Holding Fast Our Profession, by Herman Hoeksema
Reformed Free Publishing Association
“Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.” — Hebrews 4:14
Seeing then…let us hold fast!
Doctrine and exhortation follow each other in regular sequence in this profound and beautiful part of Holy Scripture.
While the exhortatory passages with which the epistle is interspersed occupy the position of inferences from preceding didactical expositions, at the same time they frequently are transitions to further instruction in the truth of the Christian profession to come.
Thus it is in the section that is introduced by the words that constitute the basis of this meditation.
In the preceding part of the epistle, the believers had received sufficient instruction to know and to acknowledge that they have a great high priest who is passed into the heavens—Jesus the Son of God. This had been the chief theme of all the author had written thus far. They were now in a position to see by faith that their high priest was far exalted above all that the shadows of the old dispensation could ever offer. In this position they were now quite receptive for the exhortation not to turn back from the reality of the new into the shadows of the old dispensation, but to hold fast their profession.
There was indeed need of this earnest exhortation, for under the pressure of temptation and persecution, there was a tendency to look back and once again to cling to the tabernacle and temple made with hands.
The church in the world is always in need of hearing this same exhortation: Let us hold fast our profession!
Within and without, the enemy of that profession ever tempts and presses us to abandon it.
But we have a great high priest who is gone into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God. Of him much has been written in the preceding section, and of his glory and greatness much more is still to be said.
Upon him believers must constantly fix the eyes of their faith.
Seeing him as the great high priest, beholding him with the eye of faith, they will not waver, though all hell rise up against them.
They will surely hear and heed this exhortation: Hold fast your profession.
Wonderful gift of God’s grace!
But at the same time, a sacred obligation before the face of him who is the author of it, and the glory of whose grace is the end of it.
Your profession is that which—in the fellowship of the saints—is given you to know of the marvelous works of God, of the glory of his grace in the beloved, of the blessedness of salvation, redemption, the forgiveness of sins, and covenantal fellowship with the triune God. It is that which—through the word and the Spirit of Christ dwelling in the church—is revealed to you concerning the things which eye has not seen, neither ear heard, nor has ever arisen in the heart of man.
It is that glorious truth, that knowledge of the God of your salvation and of his everlasting covenant, as your profession.
It signifies that in fellowship with the church in the world, you embrace that truth by a true and living faith; that spiritually it has become flesh of your flesh, bone of your bone; that it controls and dominates your whole existence, your very life in the midst of the world; that now you become a living witness of him who called you, to speak of his name, his glory, and of the wonder of his marvelous grace; and that this testimony of your mouth is sealed and adorned by a walk worthy of God who called you into his kingdom and glory.
That is Christ, and yourself only in relation to him.
For the sum and substance of the profession that the Spirit, through the word of God, works in the church—and in fellowship with her, in the heart of every believer—is that Jesus is Lord.
He, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph the carpenter, who was born in the stable of Bethlehem and found his first bed in the manger; who in all his life never rose above the humiliating level of that stable and of that manger; who had no form or comeliness, no beauty that men should desire him; who was despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, before whom men hid their faces; who, as far as this world and his position in it was concerned, never had a name, or power, or glory; who was a servant of servants, and whose life ended in the shameful death of the accursed tree; whom even now, and throughout all the ages, all men, exactly as men, despise and reject—that Jesus is Lord!
That is the heart of the Christian profession.
It means that he is the Lord in himself, the very creator of the world, who in himself has all power and authority over heaven and earth and all they contain, and that he is the only begotten Son, who is eternally in the bosom of the Father, God of God, light of light. It implies that this Lord of all assumed the form of a servant, and in that form voluntarily emptied himself completely, descending into the deep and dark vale of the shadow of death and of the agony of hell, because he had taken upon himself the iniquities of his own, and with them and for them he walked as the servant of Jehovah, in perfect obedience of love, to bring the perfect sacrifice that would forever blot out the guilt of sin. It signifies also that God raised him from the dead, giving him testimony that he is righteous, and that he exalted him at his own right hand, far above all principality and power and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come.
That is the Christian profession.
It is the profession in word and the manifestation of this profession in deed that this Jesus is our Lord, that we belong to him with body and soul for time and eternity, that his mind is our light, that his will is our law, and that we delight to keep his commandments with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, personally and in every relationship of life, in the home and on the street, in the church and in the factory, always and everywhere. For Jesus is Lord over all, and another lordship next to him is not to be acknowledged.
He is not a Lord, but the Lord—Lord universal and absolute!
And your profession means that you are and insist on being his servants in word and in deed.
Hold it fast!
For to persevere in that profession is a matter of life and death.
For “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”
Hold fast, therefore, your profession.
To be sure, this means that you are zealous concerning the truth as it is in Jesus, revealed in the Holy Scriptures, that as a church and as individual believers, you strive for the purity of the faith once delivered to the saints, and that you persistently refuse to be tossed about by any and every wind of doctrine.
It signifies too that you appropriate this pure revelation of the living Lord by a true and living faith, and that by this faith you cling to it, so that your mind is constantly enlightened by it as by a certain, spiritual knowledge, so that your will is wholly controlled and determined by it, so that you put all your confidence in him who is your Lord, and so that you are dominated by a sincere resolution to do his will and to walk in the midst of the world as before the face of your Lord without wavering.
It implies, finally, that you let your light shine, never hiding it under a bushel, that you confess the name of your Lord as a church in the preaching of his word and as individual believers in all your walk and life, so that always and everywhere, and come what may, you actually love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your mind, with all your soul, and with all your strength, forsake the world, crucify your old nature, and walk in a new and holy life. It implies that in the midst of the world you reveal yourself as being of the party of the living God, revealed in Jesus Christ our Lord.
Hold fast your profession.
Preserve it, cling to it tenaciously, and by faith confess it and enact it in and before the whole world.
And take it very seriously.
For it is indeed a matter of life and death, not only of real, eternal life and eternal death, but also of life and death in this world.
In the holding fast of your profession, you must be wholly prepared, fully and unconditionally, without wavering or compromise, to accept the word of your Lord: He who will save his life shall lose it, and he who will lose his life for my sake will save it unto life eternal.
Even as the lordship of him whom you profess is the most absolute and intolerant and uncompromising lordship conceivable, so that it brooks no other lordship anywhere, so your profession of that lordship is most radical: it knows of no adaptation and of no compromise.
Say not in your heart that for the sake of your earthly life, job, position, safety, or well-being you may be excused for adapting your confession to circumstances, for compromising with the world; that you must live and have a place in the world, and have food, clothing, and shelter, and that therefore you may hide your light, keep silent about your Lord, and accommodate your way of life to the demands of the world. For the moment you permit such considerations to influence your profession, you are lost. You are attempting to save your life, and will surely lose it.
It must be either Christ or Belial.
You either profess or deny.
Hold fast, therefore.
For there is another lordship in the world: the lordship of the man of sin, of the son of perdition, of the beast, and of the false prophet. It too is intolerant. It is radically opposed to the lordship of your profession. It too aims at universal control, and it cannot rest until all the inhabitants of the world wonder after the beast and worship it. It will oppose you and seduce you by its false philosophy, even under the cloak of religiousness. It will tempt you to become unfaithful to your profession by offering you the privileges of the kingdom of this world, by threatening you with its furious wrath, by casting you out so that you can neither buy nor sell unless you openly acknowledge its lordship, and by putting the sword of the world power to your throat.
The power of that lordship is even now operating in the world, mightily striving to realize itself and to reveal itself in its ultimate manifestation.
Soon it will rise up out of the turbulent sea of the restless, sin-motivated, wrath-driven, warring nations.
Hold fast, therefore, your profession.
Yield not to the lust of the flesh, to the desire to save your life, to the seducing pleasures of the world, and be not afraid of its fury and implacable hatred.
Through the word of God, in the power of the Spirit, by prayer and supplication, persevere.
The time is at hand.
Looking unto Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our profession.
Without that look of faith, that constant look upon him, you will surely be swallowed up by the waves of temptation and tribulation. But seeing him, you will be safe and steadfast, without fear of wavering.
He is your high priest.
Your Lord whom you profess is your high priest, who sacrificed himself for your sins and your transgressions and obtained for you the forgiveness of sins and perfect righteousness. He is your intercessor with the Father, who is acquainted by deepest experience with all your infirmities, with your sins and weaknesses, with your trials and temptations, with all your suffering and death, and who constantly prays for you with a prayer that is never denied. He is your all, in whom are all the spiritual blessings of salvation, and the one who constantly fills you with them.
And he is great.
He is Jesus, the revelation of the God of our salvation.
He is the very Son of God, infinite in power and glory, the Lord of all in himself. All things are of him and unto him. Even those mighty forces of darkness in the world that rise up against him to deny and oppose his lordship are of his own design. Therefore, all their raving and fury can only serve his purpose.
For he is passed into the heavens.
This Jesus was indeed the servant of servants in the days of his flesh. He was despised and rejected, and nowhere was he permitted to have a place in the world. This Jesus did indeed leave his earthly life as a castaway on the accursed tree, and the world appeared to have the victory over him. But God did not leave his soul in hell and did not permit his holy one to see corruption. He justified him, raised him from the dead, and gave him life and glory. He exalted him in the highest heavens and put him at his own right hand in heavenly places. He made him Lord of all.
Seeing then…hold fast your profession.
Seeing the Lord whom you profess is so great a Lord, God’s anointed Lord, hold fast your profession of him with fear and trembling, lest in any way you deny his glory.
Looking upon him who has the victory, and who holds all the powers of darkness in his mighty hand, fear not.
Hold fast your profession, even unto the end!
The victory is yours!
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