Part 9, Maintaining The Course of Faith, Hebrews 6:1-12
“’Kierkegaard said that Christians reminded him of schoolboys who want to look up the answers to their math problems in the back of the book rather than work them through...We yearn for shortcuts. But shortcuts usually lead away from growth, not toward it. Apply the principle directly to Job: what was the final result of the testing he went through? As Rabbi Abraham Heschel observed, "Faith like Job's cannot be shaken because it is the result of having been shaken."’” Philip Yancey, Disappointment With God, Zondervan, pp. 207-8.
The easiest way may not be the best way towards growth. The writer’s aim for writing this chapter was to convict, the early Hebrew Christians (you and I included) to strive for spiritual maturity, in spite of the fact that many Hebrews were moving back to the practice of Judaism. He convicts them to…
1. Move forward from the basics.
“Therefore, let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.”
· Therefore, is a word that brings in, the intended result of the Jesus discussion from chapters 1 to 5.
· They were told to move from the Old Testament practices and teachings (vv.1b-2) to the more substantial aspect of faith, which is growth in the knowledge of Jesus and the practice of His Word in the face of an alarming situation – people were going back to the old religion.
2. Realize that not all are fit for salvation.
“4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit.”
· A dire situation for the early Hebrew Christian community – friends, or perhaps even family members, were leaving the faith community for the sake of Judaism practices.
· Enlightened in Greek means a new light shining in the mind, a new theological understanding about the Son of God. But if the knowledge of Christ has not touched the heart, there will be no real regeneration of the soul.
· “Enlightened” therefore does not equate to the regeneration of the soul as this has something to do with the Spirit’s ministry of giving conviction and the receiving of faith by grace.
· “They have tasted the heavenly gift, have shared in the Holy Spirit” means they have received God’s grace through the ministry of the church, but they have not been converted to Jesus at heart.
· The early Christians shared the ministry of the Holy Spirit through the care and compassion ministry of the early church (See Acts 6:1-6 as an example), through the preaching of the Word (see 2Timothy 2:25), and through the fellowship of the believers (e.g. 1 John 2:19).
3. Faith promotes imitation of Christ.
“11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.”
· “Each of us” that is after salvation, every person saved would begin the process of growth leading to maturity, an evidence of genuine regeneration of the soul. This is a life-long process until the saved fully realized the promised Christ-filled eternal life.
· In tandem with the work of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25), the saved would desire spiritual growth and aim for maturity so that he or she will become useful to God.
· Maturity is achieved by constantly imitating Jesus.
How can we become more like Jesus?
· We obey Jesus and not the false teachers, not the “gurus” of different spiritual discipline, nor those who are filled by themselves.
· We consult the living Word and not the world.
· We follow biblical principles for living and not the patterns dictated by social medias.
And thus, we can go through difficulties with confidence that Christ is with us, and He will help us grow by going through our challenges.