Saturday, November 19, 2011

Hebrews 6 Explained

Chapter 6 exists almost as an after thought, a parenthetical inserted into the discussion of Jesus as a faithful high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (Chapters 5, 7).  Its as if the writer really wanted to cover the nature of a changing priesthood, but knowing his audience (Heb 5:11) he had to stop and point out the consequence of having such a priest in detail.  After showing that if Jesus is our High Priest, and God has promised Salvation, we can have trust and hope in the certainty of Christ.

Introduction to Chapter 6 - Everything I'm about to say is really easy stuff
1Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of
·         Enough ABC’s in other words. Thus it follows that whatever the writer is about to say is actually really easy to grasp and come to terms with.

repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
·         Faith and repentance from dead works are the very first things we learn, we cannot earn our salvation, our righteousness isn’t enough to merit the presence of God, but Christ has accomplished everything for us, if we accept Him by faith

2and of instruction about washings,
·         The ceremonial washings of the Old Covenant (such as Ex 30:18-21) foreshadowed the Holy Spirit cleansing our hearts by faith (Titus 3:5)

the laying on of hands,
·         I tend to agree with John MacArthur who thinks that given the context of the letter the Laying of hands has the idea of the man bringing a sacrifice forward, laying his hands on it, and in so doing identifying with the sin.  (See Lev 1:4). We identify with Christ by confessing our sins put Him up there. 

the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
·         Resurrection of the dead probably speaks to the fulfillment of God's OT promises with regard to eternal life. (See Ezekiel 34:22 for example)

3And this we will do if God permits.
Now for the moment you are all waiting for.

The Argument Proper - why believers will be saved 
4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have
1.      once been enlightened,
2.      who have tasted the heavenly gift,
3.      and have shared in the Holy Spirit,
4.      5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God
5.      and the powers of the age to come,
·         The word impossible doesn’t mean difficult, it really means impossible, and further, this list has every mark of a genuine Christian since these five things only a true Christian experiences: they have new minds, have felt for themselves the goodness of God, are partakers with the Spirit in regeneration and sealing, and have tasted both the joy of the word of God and the power of the age to come.
·         So it’s well and truly impossible for to genuine believers to: 
       6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance,  
      But that’s a problem because true believers can’t fall away, Phil 1:6,
and they can be restored to salvation James 5:19-20
·         (As a side note: the structure of the argument helps us to determine these men are true believers: they cannot be restored to salvation. If they never truly repented it would say: convert them.)

since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
·        ∙ Thus concludes the argument which really has begun at Heb 5:9. So in summary it looks like this:
      Only the blood of Christ can cover sins
If a Christian could lose their salvation it would mean sin has overpowered the blood of Christ
The only remedy for sin is Christs blood, but since the first is no longer effective Christ must make a second atonement.
      Christ will not be crucified again.
Therefore nothing remains to save a true believer who falls away.

      An analogy might be helpful. Say I'm a convict chained to a federal marshal on a plane traveling from New York to London. If I was able to smash through the handcuffs, overpower my guards and jump out of the plane into the ocean could I then get back on that plane?

      The Second Argument - why believers will be saved  
7For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. 8But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
·          This is essentially a reassurance point out his previous argument was merely a warning.  This brings to mind the Parable of the fig tree (Mat 23:32-33) and the Parable of the gardener (Luke 13:7)

9Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.
·         To reassure them the writer includes this. We aren’t worried about your salvation in reality, although it’s a dreadful thing to fall away, because God is faithful.
·         The writer will expand on this more.

10For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do.
·         Firstly why we shall certainly be saved: God is not unjust. No one who has given even a cup of water will lose his reward (Mat 10:42).  If Christ were to promise a reward to us, and then fail to deliver it, He would be a liar, and He would not be just.

11And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, 12so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
·        This could not be more explicit that eternal security is true, the writer has included all this so that they may know the full assurance of hope.It's only when you have been set free that you can run the race. Only with the supreme confidence of Christ can we really work or have hope.
13For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he had no one greater by whom to swear, he swore by himself, 14saying, "Surely I will bless you and multiply you."
·         Second reason: God has made a promise. Going back to v10 the writer is now going to expand on the nature of Christ being faithful and just.
·         Salvation is a promise so it doesn’t depend on human effort or ability. This is what Paul argued in Romans 4.

15And thus Abraham, having patiently waited, obtained the promise.
·         All Abraham did to obtain the promise and blessing was wait.
·         Heaven is acquired likewise. Not by good works, but by patience.(Gal 5:5)

  16For people swear by something greater than themselves, and in all their disputes an oath is final for confirmation. 17So when God desired to show more convincingly to the heirs of the promise the unchangeable character of his purpose, he guaranteed it with an oath,
·         The heirs of the promise is us. We are the children of the promise, see Gal 3.
·         Our modern notion of signing a binding contract is equivalent to the notion of an oath.

18so that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie,
·         God cannot change His mind, neither can He lie. Therefore we have a sure confidence in His two things: His oath, and His promise.

we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us.
·         If then we have a God who has guaranteed our salvation let us hold fast.
·         The ‘fled for refuge’ speaks to the idea of a murder or criminal fleeing to the city of refuge Josh 20:1-9

19We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain,
·         That is the Most Holy place, the place behind the temple curtain where the ark of the covenant was.
·         This marks the end of the parenthetical, the end of chapter 6, being a summary of it.


April said...

Thanks for posting! Quite timely for a situation I'm helping a friend with at church regarding eternal security.

Phil said...

You're welcome. These are just my notes for the class I teach on Sunday mornings, so they are really just an outline. I'm happy to see they are nonetheless helpful.