Hebrews 6: 9 – 12
One of the most equipped and most well thought-out Book in the Bible is the Epistle to the Hebrews. The writer remains one of the most profound authors in the Bible. Again he writes mainly with two groups of people as members of his audience: he writes to Jewish believers – those who had turned their backs on Judaism to the New Testament through their commitment to the message of the Gospel; and he also writes to the Jewish unbelievers – comprising of those who heard the message of the Gospel and were yet to commit, hanging on to Judaism, and those who have never heard the message of the Gospel.
In his quest to convert the Jewish unbelievers, he made a presentation of how impossible it was for them to be saved if they refused to recognize the message of the Gospel (Hebrews 6:4 – 6). It meant that everything God had done since the beginning, pointing to Jesus and culminating at Calvary in Him being nailed to the cross and His ascension to Heaven had become an exercise in futility (to these Jewish unbelievers). This meant that, if they had to be saved, they had to look to another Savior who will shed his blood for their redemption – which was an IMPOSSIBLE TASK. God’s plan for Salvation was through Jesus Christ only and none other – Jesus said, “No one can come to the Father except through Me.”
The writer ends his presentation to his audience about this impossibility by showing that there is a clear-cut difference between the BELIEVER and the UNBELIEVER as he gives the example of the grounds in verses 7 and 8 – the parched ground that soaks up the water and brings forth fruit is the BELIEVER while the other ground that brought forth thorns and thistles which were good enough to be burnt by fire, represents the UNBELIEVER.
He had spoken about the impossibility of these Jewish unbelievers getting saved outside having FAITH (belief) in the message of the Gospel and the danger of losing their salvation. By this, one would have thought about the fact that some of the BELIEVERS in the congregation might become confused about the message because of the strong language used. The Holy Spirit, through the writer caught that and in his next statement he turned to the JEWISH BELIEVERS.
What did he say to them?
He starts his presentation having his focus and attention on the JEWISH BELIEVERS (Hebrews 6:9). His first word was “BELOVED”. It is AGAPETOS in the GREEK, meaning DEARLY BELOVED, which is only used for the BELIEVERS – again, those that have crossed over from Judaism to the New Covenant, in the context of this Epistle. The great Apostle Paul referred to fellow believers as “BELOVED” anytime He addressed them. We are called the BELOVED of God because we have accepted Jesus as our Lord and Savior – Apostle Paul describes this as WE HAVE BEEN SAVED BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH.
Knowing the BELIEVERS heard of the fearful warnings to the NON-BELIEVERS, the writer assured them about his persuasion that far better things apply to them because they had responded to the message of the Gospel – they already were garnished with the dividends of Salvation. The reason he spoke the way he did was to alert the BELIEVERS that there were NON-BELIEVERS amongst them whom he feared might fall away or apostatize. This means NOT EVERYONE ATTENDING CHURCH SERVICES, IS A CHRISTIAN.
He went on to encourage them that God had not forgotten their LABOR of LOVE. This he said by highlighting the manner at which believers should live with and among other believers. We are to labor diligently to love one another. It is called LABOR because it is our duty to love one another, play second fiddle to other believers because the evidence of our love towards God is displayed in our love to one another. We cannot love fellow believers if we don’t love God first. It is because of God we are able to love.
It would not be love seeing a brother/sister who is hungry and then we decide to pray. The brother/sister does not need prayer at that time but food. The strength to love is first produced when we respond positively to the message of the Gospel; it is beyond human comprehension because only God can help us to love. In the exact words of the writer, he said, “For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers, as you still do.” Jesus said, and I paraphrase, by this all men will know that you are my disciple, when you have love, one for another. He further encouraged them to diligently pursue loving one another till the end.
From previous chapters we learnt that the UNBELIEVING JEWS had hardened their hearts to the message of the Gospel, which became a huge hindrance for them. For this reason, the writer continues in his quest of trying to convince them that they could be saved in order to join the group of believers. His advice was for the UNBELIEVING JEWS to FOLLOW the example of the BELIEVING JEWS so that they will not become spiritually dull and indifferent.
IMITATE is another word for FOLLOW; we could also use words like REPRODUCE, MIMIC, DUPLICATE, EMULATE AND TO COPY, to mention a few. The JEWISH UNBELIEVERS were to COPY the JEWISH BELIEVERS who had abandoned Judaism for the New Covenant in Jesus. The idea of imitation in this context is not about individual lifestyles or habit but of their FAITH, evidenced by their LOVE for God primarily and for fellow believers.
Love and self-denial for the object loved go hand-in-hand. If I profess to love a certain person, and yet will neither give my silver nor my gold to relieve his wants, nor in any way deny myself comfort or ease for his sake, such love is contemptible; it wears the name, but lacks the reality of love: true love must be measured by the degree to which the person loving will be willing to subject himself to crosses and losses, to suffering and self-denials. After all, the value of a thing in the market is what a man will give for it, and you must estimate the value of a man’s love by that which he is willing to give up for it – C.H Spurgeon.
Keep it right here and be refreshed!