Things Unshakable

Unshakable God.jpg

"“Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.”[k] 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain." - Hebrews 12:26b-27

I have been looking at a book of sermons by Paul S. Rees who was one of the great preachers I heard as a young man. The book title is taken from the first sermon in the book. The sermon is based on Hebrews 12.27 – “This phrase, ‘Yet once more,’ indicates the removal of things that are shaken... in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain” [English Standard Version].

The verse draws a contrast between things transient versus things permanent. This was a critical difference for God’s people, whose world was being shaken by growing opposition and the beginning of persecution. The larger political world was somewhat unstable as well. So, in several ways, Christian people were on “shaky ground.”

In that situation, the writer of Hebrews wants to make clear what is sure and reliable. In the midst of growing confusion and chaos, when some were turning away from the faith, he talks about what is settled and certain.

For Christians, the claims of God about Christ always rise above the noise of the surrounding world. This writer wanted his readers to discern between what was temporal and passing away versus what was ordained of God and immovable. Some of these things discussed in the letter include the following: The old creation was corrupted and dying but God’s eternal new creation had already begun. The old law of animal sacrifice was no longer useful because salvation through Christ’s one-time sufficient sacrifice was established once and for all. All in all, the old order of things was passing away, but the Kingdom of God would never end! The passionate pleas scattered throughout Hebrews—pleas for God’s people to resist turning back to the old way and instead to fully embrace God’s new way in Jesus Christ make perfect sense.

In this way, God’s people have always been part of a resistance movement. It doesn’t mean that we don’t care about our world, but it does mean we are convinced that the real answers to the problems of our world are found in the reality of the One True God and what God is doing through His only Son. The really important stuff that impacts everything on earth is happening around the heavenly plan and purpose of God. Christ loved the world but resisted its values and ways of resolution to the biggest issues of his day. So, like Jesus, in our attempt to reach out to our world we must stubbornly cling to Christ and His message. It is, after all, all we have.

There is no plan B. But Christ is enough!

You may have noticed that in some ways, our current situation mirrors that of Christian people who received this letter in the latter part of the 1st century. Of course, there is a lot of hype and magnification of things today. Often those who have the microphone—or the iPhone — can shape the stats and news, enlarge on one thing, while down-playing another. But I think we would agree that there is much confusion, loss of hope, and fear in our world. Religious and spiritual options are every-where. The polarizing impact of politics has now become a growing fear of the failure of democracy. The threat of nuclear weapons and the continued concern over global terrorism are familiar. One might wonder: Are there any unshakable things that we can hold to these days? That question has been answered above and much more powerfully in the entire message of Hebrews.

But I should point out that one of the ways the church practices its resistance is not in marching, protesting, and loudly condemning. It is in corporate worship and specifically in its declaration of and confidence in the unshakable things.

See Hebrews 10.19-25 and the urge for Christians in their meeting together, to draw near to God, to hold fast to their confession, and to move each other to acts of love and good works. In response to the unshakable acts, promises, purpose, future, and faithfulness of God, His people need to be unshakable in their devotion, faith, and service. The church has a critical role in proclaiming and practicing the unshakable things.

For over 20 centuries the church has believed, confirmed, and declared some unshakable things and these motivate and shape our life together. Consider: our Triune God who is Creator and Sustainer of the universe; the incarnation, atoning death, and bodily resurrection of God’s Son; the presence and work of the Holy Spirit; Christ’s prevailing gospel and kingdom till the very end; the reliable Holy Scriptures; the promise of Christ’s return; and a new heavens and new earth with Christ living with us eternally.

What a wonderful personal testimony, echoing from a heart warm with confidence in Christ! What a powerful corporate testimony, expressed with conviction in the united voices of a local body of Christ!

I believe ... in the unshakable things of God! Unshakable things! It is why and how we exist. It is who we are. It is what we do.

Rev. Steve McGuire, Assistant to the D.S.
Devotion from February edition of district newsletter

"Our Father in heaven, help us to honor your name. Come and set up your kingdom, so that everyone on earth will obey you, as you are obeyed in heaven. Give us our food for today. Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others. Keep us from being tempted and protect us from evil." - Matthew 6:9-13 (CEV)
Feb 9 2018