“And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Two impossibilities confront us here: the impossibility of being renewed again unto repentance, and the impossibility of perishing. The context speaks of them. That they cannot be renewed again unto repentance implies that such renewal had occurred once—not really, of course, but according to their confession. For such an one to be renewed to repentance again, we read, is impossible. However, according to verse 9, we are persuaded better things of you, things that accompany salvation and which therefore lead to salvation. Fact is, verse 10, God is not unrighteous. The congregation had been zealous in the work of God, in the labor of love. This had been their work, but it had been their work as being active in God’s work in them. And God will never forget His work in them. He will reward it. Their eternal salvation is sure.
Only, we desire of every one of you, that you shew forth the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end. You were diligent in your work of love. Shew forth the same diligence to come to the full assurance of hope. This receives all the emphasis here and to the very end of this chapter. This is ever our calling: make your calling and election sure.
Hope—how wonderful it is!
Nothing is surer, more certain, than the Christian hope. It is not merely a pious wish, but an unshaken certainty. Hope never doubts. Whoever hopes is never uncertain; whoever doubts does not stand in the hope. If faith be a certain knowledge of, a cleaving fast unto the Lord Jesus Christ, as He suffered and died and is now glorified for us, hope is the operation of that bond uniting us with the Lord Jesus Christ as it reaches out to the future. Hope takes hold of what is above, the future of the everlasting and heavenly salvation, Christ’s heavenly and resurrection life drawing us heavenward.
We can, in the light of Holy Writ, speak of the hope in a twofold sense of the word, subjectively and objectively. The subjective hope is the hope within us, our act of hoping, as we read it in I Corinthians 13:13, the operation of the resurrected life of Christ in our hearts as it reaches out to that which is above, the fount and source of our life. And the objective hope is the hope as the object of our hoping, the final and heavenly salvation.
Although this twofold hope is one and can never be separated from each other, they do not always receive in Scripture the same emphasis. It is obvious that this Scripture emphasizes the hope in the objective sense. When we read in verse 12 that we inherit the promises through faith and patience, it is obvious that this is the same as the obtaining of the hope—hence, the hope here lies at the end of our inheriting in the way of faith and patience. Besides, in verse 18 we read of the hope that is set before us which we have as an anchor of the soul, which is both sure and steadfast, and which lies in heaven, in that which is within the veil.
And now the holy writer speaks of the full assurance of hope unto the end. The thought of the apostle here is plain. He desires that the church of God may stand and increase in the full and unshaken consciousness of the hope; may stand, as a rock, in the glorious and blessed expectation of eternal life. We must have our eye continuously fixed upon the goal, the end of the voyage or journey, the haven. We must walk and struggle with that eternal hope ever before us, continually holding fast to that hope assured fully of everlasting life, never doubting but always walking as with head uplifted and with the eye upon the things above. This assurance of hope must be full, must fill us, never leave us, but always accompany us upon life’s pathway. And this, we read, even unto the end. There are so many and various things which would divert our eye from the eternal rest; cause us to lie down, discouraged and utterly despondent; fill us with unrest and doubt and fear; cause us to stumble and stagger as a drunken man, as a ship without a compass and rudder. These are the powers of sin within us and all around us. Hence, we must exercise all diligence to stand in the full assurance of hope, and that even unto the end, until we shall have reached and received that hope, everlasting salvation in heavenly immortality.
“Every one of you do shew forth the same diligence.” In verse 10 the holy writer had spoken of their work, consisting of the labor of love which they had showed toward His Name. And now they are exhorted to shew forth the same diligence in coming to the full assurance of hope, even unto the end. The word “diligence” means haste, and it refers to a runner who exerts himself to the utmost to obtain the prize. Only, this applies to every one of us, that is, to every one of the beloved, of whom we read in verse 9. None is exempt from this calling. And this diligence applies to the following of those who inherit the promises through faith and patience. In the following verse Abraham is quoted as an example.
We must inherit the promises through faith and patience. We read of promises here in the plural. Sometimes Scripture speaks of promise in the plural because of the wonderful richness of the promise of God. What riches of glory awaits the child of God! And these promises we must inherit. To inherit something means that it is given us legally, that it is bestowed upon us judicially, legally. Often to inherit means that we receive the right to a certain possession without actually obtaining it as our own. I can be an heir without actually possessing it. In this text, however, this inheriting means that we actually obtain these promises; that which the Lord has promised us actually becomes our own possession. Only, however, when understood thus, we inherit it. We do not merit this everlasting glory; we do not receive it because of anything in or of us. We receive it as an inheritance, as something which the Lord gives us, in sovereign grace, only for Jesus’ sake, as something which is utterly dependent, not upon me or my faith, but wholly and absolutely upon the unchangeable faithfulness of my God, revealed in and founded upon Jesus Christ my Lord. This inheritance is a good whose possession in everlasting glory depends exclusively upon the eternally Faithful One Who promised it to me.
These promises we inherit through faith and patience. We must, of course, inherit these promises through faith. Fact is, our Lord Jesus Christ has merited this everlasting and immortal glory. We can, therefore, receive these promises, not because of our faith, as its ground, but only through faith in Christ Jesus, because of His atoning and meritorious suffering and death. Besides, we cannot see that life. That life is heavenly and we are earthly; besides, judging things in the light of what we see, we would surely conclude that we will never obtain these promises of the Lord. And, therefore, we understand that we can inherit these promises only through faith, inasmuch as faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen, the unshaken reliance upon God whereby we know that that hope which we cannot see, will be bestowed upon us for Jesus’ sake, because of God’s unchangeable faithfulness.
And to this the holy writer adds “and patience.” This patience receives undoubtedly the emphasis in this second half of Hebrews 6, inasmuch as in verse 15, in connection with the example of Abraham, we read only of patience. Literally we read here of “long-suffering.” Patience here means “long of courage or spirit,” or literally “breath.” It presupposes suffering and opposition, that one restrains himself, checks himself, and this in the midst of various afflictions. Long-suffering, closely related to patience, emphasizes suffering and adversity. It refers to that power of faith whereby we willingly bear all suffering and affliction, even unto the end, and that in spite of all the powers that oppose us. Indeed, how necessary is this faith, yea this patience or long-suffering through faith, if we are to continue in the full assurance of hope even unto the end. Are not all things apparently against us? Think of all the suffering of this present time, in general and also for Jesus’ sake! Then, there is the biting sarcasm of the mockers, who ridicule the Lord’s promise of His coming, as in II Peter 3. We may also speak of the deceiving and enticing offers of riches and enjoyments if only we decide to follow no longer the example of those who inherit the Promise. And, finally, think of all the false philosophy of our present day and age!
Indeed, much is required to keep one’s eye, unbrokenly, upon the eternal haven, to stand in the full assurance of the eternal hope. This is possible only through faith and patience, with our eye fixed upon the unchangeable faithful God of our salvation. He alone can save us even unto the end.
How urgent is this admonition of the apostle! We read: “And we desire.” Here we have in the original a very strong expression. We read literally: we have set our heart upon it. We, the apostles, ambassadors of our Lord Jesus Christ, we all desire, have set our hearts upon this, that you, all of you, beloved, show the same diligence to stand in the full assurance of hope, even unto the end. Do not say, therefore, that we must not proceed from election or must not live out of election. Do not say that we must not stand in the full assurance, consciousness of the hope, that to doubt is an earmark of piety. Speaking thus, we strike directly at the heart of the apostles of our Lord. Fact is, we desire, have set our hearts upon this, that you all, every one of you, stand in the full assurance of hope.
Fact is, we desire that ye become not slothful. “Slothful” stands here in contrast to the “full assurance of hope.” This word means: slow, lazy, indolent. The opposite of “slothful” is that we with uplifted head expect, reach out unto the eternal hope, assured of our eternal salvation, and bearing all suffering for the sake of the inheritance. “Slothful” is spiritual sluggishness. Then we have no spiritual joy and cheerfulness, no assurance, no walking with uplifted head, no certainty but doubt, no seeking of that which is above; then we appear to be lifeless, as it were, with respect to our eternal salvation. O, we may then be able to discuss the stock market, and many things of this present time. But when the things of the eternal inheritance are mentioned, we become strangely quiet. We are slothful, lazy, sluggish, apparently wholly indifferent.
Indeed, we desire that ye do not become slothful. On the contrary, we show forth the same diligence to stand in the hope, to walk with uplifted head, to fix the eye upon the things that are above, that as strangers and pilgrims in the midst of the world we may be traveling to the city that has foundations, the city of our God.
Be not spiritually lethargic.
Stand consciously in the full assurance of hope.
Only, as inheriting it through faith and patience.