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Hebrews chapter 6

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 14

                                                     

SCRIPTURE:  HEBREWS 6

AUTHOR:  JOE LIGON

As the chapter opens, the first-century readers are being encouraged to grow spiritually – to mature spiritually.  They are being challenged to move on with their sanctification.  For that to happen for them as well as for us, there are some things that have to be left behind and some other things that we have to reach for.

The concept of “leaving the elementary doctrines or teachings” does not mean that we should forget or ignore those important truths.  Those things are necessarily and importantly foundational to the faith.  We all need that solid foundation but at some point, we have to start building on that foundation.  If all we ever do is work on the foundation, if all we ever do is continue to learn and relearn the foundational truths of Christianity, we will never grow or mature.

The list of things provided in the “leave behind” category is particularly pointed at those who were in the Jewish faith before they were saved.  As a result, they are told to leave behind the dead works or the actions that led to death.  This is a reference to the Old Testament sacrificial system.  But they are to move on toward faith in God.  They are to move on from washings or baptisms.  This is not a reference to New Testament baptism but to the ceremonial washings required in the Levitical Law.  They are to move on from the notion of the resurrection of the dead.  This doesn’t mean the doctrine of the resurrection is not important.  It is indeed a central doctrine of Christianity.  This is a reference to the ongoing and fruitless arguments that took place between the Pharisees who believed in the resurrection and the Sadducees who didn’t.

When we get to verses 4 and following, we enter into what is a difficult passage of Scripture particularly for those of us who rightfully believe in the eternal security of the believer.  A cursory reading of these verses might appear to teach that a person can be saved and then can lose that salvation and then could only be saved again if Jesus were crucified again which by the way will not happen.

On one hand, if that is what this passage is teaching then those denominations who teach the loss of salvation must necessarily teach that once it is lost it can never be regained.  On the other hand, Scripture clearly teaches that salvation cannot be lost.  That requires us to slow down here and deal with some difficult verses.

Most translations add the important word “IF” in verse 6.  This teaches that “IF” salvation could be lost, it could never be regained.  But it doesn’t say that it could actually be lost.  Indeed, we know that it cannot be lost.

But there is another way we should wrestle with this passage of Scripture.  We should think about this in terms of those who have actually, truly been saved but then have chosen to walk a different path.  The Biblical truth is that they can come back to live a solid Christian life but there will be consequences for their disobedience. 

Think about it this way.  When we are saved, the eternal consequences of our sin are absorbed by Jesus and forgiven by God.  After we are saved, if we willfully walk away from the faith, God will punish us for our disobedience.  If we ask Him to forgive us for walking away, He will but His forgiveness at that time does not remove the consequences or discipline that necessarily accompanies our disobedience.  For there to be no discipline would mean that Jesus would have to return to the cross.  And, again, that will not happen.

The writer of Hebrews then uses an analogy of some farmland that is blessed and productive.  But if it loses its productivity and starts to grow thorns and thistles, it is fit only for burning.  That burning would destroy the thorns and thistles but it would not destroy the land.  In other words, if our lives are the land producing the thorns and thistles, we should expect the weeds to be removed even while our lives are being saved.

Posted by Joe Ligon with

Hebrews 5

DAILY DEVOTION

FOR

TUESDAY OCTOBER 13

SCRIPTURE:  HEBREWS 5

At the end of the previous chapter, the writer made what would have been a startling statement to those first century believers who had come out of Judaism.  The writer stated that Jesus was better than the High Priest.  In Jewish thought, the High Priest held the highest office and was the epitome of the Levitical system.  It would have been most difficult for anyone with a strong Jewish background to think of anyone more important than the High Priest.  But Jesus is better.

The topic of the High Priest is continued in the chapter before us today.  As we get started we will find the author making the claim that Jesus is better than Aaron.  We have already read where Jesus is better than Moses.  Now we encounter the truth of Jesus’ supremacy over Aaron.

We are reminded that the High Priest was chosen from among men.  His original and primary responsibility would have been to represent the people before God.  The Old Testament prophet’s responsibility was to represent God before the people.  But the High Priest was to take the people before God.

In verse 1, we read where he was responsible for offering gifts and sacrifices.  The concept of “gifts” is a reference to the peace offerings that were given as a means of holding back the wrath of God and allowing sinful humanity to approach Him.  The “sacrifices” is a reference to the sin and guilt offerings which would have been characterized by the shedding of blood.

In verse 2 we read why the High Priest could be effective.  Because he was a man, he could have understanding of other men (people) and their tendency toward ignorance and waywardness.  After all, he would have struggled with the same issues.  Because of that, the gifts and sacrifices he offered were not just for the people of Israel.  They were for him as well.

This was such an important responsibility that God chose the first High Priest and developed a system of selecting the High Priests to come.  As verse 4 reminds us, Aaron was selected first.  After that, Eleazar, Aaron’s son was made the High Priest.  From that point, the selection was to be made from a direct hereditary succession from Aaron.  And that actually was followed pretty well for a long time.

By the time you get to the New Testament, however, things had changed.  The Roman Caesar and/or his local proconsul had started selecting the High Priest.  That in turn made the position more political than spiritual which created part of the mess that Jesus walked into.  Once the Roman government started doing that, they did it at will.  This was opposed to the Old Testament system that allowed for the role of the High Priest to be a life-long responsibility.

In verse 5, we see where Jesus who is our Great High Priest did not select Himself for that position.  But instead God made that decision.  The heredity issue was resolved in the fact that Jesus is the Son of God.  And in verse 7, there is the appointment to the office of Great High Priest like Melchizedek.  The writer of Hebrews will have much more to say about the mysterious Melchizedek in the pages to come.

Because I am now out of space, I need to jump to verse 9 where we read that Jesus “was made perfect”.  We have to be most careful here.  We should not read into that that Jesus was not perfect beforehand.  He was always and will always be perfect.  The concept of perfection here refers to the fact that Jesus perfectly completed His goal or task.  Finally His temptations and His sufferings even to the point of His sacrificial death makes Him the perfect Great High Priest.

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