Hebrews Chapter 6
●Heb 6:1-3 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. (NIV)
The author's audience was no doubt already familiar with the basics of the Gospel; so any more talk about that would just be redundant and serve no purpose. To the untrained eye, the New Testament looks like a whole new religion. But it really isn't. It expands some important Old Testament themes. However, without a guide, the novice will easily miss those themes; ergo: the novice's progress depends upon *God permitting*.
It is so frustrating to dialogue with Christians who have no interest in understanding anything further about Jesus than what's in the New Testament. Those kinds of Christians often regard the Old Testament as superfluous; as if it were a whole other Bible with no application to Christianity whatsoever. One of their favorite justifications for that position is 2Tim 2:15.
●2Tim 2:15 ...Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (NKJV)
To some Christians, the phrase rightly dividing means to keep the Old Testament separate from the New Testament. But that posture is a direct conflict of interest to the wishes of Christianity's central figure.
●Luke 24:44-45 ...Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. (NKJV)
The law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms make up a large portion of the Old Testament; ergo: it's impossible to fully understand the person and work of the New Testament's Jesus sans the Old Testament. Obviously then, the reason that some Christians insist the Old Testament is obsolete is quite simple: Jesus hasn't as yet opened their understanding that they might comprehend it.
The Greek word translated rightly dividing is orthotomeo (or-thot-om-eh'-o); which— in blue collar terms —means to be right on; viz: to make a straight cut; as opposed to a crooked cut, or a cut that misses the line and yields a piece that's either too long or too short.
The intent is not one of severing the Bible in half and throwing part of it out; but to be accurate in its interpretations and applications so that it all fits together perfectly, like a well made armoire instead of a hastily constructed rabbit hutch. Here's 2Tim 2:15 from some modern versions.
●Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. (NIV)
●Work hard so God can approve you. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth. (NLT)
●Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth. (NAS)
You see, a Bible student who relegates the Old Testament to the status of a non-essential, is not yet a journeyman Bible student; no, they're an apprentice: they lack the skills necessary to piece the Bible all together and make everything fit; thus they're stalled at a rudimentary level in their perspective of the New Testament's Jesus. Their Jesus is an unfinished Jesus: an entry level version appropriate for a child's mind, but much too fundamental for an adult's.
●Heb 6:4-6 For 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, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God afresh and subjecting him to public disgrace.
That passage applies to people who somehow come to the conclusion that Jesus' crucifixion only atones for one's sins up to the moment of their conversion, but not afterwards. In other words, in their minds, Christians have no atonement for each new sin they commit after their conversion; thus implying that in order to be effective; Christ would need to be sacrificed afresh; viz: over and over again just like the Aaronic sacrifices. If that were the case, then Christianity would have nothing more to offer sinners than Judaism so why make the change?
The focus of the author's comment is repentance; which is not the same as salvation. Repentance implies a change of mind: to reconsider. But people who've been down the trail of Heb 6:4-6 are no longer receptive to the things the author's going to talk about in the rest of the letter to the Hebrews. They're gone; no longer in the audience. I'm not saying they're lost; but they're definitely un-teachable; and therefore, also quite barren (cf. John 15:1-6) and quite out of fellowship with their redeemer. (1John 1:6)
●Heb 6:7-8a 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 (NIV)
Perfectly good soil goes to waste no matter how much it's irrigated when farmers fail to cultivate and seed it with useful crops like cereals, vegetables, and hays. Noxious weeds and plants will soon take it over. That's just the course of nature; and the will of God.
●Gen 3:17-18 ...Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you (NIV)
Jews are potentially good soil; but if not careful, can become wild soil (Jer 4:3-4); and the Gospel will die in them like the soils in the parable of the sower (Matt 13:3-9).
●Heb 6:8b ...and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (NIV)
It's possible for farm land to become so badly neglected that merely plowing it isn't good enough; some has to be set on fire to clear it prior to plowing. Fire destroys not only the weeds but cooks the weed seeds too so they don't germinate later and compete with crops. With the advent of farm machinery and chemicals, really fallow ground is much easier to clear; but in the author's day, fire was the only practical way to do it. Jews in that condition are in very real danger of becoming scorched earth.
Judas is an outstanding example of Heb 6:4-8. He had the privilege of being one of the original hand-picked twelve apostles and as such was given power to raise the dead and cast our demons (Matt 10:5-8) and along with that; had the benefit of being an eye-witness to Jesus' many miracles; which included, multiplying loaves and fishes, curing leprosy, turning water into wine, fleshing out withered limbs, stopping the chronic flow of blood, curing life-long blindness, curing paralysis, raising the dead, walking on water, cursing a fig tree, and controlling the weather.
Plus, Judas had the added advantage of knowing the truth right straight from the horse's mouth. We today are stuck with getting our religious instruction from seminary students, commentators, preachers, and Sunday school teachers who may, or may not, really know what they're talking about. The Lord himself was there for Judas. If he had a question pertaining to anything Jesus taught, then the correct answer was right there at his fingertips so that Judas was fully catechized in every respect. He didn't know, as we do today, some truth and some error; no, Judas knew only truth.
In the end, Judas didn't regret having a role in crucifying a man whom he believed was God's son, but rather, he just felt bad about having something to do with an innocent man's death. In reality, Judas never did believe that Jesus was from God and/or that he was Israel's ultimate Davidic monarch. In other words, Judas didn't start out as a believer and then later become an unbeliever; no, he was an unbeliever all along and no doubt hoped that Jesus' ministry would develop into a full blown, lucrative, religious racket.
A man like Judas is perplexing, but at the same time proves to me that some people are truly beyond hope, and just simply impossible to convince no matter how many miracles they witness nor how many supernatural powers they themselves are empowered by the Holy Spirit to perform. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to discover that in Judas' mind, his master was just as much a charlatan as Toufik Benedictus "Benny" Hinn and that Jesus' incredible feats were accomplished by sorcery rather than by the Holy Spirit.
●Heb 6:9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case things that accompany salvation. (NIV)
The Greek word translated *salvation* is soteria (so-tay-ree'-ah); which means: rescue or safety. Basically, the Bible's plan of salvation is a daring rescue operation— and salvation, by definition, involves a savior.
Webster's defines *savior* as one who rescues. You've seen rescuers in action: New York City fireman, cops, emergency medical teams, mountain rescue units, and the Coast Guard. Rescuers typically help people to safety who are in danger of imminent death, and/or grave distress; and completely helpless to do anything about it.
According to John 3:14-18, 1Tim 2:5, 1Tim 4:10, and 1John 4:14; Jesus is potentially everyone's savior, but he's not really *your* savior until you've actually taken advantage of his crucified body as a ransom to pay for your rescue from the wrath of God (Matt 10:28, 1Tim 2:6).
Jesus is not only my savior, but he is also my redeemer in that it was he himself who paid the ransom for my rescue with his own life. You may call him the savior if you like, and you will not be incorrect. But I will always think of him as *my* savior because what he did for me on Calvary is so personal; and beyond the scope of human gratitude. Because of a man I've never even met, I'm now safe and secure; and in absolutely no danger of the wrath of God.
●Rom 5:6 …For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. (NAB)
●John 5:24 …Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. (NAB)
●John 10:27-29 …My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish. No one can take them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one can take them out of the Father's hand. (NAB)
If you're reading this, and suspect Jesus may not yet be your savior; I urge you to Click Here and read our chapter titled: The Passion; Why Did It Happen?
So then. What are some of the things that accompany salvation? Here's a skimpy list. It may not be complete, but it's a start: citizenship in Messiah's kingdom, eternal life, immortality, a brand new body, a brand new earth in a brand new universe, a brand new personality, a sinless nature, a pure heart, a pure mind, adoption into God's home, the total forgiveness and deletion of all sins, a clean slate, an acquittal, an inheritance, immunity from the justice of God, joy, happiness, contentment, a cushy federal job in Messiah's kingdom— to name just a few. Those are some of the things the author would prefer for his audience rather than cursing and scorching.
●Heb 6:10 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. (NIV)
In some cities, many of the Jews in local synagogues were very hostile towards Jesus; and far from inclined to be hospitable— even actively seeking the arrest and death of his ambassadors. The author called the gracious Jews not just brethren; but dear friends.
The term *his people* would normally apply to all of Jacob's posterity; but some Jews no longer qualify. They've become so secular that God scraped them off (Hos 1:9). The attitude of the author's Jewish audience was quite accommodating. Maybe they didn't buy into the Gospel themselves, but that wasn't enough to make them obtuse towards their fellow Jews who did. God took notice of that; and their kindness influenced His own attitude towards them.
●Heb 6:11-12 ...We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. (NIV)
That word "lazy" is actually from the very same Greek word that was used in 5:11
●We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. (NIV)
In fact, that particular Greek word is used in only two places in the entire New Testament and both of them are right here in the book of Hebrews! The word is nothros (no-thros'); which means sluggish, lazy or stupid. Not very flattering.
I think what the author really means to emphasize is that the people of God need to snap out of their indifference; and begin taking a serious attitude towards systematic Bible study; and apply some whole-hearted energy into pleasing God and living up to the name *God's people*. Failure to do so will eventuate in modern Jews losing out on the promised land just like the same half-baked attitude eventuated their ancestors' loss. Out of that whole crowd of people who came out of Egypt, not counting Moses and Aaron, only two people exhibited faith and patience: Joshua and Caleb. That is a totally unacceptable turn-out.
●Heb 6:13-15 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. (NIV)
Waiting patiently doesn't mean you're supposed to sit around and twiddle your thumbs. No, you go on with your life; same as always, faithfully living a righteous life to the best of your ability; and just let go, and let God. Abraham received his promised son. The boy was late in coming, yes, but you know what they say: better late than never.
●Rom 8:23-25 …we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. (NIV)
●Heb 6:16 Men swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. (NIV)
I wouldn't recommend doing business like that in America unless the oath was notarized and signed. At least with an official oath, and a notarized signature, you can hold people accountable for what they say. Anyway, God's oath, witnessed by Abraham and his son Isaac, was recorded and today is on public display in the Bible for the whole world to review.
●Gen 22:15-18 The angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, "I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me. (NIV)
Part of that promise, sealed with an oath, guarantees my salvation in Christ. Because us Gentiles who are depending upon Jesus' crucifixion as an adequate ransom to rescue sinners from the wrath of God are *blessed* through Abraham's posterity— not cursed to Hell.
●Heb 6:17-18 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 offered to us may be greatly encouraged. (NIV)
The oath wasn't just for Abraham's sake, but mainly for his posterity's. They need to know that those promises are still valid; and if they'll just be patient, those promises will be fully implemented.
●Heb 6:19-20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. (NIV)
There's a couple of ways to take the word hope. It can be defined as crossing your fingers, and it can be defined as expecting something already on the way. Some Jews are *hope so* believers and others are *know so* believers. Those who *know so* are the ones who have real hope. The *hope so* kind are insecure.
Regarding the duties of Aaron's priesthood: his official garments included two onyx stones, one on each shoulder (Ex 28:9-12), engraved with the names of half the twelve tribes of Israel; six tribes on each stone (including Aaron's tribe; the tribe of Levi). Those stones, in essence then, were the people of Israel. They were on his shoulders because shoulders are a place of strength where burdens are borne. So, in effect then, his constituents came inside the holy place with him every time Aaron entered behind the curtain. In that vein, Christian Jews are represented before God in the person of Messiah; who is now seated at God's right hand.
●Eph 2:5-7 ...And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (NIV)
Since Messiah's priesthood is like Melchizedek's, rather than like Aaron's, it's not confined by Moses' Law to an earthly temple; but is free to function in Heaven, in the very presence of God.