Better and Abiding: The Double Perfection that Brings Joy (3)
We are now in our third and final article looking at Hebrews 10:34 – “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb. 10:34). Continue reading . . .
We are now in our third and final article looking at Hebrews 10:34 – “For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb. 10:34).
All of us want both quality and quantity. We want to experience a happiness and fulfillment and joy that is qualitatively the best and quantitatively the most. And that is precisely what these Christians knew they had in Christ. The “possession” they had received by faith was both “better” and “abiding.”
I can’t prove it, but I honestly believe the author of Hebrews was drawing on the truth of Psalm 16:11 when he wrote this. There David said:
“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Ps. 16:11).
He’s not talking here merely about joy, but “fullness” of joy, which is to say, joy to the max, joy overflowing, joy that is qualitatively better and more satisfying than any joy the world can offer. And it is a joy that lasts forever. This isn’t a fleeting, transient, temporary, here-today-gone-tomorrow joy. These are spiritual pleasures that extend into eternity; pleasures that never lose their capacity to enthrall and fascinate and captivate our hearts.
And that is precisely what these believers had come to know was theirs. Therefore, the key to experiencing the kind of freedom that undermines your dependence on things for happiness is the knowledge of what God has promised to do and provide for his children. When you know that God has provided a better and more abiding possession you aren’t paralyzed by loss. You aren’t devastated when your faith in Christ brings suffering.
So, what precisely is this “better” and “abiding” possession that he’s talking about? Is it just another version of the same stuff we have in this life? Is he talking about the streets of gold in the new heaven and new earth? I don’t think so. All we have to do to figure out the nature of this “possession” is to think back over what the author of this letter has already declared to be ours in Christ.
In Hebrews 1 we were told that we’ve been given Jesus, the Son of God, greater than all the angelic hosts combined.
In Hebrews 2:10 we are assured that God is bringing us, his sons and daughters, into glory!
In Hebrews 2:14-15 we’ve been set free from Satan and the fear of death.
In Hebrews 2:17 he explained that we have for ourselves Jesus as “a merciful and faithful high priest.”
In Hebrews 2:18 we are assured that Jesus is always available “to help those who are being tempted.”
In Hebrews 4 the promised possession is eternal rest in the age to come.
In Hebrews 6:11 we are told that we can experience “full assurance of hope until the end.”
In Hebrews 6:19 Jesus is to us “a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”
In Hebrews 7:25 we are promised that Jesus saves “to the uttermost” all who draw near to God through him and that “he always lives to make intercession” for us.
In Hebrews 8 we have in Jesus a better covenant enacted on “better promises” (v. 6), that assures us of the knowledge of God and intimacy with him forever.
In Hebrews 9 we are assured that the sacrifice for sin offered by Jesus finally and forever cleanses us from sin and liberates our conscience from shame and guilt.
And in Hebrews 11-13 we will see yet even more such blessings that together constitute what our author calls a better and abiding possession.
What all this means is that the “better” and “abiding” possession is God himself in the person of his Son, Jesus Christ. Nothing in this world can give you anything better. Nothing in this world can give you anything more lasting and abiding.
And the confidence, the assurance, the knowledge that all this is ours freely and forever comes only as we meditate on the truth of the gospel and think deeply on the beauty of God as revealed in Jesus and marvel at the forgiveness of our sins. The key to indomitable and irrepressible joy in the face of unimaginable suffering is in knowing that what we have in Christ surpasses in quality and quantity everything this life can offer.
Until such time as this truth takes root in your heart, you will never experience the sort of miraculous transformation and unyielding courage and unshakable joy found in these Christians of the first century.