I have been reading the Book of Hebrews, trying to get the main themes from it. The primary theme of the Book of Hebrews is a warning to experienced Christians concerning the dangers of backsliding, of growing cold and being hardened by sin. A second important theme, springing from the primary theme, is the exhortation to the Jewish Christians to recognize the superiority of Christ and the atonement made by Him to the Law of Moses and the animal sacrifices. The second theme springs from the primary theme in that the second theme emphasizes the fact that the atonement made by Christ includes not only the forgiveness of sin but the removal of the sin itself.
Since the primary theme of the Book of Hebrews is a warning against falling back into sin it is important for the writer to show that the true Christian discipleship is a journey toward the rest of God, that is, toward the place where sin has been overcome in the personality. The overcoming of sin was not possible under the old covenant because the old covenant was limited to the forgiveness of sin.
Hebrews above has been difficult for Christians to accept at face value. I have not seen a commentary that accepts the passage as it is written. I have read two suggestions as to why Hebrews cannot possibly mean what it states. The first suggestion is that no true Christian would ever fall away. Therefore the passage cannot be referring to someone who truly has been saved. The second suggestion is that the writer of Hebrews has suddenly left his train of thought and is presenting a hypothetical situation.
Our hearts break when we repay God's faithfulness, kindness, and love with sin. In this lab, Pastor John covers what we should do after our. It is very true that familiarity breeds contempt. Who is not familiar with the story of man's first sin?
It is not that anyone would actually fall away after having received Christ, for if he did he would be crucifying Christ all over again. Therefore it would be impossible for a true Christian to fall away. However, the passage does not state that it is impossible for a Christian to fall away but that if he does fall away it is impossible to renew him or her to repentance. I have not read any editor who maintains that if a Christian should fall away it is impossible for the person to be renewed to repentance, which of course is what the passage states.
Remember, the two views that destroy the force of Hebrews are 1 that true Christians are not being referred to, only those who had made a light profession of faith; and 2 the situation is hypothetical because were a believer to fall away he would be crucifying Christ again. True Christians indeed are being referred to in Hebrews and are being warned against falling away from Christ. The situation by no means is hypothetical.
The writer is warning his readers that to fall away from Christ is inviting destruction. From beginning to end the writer of Hebrews is exhorting the Jewish believers to press into the rest of God, warning them of the dire results of stopping in their pursuit of Christ. With your permission I would like to take you through some of the verses to show you the continuity of the argument.
There is no question in my mind but that the Christians in America have been grossly misled and if repentance and a turning to God does not follow we are in trouble. How often have we spoken to the unsaved about neglecting so great salvation? This expression is not addressed to the unsaved but to Christians. It is not speaking of ignoring salvation but of neglecting the salvation one already possesses.
There ought to be a law against preaching such verses as Romans and Hebrews to the unsaved when the contexts reveal clearly they are addressed to the believers! So the stage has been set. The writer is warning believers against drifting away from the things they have heard. This exhortation and warning continues throughout the Book of Hebrews until it concludes with:. Remember, we are discussing the statement in Chapter Six of Hebrews that if a Christian falls away he cannot be renewed to repentance because he crucifies Christ afresh, as opposed to the commentaries that claim no true Christian would ever be guilty of falling away and therefore the passage is not really applicable to believers.
Let us look at a few statements from the above selection to see if they support our view, which is that Hebrews is a warning to believers about falling away from the steadfast pursuit of Christ, or if they support the contemporary view that the passage is not applicable to believers in Christ.
Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. This certainly is not hypothetical and obviously is addressing true Christians. Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. This is not hypothetical and it is exhorting and warning the holy brothers. Are you beginning to get a sense of the context of Hebrews ?
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. Does this support a straightforward interpretation of Hebrews ? The primary theme of Hebrews is a warning to true Christians against the danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The secondary theme, that of the superiority of the new covenant to the old, is a reflection of this primary theme. Let us explain once more how the second theme of the Book of Hebrews is a reflection of the primary theme. The argument the writer uses in comparing the two covenants is that the new covenant actually takes away sin.
Lesser themes, such as the true nature of faith, the place of chastisement, and the need to assemble on a consistent basis, also are related to the primary theme, which is the warning against being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin and not pressing into the rest of God. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.
Again it is clear that salvation is conditional and salvation is not secured until we follow the Lord obediently and cheerfully to the end of the course. Can you find any indication in the passages we have mentioned that the writer is not addressing genuine Christians or is speaking hypothetically? Does not what we have read thus far support our position? Of what should the true Christian be afraid? He should be afraid of growing cold in his pursuit of Christ. The verse above completely destroys the present Christian stance that salvation is a ticket to Heaven that operates independently of our behavior.
You can accept Christ and then come short of the goal.
Is this what is being said? You know, it is amazing.
I read in the footnotes of a popular edition of the Bible that the believers being addressed in Hebrews were not genuine Christians but mere professors of belief in Christ. The idea is, no true Christian could ever fall away. These were not genuine Christians? How then do you define a genuine Christian? By his works? If so, our thesis that the Christian salvation always is demonstrated in works of righteousness is established.
Now, we have shown by previous passages that the Jewish Christians were being warned concerning the danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. They were being compared with the Jews in the wilderness who fell through unbelief.
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They were advised to fear lest a promise left them of entering the rest of God they should come short of it. Can you see this warning is not a departure from the primary theme of Hebrews but an integral part of it? In no way is it a hypothetical situation.
It obviously is part of the warning against falling away found throughout the Book of Hebrews. We are addressing the holy brothers who have had all the experiences we of today have had, if not more. Then a little bit later we warn them about falling away. How is this different?
Why are we suddenly being hypothetical when the actual danger exists? The Lord is warning me clearly that if the Christians in America do not repent and turn to God, keeping all the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles, heavy judgment is going to fall on our nation and we all are going to suffer.
It is obvious, to me at least, that the Scriptures are being distorted in order to prove that Christianity is adherence to a set of mental beliefs and that an outworking in actual righteousness and holiness of behavior, while certainly desirable, is not essential to salvation. Once we have subscribed to the correct position mentally and confess this position with our mouth we are forever eligible for eternal residence in the Paradise of God and no behavior of ours can jeopardize our security.
It is because of this fallacy that Hebrews cannot be accepted as the inspired Word of God but must be wrenched and distorted until it does not apply in a straightforward manner to the believers of today. Does this mean if you have failed God at some point you are doomed?