Devils love young people. For breakfast. First thing. Want to make a great start to a devil’s day? Serve him up a tween. He relishes every part of the baptized and raised-to-be-Christian youth. A bicep, a thigh, an eye. Especially their minds in the making. Tender minds, of folks with hours to kill in thoughtless amusement. Surfing Facebooking tweeting minds minding the social more than the divine. Long on looks and passion and short on faith and principle minds . . . these are a few of fiends’ favorite things.
God loves young people. Forever. For them, and for infants, children, the middle-aged, and old-timers God gave Jesus. He has saved us from being a meal, from being devoured by devils. We are saved from His own wrath, and the hell we sinners deserve. God gave Himself in giving Jesus. The Son of God became a man. This was and is the perfect Savior. Human greats, even angel greats compare not at all with Him. Even temple bulls could not atone. Elijah prophets might only promise. Only Jesus atones and speaks and saves, comes and sees and conquers . . . sin! In these latter days there is forgiveness through His blood shed once for all. He the Word now spoken is the Word Way back to God. Jesus: very God, perfect Man, perfect Savior, Jesus the Christ of God! That is the message of Hebrews, and of the entire New Testament. It is the gospel.
True You, and Everyone Else
Therefore . . . believe in Him, hope in Him, and love. That is the call that comes with the gospel. It comes to all of us, including the youth of the church. God has come into this world and come near in the gospel preaching and has spoken of His salvation in and through His Son Jesus. Now what to do? Here is what: believe in Him, hope in Him, and love. There is no other way to heaven than to trust, and hope, and love. Now. Not later. Later is never. Now. Or never. Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts!
Today, you youth! You have heard and been taught Jesus. Many young people have not heard, and remain lost worldlings. Many in the church have heard and are like the Jews of old, the Hebrews, the religious lost. These have a creed, maybe, but not Christ, a form but not godliness. These may have and desire circumcision, or baptism, but have not the renewed heart, the regenerating Spirit. These may have a code—a dress code, a vegetarian code, a save-the-planet-and-the-culture-in-the-name-of-God code, a head-covering code, a tolerance code—but have missed and mistrust the grace of the gospel. These may, early on, enlist, as battalion after battalion of Christian youth today are encouraged to do, in the army of a kingdom of God of this earth, which is another kingdom, and not the kingdom of the gospel, of Christ, and of the redeemed.
You, true young believer: believe God, hope in God, and love.
That is the Word of Hebrews at a grand juncture, Hebrews 10:19ff. There already, in the first ten plus chapters, is the great and incomparable Jesus. Now, a therefore. Not just a good idea therefore. A life-and-death therefore. A wonderful life and a bad death therefore.
The Way, and Believing
Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. (Hebrews 10:19–22, NKJV)
Whatever the details of this text, the basics are this: the blood of Jesus shed for sinners, and faith in that blood atonement, is the way to God. This blood way is a new and living way. The blood of bulls and lambs and goats was shed in the Old Testament house of God, the temple, but this only pointed the way to God for sinners. The blood of Jesus paved the way. For His precious blood is shed, and there is the satisfaction of God’s justice on behalf of His elect; then is atonement; and now there is forgiveness and a thousand thousand joys in heaven and on earth! This is the new thing of the New Testament and covenant of grace. Jesus is in these latter days newly slain; He, this truth and way to God, is newly revealed. And He who is the way and the truth is the life, because He has risen from the dead to the right hand of God. He lives, and through this marvelous gift of faith by which all the blessings of His blood flow to us, we have forgiveness and life in Him. We have life in Him and are brought along that way, cleansed by that blood, joined at hip and heart to Jesus by faith, and led into the fellowship of God. So He is altogether the new and living way. It is the King’s highway, the Savior’s blessed way, the only true way to life with God.
Believing, truly believing, is being confident of this new and living way, Jesus and His blood. We are so confident that we draw near to God in full assurance of faith. Not that we are without sin. But we are trusting, completely, that we are cleansed, entirely, by the blood of Jesus—heart, mind, conscience, biceps, thighs, and eyes. We draw near. That means we want God more. We want less of anything and anyone else for more of God. We want more righteousness, less sin. We withdraw, pull away from, flee whatever interferes with and would compete with our fellowship and life and joy with the Holy One.
So, believing youth, draw near to the God you believe, to the God who has come gracefully near, in Jesus, to you. Draw near to this God of your peace and of your good conscience. That is how you show your faith is real: when you truly, actively, always and above all love God and being near to God. As you believe that all your sins of youth, of your hormonal body and of your vacillating, hesitating, oft-confused soul, and of your peer-pleasing nature are forgiven. Do you believe that? Then you do the bold thing: approach God, every day, in every situation, with your cares, your besetting sins, and your praise.
Draw near, nearer, the nearest you have ever been, then nearer still. Wondering how? If far from God you’ve been and felt? Use the means the Lord has given: prayer—real, tearful prayer; hear preaching, hanging on every word; receive sacraments holily; make friends who faithfully and regularly wound your ego; sing yourself near to God, and live the song, though it be trashing the many means and Internet sites and companions even—those means and men and women of disgrace that have long kept you far from God and godliness. Above all, esteem the reproach of Christ of greater riches than the treasures of Egypt, and choose rather to suffer affliction with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.
See You at the Table
Believe. Believe and draw near. Then hope, and hold fast the profession of hope. Then love. Believing is vain without hope. Believing and hope are vain without love. All three are needed to enjoy Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. More on all those three next time.
But for now, and always, let us just remember: this is written so the devils don’t have you for breakfast. And so that you, instead, dine with God. At whose table would you rather be?
Rev. Mitchell Dick is the pastor at Sovereign Grace United Reformed Church located on the northeast side of Grand Rapids, MI.