The Book of Hebrews
Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.
As we learned in chapter 5, the elementary teaching about Christ refers to milk and centers on salvation. The familiar call to Christ in the gospel is ‘repent and be baptized.’ Repentance however comprises two basic components: to turn away from practices of sin including traditions, which have no eternal value, and turning to faith in God, depending on Him in all things. Some of the recipients of this letter had been unable to move beyond the basics. Instead, they had merged salvation teaching with rituals and traditions, and by their works were trying to effect their salvation. The writer emphasized that works are important but righteousness is more important in affecting salvation.
In using the term “fall away” the writer referred to Christians who have turned from the faith and returned to their previous life practices. He asked in the form of a rhetorical question, that for those who had already received Christ, why would they need more teaching on salvation? And for those who had received salvation teaching but continued in their old ways, how was more salvation teaching going to help them? He started to move on and grow because staying in the same place was non-productive. It was fruitless!
The writer, however goes on to assure the Hebrews that God will not discount their piety regarding their good works on behalf of His people. These were important to build up the body and to shoe outsiders who Jesus was. But there’s more that comes with salvation and he was anxious for them to know and begin experiencing. He wanted them to inherit the promise of the righteousness that God had given to us in Christ. They already knew that God had a track record of fulfilling His promises with their forefathers who believed Him and for it, inherited His promises. He also told them that we could be greatly encouraged because this hope that God had given to them and that they were excited about, is real, solid, and a secure anchor; a King-Priest who by saving them began to anchor them to God.
Question to ponder:
- Since our salvation is a journey and not a destination, what does moving onto the next step look like? Is it studying the Word? Serving others? Helping another to grow in Christ?