Hebrews 6:1-12: Stay Faithful
September 9, 2023
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Having exhorted his readers to leave elementary mere “milk” teaching to go on to the “meat,” the author of Hebrews does precisely that. But in beginning now to teach about some deeper matters, he has often left those who read his words wondering how to interpret what he is saying. Is he saying that it is possible to lose your salvation? But if he is saying that, why then does he immediately add that he is hopeful for better things in their case – intimating that he does not think that it is possible (or at least predictable) that they will lose their salvation? What is more, if he is saying that it is possible for someone to lose their salvation, how is that argument made here given that he says that they are people who “shared in the Holy Spirit” and “tasted the goodness of the word of God”?
I think the best and simplest way of interpreting what he is saying here is by means of the illustration that he himself gives to aid us in understanding what he is saying. This illustration is in verses 7 and 8. There he describes land that produces a good crop compared with land that only produces thorns and thistles. In other words, his teaching is broadly similar with Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 7:20 regarding a good tree bearing good fruit. If you are a good tree, you will bear good fruit. If you are good land, you will bear a good crop. In either case, what makes you a good tree or good land in the first place is the work of God’s grace through faith in Christ in your heart. If you do not already have a “good” heart – if you are not already born again and regenerate – then you will not produce the good fruit of increasing Christlikeness, and however much you may say that you know about God, your life gives the lie to that claim. If, on the other hand, you are born again, then there will be evidence of that new life in the “good land” of your life through the work of Christ by his Spirit.
What though of the author of Hebrews expressions like “shared in the Holy Spirit” and “tasted the goodness of the word of God”? Is it really possible to say that there are people who have “shared in the Holy Spirit” and “tasted the word of God” who are not in the end saved? Sad to say, pastoral experience over many years that the gospel has been preached confirms that this is not only possible, it is a constant danger. In any church, in any para-church organization, wherever there are Christians gathered, the word of God is offered, and the atmosphere of the Holy Spirit is there to experience. But only those who receive the Word and receive the Holy Spirit will be truly saved. It is not enough simply to enjoy the company of other Christians in the warm fellowship of the Spirit and the pleasure of the teaching of truth – we ourselves must commit our lives to Christ.
In other words, in focus for the author of Hebrews are those Jewish Christians at the time of his writing, to whom he is addressing his book, who were in danger of going back to Judaism and abandoning Christ. They had apparently enjoyed Christian things. But if they rejected Christ at the end, then in the end they had never known Christ.
These are hard things to say, hard to understand and troubling. And yet at the same time they are important. It is a warning to us all to stay faithful to Christ.
“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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