In chapter five Paul expresses his disappointment that the Hebrews had so failed to progress in their faith by neglect that he feared their next step would be that of falling away. Billy Graham used to say, “the christian life is like riding a bike, if you don’t keep going, you will fall off”. Indeed their advance in spiritual things was so retarded that they could be compared to babies who could only take in the elementary truths of the gospel. He felt that by now they should all be teachers of such things to other babes, rather than being fed such simple truths over and over again. Obviously they were not digesting and appropriating these things. They had tasted the first fruits of salvation and no doubt thought that such was all there was. The temptation to return to the "reality and riches" of their old religion is understandable if that was the case. They appear to be like a person in a revolving door. Continually going into the door and never really entering the building to enjoy all that is within. In such a state you are just as likely to finish up outside as you are in. So definite steps towards the inside, are necessary immediately. Such a state of affairs is highly dangerous, because there comes a time when basic christian truths of repentance and faith in Christ, lose their effectiveness. Indeed, Paul goes so far as to say that someone who has been a “partaker of the Holy Spirit”, and “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come”, if they fall away (what an awful contemplation) then for them to be persuaded again to repentance, becomes an impossible task. Mainly because of their familiarity with such things, and the fact that they previously failed to appropriate such truths effectively. This is not to limit the grace of God in any way, nor the mighty convicting power of the Spirit, but Paul had obviously from his own experience recognised that seldom did such folk return. If indeed any did, it would not have been by the preaching of repentance or teaching the elementary truths, for they knew them already. They already had the light, it was really up to them when and if they returned. It is very similar to trying to persuade someone who has tasted an apple to eat an apple after they have long since decided they have had too much of them. Supposing there was a mansion house that was full of good things to eat. At the entrance there were apples, then pears, then oranges and soon until in process of time, there was a daily rich supply of necessary and exotic foods to enjoy. If someone came in and only tasted the apples and the pears for twelve months they could without doubt lose the excitement of the first taste and become bored with the experience eventually. If they were enticed outside to a world of easy flavours and canned substitutes, then it would be somewhat difficult to entice them again to come into the food house. The thought of eating the apples and the pears would be of no incentive whatsoever, indeed it might even be a “put off.” That is not to say they may revive their appetite, but it would not be because of human persuasion. So what Paul is saying here is that they should be warned of their perilous position for there is a limit to what the church can do to help them. We can preach and teach all we like but if they don’t move on in obedience then it will avail nothing in the end. Concerning the end of such people who had had the word of God, he likens them to ground which receives the rain’s blessing upon it. Some ground produces thorns and other produces herbs. It is plain to see that the thorny ground has only one future, that is, to be burned. Notice his description of such ground in the phrase ( v 8) “near to being cursed”. In all probability he deliberately stopped short of saying they were past redemption but he certainly stated what their inevitable end would be if they were to continue in the spiritual state they were in. However he seeks to exhort them. This is great psychology, as well as being an expression of brotherly love. We know that children usually want to live up to the expectations of their parents or role models. Children respond much better to an adult saying “Oh, I am disappointed in you Billy, I would have expected better things from you than that, I am surprised” etc., rather than “Oh, not you again Billy. I knew it would be you, you just have to be different than the others don’t you” etc. Hebrews is a book of severe warnings and many exhortations. Warnings are not idle threats. They are genuine warnings, otherwise the exhortations are meaningless because they have no means of being effective either. His reason for warning them was the same as encouraging them, - they were in great danger - in ch 2 he says “how will you escape if you neglect so great salvation”. Does He actually say that? No, he actually includes HIMSELF; for he says “How shall WE escape.” His identification with these Hebrews is very apparent throughout the book. He regards them as like unto himself. He encourages them to go on like himself. His disappointment was heightened because they had, like the Galatians run well in the past, and had served the Lord well. Paul encourages them to continue in such things unto the end. Don’t get lazy, don’t drag your feet, but press on like others. He then shows how Abraham, though called and promised many things needed to go on to the end to receive what he was promised. This might prompt the thought, “well what assurance can I have now, if I need to keep on to the end to be saved?”. So Paul gives them a truth upon which they can rest. He speaks of the Christian’s HOPE. This is not an airy fairy whim of the mind, heart or will. It is something that can be grasped and laid hold on. Like a man who is thrown a lifebelt. Provided he holds on, there is not the slightest doubt that he will be saved. Paul calls it an anchor to the soul. So the soul is like a ship in troubled waters. Will it go down? No! Not while the anchor holds. Near a lighthouse in Australia there is a monument to some sailors who lost their lives in a storm. The monument is of a broken anchor. Their anchor did fail. Abraham’s anchor did not fail. He pressed on believing what he was promised though he never saw the true fulfilment of the promise. From the story of Abraham, He gives them two unchangeable truths. If they are unchangeable then that should be ample grounds for believing in a sure future. They are constitutional statements. 1. God gave a promise to Abraham. Now that in itself, should be sufficient, for the promise of God is stronger than the whole earth. God could never fail to fulfil a promise. God is faithful. This part of God’s character needs to be accepted and understood. His word is his bond, yea his character. The world would blow up, the universe cease to function, the atoms would fall apart, were God to fail in keeping just one of his promises. His promises are unchangeable. They may be conditional but they are nevertheless unchangeable. 2. As if that were not enough we read that when God made the promise to Abraham he CONFIRMED IT with an OATH. God could not swear by anything higher than himself so He swore by HIMSELF. Could any promise of God therefore have the slightest possibility of failure, if backed up and supported with an oath. Much more could be said about oaths and promises. The very word “God” (Elohim in Hebrew) means Oaths and Power. So our salvation is sure; For it is based upon these two everlasting and unchangeable truths. The anchor will never break. After the storm we will sail on. Salvation is the boat. Jesus is God's ark. Transferring to another boat can only spell disaster. Only in Christ can we be safe. At the end of chapter 6 we now see what he has been his main thought. You remember in chapter five he was saying that some truths were so deep and wonderful, he was hesitant to share them because he felt they could well be wasted on them, However, another character who lived in Abraham’s time comes to mind. He mentions such things as appertain to Melchizadek. Although he thinks for a moment that it could be wasted on them, and he tells them why in the last few verses of chapter five, he presses on towards telling them. Indeed in telling them, he recognises the opportunity of strengthening their resolve to go on instead of back. For they can progress in confidence because their faith is in Jesus. Their confidence in the priesthood of their Jewish religion could no doubt be commended, but given a BETTER product, then surely they should have a better confidence. Given a better lifeboat, a better anchor, surely they should let go of the old and take hold of the new. All too often the experience of some people changes with the weather, so it would seem; However, our salvation is set in things which never change, and will never change. It can therefore be described as an unmovable anchor. Our salvation is sure, provided we hold on. Peter in his epistle exhorts his readers to “make their election sure”. If those elected had no part to play in their salvation they would not have been exhorted to do something in relation to it. One of the most inspired prophesies in scripture, is surely David’s Psalm 110. In it we see a prophecy of Jesus, ordained to be a priest. Not after the line of Aaron, but of Melchizadek. In this prophecy we see the same two unchangeable truths as in God’s assurance to Abraham. 1. The promise: “Thou art a priest forever;” “Forever “ is the operative word. 2. God made that promise with an oath; In Ps.110 we read “I have sworn” Once again, by two immutable things, which refer to Jesus, which we can lay hold of, we find true and complete assurance that we are saved and will be saved. Jesus, a priest after the order of Mechizadek, has entered within the veil. This thought was once illustrated to me by a story of a ship that needed to dock in a harbour but could not because of the thick fog. So the captain went off in a small boat out of sight through the fog. He took with him a strong rope, which was attached to the ship. He reached the harbour and then he tied the rope to a windlass on shore and began the job of winding in the rope, thus guiding the ship safely and carefully through the fog into harbour. Our great high priest has gone on before us. The rope of faith will ensure our safe entry into the eternal harbour
BOARD SUMMARY CH 6: WARNING: So chapter six is a very severe warning that if they continue as they are, they will be like thorns and briers- only fit for burning. Explanation: Ch 6:4. It is impossible to coax a person who has tasted an apple to eat one again, if they don’t want to. Exhortation: This is followed by a strong encouragement and exhortation to go on in faith and inherit the promises in Christ Jesus . Two unchangeable things are an anchor to the soul; God’s promise to Abraham can surely be trusted on its own God’s promise to the heirs of His promise is doubly sure for it was confirmed with an oath. Elohim: (God) means Power and Oaths.