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Hebrews 6

March 18th, 2012 by Vic

March 18, 2012

Hebrews 6

“We have an Anchor”


The first 3 verses are a conclusion to the previous chapter.  On the basis of what has just been said, “Keep growing up!”  5:14 says the mature person continues to train himself to distinguish good from evil.  It is eternally important that we can make a distinction between good and evil.  When the Bible speaks of an unpardonable sin it is talking of the person who no longer can distinguish between good and evil.


6:1  Therefore let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ and press on to maturity.  The two Greek words translated “leaving” and “press on” need to be understood correctly.  The word translated “leaving” is a verb meaning “to put or place,” with the prefix ‘a’ which means “off” or “away” (aphiemi (ἀφιεμι)).  The prefix implies separation.  The word speaks not only of the literal removal of one object from the vicinity to another, but also of the departure from antecedent relationships.  The basic idea in the verb is that of an action which causes a separation.  The various meanings of the word include: “to send away, to bid go away or depart, to let go, to send from one’s self, to let alone, to let be, to disregard, to abandon.”  In Matthew 13:36 and Mark 4:36, this word is used of the sending away of the multitudes.  


The Greek grammar tells us that the action of “leaving” precedes the action of “let us go on.” The aorist tense speaks of a once for all action.  We could translate, “Therefore, having left once for all the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on to perfection.” The act of leaving is the pre-requisite to going on.  If you want to grow up you have to separate yourself from childish things.

The verb translated “press on” or “let us go on” means “to carry or bear,” (phero (φερο)).  The word is in the passive voice, which means that the subject is passive or inactive itself and is being acted upon by some outside agent. Thus we could more accurately translate the word, “leaving once for all … let us be carried along.”  It’s the paradox mentioned in 4:11.  Work to enter rest.  Faith and works go together.


I believe this letter was written to Christians.  The term ‘telios’ (maturity, completion or perfection) was used by the Greeks to describe a ship under full sail before the wind.  It is also used of being borne on to a higher stage of instruction.  “Let’s go on and do some graduate studies.”  As a Christian the Spirit of Christ lives in you and you surrender to His will and ways.  In Christ you live as you were created to live and by His Spirit you are carried along to maturity.  Like a ship your power comes from the wind.


It is Christians here who are commanded to leave and be carried on to perfection.  If a person sets out on a journey to a city and reaches that city, he is said to have perfected or completed his journey.  Our perfection is being and doing what is in harmony with the purpose of our creation.


Christian perfection does not involve a length of time so much as a relationship.  Phil 3:12 says that resurrection perfection cannot be attained in this life.  Phil 3:15 speaks of a perfection that is possible in this life.  We can be perfect and not perfect at the same time.


We can be perfect in our heart.  We can be blameless.  We can have perfect love.  Peter says we are perfected or purified by obedience.  Paul says we press on toward the goal that is set before us (Phil 3:14).  The foundation has been laid.  Let’s build the house.  That’s the exciting part.


6:1-2  Six fundamentals of Christianity are now listed.


1. Repentance from dead works.  To become a Christian we repent of our sins.  Repentance is a change of mind, a reversing of direction or turning away.  Dead works are any works that are not done to the glory of God.  Dead works don’t bring life.  Dead works may also refer to Jewish rituals that these readers had left.  The destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem demonstrated to those with eyes to see that the old system had been fulfilled in Jesus.  He was God’s sacrifice given to take care of man’s sin problem once and for all.  They did not need the Temple rituals.


2. Faith.  Faith and belief are the same Greek word.  The person that comes to God must believe that He is.  Faith in God’s Son brings us salvation.  To be a Christian you must believe that Jesus died for your sins and make Him Lord of your life.  That is a basic truth.  You must believe that God has a plan for your life and that plan is completed in Jesus.  He came as a high priest and Lamb of God to take care of our sin problem.


3. Instructions about baptisms.  There were many kinds of baptisms in the first century.  The new Christian was instructed what Christian baptism meant.  Basically baptism meant to dip in water or wash.  The verb baptize (baptidzw) occurs 80 times in the NT, 1 in Galatians; 2 in Romans; 10 in 1 Cor; the rest in the Gospels and Acts.   The noun (baptisma) occurs 22 times in the NT, only 4 outside the Gospels and Acts.  Baptismo is the word here and only occurs in Mk 7:4,8 and Heb 6:2; 9:10.  Baptism to the Jew meant a change in religion.  It is not central to Christianity, but a fundamental.


4. The laying on of hands was used to pray for someone, to commission someone, to heal someone, to transfer guilt to the sacrifice, to transfer blessing.


5.  Resurrection of the dead.  This was a big fad in the Christian church in the 60’s.  One book listed 88 reasons why Jesus would return in 1988.  Jesus did not read the book.  The author got rich.  This is a foundational topic but not to be a lifetime focus.  Grow up.  Chew on some meat.  Put some variety in your diet.


6. The eternal judgment.  There is a judgment to come which transcends all other judgments.  There is no time associated with this judgment.  It comes when time has ended. If we believe in Jesus and follow in His ways He will be our advocate when we stand before God.


6:3  And this we shall do with God’s help.  The writer is commanding us to allow the wind of the Spirit to direct our lives to maturity.  Commit your life totally to God and let His Spirit lead you into all truth.  Enter into the Sabbath rest.  Go on to perfection.  Enter the Promised Land.


In the last few weeks we have seen that we have a great High Priest.  We are living in a Sabbath rest.  We have a safe harbor.  We have a Canaan land to enter and possess.


In this chapter we are reminded that we have a hope.  This hope we have is an anchor of the soul.  If you are not happy with your spiritual life, get a bigger hope anchor.  Hope involves a growing relationship with God.  Our hope is tied to the Solid Rock.  Hope is both a noun and a verb.


Peter says we have been born again unto a living hope. (1P 1:3)  Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you a reason of the hope that is in you. (1P 3:15)  Our hope is laid up in heaven (Col 1:5) and Christ in us is the hope of glory. (Col 1:27)\,


6:4-5 give us a summary of the Christian maturing process.  Every person coming into the world is enlightened.  This is the first of 6 steps to maturity.  There is a light that enlightens (1) every man that comes into the world.  The theologians call it prevenient grace.  You were born with a hunger that only God can satisfy.  There is a universal desire in man to know God.


Some people ignore God’s light in their heart.  Others reject the light.  Some taste (2) and enjoy the heavenly gift.  The gift of God is eternal life to all that believe on Jesus as Lord.  Jesus is the bread of life, the living water and the light of the world that satisfies man’s hunger for God.  This phrase “tasted of the heavenly gift” is another way of saying you have become a Christian.


The next step is being made partakers (3) of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus promised to send another Comforter that would abide with us forever.  The Holy Spirit works within us to manifest Himself in us as a sanctifying Spirit.


The next step is tasting (4) the good word of God, the promises of God.  Christians are expected to grow up and feed themselves on the Word.  There is honey in the rock.  Maturing Christians eat some ‘killer’ bread.


Besides feeding on the word of God and enjoying the taste of the word, maturing Christians will also see the power (5) of God working in their lives.  They will see evidence that all things are working together for good.  They will be assured that God is on the throne.  They will see evidence that Jesus is Lord of all.  He truly is the King of kings and Lord of lords.


6:6-8 “For in the case of those who have” been mature Christians and have known all the benefits and “have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them to repentance.”  It sounds like, if you are a Christian and you fall out of fellowship with God it is impossible for you to have that relationship restored.  It sounds like God cannot or will not forgive you.


But this is not the end of the sentence.  There are 2 present active participles that follow:  crucifying and shaming.  The writer says it is impossible to be forgiven while you are sinning.  As long as you are growing thorns and thistles in your life, you will be cursed by God.  God cannot bless you if you have chosen to use your life for immoral purposes.  It is impossible to renew again to repentance those who have fallen away, while they are still crucifying the Son of God afresh for themselves and while they are still exposing Him to disrepute and shame.  These people may have been Christians.  They have tasted the good rain, but they chose to give their lives to things that will burn in the judgment.


If a man is stranded on an island and he is offered one means of transport to the mainland, but he rejects that means of transport there is no other way that he can reach the mainland.  There is only one name whereby we can be saved.  If we reject Jesus, it is impossible to reach heaven.


6:9-12 “But beloved we are convinced of better things concerning you.”  The good news is that we do not have to be cursed by God.  We know the promises of God are still valid today.


The last phrase in 12 ties back to verse 6 with a present active participle.  While the wicked are crucifying and shaming Christ, the righteous are inheriting the promises.  We have the promises.  Our hope is built on the promises of God.  The promises are currently being inherited.  If we believe God and have patience, we can be inheriting the promises today.


This is the only place in the whole letter where the writer calls his readers beloved (vs 9) or friends.  Right after his sternest warning he expresses love.  They were his friends.  He knew they were suffering persecution.  He knew they remembered the Temple.  There was a lack of joy.  All the works they were doing seemed to be doing no good.  The easiest thing to do would be to quit.


God has not forgotten your boldness and love (10) that you demonstrated in the past.  Neither has He closed His eyes to your current ministries to one another.   We must endure and run the race with patience.  We are following others who have set a good example and won the victory.  Those that endure to the end will be saved.  We are not walking a new road.  We are walking where the saints have gone before.


“We desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end” (6:11).  Hope is a product of diligence and patience.  The best cure for depression and disappointment is hope.  How do we renew our hope?  Honor God and give thanks.


6:13  We have the example of Abraham who waited over 30 years for a son of promise.  And after he had received that promise God made another promise to Abraham with an oath that something greater will come.  We grow from faith to faith; from hope to hope.


6:18 “We may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us.”  Because of sin we have fled to the cities of refuge waiting for the death of the high priest so we could be free.  Our Great High Priest has died for us.  We are free from the penalty and power of our sin.  No longer are we imprisoned in the city of refuge for our sin, but we can “lay hold of the hope set before us” in the death of Jesus.  By faith in Jesus we are released from the bondage of sin.


6:19 Hold onto Jesus.  He is the anchor of our soul.  We have an anchor.  An anchor is used to prevent shipwreck.  The word anchor does not occur in the OT and only here and Acts 27:29,40 in the NT.  It was a commonly used symbol of hope in the early church.  As the heavy iron anchor sinks into the great deep and fastens itself to the immovable rocks, so the Christian’s anchor of hope reaches upward to the Immovable Rock.


Christ is our anchor that cannot be moved or crushed.  The two adjectives here are sure and steadfast or safe and secure.  The words mean firm and uncrushable.  “We have an anchor that keeps the soul, steadfast and sure while the billows roll.  Fastened to the rock which cannot move, grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.”


Jesus is called a forerunner.  To understand this word forerunner, let me explain another use of the word anchor.  In ancient times there were great stones that were imbedded in the ground along the shore where the boats would tie up.  But often because of adverse winds the larger boats were not able to reach the harbor by means of their own sails.  They would send a small boat with a forerunner ashore with a strong rope which he fastened to one of these stones known as ancoria.  Then the ship could be pulled into the harbor.


The forerunner was the boat or the man in it that went ahead with the rope.  The large stone in the harbor was called the anchor.


The Christian’s hope finds its anchor within the harbor.  It reaches within the veil of the temple, to the solid rock, the very throne of God, the Rock Christ Jesus.  By faith and patience we can hold on and make our way into the presence of God.


Christ is our forerunner.  He sits at the right hand of God with His hand on the anchor rope.


This was a new thought to the Jews.  The high priest entered the holy of holies on behalf of the children of God, but no other priests could follow.  Our Great High Priest has entered God’s presence with the full intention for us to follow.  He tore the veil in two.  He has gone ahead that we may follow in His steps.  We can enter the holy of holies by faith in Jesus.


Our hope should be tied to the leg of God’s throne.  Hold on.  Keep on holding on.  God is faithful.  His promises are true.  He has the power to bring your ship into a safe harbor.


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