5:11-6:20 Part 3

Hebrews 5:11-6:20 (Part 3)

 

In Hebrews 6 the writer essentially instructs his readers to do three things:

·         Grow up (vv.1-3) – Don’t be satisfied with the basics of Christianity…keep striving toward maturity

·         Watch out (vv.4-8) – These are the most difficult verses in chapter 6 (and maybe in all of Hebrews!) to interpret…be on guard against being led away from the truth…

·         Keep on (vv.9-20) – Don’t grow weary of doing the right things…

 

 

Keep On (Hebrews 6:9-20)

Like the way this paragraph begins...look at first part of v.9 - "But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you..."...notice how encouraging that statement is...

 

·         Calls them "beloved" - One of the NT's most meaningful words...expresses the highest kind of relationship...refers to unconditional acceptance...used 60 times in NT and first 9 times used by God the Father in speaking of Jesus, His beloved Son...this is the only time this particular word is used in Hebrews…

·         “convinced” - The verb indicates a past hesitation that has been overcome.  Carries the idea of being persuaded.  The writer here bases his confidence on the past record of these Hebrew Christians. [1] Paul uses a form of this word in 2 Timothy 1:12.

·         “better things” – As opposed to the things just listed in the previous verses.

Basically writer saying, "I have confidence in you"...I have no doubt you'll do the right thing...instead of raising doubts about them, expressed confidence in them...needs be read in context of what is said in previous verses ...had just talked about people who had fallen away, ceased to be faithful, and were no longer productive in their Christian lives...writer says, "Even though some have gone that way, I know you won't...I expect better things from you"...

 

Growing up I played organized baseball.  Over the years I had a variety of coaches with different leadership styles.  The one I remember the most and who got the most out of me had a saying that he would use when I made a mistake (especially a mental mistake) on the field.  Instead of  chastising, he would simply say “You are better than that!”  That is kind of what the writer of Hebrews is doing in this passage.

 

·         “things that accompany salvation” – Probably a reference to the fruit of a Christian’s life.  This is what was previously referred to in that little parable we looked at in the previous session in verses 7-8.  Verse 10 lists some of that fruit…”…you work..love…ministering t the saints…”

·         “we desire…each one…” – Denotes a strong, earnest feeling for each individual.  This is an intensely personal statement.

·         “full assurance of hope” - Notice this is related to lifestyle action (cf. James, I Peter, and I John). Assurance is not primarily a doctrine to affirm, but a life to live (cf. Matt. 7).[2] The more we obey to more assurance we have!

·         “…not sluggish…but imitators…” - "...in other words, find people who are being faithful...find people who are sticking with their commitment... find people who are worthy examples, and model your lives after them...

Notice the reference to faith (v.12), hope (v.11), and love (v.10) in this paragraph.  This is the great Christian trilogy that often appears in the New Testament. (cf. 1 Corinthians 13:13; Colossians 1:4-5)

 

The paragraph in verses 13-20 is basically an illustration of someone who “kept on” even when it was difficult.  Key phrase in that paragraph is phrase in first part of v.17 - "In the same way..."...in verses before that phrase writer points to God's faithfulness in fulfilling the promise/covenant with Abraham in OT...and in verses following the phrase "In the same way..." in v.17 points to God's faithfulness in fulfilling the promise/covenant He made with those who trust their lives to Jesus...

 

The basic teaching of this paragraph can be stated in a single sentence ...God is trustworthy...God is faithful...God  is dependable...you can count of God doing what He says He will do...

 

And in last part of this paragraph writer uses three figures of speech which ultimately describe Jesus and which tell us why we can and should trust our lives to Him...want to share those with you today...

 

We should trust Jesus because He is our refuge

1.   Last part of v.18 describes Christians as those "...who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us."...the phrase "fled for refuge" is reference to the Old Testament "cities of refuge"...in OT God appointed six cities, three on each side of the Jordan, to which a person could flee if he accidentally killed someone...as long as the offender stayed in a city of refuge, the family of the slain person was not allowed to avenge the death of their relative..."cities of refuge" were places of protection, of safety for someone who had made a mistake...

2.   That's one thing Jesus is for Christians...He is place of refuge ...place of protection...place of safety...to Him we have fled... in His hands we have place our lives...and as one writer put it:

--When all about us the storms of life are raging, there is refuge in Him for the faithful.

--When the tides of adversity are sweeping over us, there is encouragement in Him for the faithful.

--When the battles of life are going against us, there is hope in Him for the faithful. [LBC, p.40]

3.   Where do you turn when things get difficult?...when life begins to unravel?...when you best laid plans begin to come apart?...where do you turn for safety and protection?...the only sure place of refuge is in Jesus...can't tell you how many times I've heard a person say, "If weren't for presence of Christ in my life, don't think I would make it through this time."...but His presence makes all the difference in the world...

 

4.   Psalmist said it so well in first part of 46th Psalm:  "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.  Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change, and though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea..."...why?...because as says at end of the psalm, "The Lord of hosts is with us..."  We should trust Jesus because He is with us....has promised never to leave us or forsake us...He is our refuge...

 

We should trust Jesus because He is our anchor

1.   In verse 19 the writer describes the hope we have in Jesus as the "anchor of the soul"...the anchor was a popular symbol in the early church...in the catacombs in Rome, that subterranean world where ancient Christians buried their dead, at least 66 pictures of anchors have been found...

2.   A well know Greek Stoic philosopher wrote, "One must not tie a ship to a single anchor, nor life to a single hope."...but the early Christians would have strongly disagreed with that... they had but one anchor...they staked their lives solely and completely on the hope they had in Jesus...

3.   In a couple of weeks Carol and I are going down to Rockport on Texas Gulf Coast...I have gone there most summers since I was a young child…in middle of Copano Bay near Rockport is a shell reef known as Lap Reef...gets that name because when tide is low can see water lapping over it...it's an excellent place to fish...fisherman will come in their boats to Lap Reef,  drop the anchor, and get out of the boat and wade fish around the edges on the reef...on occasion an anxious fisherman will leave the boat before checking to make sure the anchor is secure...the boat will drift away from the reef, leaving the fishermen stranded until another boat comes along...

4.   When a boat is not anchored properly, it will drift, usually causing trouble...and when our lives are not anchored in Jesus, we too will drift into trouble...just as boat needs a secure anchor, we need a secure anchor for our lives...notice what v.17 says about anchoring our lives in Jesus...when anchor lives in Christ--

--have "sure" anchor...which means it cannot break no matter how great the pressure...

--have "steadfast" anchor which means it will not slip...

5.   Nothing and no-one apart from Jesus can give us that kind of security...in addition to trusting Jesus because He is our refuge and our anchor...

 

We should trust Jesus because He is our forerunner

1.   The word translated "forerunner" in v.20...that word carries the idea of "pioneer" -someone who goes before others, blazing a trail for others to follow...it also carries the idea of "scout" - someone who goes ahead to see that the way is safe for others to follow...

2.   Where did Jesus go as our "forerunner" or our pioneer and scout...last part of v.19 says he entered "within the veil"... while that's strange language for us, the initial Jewish recipients of this letter would have immediately understood what it meant...

3.   This is third direct reference in Hebrews to this particular Jewish custom...in Temple the most holy of all places was the Holy of Holies...it was where the Ark of the Covenant...this place represented the very presence of God...was  separated from the rest of the Temple by a veil...once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would go beyond the veil to make a sacrifice for the people...even on that day he was not allowed to linger there...was required to make the sacrifice and immediately leave the Holy of Holies...

4.   But Jesus has gone beyond that veil as our forerunner or pioneer...has blazed a trail for us to follow...and because of what He has done for us, each of us now have the privilege of entering and living in the very presence of God...

5.   One writer summarizes this part of Hebrews this way:  "Under the old Jewish religion no one might enter into the presence of God but the High Priest, and he might only enter in on one day of the year; but now, Jesus Christ has opened a way to the presence of God  for every [person] at every time.  The way that was closed is open.  The presence of God is there for all." [Barclay, p.64]

6.   And, of course, Jesus accomplished that through His sacrificial death on the cross for our sins...three of the four gospels tell us that when Jesus died on the cross, the veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from the rest of the Temple was torn in two...through Jesus' death on our behalf it is now possible for each of us to enter the very presence of God...

 

 



[1] Hacking, P. H. (2006). Opening up Hebrews. Opening Up Commentary (38–39). Leominster: Day One Publications.

[2] Utley, R. J. (1999). Vol. Volume 10: The Superiority of the New Covenant: Hebrews. Study Guide Commentary Series (65). Marshall, Texas: Bible Lessons International.

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