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Anchor for the Soul

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2023 6:00 pm

Anchor for the Soul

The Voice of Sovereign Grace / Doug Agnew

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November 26, 2023 6:00 pm

Join us as we worship our Triune God- For more information about Grace Church, please visit www.graceharrisburg.org.

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If you have your Bibles with you today, I'll ask you to turn with me, if you would, to the book of Hebrews chapter 6, we'll be looking at verses 13 through 20.

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 that is 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. Bow with me as we go to our Lord in prayer. Heavenly Father, we lift up our sick to you this morning. We pray for continued healing for Jim Palmer and Yvonne McClellan, for Bernie Loos and Jeremy Carriker and Jim Belk, for Brenda Torrance, Kim Oudy and Nicole Loos and Dale Valen. Pray also for Lisa Menzel, who has surgery on a brain aneurysm, coming up on this Thursday. Pray for George Pearson, who has oral surgery coming up Tuesday.

Lord, we know that you are the great physician, and we pray for healing for all of these. Lord, I also pray for Israel this morning. Give them wisdom, give them grit, and I pray that all the hostages will be released. Heavenly Father, this passage of scripture that we're dealing with today deals with the security of the child of God. Oh Lord, how important it is that we know that we belong to you and that heaven is absolutely certain.

This security is not given so that we can get lazy and lukewarm. It is given that we might be bold and spiritually courageous. Spiritual warfare is an exercise in futility if we don't have a secure eternity. Lord, help us today to get excited about the anchor of our soul. May we understand that you are the one that puts steadfastness in our hearts. Please keep my lips from error this morning. May this sermon exalt Christ and feed this congregation. And we ask this prayer now in the holy and precious name of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Amen. You may be seated. I want you to do me a favor this morning. I want you to think back to a time in your life where somebody gave you some encouragement, and that encouragement was almost life-changing for you. You know, maybe it was a coach who gave you some encouragement telling you that you had potential in that sport, and you didn't realize it, but you began to excel at that sport. Maybe it was an art teacher who told you that you really had the ability to draw when you didn't think you could. You became good at it. Maybe it was an English teacher who told you that you had the ability to write. You never saw that in yourself before, but you took her up on that and you began to write and did well.

Maybe it was a parent who shared with you that you had what it took to go ahead and start a business, and you did that and it did well. I went out for Pop Warner Football when I was 13 years old, and I had never learned to block. They put me there at the offensive guard position. There was a defensive lineman in front of me. The first ball was height, and I just stood there, and that defensive line knocked me into tomorrow.

I mean, he knocked me down. I just stood there. And then the next play I got up, I did the same thing, and it happened over and over again. My dad was watching the practice, and after the practice, we went and got in the car. We sat down and I said, well, I'm quitting. I said, that was no fun at all, and my whole body's aching. And my dad said, no, you're not quitting. He said, you just did it wrong. He said, why did you just stand there?

As an offensive lineman, you can't do that. He said, as soon as that ball is height, you've got to move forward as fast as you can. You've got to hit him before he hits you, and you've got to keep your feet moving. So we went home, and he showed me how to do it. And we practiced for about an hour in my backyard. The next day we got out there, and that same defensive lineman was in front of me. He thought it was going to be just like it was yesterday, but I'd learned something. And the ball was snapped, and I hit him, and this time I knocked him down.

Now, by that time, he realized what was going on, and I didn't knock him down again the rest of that day. But I learned something, and I learned this. Don't quit.

Press on. Keep your feet moving. Persevere, persevere, persevere. That helped me on the football field. It also helped me in life.

If you settle for mediocrity, you'll never experience true joy. You know that's true in school. It's true in your work. It's true in anything you do. But more than anything else, it's true in your relationship with Christ.

Listen carefully. Jesus wants your heart. Jesus wants your love. Jesus wants your praise. Jesus wants your all. Jesus wants you to break the idols in your life. And he wants you to bow before him as Lord. Grace Church, where are you? Revelation chapter 3, the Lord Jesus is speaking to the church at Laodicea. And he says, you are neither hot nor cold, but you are lukewarm.

And because you are lukewarm, I will spew you out of my mouth. Grace Church, where are we? Do you love the Lord Jesus? Is your life given to him? Are you willing to live for him? Are you willing to die for him?

And let me ask you this. Do you have people in your life that are encouraging you to love Jesus more? My wife's my great encourager. She doesn't want me to get spiritually down. And she does everything she can to help me to love Jesus more. When I married her, I said, I'm marrying you because you love Jesus more than you love me. My brother has been a great encourager to me.

All my life. And he sent me a little 40-second video a couple of days ago of Paul Washer, one of my favorite preachers. And it was just 40 seconds, but boy was it powerful. Tears were streaming down his cheeks in this video. And Paul said, men, Jesus died for you. He was preaching to preachers. He said, Jesus died for you. He said, everything that's in this world, put it on one side of the scale, put Jesus on the other side of the scale, and boom, it would go down and there's no comparison.

Jesus would win. He was so just wrought up in that particular sermon that he was preaching, as he was preaching to hundreds of pastors. And he said to them, guys, it's time to quit playing games. And it's time to preach Jesus. I believe the writer of Hebrews is in this passage, giving the same kind of passionate, God-honoring, Christ-exalting encouragement. I've got four points that I want to share with you today as we look at this passage. Point one is Abraham, our example.

Look at verse 13 through 15. 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. The writer of Hebrews is writing to Jews, so it's not surprising that he would use Abraham as his example. Abraham's called the father of the Jews.

We call him the father of the faith. We say Abraham is our father. In Romans chapter 4, verse 11, the scripture says that Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness.

In Galatians chapter 3 and verse 29, the scripture says, If you are Christ, then you are Abraham's offspring heirs according to the promise. It should not surprise us that the Holy Spirit of God is using Abraham to teach us how the grace of God works. Abraham was born in a godless land.

His father was an idolater. Abraham was not going out seeking after God. God went out and sought after Abraham. I want you to listen to what God said to Abraham. And boy, is there ever grace in this passage. Now the Lord said to Abraham, Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation and I will bless you and make your name great so that you will be a blessing.

I will bless those who bless you and him who dishonors you I will curse and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed. These were great promises that God gave to Abraham. They were promises that he did not deserve. They were promises that he could not fulfill and bring to pass in his own power. He didn't have the power to do that. God promised Abraham a land, a future land that he would live on.

He had never seen that land before. God promised him a plethora of descendants. Abraham was 75 years old at this time. He was married to an elderly woman. She had been barren. They had no children.

How in the world were all these promises going to take place? No wonder Abraham said what he did in Genesis 15 2 through 3. But Abraham said, Oh Lord God, what will you give me for I continue childless?

And the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus. And Abraham said, Behold, you have given me no offspring and a member of my household will be my heir. Abraham needed encouragement to believe just like we do. So listen to what God said to Abraham.

Genesis 15 4 through 7. And behold, the word of the Lord came to him, This man shall not be your heir, your very own son shall be your heir. And he brought him outside and said, Look toward heaven and number the stars, if you were able to number them. Then he said to him, So shall your offspring be. And he believed the Lord and he counted it to him as righteousness.

And he said to him, I am the Lord who brought you out from the Ur of the Chaldees to give you this land to possess. What did Abraham need to build his faith? He needed the word of God. He didn't need immediate answers.

He didn't need physical evidence. He needed the word of God. And what did God say to him? Twenty-five years later, God honored Abraham. He honored Abraham's faith when he was 100 years old, when his wife was 90 years old and gave him a son. We call him the promised child. And Abraham knew this was an act of God.

This was a miracle of grace. Now God promised that he would raise up a people, a people of faith through this miracle child, Isaac. But then God tests Abraham's faith again. He tells Abraham to take his son Isaac up to Mount Moriah and there he would offer him as a sacrifice unto God.

Now what a dilemma is that going to be? Abraham loves Isaac with all his heart. Isaac wasn't born until Abraham was 100 years old. And now he's a teenager. He's a young teenager, probably around 13, and he's just a very young man. He's never been married.

He has no children. And God is wondering, or Abraham is wondering, if I kill Isaac, then how in the world is this promise of all these descendants going to be fulfilled? What kind of faith would Abraham have to have to believe something like that? Well, Hebrews 11, 17 through 19 tells us, By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac. And he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, of whom it was said through Isaac, shall your offspring be named. He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back.

Does that ring your bell? Abraham says, I trust God's Word so much that I believe that if I obey God and I kill Isaac, then God will raise him from the dead, that he might keep his promise. So Abraham took his son Isaac up to Mount Moriah. They walked up to the top of Mount Moriah, there was an altar there, and Isaac had the wood up on his shoulders.

I think Abraham probably had a torch in his hand. And Isaac looks at his daddy, he says, Daddy, we've got the wood and we've got the fire, but where's the lamb for the sacrifice? And Abraham said God will provide himself a lamb for the sacrifice. Abraham took Isaac and he laid him up on the altar, and he tied him there to the altar. He took his knife and raised it up over his head, ready to plunge it into his heart, and all of a sudden God stopped him and showed Abraham a ram that was caught in the thicket. Listen to what God said to Abraham, Genesis 22, 16 through 17. And he said, By myself I have sworn, declares the Lord, because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and as the sand that is on the seashore, and your offspring shall possess the gate of his enemies. In our passage today, in verse 13, the writer of Hebrews is quoting from Genesis 22.

And this is what he says. God swore by himself because there is no greater one to swear by. Hebrews 6, 15 says, And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise. What's the bottom line here, folks? Why is Abraham's faith such a great example to us?

Here it is. Because Abraham learned this fact. If God said it, that settles it.

That's what the writer of Hebrews is calling for. He's calling us to trust God's Word. Don't trust what the culture says.

Don't trust what the government says. Don't trust what your feelings are, but trust God's Word. Hebrews 4, 12, For the word of God is quick and powerful, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, of the joints of the marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Psalm 119, verse 89 says, Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven. Psalm 119, 160 says, The sum or the entirety of your word is truth. It takes us to point to two unchangeable things.

Look at verse 16 through 18. For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes and 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. So let me state right off what the two unchangeable things are. Number one, God's oath.

Number two, God's purpose. Tells us that we can trust God's oath and we can trust God's purpose because God doesn't lie. If God's given us his word and the Bible is the word of God and God doesn't lie, then how much of it can we trust? Some of it?

A little bit of it? No, we can trust all of it. 2 Timothy, chapter 3, verse 16 says, All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction and instruction in righteousness. The word inspired means God breathed it into the writers of Scripture. So what about these two unchangeable things? What about the oath?

What about the purpose of God? In studying this passage, I went to some men that I trust and their commentaries, see what they had to say about it with John Calvin and John Owen and A.W. Pink, Kent Hughes, and all of them were just tremendous. But the one that really spoke to my heart was a guy named Richard Phillips. Richard Phillips is a pastor, PCA pastor down in Greenville, South Carolina, and I want you to listen to what he said here because he said it better than I can. He said, The writer of Hebrews reminds us how men use oaths. Men swear by something greater than themselves, typically by God, thereby inviting the wrath of that greater power should they violate the oath.

The New International Version says it puts an end to all argument, ensuring the intent of the one who so swears. God, however, stands beneath no one and no thing. There is nothing greater than He, no higher name than His own, so that if God is to swear an oath, He must do so by His own name. In doing so, God placed His own dignity and character on the line when it came to the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham. That is the ultimate surety for a promise. God sealed His intent by two unchangeable things, namely His promise, purpose, and His oath to go along with it.

The promise is therefore especially solemn, certain, and invaluable. The second thing this passage tells us is why God would do such a thing, because God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promised unchangeable character of His purpose. God did not swear an oath to Abraham to make his purpose unchanging, but to let Abraham know with absolute certainty that it was so.

This is an astonishing condescension from God. God does not need to swear in the gospels, for instance, Jesus chastised the Jews of His day who used oaths because they could not be trusted. God does not need oaths because He is infallibly trustworthy, and yet here He swore an oath to accommodate the weakness of our faith.

He swore by Himself so that Abraham would not fall prey to doubt or unbelief ever again. So the writer of Hebrews is using Abraham to encourage these persecuted Jewish Christians. He's not telling them that the Christian life is a piece of cake. He's not telling them that it's a good thing to believe the lie of the prosperity gospels and say the magic words so that you'll be healthy, wealthy, and emotionally happy.

No. That's why he uses Abraham as the example. Abraham's life of faith was long, and it was weary. And he dealt with doubts, and he dealt with a lot of obstacles.

Sometimes he showed heroic faith, and sometimes he just acted like a coward. But, but he persevered. He pressed on.

That's the main point. He did not abandon his faith in God. He persevered.

He pressed on. He persevered in his faith. Now what do we call the doctrine of once saved, always saved? We call it eternal security. We also call it the perseverance of the saints. Folks, do you know that you know that you know that when you die, you're going to spend forever and ever and ever in heaven with the Lord Jesus Christ?

Do you know that? Jesus said that we would know those that are truly his by their fruit. The fruit of salvation is perseverance of the saints. Not, are you perfect? We're not. Not, do you have spiritual ups and downs? We do. We experience doubts. We experience failures, but we refuse to take our eyes off Christ.

And what happens? Jesus holds us fast. Jesus holds us fast. Alright, point three is our hope.

Look at verse 18 again. 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 that is set before us. I shared with you last week that this word hope in the English just kind of causes confusion and problems because the word English for hope means an iffy expectation. It's kind of wishy-washy. And I shared with you last week that when we say I hope that it doesn't rain, we're thinking, well, we know that it might. Or I hope I pass that test, we're thinking, well, I might pass the test, but I might not.

So there's always that iffy expectation in it. There's no assurance, there's no real confidence in the English word for hope. But here in the Greek, this word is different. It's the Greek word elpis. And that word has no ambiguity. There's no if in it.

It means absolute full confidence, absolute full assurance, no doubt, no question, period. We usually use the word hope to point to what God has promised us in the future. We need to remember this. God is not limited by time and space. And so when God looks at the future, he looks at it just like he would look at the past and just like he would look in the present. It's just as sure to him. And folks, that's how we are to express our faith. That's the hope that we are to have, the same kind of faith that we see in our God.

He knows it. So our faith should be sure, it should be certain, it should be absolutely sound because the future to God is the same. He sees it in the same way as he does the past.

It's that true, it's that factual, it's that certain. When Abraham got ready to plunge the knife into the heart of Isaac, his hope was so solid that he believed that if Isaac died, that God would actually raise him from the dead to father children. That's hope. He wasn't thinking that he knew how God was going to do it. He just knew that God was going to do it.

That's hope, that's faith. So in this passage we are told that this promise was given to Abraham. So how can I get excited about this when I'm not Abraham? Well the answer is that Abraham is the recipient of the promise, but we are the objects of the promise.

God took Abraham out into the dark night and he pointed him to the countless stars. And then he said to him, So shall your descendants be. Who's he talking about? He's talking about us. He's talking about Christians. He's talking about us who had come to Christ by faith as Abraham believed and it was counted unto him for righteousness.

Let me read you how Paul explained it in Galatians 3. Now the promises were made to Abraham and his offspring. Does not say offsprings referring to many, but to offspring referring to just one. And that offspring is Christ. In Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith.

If you are Christ then you're Abraham's offspring heirs according to the promise. Folks, there is our hope. In the year 1996 here in America there were 11 million people who were being treated for depression. 250,000 people that year tried to commit suicide.

This year, 27 years later, that number has tripled. So what's the difference? What's happened?

Why did that happen? Our culture has turned its back on God and turned its back on God's truth, which is the gospel. And folks, if you don't have the gospel then there is no hope. That takes us to point four, our anchor. Look at verses 19 through 20. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor to the soul. A hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.

Where Jesus is gone is a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The anchor is a picture of security. If a ship was out at sea and a storm came up and the waves began to get really boisterous, that ship could tip over. And if that ship tipped over, then the whole crew, everybody on that ship would die. And so if they were out on a big ship and the storm came up and they saw that it was coming, they would take that heavy anchor. They had it tied a big strong cable to the anchor and they tied it to the boat. They would take that anchor, then they would throw it over the side.

Very quickly the anchor would descend all the way down to the bottom and lodge itself in the sand in the bottom of the sea. And then when the winds blew, the boat stayed stable because that steadfast anchor was there and it was a steadfast hope. That's just a nautical anchor. Let me tell you about an anchor that is the steadfast anchor of our soul.

It's a different kind of anchor. And it doesn't descend down into the sea. It ascends up into heaven. It ascends up into heaven and it goes, enters into the inner place behind the curtain. Now God is using here the tabernacle to help us to understand a little more what heaven is like. There are two rooms in the tabernacle. The first room is called the Holy Place. The second room is called the Holy of Holies.

There's a six-inch thick veil that separates those two rooms. There's one thing in the Holy of Holies, one item, and that is the Ark of the Covenant. On the top of the Ark of the Covenant there is a lid. On the top of that lid there is two angels. They are seraphim. They're sculptured.

And they've got their wings up over the head pointing to each other. The lid is called the Mercy Seat. On one day a year, on the day of Atonement, the high priest would go back behind the veil of the curtain. He would take in his hand a basin of goat's blood. He would walk over to the Ark of the Covenant. He would take a branch of hyssop and dip it into that goat's blood, and then he would sprinkle it on the Mercy Seat. As he did that, the Shekinah glory of God would come and would hover between the wings of that cherubim. When he would do that, it would assure the children of Israel that for that year the Lord had covered over their sins.

Oh, what a glorious thing. So the idea of going behind the veil was entering into the very presence of God. Go back to the anchor for just a minute. The writer of Hebrews is saying this, that the anchor of your hope is not anchored into your good works. It is not anchored into your spiritual gift.

It is not anchored into your denomination. It is anchored into Almighty God. It is anchored into the Father. It is anchored into His Son, who is the Forerunner, who has gone before us, who is a priest after the order of Melchizedek. He's the one who's seated at the right hand of God the Father. He is the one who has given us promise of heaven. And what did Jesus say in John 14? He said this, Let not your heart be troubled. You believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions.

If it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go to prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto Myself, that where I am there, you may be also. And Thomas said, Jesus, we know not whither thou goest, and how can we know the way?

And Jesus said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Me. I want you to listen to this particular poem, a great poem about the anchor of our soul. I can feel the anchor fast, as I meet each sudden blast, and the cable, though unseen, bears the heavenly strain between. Through the storm I safely ride till the turning of the tide, and it holds, my anchor holds. Blow your wildest then, O gale, on my heart so small and frail, by His grace I shall not fail, for my anchor holds.

My anchor holds. Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we need to be able to stand strong on the doctrine of eternal security, not just so we'll be better theologians, not just to take worry out of our heart, but that we might be mighty warriors in the faith. I can't fight the world, the flesh and the devil, if I'm not sure I belong to you. Help me to be correctly anchored to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, and may that anchor bring joy and spiritual fruit. And it is in the precious name of Jesus that I pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-26 12:12:33 / 2023-11-26 12:24:53 / 12

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