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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 45 - Hebrews 3:14 - The Beginning of Our Confidence Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius

Index

XLV.

 

The Beginning Of Our Confidence.

 

"For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."-Hebrews 3:14.

 

 

     Here is-(1.) The privilege. (2.) The way of possession and continuance.

     I. The privilege.-'We are made partakers of Christ.' 'We' means, of course, all saints; not apostles merely. But there may be, as frequently elsewhere, an emphasis on the word, connecting New Testament with Old Testament saints. We, as well as Israel, and the saints of old (4:2) showing the identity of standing and of privilege among the saints of all ages. 'Are made,' or 'become;' intimating that we were not originally so, but have been made what we are by God; 'created unto good works.' 'Partakers of Christ.' The expression is a peculiar one, and very striking. (μετοχος and κοινωνος are nearly synonymous. See Luke 5:7, 10.) The word partaker, or partake, is frequently used in this epistle: 'Took part of the same' (2:14); 'Partakers of the heavenly calling' (3:1); 'Partakers of the Holy Ghost' (4:4). It implies that we obtain a part or possession in Christ and of Christ; that we become participators with Christ in all that He is, and has, and gives.

     (1.) In what He is.-He makes us partakers of the divine nature; one with Himself; sons of God; joint heirs; kings and priests; lights of the world. He gives Himself to us, as He gave Himself for us.

     (2.) In what He has.-The Father's love (John 16:27); all fullness of grace and blessing; a kingdom, a crown, a throne, an inheritance. 'All that I have is thine.'

     (3.) In what He gives.-These gifts are 'life' ('I give unto them eternal life'), forgiveness, salvation, strength, holiness, consolation.

     Thus our possession is Christ Himself; nothing less than this;-Christ, and all His fullness; Christ as the divine and eternal fullness,-a personal Christ; not a mere doctrinal Christ, or a mere theological Christ, or an ecclesiastical Christ, or a ritualistic Christ, or a rationalistic Christ, or a sentimental Christ. But a true and living Christ,-the very Christ of God. This is the Christ we need; of this Christ we are made partakers. He is one with us; we are one with Him,-we in Him, and He in us!  We possess Him, and He possesses us! We are His inheritance, and He is ours. As He took our sins to give us His righteousness, as He took our shame to give us His glory; so He took us to give us Himself.

     II. The way of possession and maintenance.-'If we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end;' or, as it is expressed in a previous verse, 'Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.' Let us look at each of these words.

     (1.) The confidence.-This means firm, bold, unreserved, childlike confidence in God. It is not the same word as is used elsewhere for 'boldness'; 'In whom we have boldness' (Ephesians 3:12); 'Let us come boldly' (Hebrews 4:16); 'Boldness to enter into the holiest' (10:19); 'That we may have confidence' (1 John 2:28); 'Then have we confidence toward God' (3:21). But it is even more expressive of certainty, or assuredness, or substance (as Hebrews 11:1); it might be rendered, 'that assured substantiality'-the one word referring more to the actual, or objective certainty (?ποστασις); the other to the conscious assurance of it subjectively. 'This is the confidence that we have in Him' (1 John 5:14). The basis, then, of all true religion and acceptable service is confidence; 'for without faith it is impossible to please Him.' A religion of distrust and uncertainty is no religion at all. It lacks that special element which God recognizes and delights in. Whether, then, does your religion exhibit the trust, or the distrust; the confidence, or the want of confidence? Do not say that confidence is presumption, and diffidence humility. It is no presumption to take God at His word, and deal with Him in confidence; not supposing that anything in us can furnish ground for distrust, seeing everything invites, nay, demands trust.

     (2.) The beginning of our confidence.-That confidence has a beginning; it has certain first principles. We were not born with it. Unbelief, distrust,-these are the native roots of bitterness. The beginner of that confidence is the Holy Spirit. Only He can eradicate the distrust and impart confidence. But in what way does He operate? Through what media does He produce the trust? Through the gospel of the grace of God; for faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. The natural heart shows itself in two ways: (1) By misrepresenting the character of God; (2) By hating that which is not misrepresented, i.e. whatever of His true character which it apprehends. The Spirit works in counteraction of both of these. Take the case of Adam. Before he fell, he had confidence; not a shadow of mistrust. The moment that sin entered confidence fled, and distrust came in. In what way did God remove the distrust, and reproduce the lost confidence? Not by any mere command, not by law, not by terror and threat, but by the revelation of His grace. It was the exhibition of God's true character as the friend of man, and the enemy of man's enemy, that reproduced Adam's lost confidence, and drew him back to God. Thus Adam's confidence was rekindled. Thus ours begins; at the cross; through the right discernment of God's true character, as exhibited in the gospel of His grace.

     (3.) The holding.-We are to hold, or grasp, the beginning of our confidence to the end. In order to the holding, there must be the having. We must begin, before we can go on to the end. It is not merely our confidence that we are to hold, but the beginning of our confidence; and our confidence can only be rightly held by holding the beginning. That which gave us confidence at first (and not something else), is to give us confidence to the last. We do not merely begin at the cross, but we go on as we began. We began without deriving any confidence from our goodness or our graces, but simply from God's gracious character as exhibited in the cross, and we are to continue in the same way. How easily we forget this lesson; and so lose our confidence altogether! And when we lose it, how foolishly we try to regain it by some different way, or from some different source, than that from which we got it at first! Instead of going back to the blood for fresh peace and fresh confidence, we try to find out or work up graces, or recall evidences, as if out of them we might extract confidence and peace! Alas! they contain no peace; how can they give it to us? In spite of every temptation from within or without, let us hold the beginning of our confidence; and let us hold it not for a day, but for a lifetime,-to the end! Let us hold it fast, and not let it go.

     How much happier should we be in this case! We should be kept in perfect peace. How much holier should we be!  We should be strong against sin and the world; for confidence towards God is the great preservation against sin. How much healthier should we be spiritually!  for our religious health depends greatly on our confidence towards God. How much more useful should we be! For this confidence is the spring and stimulus of all zeal, and devotedness, and self-denial.