Let God’s promise motivate you
Kindergarten class for grownups1Let’s move past kindergarten teachings about the Messiah. Get promoted. Move up to a higher grade and a more mature understanding. Stop rehashing basic 101 stuff like why we should repent for our sins and have faith in God. 2You don’t need to hear another word about those cleansing rituals  or laying hands on people when you pray for them or bless them. You don’t need a rerun on resurrection, either. And you don’t need to hear anyone tell you what you’ve already heard about the final judgment and eternity. 3We’ll grow up, if God’s okay with it.
4Listen. Let’s say some folks see the light. They get a taste of heaven. They make contact with the Holy Spirit. 5They experience the goodness of God’s word. They witness the power of the new age. 6If they bail on their faith and leave all of that behind, they’re goners. There’s no second chance, no restoring them by having them repent. That would be crucifying the Son of God all over again, shaming him again, too. 7A patch of ground is God-blessed when it soaks up plenty of rain and produces a good crop that a farmer planted and maintained. 8But if a field like that grows a harvest of briars and thistles, it’s good for nothing. A farmer will burn it to clear the land.
We expect more of you9We’ve been talking tough, my dear friends. But we believe you’re better than what I’ve been describing. We expect that what I’ve said will lead you to salvation. 10God’s going to treat you fairly. He’s not going to disregard the work you’ve done for him and the love you’ve shown for our mission. Especially since you’re still ministering to your fellow believers. 11We want you to keep up the hard work to the very end so you get what you’re hoping for. 12Don’t get lazy. Take a look at the faith and patience of people inheriting what God promises. Imitate them.
God can’t lie13When God made a promise to Abraham, God couldn’t swear an oath on the name of some higher power. He is the highest power. So, he swore an oath on his own by simply guaranteeing the promise. 14God told Abraham, “I’m going to bless your life and give you a huge family of descendants.”  15Abraham got what God promised, though Abraham had to wait patiently for it.
16When people take an oath, they swear by a higher power. They do this to confirm what they’re about to say. That settles the matter. 17God wanted to show everyone who would inherit the promise that he wouldn’t change his plans later. That’s why he confirmed it with an oath. 18God made a promise and he swore an oath. It’s a done deal, double-dipped  in both a promise and an oath. We know we can depend on this promise because God can’t lie. That should encourage those of us who put our faith in God, trusting him to take care of us. It gives us good reason to hold on to the hope  we’ve been given.
19This hope holds us steady. It’s a strong anchor for the soul. This hope will one day take us beyond the sacred curtain and into the holiest place in heaven.  20Jesus is already there. He’s representing us until we get there. He’s our high priest forever, in the elite class of Melchizedek.
These are Old Testament rituals that Christians said became obsolete after the resurrection of Jesus. For example, women needed to take a ritual bath after their menstrual period before they could worship at the worship center (Leviticus 15). Not necessary anymore, though regular baths are usually a good thing.
An abbreviated version of the promise in Genesis 22:17-18, “I’m going to bless your life like it has never been blessed before. I’ll give you so many descendants it will be as impossible to count them as it is to count stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. Your descendants will capture even the most heavily fortified cities of your enemies. Your descendants will become a blessing—a bringer of goodness—to every nation on the earth. And it’s all because you trusted me enough to obey me.”
The writer talks about “two unchangeable facts,” but he doesn’t say what they are. Many Bible experts say he’s talking about (1) the promise God made and (2) the oath he swore by speaking in the formal language of an oath.
Many scholars agree that “the hope we’ve been given” refers to the teaching that if people trust Jesus for forgiveness and salvation, they get to live forever.
The writer uses the Jerusalem Temple to paint a word picture of heaven. The holiest room in the Temple was in the back, where Jews stored the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-covered chest that held the Ten Commandments. A huge curtain separated this back room from the main sanctuary, where priests performed daily worship rituals. Only priests were allowed inside the Temple. And only high priests were allowed in the holiest room.
Well that’s strange. A preacher telling a congregation they don’t need to hear any more about the basic kind of religious stuff that preachers talk about all the time. What do you make of Hebrews 6:1-2?
Here’s a tough one. The Hebrews writer says there’s no second chance for a Christian who bails on the faith: “They’re goners….no restoring them by having them repent” (6:6). But what about this verse from 1 John? “If we confess our sins when we commit them, we can count on him to do the right thing. He’ll forgive us for what we did. And he’ll wash away everything that would make us ashamed and unfit to be with him” (1 John 1:9)? Pick a reaction or add your own.
- Hebrews is a preacher exaggerating to convince Christians not to leave the church.
- John is talking about glitches and mistakes, not dropping out of Christianity.
- Someone who quits Christianity was never a Christian in the first place.
- God help us all if the Hebrews writer is right.
- Mistakes happen when God has to work with humans. Good help is hard to find.
- It doesn’t make sense, but it’s in the Bible, so I believe it. Next question.
What do you think of the writer’s argument about why dropout Christians are goners? “That would be crucifying the Son of God all over again, shaming him again, too” (6:6).
Pick one response or add one of your own.
- It must have made sense to someone 2,000 years ago.
- It’s too abstract for me.
- What’s the difference between repenting for little sins and big sins?
- Makes sense to me. One big sacrifice, one big repentance.
LIFE APPLICATION. The writer closes out chapter 6 by appealing to the promise God made to Abraham, to bless his life. So what? What does that have to do with Christians 4,000 years later than Abraham’s day? Pick an idea or add one of your own.
- Promises made to the father of the Jewish faith apply to everyone who trusts in God.
- Promises God made to bless Abraham’s life and family will extend into eternity for Abraham’s spiritual family.
- Abraham lived in relative peace. Christians who stay true to God will enjoy an eternity of peace.
- God took an oath to bless Abraham’s descendants. That blessing continues because God doesn’t lie.
LIFE APPLICATION. “Don’t get lazy,” the writer of Hebrews says (6:12). Based on what you’ve read so far, in what ways do you think they might have become lazy? And in what ways do Christians today get lazy.