Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hebrews 6: Remain Confident In #Christ

Theme: Remain Confident in Christ

B) Ways
5) By pressing on to maturity (con't)

Chapter 6 gives a solemn warning of the believer's need to press on to a mature understanding  of Christ, so they may remain confident in His promise of rest (i.e. deliverance from the power of sin in daily life, and presence of sin in glory).  There seem to be several reasons to press on to maturity.

A) Because God chastens fruitless believers (1-8).

"For in the case of those who have once been enlightened...and have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance...ground that drinks the rain...but..yields thorns and thistles...ends up being burned...(4-8 NAS). This passage has at least four possible interpretations, most of which can be eliminated by the context or clear references in other passages of Scripture:

1) A believer will loose his salvation if He falls away from His profession of faith. This view is impossible, because Romans 8:30ff. indicates everyone who ever becomes saved in the first place (justified), will also be glorified (future), and that nothing in time or space is able to separate the believer from this love of God.

2) This refers to people who made professions, but were never actually saved. Although possible, much of the context of Hebrews seems to indicate that believers are in view. The description of those who have "once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" (4-5), seems to best fit a believer.

3) This describes a hypothetical situation which could never really happen. Support for this view comes from the KJV translation _"If"_ they shall fall away". It is argued that it is only impossible to renew someone to repentance "if" they fall away, and that it is impossible for a true believer to
fall away, therefore the warning is only hypothetical.  However, the word "if" ("kai") almost always means "and". Thus, the text more accurately describes "those who have once been enlightened...and have fallen away" (NAS), as if such cases could occur.

4) This describes people who are truly saved, but who deviate from the truth to the extent that they become fruitless and severely chastened by God. This view seems to best fit the context and language.

Those "who have once been enlightened" elsewhere seems to refer to those who are truly saved (cf. 10:32; 2 Cor. 4:3-6).  Those "who have tasted the heavenly gift", also uses language similar to that of believers when they first trust Christ (John 4:10; Rom. 6:23; James 1:17-18). These were people who "have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit". Hebrews 1:9 uses this word ("partaker") to refer to companions of Christ, and "holy brethren" in 3:1 and 14.

Also, national Israel has been used as the example of people who are truly redeemed (from Egypt, which typifies the believer being redeemed from the slave market of sin), but who fail to enter the rest of the promised inheritance (land) because they don't believe God will also deliver them from its giants. God chastened them to the point of physical death as they wandered aimlessly in the wilderness of sin for 40 years.  Even Moses, whom we know was saved (cf. Heb. 11; Mt. 17:3), did not enter the promised inheritance "rest" during life on earth, being chastened by God because of disobedience (Num. 27:12-14; Deut. 3:21-29; 34:4).

Also, the illustration of people as land which drinks up rain, but bears only thorns and thistles and ends up burned (7-8), evokes ideas of hell, but may actually picture a common farming practice. If land became useless because of weeds, the field was burned, the growth consumed, and the land became useful again.

1 Tim. 1:19-20 apparently describes a situation where those who had suffered "shipwreck" with regard to their faith, would benefit from chastening. Hebrews 12:4-13 calls on the believer to endure the chastening process of God, noting it is first sorrowful, then yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness. 1 Peter 1:7 explains that full enjoyment of our inheritance "rest" waits us in heaven, that the various trials we experience now test and prove our faith like "fire" purifies gold, and that we actually experience the joy of the future aspects of our salvation while still here on earth as we hope for it's completion at the appearing of Christ (cf. Rom. 6-8).

This passage seems best understood as warning believers to remain confident in Christ so they don't become fruitless, and severely chastened by God.

B) Because God remembers your good works (9-12). 

Sin and unbelief do not accompany salvation in the sense that they are fruit of God's saving work, yet the believer struggles against his old sin nature till glory (Rom. 6-8; cf. 1 John 1:5-10).  As an encouragement, this passage reminds the readers that God is just, and remembers their love and ministry to the saints--fruit which does accompany God's saving work.

C) Because God's keeps His promises (13-20). 


First, God is truth, and does not lie, therefore His promise of deliverance from the power and presence of sin should assure us it will come to pass on our behalf (Rom. 6 - 8). Second, the fact God swore to fulfill this promise to Abraham, should assure us that He who has begun a good work in us will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Gen. 22:17ff.; Philipp. 1:6). God's promise to Abraham's seed is fulfilled in the person of Christ, and therefore extended to every child of God through faith in Him (see Gal. 3:7-29). Since there is no one greater than God, this oath to Himself should assure us.

D) Because Christ has entered the Holy of Holies.

Since Christ is our High Priest and has entered the presence of God in the heavenly holy of holies on our behalf, and since God promised to deliver believers from the power and presence of sin through faith in Christ, our hope of such salvation is anchored securely in the presence of God. Therefore, we should remain confident in Christ by pressing on to maturity, in the hope of deliverance from the power and presence of sin by our Great High Priest.

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