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“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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Friday, August 30, 2013

Hebrews chapter six

Heb 6:1  Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,

Heb 6:2  Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

Heb 6:3  And this will we do, if God permit.

Heb 6:4  For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

Heb 6:5  And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,

Heb 6:6  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 6:7  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 blessing from God:

Heb 6:8  But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.

Heb 6:9  But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

Heb 6:10  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.

Heb 6:11  And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:

Heb 6:12  That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Heb 6:13  For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,

Heb 6:14  Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Heb 6:15  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

Heb 6:16  For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.

Heb 6:17  Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:

Heb 6:18  That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Heb 6:19  Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;

Heb 6:20  Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.
 
Hebrews Chapter five ended with another reproof to the Jewish Christians in Israel.
 
“Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are 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. 5:11-14).
 
And maybe chapter six should have begun at those verses, because chapter six continues that same thought, adding a warning to them. Here we see the writer of Hebrews’ (WoH’s) sanctified skill of combining promises and hope and blessing with duty and responsibility and warning. Confidently, they see that this was no different than what Moses had done.

“See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil; in that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it. But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them; I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it. I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: that thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey His voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto Him: for He is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.” (Deut. 30:15-20).
 
This follows Moses’ long sermon from the preceding two chapters of promises and commandments, blessings and curses, which itself was a recounting of what he had previously told them in Leviticus chapter 26. There can be found no greater power to reconcile the sinful soul and transform the heart and life than the combination of grace and truth. The model for the rest of the scriptures is found here; and the WoH speaks the divine word of God, in a fatherly way blending divine mercy with divine justice like his Master Jesus, who would be called “the everlasting Father,” “for He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” (Isa. 9:6; Matt. 7:29).
 
“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation 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. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world 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. 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 blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”  (Heb. 6:1-8).
 
These verses have often terrified people seeking the mercies of God. They were babes used to milk and not of full maturity through surrendering to God’s authority and love. So, they winced at the power of God’s threats, and fainted in heart. (I know, because I was one of them.) But, that is not God’s intent by using His infinite authority.
 
“For I will not contend for ever,” says the Lord, “neither will I be always wroth: for the spirit should fail before Me, and the souls which I have made.” (Isa. 57:16). God doesn’t speak of the sinner’s end, and then leave it at that. The Spirit of God continues on, through the WoH, encouraging those who have trembled before His warnings.
 
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus 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.” (Heb. 6:9,10). The WoH has warned; the justice of God is established; conviction has shocked and humbled. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” (Isa. 57:15). Now God can dwell in the hearts of these Hebrew Christians, safe from the prospects of any presumption or destructive undue consternation.
 
Their hearts are bought back, brought back to divine realities, eternal precepts, the things of God which take us away from this world and from the troubles Satan magnifies in our minds to steal our hearts and trust from God. The Hebrews are struck anew with the heavenly truths that they had known, but had forgotten. They are reminded of the deeper insight they had heard with their ears from the WoH, and of the catapulting into faith which they had experienced when first hearing the word of God. Jesus, through the WoH, did for them what they couldn’t do for themselves. “Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend.” “Faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prov. 27:17,6).

The WoH ends the curses and blessings in this chapter with a final admonition. “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. 6:11,12). He called them slothful because they had lost their first love by the persecutions and ostracism they were suffering. But, he also informed them that they were not alone; they were part of a bigger whole, a large family, one that extends from the present back to the beginning of recorded scripture.
 
Now that he has their full attention, both of mind and heart, in spirit and in truth, the WoH can move into the deeper things of the gospel, beyond the simple, practical requirements that Christ taught. Not that he spurns righteousness or the regular simplicity of Jesus, but that we need to sink the shaft deeply into the mind of Christ, His treasures of heavenly truth. The simple parables of Jesus were designed to reach a people whom Satan had made ignorant of the great themes of truth given in their sacred scriptures. Through those parables, Jesus was reaching them where they were, and He was also reaching the children who would make up the next generation within the church. But this does not presuppose that Jesus’ lessons didn’t contain the far deeper knowledge than what He spoke. In no way did He ever mean to leave the people ignorant of the Bible’s deeper treasures. Conversely, He meant to pique their interest in the deep things by giving them a taste of them. He even scolded His disciples for not searching out the scriptures for themselves.
 
“Then He said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into His glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Lk. 24:25-27). Jesus scattered the seeds of truth; but He meant for those seeds to send their roots downward deeply into the word of God, to sprout, and then to reach upward into plants and even trees, bearing much fruit.
 
So, Jesus now brings the Hebrew Christians higher as He dispenses His Spirit to them through the WoH. What a privilege to sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him through His chosen human agent!
 
“For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, He sware 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.” (Heb. 6:13-15). If they (and we) will be patient to endure the difficulties, hardships, and even tragedies of life, the blessings of the Spirit will come to us as they did to Abraham. The Lord promises us just as He promised Abraham. He desires to bless and multiply us. But He must hold off the fullness of His blessings for our full surrender. To reward us with full blessings before we surrender is to reward sloathfulness and disobedience, and to perpetuate sin. He would destroy us were He to do that. So He waits.
 
“And therefore will the LORD wait, that He may be gracious unto you, and therefore will He be exalted, that He may have mercy upon you: for the LORD is a God of judgment: blessed are all they that wait for Him.” (Isa. 30:18).  “And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry day and night unto Him, though He bear long with them?” (Lk. 18:7,8).
 
The basis for our patient endurance awaiting the promised blessings from heaven is grounded in deep theological precepts. “For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation 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 a strong consolation.” (Heb. 6:16-18).
 
The two immutable things were/are His promise and His sworn oath that precedes His promise. When God does anything, He does so in a big way. When He speaks, He thunders; when He sorrows, He sends a trumpet wail from one end of heaven to the other. When He loves, His blessings come in torrents and heavenly cataracts and sheets of liquid sunshine. When He promises, He does so emphatically with an oath. The greatest is God’s promise to be merciful to us, to forgive our sins, and to reclaim our hearts and our lives for eternity. To our repentance He always sends forgiveness. This He promises with an oath.
 
“That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a 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 stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Heb. 6:18-20).
 
“Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life.” (1Tim. 6:12). In that fight and hold we don’t let go until Jesus blesses us. We receive Him and His power to become sons of God, not born of the flesh or of our own will, but of God. The recognition of His Spirit gives us the evidence that God is near and working for us; we receive a new hope that forever settles and anchors our heart and mind. We can no longer be caught up in the wily work of Satan, and get tossed to and fro by the many winds of doctrine, philosophy, and fanaticism. We have an anchor that keeps the soul steadfast and sure while the billows roll.

We have followed Jesus into the heavenly sanctuary.
 
God who is rich in mercy, “even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:5,6).
 
“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son.” (Col. 1:12,13).
 
“For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Phil. 3:20).
 
“And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Sion, and with Him an hundred forty and four thousand, having His Father’s name written in their foreheads.” (Rev. 14:1).
 
“And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God.” (Rev. 15:1,2).
 
“Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and His Father; to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (Rev. 1:5,6).
 
“And when He had taken the book, the four beasts and four and twenty elders fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps, and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints. And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; and hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” (Rev. 5:8-10).
 
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ.” (Eph. 1:3).

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