Passage: Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:23-27; 9:23-26
Guide for Group Discussion or Personal Reflection
In this season of uncertainty, many of us daily feel the need for courage. In the book of Hebrews, the author consistently exhorts his listeners to courage through a confident assurance rooted in the truth that Jesus is our great high priest who represents us perfectly before God.
As a great high priest, Jesus gives us confident assurance of our access to God. Hebrews repeatedly encourages us to “draw near” to God, because Jesus, the God-man, has “passed through the heavens” and is seated at the right hand of God. Humanity is therefore permanently in the presence of God, which is exactly where God wants us! The very purpose of Jesus’ death on our behalf, in fact, was to bring us close to God. We should recognize, then, the great access we have to God—a God who actually wants to be near us—and take advantage of that access by drawing close to him in all our circumstances.
Jesus also gives us assurance that he is able and willing to help us—an assurance based on the fact that he is not “unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but…in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (4:15). Jesus gives us not helps is practically, but feels with us in our suffering, having experienced every ounce of it himself. Though he does not always remove our suffering, he is always present with us in it.
Finally, Jesus gives us assurance through his perfect advocacy. He constantly defends us from every accusation of our enemy, not only dying to forgive us, but “living to make intercession” for us even now, at his Father’s right hand (7:25). We can therefore lay off our own anxious attempts to “advocate” for ourselves before God and others, and rest in Christ’s perfect and continual representation of us. Truly we have a great high priest!
- Assurance of Our Access (4:16; 7:19; 7:25; 10:22)
- Assurance of Our Help (4:15)
- Christ is God’s Proximate Word (1:2)
Group Discussion & Personal Reflection Guide
Re-read the passage (Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:23-27; 9:23-26)
Assurance of Our Access (4:16; 7:19; 7:25; 10:22)
Q) Read Hebrews 4:16, 7:18-19, 10:22. What is the author of Hebrews consistently encouraging the readers to do? What does this tell us about God’s desires for us?
Q) Re-read Hebrews 10:22. What do you think it means that through Jesus our hearts “are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience”? And what difference does a “clean conscience” make for our boldness in approaching God?
Q) Pastor Bobby said in the sermon: “God did not draw us near to himself in order to make us Holy…God made us holy in order that we might draw near to him.” What is the difference between these two statements? If this is true, what does this tell us about God’s nature and character?
Q) Is it your first instinct to believe that God wants to be close to you, or not?What practical difference would it make in your life if you believed this?What would be some characteristics of a whole church who truly believed this?
Assurance of Our Help (4:15)
Q) Re-read Hebrews 4:15-16. What reason does the author of Hebrews give in verse 15 for our confidence?
Q) Hebrews 4:15 says that in Jesus, we have a high priest who is able to “sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.” How is this conception of God different than what is often taught about the gods of other religions?
Q) Think of a particular struggle you’re facing right now, or a particular temptation. Can you think of a time when Jesus faced the same struggle, or the same temptation? How might recognizing this give you hope, and how might it change the way you make it through the struggle/temptation?
Assurance of our Advocate (7:23-25)
Q) Re-read Hebrews 7:23-25. What do these verses teach about what Jesus is doing right now? What does it mean that Jesus “lives to make intercession for us”?
Q) Pastor Bobby said that we have a tendency to constantly “advocate” for ourselves, before God and others—to hold forth something about who we are or what we’ve achieved for our assurance and a sense of acceptance. Have you ever noticed this dynamic in your life? If so, what do you use to “advocate” for yourself? What are some signs that you’re doing this?
Q) CASE STUDY: You’re talking a friend who describes a very significant choice they made years earlier in their life—a choice that deeply hurt others, including their own family. “My family has told me they’ve forgiven me,” they say to you, “And I believe they have. And I know that God forgives me. But I just can’t seem to forgive myself. I feel constantly guilty about it, even ten years later. I just can’t ‘let myself off the hook.’” Based on this week’s sermon, how might you encourage your friend?
Additional Application Questions
Q) How else would you like to engage with God this week?
Q) How can you tangibly care for those in your community this week, both inside and outside of the church?
Spend time praying for yourselves, our church community, the North Shore community, and our nation and world—particularly those most vulnerable.