As we work our way
through Hebrews chapter six we need to keep in mind
the whole context of the book of Hebrews and the
chapters that immediately precede and that follow.
This chapter contains the
third warning passage in Hebrews and is one of the
severest warnings in the Scriptures. But in that
severity there are also strong words of
encouragement. The true believer will heed the
warnings, and hopefully the unbeliever will respond
and be born again. Apparently, it is a mixed group
who are reading the homily. Some have been truly
spiritually regenerated and are saved; others are
not saved and are considering returning to the old
covenant sacrifices at the Temple and forsaking
Jesus Christ. The author wants to take his readers
to a deeper level of understanding and commitment to
Christ. However, some have already become dull of
hearing, sluggish or lazy mentally and spiritually.
Their interests are on other things, and they are no
longer ready to listen. By now, they should have
matured and become teachers in the church. The
author of Hebrews rebukes the spiritual immaturity
of some of his readers. Spiritually they are like
children who can only understand spiritual truths on
the lowest level. He wants to take them on to higher
level of maturity. The emphasis of this portion of
the book is on making spiritual progress. There is
nothing wrong with milk, you just need to progress
Note the four marks of
spiritual immaturity in this passage: dullness or
laziness toward the Word of God, inability to teach
others the Word of God, a diet of elementary truths
in the Word, and failure to apply the Word to their
own personal lives. No wonder they had dried up
These warnings have been
interpreted by Bible scholars in four different
ways. One group says these are believers who have
fallen away and lose their salvation. Others think
those who fall away are people who made professions
and say they believed, but in reality are not. There
is no evidence they were ever saved. Other scholars
view this as a hypothetical situation. If a
Christian could lose his salvation, which he cannot,
it would be impossible for them to be saved again.
Others interpret this passage as only Hebrew
Christians living before the destruction of the
temple could commit this sin of returning to the
temple and therefore rejecting Christ.
When is repentance
impossible? In the passage before us someone has a
great religious emotional experience and receives a
great blessing, and then the same person falls away,
and in so doing re-crucifies the Son of God and puts
Him to open shame. Then it is impossible to renew
that person to repentance. Some of these readers
have tried everything God has to offer, and have
turned away from it. Christ died for them, so there
is nothing more to present to them. To reject Jesus
Christ and His atoning sacrifice for sin is to
reject the only means of having a right relationship
with the LORD God. Moreover, there is no such thing
as being saved a second time. You are either saved
or you are not.
Can a person be a parker
of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit and not be
justified, i.e. declared righteous before a holy
God? Can you taste and be a partaker of the Holy
Spirit and the Word of God and the powers of the age
to come and not be justified? Can you lose your
standing before God as a truly saved person and be
lost? Or is this passage teaching that you can have
great religious experiences and never have been
saved? Is it possible to have all these great
blessings and experiences and not be born again or
saved? Critical to these questions and
interpretation is what is your personal relationship
with Christ Jesus? In whom or what are you trusting
for your salvation?
We are convinced of
better things for you.
The author gives an
illustration his readers would easily understand.
"For ground that drinks the rain which often falls
on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those
for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a
blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and
thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed,
and it ends up being burned" (Hebrews 6:7-8,
NASB95). All Scripture references are from New
American Standard Bible, 1995 Update unless
The rain has fallen on
the ground and the seed has produced an abundant
harvest. It is an illustration of the true believer
whose fruitfulness is a sign of the condition of his
heart. God has blessed the believer and he is
fruitful. The believers who drink from the fountain
of God's Word produce fruit to God's glory.
What is your religious
experience producing in your daily life? What kind
of spiritual fruit is my life producing? That should
be what every believer asks himself as he reads this
Again, the parable of the
sower in Matthew 13:3-23 comes to mind when we read
these verses. The following verses demand justice
and destruction when no good fruit is produced (cf.
John 15:2, 6).
"But, beloved, we are
convinced of better things concerning you, and
things that accompany salvation, though we are
speaking in this way" (Hebrews 6:9). "Beloved"
(agapetos) are "divinely loved ones." He now
has believers in mind. The author of Hebrews does
not believe his readers are apostates, or that they
are potential apostates. He thinks they are truly
saved. When he calls them "beloved" he is reassuring
them of his genuine love for them. He has confidence
in them as Christians.
"The better things for
you" is the full salvation God has provided in
Christ Jesus for the believer. It is the
"inheritance" we look forward to in the future (Heb.
1:14). His goal is that they go deeper in
God's Word and become Christlike. He wants them to
produce fruits of righteousness. We are assured of
better things to come referring to our salvation.
God has a perfect
In the verses that follow
the author does not think his readers have
apostatized. His goal is to get them to focus their
faith on Christ as their only hope. It is time to
grow up spiritually. Beginning with chapter seven
the author will pick up his refrain once again of
the High Priestly ministry of Jesus. He will go on
to teach solid food and spiritual meat.
"For God is not unjust so
as to forget your work and the love which you have
shown toward His name, in having ministered and in
still ministering to the saints. And we desire that
each one of you show the same diligence so as to
realize the full assurance of hope until the end, so
that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of
those who through faith and patience inherit the
promises" (Hebrews 6:10-12).
God is faithful. He is
going to fulfill His eternal purpose in the life of
the believer. He always finishes what He begins.
"God is not unjust to
forget your work and love which you have shown
toward His name, in ministering to the saints." That
is encouraging to every true believer who serves
Christ with a loving faithful attitude. Ministry is
difficult in many churches. God forgets our sins,
but He remembers our love for Him. Their "work" (ergou)
was not what saved them; it is the evidence of their
regeneration by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was
producing "love" (agapes) in them. The service they
were rendering was out of that love produced by the
Spirit within them. It is in the present tense
indicating that God is still producing this work in
them. It reminds us of the fruit of the Spirit in
We have a sure hope
centered in our Savior. The Lord has provided
faithful models and mentors to encourage us. Hebrews
chapter eleven is filled with these examples of men
and women who have held to a steadfast hope in the
Lord. Their lives are filled with faith, hope and
"Let us draw near with a
sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our
hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and
our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast
the confession of our hope without wavering, for He
who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to
stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not
forsaking our own assembling together, as is the
habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all
the more as you see the day drawing near" (Hebrews
There is no hope without
faith in Jesus Christ because hope is centered in
Him alone. Faith without hope in Christ is empty and
worthless. In whom or what is your faith and hope
focused? The only anchor of the soul is Jesus
Christ. Any other anchor will be swept away by the
hurricanes of life.
God promises eternal life
to everyone who believes in His Son. Therefore, we
as believers expect the promise of eternal life to
This "full assurance" is
a great help to spiritual growth when the heart is
fully persuaded that the work of Christ is all
sufficient. Our hope is centered in Him and all He
has accomplished for us. Our hope is kept alive by
trusting in the promises of God in His Word. Without
full assurance the believer will not make progress
in his or her spiritual life. I have yet to see a
person who does not have the assurance of their
salvation grounded in the great doctrines of grace
make great progress in their Christian walk.
Spiritual growth takes place when the Christian
devotes himself to the revelation of God in His Word
and exercising faith in the truth of the Scriptures.
If there is no eternal security of the believer
there is no sure hope that keeps the believer moving
forward through the persecutions and tribulations in
the Christian life. Christ is our righteousness;
Christ is our blessed hope; Christ is our blessed
Promises to Abraham
"For when God made the
promise to Abraham, since He could swear by no one
greater, He swore by Himself, saying, 'I will surely
bless you and I will surely multiply you.' And so,
having patiently waited, he obtained the promise"
God has fulfilled every
promise He has ever made. He is true to His
promises. The life of Abraham is a testimony to this
great truth. God's promise to Abraham and his
descendants is found in Genesis 12:1-3 and is
repeated and renewed with his son of the promise,
Isaac, and grandson Jacob and his descendants. The
Lord said to Abram, "Go forth from your country, and
from your relatives and from your father's house, to
the land which I will show you; and I will make you
a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your
name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I
will bless those who bless you, and the one who
curses you I will curse. And in you all the families
of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3).
Abraham waited twenty-five years to see that promise
fulfilled in Isaac, but that was only the beginning
of the fulfillment of the promise. It was a partial
fulfillment. The foreshadowing and partial
fulfillments point to the eternal consummation when
Christ returns. God tested Abraham's faith on Mount
Moriah by telling Abraham to sacrifice his son,
Isaac. How could God bless Abraham with descendants
too numerous to count if the promised son dies?
Abraham "considered that God is able to raise men
[Isaac] even from the dead; from which he also
received him back as a type" (Heb. 11:19). That is a
powerful testimony to us. Abraham's faith was alive.
He was arguing with himself, literally,
"considering" and coming to a definite conclusion.
He was saying I will obey regardless of the cost.
God did what He promised
to do. Every Jewish person we meet to this day is a
testimony to God's promise. Moreover, there is even
a greater fulfillment in that all who believe on
Christ are the true children of Abraham. Abraham and
all the heroes of faith in Hebrews eleven lived by
faith and hoped for the coming of the Messiah, Jesus
the Son of God. They walked by faith. The promise
was fulfilled later when Christ fulfilled it.
Abraham waited patiently for the coming of God's
fulfillment to him in the promise of the coming of
the Messiah. In fact, Jesus declared, "Your father
Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and
was glad" (John 8:56). I would have loved to have
been there when Jesus made that declaration.
Abraham's attitude was one of exultation as he
looked forward to that greater day. What is our
attitude toward Him? Lord, Jesus, will I see you
What is written and all
these promises are for us. Yes, they are for those
of us who place our trust in Christ.
Heirs of the Promise
have an Anchor of our Soul
"For men swear by one
greater than themselves, and with them an oath given
as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the
same way God, desiring even more to show to the
heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His
purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two
unchangeable things in which it is impossible for
God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have
strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set
before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the
soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which
enters within the veil, where Jesus has entered as a
forerunner for us, having become a high priest
forever according to the order of Melchizedek"
God's Word is sure. God
does not lie. We can depend on the truthfulness of
God. He is faithful to His promises. What He says He
will do. We can take Him at His word!
The idea that God swore
to Abraham is simply saying God accommodated Abraham
as He does so often in the Scriptures when He
reveals Himself. He argues from the lesser to the
greater. His whole argument is that we can depend
upon the trustworthiness of God.
We look at the facts of
how God has kept His promises in the past and know
that He is still faithful. He will treat us the same
way He treated Abraham. God said to Abraham, "I will
bless you." And He did just that. Moreover, the
writer of Hebrews takes these divine blessings to
Abraham and makes them applicable to all believers
by calling them heirs of God. "In the same way God,
desiring even more to show to the heirs of the
promise the unchangeableness of His purpose,
interposed with an oath" (Hebrews 6:17). The
promise to Abraham extends beyond the history of
Israel and in the person and work of Christ Jesus is
relevant to us. The oath to Abraham encourages and
strengthens us in our faith in God. These words of
promise are for our benefit. The apostle Paul said
the same thing, "Therefore, be sure that it is those
who are of faith who are sons of Abraham" (Gal.
3:7). A couple of verses later he assures them, "So
then those who are of faith are blessed with
Abraham, the believer" (v. 9). He includes us
because we have faith in Christ. The issue is are
you an heir according to the promise? "If you belong
to Christ, then you are Abraham's descendants, heirs
according to promise" (Gal. 3:29). This gives us
encouragement; it causes us to go deeper in faith in
Him. It causes us to want to feast on strong
What is God's eternal
purpose? Is it not to make us heirs? His purpose is
to save the believers in Christ Jesus. He will
always complete what He begins. He never leaves a
project incomplete. His eternal purpose is firm,
unchanging and unchangeable. The nature of His
eternal purpose is unchanging.
Therefore, no believer
should ever doubt God's will to save you. God has
not changed His mind since the day He saved you. He
will not betray His word. God gives His perfect
assurance to the believer. The believer has eternal
security because of the unchanging will of God.
Jesus said, "Truly,
truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and
believes in Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and
does not come into judgment, but has passed out of
death into life" (John 5:24). The question is,
in whom or what are you trusting for eternal life?
If you died and stood before the Lord God and He
said to you, "Why should I let you into My heaven?"
How would you respond? Would you make excuses? Would
try to blame God? Would you try negotiating with
Him? Would you tell Him how good you are and that
your good deeds and religious experiences out weight
Or would you confess to
Him that you are a guilty sinner worthy of eternal
condemnation, and that you are trusting the atoning
sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross to cleanse
you of all your sins? "The wages of sin is death."
And you and I are guilty. We deserve eternal
separation from the Lord God because we are sinners.
However, God in His matchless grace and mercy paid
our debt to His righteousness in full so He could
pardon, forgive us our sins and give us a right
standing before Him.
The believing sinner is
"justified as a gift by His grace through the
redemption which is in Christ Jesus; whom God
displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood
through faith." That is the only way a just and holy
God can "be just and the justifier of the one who
has faith in Jesus" (Romans 3:23-27). We are not
saved by law keeping, our good works or virtue or
religious experiences or merits, etc. That is
impossible because we are sinners. We have failed to
be what God wants us to be. As sinners everything we
touch condemns it. Are you trying to trusting in
yourself to be right with God or are you casting
yourself upon His mercy?
God cannot lie because He
is God. His promises are unalterable. His promises
are unchangeable. He is not a man that He should
change His mind.
How reassuring and
encouraging when I read, "For God so loved the
world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that
whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have
eternal life" (John 3:16). "He who has the Son
has the life; he who does not have the Son of God
does not have the life. These things I have written
to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so
that you may know that you have eternal life" (1
John 5:12-13). Jesus said, "All that the Father
gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to
Me I will certainly not cast out" (John 6:37). Our
salvation depends upon God's sovereign grace, and
not on our ability to keep ourselves saved.
The believer in Jesus
Christ has eternal security because of the
unchanging promises and the eternal will of God.
Based upon the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on
the cross God has turned away His own wrath against
the believing sinner. God made the sacrifice by
sending His own Son to die in our place. God turned
away His own wrath by offering up the only sacrifice
that can deal with our sins. Sinners cannot appease
a holy God. Sinners cannot offer a sacrifice that
God can accept. Only a holy sinless High Priest can
offer the perfect sacrifice for sin. Jesus did that
when He gave Himself for us on the cross.
Hebrews 6:18 pictures
believers under the figure of the Old Testament
cities of refuge fleeing to safety. We have "taken
refuge" in that "hope set before us." The Christian
believer has trusted in the promise that culminates
in Christ, the unique one of a kind seed of Abraham.
That hope is centered in Christ, not in ourselves.
Christ is the very embodiment of our hope. The
anchor of the believer's hope is Christ. Only Jesus
Christ is worthy of our trust because He has gone on
before us into heaven.
Hebrews six closes by
picking up the theme the author has introduced
earlier regarding the priesthood of Jesus according
to the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 2:17; 3:1;
4:14-15; 5:5-6, 10; 6:20; 7:1fff). He is the anchor
of our soul, a sure and steadfast hope because He
has already entered within the veil in heaven, the
very presence of the LORD God to intercede on our
behalf. "Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us,
having become a high priest forever according to the
order to Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:19-20). Jesus is
our great high priest forever. The Jewish high
priest entered only one day a year, and when he died
he had to be replaced. Jesus is an eternal priest
because He is eternal. Jesus is in heaven forever.
He has an eternal priesthood. What a comfort and
encouragement that right now He intercedes for us.
"Jesus . . . because He continues forever,
holds His priesthood permanently. Therefore He is
able also to save forever those who draw near to God
through Him, since He always lives to make
intercession for them." (Hebrews 7:24-25; cf. Heb.
9:24; Rom. 8:34). He will never be replaced.
We can sing with all of
our heart the assuring words of Fanny Crosby:
"Blessed assurance, Jesus
O what a foretaste of
Heir of salvation,
purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit,
washed in His blood."
That is the work of God
in Christ Jesus. The Holy Spirit gives us this
assurance based upon the promises of His Word. You
are either saved or lost. You either have life or
you are dead spiritually. It is dangerously possible
for a person to possess and experience a lot of
religious things that appear Christian without being
a new creature.
My hope is built upon
nothing less than Jesus' blood and righteousness. My
hope is anchored in the finished work of Christ who
made perfect atonement for all the sins of His
people. My prayer is that your hope is firmly fixed
upon Him and nothing less.
6:7-20 A Word of Encouragement