As we've heard on multiple occasions, Sunday is like the fat kid spinning the merry-go-round roundabout on the playground for all the other kids. In this analogy, the other kids are the other days of the week. The kids aren't very interested in how he's going to spin them, as long as it gets accomplished. But, this Considerable Kid has his techniques.
I was talking to Calvin Higgins about baseball pitching techniques. I am as much a sports guy as most of you are Russian. I appreciate the identity, and at times wish that I could identify as such, but the reality is that the identity isn't mine. A pitcher gets the power for the throw not from his arm or shoulder, or even his back. The kinetic energy build up starts in the legs. The pitcher generates mechanical energy in one leg, passes it back and forth, before transferring it through his body, whipping his arm, and into the ball.
In the same way, the Considerable Kid stepping up to the merry-go-round is ready with his technique. He builds his mechanical energy, winds the swing back, transfers to a forward movement, and launches the play-set into a spin.
If we were to zoom in on that final moment of him launching the set, to see what happens when he lets go, that moment is what I'll scratch at today.
# Equipped To Go
Just like the baseball pitch, and the Considerable spin, our Lord's Day Liturgy is structured a specific way, to accomplish a specific result. Last Sunday, Sean talked about our aim in our worship liturgy, as our "progress and joy in the faith."
I'd like to build on that foundation. We are aiming to make progress in our faith, and to increase the joy of our faith, but what does that look like when it happens? What does a community of people who have made and are making progress in the faith look like?
The point of all the energy being put into the spin is for the merry-go-round to spin. Being equipped with what we receive in worshipping the Lord, we are then sent out. We have a considerable blessing here at Trinity Evangel Church. The fundamental, decisive factor in why we love what we have here is God's blessing. Every Sunday His blessing equips us.
But it doesn't equip us in order for us to then sit still on the play-set. That would be like the Considerable Fatty Kid cranking his body back, twisting forward, and right before the launch, he has a sudden jerk and stops the expected spin because everybody was so happy and comfortable on the play-set. "Why would we ruin it? We're having such a good time. It's going to get messy. Let's not risk it."
That would be ridiculous. We're on this thing in order to be spun. We come to church in order to be sent out. The TEC Bubble is a thing. It's comfortable here. Yes, that is one of God's blessings on us. But, we are to be sent out. There are those in our body who's role it is to cultivate and maintain the condition of our community. And then there are those who's role it is to go and build something. We are meant to subdue the earth - to subdue Marysville - under the Lordship of Christ.
A people who are making progress and increasing in the joy of their faith are a people who are not sitting still. They're taking ground. Our Lord's Day battering ram efforts are setting the tone for the rest of our week.
The Bible warns against a lack of enthusiasm. Once Spurgeon was preaching to a sleepy congregation who had eaten too much before the service. When he couldn't get their attention he shouted, "Fire! Fire! Fire!" When they jumped from their seats and asked where it was, he said, "In hell!"
Young people are too often lethargic in their progress because they think they have time. "I have all my life before me. What's the rush?" While the more advanced in age can be lethargic in their progress because they think they don't have much time. "My life is behind me. What's the use?" And so, with a lack of expediency, Christians continue in their lukewarmness.
We are under God's provisional hand here at Trinity Evangel. Livy's analysis about Hannibal's army is something for us to look out for. After multiple victories on the part of the Carthaginians, the solders got confident in the wrong things and grew comfortable and complacent.
> The habit of idleness which each day made more seductive, so weakened the fibres of both body and mind that from that time forward it was their past victories that protected them rather than their present strength.
We don't want to be a people that only looks back, grows comfortable and complacent. We want to trust God for his blessings on us as we go and advance.
# Equipped With Confidence
The Lord's Day equips us for the advancement of our faith. So what does it equip us with? What is the kinetic energy transfer from the Call-to-Worship, through the Cs, and out the Commissioning?
Hebrews Chapter 11 defines and demonstrates a life of faith in different circumstances in response to the call for a life of faith that Chapter 10 gives. If we're going to talk about progress and joy in faith, the second half of Hebrews 10 is not a bad place to get our feet wet.
> Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
- We are called to draw near to God with ***confidence to enter*** in verses 19-20.
- We have full ***assurance of faith*** with clean hearts and washed bodies because of our Great Priest in verses 21-22
- We are ***steadfast in the confession*** of our hope in verse 23.
- And we are ***encouraged through fellowship*** and communion in verses 24-25.
This is our Call-to-Worship, Confession, Consecration, and Communion.
And what we are receiving for each of those things is:
- Confidence to enter
- Full assurance of faith
- Unwavering steadfastness, and
- Encouragement in our assembling
Apart from other things, the blessing that we're receiving from worshipping the Lord is a **Confidence of Faith**. This is the kinetic energy transfer through our worship service that launches us out.
Our worship creates in us a **Confidence of Faith**. We then see a pattern of Commissioning in verses 26-39. Verses 26-31 say that in our assurance of faith, we do not go on sinning. And Verses 32-34 say that being enlightened, we endure suffering well. As we go out, we are to be confident when we are under temptations to sin, and trails of suffering.
There is this pattern of Call-to-Commission that we see in Hebrews 10:19-34. And it culminates with the "therefore" in verse 35.
> Therefore do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised. For,
> “Yet a little while,
> and the coming one will come and will not delay;
> but my righteous one shall live by faith,
> and if he shrinks back,
> my soul has no pleasure in him.”
> But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls.
# Anxiety Brings Destruction
When people shrink back, they do so because they're in an unpleasant place. They're under some kind of pressure where it is easier to give way than hold their ground. They're in a tight, constricted, painful place.
***"angh"***: tight, constricted, painful, strangled, and compressed
We feel squeezed and pressured - with fear or pain - and so we shrink back. We live in an anxious world.
Edwin Friedman, in ***A Failure of Nerve***, presents this sort of culture of chronic anxiety as the thing that destroys institutions - from families, to churches, to nations. He says that "America has become so chronically anxious that our society has gone into an emotional regression."
A downward spiral towards ultimate destruction. He says,
> The anxiety is so deep within the emotional processes of our nation that it is almost as though a neurosis has become nationalized.
Friedman was not a believer. But he did point out the truth that the author of Hebrews asserts in this verse.
The phrase "who shrink back and are destroyed" could be better translated as "those of timidity unto destruction." There's a clear connection between the shrinking back - being of timidity - and the destruction that is more direct than just an "and" communicates. One leads to the other.
When we shrink back in timidity, when we are anxious, we are anxious unto destruction. Anxiety brings destruction.
Anxiety manifests itself in our demonstrations of faithlessness. We yield to the pressure of temptations or trials and don't do what we ought, focusing on the frustrations of our circumstance instead of the confidence of our faith.
The author of Hebrews contrasts shrinking back with having faith. Which means, the reason we shrink back in anxiety is due to a lack of faith. We doubt God's promises. (10:36) Doubt is the petri dish in which the culture of anxiety grows. We shrink back from being steadfast and head into destruction when we throw away our confidence. (10:35)
We have received confidence to enter, assurance of faith, unwavering steadfastness, encouragement in communion. Therefore, do not throw it away.
Doubt brings anxiety. Anxiety brings destruction.
# Faith Brings Life
Our worship and liturgy is meant to equip the progress of our faith so that we may hold fast in confidence without any doubt. Our worship brings about an assurance of faith.
- In our Call to Worship we are equipped with the confidence of God's presence.
- In our Confession we are equipped with the assurance of forgiveness.
- In our Consecration we are equipped with steadfastness in our confession of hope.
- In our Communion we are equipped with encouragement in fellowship.
So that in our Commissioning, we may be equipped with the sort of faith that brings life everywhere it goes.
The phrase "who have faith and preserve their souls" could also be better translated as "those of faith *unto the preservation* of their souls." The faith leads to the preservation of the soul. We are not to be timid and cowardly moving backwards. We are to be confident and assured, advancing forward.
There is a wrong way to be confident. In 2017, Sean gave me one of the best rebukes I've ever received, "Your level of confidence doesn't match your level of competence." That could be written on my gravestone. "He had more confidence than competence."
Being confident in ourselves is not the Confidence of Faith that we're after. "Believe in yourself," although is usually said with good intentions, is arguably the worst advice you can receive.
G.K. Chesterton has the famous section in Orthodoxy when he's criticizing "believing in yourself." He said a publisher once commended a person for believing in himself. To which Chesterton replied:
> Shall I tell you where the men are who believe most in themselves? For I can tell you. I know of men who believe in themselves more colossally than Napoleon or Caesar. I know where flames the fixed star of certainty and success. I can guide you to the thrones of the Supermen. The men who really believe in themselves are all in the lunatic asylums.
In our day, the lunatic asylums have been let loose. We have men fully confident that they’re women. Women confident that their men. Identity crises everywhere. He goes on.
> Complete self-confidence is not merely a sin; complete self-confidence is a weakness.
It's not self-confidence that we have. I've never liked the phrase “Work like an Arminian, sleep like a Calvinist.” Its awfully misguided. Having to rely on yourself and working like God doesn’t control the outcome is extremely discouraging, frightening, and angst-producing. No. Work *and* sleep like a Calvinist.
Having an assurance of faith in the sovereignty of God is like strapping jet-packs to whatever it is you're doing Monday-Saturday. If God wills it, then what you’re endeavoring to do will work. And if He doesn’t, you’ll be the better for it, and you don't need to be anxious. Your confidence is to be in Him, not in yourself.
Self-confidence is usually a demonstration of a masked lack of confidence. There's a type of assertive brashness that pours out from a pitcher of insecure restlessness. Having to prove your worth or flex your size, in front of others or for your own reassurance, is not confidence. The goal is not to act confident. It’s to be so.
David demonstrates this kind of confidence in Psalm 27, which Jonathan read for us.
> The Lord is my light and my salvation;
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life;
of whom shall I be afraid?
> Though an army encamp against me,
my heart shall not fear;
though war arise against me,
yet I will be confident.
And notice why David has this confidence of faith.
> One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire in his temple.
David wants to be in God's presence. He wants to look upon the Lord.
> You have said, “Seek my face.”
My heart says to you,
“Your face, Lord, do I seek.”
David seeks the Lord, and believes that he will look upon Him.
> I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living!
He encourages us to do likewise.
> Wait for the Lord;
be strong, and let your heart take courage;
wait for the Lord!
The confidence that we receive from the Lord comes out of our faith in the Lord and His word, as we stand in His presence, giving Him our worship and our praise, Sunday to Sunday. We spin on the merry-go-round, and every cycle the Considerable Day grabs the handle and launches us again. Our worship creates a Confidence of Faith that brings about considerable life everywhere we take it, not a timid anxiety that carries with it a shriveled destruction. We go out into the anxious world, with an unwavering presence.
# We Have The Confidence of Faith
Verse 39 doesn't just tell us that faith brings life. The entire structure of the verse, and the half-chapter leading up to it is to demonstrate to us the assurance that we do have the confidence of faith.
Faith, not fear.
Advancement, not anxiety.
Trust, not timidity.
Preservation, not perdition.
Confidence, not cowardice.
We don't wait for confidence in order to then obey in faith. We are already of those who have faith. Do not throw away your confidence.
What do people with the faith that we're equipped with every Sunday and make progress in look like? They look like a confidently joyful people with an unwavering presence bringing life into an anxious world.
When we look at the world's anxiety, it is tempting to join them in it, in a sort of hysterical reaction. It gets personal out there. The enmity is not between two abstract energy sources. The antithesis plays out through flesh and blood, voices and votes, diapers and spanking sticks.
We're tired of the repetitive lessons with our kids, and the ongoing rebellion. Their disobedience feels personal, and we're tempted to shrink back and respond with a lack of faith, with frustration and anger, a lack of endurance and steadfastness.
Or perhaps your kids are grown and not walking with the Lord. There is contempt and brokenness in your relationship. You are tempted to misplace your faith, shrink back into anxiety leading into further destruction, instead of demonstrating a calm confidence and assurance of faith, leading to the preservation of your soul.
Perhaps its with your work that you are tempted to shrink back and throw away your confidence. Your plans are not aligning like you wanted them to. Things are not working out as you had hoped. So, you’re tempted to be anxious and timid, leading unto destruction, instead of holding fast to the confession of your hope with cheerful boldness.
Perhaps you're in much pain, day in and day in, acute and encompassing. Not shrinking back is a daily, raging battle for you. You're tempted to doubt the goodness of the Lord, and let go of your endurance. Remember, that "you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God you may receive what is promised." "Do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward."
We run into anxiety nearly everywhere we go. In the midst of all of that, do not throw away your confidence. Hold fast to the confession of your hope - that Jesus Christ is Lord, and it will all be okay.
We make progress in faith and in joy my getting deeper and deeper rooted in our assurance of faith. We are not to be an anxious people in an anxious world.
If our liturgy was focused on ourselves, or held us in our guilt, or gave us merely information about the truth, or was a memorial instead of a celebration, we would be well-equipped to join the world in their anxiety.
But our worship every Lord's Day brings us into God's presence with confidence, gives us the full assurance of faith with clean hearts, makes us steadfast in our confession of hope, and encourages us in our communion with God and one another. All to make us a confident people with an unwavering presence in an anxious world.
We want to be the kind of people that run into the battle without hysteria and panic. We want to be a people that are confident, competent, and calm. We receive this blessing of the confidence of faith when we enter into God's presence in worship, and then we take it with us as we go out to live a life of faith through embodied joy under the Lordship of Christ.
You know that without faith it is impossible to please God. Do you know, though, that God *rewards* those who draw near in faith? It’s the same verse (Hebrews 11:6)! You believe, keep seeking His blessing. You believe, keep doing good by faith. You believe, go in the confidence of His blessing.
> To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power, so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:11–12 ESV)