Hebrews 6 - InterVarsity Large Group - A Warning And A Promise
Before we look at Hebrews 6 I would like to begin by referencing Acts 11:19-24. At this time the Jewish believers were being persecuted and this caused them to scatter out to other areas. These exiles took the gospel as far away as Cyprus and Antioch. Some of them began to preach to the Hellenists and they believed upon the LORD Jesus Christ. Something like this had never happened before!
When the church in Jerusalem heard what had happened they sent a man named Barnabas to investigate. Why was Barnabas chosen to go and investigate this situation? The first reason is described in Acts 11:24 as ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and of faith’.
He was a good man who was able to discern these things wisely.
He was full of the Holy Spirit and able to minister by the Spirit of God with discernment.
He was full of faith and able to act and speak appropriately in any situation.
Secondly, in Acts 9 Barnabas introduces Paul to the other apostles for the very first time. The apostles were afraid of Paul and did not want to see him because he had violently persecuted the church, but Barnabas reassured the apostles that Paul had been saved and that he now loved the church.
Because of these two things it should not surprise us that the Church in Jerusalem would send him to go and investigate this situation. Barnabas knew what to look for in these situations and he could rightly discern between true grace in a believer and a counterfeit grace in an unbeliever.
In Acts 11:23 we read, “When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose…’.
We are told that Barnabas “saw the grace of God, was glad…”. A good man, who is full of the Holy Spirit, and who is full of faith, will be glad when they encounter the grace of God in others. It does not matter if it is seen in the young or old, male or female, it does not matter what nationality they might be, or what their past might be like. A man like Barnabas rejoices to see the grace of God in others.
But notice also that Barnabas will also exhort them and give them a charge. He ‘exhorts them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose’. (23)
What is meant by ‘remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose’? Other translators say,
‘remain true to the Lord with all their hearts’,
‘abide in the Lord with resolute purpose of heart’,
‘with purpose of heart that they would cleave to the Lord’.
Barnabas sees that the grace of God is in these Christians. He sees that they love Jesus Christ, that they are repenting of their sins, that they treasure the Word of God, that they have rejected idolatry, that they have abandoned their former way of life. He sees that they have bowed their hearts down to the Lord Jesus Christ and they are not looking to Rome, or the Law, or to Moses for salvation.
He is overjoyed about these things; but he also exhorts them by saying remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose, remain true to Christ, and to cleave to the Lord Jesus Christ. He knows that these knew believers will need to do this if they are to hold on to their profession of hope to the very end.
I wanted to share this with you as we come to Hebrews 6 so that we can see several parallels between these two texts. We will make four observations about Hebrews 6:1-20 tonight.
First, the author of Hebrews is a good men, filled with the Holy Spirit and full of faith.
Secondly, these believers are struggling to remain true to Christ so they are exhorted strongly to not fall away from the Lord. (1-8)
Thirdly, the author is convinced that many of these believers have received the grace of God and that they will not abandon the Lord. (9-20)
The author of this letter invites them to be patient and steadfast to inherit the promise
The Author of Hebrews, like Barnabas, Was A Good Man, Full Of The Holy Spirit And Faith
There is much debate about who wrote this letter. However, we can know one thing for sure, like Barnabas, the author was a man who was good, full of the Holy Spirit, and faith. As a result, we know that such a man will speak differently than we are used to hearing. He can rejoice in the grace of God that he sees in others and also exhort them strongly if needed to remain steadfast in Christ.
The faithless may desire a comforting word, but a faithful man will give a strong exhortation.
The faithless may desire an ear tickling word, but a faithful man will give a strong warning.
Because of this, we should respond to this passage with faith and not with paralyzing fear. Let this author, who is full of the Holy Spirit and faith, speak plainly and powerfully for our own good. The author’s words make us tremble but it is for our own good. The puritan John Bunyan said that there are many ways to respond improperly to these passages that make us tremble but there is