Let Us Go On
Arlen L. Chitwood
Lamp Broadcast, Inc.
FOREWORD Page vii
Chapter 1. FROM AARON TO MELCHIZEDEK Page 1
Chapter 2. AUTHOR OF ETERNAL SALVATION Page 15
Chapter 3. FROM MILK TO MEAT Page 29
Chapter 4. LEAVING THE PRINCIPLES Page 43
Chapter 5. IF THEY SHALL FALL AWAY Page 57
Chapter 6. TWO KINDS OF GROWTH Page 71
Chapter 7. THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION Page 85
Chapter 8. INHERITING THE PROMISES Page 99
By the Same Author
JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST
SALVATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
RUN TO WIN
SO GREAT SALVATION
SALVATION OF THE SOUL
THE SPIRITUAL WARFARE
ROMANS 1: 16.
WHAT TIME IS IT?
IN THE LORDS DAY
FUCUS ON THE MIDDLE EAST
There is a logic progression in thought as one moves through the five major warnings in the Book of Hebrews. And all the warnings are directed to Christians alone, centering around the same subject matter - Christians either realizing or failing to realize the salvation of their souls/lives, synonymous with Christians either realizing or failing to realize the rights of the firstborn, and this [future] salvation has to do strictly with the position which Christians will occupy in the coming Messianic Era (Heb. 6: 12, 18-20; 10: 36-39; cf. James 1: 21; 1 Peter 1: 9).
In the first warning, the salvation set before Christians is called, so great salvation, and is specifically stated later in the epistle to be the saving of the soul. This is the greatest thing God could ever design for redeemed man, for it centres around man being removed from the earth, placed in the heavens, and occupying the throne as co-heir with heir of all things (Heb. 1: 2 - 2: 5; 10: 39; cf. 3: 1).
the second warning outlines the route which one must travel during his pilgrim
journey if he would one day come into the realization of so great salvation. The route is from
lessons are drawn from the historic account of the Israelites under Moses,
forming the type. And these spiritual
lessons are seen in the antitype surrounding the experiences of Christians
under Christ. The Israelites under Moses
had been called out of
With these things in mind, the third warning then continues with one major overriding thought: Let Us Go On! (6: 1). The thought has to do with moving from immaturity to maturity; and this maturity, contextually, centres around Christians coming into a knowledge and understanding of the things surrounding the land set before them, for a revealed purpose.
In other words, so great salvation has been set before Christians (warning one), and the route which Christians must travel to realize this salvation has been well marked (warning two); then, with these things as an established background, the writer exhorts Christians to go on unto a mature knowledge and understanding of those truths which God has revealed concerning the land set before them (warning three).
Entering into the land and realizing the rights of the firstborn therein is the goal of the Christians calling. And pressing towards this goal or any other goal apart from knowing and understanding certain things about the goal, or things which may lie in the pathway preventing one from reaching the goal, would be unheard of.
This is easy to see from the manner in which Christians are commanded to array themselves for the spiritual warfare in Eph. 6: 11ff, for they cannot properly array themselves apart from a knowledge and understanding of that which lies out ahead.
The helmet of salvation, for example, is identified as the hope of salvation (cf. Eph. 6: 17; 1 Thess. 5: 8); and the hope of salvation has to do, not with the salvation which Christians presently possess, but with the salvation of the soul (Heb. 6: 12, 18, 19; 10: 36-39), which is the central message of the Book of Hebrews.
The helmet of salvation cannot be possessed apart from a hope based on knowledge and understanding. But it is only one part of the armour, and the possession of other parts of the armour require a similar knowledge and understanding surrounding the goal of the Christians calling. And, apart from being properly arrayed for battle after the fashion revealed in Eph. 6: 1ff, Christians will suffer defeat time after time and ultimately fail to realize the goal of their calling.
Drawing from the previous two warnings in order to understand the third is the progressive manner in which the things in this book, LET US GO ON, have been structured; and this is also the progressive manner in which any correct exposition of Hebrews, chapters five and six must be viewed.
Scripture must be understood in the light of Scripture. There is first the near context, and there is then the far context. The near context, in this case, takes one back to the previous two warnings; and the far context takes one to the previous other related points in Scripture throughout both the Old and New Testaments. One must compare spiritual things with spiritual if he would come into a correct knowledge and understanding of the things which God has revealed to man in His Word (1 Cor. 2: 9-13).
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From Aaron to Melchizedek
For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins: Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity. And by reason hereof he ought, as for the people, so also for himself, to offer for sins. And no man taketh this honour unto himself, but he that is called of God, as was Aaron. So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that saith unto him, Thou art my Son, today have I begotten thee. As he said on another place, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5: 1-6).
Aaron was a minister in the sanctuary during that
period when the children of
had previously made certain promises to Abraham, and He had established a
covenant with Abraham concerning the land wherein these promises were to be
realized. Before Abraham ever left
Gods plans and purposes, a nation, separate and distinct from the Gentile
nations, was to be brought into existence through Abraham. The descendants of Abraham (through Isaac and
17: 18, 19; 21: 12; 27: 29]),
comprising this separate and distinct nation, would come under Gods direct blessing; but such would not be the case with any Gentile nation. The Gentile nations of the earth were to be
blessed only through the nation emanating from the loins of Abraham, the nation
these blessings were to be realized by and through
in keeping with Gen. 9: 26, 27 (cf.
the Gentile nations being blessed through
is how it was to have been under the old covenant during the days of Moses, and
later Joshua; and this is how it one day
will be when God makes a new covenant with the house of
Moses day, Aaron was a minister in the sanctuary on behalf of a people who had
been redeemed from
the antitype, Christ is presently ministering in a heavenly
sanctuary (after which was
patterned), and He is ministering on behalf of a people who have been redeemed
from the present world for a particular purpose. Christians are presently being called out
from the world to one day occupy positions in heavenly
Christ, ministering in the heavenly sanctuary today, is ministering after the order of Aaron. He is
ministering on the basis of shed blood on behalf of a redeemed people removed
from this world for a purpose, paralleling
Melchizedek priesthood though is an entirely different matter and comes into
view at a later point in time.
Melchizedek was a king-priest in
Thus, to associate the present high priestly ministry of Christ with the Melchizedek priesthood is not correct at all. Christ though is presently a priest after the order of Melchizedek, but only in the same sense that Christ was born king of the Jews (cf. Matt. 2: 2; Heb. 6: 19, 20). Christ has yet to enter into either position; and both will be realized in that coming [millennial] day when Christ comes forth as King in the day of His power. Or, to state matters another way, both will be realized in that coming day when Christ comes forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
The latter part of Hebrews, chapter four deals with Christs present ministry in the sanctuary (patterned after the order of Aaron); but Hebrews, chapter five is transitional. Chapter five moves the reader from Christs present ministry in the [heavenly] sanctuary to that future time when He comes forth from the sanctuary and assumes a different [Page 4] type ministry. This chapter moves from one from - the antitype of Aaron (present) to the antitype of Melchizedek (future).
THE DEATH OF THE PRIEST
Numbers, chapter thirty-five there is the account of God instructing the children
of the cities of refuge were to be on the east side of the
These cities were set aside to provide a sanctuary for any man who killed another man through an unpremeditated act. The Divine decree given to Noah and his sons following the Flood required the death of the slayer at the hands of man: Whoso sheddeth mans blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man (Gen. 9: 6). And Gods injunction concerning capital punishment for a capital crime was later reiterated to Moses and is part of the Mosaic Economy as well (Ex. 20: 13; 21: 12).
command concerning capital punishment for a capital crime was given to Noah and
his sons 900 years before it was delivered to the children of
capital punishment for a capital offence, has never been [Page
5] repealed, provision was later made
for a man who killed another man unintentionally. This was the Divinely
established purpose for setting aside the six cities of refuge (cf.
Ex. 21: 12, 13). These cities were to be located at points
where at least one city would be easily accessible to any Israelite living in
It fell the lot of the near kinsman of the person slain to fulfil Gods injunction concerning capital punishment for a capital crime. The near kinsman was to confront the slayer and, in turn, slay him. Gods requirement in the matter was blood for blood (Num. 35: 16-21; cf. Deut. 19: 21).
Gods previous instructions to Noah and his sons remained unchanged within the framework of Gods instructions to Moses. Something though was added to these instructions within the Mosaic Economy. Provision was made for the person guilty of accidental, unpremeditated murder. And once the Israelite guilty of such an act had taken advantage of that person - once the slayer had fled to and was inside the walls of one of the six designated cities of refuge - the near kinsman, so long as the slayer remained in this place, couldnt touch him.
Any individual though who fled to one of the cities of refuge must, at a later date, be returned to the area where the slaying occurred and stand before a judical court; and at least two witnessed were required to testify against the man.
If he was found to be guilty of wilful murder, he would no longer be granted sanctuary in a city of refuge. Rather, he would be turned over to the near kinsman to be slain; and the near kinsman, slaying the man, would not be guilty of blood himself. But if he, on the other hand, was found to be guilty only of involuntary manslaughter, he would be returned to the safety of the city of refuge to which he had previously fled (Num. 35: 22-28).
Then there is the matter of a ransom for the life of the one found to be guilty only of involuntary manslaughter. No ransom though was provided for the life of a person guilty of wilful, voluntary manslaughter. Rather, he was to forfeit his own life (blood for blood). The ransom was a provision solely for the one committing involuntary manslaughter. [Page 6] But there was a stipulation: The ransom could not be used until the death of the high priest (Num. 35: 28, 32).
Once the high priest in the camp of Israel had died and the ransom had been used, the individual previously found to be guilty only of involuntary manslaughter was then free to leave the particular city of refuge where he had been provided a sanctuary and return to the land of his possession. And once this had occurred, the near kinsman no longer had any claim on the individual.
the Old Testament (in the type) it was individual
Israelites who found themselves
guilty of manslaughter (voluntary or involuntary) and, consequently, in a
position where they would either be slain or be granted protection in a city of
refuge. Today (in the antitype) it is the entire nation of
If it was a premeditated act, the nation could have been cut off. No ransom could be provided (it would have to be blood for blood; the nation would have to pay with its own life); nor, if a premeditated act, could the nation ever be allowed to return to the land of her possession (which would mean, in the final analysis, that Gods promises to Abraham, beginning with Gen. 12: 1-3, could never be realized).
if Jesus was delivered into Israels hands after a manner which would allow the
nations act of crucifying her Messiah to be looked upon as unpremeditated murder - i.e., allow the nations act to be
looked upon as having been done through ignorance - then Israel could be granted protection and a
ransom could be provided. And beyond
that, the ransom could one day be used by the nation, at which time
Biblical testimony concerning the manner in which the nations act must be
viewed was given by Jesus Himself at
Note the words of Jesus: Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do (Luke 23: 34a). Then note the words of Peter: Ye men of Israel ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers (Acts 3: 12, 14, 15, 17).
Jesus was delivered into the hands of
2 THE HIGH PRIEST AND THE RANSOM
The word ransom (Num. 35: 31, 32 [translated satisfaction, KJV]) is from a cognate form of the word for atonement in the Hebrew text. The underlying thought behind atonement is to cover; and that is the same thought expressed by the ransom in Numbers, chapter thirty-five. The ransom provided a covering - a covering from view, a putting away, a blotting out - of the previous capital act (an unpremeditated act). And once the ransom had been used, which could only be after the death of the high priest, the whole matter was put away. The person was then free to return to the land of his possession; and the near kinsman of the one slain could no longer have any claim on him whatsoever, for the matter had been put away and could never be brought up again.
the camp of
Aaron ministered in the sanctuary in the earthly tabernacle, with blood, on behalf of the people. Jesus, on the other hand, is presently ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, with blood, on behalf of the people. And, as evident from Hebrews, chapter five, along with other related Scripture, the Lords present ministry after the order of Aaron will not continue indefinitely. There is coming a day, along with events which will occur relative to Israel in that day, was typified by the death of the high priest in the camp of Israel and events which occurred relative to the slayer when the high priest died.
will be in that day - not before - that
(A knowledge of the preceding facts reveal not only truths
surrounding Christs present and future ministries but also truths surrounding
equate the present restoration of a remnant of the descendants of Abraham
through Isaac and Jacob to the land of Israel with the fulfilment of any Old
Testament prophecies dealing with
present restoration of a remnant to the land has nothing
whatsoever to do with the
fulfilment of any one of the numerous Old Testament prophecies concerning
a remnant must be present in the land immediately preceding the end of the [present
evil] age for certain prophecies
The remnant in the land today is the remnant which will make the seven-year covenant with Antichrist. And this remnant will, in turn, later be uprooted from the land [something which will never occur after the Jewish people have been regathered in fulfilment of Old Testament prophecy (cf. Isa. 2: 1-4; Jer. 32: 37-44; Ezek. 37: 19-28; 39: 25-29; Joel 2: 27-32)].
In the middle of the [Great] Tribulation, when [the] Antichrist breaks his covenant, the nation of Israel, as we know it today, will be uprooted; and the Jews dwelling in the land will either be slain or sold as slaves throughout the Gentile world [cf. Joel 3: 6; Luke 21: 20-24; Rev. 11: 2].
the last half of the [Great] Tribulation there will be no Jewish nation in the
this time, the entire world - particularly the centre of Antichrists kingdom
in the Middle East [including the
MY SON, A PRIEST
There are two quotations from the Old Testament in Heb. 5: 5, 6, and both are Messianic in their scope of fulfilment. There is first the quotation from Psa. 2: 7, Thou art my son, today have I begotten thee (v. 5); [Page 11] and then there is the quotation from Psa. 110: 4. Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (v. 6).
These two quotations are used together, referring to one and the same time. They refer to that time in the second Psalm when God states, Yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Zion (v. 6), and to that time in the one hundredth tenth Psalm when God states, The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies (v. 2).
quotations in Hebrews are from Messianic passages in the Old Testament,
leaving no room to question the time of their fulfilment. Zion is
1. PSALM 2: 7
Psalm 2: 7 is quoted three places in the New Testament. It is quoted by Luke in Acts 13: 33, and it is quoted twice by the writer of Hebrews (1: 5; 5: 5).
The words, Thou art my Son, from an allusion to 2 Sam. 7: 14 in the Davidic covenant: I will be his father, and he shall be my son
And to view the second Psalm reveals the fulfilment of Gods threefold promise to David in 2 Sam. 7: 12, 13: (1) David was to have a Son (v. 12), (2) Davids Son was to sit on His throne (vv. 12, 13), and (3) the kingdom, under the Sons reign, was to be established forever (v. 13).
Accordingly, Gods promise to David, rather than being fulfilled through his son, Solomon, finds its fulfilment through the greater Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the One to Whom God will give the throne of his father David; He is the One Who will possess a kingdom of which there shall be no end (Luke 1: 31-33).
This is exactly what is in view in Acts 13: 33, where Psa. 2: 7 is quoted for the first time in the New Testament. Acts 13: 34 goes on to state, And as concerning that he raised him from the dead That is, concerning Jesus one day occupying the throne of David and reigning over the house of Jacob, fulfilling Gods promises in the Davidic covenant, God raised Him from the dead. And the same verse [Page 12] concludes with the statement, I will give you the sure mercies of David [lit., I will give you the holy things of David (which, contextually, can only be a reference to things surrounding the Davidic covenant)].
Psalm 2: 7 must likewise be looked upon as Messianic in its two usages in the Book of Hebrews. In the first chapter the verse comprises one of seven Messianic quotations which make up most of the chapter, and it is used here in connection with the parallel quotation from the Davidic covenant in 2 Sam. 7: 14 (v. 5). And in the fifth chapter of Hebrews the verse is used in connection with that future time when Christ will come forth from the sanctuary and exercise the Melchizedek priesthood (vv. 5, 6).
2. PSALM 110: 4
Melchizedek is mentioned eleven times in Scripture - two times in the Old Testament (Gen. 14: 18; Psa. 110: 4) and nine times in the Book of Hebrews.
first appears in Scripture when Abraham was returning from the battle of the
kings (Gen. 14: 18, 19). Melchizedek
was king of
Meeting Abraham, following the battle of the kings, he brought forth bread and wine and blessed Abraham, saying, Blessed be Abram of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth (vv. 18, 19).
It is evident that Melchizedeks actions in the type during the days of Abraham were Messianic in their scope of fulfilment in the antitype. Immediately prior to Christs death at Calvary, He partook of the Passover feast - after Jesus had participated with His disciples in the breaking of bread and drinking from the cup, along with His instructions to them concerning both (vv. 26-28) - Jesus said, I will not drink henceforth of this fruit of the vine, until that day when I drink it new with you in my Fathers kingdom (v. 29).
This could only be an allusion to one thing - that future day when [Page 13] Christ will come forth in the antitype of Melchizedek as he is presented in Gen. 14: 18, 19, with bread and wine to bless Abraham and his descendants, both heavenly and earthly (cf. Gen. 22: 17, 18). And this is an event which will occur following the battle of the kings (cf. Rev. 19: 17-21).
The one hundred tenth Psalm, where Melchizedek is referred to the only other time in the entire New Testament, as previously seen, is also Messianic in its scope of fulfilment. It must be, for this is the way Melchizedek is presented in Genesis, and there can be no change when one comes to the Book of Psalms.
Son is told to sit at the Fathers right hand until such a time as His enemies
are made His footstool
(v. 1). Then, after
His enemies have been made His footstool, He is going to rule in the midst of His enemies (v. 2). He is going to strike through kings and judge
among the heathen [Gentiles] in that
coming day of His power (vv. 3, 5, 6), a day
when He will be revealed as the great King-Priest in
Genesis 14 and Psa. 110 must be understood in the light of one another (actually, Psa. 110 draws from Gen. 14), and Heb. 5-7 must be understood in the light of both Old Testament references. Thus, all eleven references to Melchizedek in Scripture can only be looked upon after one fashion - as Messianic in their scope of fulfilment.
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Author of Eternal Salvation
Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared; Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him (Heb. 5: 7-9).
Christ, during what the writer of Hebrews calls, the days of his flesh, passed through certain human experiences. Wisdom and stature, in connection with Christs growth from childhood to manhood, were part of these experiences (Luke 2: 52); testings, emotions, hunger, sufferings, and numerous other things which man experiences were, as well, things which Christ also experienced (Luke 4: 1-13; 22: 44; John 11: 35; Heb. 4: 15; 5: 7, 8).
One thing above all else must be kept in mind when viewing these human experiences which Christ passed through. Christs deity, during His earthly ministry, cannot be separated from His humanity. That is, He, during this time, was not God and Man; rather, He was the God-Man. At no point, beginning with the incarnation, can one be separated from the other.
The question thus becomes, How could Christ increase in wisdom and stature, be tempted, learn obedience, or pass through certain other human experiences after a similar fashion if He was, at the same time, fully God? Or, to ask the question another way, How could Christ, being God Himself, and Omniscient, increase in or learn human traits and characteristics through becoming a member of the human race which He Himself had brought into existence?
After all, at the age of twelve, he entered into the temple in [Page 16] Jerusalem and confounded the doctors with His wisdom and understanding of matters; and, at the same time, He exhibited knowledge of that which He must accomplish completely outside Joseph and Marys understanding of the matter (Luke 2: 41-50). Then, on numerous occasions, He either exercised His deity or could have exercised it (Matt. 26: 53; Mark 1: 24-26; Luke 22: 61; John 1: 48; 11: 25, 43, 44; 18: 5, 6.).
the most graphic testimony which Scripture presents pertaining to the
inseparability of Christs humanity from His deity surrounds the events of
was the blood of God which was shed at Calvary, the same blood which is
presently on the mercy seat in the Holy of Holies of the heavenly tabernacle
today (cf. Acts 20: 28; Heb. 9: 11, 12). And Jesus raised Himself from the dead, restoring life to
day of the Passover, 30 A.D., was the day
God died; and not only did the
Son raise Himself, but God the
Father raised Him (
Jesus, prior to His crucifixion, referred to His body as the
Glory of the Lord (the manifestation of God among His people) though had
departed from the Holy of Holies long before Christ was upon earth. It departed shortly after God allowed His
people to be taken captive into
Greek word used relative to the body of Christ being the
(Different words are used in the Greek text for verbs translated the same in the English text of John 1: 1-14. The verb used in vv. 1, 2 - In the beginning was the Word - has no reference to a time of beginning or a time of ending. Also, there is no article before beginning [here or elsewhere] in the Greek text. The thought is simply, In beginning [there are different beginnings in Scripture (for the earth, angels, man, etc.)] the Word existed without reference to a beginning or an ending [for the Word has neither] Then in v. 14 a different verb is used, which has reference to a definite time of beginning - And the Word was made [became] flesh There was a point in time when the eternal Word is presented prior to this time in vv. 1, 2. The Word was just as much fully God following the incarnation as before the incarnation.)
the true Tabernacle or
A verse often misunderstood, though one of the clearest and strongest verses in Scripture relative to Christs deity, is Mark 13: 32: But of that day and that hour [the time of Christs return] knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
Seemingly, the way the text is structured, Christ separated Himself from the Father and stated that He, like fallen man, did not know certain things which the Father alone knew. However, such was not [page 18] the case at all.
The text clearly states that the Father alone had knowledge of the things involved, but the simple fact of the matter is that the Father and Son were one (John 10: 30 [cf. v. 33]; 14: 9). The Son, thus, had to, of necessity, possess the same knowledge, for He was then, and remains today, God of very God (cf. Col. 1: 9).
The problem lies in the English translation of Mark 13: 32, and a proper translation will not only reveal that the Son of Man was the God-Man but it will also reveal the inseparability of his humanity from His deity. The Son of Man was, and remains today, fully God as well as fully Man.
The word but in the latter part of Mark 13: 32 is a translation of the Greek words, ei me. Literally translated, these two words mean, if not, or except. What Jesus said was that He couldnt know that day and that hour if He were not the Father, for the Father alone knew.
Archbishop Trench, one of the great authorities from a past generation on word studies in the Greek text, translates this verse, If I were not God as well as Man, even I would not know the day nor the hour. And this appears to capture the exact thought of the passage about as well as any English translation, for not only is the translation true to the exact text but it is true to the testimony of the whole of Scripture.
Thus, returning to the human experiences which Christ passed through, one thing above all else must be kept in mind: At no point in Christs earthly existence - from the incarnation to the ascension - can His deity be separated from His humanity. He was [and always will be] the God-Man. He was just as much fully God as He was fully Man; and from the point of the incarnation forward the matter is as stated in Heb. 13: 8, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever.
Consequently, not only must the passages in Luke 2: 52 and Heb. 4: 15; 5: 7-9 be understood in this light but any part of Scripture touching on Christs humanity must be understood after the same fashion.
During events surrounding Christs crucifixion, He suffered like no other man could possibly suffer, for, along with His physical [Page 19] sufferings, He suffered from a spiritual standpoint after a fashion which it was impossible for anyone else to suffer. And the latter sufferings, according to Scripture, were far worse than the former.
1. PHYSICAL SUFFERINGS
Insofar as His physical sufferings were concerned, the Prophet Isaiah, over seven centuries before this time, stated, his visage was so marred more than any other man, and his form more than the sons of men (Isa. 52: 14).
He was spat upon and beaten by the Jewish religious leaders; then He was turned over to Pilate, who, after dealing with Him a second time, had Him scourged and delivered into the hands of his soldiers to be crucified; and the Roman soldiers, following His scourging, arrayed Him as a pseudo King and repeatedly mocked Him, spat on Him, and struck Him on the head with what was apparently a hard bamboo-like reed (Matt. 26: 67; 27: 26-31).
A literal rendering of Isaiah 52: 14 would reveal that His physical appearance would be so literally altered by the time He was placed on the Cross that it would appear to actually not be that of a man; and the same verse states that because of His mutilated physical appearance many would be astonished when they looked upon the One about to be crucified.
Actually, Isa. 52: 14 is set between two sections of Scripture dealing with that future day when Christ rules and reigns over the earth (vv. 1-13, 15). Verses one through thirteen introduce the subject (His coming day of glory and exaltation), verse fourteen moves the reader back 2,000 years in time (referring to His suffering and humiliation), and then verse fifteen moves the reader forward once again to that time introduced in verses one through thirteen.
A parallel is shown between that which would occur at the two events of Christ. The degree of His sufferings and humiliation would parallel, in an opposite sense, the degree of His glory and exaltation. This is why the writer of Hebrews could state. who for the joy that was set before Him [the day when He would rule and reign over the earth] Christ endured the cross, despising the shame. (Heb. 12: 2).
In that coming day the same scenes which witnessed His suffering and humiliation are going to witness His glory and exaltation. He is [Page 20] going to be exalted, judge among the nations, and rebuke many people (Isa. 2: 2-4; 52: 13). And kings shall shut their mouths at him and see and hear things which they had neither been told nor considered (Isa. 52: 15).
Those who look upon Him in that coming day will once again be astonished though after a different fashion, for His coming glory and exaltation must, in an opposite sense, parallel His past suffering and humiliation. And, as His physical appearance resulted in the people being astonished in the past, so will His physical appearance result in the people being astonished in that future day.
In the past Christ appeared apart from His Glory. He possessed a body like unto the body which man possesses today, void of the covering of Glory in which man was enswathed prior to the fall. It was in this body that He suffered, bled, and died; it was in this body that the very God of the universe, in the person of His Son, appeared in humiliation and shame on behalf of sinful man; and it was in this body, in the person of His Son, that God Himself was so beaten that people looked upon Him in astonishment.
But in that coming day matters will be just the
opposite. Though Christ will return in the same body
which He has possessed since the incarnation, it will no longer be void of the
covering of Glory. Nor will He return as
the suffering Lamb of God. All of this will be past. In that coming day He will return as the conquering
Lion of the
2. SPIRITUAL SUFFERINGS
Christs spiritual sufferings began in the Garden, continued with His being arrayed as a pseudo King (twice [first by Herod, then by the Roman soldiers]), and terminated with the Father turning away from the Son while He hung upon the Cross.
In the Garden, anticipating that which lay ahead, Christ requested three times of the Father that this cup might pass from Him; but the prayer was always followed by the statement, Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Matt. 26: 39, 42, 44).
cup which Jesus had to drink should be understood in the [Page
21] light of His present spiritual
sufferings. Drinking this cup could have
no reference to the events of
Jesus requested of the Father that these sufferings be allowed to pass, but such was not to be. And, resultingly, Jesus being in an agony prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground (Luke 22: 44).
shortly thereafter, following Jesus being delivered to Pilate by the Jewish
religious leaders, the nation of
Then Pilate, making one last attempt to save Jesus from crucifixion, brought Him forth in the mutilated condition described in Isa. 52: 14 and presented Him to the chief priests and the rulers and the people with the words, Behold your King! But the Jewish people who were present would still have nothing to do with Christ. They cried out to Pilate, Away with him, away with him, crucify him. Then, in response to Pilates question, Shall I crucify your King?, the chief priests climaxed the whole matter by stating. We have no king but Caesar. Jesus was then led away to be crucified (Matt. 27: 15-31; Mark 15: 7-20; Luke 23: 13-26; John 18: 39- 19: 16).
was through all this, preceding the Cross, that Jesus
not only suffered physically but spiritually as well. The Jewish religious leaders had persuaded
the people to ask for the release of a notorious imprisoned criminal rather
And to bring the whole matter to a close, preceding the crucifixion (where mocking and expressions of contempt continued with Christ hanging on the Cross [Mark 15: 24-32]), the Jewish religious leaders echoed the ultimate insult when Pilate brought Jesus forth to them. They not only received their true King, calling for His crucifixion, but they pledged allegiance to a pagan Gentile king (cf. Mark 15: 16-20; Luke 23: 6-11).
Jewish religious leaders, through this act, placed the nation of
the religious leaders in
Christ took upon Himself the sins of the world during the last three of the six hours He hung on the Cross. God caused darkness to envelope all the land, and He then turned away from His Son while redemptions price was being paid. And this resulted in the cry from the Cross, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Matt. 27: 45, 46).
the Father turned from the Son at this point, leaving the Son to act alone,
the Son remained just as much fully God as He had always been and would always
be; and, resultingly, it was the blood of God which was shed at
But at the end of those three hours it was all over. The Sons work of redemption had been accomplished. God had laid on him the iniquity of us all (Isa. 53: 6); and the Son could then cry out, It is finished [lit. It has been finished] (John 19: 30).
And that is the way matters stand today. Because of the Sons finished work, a finished [and eternal] salvation is available for fallen man. Gods Son has paid the price [in full], and all man has to do - all he can do - is to receive that which has already been accomplished on his behalf. A Barabbas can be set free, for the Just One has died in his stead.
(The same perfect tense is used in the Greek text relative to both Christs finished work and mans [eternal] salvation. The perfect tense refers to action completed in past time with the results of that action existing during present time in a finished state. This is the tense used in John 19: 30, recording Christs cry from the Cross. It has been finished; and this is the tense used in Eph. 2: 8, referring to mans [eternal]* salvation by grace through faith: For by grace are ye saved [lit. you have been saved] through faith
acts involve, in their entirety, Divinely finished work; the latter work [mans
salvation] is based on the former [Christs work at
[* NOTE To attach a believers works to this finished, complete, secure, initial and eternal salvation, as many Bible Teachers are doing today, is to corrupt the gospel (good news) of Gods grace alone! Scripture speaks to those who are guarded through faith unto a salvation ready to be revealed at the last time! (1 Pet. 1: 5, R.V.): and this future salvation has nothing whatsoever to do with the salvation they previously received by grace alone! The apostle Peter says this future salvation will take place at the end of your faith, at the salvation of your souls (v. 9)! See also Jas. 1: 21; Heb. 10: 39. Cf. Acts 2: 31, 34, R.V.]
BEING MADE PERFECT
Through suffering (Heb. 4: 15; 5: 7, 8), Christ was brought to a position which Scripture calls, being made perfect (v. 9), something which the writer had already stated in an earlier passage in the book (2: 10). This though was not perfection in the sense of the way the word is often used and understood today. Rather the word is used in this [Page 24] passage referring to an end result or goal of that which is in view.
Perfect is the translation of the Greek word, teleioo, which means, bring to an end, bring to accomplishment. Christ, by passing through these sufferings, as a Man, was brought into a position which He had not previously occupied.
In one sense of the word, Christ was brought into the position through learning obedience, resulting from sufferings which He experienced; but, in another sense of the word, such an act was impossible.
Hebrews 5: 8 states that Christ learned obedience by the things which He suffered. However, John 7: 15 states that Christ possessed knowledge about certain matters, having never learned (cf. v. 16). The Greek word translated learned is the same in both verses, the word manthano. But, the thought behind what is meant by learning in the two verses is not the same. It cant be.
The Omniscient One has perfect knowledge apart from lifes experiences. But, on the other hand, Scripture states that the same Omniscient person learned through lifes experiences. How can one be reconciled with the other?
The learning is within the framework of Christ personally, as a Man, passing through the same experiences as man. He personally experiences, as a Man, that which man experiences. In the words of Heb. 4: 14b, 15, let us hold fast our profession [confession (the confession of our hope)]. For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without [apart from] sin.
However, this still leaves unaddressed the issue of how the Omniscient God, as Son, could learn obedience through suffering. But the answer to the matter is really very simple.
Christ learned through personal experience that which He already knew in the same sense that God learns through angelic watchers who report to Him at scheduled times that which He already knows (cf. Dan. 4: 17, 23-25). Or, as in the case of the cities of the plain during Abrahams day, God came down to see for Himself that which the watchers had already told Him. This was something which He not only knew about before the matter was revealed by the watchers but also something which He didnt need to see in order to know if the [Page 25] matter was altogether according to the cry of it (Gen. 18: 20, 21).
This is simply the way Scripture reveals Gods intervention in the affairs of man. He is, at times, revealed as learning, through personal intervention, that which He already knows.
As in the case of the cities of the plain, God is seen as personally coming down to view matters Himself before allowing the cities to be destroyed; and, in the person of His Son, as a Man, God has personally passed through certain experiences which man passed through, attributing to Himself the same qualities which man acquires by passing through these experiences.
And God has done this for revealed, related purposes, with one such purpose being revealed in Heb. 5: 7-9. Through learning obedience by the things which he suffered, matters have been brought to a goal. Christ has become the author [source] of eternal salvation unto all those who, in turn, obey him, which must, of necessity, also involve suffering.
It is suffering on His part and subsequent suffering on our part; and as the former resulted in learning obedience, so must the latter. As stated in 1 Peter 2: 21, Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps.
ETERNAL SALVATION, OBEDIENCE
The word eternal in the English text is misleading. Those for whom Christ is the source of salvation (Christians) already possess eternal salvation; and, beyond that, this salvation was not acquired through obedience to Christ, as in the text. Rather, it was acquired through believing on the Lord Jesus Christ (John 3: 16).
Obedience to Christ, resulting from suffering, can now come into view only following belief, never before. Only the saved have passed from death unto life and are in a position to suffer and subsequently obey. The unsaved are still dead in trespasses and sins (John 5: 24; Eph. 2: 1).
The Greek language, from which our English versions have been translated, does not contain a word for eternal. A person using the [Page 26] Greek language thinks in the sense of ages; and the way this language is normally used in the New Testament to express eternal, apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the Greek words eis tous aionas ton aionon, meaning, unto [or, with respect to] the ages of the ages (ref. Heb. 12: 21; 1 Pet. 4: 11; Rev. 1: 6; 4: 9, 10 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated forever and ever in most versions).
Another less frequently used way to express eternal in the Greek New Testament, apart from textual considerations, is through the use of the shortened form of the preceding - eis tous aionas, meaning unto [or, with respect to] the ages (ref. Rom. 9: 5; 11: 36; 2 Cor. 11: 31; Heb. 13: 8 for several examples of places where these words are used, translated forever in most versions.)
The word from the Greek text translated eternal in Heb. 5: 9 is aionios. This is the adjective equivalent of the noun aion, referred to in the preceding paragraph in its plural form to express eternal, Aion means an aeon [the word aeon is derived from aion] or an era, usually understood throughout the Greek New Testament as an age.
Aionios, the adjective equivalent of aion, is used seventy-one times in the Greek New Testament and has been indiscriminately translated eternal or everlasting in almost every instance in the various English versions. This word though should be understood about thirty of these seventy-one times in the sense of age-lasting rather that eternal; and the occurrence in Heb. 5: 9 forms a case in point.
Several good examples of other places where aionios should be translated and understood as age-lasting are Gal. 6: 8; 1 Tim. 6: 12; Titus 1: 2; 3: 7. These passages have to do with running the present race of the faith on view of one day realizing an inheritance in the [coming messianic] kingdom, which is the hope set before Christians.
the other hand, aionios can be understood in the sense of eternal if the text so indicates. Several good examples of places where aionios should be so translated and understood are John 3: 15, 16,
passages have to do with life derived through faith in Christ because if His
finished work at
considerations must always be taken into account when [Page
27] properly translating and
understanding aionios, for this is a word which can be used to imply either
age-lasting or eternal; and it
is used both ways numerous times in the New Testament. Textual considerations in Heb.
5: 9 leave no room to question exactly how aionios should be understood and translated in this
verse. Life during the
coming age, occupying a
position as co-heir [
2. SUFFERING, REIGNING
Suffering with or on behalf of Christ must precede reigning with Christ. The latter cannot be realized apart from the former. Such suffering is inseparably linked with obedience; and the text clearly states that Christ is the source of that future salvation unto all them that [presently] obey him, in the same respect that Christ is the source of presently possessed eternal salvation for all those who have (in the past) believed on Him.
1 Peter 1: 11, relative to the saving of the soul (vv. 9, 10), states, Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify when it [He] testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ [lit., the sufferings with respect to Christ], and the glory that should follow.
The thought, contextually, is not at all that of Christ suffering. Rather, the thought has to do with [regenerate] Christians suffering with respect to Christs sufferings, subsequently realizing the salvation of their souls through having a part in the [millennial] glory which is to following the sufferings.
This is the underlying thought behind the whole book of 1 Peter, expressed in so many words by the writer in 4: 12, 13: Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers* of Christs sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
[* See Joseph Dillows Book The Reign of the Servant Kings.]
This is the eternal [age-lasting] glory to which [regenerate] Christians have been called and in which [these] Christians will be established after they have suffered a while, with obedience to Christ emanating from the sufferings (1 Peter 5: 10).
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* * *
From Milk to Meat
Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek. Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are so dull of hearing. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil (Heb. 5: 10-14).
In Heb. 5: 1-6 there is a progression in thought from the present ministry of Christ in the sanctuary (after the order of Aaron) to the future ministry of Christ when He ascends the throne (after the order of Melchizedek).
Christs ministry in the sanctuary occurs in Heaven, He is ministering on behalf of those destined to ascend the throne with Him, and this ministry will extend throughout the present dispensation [or evil age]. At the conclusion of this ministry, Christ will come forth as the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek; and His co-heirs, for whom He is presently ministering in the heavenly sanctuary, will then reign as kings and priests with Him.
Christ exercises the Melchizedek priesthood, He will have a dual reign. He will sit on His own throne in the heavenly
This will be in perfect keeping with both heavenly and earthly promises associated with Abraham and his seed, first brought to light in connection with the first mention of Melchizedek in Scripture (Gen. 14: 18, 19). Melchizedek blessed Abraham as possessor of heaven and earth; and the seed of Abraham, both heavenly and earthly, are to possess the gate [rule over] his enemies (Gen. 22: 17, 18).
Gen. 12: 1-3 in Scripture (i.e., beyond the call of Abraham and
Gods promises to Abraham), all Divine blessings which mankind receives must
flow through Abraham and his seed (through Isaac, Jacob, and Jacobs twelve
sons and their descendants). Christ is
Abrahams Seed (through Isaac,
during the coming age, Abrahams Seed (Christ and His co-heirs) will rule from
a heavenly sphere; and Abrahams Seed (Christ and the [remnant
Corresponding with the preceding, Heb. 5: 7-9 deals with a [future] salvation in connection with the One Who has been Called of God an high priest after the order of Melchizedek (v. 10; cf. v. 6). Predating His present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (after the order of Aaron), Christ learned obedience by the things which he suffered; and with God bringing matters to a predetermined goal in the person of His Son through this process, Christ became the author [source] of eternal [ salvation for the age] unto all them that obey him (vv. 8, 9).
This [coming] salvation is being extended to those for whom Christ is presently ministering in the heavenly sanctuary; and this salvation, contextually, has to do with the future time when Christ exercises the Melchizedek priesthood. This is the salvation of the soul (cf. Heb. 6: 19, 20; 10: 36-39), and it has to do strictly with the kings and priests who will ascend [after the time of resurrection] the throne with the great King-Priest in the coming [millennial] day (Rev. 4: 10; 5: 8-10 [Rev. 20: 6]).
(Note in Heb. 5: 6 that Christ is said to be a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. [Page 31] Forever is a translation of the Greek words eis ton aiona, which appear twenty-nine times in the Greek New Testament. Depending on the context, this expression can be understood either one of two ways - with respect to the age [one age]. Or with respect to eternity [all the ages]. It is used both ways in the Greek New Testament [cf. Matt. 21: 19; 1 Peter 1: 23]. The word aiona [the word aion in a different case form] is the singular noun form of the adjective aionios, which is also used both ways in the Greek text [ref. Chapter 2].
The four times expression appears in the Book of Hebrews relative to Christ being a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek [5: 6; 6: 20; 7: 17, 21] should, contextually, be understood, as Christ being a priest with respect to the age after the order of Melchizedek. The reference is to the coming [messianic] age, that with which the Book of Hebrews deals.
It might to help to note a plural form of this same Greek expression in Heb. 13: 8 - eis tous aionas. with respect to the ages. This verse, literally translated, would read, Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and with respect to the ages [all the future ages]. Christ exercising a priesthood after the order of Melchizedek in Hebrews 5: 7 has to do with one age, but Christ being unchangeable [for the Father and the Son are one, and God is unchangeable (Mal. 3: 6)] has to do with all the ages - past, present, and future.
Christ will continue to reign beyond the millennium, but matters as they will exist during the millennium [one age] and beyond the millennium [the succeeding unending ages, comprising eternity] will be quite different. Christs reign over the house of Jacob [Luke 1: 33], for example, is expressed in the Greek New Testament by the same words which appear in Heb. 13: 8, eis tous aionas [with respect to the ages]; but there will be differences between His reign over the house of Jacob during the millennium and beyond the millennium [note that this is the natural man, Jacob, not the spiritual man, Israel. The nation will thus evidently dwell on earth in natural bodies of flesh, blood, and bones throughout not only the millennium [in changed, and immortal bodies]* but the eternal ages as well].
[* That is, all overcomers - (Jews and Gentiles alike) - will have access to heavenly and earthly spheres of Messiahs Kingdom, - for they are [going to be] equal unto angels (Luke 20: 35, R.V.).]
the millennium, Christ will occupy the role of King-Priest after the order of
Melchizedek, seated in His own throne in the [Page 32] heavenly
Sin and death, along with all the former associated things, will no longer exist. And it will no longer be necessary for God to have a Priest dwelling among men to represent men to God and God to men. In that day, God will dwell with them [with mankind, on the new earth], and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God [Rev. 21: 1ff].
And Christ, in that day, will continue to reign in a kingly position [which will apparently be of a universal nature rather than restricted to this earth, as during the millennium]. He will be seated on the throne of God and of the Lamb [a throne from which universal rule will emanate] [Rev. 22: 1, 3], others will continue to occupy the throne with Him [Rev. 21: 5], and Christ will also continue to occupy the throne of his father David [Luke 1: 32, 33].)
In Heb. 5: 11, the writer moves into a section of the book which has to do with spiritual growth, from immaturity to maturity. The broader picture - moving beyond the millennium - is really not what the writer had in mind though. Rather, he concerns himself with the Messianic Era itself. The broader picture has been presented only to show that Christs ministry after the order of Melchizedek is a ministry having to do with activity during one age only, activity during the Messianic Era.
The writer of Hebrews, leading into his statements in 5: 11ff, had called attention to a progression into Gods economy from Christs present ministry in the heavenly sanctuary (after the order of Aaron) to His future ministry (after the order of Melchizedek), crowned and seated on the throne (vv. 1-6). Following this, the writer called attention to a salvation awaiting those presently obeying Christ (v. 9); and this salvation, contextually, is to be realized during the coming age when Christ exercises the Melchizedek priesthood (vv. 6, 10). It is to be realized by Christs co-heirs through their ascending the throne with Him.
It is this whole line of thought - centering on Melchizedek (v. 10) - which the writer had in mind when he stated, Of whom we have many things to say (v. 11). He wanted to say many things about that future day when Christ would be the great King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek, with others occupying positions as kings and priests alongside Him.
But, there was a problem
MANY THINGS TO SAY
The Writer of Hebrews could not just come out and begin relating to his readers various truths about Christs coming rule and reign over the earth after the order of Melchizedek. This is what he wanted to do, but such was not possible; the recipients of this epistle lacked the necessary background in their spiritual growth to comprehend these truths. Though they were on the foundation, which is Christ (1 Cor. 3: 11), they had not built upon this foundation after a fashion which would allow them to understand things about Christ drawn from a type-antitype discussion of Melchizedek.
1. HARD TO BE UTTERED
The things pertaining to Christs coming ministry after the order of Melchizedek were things hard to be uttered. That is, these things were difficult to be explained. And, to be able to grasp these things at all, it was absolutely necessary for a person to have growth enough spiritually that he could easily partake of solid food.
Things surrounding the antitype of the Melchizedek priesthood [Page 34] were not simply meat or solid food per se, but these things were said to be strong meat, strong solid food (vv. 12, 14 [there is a qualifying word used only here in the Greek text in connection with the word for food - stereos, meaning, strong, solid, firm]. And these were, accordingly, not things for those still on the Milk of the Word, which was the problem that the writer of Hebrews faced.
Those to whom he was writing were still on milk, and correspondingly, unskilful in the word of righteousness. And not only did they need to be weaned from milk but they also needed to be able to partake of solid food, after at least some fashion, before they could go on into and understand things surrounding the strong meat associated with Christs coming reign as King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek.
At the beginning of the Christian life a person can only partake of what Scripture calls, the sincere [unadulterated, pure] milk of the word (cf. Heb. 5: 12, 13; 1 Peter 2: 2). Milk is for newborn babes, whether in the spiritual or physical realm. And, as in the physical realm where individuals grow physically and leave the milk for solid food, so must it be in the spiritual realm to assure proper growth. A newborn babe is to begin on milk, but he is not to remain on milk indefinitely. He is to grow spiritually; and through this growth he is to progressively, in what could only be considered a natural sense within this growth, gradually leave the milk and, in its place, partake of solid food.
The solid food which he first begins to partake of is more easily assimilated and digested than solid food which he may partake of after additional growth. Growth is always progressive, and the object of growth is always the same. Whether in the physical or spiritual, progressive proper growth always leads toward the same goal. It always leads toward maturity, adulthood.
The whole panoramic picture of growth after this fashion is set forth in spiritual lessons drawn from events occurring the six days of Genesis, chapter one; and the purpose of this growth is intimately connected with that which occurred during the seventh day in chapter two.
Events occurring during the first three days set forth divisions. Viewing the antitype, events occurring during the first day pertain to [Page 35] mans salvation, wherein a division is established between the soul and the spirit (cf. Gen. 1: 3, 4; Heb. 4: 12). Then, events occurring on days two and three (a division of waters from waters, the land from the water, etc.) picture the newborn babe in Christ learning divisions, distinctions in the word - i.e., learning the basis - elementary teachings which would have to do essentially with milk rather than solid food.
It is only when one reaches that point in his spiritual growth depicted by events of days four through six that solid food of any real substance comes into the picture. At this point in his understanding of Scripture he can begin to sink deep shafts down into the Word and mine its treasures. He can begin to scale the heights or the depths in his spiritual understanding, as the birds are able to ascend into the heavens (day four), or as the marine creatures are able to plunge to the depths of the sea (day five); or he can begin to roam through the Word with ease in his spiritual understanding, as the giant land creatures are able to easily roam the earth (day six).
And all of this is for a purpose, which has to do with man, on the seventh say, realizing the reason for his existence - let them have dominion. It has to do with man, on the seventh day (the seventh millennium, the earths coming Sabbath, the Messianic Era), being placed in a position to exercise dominion with the second man, the last Adam (cf. Gen. 1: 26 - 2: 3; 1 Cor. 15: 45, 47; Rom. 11: 29).
It has to do with the same thing which the writer of Hebrews had in mind when he referred to things which were hard to be uttered [difficult to understand] (5: 11). He was writing to individuals who were, in their spiritual understanding, still in that period typified by events on days two and three in Genesis, chapter one.
And this whole matter was not something which could be discussed with individuals still on the Milk of the Word. This was strong meat, which, insofar as ones spiritual growth and understanding were concerned, could fit only within the framework of that depicted by events on days four through six, for it had to do with the seventh day.*
* (For a detailed discussion of Gen. 1: 1 - 2: 3, as these verses pertain to the Christian life [birth, maturity, purpose] within a type-antitype framework, see the authors book, FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN, Chapters 5 -8.)
2. DULL OF HEARING
The word, dull in Heb. 5: 11 is the translation of a Greek word (nothros) which means, lazy of careless. This is the same word also appearing in Heb. 6: 12, the only other occurrence of this word in the New Testament - That ye be not slothful [nothros, lazy, careless], but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The word nothros, as it is used in the fifth chapter, has to do with hearing and receiving the Word of God. Those addressed had become lazy, careless in this respect. Thus, the thought of sluggish in hearing or hard of hearing because of laziness or carelessness would best describe what is meant by the use of nothros in this section of Scripture. Such an attitude toward the Word on their part, in turn, have negative ramifications in two interrelated realms: (1) their present spiritual growth and (2) the end [goal] of their faith, the salvation of their souls * (James 1: 21; 1 Peter 1: 4, 5, 9; cf. Heb. 6: 11, 12, 19; 10: 36-39).
[*NOTE. The words The salvation of souls has nothing whatsoever to do with the eternal salvation which all regenerate believers presently possess. These words, as the author has rightly said, point to a time yet future, - to the end of their faith, (v. 9a)
This end can only come when Jesus Himself comes to resurrect (after those that are alive that are left [vv. 15, 16]) the souls and bodies of the holy dead, (1 Thess. 4: 16, 17; Matt. 16: 18b; Acts 2: 27, 34; Rev. 20: 6. cf. 1 Thess. 2: 12, R.V.). Therefore, the end is not the destruction of this world (2 Pet. 3: 10); nor is it the beginning of the next i.e., His new creation, (Rev. 21: 1). The end here is that of this evil age and the beginning of the next (age) - i.e., our Lords Millennium, and all the glories that should follow at the revelation of Jesus Christ, (1 Pet. 1: 11b, 13, R.V.). Therefore this end is still future: - at Messiahs Second Advent, and the promised inheritance which He will share here with His holy and obedient saints: (Psa. 2: 8. Rev. 20: 5, 6; cf. Eph. 5: 1-21; 2 Thess. 1: 3-5, etc. R.V.).]
Then a verb tense used in the Greek text shows that the individuals being addressed in Heb. 5: 11ff had not always been in this spiritual condition. Rather, they had become this way. The latter part of the verse should literally read, ye have become sluggish in hearing [because of your carelessness, laziness (as it pertains to the reception of the Word of God and your spiritual growth)]. The same thought (their having become this way) is set forth in the latter part of verse 12, which should literally read, ye have become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Thus, though the text deals with spiritual babes in Christ, it does not deal with spiritual babes who had never made a concerted effort to grow spiritually. Rather, the text deals with [truly regenerate and enthusiastic] Christians who, at one time, were [reading and] receiving the Word and growing in a spiritual manner. But something happened, which is very common in Christian circles today. They had become lazy and careless in the spiritual realm of their lives; and, correspondingly, they had become sluggish in hearing the Word.
They had been saved long enough that they should, themselves, have been teaching the Word. But such was not the case at all. Rather, because of the spiritual condition in which they had become, they needed someone to take the Word and begin at the very basis of the Christian faith, teach them once again the things which they had previously been taught (v. 12).
WHEN FOR THE TIME
The whole area of spiritual growth from immaturity unto maturity as it is presented in Hebrews, chapters five and six needs to be understood contextually. Beginning on milk, being weaned from the milk, and partaking of solid food is not just moving from something relatively simple to something more complex in Biblical doctrine. Rather, proper spiritual growth involves moving from what could be termed the letter of the matter to the spirit of the matter (cf. 2 Cor. 3: 6-18).
When Christ, following His resurrection, instructed the two disciples on the Emmaus road, He followed a certain procedure. Christ began at Moses and all the prophets; and, using the writings of Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself. And by so doing, He showed these disciples, from the Old Testament Scriptures, a dual picture of Himself. He showed them both the sufferings which He had just endured and His glory which would one day be revealed (Luke 24: 25-27).
How did Christ do this? How did He go to the Old Testament Scriptures and draw spiritual truths from these Scriptures which not only dealt with His past sufferings and future glory but which also resulted in the eyes of those two disciples being opened? The answered very simple. Christ first went to the historic accounts in the writings of Moses, and then He went to the writings of other prophets (the writings of the other prophets could have been both historic accounts and / or prophetic accounts). And using these Scriptures to arrive at teachings of this nature, Christ could only have followed one procedure: He could only have dealt first with the letter of the Old Testament revelation and then with the spirit of this revelation.
In this respect, to illustrate a basic distinction between milk and meat, the letter would have to do with the historicity of the account itself. It would have to do with simply viewing the account as it is presented in Scripture from a literal, historic perspective. And this is where one must begin, for no progress in spiritual growth can possibly be made until one first learns and understands the basic things about that which is simply stated.
Then the spirit has to do with going beyond the simple historic account within the framework of the manner in which Scripture has been written. God has interwoven within the historic account an inexhaustible wealth of spiritual truth. All Old Testament history is fraught with types and meanings, which after some fashion, reflect on the person and work of Christ in His three-fold office. Note in Luke 24: 27 - in all the scriptures the things concerning himself (cf. 1 Cor. 10: 6, 11).
(One could take a lesson concerning proper Biblical interpretation from Stephens address to the Jewish religious leaders in Acts, chapter seven. Stephen began by calling attention to particular historic accounts in the Old Testament. Then, account by account [7: 2ff], once he had these Jewish religious leaders attention properly focused on the letter of the matter, he drew certain spiritual lessons from the historic accounts. And, though the lessons were relatively simple, those whom he addressed got the message [7: 54], resulting in Stephens death at their hands [7: 57-60].)
The preceding is the evident manner of progression from milk to meat in Heb. 5: 10ff. First, attention is called to Melchizedek from the Old Testament Scriptures. In this respect there is the brief historic account in Genesis, chapter fourteen. Then there is the account of Messiahs coming reign over the earth in the one hundredth tenth Psalm, which draws from the type in Genesis. And this is the extent of that which is directly stated about Melchizedek in the Old Testament.
The writer of Hebrews though went for beyond a reference to the historic account in Genesis and the use of this account in the Psalms when he stated that he had many things which he would like to relate concerning Melchizedek.
First, he had to have in mind understanding things about numerous other Old Testament Scriptures, for properly understanding the [Page 39] things surrounding Melchizedek would, of necessity, be contingent on understanding numerous other parts of the Old Testament. Then, second, the writer had to have in mind going beyond the letter within ones understanding. And from that which is revealed in Hebrews, chapter five, it is evident that going beyond the letter had to do with moving into the type-antitype relationship involved in the Melchizedek priesthood.
In other words, there are two corresponding things which one must do in order to properly understand the various things about Christs coming reign [upon and] over the earth as the King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek: (1) He must relate that which is taught in Genesis, chapter fourteen and the one hundred tenth Psalm to Old Testament revelation as a whole, and (2) he must study the matter after the fashion in which the Old Testament has been structured. He must, in this respect, move beyond the type and view the antitype.
The account in Genesis, chapter fourteen, in reality, comprises the heart of the whole matter. This account, in the antitype, deals with that coming day when Christ, as the great King-Priest, will bless the descendants of Abraham (both heavenly and earthly); and these blessings will, in turn, flow out through the seed of Abraham to the Gentile nations of the earth. In this respect, the whole account is fraught with meaning, which the writer of Hebrews called strong meat.
1. THE WORD OF THE KINGDOM
Another feature about proper Christian growth in its New Testament sense is the fact that meat appears in passages having to do with Christs return and Christian accountability in relation to His return. This can be seen quite graphically in two passages of Scripture - the text under discussion in Heb. 5: 11ff and the account of the Householder and His servant in Matt. 24: 45-51. And both are companion passages.
In Matt. 24: 45-51, the command of the Householder to the servant placed over His house was to give those in the house meat in due season (v. 45). And, textually, meat has to do with a spiritual diet which will properly prepare the recipients for the Householders return. Thus, meat, as distinguished from milk in this passage [Page 40] and in Heb. 5: 11ff, has to do with the same thing. It has to do with the things surrounding Christs return, the [rapture of living saints, the resurrection from the dead], the coming kingdom, and the place which will be occupied by both the great King-Priest and the kings and priests in that coming day.
The purpose for the entire present dispensation has to do with the coming [millennial] kingdom. The call is presently going forth concerning proffered positions as co-heirs with Christ during the coming age, and the present dispensation [or evil age] covers that period of time when fruit relating to the kingdom will be brought forth by those destined to comprise the co-heirs.
The faithful servant, dispensing meat in due season, teaches those placed under his care about the Lords return and proffered positions in the kingdom, in view of extracting fruit for his absent Lord. At the time of the Lords return, fruit will be in evidence; and not only will the faithful [and obedient] servant be positioned as ruler [co-heir with Christ in the kingdom], but through the previous ministry in the house of others will be brought into this position as well.
Should the servant become unfaithful though, the opposite will be true. He will not teach those under his care about the Lords return and proffered positions in the kingdom. At the time of the Lords return there will be no fruit; and not only will the unfaithful servant face severe chastisement, but those who had been placed under his care, failing to bring fruit (as a direct result of the unfaithful servants ministry), will find themselves in similar straits.
In this respect, an awesome responsibility falls on the shoulders of those whom the Lord has placed in positions of household responsibility to dispense meat in due season, for faithfulness or unfaithfulness in properly carrying out their calling will have far-reaching ramifications, affecting not only them personally but others as well. Through a proper response to their calling, the salvation of not only their souls (lives) will be realized but the souls (lives) of others as well. But through an improper response, the opposite will be true.
2. BEYOND THE VEIL
strict letter of the Word, apart from the
spirit of the same Word, could,
in a sense, be likened to intrinsic view of the strict letter of the Law given
That is exactly what occurred when Christ dealt with the two disciples in the Emmaus road following His resurrection. He opened the Old Testament Scriptures to their understanding. That is, He carried them beyond the letter to the spirit.
Through looking beyond the letter in the Old Testament Scriptures, they saw their Messiah. They then turned to the Lord, the veil was removed, and their eyes were opened (cf. Luke 24: 25-31; 2 Cor. 3: 14-16).
And therein is Jewish evangelism presented in its true Biblical form. The evangel (the bearer of good news) must present the Jewish Messiah to the Jewish people from their own Old Testament Scriptures, through more than the letter. He must move beyond the letter to the spirit.
go beyond the present day and time, the account in Luke,
chapter twenty-four forms a type of
And therein as well lies the simple secret which will allow anyone to understand the God-breathed Word given to man. Study Scripture after the fashion in which it was written. Know the letter, but dont stop there. Rather, look beyond the letter to the spirit, for this Word, unlike any other writing, is spiritually discerned cf. John 16: 12-15; 1 Cor. 2: 14).
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Leaving the Principles
Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundations of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit (Heb. 6: 1-3).
Beginning chapter six of Hebrews, the writer continues the thought from chapter five to do with Christians who had become sluggish in hearing the Word because of the lazy, careless manner of living into which they had lapsed in their spiritual lives (v. 11). They had been saved a sufficient length of time that they should have been at a mature enough stage in their spiritual growth to be able to teach others. But such was not the case at all. Instead, they were still immature babes in Christ who needed to be taught themselves (v. 12).
Actually, according to the text, they had long gone backwards in their spiritual growth. They, at one time, had been taught the elementary truths of the Word; but they had become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. And now they were back at the point where they needed someone to teach them again the first principles of the oracles of God.
The writer wanted to discuss things pertaining to the Melchizedek priesthood with them, but dealing with them on this basis was completely out of the question. Things surrounding the Melchizedek priesthood had to do with the strong meat of the Word, which could be understood only by those who were of full age [i.e., by mature Christians who had left the milk and had grown to adulthood in spiritual matters through a progressive assimilation of solid food] (v. 14).
These Christians, still on milk, were, as every Christian that useth milk, unskilled in the word of righteousness. Their spiritual perception of matters was of such an immature nature - that is, their spiritual senses were so insufficiently developed - that distinguishing that which was correct and that which was incorrect in spiritual matters could only have presented a real problem for them (cf. vv. 13, 14).
One must know and understand the Word of God, else a normal Christian life - one based on that which is taught in the Word - can never follow. Thus, Hebrews, chapter six begins with an exhortation to those in chapter five. They were exhorted to leave the elementary teachings of the Word and begin building upon the foundation, with a view to spiritual maturity (vv. 1, 2).
Within the overall scope of that which is revealed in Hebrews, chapter five through seven, the first two verses of chapter six form a connective. These two verses, within the complete text, might be thought of as being similar to a conjunction in a sentence, for they connect that which has preceded with that which is about to follow.
Then, following the exhortation to go on to maturity, there is the statement, And this we will do [we will go on unto maturity], if God permit [if God permits us to go on] (v. 3). The heart of the third of the five major warnings in Hebrews appears next (vv. 4-6). Then the writer uses an illustration pertaining to the warning, drawn from nature (vv. 7, 8). Next the writer deals with the hope which we possess and the [future]* salvation set before us, associated with this hope (vv. 9-19; cf. Titus 1: 2; 2: 13; 3: 7; 1 Peter 3: 15). Then he moves full-circle back to the subject of Melchizedek, which had been introduced at the beginning of this section in chapter five (6: 20-7: 1ff).
[* One of the greatest mistakes being made throughout Christendom today, is made by those who ignore the context in which the word salvation is used! Gods eternal salvation is being corrupted by adding the regenerate believers works to it!
And on the other hand, how can the Christians hope be realized, when Christ returns, - shall appear a second time to them that wait for him, unto salvation? (Heb. 9: 28. cf. Rev. 22: 12.): this is a salvation ready to be revealed at the at last time (1 Pet. 1: 5, R.V.]): it cannot be synonymous with the initial salvation received at the time of asking Jesus Christ to be their Saviour? How can the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ (1 Pet. 1: 13b, R.V.), be synonymous with the grace and salvation which was an event experienced (in the lives of many Christians) several years or even several decades ago? (Eph. 2: 8, 9; Acts 16: 31.)]
THE FOUNDATION AND BEYOND
Hebrews 6: 1, 2 enumerates six different realms pertaining to a panorama of Biblical doctrine. And the things listed in these two verses must be understood contextually. The context has to do with Christian maturity, for a revealed purpose; and thats exactly where one is led when moving through the six different enumerated areas of Biblical doctrine which are set forth in these opening two verses of the [Page 45] sixth chapter.
The six realms listed are introduced by the words, Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection [maturity] (v. 1a). The principles are the first principles from verse 12 of the preceding chapter. These principles have to do with milk rather than solid food, and they are connected with the six enumerated areas of doctrine which immediately follow.
However, the six enumerated areas are not, themselves, part of the foundation. Rather, it is elementary teachings connected with these six areas of doctrine which have to do with the foundation. And, going beyond that, teachings connected with these six areas can move far beyond foundational teachings. Such teachings can and do - they must of necessity - move into the realm of the strong meat referred to in the previous chapter.
There is the letter and spirit of the matter, and this would apply to all six of the areas of doctrine listed in Heb. 6: 1, 2. The letter is one thing, but moving into the spirit, - moving beyond the letter into the spirit in Biblical teaching - is something entirely different (ref. Chapter 3 [cf. 2 Cor. 3: 6-18]). And this is exactly what those in Heb. 5: 11-14 were exhorted to do in Heb. 6: 1, 2.
They were exhorted to leave the foundational teachings (which essentially surround the letter of the matter). And, whether letter or spirit, the various teachings would still be drawn from the six enumerated areas of Biblical doctrine.
These six enumerated areas logically fell into three categories, with two interrelated sets in each category. The Spirit of God has listed them after the fashion in which they appear, in a specific order, for evident, particular reasons; and they should be studied with this overall thought in view, which fits the contextual subject matter perfectly.
Viewing the six areas of Biblical doctrine after this fashion, there would be (1) repentance from dead works coupled with faith toward God, (2) the doctrine of baptisms coupled with the laying on of hands, and (3) the resurrection of the dead coupled with eternal judgment. And, as will be demonstrated, moving [Page 46] progressively and orderly through the various Biblical doctrines in view - seeing and understanding the letter and then the spirit of the matter - will result in a progressive orderly growth toward maturity.
The beginning point concerns repentance and faith, the middle point has to do with cleansing and identification, and the terminal point centres around teachings concerning the end or goal of that which has preceded. And within these three categories one will find a complete panorama of Biblical truth, beginning with the milk of the Word and terminating with the strong meat of the Word.
1. REPENTANCE, FAITH
The first thing listed is repentance from dead works; but this cannot be separated from the second thing listed, which is faith toward God. Dead works would pertain to the works of a believer performed apart from faith. Works, in order to be viewed as other than dead works, must emanate out of faith (James 2: 14ff). There must be faith toward God; only then can works pleasing and acceptable to God follow, for, without faith, it is impossible to please him(Heb. 11: 6).
There can be no acceptable works on the part of an unbeliever, for he cannot exercise faith toward God (he must first believe on the Son; only then will he find himself in a position to exercise faith toward the Father).
The believer, on the other hand, is in a position to exercise faith toward God, though he may or may not do so. Should he do so, he can perform works acceptable and pleasing to God in his life (for faith will exist, from which such works can emanate); but should he not do so, he can no more perform works of this nature than the unbeliever can (for faith will not exist; and resultingly, there can only be dead works).
The unbeliever remains dead in trespasses and sins, while the believer has passed from death unto life (John 5: 24; Eph. 2: 1). Consequently, the believer, unlike the unbeliever, is in a position to perform acceptable works emanating out of faith (faithfulness). But, as previously stated, he may or may not perform works of this nature, for he may or may not exercise faith toward God.
Repentance has to do with a change of mind. Essentially, looking [Page 47] at the matter from the other end, the Christian, bringing forth dead works, is to change his mind relative to faith toward God. His unfaithfulness has resulted in the dead works; and he is to change his mind about the matter and exercise faith, with a view to other than dead works following.
How does a person exercise faith toward God?
According to Rom. 10: 17, faith cometh by [out of] hearing, and hearing by [through] the word of God. The words faith and believe are the same in the Greek text. The former is a noun and the latter a verb. They both mean the same thing. Thats why believe (the verb) can be used in John 3: 16 and faith (the noun) can be used in Eph. 2: 8, referring to the same thing.
Faith is simply believing God, which will result in the person governing his actions or life accordingly.
For the unsaved, it is simply placing ones trust, reliance in Gods Son. He is the Saviour, He has paid the [full] price which God required, and a person places their trust in Him for [eternal] salvation. Its that simple.
Then once a person has been saved, once he has passed from death unto life, he is to exercise faith toward God. And a person does that simply through putting his trust, reliance in that which God has to say in His Word.
Thus, its easy to understand why the unsaved cannot exercise faith toward God, for, not having passed from death unto life, they have no spiritual capacity for such understanding. They do not have a saved human spirit into which the Word of God can be received; nor do they possess the indwelling Holy Spirit to take this Word and lead them into all truth (John 16: 13). They, within the scope of their ability to comprehend and understand the Word of God, can look upon that which God has to say as foolishness (1 Cor. 2: 14).
James 2: 14-26 is the great section on faith and works in Scripture. And, within this section, the subject of works emanating out of faithfulness has to do with the saving of the soul (cf. James 1: 21; 2: 14). The saving of the soul, in turn, has to do, not with milk, but with strong meat. It has to do with the things surrounding the antitype of Melchizedek from Gen. 14: 18, 19, dealt with in Heb. 5: 7.*
[* See writings of this future Salvation of the Soul on this website.]
Thus, in this respect, repentance from dead works and faith toward God, the first of three categories listed in Heb. 6: 1, 2, carries one through the entirety of the Christian experience - from immaturity to maturity. Repentance and faith are fundamental and primary. And viewing these together is, so to speak, where one must begin. Consequently, the two are listed first among the three categories.
But a Christian in the race of the faith is not to remain on the starting blocks (Heb. 12: 1, 2; cf. 1 Cor. 9: 24-27; 1 Tim. 6: 12; 2 Tim. 4: 7, 8). He, rather, is to move forward in the race, always progressing steadily toward the goal. And though repentance and faith are fundamental and primary, they are associated just as much with the end as they are with the beginning.
Thus, insofar as a person going unto maturity is concerned, repentance and faith have as much to do with the strong meat of the Word as they do with the milk of the Word. It is, as in the words of Rom. 1: 17, from faith to faith [from the beginning to the end - it is all of faith]: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (cf. Heb. 2: 4; Heb. 19: 36-39; 11: 1ff).
2.BAPTISMS, LAYING ON OF HANDS
The word baptisms is, in the Greek text as in the English text, plural in its usage in Heb. 6: 2; and teachings surrounding that which is in view, along with teachings surrounding that which is in view relative to the laying on of hands, is taken from teachings surrounding Gods dealings with the Israelites in the Old Testament Scriptures.
The word baptism, transliterated from the Greek word, baptizo, simply means to dip or immerse. And translating the word as washing (with the thought of dipping or immersing [in water] in mind) would perhaps best convey, to the English reader, that which the writer of Hebrews had in mind.
to understand what is simply meant by washings in Heb.
6: 2, one must refer back to the rituals performed within
the ranks of the Levitical priests who carried on a ministry at the tabernacle
on behalf of the people of
The typology in view, from the Old Testament account, is where Christ drew His teachings surrounding complete and partial washings when He washed the disciples feet in John 13: 2-20. Christ used two different words for wash - Louo and nipto - when dealing with Peter relative to that which He was doing.
He used louo relative to washing the complete body and nipto relative to washing a part of the body. And, insofar as Peter and the other disciples (save Judas) were concerned, the former had already been performed (never to be repeated), but the latter needed to be performed repeatedly. And the One doing the cleansing would, of necessity, have to provide this service on a continuous basis.
That is, the disciples (save Judas) had been washed completely once (illustrated by Christs use of louo). They had been saved, justified. But, following this complete washing, because of their coming in contact with the defilement of the world in which they lived, there was a need for subsequent partial washings (illustrated by Christs use of nipto).
The need for partial washings would parallel the defilement experienced through contact with the world. The disciples were in continuous contact with a world which lay in wickedness [lit., in the wicked one (in Satan, the incumbent ruler)] (1 John 5: 19). And, because of their contact with the world after this fashion, there would be no possible way that they could keep from becoming defiled at numerous, various times (1 John 1: 8-10). Consequently, there would be a need for cleansing from such contact on a continuous basis.
Christians are New Testament priests, who have been washed completely once - at the time of justification. But, because of continuous contact with the surrounding world, defilement can and does occur. And when such defilement occurs, the defiled person is to avail himself of provided cleansing, a partial washing.
This is what the opening part of the Book of 1 John is about [Page 50] (1: 3 - 2: 2). Christ, throughout the present dispensation, continuously occupies the office of High Priest in the heavenly sanctuary on behalf of Christians (2: 1, 2). And, with Christs high priestly ministry in view, a present cleansing is provided for those who have, in the past, been cleansed (in the antitype of activity surrounding the brazen altar [past] and the brazen laver [present] in the courtyard of the tabernacle; or in the antitype of the complete and partial washings performed by Levitical priests).
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness [if we say that we have fellowship with Him but have failed to avail
ourselves of cleansing through the use of the water in the laver in the
courtyard, leaving us in the darkness outside the Holy Place (with its light -
the golden candlestick)], we
lie, and do not
the truth. However, if we walk in the
light, as he is in the light [if we avail ourselves of cleansing
through the use of the water in the laver, following admittance to the
The preceding is viewing the matter more from a framework of the type. Now note the antitype.
The seventh verse goes on to state, and the blood of Jesus Christ his [Gods] Son cleanseth us from all sin. Cleansing provided at the laver forms the type, and cleansing provided by the blood of Jesus Christ, which is on the mercy seat of the heavenly tabernacle, forms the antitype. Our cleansing today thus comes, not through the water in the laver in the courtyard, but through the blood of Gods Son which is on the mercy seat. One must see and understand the antitype in the light of the type to see and understand the complete picture.
(For a more detailed exposition of complete and subsequent partial washings as set forth in John 13: 2-20, in the light of the Old Testament typology, see Chapter 8 in the authors book, FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN.)
Doctrine surrounding the laying on of hands, in connection with doctrine surrounding baptisms [washings] is an area of Biblical study which also has its basis in Old Testament typology. And, as in the doctrine of baptisms, this is where one must go to understand that which is referred to in Heb. 6: 2.
Hands are used in the figurative manner numerous places throughout Scripture. And they are used in numerous places various ways to represent action on both Gods part and mans part (cf. Gen. 16: 12; Num. 11: 23; 1 Sam. 26: 18; Eccl. 2: 24).
They, for example, are used as symbols of power, or strength (cf. Ex. 15: 6; Psa. 17: 7; 110: 1). They are used to demonstrate pure or unjust actions (cf. Psa. 90: 17; Isa. 1: 15). Or, washing the hands, as Pilate did when he was about to deliver Jesus over to the wishes of the Jewish leaders to be crucified, could, as he thought to do, symbolize an outward show of innocence (Matt. 27: 24; cf. Deut. 21: 6, 7; Psa. 26: 6).
The laying on of hands then would represent a type of action which carries a particular meaning. And the meaning is given, in so many words, in the account of that which the Lord instructed Aaron to do with one or two goats on the day of atonement (Lev. 16: 5ff).
was to take a bullock and two goats. The
bullock and one goat (determined by lot) were to be killed, and the blood of
these two animals was then to be used to make atonement in the holy place for himself, and for his
household, and for the congregation of
Aaron had finished with his work of sprinkling blood before and upon the mercy
seat in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, he was then to take the live goat
and perform a climactic act. He was to
lay both hands upon the head of the goat and confess all the iniquities and transgressions
of the children of
Through Aaron laying on his hands on the head of the live goat, there was both an identification and a separation. Through transferring the sins of the people to the goat, an identification was established. The goat became identified with the sins rather than the people; and this established a separation, which would be even further shown through the goat being taken to an uninhabited part of the land and released.
This thought of identification and separation can be clearly seen in the action of the Apostles after they had chosen certain men to attend [Page 52] to a particular ministry in the early Church (Acts 6: 1-6). They chose seven men who were full of faith and of the Holy Spirit. These men appeared before the Apostles, the Apostles prayed, and they then laid their hands on men (vv. 5, 6).
There was an identification of the Apostles with these men who had been separated, set apart from the remainder of the Church for a particular task. And this was shown through the laying on of the Apostles hands.
Thus, viewing washings and the laying on of hands together, there is the thought of cleansing, identification, and separation; and these go together like a hand in a glove.
Christians constitute a people who have been separated from the world for a particular purpose (1 Peter 2: 9-11). They, forming the body, are inseparably identified with their Lord, Who is the Head of the body (Eph. 5: 23-32; Col. 1: 18). They, positionally, are part of an entirely new creation, the one new man in Christ (Eph. 2: 13-15; 2 Cor. 5: 17). And, occupying this position and understanding not only the reason why they have been saved but understanding that which lies out ahead as well, Christians are to keep themselves clean through repeated washings at the laver.
(The fourth of the five major warnings in Hebrews [10: 19-39] concerns itself more specifically with this overall matter. Because of Christs high priestly ministry [which He performs on the basis of His shed blood on the mercy seat of the heavenly tabernacle], present cleansing is available for a separated, set apart people who are inseparably identified with their Lord.)
3. RESURRECTION, ETERNAL JUDGMENT
The third of the triad of teachings dealt with in Heb. 6: 1, 2 can, as the other two parts, pertain to both milk and strong meat within the scope of that which is in view. There are elementary teachings when one comes to the overall subject of [a judgment (Heb. 9: 27) prior to the First] resurrection and subsequent judgment, but there are also teachings which go far beyond the elementary.
Concerning resurrection, there is simply the teaching that the dead will, in the future, be raised. Then within this teaching one will find the more specific Biblical teaching that all the dead will not be raised [Page 53] at the same time. Every man will be raised in his own order [company].
Christ was raised as the firstfruits of them that slept, anticipating the resurrection of all others, both the saved and the unsaved. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive (1 Cor. 15: 20-22). The two uses of all in the verse are all-inclusive. All who die in Adam (which includes all humanity) will be made alive in Christ. That is, every man who dies (whether saved or unsaved) will one day be raised on the basis of the fact Christ was raised. But, every man will be raised in his own company.
The Church [of the firstborn] forms one company, the Tribulation saints another, and the Old Testament saints another. And at the conclusion of the Messianic Era there will be yet another company of individuals raised from the dead - the [saved] and unsaved dead of all the ages (1 Cor. 15: 22-24; [Rev. 20: 13-15.] cf. Ezek. 37: 1-14; Luke 24: 5, 6; 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17; [Heb. 11: 35b]; Rev. 20: 4-6, 11-15).
Then there is the Biblical teaching that judgment always [precedes and] follows [the first] resurrection. There is first death, with announced subsequent judgment (Heb. 9: 27). This is the Biblical order, but this order doesnt stand alone. Scripture elsewhere presents the dead being judged only following resurrection (cf. 2 Cor. 5: 10; Rev. 1: 10-18 [cf. 4: 1ff]; 20: 4).
Every man will not only be resurrected in his own company but he will also be judged, following resurrection, in his own company. Particular future judgments will occur only following particular companies of individuals being raised from the dead.
The Church will appear before the judgment seat of Christ, preceding the Tribulation (2 Cor. 5: 10, 11; cf. Rev. 1: 10-20); Israel (along with Old Testament saints preceding Abraham) and the martyred Tribulation saints will be judged following Christs return at the end of the Tribulation (Job 14: 14; 19: 25-27; Ezek. 20: 33-38; Rev. 20: 4-6); and the [saved (i.e., those not accounted worthy to attain to that age Lk. 20: 35. cf. Phil. 3: 11; Lk. 14: 14)] and the unsaved dead of all ages will be judged at the end of the 1,000-year Messianic Era, which follows the [Great] Tribulation (Rev. 20: 11-15).
The basis of the preceding though could really have to do more with milk than meat within the framework of Biblical doctrine. This is merely the outline of the matter, apart from specifics. But a person must understand the outline before he can begin to properly understand specifics within the outline.
That which is in view concerning the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment in Heb. 6: 2, contextually, must pertain to Christians, not other companies of individuals - either saved or unsaved. The whole panorama of doctrine thus far in the opening verses of the sixth chapter has to do with Christians alone, and the summation of the matter can be no different.
The words eternal judgment in this passage though would really convey an incorrect thought relative to a future judgment of Christians, for Christians have already been judged insofar as eternal verities are concerned (cf. John 3: 18; Rom. 8: 1); and the only type judgment awaiting them has to do with an age - the Messianic Era (decisions and determinations emanating from the things revealed at the judgment seat of Christ* will have to do with the Messianic Era alone, not with the eternal ages).
[* See D. M. Pantons The Judgment Seat of Christ.]
The seemingly textual problem though is easily resolved by understanding that the Greek word translated eternal in this passage (aionios) can mean either age-lasting or eternal, depending on the context. And the context here demands the former, not the latter (ref. Chapter 2 for a detailed discussion on how aionios is used in the Greek New Testament.
But what is there beyond simple, factual teachings surrounding the future resurrection and judgment of Christians which could be categorized as solid food rather than milk? The answer is evident. Beyond the simple facts there are teachings surrounding an out-resurrection, and the out resurrection is inseparably connected with the issues of the judgment seat. The out-resurrection actually results from the purpose and outcome of this judgment.
The out-resurrection and that to which it pertains can be found in Phil. 3: 10-14 (the word resurrection [v. 11] is a translation of the Greek word, exanastasis, which should literally be translated out-resurrection). And the context (vv. 10, 12-14) has to do with present Christian activity on view of future decisions and determinations emanating from the things revealed at the judgment seat [beforehand].
The Greek word anastasis, translated resurrection, is a compound word meaning to stand up. Ana means up, and stasis means to stand. Anastasis appears in Phil. 3: 11 with the Greek preposition ek, meaning out of [i.e., from within], prefixed to the [Page 55] word (becoming ex when prefixed to words beginning with a vowel, as in this case). Thus, ex-ana-stasis means to stand up out of.
This standing up out of - the out-resurrection of Phil. 3: 11 - simply refers to a further separation which will occur at the judgment seat. The resurrection of Christians will separate all Christians from all non-Christians (Jew and Gentile); and the subsequent out-resurrection one group of Christians (the faithful) from the remainder (the unfaithful). *
[* This sentence assumes that the Judgment Seat occurs after the time of the out-resurrection when faithful and unfaithful Christians will be separated! But this is contrary to what is said in Heb. 9: 27: And inasmuch as it is appointed unto men once to die, and after this judgment. Surely the judgment here takes place after death and not after the out-resurrection from the dead, - as suggested by the author above.
Furthermore, it is not a standing up out of those resurrected, but a standing up out of dead ones! If all Christians - (regardless of whether or not they are accounted worthy to attain [i.e., gain by effort] unto this out-resurrection from the dead) - then what is the meaning of Luke 20: 35, Heb. 11: 35b and Luke 14: 14? If the interpretation above is correct, then where are those resurrected saints, (i.e., not included amongst others standing up out of them), to go afterwards? Some have suggested they will return again into Hades! But this suggestion appears to contradict our Lords teachings in Lk. 20: 35: - neither can they die any more; and those by the Apostles! Hades, as we know, is where the disembodied souls of the dead are awaiting Resurrection: (Matt. 16: 18; Acts. 2: 27. cf. Lk. 16: 23; John 3: 13; 14: 3; Rom. 6: 9-11, R.V. etc.)! Therefore, Christs judgment (which will separate those who attain unto the out-resurrection from all others) must take place in Hades (= O.T. Sheol) before the First Resurrection of the holy dead out of dead ones (Rev. 20: 5, 6, R.V.).
More information can be learned from listening to E. Howarths sermon Resurrection. See also G. H. Langs Ideals and Realities and Firstfruits and Harvest. Also other expositions shown in: The Rod: Will God spare it?]
At the judgment seat of Christ there will be a standing up of certain Christians (out of) the remaining Christians, based on directions and determinations rendered by the righteous Judge. And standing separate from the others within this special group in that day will be a privilege accorded those previously found to have exercised faithfulness in their assigned household responsibilities during the time of their Lords absence.
It is in this realm where one finds the meat and strong meat pertaining to resurrection and judgment awaiting [regenerate] Christians; and it is also in this realm where one finds the end or goal of all that which is referred to through the triad of doctrinal teachings delineated in Heb. 2: 1, 2.
AND THIS WE WILL DO, IF
Hebrews 6: 3 introduces the heart of the third of five major warnings in Hebrews (6: 4-6). Verses one and two form the connection for that which preceded with that which follows. Then the third verse provides an additional connecting thought, which carries one directly into the heart if the warning itself.
Essentially, the verse states that we will follow the writers exhortation to go on unto maturity if God permits us to go on. This, of course, leaves one with the thought that God may not permit some Christians to go on into the deep things in His Word.
And that is exactly the case, with the warning itself answering the question, Why?
For it is impossible
* * *
[Page 56 blank: Page 57]]
If They Shall Fall Away
And this we will do, if God permit. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world [age] to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame (Heb. 6: 3-6).
The line of teaching thus far in the third of the five major warnings in Hebrews - in perfect keeping with the things set forth in the first two warnings - is with constant reference to that coming [millennial] day when Christ will reign over the earth as King of kings and Lord of lords. The day is coming, during the Great Tribulation, when an angel will sound the last of seven trumpets; and at that time, great voices in heaven are going to be heard, announcing, The kingdom of the world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ: and* he shall reign forever and ever (Rev. 11: 15, ASV).
[* NOTE As is often the case with unfulfilled prophetic statements throughout Scripture, the word and should sometimes be understood as a disjunction separating two periods of time. According to Gods Word, Christ is destined to reign a thousand years upon and over this earth; and afterwards He shall reign for ever and ever in His new creation, described as a new heaven and a new earth, (Rev. 21: 1, R.V.). See also Nathaniel Wests book: The Thousand Years.]
The whole of Gods revelation to man, beginning with the opening two chapters of Genesis, progressively moves toward the same goal - the coming [millennial] day announced in Rev. 11: 15. And revelation throughout the Book of Hebrews, in perfect keeping with revelation as a whole, views that future day as central in all matters surrounding the past or present.
THE WARNING PASSAGES
The first of the five major warnings in the Book of Hebrews, deals with so great salvation (2: 3), which is the greatest thing God has ever designed for redeemed man. This salvation has to do with Christians [Page 58] being elevated from the earth [after the First Resurrection (Rev. 20: 4-6)] and placed in the heavens on the throne as co-heirs with the King of kings and Lord of lords; and the time when this will occur is revealed to be in the coming day when Christ fulfils the things which are stated in the seven Messianic passages making up most of chapter one, leading into the first warning.
Also in connection with the first warning there is a revealed angelic ministry. Angels, who at one time ruled in the kingdom of this world (under Satan, in his unfallen state), are presented as presently ministering on behalf of Christians (1: 13, 14; 2: 5); and this ministry is with a view to Christians wearing the crowns presently worn by these angels when they one day rule in the [coming messianic] kingdom under Christ (see the authors book, SO GREAT SALVATION, Ch. 2).
second of the five major warnings
(chs. 3, 4) begins by
addressing those to whom the warning applies: Wherefore, holy
brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling
(3: 1). The parallel
is then drawn between
That heavenly land [i.e., the heavenly sphere of the coming messianic kingdom] to which Christians have been called, on the other hand, is presently occupied personally by Satan and his angels (the one-third who went along with Satan in his attempted coup, separate from the two-thirds who refused [who presently minister on behalf of Christians]). And at the heart of all teachings surrounding the second warning is a type-antitype parallel between the Israelites under Moses (and later Joshua) and Christians under Christ.
Israelites, in the type, were called to leave an earthly land [Page
Christians, on the other hand, in the antitype, have been called to leave this earth [after resurrection] and dwell in the heavens, as kings and priests and a holy nation. And they are to dwell in that heavenly land [i.e., the heavenly sphere of Messiahs millennial rule] within a theocracy, seated on the throne with Christ (cf. 1 Peter 2: 9, 10; Rev. 2: 26, 27; 5: 10). And in this fashion, with Christians occupying positions of rulership with Christ, the Gentile nations are to be ruled by and blessed through the seed of Abraham from a heavenly sphere as well (Gal. 3: 29), also in perfect keeping with Gen. 12: 2, 3; 14: 18, 19; 22: 17, 18.
And Satan and his angels are present in that land [the heavenly sphere] today - as the Gentile nations infiltrated and corrupted by the Nephilim were present in the land of Canaan during Moses and Joshuas day - contesting the Christians [and Israels] right to one day enter and take possession of the land. This is what the manifold wisdom of God being made known by [through] the Church to principalities and powers in heavenly places is all about in Eph. 3: 9-11, and this is what the warfare in Eph. 6: 10ff is also all about.
The announcement has gone forth, through the Church, to Satan and his angels in the heavens, that they are about to be replaced. Both Christ, the H
. 6: 11 rages.
, the writer had previously reprimanded a group of Christians for their lack of spiritual maturity. They had been
the first principles.
. 13: 33) for the existing situation. Not only is there a present lack of knowledge (much less an understanding) concerning this whole overall message in Christendom but something even beyond this exists. Along with the lack of knowledge (and understanding), an overt aversion
, which comprise the heart of the warning itself.
(cf. Heb. 12: 2, Looking unto Jesus [lit., Looking from (the surrounding things of the world) unto Jesus ]).
But, how often is the preceding really the case in the lives of Christians? How many really understand these things? Or, how many really view matters within the framework of the light of His glory and grace?
And therein lies the secret to questions surrounding Heb. 6: 3. We are dealing with the very choicest of Gods choice things which He has set aside for Christians [who believe these things and conduct their lives accordingly], and God has placed certain conditions around allowing Christians to move into a knowledge of the Son in this realm (cf. Phil. 3: 10-14). God knows what is in man, and He also knows what man coming into a knowledge and understanding of these things will, too often, do.
God knows that numerous Christians, after coming into a knowledge and understanding of Christ as King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, [Page 65] would not manifest the same attitude at all toward the world as Abraham manifested after he met Melchizedek. They would, instead, either continue in or one day return to their worldly interest and involvement (cf. 1 John 2: 15-17), which is within a world presently ruled by Satan and his angels.* And by do doing, such Christians could only bring shame upon Christs name (this will be further dealt with later in the chapter within the framework of that which is stated in verse 6).
[* A Christian allowing him/herself to get involved in world politics is, I believe, a good example of one seeking to rule before the time. Paul warns ignorant Corinthian Christians against it: Already ye have reigned without us: yea I would that ye did reign, that we might reign with you (1 Cor. 4: 8, R.V.). When Jesus tells us that the world will continue to get worse before His returns; how then can Christian politicians justify their present occupation (amongst unregenerate men and women ruling now, in a position under Satan and his angels)? How can they, by seeking, with all their efforts, in tow the line (by agreeing with the policies of their political party) make this world a better place before the Lord Jesus returns? See Erich Sauers In the Arena of Faith (pp. 43).]
The matter surrounding God allowing or not allowing a Christian to go on to maturity though should be viewed more within the framework of mans attitude toward these things than it should within the framework of Gods omniscience per se. Scripture clearly states, If any man will do [is willing to do] his [Christs] will, he shall know of the doctrine (John 7: 17).
That is, Do you really want to know Christ as author [source] of eternal salvation [salvation for the age (the Messianic Era)]? (Heb. 5: 9). Are you serious about the present warfare and one day coming into a realization of the proffered inheritance? If so, there should be no reason why God would not allow you to go on into a knowledge and understanding of the various things surrounding His Sons coming [millennial] reign over the earth.
But, if on the other hand, an interest in and a seriousness about the matter are not present, there is no Biblical reason why God should allow such a person to go on into a knowledge and understanding of these things. In fact, within a Biblical perspective, the opposite would exist instead. From a Biblical perspective, God would not allow such a person to go on, for a revealed reason.
And with this in mind, were ready to go on into the heart of the warning and see the explanation to verse three from the perspective of another type.
FOR IT IS IMPOSSIBLE
Hebrews 6: 4-6 is looked upon by numerous Christians as probably the most difficult, and sometimes controversial, passage in all Scripture. And the reason why the passage is looked upon after this fashion is because of an erroneous interpretative approach. The [Page 66] passage is invariably approached from the standpoint of teachings surrounding the Christians presently possessed eternal salvation - salvation by grace through faith.
The passage though, as previously stated, doesnt deal with this subject. And, not dealing with this subject, it is understandable why those who seek to interpret the passage from the standpoint of teachings surrounding salvation by grace through faith find themselves in unfamiliar surroundings. And not only is this the case, but they also invariably find themselves being forced into erroneous views concerning salvation.
Then, beyond the preceding, the correct subject matter is not even being dealt with. Rather, through this erroneous interpretative approach, the correct subject matter, instead, being completely obscured. And such can only foster the present work of [Satan] the enemy as it is outlined in 2 Cor. 4: 4 - blinding the minds of Christians relative to the gospel of the glory of Christ (A.S.V. [R.V.]).*
[* See also the New International Version., Numeric English New Testament (The Bible Society), the Christian Standard Bible (Holman Bible Publishers), etc. That is, the Good News about the glory of Christ (Bible Societys Chain Reference Bible) or the glad tidings of the glory of the Christ (J. N. Darbys New Translation. Translated literally from the Greek: in whom the god of the age this blinded the minds of the unbelieving ones, in order that they might not see distinctly the effulgence of the glad tidings of the glory of the Anointed One, who is the Likeness of God.]
Contextually, Heb. 6: 4 must be looked upon as dealing with four basis issues surrounding [regenerate] Christians, from the standpoint of possibility: (a) coming into a mature knowledge and understanding of the things surrounding Christ as King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, (b) the same Christians falling away (apostatizing), (c) that which would befall such Christians, and (d) how such an act on the part of [these Spirit-enlightened] Christians would negatively reflect upon Christ Himself.
These four issues will be dealt with under two subsequent headings. Issues under a and b will be dealt with under the first; then issues under c and d will be dealt with under the second.
1. ONCE ENLIGHTENED BUT FELL AWAY
Certain descriptive words appearing in verses four and five make it virtually impossible to look upon these verses as describing unsaved [i.e., unregenerate] people.
There is the word, enlightened (v. 4), which is used in Heb. 10: 32, translated illuminated [in the KJV]. And according to 1 Cor. 2: 14, the natural man cannot be enlightened or illuminated in spiritual matters. Then, beyond that, the passage is dealing with things other than the milk of the Word; it is dealing with strong meat (5: 12-14).
Then there is the word tasted (vv. 4, 5). This is the same word [Page
67] used for Christ tasting death for every man in Heb. 2: 9. The experiences entered
into by those in Heb. 6: 4, 5 must be looked upon as a tasting to the same extent that Christ tasted death at
And the last descriptive word is partakers (v. 4). This is the same word translated fellows in Heb. 1: 9 and partakers in Heb. 3: 1, 14. This is the word metochoi, which could be better translated, companions. It is used in chapters one and three describing Christs co-heirs, His companions, in the coming day of His power.*
[* That is, as prophesied - (after the resurrection of the holy dead: [2 Tim. 2: 18; Rev. 20: 4-6; 1 Cor. 15: 23; 1 Thess. 4: 16; Phil. 3: 11; Heb. 11: 35b, R.V.]); and to be manifested in bodily appearance throughout this world in the age to come: (Heb. 6: 5, R.V.). See Isaiah 6: 3. cf. Habakkuk 2: 14; Isaiah 12: 5ff; 26: 8-9; 26: 19; 27: 35: 1-10; Romans 8: 18-25, R.V.)]
Being enlightened, tasting of the heavenly gift, being made partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasting the good word of God, and tasting the powers of the world [age] to come from the description of Christians progressively coming into a mature knowledge and understanding of these things surrounding Melchizedek from chapter five. It, thus, has to do with [Spirit-enlightened] Christians coming into a mature knowledge and understanding of Christs coming reign over the earth, with His companions [the metochoi].*
[*See Joseph Dillows Book: Reign of the Servant Kings.]
Then, spiritual lessons surrounding the possibility of Christians falling away after coming into this mature state is drawn from the type dealt with prior to the introduction of Melchizedek in chapter five - the account of the Israelites under Moses (chs. 3, 4).
The Israelites under Moses passed through similar experiences within the framework of their earthly calling, climaxed by their hearing of the report of the twelve spies and tasting the actual fruits of the land which they had brought back with them. And that which happened to the Israelites at this point (in the type)* is where one must go in order to understand the falling away and accompanying statements (in the antitype) in Heb. 6: 6.
[* See Num. 14: 20-24, 35-39, 41-43, R.V. Also keep in mind: only regenerate children of
God (i.e., true family members) hath any inheritance in the
The Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea were in possession of the Word of God (received at Sinai), God dwelled in their midst (in the Holy of Holies of the tabernacle, built and erected at Sinai), they had heard the report of the Spies, and they had tasted the actual fruits of the land (brought back by the spies). And occupying this position, they were then ready to enter the land, conquer [the Nephilim] and possess the land, and subsequently realize their calling in the land as Gods firstborn son.
They, at this point, were in possession of what could only be looked upon as a mature knowledge of the whole matter [relative to obtaining their earthly inheritance]. They [Page 68] understood their calling and that which lay out ahead. And it is at that point that they fell away and, within the framework of that stated in the antitype in Heb. 6: 4-6, found it impossible to be renewed again into repentance.
2. IMPOSSIBLE TO RENEW AGAIN BECAUSE
The report which the spies brought back concerning the land was both positive and negative. It was a good land, flowing with milk and honey; but the inhabitants, which included the Nephilim, were strong and lived in walled cities (Num. 13: 26-29, 32, 33).
Caleb and Joshua, exhorting the people, said, Let us go up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it. But the remaining spies said, We are not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we (Num. 13: 30, 31).
The people of
They, in the words of the antitype, fell away. They had turned their backs upon God, and God, correspondingly, turned His back upon them. Because of that which had transpired, the most severe judgment possible was pronounced upon the entire accountable generation. Every single individual comprising that generation, twenty years old and above, save Caleb and Joshua, was to be overthrown in the wilderness.
And once this apostasy had occurred (with its corresponding pronounced judgment), there could be no renewal again unto repentance (as in the antitype). And the reason, drawing again from the antitype (crucify to themselves the Son of God), is because they had brought shame and reproach upon One (God) dwelling in their midst, Who was to have led them victoriously into the land [of their inheritance].
(Repentance simply means a change of mind. And in both the type and the antitype, the change of mind is on the part of God, not on the part of the Israelites [type] or on the part of Christians [antitype].)
The Israelites, the very next day, repented (changed their minds). [Page 69] They rose up early and sought to go up into the place which the Lord had promised. But the Lord didnt repent (He didnt change His mind). He was no longer with them relative to their entering the land [of their inheritance] and victoriously combating the enemy; and, consequently, the Israelites, trying to enter apart from the Lords leadership, were smitten and driven back (Num. 14: 40-45).
And thats what Heb. 6: 4-6 is about. If God allows a Christian to come into a mature knowledge of His Sons coming [millennial] reign as King-Priest, after the order of Melchizedek, and that Christian apostatizes, the same thing will occur as that which occurred with the Israelites under Moses (it would have to, for the antitype must follow the type in exact detail).
The Christian would be cut off insofar as those things surrounding his calling were concerned. He would not be allowed to subsequently enter that heavenly land to which he had been called and victoriously combat the enemy therein.* He could never be brought back to the position which he had previously occupied. Which is to say, he could not be renewed again unto repentance.
[* The authors words enter that heavenly land and combat the enemy therein, are a reference to the heavenly sphere of Messiahs Kingdom (where Satan and his fallen angels [demons] presently rule). Disciples, (whose personal righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, Matt. 5: 20) will, (after judgment [Heb. 9: 27] and resurrection [Lk. 20: 35; Rev. 20: 6]) be accounted worthy (at the end of this evil age), to replace Satan and his rebel rulers in the heavenly sphere of Messiahs coming kingdom. Those who attain to that age, Jesus says, are equal unto angels. That is, they will then, (after their resurrection, but never before) be given the ability to rule with Christ in the heavenly sphere of His Messianic Kingdom.
Those [Christians] who mind earthly things, are involved in the affairs of this present world system. But our political sphere of activity is in the heavens. Weve been called to occupy a position, with Christ, in the heavens - in the coming kingdom of the heavens. [See Matt. 7: 21ff. cf. Eph. 5: 5; 2 Thess. 1: 4-6; 2 Tim. 2: 12; Titus 2: 11-14, etc.] Satan and his angels rule in this kingdom. They rule over the earth, political figures rule under them in the present kingdom. Wait [see Isa. 40: 31] until the coming kingdom. (A. L. Chitwood.)
Though the Christian may change his mind about the matter (as the Israelires did), God would not change His mind (as in the type). The Christian, like the Israelites, would be overthrown on the right side of the blood but on the wrong side of the goal of his calling.
And the reason for such severe judgment on Gods part
results from the fact that, through this act, such a Christian could only bring
shame and reproach upon the name of Christ.
Note the entire expression, crucify to themselves the Son of God afreah
is not in the Greek text, though implied], and put him to an open shame
(v. 6). The thought has
to do with the shame and
But subjecting the Son to this shame and reproach at the hands of the world is very possible today; and such shame and reproach can result from the act of any [regenerate] Christian falling away in the antitype of the Israelites at Kadesh-Barnea.
A Christian though, to fall away after this fashion, would have to do two things: (a) He would first have to come into a mature knowledge and understanding of the things surrounding Christs coming [Page 70] [millennial] reign over the earth, and (b) he would then have to apostatize after the same fashion in which the Israelites apostatized (looking away from Moses and the land [an earthly land], back to Egypt; i.e., looking away from Christ and the land [a heavenly land], back to the world).
And doing this, a Christian would be subjecting Gods
Son to the same type humiliation
and shame which He experienced at
And this is something which God will not allow. Thus, the verse, And this we will do [we will go on to maturity in the things surrounding Christs coming [millennial] reign over the earth], if God permit [if God permits us to go on].
* * *
Two Kinds of Growth
For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessings from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned (Heb. 6: 7, 8).
The subject matter, contextually, must centre around that which has preceded. The writer uses an illustration drawn from nature which corresponds to that which he has been discussing. It is an illustration concerning two kinds of growth, resulting in two types of fruit.
This illustration would refer back to the immediate context, which deals with maturity in the faith. It deals with Christian growth or non-growth and a corresponding fruit-bearing in relation to each. The two types of fruit presented though are quite different, with one type being looked upon as barrenness in other passages of Scripture (cf. Mark 11: 13; James 2: 20 [ref. ASV; some mss. have the word arge, barren, rather than nekros, dead, in this verse. Regardless though, dead or barren, in the sense spoken of here, would be the same]).
The unsaved [i.e., the unregenerate] are not in view in Heb. 6: 7, 8; nor is ones eternal destiny in view. The passage deals strictly with those who are already saved, those in a position to bring forth fruit.
Drawing from the type in the context, the passage deals with things beyond Exodus, chapter twelve - with man at a point beyond the death of the firstborn. It deals with a man in a position to bring forth fruit relative to the hope of his calling.
Preceding events surrounding the death of the firstborn, there is no such thing as a man being placed in a position of this nature. Prior to the point of [initial] salvation, a person is connected only with the earth. He [Page 72] is connected with Adam, who was made from the dust of the ground (Gen. 2: 7). And at the time of the fall, the dust of the ground came under a curse: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee (Gen. 3: 17b, 18a).
Fallen man is dead in trespasses and sins (Eph. 2: 1). And insofar as works or fruit-bearing are concerned, he can only do two things: (1) He can only produce works or bring forth fruit in association with the earth, with which he finds himself connected (which is under a curse), and (2) he can only be active after this fashion within the sphere of the one life he possesses (natural, i.e., soulical [cf. 1 Cor. 2: 14ff]).
He could never, in an eternity of time, rise above his connection with the earth; nor, in the same eternity of time, could he remove himself from the natural. Thus, he, in and of himself, could never bring forth anything acceptable to God. All which he, in his fallen state, might consider as righteous would only be looked upon by God after one fashion - as filthy rags (Isa. 64: 6).
Man has a spiritual problem, which had its origin in the fall. Man, at that time, found himself separated from God; and, apart from Divine intervention, resulting in redemption, thats where he would not only continue to remain today but for all eternity as well.
Unredeemed mans association with the natural leaves him alienated from God; and his association with the earth leaves him destined for destruction.
This is the reason man MUST be born from above, which is a spiritual birth. There is no alternative. If he would escape the state in which he presently finds himself, he must escape it through Gods provided means.
Unredeemed man has no capacity whatsoever to act either relative to or within the spiritual realm. Insofar as spiritual matters are concerned, unredeemed man has no ability to act than any person in any graveyard has the ability to act physically. Both are dead - one spiritually, the other physically. And, apart from Divine intervention, neither could ever make even the most minute move conceivable - one in the spiritual realm, the other in the physical realm.
Unredeemed man, to escape his present state, thus must be made [Page 73] alive spiritually (John 3: 6). He must be brought from his dead, alienated state to a living, non-alienated state. That is, he must be removed from his present state and be placed in an entirely different state. He must pass from death unto life (John 5: 24).
Thats why Jesus told Nicodemus, Ye must be born again
[lit., born from above] (John 3: 7). This is the great imperative. A man can
make no move toward the
Until he has settled this matter he can never be
associated with anything other than
But, there is still a problem.
And that still-existing problem is what Heb.
6: 7, 8
Though redeemed man finds himself associated with a land removed from
And, correspondingly, though redeemed man possesses a new nature, the old nature is still present. It is in the original type in Gen. 1: 3-5 when God commanded the light to shine out of darkness (2 Cor. 4: 6). The darkness remained, though light now shined forth out of that darkness (ref. the authors book, FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN, Ch. 7).
Redeemed man thus finds himself in a position where he can go in either of two directions. He can either fix his attention on the land out ahead, or he can turn and fix his attention on the land from which he was called.
Insofar as his eternal destiny is concerned, it could never make one iota of difference which direction he takes. But, insofar as the hope of his calling - the purpose for his salvation - is concerned, it would make every difference.
Hebrews 6: 7, 8 presents man with a dual capacity in this realm. That is, he possesses the capacity to go in either direction. Thus, not only contextually, but textually as well, it is evident that the passage is dealing only with those who have passed from death unto life. Those remaining dead in trespasses and sins do not possess this [Page 74] dual capacity and cannot be in view at all.
(Man must be made alive spiritually [John 3: 6] because God is spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth [John 4: 24; NASB, NIV]. Consequently, in order for man to find himself in a non-alienated state once again, he must, through Divine intervention (for he himself is powerless to act), be restored spiritually; and this can be accomplished only through the spiritual birth from above.
John 4: 24 has nothing to do with God in a physical sense, as the verse is often understood [stating, on the basis of this verse, that God does not have a physical existence]. The word spirit is anarthrous in the Greek text, referring to Gods character rather than to His identity. The expression is used in the same sense as another expression by John, God is love [1 John 4: 16]. And the latter has no more to do with the physical than the former, or vice versa. Both refer to Gods character.
This is the reason that the natural man finds himself alienated from God. He, within the framework of his character, acts in the natural; and that is the only sphere in which it is possible for him to act. But God, within the framework of His character, acts in the spiritual, never the natural. And one is totally incompatible with the other. Ishmael cannot act within the sphere occupied by Isaac. It is impossible.
Thus, the natural man cannot worship God in spirit and in truth; nor can he exercise faith, apart from which it is impossible to please God [Heb. 11: 6]. Only the person having experienced the spiritual birth from above is in a position to do either.
But, such a person may or may not conduct his affairs in the realm of the spiritual, though Scripture, time after time, exhorts him to so do. Those things which characterize his life may or may not be in line with those things which characterize God, though they should be. He still possesses the old nature [the natural (soulical) man, connected with the earth], though he [unlike unredeemed man] also possesses the new nature [the spiritual man, connected with God, another land, etc.]. And a Christian is fully capable of following either nature, going in either direction.
And for this reason Scripture is filled with spiritual lessons, [Page 75] exhortations, and warnings concerning the overall matter surrounding the Christians calling. And herein, as well, lies the reason for the necessity of proper spiritual growth unto maturity, for redeemed man lives within the sphere of which ever nature is cultivated, nurtured, and fed.)
BLESSINGS FROM GOD
Several lines of teaching can be drawn from Heb. 6: 7, 8. One would have to do with redeemed man in relation to two lands - one earthly, the other heavenly. Another line of teaching would contrast the two lands themselves - one land having to do with the natural birth and the other with our spiritual birth. However, the latter (referring to the two lands) would still have to be understood on conjunction with the former (referring to redeemed man), for one cannot be separated from the other.
That heavenly land to
which Christians under Christ
have been called (in a place removed from the earth) is typified by the earthly
land to which the Israelites under Moses were called (
Just as the Israelites were to separate themselves
Rain, in this respect, is associated with Gods blessings. In Deut. 32: 2, the Lord states, My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass.
Then during the coming Messianic Era the presence or
absence of rain is associated with the presence or absence of
blessings. On the one hand, the
rain is associated with blessings
Contextually, this verse would have to do with those who have been allowed to go on unto maturity within the framework of Heb. 6: 1-6, remaining faithful to their calling. The blessings in view would have to do with being enlightened concerning the things out ahead - tasting of the heavenly gift the good word of God, and the powers of the world [age] to come - and with being made partakers [companions] of the Holy Spirit in these matters, as He leads individuals into all truth (vv. 4, 5).
And further, contextually, the verse should have to do
with that coming [millennial] day when Christ will be the great King-Priest, after the order of
Melchizedek (5: 5-14). That will be
the day when the blessings of God will find their ultimate fulfilment insofar
as man on the present earth is concerned.
In that [millennial] day
the blessings of God will [Page 77] flow out through the Seed of Abraham to the Gentile nations from
both heavenly and earthly spheres [of Messiahs coming kingdom rule]. And the Seed
of Abraham, in that day, will dwell in these lands (heavenly and earthly),
corresponding to the
2. CALEB AND JOSHUA
Caleb and Joshua - two of the Israelites under Moses
at Kadesh-Barnea, and two of the twelve spies sent in to obtain a report
Though the enemy was stronger and more numerous than
the Israelites, Caleb and Joshua believed that which God had to say concerning
their calling and the land set before them.
They had seen Gods previous dealings with the Egyptians the night of
the Passover (Ex.
12: 29ff), they had seen Gods miraculous parting of the waters
of the Red Sea (Ex.
14: 21, 22), they
had seen Gods destruction of the Egyptian army in the
(In fact, Gods attitude toward anyone standing in
The Amalekite nation existed for hundreds of years following the Exodus under Moses; but, during the days of Hezekiah, this nation was finally destroyed after the fashion which God had previously stated at the time of the Exodus centuries before [1 Chron. 4: 39-43]. And, as a consequence, the only available record today that this nation ever existed can be found only in one place - in the pages of Scripture. Secular history knows nothing of the Amalekites, for God destroyed this nation to the extent that man, in his secular world, can find no trace of it whatsoever.)
Caleb and Joshua had seen and experienced these
things; and they knew that it was through the Lords strength and power, not
their own, that deliverance or provision had been forthcoming at every
point. The Lord had slain the firstborn
Thus, for Caleb and Joshua (and it should have been the same for the remainder of the nation), it was really a simple matter to look out ahead to the land set before them and believe, regardless of the strength of the lands inhabitants or the comparative weakness and seemingly inability of the Israelites, that the people of Israel would be well able to overcome it, but not in their own strength and power. They, as before, would have to rely upon the Lord, with His strength and power; and by so doing, through faith in the Lord, nothing could stand in their way as they marched into the land and victoriously engaged the enemy.
But there was another side to the matter, and that was the attitude exhibited by the ten remaining spies, with their evil report. They, in their faithless manner, overlooking all Gods works which had preceded, said to the Israelites, We be not able to go up against the people; for they are stronger than we (Num. 13: 31).
It is these two reports, with the resulting action of Caleb and Joshua on the one hand and the remainder of the nation on the other, which establishes a basis for much of that which is taught in Heb. 3: 6. And nearing the end of this whole section in Heb. 6: 7, 8, these two [Page 79] totally incompatible ways in which the Israelites viewed the land set before them (typifying the two totally incompatible ways Christians can view the land [during the millennial reign of Messiah] set before them) are set forth in a very simple illustration, drawn from nature.
Within one sphere, there are acceptance and blessings; within the other, there are rejection and curses. And no middle ground lies between the two (cf. Matt. 12: 30). Thus, these two verses outline the only two opinions open to any [Pre-millennial] Christian: (a) that of one day coming into a realization of his calling (v. 7), or (b) that of one day being overthrown short of the goal of his calling (v. 8).
It is the
Whether it be the earth under a curse or natural man connected with the earth, insofar as God is concerned, there can only be total, complete rejection. That which beareth thorns and briers is rejected.
The reference in Hebrews though is not to unredeemed man on the earth (although he has been rejected). The reference is to redeemed man who looks to that land which bears thorns and briers (v. 8) rather than to that land which brings forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed (v. 7). The reference is to the antitype of those Israelites under Moses at Kadesh-Barnea who believed the evil report of the ten spies concerning the land of Canaan, causing them to look back to Egypt rather than out ahead to the land of their calling (Num. 13: 31-14: 4).
These Israelites looked back to a land which bore thorns and briars rather than out ahead to a land which brought forth herbs meet for them by whom
it is dressed. And their subsequent overthrow in the
wilderness was completely in line with that which God had to say about
[* That is, they lost their inheritance in the Promised Land, because of their lack of faith in what God had previously said. This is what led them into disobedience and apostasy at Kadesh-Barnea! How important it is, for us today, to take deed to what we hear and how we hear it, when the teaching of others is contrary to what God has said in His Word! Gods conditional promises and accountability truths are found throughout His Word for our good, and our future blessings. See G. H. Langs Firstborn Sons Their Rights and Risks.]
And the warning to Christians is tat they can, by following the same example, only suffer the same fate. Eternally saved? Yes! But, just as the Israelites under Moses were overthrown on the right side of the blood at a place short of the goal of their calling, so can Christians under Christ be overthrown for the same reason, after the identical fashion (cf. 1 Cor. 9: 24-10: 11).
The experiences of righteous Lot (2 Peter 2: 7, 8) form another Old Testament type - from a different perspective - concerning redeemed mans calling from the world to a land removed from the world. And, within this account, the type is quite instructive concerning the inability of a carnal, worldly person (though redeemed) to act in any depth at all within the spiritual.
Nothing like that which Abraham experienced is
Abraham lived in the plains of Mamre, near
[* Note. The authors sermon: Dare To Be A Lot And Regret It For A Thousand Years is available on this website.]
The differences in these two places would be similar
to the difference between
The day came when
Abraham, during this same time though, dwelled in the
high country, removed from the cities of the plain. And, apart from instances such as his rescue
of Lot and his intercession on behalf of the righteous in
Thus, when the day arrived for the destruction of the cities of the plain - as the day will arrive for the destruction of the present world [political] system - two completely contrasting saved [and regenerate] individuals can be seen.
And thats whats in view in Heb. 6: 7, 8, along with fruit-bearing in each sphere - one of value, the other worthless (cf. 1 Cor. 3: 12).
Some [regenerate] Christians have been allowed to go on and to see what
is taught concerning Melchizedek (and, invariably, for the same reason set
2. ESCAPE FROM
Prior to this destruction, Lot was placed outside
Note whats involved in this five-part command. First, Escape for thy life [soul]. This is the [future] saving of the soul / life. Physical life in this instance? Yes! But far more than just the physical is involved,* as becomes evident from the remainder of the command.
[* See 1 Pet. 1: 9. cf. Jas. 1: 21; Heb. 10: 39ff. This future salvation [of souls (1 Pet. 1: 9) has to do with the time when the souls of the righteous dead (now waiting in Hades [Rev. 6: 9-11; Matt. 16: 18; Lk. 16: 23, 31; Psa. 16: 10; Acts 2: 27, 31, 34, R.V.]), will be released and reunited to their redeemed bodies at Christs return (1 Thess. 4: 16). cf. 2 Tim. 2: 17-18, R.V.]
The next three parts relate how the soul / life can be
saved: (a) Look not behind
thee (cf. Luke 9: 62; Heb.
12: 1, 2), (b) neither stay thou in the plain (dont remain in the low-lying country [equivalent to
(Note: Contrary to some English translations, the word mountain in the Hebrew text is singular, as in the K.J.V. the reference is to a mountain symbolizing a kingdom, not to mountains symbolizing kingdoms. A distinction between mountain and mountains in this respect can be seen in Isa. 2: 2, 3 - the mountain of the Lords house [the kingdom pf Christ] shall be established at the top of the mountains [all the individual earthly kingdoms] )
The escape from the
plain to the mountains is an
Then the last part relates to what will happen to a person should he not follow the Lords command in this respect: lest thou be consumed. That is, he will be consumed by that which will itself be consumed; and, as a consequence, he will lose his soul / life.
His spiritual senses had not been sufficiently developed or exercised. He could do no more than act after a carnal fashion, which he did (19: 19, 20). And this is the apparent reason why the Lord, apart from remonstrance, honoured his request to be allowed to go to Zoar instead of the mountain (19: 21-23).
However, Zoar - a city in the plain, spared for
And therein is the account of two pilgrims who governed their lives after two entirely different fashions, one day [after the thousand years] arriving at the same destination [in a new heaven and a new earth (Rev. 21: 1)] and finding themselves occupying positions completely commensurate with the fashion in which they had governed their lives during their previous pilgrim journey. Thus will it be with Christians on the Mountain in that coming day.*
[* That is, only obedient Christians, accounted worthy at the judgment seat of Christ, will be resurrected and inherit the Kingdom of Christ (Eph. 5: 5); and given authority over the nations (Rev. 2: 26. cf. Lk. 20: 35): but, on the other hand, disobedient and carnal Christians will be left in a Cave (presumably a reference to Hades - the place of the dead under the earth). Acts 2: 27; Lk. 16: 23. cf. Matt. 16: 18; Rev. 6: 9, R.V.) during that coming day (2 Pet. 2: 8f).]
* * *
Things That Accompany Salvation
But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we this speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 6: 9-12).
In the third of the five major warnings in Hebrews, the writer first dealt with the negative side of matters. He began by revealing that the recipients of his message were spiritually immature; but, at the same time, he exhorted them to go on unto perfection [maturity] (5: 11- 6: 6). Then, by way of illustration, drawing from nature, he looked at the matter from both positive and negative aspects (vv. 7, 8). And following that, the writer turned entirely to the positive side and finished the exhortation (begun in v. 1) after this fashion.
Verse nine could perhaps be better understood by translating:
But, beloved, though we are speaking this way, we are persuaded better things of you, things that accompany [i.e., things which have to do with] salvation (ref. NIV).
Concerning that to which the writer referred - that which he had been speaking about - he had begun by dealing with the fact that the recipients of his message were dull of hearing, babes in Christ (5: 11-14). Then he dealt with the possibility of a Christian falling away after he had been allowed to go on unto maturity, resulting in the Christian (through such a falling away) bringing shame and reproach upon the [Page 86] name of Christ (6: 1-6). And all of this would compare, in the world of nature, to bringing forth fruit (works, resulting in fruit-bearing comparable to thorns and briars, which could only be rejected whose end is to be burned (6: 8).
But before paralleling falling away with the thought of bring forth fruit comparable to thorns and briars, the writer introduced another type fruit-bearing - comparable to bringing forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed (v. 7) - anticipating the positive side of the matter beginning in verse 9.
The nurturing source of this type fruit the rain [from] heaven, and this fruit is associated with blessings from God. And both the nurturing source and the blessings come from above. The thought has to do with fruit-bearing through the proper nurturing source, followed by blessings from God.
Contextually, for a Christian, this would have to do with drinking in the Water of life, the Word of God, which comes from above (cf. John 2: 6-9; 4: 14); and, through normal growth and activity after this fashion (feeding upon the Word, and, at the same time, allowing works to emanate out of faith [faithfulness]), the individual would nurture in the faith and bring forth fruit of a proper kind. That is, as illustrated from the world of nature, he would bring forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed rather than thorns and briars.
The recipients of this message were exhorted to leave the infantile things upon which they had been feeding and go on unto maturity. They were exhorted to stop laying foundations and begin building upon the foundational truths which they already understood (vv. 1, 2). And the writer was persuaded better things of them than a falling away in the process, with its corresponding fruit-bearing described by the words, thorns and briars (vv. 3-9).
Within the text, better things are the things that accompany [have to do with] salvation. One parallels the other in this respect. Or, to state the matter another way, that encompassed within the expression better things from verse 9 is associated with fruit-bearing from verse seven, which, in turn, is ultimately connected with [Page 87] works from verse ten (works emanating out of fruitfulness, resulting in fruit-bearing of a proper type); and the goal in view - through this interrelated process of faith and works, resulting in fruit-bearing - is salvation (v. 9).
Viewing the matter within the scope of the revealed fashion, one should easily be able to see what salvation is in view. It cant be salvation by grace through faith (Eph. 2: 8, 9; Heb. 1: 3), for our presently possessed salvation cannot, after any fashion, be associated with mans works, with fruit-bearing. The salvation which is ours as a free gift through faith in Christ was wrought, in its entirety, through the work of Another. And not only has the work been completed, but God is satisfied with this finished work. Nothing can ever be added or taken away (John 19: 30).
The salvation referred to in Heb. 6: 9 is the same salvation to which the writer referred earlier in the warning (5: 9). And, before that, he had referred to this salvation as so great salvation (2: 3). Then later in the book he refers to this salvation in connection with Christs return (9: 27, 28). And then after that he refers to the same salvation as the saving of the soul (10: 39).
The salvation in view is connected with a future inheritance (1: 2, 14), which is acquired through faith and patience [Gk. long endurance] (6: 12, 15). It is the hope set before us, which is an anchor of the soul (6: 18, 19).
This is the [future] salvation with which Hebrews concerns itself throughout. The entire book deals with this [prophesied] salvation, not with the salvation by grace through faith. And when an individual grasps this fundamental truth, not only will the book of Hebrews begin to open to his understanding but so will numerous other sections of Scripture as well.
1. SALVATION BY GRACE THROUGH FAITH
Let it be forever said that a Christians presently possessed eternal salvation was acquired completely separate from any works or merit on unredeemed mans part. Works or merit, pertaining to eternal salvation, all have to do with Christs finished work at Calvary; and man is saved solely on the basis of that which Christ has done, not on the basis of anything which man has done, is doing, or will ever do.
The simple fact is that Christ completed the work, in its entirety, because unredeemed man is totally incapable of acting in this realm, [Page 88] even in the most minute degree. Not only is he dead, rendering him powerless to act, but he is also alienated from God. And apart from Christs action on his behalf, he would forever remain in this present dead, alienated state (Eph. 2: 1, 12).
To illustrate mans inability to act in this realm, refer to a Greek word used in 1 Cor. 15: 52 - the word atomos, from which we derive our English word atom. The word is translated in this verse, a moment. The reference is to the amount of time which will elapse within the scope of Christians being removed from the earth (raised from [Hades - the place of] the dead and translated) and appearing in the Lords presence in the air. This will occur in an atomos of time, further described as comparable to the time-lapse in the twinkling of an eye.
The word atomos has to do with minuteness; and in 1 Cor. 15: 52 it refers to the smallest unit into which time can be divided, beyond which there can be no further division. A microsecond (one millionth of a second) is a common expression used in our computerized world today. But there are divisions beyond that - a billionth of a second, a trillionth of a second, etc.
Atomos, in 1 Cor. 15: 52, referring to time, goes to the fartherest point conceivable. This word refers to a particle of time so minute that the only way really to describe it is through the use of the word atomos itself. That is how fast the future resurrection and translation of Christians will occur.
Now, bring the word atomos over into the realm of works. Insofar as mans eternal salvation is concerned, he cannot do even an atomos of work in this realm. It is impossible for him to perform even the most minute particle of any type work conceivable, for, in the spiritual realm, he is dead.
And salvation, in its totality, has to do with a spiritual birth from above (John 3: 3-6) - a realm in which unredeemed man is totally incapable of acting. In order for man to act in the spiritual, to even a degree described by the word atomos, he must first be made alive spiritually. He must first pass from death unto life (John 5: 24). And this is effected through - only and completely through - the birth from above.
All man can do is receive that which has already been
done on his behalf. He can do no more
than believe on [put his trust, reliance in]
[Page 89] the One who has performed
the Work on his behalf. This is the
clear testimony of Scripture from the
opening verses of Genesis (depicting events which occurred 4,000 years
preceding Calvary [and also prior to this period]) to
the closing verses of Revelation (depicting events which will occur 3,000 years
Gods means for redeeming fallen man never changes throughout Scripture. God established a first-mention principle relative to the matter at the very beginning of His revelation to man, in the opening verses of the first chapter of Genesis; and once the matter had been established after this fashion, no change could ever occur.
Scripture, at the very beginning, presents the matter of mans passage from death unto life as a work performed entirely through Divine intervention. The Spirit moved, God spoke, and light came into existence (Gen. 1: 2b, 3). The ruined creation (Gen. 1: 2a) had no part in the matter at the beginning, and the ruined creation (Eph. 2: 12) can have no part in the matter of ant consequent point in time (ref. the authors book, FROM EGYPT TO CANAAN, Chs 5-8).
To say that individuals were saved or will be saved via other means in either past or future dispensations (through keeping the law, through any type works, etc.) is a total misunderstanding (to use strong language, it is a violation, a corruption) of that which God has established as unchangeable at the very beginning of His Word.
Unsaved man simply cannot act in the spiritual realm. Such is impossible. And there is no such thing as man, at any point in his history (past, present, or future) being partly saved and able to perform works to complete his [initial and eternal] salvation. It is either all or nothing. Man is either completely saved or he is not saved to even an atomos of a degree.
As stated in Jonah 2: 9, Salvation is of the Lord. It has always been that way, it remains that way today, and it always will be that way.
2. SALVATION OF THE SOUL
The salvation of the soul though is another matter entirely. The spiritual birth from above - salvation by grace through faith - has to do with mans spirit, not with his soul. Redeemed man, a trichotomous being, has  a redeemed spirit,  an unredeemed soul (that part of [Page 90] man which is the process of being redeemed), and  an unredeemed body (not presently being redeemed, as the soul, but to be redeemed at Christs return.)
Insofar as mans spirit is concerned, [i.e. having to do with that received by grace through faith alone], salvation is a finished matter. This is the part of man which was made alive at the time of the birth from above (John 3: 3-6). Then, redeemed mans soul is in the process of being saved (cf. 1 Cor. 1: 18; Heb. 1: 14; 10: 36-39), a salvation to be realized in its completeness (or not realized) at the time Christians appear before the judgment seat of Christ at the end of the present dispensation (1 Pet. 1: 4-9). And the salvation - redemption - of the body is entirely future and to be realized at the time of Christs return for His Church (Rom. 8: 23).
Thus man, as a trichotomous being, has been saved, is being saved, and is about to be saved Salvation, within its complete scope, is not only past but is also present and future as well.
However, one must exercise care when dealing with these different aspects of salvation so as not to confuse one with the other. Verses of Scripture which pertain to one must not be removed from their contexts and applied to the other. If this is done, the end result will be two-fold: (a) confusion concerning the salvation message on the one hand, and (b) corruption of the salvation message on the other.
For example, the salvation of the spirit [i.e., the eternal salvation obtained by grace through faith alone] is dependent entirely upon the finished work of Christ at Calvary, but the salvation of the soul is dependent on the works of the individual who has passed from death unto life. Such works emanate out of faithfulness (James 2: 14: 26), and it is these works (or lack of these works, resulting from unfaithfulness) which will come under review at the judgment seat.
And one can easily see what would happen if a person took Scriptures having to do with the present aspect of salvation and applied them to the past aspect, or vice versa. Mans works would either be brought over into an area where works of this nature cannot exist (brought over into the message of salvation by grace through faith), or such works would be rendered meaningless through trying to place the message of salvation by grace through faith (where mans works cannot exist) within the present aspect of salvation (where mans works must be operative).
Through the salvation effected by the birth from above (which has to do with the spirit [i.e. enabling one, after regeneration by the Holy Spirit, enabling one to understand spiritual truths]), man has been placed in a position where he can perform works acceptable or pleasing to God (which has to do with the soul). Works are now possible, for he now has spiritual life and can exercise faith in the realm from which mans works can ensue.
That is, after he has passed from death unto life he can then exercise faith in his spiritual life - a life which he did not possess prior to the birth from above - and works, pleasing to God, can emanate only out of faithfulness of this nature.
It is this aspect of salvation with which the Book of Hebrews deals. The warnings apply to the saving or losing of the soul, never the spirit. The former can be forfeited, but not the latter; and a person must be in possession of the latter before anything in the former could even apply in his life.
(For a comprehensive treatment of this overall
subject, see the authors book. SALVATION OF THE SOUL and FROM
WORK AND LABOUR OF LOVE
The better things being manifested by those whom the writer addressed in verse nine are described through the use of two words in verse ten - work and love. They were manifesting a work and labour of love with respect to Christ through ministering to other Christians.
Such a ministry could take any number of forms - from giving a cup of cold water to teaching and admonishing one another (Mark 9: 41; Col. 3: 16). And there is an underlying principle upon which the inseparable connection between ministering with respect to Christ and ministering to others rests (as in Heb. 6: 10), which is clearly revealed in Matt. 25: 31-46.
Though the passage in Matthews gospel has to do with
a judgment of the Gentile nations, based on their treatment of
According to Matt. 25: 34ff, Gentiles coming out of the great Tribulation will be judged on the basis of specific works. They will have previously been divided into two groups - saved and unsaved (v. 33). Then, Christ will judge the saved first, on the basis of their having performed specific works (vv. 34-40). After that, He will judge the unsaved, on the basis of their not having performed the same specific works (vv. 41-46).
Neither judgment will have anything whatsoever to do with the eternal salvation of those being judged (no more so than issues at the judgment seat of Christ will have to do with the Christians eternal salvation.) The entirety of the judgment of both groups will occur solely on the basis of the works of those being judged (something which can never have anything to do with mans eternal salvation).
Those in the first group, the saved (judgment must begin at the house of God [1 Pet. 4: 17]), are presented as being judged solely on the basis of their treatment of my brethren [the Jewish people] during the Tribulation. And even the least of Christs brethren (the most insignificant Jewish people within the nation) are singled out as being in view within this treatment.
Then the principle is clearly given: Through ministering to Christs brethren, these Gentiles had ministered to Christ Himself. That is, they had accorded Christ the same treatment which they accorded the Jewish people (vv. 37-40).
The same thing is again taught - though from a negative aspect - relative to Christs dealings with the second group, the unsaved. Those in this group had not ministered to the Jewish people, and the least of Christs brethren are also in view within the scope of His dealings with the group.
And the principle is again clearly revealed, though reversed: Through not ministering to Christs brethren, these Gentiles had not ministered to Christ Himself. That is, they had accorded Christ the same treatment which they accorded the Jewish people (vv. 44, 45).
In Heb. 6: 10 the principle remains the same. Through ministering to the saints these Christians had shown the same work and labour of love toward his [Christs] name. That is, in the light of the way [Page 93] the matter is set forth in Matt. 25: 34ff, they, in reality, were ministering to Christ Himself through their ministry to the saints.
These Christians were performing works because of their love for the brethren. But these works were not emanating out of love per se. Rather, these works, along with the manifested love itself, were emanating out of faith.
Faith must come first; and even though love is placed above faith on the sense of greatness (1 Cor. 13: 13), love cannot exist apart from faith. This is fundamental and primary. Apart from faith their can be neither love for the brethren nor a ministry to the brethren.
The matter must be looked upon as in Hebrews, chapter eleven: By faith Abel By faith Enoch By faith Noah The entire pilgrim walk as is stated in Rom. 1: 17: from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith (cf. Heb. 2: 4).
Consequently, there must first be faith (i.e., faithfulness on the part of the individual - simply believing that which God has said). Then love and resulting works can issue forth. Love is the motivator for the works, but the source for love is the same as the source for works. They both emanate out of faith (cf. James 2: 14-26; 1 Peter 1: 9).
FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE
The recipients of this message had been praised for their work and labour of love (v. 10), and their actions were mentioned after this fashion for a purpose. Immediately following (vv. 11, 12), the writer uses their faithfulness in this realm in order to exhort them in another realm. He turns from one thought to another, and the thought to which he turns is the same thought which is emphasized over and over throughout the epistle. At this point in the book it is seen to be - both textual and contextually - his one driving, burning desire underlying everything which he wrote in the epistle.
In order to grasp the full force of the writers frame of mind and that which is being said, note the word desire. In the Greek text, the preposition epi is prefixed to the word translated desire. In the English text, (forming epithumeo), intensifying the word. A more literal rendering when bringing the thought conveyed by the intensified [Page 94] Greek word over into English would be, earnestly desire.
Note for example, the difference between how the word agonizomai (strive) is used in Luke 13: 24 without the preposition epi prefixed and in Jude 3 with the preposition prefixed. In Luke the word is simply translated strive, but in Jude the word is translated earnestly contend [or, earnestly strive]. The passages set forth a striving with respect to entering the strait gate, and an earnest striving with respect to the faith.
Hebrews 6: 11 reveals an earnest desire on the part of the writer to see every single individual to whom he was writing to show the same diligence to [toward. Or with respect to] the full assurance of hope that they had shown in their work and labour of love among the saints. He called attention to their present positive actions as they ministered among the saints and exhorted them to manifest the same positive actions with respect to the full assurance of hope.
What thought is meant by the full assurance of hope? This is the heart of the matter, with the whole thought turning on these words.
Full assurance is the translation of a Greek word which conveys the thought of full conviction, certainty, assurance wrought through understanding. Note the same word in this respect as it is used in Col. 2: 2 and Heb. 10: 22. Understanding, as in Col. 2: 2, is really not part of the strict definition though. But the thought would have to be there by implication, for there could be no confident conviction or confident assurance apart from an understanding of the matter in view.
And, viewing the context, the whole overall thought of understanding could only fit perfectly within that which is stated in Heb. 6: 11, for the verse appears towards the end of a section in which the main thrust of the entire matter has to do with an exhortation to go on unto perfection [maturity] (vv. 1ff). The end result of this maturity is presented in verse eleven (further explained in v. 12) as bringing them into a position where they could understand and, consequently, have a confident, expectant conviction of the hope set before them (in the sense of one day realizing this hope).
The hope itself is simply that blessed hope from Titus 2: 13, associated with the appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (A.S.V.) In Titus 1: 2; 3: 7 this hope is clearly revealed to be associated with an inheritance awaiting the saved which [Page 95] will be realized in the coming [millennial] age.
Note Titus 3: 7. There is first a justification; then there is an inheritance awaiting the justified, connected with the hope of eternal [Gk. aionios] life. The words eternal life, from aionios in the Greek text, could be better translated life for the age in this passage. This word is used different places in the Greek text in the sense of both eternal and age-lasting, and the manner in which it is used in any given passage will always be governed by its textual usage (ref. the authors book, SALVATION OF THE SOUL, pp. 57, 58; also Chapter 2 in this book).*
[* See the authors writings on pages (pp. 57- 58) in the above mentioned book at the end of this chapter.]
The manner in which aionios is used in Titus 3: 7 is evident. The justified (those in possession of eternal life) cannot be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life. There is no hope connected with eternal life (the salvation of the spirit*, which is ours through simply believing on the Lord Jesus Christ [John 3: 16]). Hope is connected in Scripture with the [future] saving of the soul, life for the age, the [messianic] inheritance awaiting Christians (e.g., cf. Heb. 6: 18, 19; 10: 23, 36-39 [Heb. 10: 23 should literally read, Let us hold fast the confession of the hope ]).
[* NOTE there is an entirely different meaning (as shown by the context) by the use of the word spirit where Paul says, - Deliver such a one (i.e., the incestuous believer) unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord (1 Cor. 5: 5)!
Here the expression salvation of the spirit must be understood to mean what God said to Moses in Num. 14: 22-24: because all those men (i.e., those who apostatized at Kadesh-Barnea) which have seen my glory, and my signs, which I wrought in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have tempted me these ten times, and have not hearkened to by voice; surely they shall not see the land which I sware unto their fathers, neither shall any of them that despised me see it:  but my servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit with him, and hath followed me fully, him will I bring into the land whereinto he went; and his seed shall possess it.
The words because he [Caleb] had a different spirit with him, point to a time beyond Calebs sojourning in the promised Land! They point to that time after his resurrection from the dead, when he will be placed back in the land of his inheritance for a thousand years: and this, we are informed, is because he followed the Lord fully. Therefore, the literal fulfilment of Gods promise to Abraham, (See Gen. 13: 14-17; 15: 7. cf. Acts 7: 4b-5, R.V.), Caleb, and other obedient saints, can only be brought to pass when Christ returns to resurrect the holy dead (1 Thess. 4: 16; 1 Cor. 15: 23; Phil. 3: 12; 2 Tim. 2: 18-19, etc.).]
And this hope is exactly where the writer of Hebrews wanted those to whom he was writing to fix their attention. He earnestly desired that everyone of them show the same diligence which they were expressing in their work and labour of love to a full conviction and expectation of the hope set before them. And he wanted them to hold this conviction and expectation unto the end.
(One can easily see, from these verses, a parallel problem existing in Christendom today. Christians involve themselves in numerous ministries - some with diligence - but how many of these same Christians know anything about the full assurance of hope? How many exhibit the same diligence in this realm?)
THROUGH FAITH AND PATIENCE
Continuing with the same line of thought, the writer called attention to something which he had preciously stated (cf. 5: 11; 6: 12); and he then brought the exhortation to a close (v. 12), prior to once again going back to the Old Testament Scriptures to furnish the [Page 95] background and support for the subject under discussion (vv. 13ff).
Those being addressed were spiritually immature, but the exhortation, as previously given, was let us go on (v. 1). In verse twelve, the word slothful is a translation of the same word rendered dull of hearing in the previous chapter (5: 11). The writer used the word in chapter 5 to best describe the present immature condition of those in view. And now, in chapter six, he uses the same descriptive word again as he exhorts these Christians not to remain in their present immature state but to go on unto maturity, for a revealed purpose.
To perhaps better understand exactly where the writer had been and was going with this whole line of thought, note verse eleven and the first part of verse twelve in a more literal rendering, with a few explanatory thoughts.
And we earnestly desire every one of you [those in 5: 11ff] do show the same diligence [as exhibited in their ministry among the saints (v. 10)] with respect to a full conviction and expectation of the hope [derived through a knowledge, as they moved from immaturity to maturity] unto the end [that is, hold this hope unto the end, with a full conviction and expectation that it will one day be realized]: In order that you might not remain dull of hearing [5: 11 (or slothful as rendered)], but
The latter part of verse twelve, immediately following the preceding rendering, then provides the stated purpose for the entire exhortation; and the remainder of the chapter provides background and support from the Old Testament. The remainder of the chapter is thus simply Scripture substantiating, supporting, and explaining Scripture.
Those being addressed were exhorted to go on unto maturity so they could be followers [imitators, in the sense of governing their pilgrim walk] of them who through faith and patience [perseverance] inherit the promises (v. 12b).
There is a future inheritance in view (which is the manner in which the Book of Hebrews begins [1: 2] and continues [1: 14], revealing an inheritance belonging to firstborn sons [cf. 2: 10; 12: 16, 17, 23]); and Christians [who will be judged accounted worthy] will come into a realization of this future inheritance only [Page 97] through governing their present pilgrim walk after the manner described by the words, faith and patience.
Note the exact words of the text: through faith and patience [lit., patient endurance] inherit the promises (v. 12b). Patient endurance would go hand in hand with faith, for there could not be a continued walk by faith apart from patient endurance (James 1: 2-4).
And this is exactly what one finds at the capstone of the book (chs. 11: 12a), leading into the heart of the last of the five major warnings (12: 16, 17) - a warning which deals specifically with the rights of the firstborn.*
* NOTE. The adoption of Christians can occur only following events surrounding the judgment seat of Christ, for the adoption has to do with the placement of sons in a firstborn status - something which cannot be done preceding a separation of Christians [the overcomers from the non-overcomers], based on decisions and determinations rendered at the judgment seat. Christians having been shown faithful at the judgment seat, realizing the salvation of their souls, will be adopted as firstborn sons. But such will not be, for it cannot be, the case of unfaithful Christians, those having forfeited their souls/lives.
Chapter eleven is the great chapter on faith in Scripture, but this chapter must be understood in conjunction with the preceding ten chapters. Throughout chapter eleven, drawn entirely from the experiences of faithful Old Testament saints as they patiently endured under various trials and testings, one will find the words, By faith By faith By faith
That is the key to inheriting the promises. The matter is simply as stated, By faith - remaining faithful (continuing to believe God, a continuance involving patient endurance) under various trials and testings. These Old Testament saints all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them far off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth (11: 13). It is faithfulness to the saving of the soul (10: 39).
Then note how 12: 1 begins: Wherefore seeing we [Christians] also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses [the Old Testament saints in ch. 11], let us
The implication is clear. These Old Testament saints ran the race after a particular fashion, with a goal in view; and Christians [today] are to run the race after the same fashion, with the same goal in view - an inheritance out ahead, to be realized in the coming age.
* * *
From the authors book, SALVATION OF THE SOUL, pp. 57, 58.
Be not conformed to this world [age]: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Rom. 12: 2).
In this verse there is a negative command followed by a positive command: Be not conformed but be ye transformed
1. BE NOT CONFORMED
The Greek word translated conformed is sunschematizo. This is a compound word with the preposition sun (with) prefixed to the verb form of the word schema (outline, diagram). The English word scheme is an Anglicized form of the Greek word schema. The word has to do with a schematic outline, and the thought inherent in this compound Greek word and the negative command is to not outline or diagram your life in accordance with the present [evil] age.
During the present age there is a world kingdom in which the Gentile nations rule the earth under the control and dominion of Satan, the god of this age (2 Cor. 4: 4). Fallen man is ruling the earth, which is under a curse, directly under the one who has disqualified himself to rule (Satan, along with his angels - ruling from a heavenly sphere over the earth through the Gentile nations (cf. Ezek. 28: 14; Dan. 10: 13-20; Luke 4: 5, 6; Eph. 6: 11, 12]).
Everywhere one looks theres something wrong with the
structure of the present kingdom: The Gentile nations are out of place,
The rightful place for Satan and his angels is in the abyss and ultimately in the lake of fire; the rightful place for Christ and His co-heirs is ruling (from the heavens over the earth) in the stead of Satan and his angels; the rightful place for Israel [i.e., those in natural bodies of flesh, blood and bones] is dwelling in the land covenanted to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, within a theocracy, at the head of the nations; and the rightful place for the Gentile nations is dwelling in their respective lands, out from under the dominion and rule of Satan, in a position subservient to and blessed through Israel.*
[*NOTE: This of course does not mean that after the time of their Resurrection (when Jesus returns, 1 Thess. 4: 16), that Jewish as well as Gentile saints, (who possessing immortal and glorified bodies of flesh and bones like their Lords body, Lk. 24: 39) - will be forbidden to enjoy, with their Lord, the earthly sphere of His Kingdom (Psa. 110: 2-3 cf. Luke 1: 32; 22: 28-30); as well as, and at the same time, having access into the heavenly sphere of His kingdom: for then, says He, are equal unto angels being sons of the resurrection. (Luke 20: 36b, R.V.). See also Gen. 13: 14-17; Num. 14: 23. cf. Acts 7: 5. R.V.).]
When Christ returns and takes the kingdom, He and His
glorified followers, rather than Satan and his angels, will rule from the
heavens over the earth. Satan and his
angels (cast out of the heavens slightly over three and a half years prior to
this time) will be chained and imprisoned in the abyss (awaiting consignment to
the lake of fire 1,000 years later), the curse will be lifted, and
Presently, the whole world lieth in wickedness [lit., lies in the evil one] (1 John 5: 19b). The positional standing of the believer in Christ, and the position occupied by the world is in the evil one. These positions are diametrically opposed, one to the other. Scripture clearly commands the believer, Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world (1 John 2: 15a). Why? Because the world lies in the evil one.
The entire present system is under Satans control and sway; and, whether the world recognizes it or not, the programs, aims, ambitions, and aspirations of the incumbent ruler are being carried out within the present system. All of this will one day reach an apex under the reign of the man of sin, during the coming [Great] Tribulation. And, from that apex, it will come to a sudden and climatic end.
Then, in conjunction with this end, Satan and his angels will, by force, be removed from their present position - that of ruling the earth through the Gentile nations.
Thus, it does not become Christians to involve themselves in the affairs of this present world system, during the present age. By so [Page 59a] doing, they are, in effect, defiling their calling in Christ through stepping down into an arena occupied by those in the evil one.
Christ, rejected by the world, is in a place removed from the world. And Christians are to share this rejection by and separation from the world with Christ. It is not possible for Christians to involve themselves in the affairs of this present world system, during the present age, and, at the same time, share Christs rejection by and separation from the world.
(The preceding is dealt with at length in the Books of I, II Samuel, in the typology surrounding Saul and David. Refer to the authors book, JUDGMENT SEAT OF CHRIST [revised edition], Chapter XII, Crowned Rulers, for a discussion of this type in the light of the antitype.)
[* See Additional Notes at the end of the concluding chapter, by way of a number of selected quotations, from the authors book Salvation of the Soul; and also from Chapter 16 of Gods Pilgrims by Philip Mauro.]
* * *
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Inheriting the promises
That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he aware by himself. Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for conformation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath. That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us. Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whether the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 6: 12-20).
Jesus Christ is Gods appointed heir of all things (Heb. 1: 2a). This is the manner in which the Book of Hebrews begins, which sets the tone for the entire epistle. And a connected thought deals with the ages being planned around the Sons activity - as Gods appointed Heir - within these ages (Heb. 1: 2b). The Son is the central figure of Scripture, beginning with Gen. 1: 1 (cf. John 1: 1-3, 14); and His heirship is the central subject of Scripture, beginning at the same point in Genesis (cf. Psa. 8: 1-9; 1 Cor. 15: 45-50; Heb. 1: 4-13).
Man was created for a purpose, which was revealed at the time of his creation (Gen. 1: 26-28). He was created to have dominion. And the Son being appointed heir of all things has its basis in the purpose [Page 100] for mans creation in the beginning.
Man lost his right and ability to exercise
dominion through the action of the first Man, the first Adam. Man, through Adams action, found himself in
a fallen state, necessitating redemption.
Then the second Man, the last Adam, subsequently paid redemptions price
through His finished work at
The second Man, the last Adam, will realize His appointed position as heir of all things through exercising dominion over all of Gods creation (as it pertains to the [present] earth). He, along with numerous redeemed co-heirs, will exercise this dominion for 1,000 years, for the duration of the coming Messianic Era.
Thus, in the preceding sense, the central subject of Scripture is not really redemption per se but that which redemption makes possible (with the central person of Scripture being Christ, the One Who paid redemptions price).
Redemption entered the picture in Genesis only after man found himself in a position wherein he could no longer realize the purpose for his creation (Gen. 3: 15, 21-24; cf. vv. 1-13). And redemption enters the picture today - or at any point in history - for the same purpose that it did 6,000 years ago. Unredeemed man is alienated from God and in no position to take the sceptre, and occupy a position of this nature he cannot realize the purpose for his creation. He must first be redeemed. Then, the purpose for redemption, going back to the purpose for creation, naturally follows.
Thus, whether dealing with mans creation, his fall, or provided redemption following the fall, the same central purpose is always present; and that purpose has to do with man exercising dominion. Man was created to exercise dominion, Satan brought about his fall to prevent him from exercising dominion, and redemption has been provided so man can be brought back into a position wherein he can one day exercise dominion.
The thought of man exercising dominion both precedes and follows redemption at any point in Scripture. It must, for that is the way matters are introduced in Genesis, establishing an unchangeable pattern.
It is as outlined in the opening part of the Book of Hebrews. This book, as previously stated, opens through calling attention to the fact that the Son has been appointed heir of all things (1: 2). Then reference is made to His redemptive work and His present position at Gods right hand (v. 3). And following this, the Spirit of God provides seven Messianic quotations from the Old Testament, pointing to that day when the appointed Heir will come into possession of His inheritance (vv. 5-13).
The book begins by centering on the Son after this fashion. But, again, redemption provided by the Son is for a purpose; and that purpose begins to be unfolded in the book immediately following the seven Messianic quotations through calling attention to the purpose for the present dispensation - to acquire the co-heirs who will occupy the throne with the heir of all things during the coming day of His power (1: 14ff; cf. Rom. 8: 17).
The second Man, the last Adam, has provided redemption so that fallen man (descending from the first Man, the first Adam) can be brought back into the position for which he was created. Thus, redemption is not an end in itself. Rather redemption is a means to an end. The end is heirship, and redemption places the person in a position wherein he can one day come into a realization of this heirship.
It is as in the type beginning in Exodus, chapter twelve.
The death of the firstborn in
And that is exactly what the Book of Hebrews is about in a type-antitype structure. It is about man who has been redeemed with an end in view. It is about redeemed man one day inheriting with the Son this earth. It is about redeemed man coming into possession of so great salvation in that coming seventh day - the seventh millennium - first spoken of in Gen. 2: 2, 3 (Heb. 1: 14 - 2: 5; 4: 4-9)
God has set aside an entire dispensation lasting two millenniums, during which He is calling out the co-heirs who will inherit with His Son during the coming day when His Son exercises dominion. And these co-heirs are being called out from among the redeemed. Thus, in this respect, the central subject of Hebrews revolves around matters beyond redemption. It revolves around Gods dealings with the saved relative to an inheritance in a land set before them. It revolves around redeemed man being brought into the position for which man was originally created.
An original type involving saved man in Hebrews can be seen in the account involving Eve in Genesis, chapter two. Viewing the antitype, this chapter in Genesis presents Christs co-heirs from Hebrews occupying the position of consort queen, typified by Eve. Christ is the second Man, the last Adam, typified by the first Man, the first Adam (Rom. 5: 14). The redeemed of the present dispensation from His body (Col. 1: 18); and as Eve was removed from Adams body to reign as consort queen with him (let them have dominion [both the male and the female; Gen. 1: 26, 27]) so will the bride of Christ be removed from Christs body to reign as consort queen with Him.
Then in a subsequent type the central mission of the Holy Spirit to the earth during the present dispensation is seen to centre - not around redemption per se - but around the purpose for redemption. According to Genesis, chapter twenty-four, the central mission of the Holy Spirit in the world today is to acquire a bride for Gods Son.
In Genesis, chapter twenty-three the wife of Jehovah is seen set aside following
Events in chapter twenty-four have to do with one central subject - Abrahams servant sent into the far country to acquire a bride for Abrahams son, Isaac. And the bride was to be acquired only from within Abrahams family (vv. 3, 4).
Matters surrounding redemption, allowing unsaved man to [Page 103] become a member of the family, occur, in the type, back in chapter twenty-two (the offering of Isaac); and the whole of that dealt with in chapter twenty-four pertains to matters occurring within the family, to matters subsequent to and separate from redemption.
(More specifically, viewing the type and
antitype together, the basis for redemption occurs through the Father offering
the Son in ch. 22 [typifying
The Holy Spirit, in the antitype of Abrahams servant, is in the world today; and His primary mission revolves around calling out a bride for Gods Son. Redemption must occur first. That is fundamental and primary. But there is a purpose for redemption, and the realization of that purpose follows and is contingent upon the events typified in chapter twenty-four occurring first.
The order is threefold: (1) redemption, then (2) the acquisition of the bride, and then (3) the Sons reign over the earth with His bride. And, in this respect, the bride of Christ - in perfect accord with Eve being removed from Adams body (Gen. 2) or Rebekah being removed from the family of Abraham (Gen. 24) - is to be acquired from the family of God. That is, the bride is to be called out from among the saved.
And events depicted in Genesis, chapters two and twenty-four rather than events depicted in Genesis, chapter twenty-two is where one finds himself in the Book of Hebrews. This book deals with the Holy Spirit calling out a bride for Gods Son, offering to redeemed man the privilege and opportunity to one day participate in activities surrounding the bride. This book centres around a salvation out ahead, a rest, an inheritance. The Book of Hebrews is about Christians one day entering into positions with the Son as co-heirs, comprising the Sons bride, the one who will reign as consort queen in the antitype of Eve and Rebekah.
THROUGH FAITH AND PATIENCE
Accordingly, Scripture clearly reveals, in numerous places, that a [Page 104] future position with Gods Son as co-heir is not something which a person automatically enters into on the basis of his position in Christ. Rather, a Christians present actions will determine his future position in this respect (Rom. 8: 17).
The matter is probably stated in Heb. 6: 12 in the simplest terms to be found anyplace in Scripture. This verse reveals two things which must be present in a Christians life in order for him to have part in Gods promise to Abraham in Gen. 22: 17, 18 - faith and patience [patient endurance]. These two indispensables - two things which really encompass everything else - point to the Christian exercising faith throughout the pilgrim walk (Rom. 1: 17) as he patiently endures under all the various trials and testings which come his way (James 1: 2-4).
But though the matter is stated in what would be considered a relatively simple manner, the journey along the route leading to the goal is far from simple or easy. To the contrary, it is difficult and hard. The pilgrim path is strewn with pitfalls all along the route. Nothing throughout the pilgrim walk really comes easy.
Nor are things intended to come easy. Thats not the way God arranged matters. A thing of incalculable value - the greatest thing God ever had designed for redeemed man - is being offered to man through the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the world today; and man has been called upon to fight, to struggle. The bride, in the final analysis, will be made up of those interested enough in that which is being offered to pay the price.
And a central crux of the matter involves the knowledge and resulting action of the enemy - the present world rulers (Satan and his angels) in heavenly places. Christ with His co-heirs will one day replace Satan and those ruling under him. Satan and his angels know this (Eph. 3: 9-11), the warfare rages (Eph. 6: 10ff), and the enemy will do everything within his power to prevent Christians from achieving victory in the present race of the faith.
But, on the other side of the picture, Christians have an advocate [Gk. parakletos, One called alongside to help] with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 John 2: 1) and a forerunner presently seated at Gods right hand (Psa. 110: 1; Heb. 6: 20). And our forerunner is the author [source] of eternal salvation [age-lasting salvation - referring [Page 105] to the saving of the soul in relation to the 1,000-year Messianic Era] unto all them that obey him (Heb. 5: 9).
There are numerous, unending problems strewn all along the route; but that which God deems of incalculable value is shown, numerous different ways, to be worth every effort Christians can possibly expend. We are to keep our eyes fixed on the goal, casting all our care upon Him, committing our way unto the Lord and relying upon Him to bring matters to pass and to see us safely through (cf. Psa. 37: 5; Heb. 12: 1, 2; 1 Peter 5: 7).
We are to count it all joy when falling into various trials and testings, knowing that the trying of our faith worketh patience [patient endurance]; and we are to faithfully endure under the various trials and testings after this fashion in order that the Holy Spirit can progressively perform a work in our lives (the metamorphosis of Rom. 12: 2) which will, in the end, result in our being perfect [mature] and entire [complete], wanting nothing [lacking nothing] (James 1: 2-4).
And, governing ones pilgrim walk after the instructed fashion, through faith and patience [patient endurance] Christians will one day inherit the promises.
1. ORIGINAL PROMISES TO ABRAHAM
The example which the Spirit of God
provides at this point in Hebrews, to illustrate faith and patience in relation to ones calling, is that of
Abraham. Abraham was called out of one
land in order to realize an inheritance in another land. He was called from
While still in
Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy fathers house, unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed (Gen. 12: 1-3).
Then after Abraham had departed
Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it to thee (Gen. 13: 14-17).
Then beyond that, [after
Lot was separated from him (Gen.
14a, R.V.)] the
Lord made an unconditional, everlasting* covenant with Abraham concerning the
[* That is, to be understood in the sense for as long as God allows this earth to last.]
In the same day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates: The Kenites, and the Kenizites, and the Kadmonites, And the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaims, And the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites (Gen. 15: 18-21).
Placing the preceding in perspective, the seed of Abraham (through Isaac and Jacob [Gen. 17: 9, 21; 21: 12; 25: 23; 26: 3, 4; 27: 37; 28: 13, 14]) was to be multiplied in an innumerable manner and dwell as a separate, distinct nation in the land to which Abraham had been called; and, with the seed of Abraham in this land, God would bring matters to pass after such a fashion that all the other nations of the earth (all the Gentile nations) would be blessed through the nation emanating from the loins of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob.
2. SUBSEQUENT PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
The preceding outlines Gods promises concerning a seed and a land, along with Gods purpose, given to Abraham at the beginning of and at different times during his pilgrim journey. The reference in Hebrews though is to Gods promise to Abraham at a later point in time (after he had patiently endured [6: 15; cf. vv. 13, 14]), moving the matter beyond the preceding promises. The reference is to Gods promise recorded in Genesis, chapter twenty-two, immediately following the account of Abraham offering his son on a mount in the land [Page 107] of Moriah (vv. 1-14; cf. Heb. 11: 17-19), some five or six decades after Gods original promise to Abraham in Ur.
At this time God said to Abraham:
By myself have I sworn, saith the Lord, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice (vv. 16-18).
The previous promises given to Abraham - at the beginning of and at different times during his pilgrim walk (at the beginning of and at different times during the long period of faith and patience) - were, as previously stated, unconditional in nature. And though these promises pertained mainly to an earthly seed (with earthly promises), a heavenly Seed (necessitating corresponding heavenly promises) was mentioned (cf. Gen. 12: 1-3; 15: , 5 [with] 13: 16). Also, though there was nothing said about rulership in connection with the blessings in these [divine] promises, that subject was dealt with apart from the promises in the account of Abraham meeting Melchizedek following the battle of the kings (Gen. 14: 17ff). Thus, the things stated about rulership and blessings in connection with both the heavenly and earthly seed of Abraham in Gen. 22: 17, 18 were all revealed prior to this time.
That which is different in the new within the scope of the promises in Gen. 22: 17, 18 (also Heb. 6: 13-17 only after he had patiently endured [walked by faith over a long period of time], though the realization of the promises awaited [and to this present time, still await] a future date (Heb. 11: 8-16 [Acts 7: 4b, 5. R.V.]).
The promise, as it is outlined in Gen.
22: 17, 18, actually
ties certain previously revealed particulars together. The subject [of Gods millennial
blessing] was introduced in Gods
original [initial = first] promise to Abraham in
And the Lord, at this time swore by Himself (for there was none greater by whom He could swear) that His promise to Abraham would be brought to pass. It would be brought to pass [after Abraham is resurrected, and placed upon the land of his inheritance, (Heb. 11: 8, 13) when] at the same time Christ exercised the Melchizedek priesthood, typified in Gen. 14: 18, 19 cf. Heb. 6: 20).
And in this respect, note what the Father said to the Son in Psa. 110: 4: The Lord hath sworn [by Himself], and will not repent [He will not change His mind], Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.