Hebrews 6:9-12 (continued)
THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION (Hebrews 6:9)
There are certain things which ever accompany salvation. Such is the plain teaching of Scripture. Thus there are also certain things which accompany men on the road to damnation. They are what may be designated as being earmarks of grace. Fact is that the writer is persuaded of the better things concerning the Hebrew Christians. They bear in their walk and life the infallible fruits of election of grace. Just as our shadow follows us wherever we go, and as good fruit is found on a good tree, so these things accompany salvation. The original Greek term allows for a bit of latitude in translation. Since these are things which accompany salvation perhaps we can say that the term suggests that these things point to and have to do with salvation. They are the pursuing of sanctification, which one must have to inherit eternal life. We are to follow after peace with all men and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord!
The writer is persuaded of this. He has weighed the evidence. Yes; he did have doubts concerning them. They had become dull of hearing the grand truths of the gospel. Yet, the writer is persuaded better things concerning them, than that they are such as who have been enlightened and then fall away. The elect never perish, and they have the evidence of the infallible fruits of election. Really, the writer had never believed the worse concerning them. Up till the present moment he is persuaded better things concerning them.
Small wonder that the writer at this juncture in his letter calls the readers “beloved.” It has been correctly observed by Bible students that this is the only time that the writer calls his readers beloved (agapeetoi). The reason for doing so here is evidently in light of the strong warning he had just uttered. What was stated there of certain people who had once been enlightened was not true of the believers of the Hebrews. He addresses them very gently by the mercy and the gentleness of Christ. They are beloved ones. This latter must not be misunderstood. This term in Scripture does not merely express the attitude and sympathy of the writers to the church in Christ. The term occurs more than forty times in the New Testament all told. In each case the term expresses that the church is the “beloved” of God. The church is the beloved people and bride of Christ. This is very clear in such passages asPhilippians 4:1; I John 3:2, 21; I John 4:1, 7, 11. The beloved are those who are the objects of God’s eternal love manifested on the Cross as rooted in sovereign election of grace.
This stands out here in bold relief!
These are they who are characterized by better things, by the things accompanying salvation.
Here we see good pedagogy in the church in its best form. No, the writer will not nullify what he has said in so stern a language in the preceding verses. Every word remains standing. The warning must be heeded. Were it not so that the writer was persuaded of better things concerning them there would be no point in writing to them, nor in admonishing them. One does not admonish those any more in a positive way of which one is persuaded that there is nothing in them which evidences the better things of salvation.
Besides, it is pedagogically correct to build in the church with what is at hand. Thus the word comes to the seven churches to strengthen the things that remain, and to repent. (Revelation 2:5, 16, 21, 22; Revelation 3:3, 19, 20) Thus also it must be here. The readers must press on to perfection, must be borne along to perfection.
THE JUSTICE OF GOD IN RELATION TO OUR LOVE AND LABOR TO THE SAINTS Hebrews 6:10
The apostle believes good things concerning the readers. The things which he believes concerning them are the things accompanying, pointing to salvation. This salvation is that which was brQught about by the author of eternal salvation, the priest after the order of Melchizedek. This salvation was realized in Christ’s death, resurrection, and glorious ascension as the Son at God’s right hand, higher and more glorious than the angels.
This confidence of the apostle is not based on whim and fancy. It is rooted in and based upon the faithfulness and justice of God who cannot lie, as this faithfulness is rooted in God’s unchangeable promise and oath to the heirs of the promise. The writer is therefore standing here on safe and solid footing. He does not simply attempt to say something nice and flattering. This is more than idle praise; it is more than trying to be the good fellow who does not desire to hurt their feelings. On the contrary, the writer refers to the evidence of salvation and the justice of God which honors his own work of grace in the saints and to the saints. He believes that they will one day stand in the final glory, and now they must stand in the full assurance of hope. Every one having such hope upon God purifies himself as God is pure.
“God is not unjust to forget your love and work, in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister.”
All the writer’s hope for the readers is anchored in God!
For when God does not forget our works and love, He does not forget His own work in and through us!
For what are these good works to which the writer refers. They are the works of love as the fulfillment of the law. All the law is fulfilled in this one word: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. (Galatians 5:14) Did not Jesus say: by this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another? (John 13:35) This loving the brother and ministering shows that faith is not a dead faith. (James 2:18) For faith without works is dead. All the royal law of liberty is fulfilled in: thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. If one say; I love God, and hates his brother, he is a liar and the truth is not in him. Not so with these Hebrew Christians. They had ministered to the saints and do minister. Theirs was a faith which demonstrated that they were ingrafted into Christ himself.
Such works God will not forget!
There is a reward of grace for works of grace! God has joined cross and crown in Christ himself. And if we suffer with Christ we shall be glorified with him. That is the justice of God. And this is written for the comfort of the believers. For unless they are comforted they will not have the incentive to press on to the full assurance of hope to the end.
FOLLOWERS OF THOSE WHO INHERIT THE PROMISES (Hebrews 6:12)
The apostle Paul writes in Romans 4:11, 12 concerning father Abraham, the father of believers: “And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness of the faith which he had yet being un circumcised; that he might be the father of all them that believe, though they be not circumcised and the father of circumcision to them who are not of the circumcision only, but who also walk in the steps of that faith of our father Abraham; who is the father of us all.” It is good to keep this word of God in mind in our interpretation of Hebrews 6:12.
It is the desire of the writer to the Hebrews that each member among the Hebrews shew diligence unto the full assurance of hope to the end. The term “full assurance” is not found in the profane Greek writers. There is no such a reality amongst unbelievers outside of Christ. Hence, the very term is a Biblical one. It is connected with those who have hope in God; it cannot be the part of those who are without hope in the world, and without hope in His promise which is faithful. For only in the things of Christ is there a full assurance. (Luke 1:1) The writer would have the Hebrews give diligence to this full assurance of hope. For the term “full assurance” see furtherHebrews 10:22; I Thessalonians 1:5; Colossians 2:2. It seems that the writer contrasts here two alternatives. Either become spiritual dullards who do not live in hope, not give all diligence to walk in hope, or to walk in hope! And such walking in hope is here stressed. The reason is that only by hope are we saved. Hope is then that activity of the soul whereby we already rejoice in the future inheritance as if we were already possessing it. (Romans 8:24, 25). What we see we do not hope for, but we hope for that which we do not see. And thus we wait for it with patience. The full assurance of hope is the certainty of the hope itself as this is wrought in us by the Spirit. (I Thessalonians 1:5)
Now such assurance must be ours to the end. (achri telous) This phrase evidently refers to a period of time. It has reference to our running the race. It refers to the perseverance of the saints in running the race. It reminds us: he that endures to the end shall be saved. Such enduring is the proof of the genuineness of the faith and hope. To this end they must not be dull in hearing the Word. This sense of the phrase fits admirably in the context.
Let it not be forgotten that there is no such thing as living in the full assurance of the hope where there is not a progressively pressing forward in the knowledge. The fulness of the hope is connected with the fulness of all knowledge, and the full assurance of the Spirit operating with the gospel.
Thus walked all those who inherited the promise. Notable in this walk of hope was Abraham. His entire walk was one of faith and longsuffering. Abraham suffered long. Thus did all who inherited the promises.
The promises (tas epaggelias) are the definite and well-known promises given by God to the heirs, and which are recorded in the O.T. Scriptures. Perhaps the writer has in mind the promises which were given by God during the life-time and pilgrimage of Abraham in the land of promise. It is most interesting and instructive to take notice of these promises to Abraham during the period of some fifty years of his life-time in Canaan.
Let us look at the series of promises as given to Abraham in their progressive, historical and chronological order.
The first of these promises is no doubt the basic and all-comprehensive version of the promise of God to Abraham. We refer here to what we read in Genesis 12:2, 3, where we read”: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” CompareGalatians 3:8; Acts 3:25.