Hebrews 6:1-3 ESV
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits.
So, what was intended here by this instruction? Was it that we, within the Christian community, should cease to share with believers the gospel of our salvation? In a sense, yes, for if we are truly in Christ, by faith in him, we don’t need to keep hearing how to be saved from our sins, but we need to learn how to grow in our faith to maturity in Christ Jesus, our Lord. Yet, there are some overlaps there between the two, as we will discover.
But, the object here is not just that we should stop teaching the basic gospel message to those who already believe in Jesus, but that we, as Christians, should move on past the basics to maturity in our Christian walks. We should not have to have the foundations of the Christian faith told to us over and over again, but we should be taking in the deeper truths of scripture and be learning how to walk in holiness and righteousness.
So, why then is the Lord having some of us repeating the basics of the Christian faith, even within the Christian community? It is because so many who call themselves Christians never were told the truth to begin with, and so their “salvation” is not genuine, and they don’t truly have the hope of heaven. And, it is because there are so many liars and deceivers now within the church teaching a cheap grace gospel, and so the true gospel message needs to keep being reinforced within the Christian community, because too many people are following after the lies and not after the truth.
Hebrews 6:4-8 ESV
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
And, this is where we get into that “overlap” I just spoke of. For, many people cut the gospel message short, and they make it some one-time quick thing that happens in our lives and then we are “saved”, and one day we will go to heaven, but nothing is required of us in between the two. So, it is more like a quick fix rather than a life transformation of the Spirit of God.
But, the true gospel says that eternal life is guaranteed to those who walk (in lifestyle) not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. And, scripture teaches that we are saved (past), and we are being saved (present) and that we will be saved (future) when Jesus returns to take us to be with him. And, it teaches, too, that if we make sin our practice, we don’t have eternal life with God, and if we don’t die with Christ to sin and live with him to righteousness, that we don’t have eternal life, but we must be living our faith to the end.
So, “being saved” is not some one-time event and then we are good to go no matter how we live our lives. Jesus died on that cross, not just to forgive us our sins, but to deliver us out of slavery to sin so that we might live to him and to his righteousness, and so we might no longer live for ourselves. So, if we claim to be in fellowship with God, but we continue to walk (in practice) in darkness (sin), then we are liars who do not live by the truth.
Hebrews 6:9-12 ESV
Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
Ok, and this is where we get to the crux of the matter. We are not saved from our sins just so we can escape hell and go to heaven one day. We are certainly not forgiven our sins so that we can go on living in sin without guilt. But, we are saved from our sins in order for the Spirit of God to turn us from darkness (sin) to light (righteousness), and from the power of Satan to God, so that we can receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified (made holy) by faith in Jesus Christ (Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:1-23; Eph. 4:17-24; 1 Jn. 1:5-9).
These “things,” thus, which belong to salvation, are repentance (turning away from sin), turning to God/Jesus to follow him in obedience, and submission to Christ and surrender to his Lordship over our lives via dying with him to sin and living with him to righteousness, all because of God’s grace, and all because of Jesus’ sacrifice for our sins, and all in the power, strength and wisdom of God who now lives within us by his Holy Spirit.
Yes, it is through faith that we are saved, because of God’s grace, and that we are able to inherit eternal life with God. But, that faith is evidenced by our obedience to Christ, and by our dying with him to sin and living with him to righteousness. For, what we have faith in is what Jesus did for us, and what he did was to buy us back for God so that we no longer are our own masters, but so that we now honor God with our lives, and we become his possession, to do what he desires, for he is now our owner-master.
So, if we want to have full assurance of hope until the end, then we need to walk (in practice, in lifestyle) no longer according to our flesh, but according to the Spirit, and make righteousness our practice, not evil, and submit to Jesus Christ as our Lord and do what he says. For, if we don’t, and we make sin our practice, instead, then we don’t have the hope of eternal life with God (Lu. 9:23-25; Rom. 8:1-17; 1 Jn. 1:5-9; Gal. 5:19-21; Gal. 6:7-8).
Hebrews 6:17-19a ESV
“So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul.”
We can be assured of eternal life with God and heaven as our eternal destiny. We don’t have to just hope (wishful thinking) that one day we will get to heaven if we are good enough, for we can’t ever be good enough. Truly it is only by God’s grace that any of us can be saved from our sins and have eternal life with God. But, God’s grace to us is deliverance from our slavery to sin, and it is empowerment of the Spirit to walk in righteousness and holiness. So, true faith in Jesus Christ dies with Christ to sin and lives with Christ to righteousness, and it continues in this faith to the end.
So, yes, we can absolutely take God at his Word, and believe his promises, but we must make sure that we take his promises in context and that we don’t apply them arbitrarily however we wish to whomever we wish. For, Jesus’ sheep listen to him, he knows them, and they follow (obey) him, and they are the ones who can’t be snatched out of his hands. And, it is the one believing (actively) in Jesus who will inherit eternal life, and it is the one who surrenders to Jesus and who walks by the Spirit who has eternal life.
So, yes, God’s Word never changes, and he never lies, and we can count on his promises, but we must know what those promises are, and to whom they apply, so that we don’t end up believing heaven is our destiny and then one day hear, “Depart from me, I never knew you,” because we believed a lie and not the truth. For, God also promised that if we continue in sin, and we walk according to our flesh, and we make sin our practice, heaven is not what is guaranteed us, but it is hell. So, surrender your all to Christ today.
Oh, to Be Like Thee, Blessed Redeemer
Lyrics by Thomas O. Chisholm, 1897
Music by W. J. Kirkpatrick, 1897
Oh, to be like Thee! blessèd Redeemer,
This is my constant longing and prayer;
Gladly I’ll forfeit all of earth’s treasures,
Jesus, Thy perfect likeness to wear.
Oh, to be like Thee! full of compassion,
Loving, forgiving, tender and kind,
Helping the helpless, cheering the fainting,
Seeking the wandering sinner to find.
O to be like Thee! lowly in spirit,
Holy and harmless, patient and brave;
Meekly enduring cruel reproaches,
Willing to suffer others to save.
O to be like Thee! while I am pleading,
Pour out Thy Spirit, fill with Thy love;
Make me a temple meet for Thy dwelling,
Fit me for life and Heaven above.
Oh, to be like Thee! Oh, to be like Thee,
Blessèd Redeemer, pure as Thou art;
Come in Thy sweetness, come in Thy fullness;
Stamp Thine own image deep on my heart.
*copyright status is public domain
Saturday, May 18, 2019