5 Nov 2022
“Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith towards God” (Hebrews 6:1).
“For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Heb. 6:4-6).
Whenever I read the above passages, I “trembled’ at the thought that I may belong to the category of those mentioned and that I have taken God’s grace and goodness for granted.
When the Author of Hebrews wrote – “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts…”, it is a solemn reminder that it does not matter what you were as a Christian before, and what you have done in the church, ministry etc. It matters that today and everyday subsequently, until we meet Jesus, we must not harden our hearts and indulge in ‘unbelief’ and ‘disobedience’, and rationalise that it is alright since I have served the Lord all the many years before and I have done this, and done that…for God. It matters that today, and day by day onwards, we grow on to maturity and not remain as carnal believers, still figuring out the elementary doctrine of the faith and remaining in that pitiful condition, when we ought to be ‘teachers’, guiding the younger believers onto maturity in the Lord.
Thankfully, in the same chapter, God’s assurance to true believers is also highlighted.
“So 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, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled for refuge might have strong encouragement to hold fast to the hope set before us. We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain, where Jesus has gone as a forerunner on our behalf, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek” (Hebl 6:17-20).
It is to be noted that in the Bible, both ‘warnings’ and ‘assurances’ are spelt out for those who claim to be believers.
We have considered before that ‘conversion’, redemption, justification, reconciliation with God — all these are given by grace through faith – it is monergistic, in the sense that everything is a gift from God, everything is done and accomplished by the Triune God and there is no contribution or merit on our part in this wonderful salvation.
However, God does not want those who are saved to remain in their former state – there is the call to be holy as He is holy; those who are converted would find it unnatural to love sin and to rebel against Him. As adopted children of God, they desire to please the Father, and also to ‘put on the image of Christ’, their elder brother, and together to be built up as the ‘temple’ of God, and adorned and made pure as the ‘bride of Christ’.
This is what the Author of Hebrews is addressing: we need to leave the elementary doctrine and move on to maturity; we cannot remain as ‘babes in Christ’, still drinking ‘milk’ and not partaking ‘meat’ (spiritual sense). We cannot just look back at our early days as believers, and ‘glory in the good old days’, and still remain oblivious that we are putting to shame the glorious gospel of the Lord Jesus by our fleshly life and immature behaviour today. “For if the ‘land’ cultivated produces thorns and thistles instead of a good crop, it is worthless and is being cursed and its end is to be burned”(Heb.6:7-8). What a sober wake-up call and warning!
Sanctification, being moulded into the image of Christ, is, on the other hand, synergistic – it is still the work of God, the Holy Spirit, and it is still grace operating, but it requires our co-operation with the Spirit of God (Philippians 1:27-30; 2:12-16). This is also the call in Hebrews for all – the believers are to continue to stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, not fearful of the opposition, but willing to suffer for His sake.
It is effectively a call to remain faithful, to continue in faith and obedience to God – we recall that persevering faith is the mark of true conversion and discipleship.
We have been studying Ecclesiastes – there are those who believe that king Solomon was the author.Note the description of king Solomon in 2 Chronicles 9:
“King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other Kings of the earth. All the kings of the earth sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had pudt is his heart” (vv 22-23).
The end of Solomon’s reign has this recorded”
“As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been…The Lord became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the Lord, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice”(1 Kings 11:4,9).
Although Solomon was recognised as ‘one of the wisest men in the known world’, his end was pathetic. Although God appointed him king and allowed him to be very rich and given the task of building God’s temple, he ended up having his heart turned away from God.
Today, and everyday, and day by day, let us nurture our relationship and fellowship with God and His people, ensuring that we keep our hearts right before Him. Let us not fail and end up hardening our hearts like Solomon. Like David, who was not perfect, we must nurture a spirit of repentance and humility before God all the days of our life – this was how David was described as “a man after God’s heart”.