Saturday, August 31, 2013

Put Hebrews Back on the Bottom Shelf

BibleBookcase

Hebrews 13 - Concluding Exhortations

LINK: Hebrews 13


BACKGROUND


This "epilogue" of the book concludes with 12 final exhortations that are practical suggestions for how to "offer God acceptable service with reverence and awe" (12:28). Can you find all the exhortations?  How are you doing in each one?


REFLECTION/APPLICATION


Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon with the elders of our church discussing how our body will make the transition once our lead pastor decides to retire.  It was a good time of remembering that I need to "remember my leaders, who spoke the word of God."  These are all elders who have lived their lives well and are worthy of imitation. I need to pray for them as they make these decisions. Have you prayed for the leaders of your church today?


PRAYER


Lord, I am challenged by each of these exhortations. I want to live my life well by loving others. Teach us all to live a life worthy of our calling. Amen. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

Hebrews 12:14-29 -- Mt. Sinai versus Mt. Zion

LINK: Hebrews 12

BACKGROUND

As we run the race, the writer explains the goal:


1) Peace with everyone
2) Holiness before the Lord


With this, no bitterness was to spring up (Deuteronomy 29:18). All the Old Testament witnesses were contrasted with Esau, an Old Testament person who sold his inheritance rights as an oldest son for a bowl of stew. (Genesis 25:29-34:27:36). Likewise, the Hebrews were not to submit to transitory pleasures but to fix their eyes on their inheritance. 


The conclusion of this chapter contrasts Mt. Sinai, where God gave the Old Covenant (Exodus 19:9-23; Deuteronomy 9:8-19), with Mt. Zion:
But rather, you have come to Mount Zion, even to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to countless multitudes of angels in festal gathering, And to the church (assembly) of the Firstborn (the redeemed, Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12; 21:27) who are registered [as citizens] in heaven, and to the God Who is Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous (the redeemed in heaven) who have been made perfect (10:14; 11:40), And to Jesus, the Mediator (Go-between, Agent) of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood which speaks [of mercy], a better and nobler and more gracious message than the blood of Abel [which cried out for vengeance]. (12:22-24 AMP with added cross-references)
This is awesome! This New Covenant was much better than the Old and will shake the earth and the heavens (Haggai 2:6). Then, we will be in eternity with Him. 


His final admonition is that they see to it that they not refuse God (12:25), but respond in thanksgiving and praise (12:28)! The next chapter could be seen as ways to expand upon how we can respond in thanksgiving and praise.


APPLICATION
What shall we do as we live in a shaking world? Listen to God speak and obey Him. Receive grace day by day to serve Him “with reverence and godly fear.” Do not be distracted or frightened by the tremendous changes going on around you. Keep running the race with endurance. Keep looking to Jesus Christ. Remember that your Father loves you. And draw on God’s enabling grace.
While others are being frightened, you can be confident! (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Heb 12:14, p. 326)
 PRAYER


Lord, we want to fix our eyes on the eternal and unshakable kingdom rather than the temporary and shaking world around us. Help us to be diligent to focus on and listen to You. Amen. 

Hebrews 12:1-13 -- Running the Race

LINK: Hebrews 12 

BACKGROUND

Running the Race

Following his description in the previous chapters of the "great cloud" of Old Testament people who bear witness of the life of faith, this writer gives his final admonition and warning: 


Run with endurance (perseverance) the race marked out for you.


In order to do this, we must lay aside anything that inhibits us. We must fix our eyes on Jesus as the ultimate example of perseverance who endured the cross and persecution to sit at the eternal throne with the Father. 

No believer's trials are as difficult as the one Jesus endured for us. When we go through trials, we are being disciplined as true sons of God so that we might be trained for glory! He disciplines us because He loves us and wants the best for us.  Our future is one of righteousness and peace. So, we should let the discipline continue (James 1:2-4; Proverbs 3:11-12). 



The writer gave the Hebrews a summary exhortation to renew their strength. If they did this and pursued a straight (the Greek word orthos where we get the word "orthodontics") path, they would even strengthen the weaker among them. 


APPLICATION


Are you running the race to win?  Do you resist the Lord's discipline rather than embrace it as a tool for maturity and growth?


PRAYER


Lord, may we embrace all that You have for us today.  Help us to grow in maturity through the challenges. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Hebrews 11 - Faith in Action from the Old Testament

LINK: Hebrews 11 (memorize 11:6)

BACKGROUND 


This chapter is often called the "Hall of Fame of Faith" as the writer gives an example of Old Testament people "who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (6:12). It will be a fun review of what we read in the first year of the Bible Book Club!


In the description of what faith does and how it works (11:1-3), let's define three Greek words:


Assurance (hupostasis - hupo, under, histÄ“mi, to stand) literally, "to stand under." Amplified says, "the confirmation, the title deed."


Conviction (elegchos) - "a proof, that by which a thing is proved or tested" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, 1650).  Amplified says, "faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses." 


Commended/Gained Approval (martureo) - literally, "obtained a good testimony," "to bear witness i.e. to affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something or that he knows it because taught by divine revelation or inspiration" (Enhanced Strong's Lexicon, 3140). This word also occurs twice in 11:4, once in 11:5 and 39. 


The "ancients" who bore witness (11:3) are the "great cloud of witnesses" mentioned in Hebrews 12:1. They witness to us through their examples of faith.  God spoke to them through His Word, and they obeyed despite not seeing with their eyes what God had promised. 


God's Word even made something out of nothing in Creation. We do not see Him, but He is evidenced by what He has made. Though not a person, Creation is the first "witness" that God is real (Genesis 1:1-31)!


I will not go into each story about each of the "ancients" who bore witness, but I have created one link to all the Bible Book Club posts about all the people listed in this Hebrews 11:4-32. In addition, I included the people connected to the incidences in Hebrews 11:33-38 even though their names were not mentioned:

The Hall of Fame of Faith


These posts are just to refresh your memory in case you forgot about their stories. It will be fun to see if you can remember them on your own. What a great review! Most Bibles will also have a cross-reference to their stories in the margin. Have fun! 


These people of faith died but did not necessarily see all that they had been promised. They looked beyond this world to heaven ("the better country") and better things to come (11:20).  If they had received it, it would have been sight and not faith!


All of these men and women were so convinced of God's faithfulness that they radically changed their lives according to His will and word; some even to the point of torture and death (11:35; 1 Kings 17:17-24; 2 Kings 4:18-37).  May we follow their example!


Hebrews 11:6 is a good verse to remember and memorize about faith:



And without faith it is impossible to please Him,
for he who comes to God must believe that He is
and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him. 

None of these people received God's total reward because they died before Christ came. But they will be rewarded with follower of Christ too! We have received God's total reward in Jesus Christ. Can you say HALLELUJAH?

REFLECTION/APPLICATION 



"Faith is putting all your eggs in God's basket, 
then counting your blessings before they hatch." 
"Seeing is believing" may be a good rule of thumb when buying a used car but it is a poor way to live the Christian life. For the one desiring to live in a God-honoring manner, the quote might better read: "Not seeing is believing," because "faith is being . . . certain of what we do not see" (11:1). 
Receiving Jesus as your Savior was an act of faith in which you accepted the trustworthiness and credibility of God, banking your life and eternity on His promises. But the exercise of faith doesn't end at salvation. By faith, God's people were courageous in battle, patient in suffering, and joyful in difficulty. They acted in response to His commands and promises, even when they could not see the reason for what they were asked to do. 
Is faith the operating principle in your life today? Or is your motto "seeing is believing"? To help boost your faith take a piece of paper and see if you can list at least 10 things you know are true about God but that you can't see with your eyes. For example, "God is loving. He works everything together for good." Now think through the decisions and responsibilities you will face in the next 24 hours and determine to put your faith to work.
(The Daily Walk, December 2008, p. 18)  
PRAYER

Praise to You for giving us the total reward, Jesus! Thank You that You have given us everything we need to walk by faith and not by sight. Thank You that we have the Scriptures that tell us about these wonderful Old Testament heroes of the faith. May we follow their example today! Amen. 



Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hebrews 10:19-39 -- Forward in Faith

LINK: Hebrews 10:19-39 (memorize 10:24-25)

BACKGROUND 


The "therefore" in this passage sums up what has been established in Hebrews 4-10: Jesus, as the GREAT and better Kingly High Priest (Zechariah 6:13), has become the once for all blood sacrifice that caused the veil into the Holy of Holies to be torn in two from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51) so that we can have full, bold, confident access into the very presence of God forever (Hebrews 4:16; 9:25-26). 


His blood has made full provision for the forgiveness of sin, making us clean in the eyes of God. This is the "new and living way" of access to God under the New Covenant. This confident access was hope for the Hebrews who were being tempted to go back to the Old Covenant worship. They needed to hold unswervingly to this hope, and they needed to encourage one another in this hope by coming together regularly to spur one another on toward love, good deeds, and good behavior; making the Word of God come alive through application of it until Jesus returns again!


The writer has been concerned about the Hebrews falling away from the faith, Hebrews 10:26-31 is the fourth of five exhortations in the book:

The believer who begins to drift from the Word (Heb. 2:1–4) will soon start to doubt the Word (Heb. 3:7–4:13). Soon, he will become dull toward the Word (Heb. 5:11–6:20) and become “lazy” in his spiritual life. This will result in despising the Word, which is the theme of this exhortation.  
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Heb 10:19, p. 315 )
Despising involves willful, continuous sinning (not one act of sin). The Old Covenant did not allow for deliberate and willful sin (Exodus 21:12-14; Numbers 15:27-31). Presumptuous sinners were even executed (Deuteronomy 17:1-17)! Willful sinning is like trampling on top of Jesus and cheapening the blood He shed to save us. It also insults the Holy Spirit. The person does not go to hell, but he can expect severe discipline from a holy God (stay tuned for Hebrews 12)! The Lord will judge His people (10:30 is taken from Deuteronomy 32:35). The only solution is turning to God for mercy and forgiveness! We can do that because Christ has made a way for us back to God (1 John 1:9). The only way to prevent this slippery slope from drifting to doubt to dullness to despising is to stay near to God in the first place. 

The writer ends this chapter with encouragement. Remember in Hebrews 6 when he shifted his pronouns? Well, he does the same thing here in Hebrews 10! The "we" 10:26 shifts to "he" in 10:29 and "them" in 10:39. 


He recalled their confidence in being willing to suffer persecution in the past and encouraged them to not to throw that confidence away by going back to the Old Covenant. They were not to "shrink back" in unbelief but to boldly go forward in faith! The righteous one will live by faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11). Those who persevered in faith would be rewarded. People who shrunk back would be "destroyed." There are different ways to interpret this word. It can mean temporary or eternal ruin and many commentators believe it means temporary ruin. A person who shrinks back wastes his life, failing to experience the fullness that God intended for them. The writer did not want the Hebrews to do that! 


With this exhortation, the writer concludes Hebrews with the theme of faith. Stay tuned! 


REFLECTION/APPLICATION 

How are you on that slippery slope?


Have you drifted away from the Word of God?
Have you doubted the Word of God?
Have you become dull to the Word of God?
Have you despised the Word of God?

Come to Him in repentance knowing you will receive forgiveness. Then make a plan for diligently drawing near to God through His Word! Who will hold you accountable to this plan? Do NOT forsake getting together with other believers who can spur you on in your "I will" statements (10:24-25)! 

PRAYER


Lord, we confess drifting away from Your Word.  Help us to believe Your many promises that You have made to us. Help us to be diligent to read, study, memorize, and meditate on Your Word day in and day out. Amen. 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Hebrews 10:1-18: Christ, Finished Sacrifice

LINK: Hebrews 10


BACKGROUND


It was impossible for the blood of bulls and goats in the old sacrificial system to take away sins permanently (Leviticus 4:20, 26, 31, 35). It was a judicial forgiveness and did not remove guilt from the hearts of the people so that they had free access to God.  The Day of Atonement was more a reminder of their sin rather than a remover. The old system was merely a "shadow of good things to come" and was a type or picture of Christ's sacrifice on the cross. The old system was temporary and not permanent.  Christ's sacrifice was prophesied in Psalm 40:6-8 which is recorded in this chapter. 


The writer emphasized that this sacrifice was for all time, that Christ sat down at the right hand of God because it was finished (John 19:30). There was no need for anymore sacrifices for sin. Because of Christ's finished work, we have been made holy. We have been "sanctified" (10:14, 29). The tense of the Greek word here confirms that it is an accomplished fact. Because of this, New Covenant worshipers can serve God guilt-free! It is the equivalent of Paul's concept of justification (See post HERE for explanation of this word from the Romans 5 post). 


REFLECTION
A teenage boy, whose mother was away on a visit, found himself with time on his hands. He decided to read a book from the family library. His mother was a devout Christian, so the boy knew there would be a sermon at the beginning and an application at the end of the book, but there would also be some interesting stories in between.
While reading the book, he came across the phrase “the finished work of Christ.” It struck him with unusual power. “The finished work of Christ.”
“Why does the author use this expression?” he asked himself. “Why not say the atoning or the propitiatory work of Christ?” (You see, he knew all the biblical terms. He just did not know the Saviour!) Then the words, “It is finished,” flashed into his mind, and he realized afresh that the work of salvation was accomplished.
“If the whole work was finished and the whole debt paid, what is there left for me to do?” He knew the answer and fell to his knees to receive the Saviour and full forgiveness of sins. That is how J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission, was saved.

(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Heb 9:11, p. 313)
APPLICATION


J. Hudson Taylor is my hero. I heartily recommend that every believer in Jesus Christ read this book about him:


Hudson Taylor's Spiritual Secret 

It is my absolute favorite, and I reread it on a regular basis. I do not know anyone who has read it and not loved it!

PRAYER


Thank You for Your finished work, Jesus. Amen

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Hebrews 9 - Christ, Better Sacrifice in a Better Sanctuary

LINK: Hebrews 9


BACKGROUND 


Here is a group of Bible Book Club posts about the Old Testament tabernacle. This is important for understanding the background. Pay particular attention to the posts in Exodus 25 and 30:1-10. The Old Testament tabernacle was an earthly copy of the real one in heaven. 


Here is a post on high priest's duties on the Day of Atonement described in Leviticus 16:6. He went once a year and with blood to cover his own sins.


The Old Covenant sacrificial system, with all its regulations, was temporary and external. The gifts and sacrifices could not cleanse the consciences of the worshipers. The permanent, new order had come with Jesus Christ. He is the great High Priest who has entered that most holy place in heaven. He took his own blood into that most holy place once for all and secured our salvation forever. The blood of Christ has purified our hearts from dead works to serve a living God! As our mediator, we have an eternal inheritance. These Jewish Christians did not need to feel guilty for not following the old system. 


In 9:16, the writer switches from talking about covenant as an agreement to talking about covenant as a "last will and testament." The will of the testator only went into effect at the time of that person's death. The Old Covenant was put into effect with blood. An animal had to die (Exodus 24:3-8). Without the shedding of blood there was no forgiveness on the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16:12-19). In order for the New Covenant to be put into effect and the will to be carried out, the testator had to die, and that testator was Jesus Christ (Luke 22:20). Through his blood, sinners can enter the holy of holies in the heavenly sanctuary for all time (Hebrews 9:24; 10:19-22). Jesus Christ is a better sacrifice in a better sanctuary!


REFLECTION


In summary, here is another comparison of the covenants based on this chapter (be sure to download the more detailed one from yesterday):


Old Covenant
New Covenant
Repeated sacrifices
One sacrifice
The blood of others
His own blood
Covering sin
Putting away sin
For Israel only
For all sinners
Left the holy of holies
Entered heaven and remains there
Came out to bless the people
Will come to take His people to heaven


APPLICATION


Let the reality of this heavenly sanctuary and Christ's better sacrifice there go down deep into your soul. It is the crux of our faith!


Here is an electronic copy of a great spiritual classic by Andrew Murray:


The Power of the Blood of Jesus

Here is a narration of another work by Andrew Murray that covers the same subject:

The Power Of Christ's Blood To Open The Holiest - The Holiest of All



PRAYER


Lord, thank You for the blood that was shed so that I might enter into Your most holy place. May I never take that for granted. Help me to live up to the holy calling to which I have been called because of the blood of Jesus Christ. In His name, I pray. Amen. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Hebrews 8 - Christ, Better than the Old Covenant

LINK: Hebrews 8


BACKGROUND


Jesus Christ is God's superior High Priest who also ministers on the basis of a better covenant (Hebrews 8), in a better sanctuary (Hebrews 9), and because of a better sacrifice (Hebrews 10).


The writer starts this chapter by making "summary arguments" in order to prove that Jesus is a superior High Priest. He refers back to Hebrews 7 for this. Jesus, as high priest, offered Himself as the better sacrifice, one time and forever (9:24-28). Jesus is in heaven in the "true tabernacle" since the one on earth was only a copy and shadow (Exodus 25:40; Hebrews 8:5; 9:11, 24; Revelation 6:9-11; 8:3-5; 11:19; 21:22). He has a more "excellent ministry" and is a mediator of a "better covenant." 


The Old Covenant was inadequate because it did not deal permanently with sin, but the New Covenant takes care of that because Christ's blood shed on the cross makes a full provision for the forgiveness of sin. The writer quotes Jeremiah 31:31-34, and this is what I wrote in the BACKGROUND for that chapter:
The most important part of this whole chapter is the promise of a New Covenant (31:33) in which God would put His Law within them and write it on their hearts. The Old Covenant was the Mosaic Covenant from Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. God had announced a series of punishments that would occur if they transgressed it (Leviticus 26; Deuteronomy 28), and the final judgment would be the deportation to Babylon in 586 B.C. God's New Covenant would be an internalization of His Law, giving them the inner ability to obey. This would result from God giving them the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:24-32; Joel 2:28-32). The Holy Spirit did not universally indwell all believers in the Old Testament times. So, this was a new concept.
The Scarlet Thread of Redemption 
As part of the New Covenant, God would forgive Israel's wickedness and remember their sins no more. A holy God could not "overlook" sin. So, sin's penalty would be paid for by a Substitute (Isaiah 53:4-6): JESUS
In the Upper Room, Christ proclaimed that the New Covenant was to begin through the shedding of His blood (Matthew 26:27-28); Luke 22:20). Their sins (and ours too) would be "overlooked" because Jesus would pay the penalty required of man for His sin and avert the wrath of a holy God. 
As believers today, we enjoy the spiritual blessing of the New Covenant by the forgiveness of our sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual and physical blessings will be realized by Israel at a future day when they acknowledge their sin and turn to the Substitute for forgiveness (Zechariah 12:10-13:1). 
REFLECTION


Here is a comparison chart of the Old and New Covenant adapted from The Life Application Bible. It is excellent. Reflect on it and marvel at God's great love for YOU!  Here it is for download too: Old and New Covenant Contrasted


The Old Covenant under Moses
The New Covenant in Christ
Application
Gifts and sacrifices by
those guilty of sin
Self-sacrifice by
guiltless Christ
Christ died for you
Focused on a physical where one goes to worship
Focused on the reign of Christ in the hearts of believers
God is directly involved in building your life
A shadow
A reality
Not temporal but eternal
Limited promises
Limitless promises
We can trust
God’s Promises to us
Failed agreement
By people
Faithful agreement
By Christ
Christ has kept the agreement
where people could not
External standards and rules
Internal standards –
a new heart
God see both actions and
motives – we are accountable
to God, not rules
Limited access to God
Unlimited access to God
God is personally available
Based on
fear
Based on
love and forgiveness
Forgiveness keeps our failures
from destroying the agreement
Legal cleansing
Personal cleansing
God’s cleansing is complete
Continual sacrifice
Conclusive sacrifice
Christ’s sacrifice was
perfect and final
Obey the rules
Serve the living God
Relationship, not regulations
Forgiveness earned
Forgiveness freely given
We have true and
complete forgiveness
Repeated yearly
Completed by
Christ’s death
Christ’s death can be
applied to your sin
Human effort
God’s grace
Initiated by God’s love for you
Available to some
Available to all
Available to you
adapted from The Life Application Bible, p. 2231

APPLICATION



Meditate on the blessings of the New Covenant found in 8:10-12 and thank God for them! Here are more verses on God's law being written on human hearts: Psalm 37:31, 40:8; Jeremiah 31:33; Romans 2:15, 7:22; 2 Corinthians 3:3; Hebrews 10:16.


PRAYER


Thank You, Jesus, for the shedding of Your blood for the forgiveness of my sin. Lord, thank You for the indwelling Holy Spirit who continues to lead me and works through me to bear the fruit of righteousness as I yield. Thank You for writing Your Law upon my heart.  Amen. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Hebrews 7 - Christ, Better Priesthood

LINK: Hebrews 7


BACKGROUND


The story of Melchizedek is found in Genesis 14:17-20 (BBC Post: Genesis 14). He was a God-honoring person in the Old Testament who was not a Jew. The name "Melchizedek" means "king of righteousness" and his title, "king of Salem (now Jerusalem)," means "king of peace" (Isaiah 32:17; Psalm 85:10; 72:7). He is the first priest and also a king. 

In Jewish law, a person could not be both a priest and a king. The priests came from the tribe of Levi, while the kings came from the tribe of Judah. Christ came from Melchizedek's line because He is the High Priest, King, and the epitome of righteousness and peace!

Some believe Melchizedek is a "type" of Christ. The other day we learned that a type is a person in the Old Testament that foreshadows someone in the New Testament. There was no end to Melchizedek's priesthood, as there is no end to Christ's. Abraham gave Melchizedek a tithe demonstrating that he was superior to Abraham and the Levitical priests who would be descended through Abraham in the future.   

The Levitical system was inadequate and had to be replaced by something superior. The word "perfection" in 7:11 refers to "complete and unhindered communion with God." The Law made nothing perfect (7:19). The animal sacrifices could not "make perfect those who draw near" (10:1-3). The Mosaic Law that included the Levitical priesthood was not to be permanent. It was the tutor or schoolmaster to lead us to Christ (Galatians 3:19-4:7). 


Christ was not from the Levitical line. He was from the line of Judah. Therefore, God had a whole new, permanent arrangement, and Christ came through the line of Melchizedek, and this priesthood was forever (Psalm 110:4)!  He accomplished what the Law could not by being a perfect sacrifice for our sins, once for all. Finally, the priests could not meet all our needs, but our perfect High Priest can!


REFLECTION/APPLICATION/PRAYER




Enjoy worship today with brothers and sisters from another country!

We place You

On the highest place
For You
Are the great High Priest.
We place You
High above all else
And we come to You
And worship at Your feet.


Thursday, August 22, 2013

Hebrews 6 - Do Not be Sluggish

LINK: Hebrews 5:11 - 6:20

BACKGROUND 



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 
(same Greek word as "dull" in 5:11), 
but imitators of those who through faith and patience 
inherit the promises.
(Hebrews 6:11-12, key verse in chapter)

In Hebrews 5:11, the writer did not go into a deeper explanation of the priesthood of Christ because he did not think the Hebrews were spiritually mature enough to hear it. They had become dull of hearing. Dullness is a "condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development" (The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Hebrews 5:11-14, p. 294). 


They had been believers for quite a while and should have been able to teach the Word and help others grow, but they still were like newborn babes who needed milk fed to them instead of solid spiritual food.  The phrase "not accustomed" (apeiros) in 5:13 is better translated  "inexperienced in" the Word of righteousness. It is not about knowing the Word of God intellectually but about application of it in day-to-day life. (This is why I think it is SO important to have regular application of God's Word with other like-hearted believers who will hold you accountable for that application and join in the joy of seeing God's blessings as you apply it. It is important to walk away regularly with an "I will" statement in order to "experience" the "living and active" Word of God.) 


Apparently, the Hebrew believers were not doing this, and they were not distinguishing between good and evil and true and false ideas and doctrines. 


Instead of belaboring the fact that they were spiritually immature, the writer calls them to press on toward spiritual maturity. It can be likened to them needing to go from learning their ABC's to reading the classics! 


The writer lists six foundational doctrines of Christ in which they should already be grounded (6:1-2):


Our relationship with God:

Repentance - changing one's mind about sin 
Faith - believing in Jesus and believing Him for all things
Our relationship with the local church:
Baptism - symbol of spiritual cleansing and proclamation of one's identification with Christ 
Laying on of hands - sharing of blessing (Luke 24:50; Acts 19:6) or setting apart a person for ministry (1 Timothy 4:14)
 Our future with God:
Resurrection of the saved and lost - John 5:24-29; Acts 14:14-15; Revelation 20:4-6, 12-15
Final Judgment - Acts 17:30-31
It was imperative that they know these foundational ABC's to keep them from falling away and to keep moving forward toward maturity! 

"Falling away" in Hebrews 6:4-6 is a controversial subject! Can an enlightened believer lose their salvation? Some try to say the writer is talking to those who were not true believers, but the passage's wording makes it overwhelmingly clear that they were (6:4-5; 10:32; 2 Corinthians 4:4-6; Hebrews 2:9; 3:1, 14). Some say you can lose your salvation, but the greatest argument for that is at the end of this chapter (6:13-20) and other verses in the New Testament (John 5:24; 10:26-30; Romans 8:28-39). 


Warren Wiersbe proposes that the writer was presenting a hypothetical scenario to prove his previous point that a true believer cannot lose his salvation. He expounds upon the writer's argument in the context of spurring them on to spiritual maturity:

Let’s suppose that you do not go on to maturity. Does this mean that you will go back to condemnation, that you will lose your salvation? Impossible! If you could lose your salvation, it would be impossible to get it back again; and this would disgrace Jesus Christ. He would have to be crucified again for you, and this could never happen.
In Hebrews 6:4, the writer changed the pronouns from “we” and “us” to “those.” This change also suggests that he had a hypothetical case in mind.
Whatever approach you take, please keep in mind that the writer’s purpose was not to frighten the readers but to assure them. If he had wanted to frighten them, he would have named whatever sin (or sins) would have caused them to disgrace Jesus Christ; but he did not do so. In fact, he avoided the word apostasy and used instead “to fall by the wayside” (see Gal. 6:1 for a similar word). 
(The Bible Exposition Commentary: Volume 2, Heb 6:1, p. 297)

The Greek verb form in 6:6 for "fallen away" is parapipto. Para means "alongside" (the word for the Holy Spirit is paraclete) and pipto means "fall" together it means "to fall alongside." 


True believers who are progressing in their faith will bear fruit (6:7-10; Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23; 7:15-20; Galatians 5:22-26). These are the "things that accompany salvation" in Hebrews 6:9. And the writer commends the Hebrews for being fruit-bearers in Hebrews 6:10 (1 Thessalonians 1:3-10; Revelation 2:2), but he urges them to diligently press on to full maturity and the enjoyment of the rich inheritance from God we read about in Hebrews 4. 


Abraham is the example mentioned in 6:12 that we are supposed to imitate. We can read God's promise to Abraham in Genesis 22:16-17. This was the promise that all the families of the earth would be blessed through Abraham's offspring. That offspring is JESUS (Remember the Scarlet Thread of Redemption running from Genesis - Revelation?)!!!!


A promise is based on God's faithfulness and not man's failures. The writer used Abraham as an example of faith and patience so the Hebrews would not lose heart (which seems to be something they were thinking of doing) and to encourage them to keep on running (Hebrews 12:1-2). God is faithful to His promises, and we are part of Abraham's promise because we are Abraham's spiritual seed (Galatians 3:29)!  We can put our hope in and find eternal refuge in Jesus like the Old Testament "cities of refuge" (Numbers 35:9ff and Joshua 20) and cling to Him as the anchor of our souls! He will keep us from being tossed "to and fro"! Did you know that 66 pictures of anchors have been found in the catacombs of the early church? 


Finally, Jesus "enters within the veil" is referring to the second veil in the temple that leads into the Holy of Holies in which the High Priest only entered once a year. We know that when Jesus died, that veil was torn from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38 Luke 23:45). Through our GREAT High Priest, we have access into the very presence of God through His death on the cross:

within the veil—two images beautifully combined: (1) The soul is the ship: the world the sea: the bliss beyond the world, the distant coast; the hope resting on faith, the anchor which prevents the vessel being tossed to and fro; the encouraging consolation through the promise and oath of God, the cable connecting the ship and anchor. (2) The world is the fore-court: heaven, the Holy of Holies; Christ, the High Priest going before us. so as to enable us, after Him. and through Him, to enter within the veil. 

Estius explains, As the anchor does not stay in the waters, but enters the ground hidden beneath the waters, and fastens itself in it, so hope, our anchor of the soul, is not satisfied with merely coming to the vestibule, that is...is not content with merely earthly and visible goods, but penetrates even to those which are within the veil, namely. to the Holy of Holies. where it lays hold on God Himself. and heavenly goods. and fastens on them. “Hope, entering within heaven, hath made us already to be in the things promised to us, even while we are still below. and have not yet received them; such strength hone has. as to make those that are earthly to become heavenly.” “The soul clings, as one in fear of shipwreck to an anchor, and sees not whither the cable of the anchor runs—where it is fastened: but she knows that it is fastened behind the veil which hides the future glory.
(A Commentary, Critical And Explanatory, On The Old And New Testaments: Volume 2, Heb 6:19, p. 455)
As promised, you get to learn all about Melchizedek tomorrow in Hebrews 7! 

REFLECTION 


This passage is a charge to my soul this morning! We must constantly be pressing on toward maturity. He does not want us to be "fat babies" who feed on milk and always let others feed us! He has given us a promise and oath. We can bank on God's faithfulness to His promises and press on! YAY! 


APPLICATION 

Are you pressing on toward maturity? What is your plan for growth? 


PRAYER


Lord, thank You that You are 100% behind our growth toward maturity. Help us to rely 100% on You for our growth. We do not want to be "Fat Babies"! Amen.