it. In fact, one of the greatest sins we can ever commit is the sin of unbelief, because when we don’t believe the promise of God, we essentially are saying, “God, you’re a liar. God, I don’t trust you.” So we need to believe the promises of God. If God has said something, we need to trust it, we need to believe it, we need to hold to it, and not doubt his word.

Not only that, we need to appropriate those promises in our daily walk of faith. Knowing how to hold that promise to our own hearts, to our own lives, so that we are nourished by it, we are strengthened by it. We know what it is to say with John Newton,

“Thy promise is my only plea;
With this I venture nigh.
Thou callest burdened souls to thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.”

“Thy promise is my only plea.” My only hope is in Jesus and in the promises of God, which are yes and amen in Jesus Christ. You have to know the promises of God and hold onto those promises. That’s the foundation to our hope.

2. The Life of Hope

What does that look like, then, in our lives? The life of hope. What does it look like to live in hope of the promises of God?

This passage describes the recipients of the promise, those who receive this promise. It describes them as heirs of the promise. You may remember if you were here last week that in Hebrews 6:11-12, having warned the Hebrews of the danger of falling away, he then gives them assurance, and then he exhorts them to a persevering faith. It’s really a perseverance in hope. Listen to what he says in verses 11-12. He says,

“We desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

He wants us to inherit the promises, and he wants us to imitate those, like Abraham, who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

What does that look like? What does it mean to be an heir to the promise, and what does that look like in our lives? I think we see three things, again.

(1) First of all, we see that these heirs of the promise have fled to God for refuge. You see that in Hebrews 6:18: “. . . we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement,” or maybe better, “strong consolation to hold fast to the hope set before us.”

That’s an interesting way of putting it. We have fled to God for refuge. That is probably an echo of something else in the Old Testament. Maybe some of you are familiar with this, the cities of refuge in the Old Testament. We read about them in Numbers 35 as well as in Joshua 20.

In the Old Testament in Israel, God appointed these six cities to be cities of refuge. There were three on each side of the Jordan. The situation was this: if someone accidentally killed somebody else—we’re not talking about murder, but if someone was guilty of involuntary manslaughter, they accidentally killed someone else—maybe a tile slipped from the roof and hit someone on the head and killed him, maybe their ox gored somebody and killed him, or something like that; they accidentally killed someone else—within that culture, that family who lost someone would have the right to send an avenger to kill the person who had killed the family member. But in order to protect this person who had accidentally, involuntarily killed someone else, God provided these cities of refuge. If the person ran to that city, he could take refuge in that city, and he would protect him, where the avenger could not touch him. He would have that protection for a number of years.

In the same way, Christ is seen to be our city of refuge, so that we who are guilty of sin and who need refuge from vengeance and from judgment can flee to Christ in order to find refuge.

Charles Wesley sang about this in his great hymn:

“Other refuge have I none;
Hangs my helpless soul on thee.
Leave, oh leave me not alone;
Still support and comfort me!”

God as our refuge, God as our strength. So this is the first that characterizes the heirs of the promise: they have fled to God for refuge. They have sought refuge from judgment in God himself.

(2) Not only that, Hebrews 6:18 also says that they hold fast to the hope that is set before them. He’s using a phrase that we find several times in Hebrews. Hebrews talks about the race that is set before us in Hebrews 12:1. It talks about the joy that was set before Christ—he endured the cross, despising the shame, for the joy that was set before him (Hebrews 12:2). But here we are said to be those who hold fast to the hope that is set before us.

That idea of holding fast, we’ve seen that before. Hebrews 4:14 speaks of holding fast to our confession. It means to lay hold of something, to seize something, to cling to something. This is what’s characteristic of the heirs of promise, believers in Jesus. They hold fast to the promise of God, they hold fast to the hope that is set before them. They are clinging to something. They’re clinging to Jesus, they’re clinging to all that Jesus has promised to be for them.

(3) Thirdly, they wait patiently to obtain the promise. You see that in Hebrews 6:15 with the description of Abraham, and again in verse 12, “those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” We’re called to do the same. We’re called to a life of hope that begins when we flee to God for refuge, and then it continues as we hold fast and we wait patiently for the final and complete fulfillment of the promises of God.

Let me ask you this morning, does that describe you? Have you fled to God for refuge? I don’t mean, do you take it for granted that if you just intellectually believe that Jesus is the Messiah, that that means you’re a Christian. Of course, the intellectual belief is crucial in its importance. But has there ever been a time in your life where you recognized that you were a sinner? You. You were a sinner, and that you are in danger if you die without forgiveness—if you die without Christ—that you are in danger of judgment and that you need refuge from this judgment, this wrath of God that someday is coming to planet Earth? Have you recognized that? And then have you run to Jesus Christ and taken refuge in him—trusting in his cross? trusting in his resurrection? trusting in what he has done for you? Not trusting in what you have done? Not trusting in your works, or your morality, or your efforts to make yourself better? Not trusting in your church attendance or any of your religious observances, but trusting in Christ and in Christ alone for salvation? If that describes you this morning, then you also are an heir to the promise. And now what does life look like? It looks like holding fast and waiting patiently for the final consummation of our salvation.

Ask yourself this morning, are you holding fast and waiting patiently for the promises of God? You might wonder, how do you do that? How do you hold fast to the hope that is set before you?

3. The Anchor of Hope

I think the answer is found in this third point, the anchor of hope. We see this in Hebrews 6:19-20. He says,

“We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

We have this hope as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul. Alright? That’s that image here that he gives, the image of an anchor.

Now, why does he give us an image of an anchor? Why does he call hope an anchor, and what does he mean here? I mean, there’s a lot of mixing of metaphors in these two verses. He’s not taking several different images, he’s kind of squeezing them all together to try to communicate something to us. What does he mean? What is he trying to communicate? Why does he call hope an anchor?

(1) Well I think, first of all, it’s because hope keeps us steady through the storms of life. That’s what an anchor does, right? When a ship is at sea and a terrible storm is coming, and the wind is blowing, and the waves are like mountains ready to overwhelm that ship, they pull down the sails and they drop an anchor. They drop it down to the bottom of the ocean floor so that the anchor can grab hold of something solid and can keep the ship from being capsized in the storm.

The author here is telling us that hope is like that in our lives. Hope is an anchor that keeps us steady through the storms of life. What are the storms of life? Well you know what they are. You are living through them right now, aren’t you? They are the trials, and the difficulties, and the sufferings, and the temptations that come throughout our Christian lives. And for some people it’s also the persecution that comes, which is probably part of what is in the mind of the author as he addresses these Hebrew Christians.

But for many of us, it’s going to be something like this: you lose your job. You weren’t expecting it, but you lose the job, and all of a sudden you are not sure how you’re going to provide for your family. That’s a storm. What’s going to keep you steady through that storm? It’s having your hope anchored in the promises of God.

Or maybe it’s an unwanted divorce. Your heart is breaking, but you don’t see your way through and your spouse no longer wants reconciliation, and so you’re faced with this deep pain in your marriage, that in many ways can be worse than death.

Or maybe it’s a diagnosis with a life-changing illness. You find out that you have cancer, or you have MS, or you have dementia, or some other illness that is going to change your life from this time forward. Or maybe it’s the surprising death of a loved one that leaves you with that dull ache of grief for months and months, and even for years to come in some cases. Those are storms. Those are storms, and those storms threaten to overwhelm you so that you lose faith.

And what the author to the Hebrews is telling you is that the way you don’t lose faith is through hope, and hope is an anchor that keeps you steady. And he says it is a sure anchor and it is a steadfast anchor of the soul.

Listen, the anchor does not take away the storm, but it keeps you steady in the storm so that the storm does not completely blow you over and destroy you so that you make a shipwreck of your faith. The author here is giving us hope. He’s giving us hope that we will not fall away if our hope is anchored in Jesus Christ.

I love the way John Calvin explained this image of an anchor. I want to read his words to you slightly edited, making it a little easier to understand, but I think he does well here. He says,

“As long as we are pilgrims in this world we have no firm ground to stand on but are tossed about in the midst of a stormy sea. The devil never ceases from stirring up countless tempests which would at once capsize and submerge our ship if we did not cast our anchor far down in the depths. There is no haven anywhere in sight, but wherever we turn our gaze the only thing in view is water and, indeed, waves which mount up and threaten us. But just as an anchor is let down through the midst of the water to a dark, hidden place and holds the ship, exposed to the waves, safely in its station so that it is not swept away, so our hope is fixed on the unseen God. And as the cable on which the anchor hangs joins the ship itself to the ground through a long, dark gulf, so the truth of God is a chain for binding us to himself so that no distance and no darkness may hinder us from cleaving to him.”

Hope, it’s an anchor for the soul. It keeps you steady through the storms of life.

(2) And then, secondly, it means that hope connects us to future eternal realities. The anchor goes down into the unseen depths of the ocean. You can’t see the anchor when the anchor’s actually working. You don’t see it, but you can feel the tug of the anchor. The wind is blowing and the ship is held stable by the anchor that is connected to this unseen, solid reality deep below.

And for the Christian, the anchor doesn’t go down, the anchor goes up. It goes forward. It goes into the future. It goes into the spiritual, eternal, heavenly realities, the things that God has promised which we have not yet seen the fulfillment of. Hebrews talks about this again and again. It speaks of the world to come, Hebrews 2:5. It speaks of this sabbath rest that remains for the people of God, Hebrews 4:8.

Or listen to this passage from Hebrews 10:34. He’s writing here to these Hebrews and he’s reminding them of when they were first enlightened, when they were first converted, when they first believed in Jesus. And he said, “For you had compassion on those in prison and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property.”

How did they joyfully accept the plundering of their property? How do you do that? How do you take it joyfully when someone steals, plunders from you? He tells them how. He says, “You joyfully accepted the plundering of your property since you knew that you, yourselves, had a better possession, and an abiding one.” You have something better. You have a possession that is better and that lasts longer than your earthly possessions. That’s what he’s saying. And so, when you were plundered, when people stole from you in a wave of persecution and opposition because of your faith in Christ, you were able to take it joyfully because they weren’t taking anything away from you that wasn’t going to go away anyway. They didn’t take away anything from you that’s really going to last. You have a better possession. You have an abiding one. You have something that’s going to last forever. Hope connects to that.

Or, Hebrews 11:10, speaking of Abraham, “He was looking forward to the city that has foundations whose designer and builder is God.” And that’s true for us as well. Hebrews 13:14: “For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come.” There’s something better coming and hope connects you to that. And it helps you endure. It helps you wait patiently for the fulfillment of the promises.

Let me give you one more text, 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. These have got to be some of the most encouraging verses in all the Bible. This is Paul writing now. He says,

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient [temporal], but the things that are unseen are eternal.”

That’s how hope works. Like an anchor, it goes deep into an unseen reality but it gives you stability. It gives you steadiness because it’s connecting you to your future, eternal inheritance in Christ.

(3) And then, finally, one more thing to see. Hope is centered in Christ, our forerunner and our high priest. Notice this, he personifies hope at the end of verse 19. He says, “We have a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.” And the phrase that’s used there—the only other place that phrase is used is in the Greek version of the Old Testament and it’s in Leviticus 16, which talks about the ceremony on the Day of Atonement, when the high priest went into the most holy place behind the curtain. He went into the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. That’s the image here. And the author here is telling us that this hope enters into the inner sanctuary behind the curtain. Then verse 20 says, “Where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.”

What does he mean? He means that this hope is personified in Jesus Christ, that Jesus is the substance of our hope, and that Christ in his priestly role has gone into this most holy place. And he’s using this as an image for the spiritual reality of the very presence of God. And notice that he says that Jesus has gone as a forerunner and as a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. That’s next week. That’s Hebrews 7, okay?

But what does it mean that he went in as a forerunner? A forerunner—what is a forerunner? You say, “Well, that’s a vehicle.” It’s not a vehicle here. What’s a forerunner? You say, “Well, it’s like a trailblazer.” That’s a vehicle too, right? We have all these vehicles that are named after these kinds of things, these images. It’s like a pioneer, someone who goes into territory, blazes the trail for others to follow. It’s similar to the idea of Jesus as the captain, or the founder, the pioneer of our salvation in Hebrews 2:10. The idea is the forerunner goes ahead to bring others after him.

Now, here’s the unique thing: there was never a high priest in the Old Testament who did that. Because when the high priest went into the Most Holy Place on the Day of Atonement, nobody was coming in after him. Nobody came in with him. He only went in once a year, and he only went in with incense and smoke so that he couldn’t see anything and with a blood sacrifice. But Jesus is our high priest, and he goes as a forerunner.

You know why? Because he’s going to bring us with him. He brings us into this inner sanctuary. He brings us into the holy place. He brings us into the very presence of God. And the author here is telling us that this is our hope. Our hope is reunion. Our hope is a restored relationship with God. It’s reconciliation with God.

And, ultimately, it’s Eden restored to planet Earth, where God once again makes his dwelling place with men, where heaven and earth are united in this sacred space. That’s what we’re hoping for—a new heavens and a new earth. Read Revelation 21:22 and this image of a new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven, and it’s the presence of God with men, and it’s full of temple imagery.

And also Garden of Eden imagery—the Tree of Life and the fruit that heals the nations. It’s for the healing of the nations. What is this? It’s imagery that’s telling us that everything is going to be made right, that everything is going to be restored, and it all happens through Jesus Christ who is the high priest, the forerunner who brings us into the presence of God. And we enjoy that in measure right now as we have the privilege of fellowship and communion with God, but we wait for the full reality of that when Jesus returns to bring our salvation to completion.

Here’s the application, folks. Whatever storms of life you are facing, keep your eyes on Christ and on his promises. You may be facing a terminal illness. Should that discourage you? If this is true, then nothing you suffer will be wasted and even death itself is not the end because Jesus, who died, is also the living one. He’s risen again. And in his resurrection, he’s the first fruits of those who will eventually be raised to life. This is what faith holds on to. This is what hope grasps and clings to. It’s hope in Christ. It’s hope that even death itself—the worst that can happen to us this side of heaven—even death itself, ultimately, does not defeat us because we’ve got Christ and we’ve got the promise of all that he will do for us. Sometimes we sing it—in fact, we’re going to sing it here in a moment.

“My hope is built on nothing less
Than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.
I dare not trust the sweetest frame,
But wholly lean on Jesus’ name.”

Do you know what he means there? He means, “I’m not trusting in my feelings.” The sweetest frame—he means a frame of mind. I don’t trust the sweetest frame of mind. I’m not trusting in my feelings. I wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

“When darkness veils his lovely face,
I rest on his unchanging grace.
In every high and storm gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.”

Some of you have been singing that for fifty years and you didn’t know what it meant. This is what it means, right here in Hebrews. Your anchor holds within the veil because Christ brings you into the presence of God.

“His oath, his covenant, his blood,
Support me in the whelming flood.
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.”

He’s saying no matter what circumstances I go through in life, the promises of God, the covenant of God, the oath of God, that’s my foundation. That’s what keeps me steadfast. That’s what gives me hope.

“When he shall come with trumpet sound,
O may I then in him be found,
Dressed in his righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.”

Are you trusting this morning in Christ? Is your hope in Christ? We have a solid foundation in the promises of God, confirmed with an oath in the unchanging character of God who cannot lie. We live the life of hope having fled for refuge to Christ. We now wait patiently for the promise and we hold fast to the hope set before us. And Christ, himself, is our anchor of hope, our forerunner, and our high priest who takes us into the very presence of God.

Brothers and sisters, you have great reason for hope this morning. We have every reason to worship, and to rejoice, and to trust no matter what we’re going through. And I know we’re going through stuff. But no matter what you’re going through today, keep your hope in Jesus Christ. He will sustain you. He will keep you steady. He is our anchor. Let’s pray together.

God, we thank you this morning that in a life that is full of difficulty and trial, and in a world that is full of uncertainty, that there is a hope that does not fail; a hope that is founded in your sacred word and in the promises of your word; a hope that is realized in the person, in the work of Jesus Christ and all that he has done for us and all he has promised yet to do.

Lord, it’s our desire to live as people who are characterized by this hope. And we ask you, Lord, to strengthen our hope with this strong encouragement, this strong consolation this morning. Lord, that in our worship, in not only the words that we have heard from the word of God, but in coming to the Lord’s table to taste the bread and the juice, and by faith to feed on Christ who is our living bread, that our hope would be strengthened for whatever we face this next week.

Lord, you know the trials that are facing this congregation today. You know the temptations. You know the difficulties. You know the things that threaten like a storm to shipwreck our faith. And we pray, Lord, that our faith would be strong and that it would last. That will only be true through these promises and through these realities we’ve talked about this morning. So, Lord, make them real to our hearts now as we continue to worship through song. Strengthen our hope we pray. In Jesus’ name and for his sake, amen.