Hold Fast…

“Hold Fast to What is Good…”
(Rom 12:9)

There are days when we have more questions than answers; more doubts than assurances.

  • Wondering why the wicked prosper and the righteous struggle through the day.
  • Wondering how God will provide when there’s more month than money.
  • Wondering if that prayer for healing, for peace, for assurance will ever be answered.
  • Wondering what meaning could possibly be found in the midst of this trial and suffering.

Questions and doubts like these have the potential to rob us of our comfort and peace in believing.  We struggle in that “dark night of the soul,” grasping to something, anything, that will bring us through.

This is why the Spirit teaches us to “Hold fast to what is good” (Rom 12:9).  Like a survivor of a shipwreck who clings to the life preserver, we must hold fast to that which is certain to bring us through to salvation. This term “hold fast” is the same term that Scripture uses in describing marriage, “He shall leave his father and mother, and hold fast to his wife” (Gen 2:24).  It’s not simply a desperate grasping at straws, hoping to find something to hold on to, but rather it is coming back to the assurance that comes with God’s covenant promise.  Hold fast, rest in, the goodness of the promise.

So, briefly, what is this good to which we are to hold fast in the midst of our doubts and troubles?  Let me offer three “goods” that Scripture calls us to hold on to.

Hold fast to the truth.

One of my favorite passages from the preliminary statements of the Book of Church Order in the PCA (I know, that phrase scores high on the geek scale), is this:

“That truth is in order to goodness; and a great touchstone of truth, its tendency to promote holiness; according to our Savior’s rule, “by their fruits ye shall know them.” And that no opinion can be either more pernicious or more absurd than that which brings truth and falsehood upon a level, and represents it as of no consequence what a man’s opinions are. On the contrary, we are persuaded that there is an inseparable connection between faith and practice, truth and duty. Otherwise it would be of no consequence either to discover truth or to embrace it.”

Can we not say that we live in a day when truth and falsehood are presented as equal? When we are unable to say which bathroom a person ought to use without being labeled a “hate-monger,” and a Harvard law professor tells his students that Evangelical Christians should be treated like Nazi criminals; I’d say its time for us to hold fast to the truth.

Where do we find that truth?  In the word of God.  Jesus said that those who are the good soil are those who, “hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience” (Luke 8:15).  Paul says we are to “hold fast to the word of life (Philippians 2:16). 1 Thessalonians 5:21 teaches us to test everything and hold fast to the truth. When someone comes along claiming to know the truth, test it against the Word of God. When troubles come and cause you to doubt, test them against the Word of God.  Hold fast to the truth of God’s Word.

Hold fast to hope.

Not only are we to hold on to the truth, but we must remain in that truth with hopefulness.  Holding fast to truth without hope can result in a rather dour and pessimistic outlook on life.  But faith is both truth and hopefulness.  I remember reading somewhere that Biblical hope is not an uncertain desire, it is a confident expectation.  When we are established in the truth of God’s Word, and rest in His promises, we have a confident expectation that His Word and His promise are true and will be fulfilled.

This is what Hebrews 10:23 teaches, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”  So hold fast to the hopeful expectation of God’s goodness and mercy, for this hope “does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

Hold fast to Christ.

Ultimately, the truth and the hope to which we must hold fast is found in Jesus Christ.  In Him alone is the truth, and in Him alone is the fulfillment of every promise of God. Christ is the Word of God incarnate, the living embodiment of God’s truth. He is God’s “Yes” and “Amen,” the faithful and true witness.  He is the “hope of the world” (Matt. 12:21), and in Him “will the Gentiles put their hope” (Rom 5:12).

In the midst of the doubts and questions, the troubles and the fears, hold fast to that which is good; hold fast to Christ.

SDG

Hold Fast to the Truth

We live in a strange time of absolute relativism.

In this brave new world there is no meaning except that which you give to something. Your experience is what determines and defines your reality, and outside of that experience there is no such thing as Truth or Right and Wrong. You can’t tell someone they are wrong today, just that their opinion of reality is different than your own. To insist upon one perceived truth over another is an aggression against a person’s individuality and is not allowed. To claim to be right is the only thing that is wrong.

This all started small. I remember when math teachers were proposing that 2+2 might not always equal 5. Now you can’t make judgements about someone’s life choices without being labeled close minded and bigoted. This video from the Family Policy Institute of Washington is revealing:

We are so confused today that we can’t even tell someone today which bathroom they are supposed to use.

As much as people consider this as avant-guard thinking, the reality is, as Ecclesiastes says, “there is nothing new under the sun.”

Durning Jesus’ trial, Pilate asks him, “What is truth?” Paul warned young Timothy that there would come a time when “people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Timothy dealt with this in the Church, as we still do today.

Today, if you preach that God is loving and gracious and forgiving, well that’s fine. But don’t tell me that I might be sinning in my dating relationships, or that my career and bank account have become idols, or that I have profaned the sabbath under the excuse of “quality family time at the lake”. That’s going too far. We are all too ready and eager to go shopping for a Church and a Preacher that will love the things we love, hate the things we hate, and never criticize our personal choices.

So how are we supposed to live in the midst of all of this? God’s Word to us from 2 Timothy is a strong foundation in this world of shifting sand. Here are a few points of application:

Recognize our own Tendency to Compromise
When reading 2 Timothy 4, it is easy to say that this applies only to those who are on the other end of the political/moral pendulum than me. They’re the ones who have itching ears, who wander from the truth, who find teachers who tickle their ears. In truth, we all gravitate toward likeminded people, and we resist those who will challenge and confront us. If we love the truth, then we must continue to put ourselves in the position where we will be corrected and reproofed by the truth. We must come to the realization that when the Scriptures address sin and call us to repentance, when the Preacher rebukes and exhorts, its not always about the other person; often times, its about you.

Be sober minded
I think a modern interpretation of this phrase might read, “Don’t flip out,” or “Don’t lose your head.” Being sober minded is being grounded in the truth. Yes, we live in a world of lies, and people love and and accept the lie more than they love the truth. There is a veil over their eyes, and they have been blinded to the truth. This is the state of affairs in a broken and sinful world.

So keep your head about you. At times it will seem as though the Truth is advancing, other times its seems as though the inmates are running the asylum. But this is not the end. Christ our Redeemer has overcome all things, including the lies and deception of the evil one. Love and hold fast to the truth, suffering for it, as you certainly will, with patience and compassion for those who are sadly deceived.

Do the Work of the Evangelist
The evangelist is one who proclaims good news in troubled times. In the midst of the lies, Christ came as the Way, the Truth, and the Life; He is the light in the midst of darkness, He is the truth that sets us free. In Him there is a resounding “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, but there is also a glorious “Yes!” godly living (Titus 2:11-14).

As followers of Christ, we are called to proclaim, to those who do not know the truth, and to those who are being swayed by the lies, to live out the truth in word and deed. With truth and love we are to proclaim Christ, calling all to repent and believe. We are to “have mercy on those who doubt; save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh” (Jude 22-23).

So as I say each week at then end of worship, “Go out into the world in peace, be of good courage, hold fast to that which is good, return no one evil for evil, but help the suffering, strengthen the fainthearted, support the weak, honor and serve all people, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit!”

Grace and peace,
SDG