Therefore let us move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ and be taken forward to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about cleansing rites, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so. Hebrews 6:1-3
In chapter 5:12, the writer of Hebrews chastises his readers saying, “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!”
The purpose of “The Letter to the Hebrews” was to demonstrate the superiority of faith in Messiah and salvation by grace as opposed to the keeping of the Mosaic Laws. Again, He exhorts the Hebrew Christians to strive towards spiritual maturity and to move beyond the elementary teachings about Christ.
The first of these six basic teachings of the New Testament begin with the foundational doctrine of repentance from dead works. Even among these converted Jews there was a struggle because they had believed that keeping God’s laws was the only means of maintaining a right standing with God. They relied on the sacrificial system and strict law keeping to somehow pay for past sins and justify themselves to God. Later in the book of Hebrews the Jewish Christians were reminded that temple rituals had had their purposes, but that “the blood of Christ” was the only way to “cleanse your conscience from dead works” (Hebrews 9:14). Animal sacrifices could never forgive sin or cleanse one’s conscience.
Through him you believe in God, who raised him from the dead and glorified him, and so your faith and hope are in God. 1 Peter 1:21
The second teaching concerns faith in God. The Jews believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but the acceptance of “One God in Three Persons” was foreign to them.
A stumbling block for Jews concerning belief in the Trinity is a misunderstanding of the “Shema.” Shema means “Hear O” and is taken from the first two words of Deuteronomy 6:4 – “Hear O Israel, the LORD is our God, the LORD is One” (Shema Yisrael Adonai eloheinu Adonai ehad).
The Shema is an affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God. An observant Jew is obligated to say Shema in the morning and at night according to Deuteronomy 6:7 – Impress them (the commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
The Hebrew language has two words that can be translated “ONE”: echad and yachid. Whereas yachid (yah-keed) refers to the number one (i.e., absolute unity), echad (ek-kawd) refers to a composite unity. An example of this is in the book of Genesis chapter 2 and verse 24, where it says that a couple joined together in marriage shall become one flesh (baw-sawr echad). The one flesh is comprised of man and woman – a composite unity.
In Numbers 13 the twelve spies returned from Canaan – And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes….One cluster (eshkowl echad) of grapes is a composite unity of many grapes.
In Judges 20 verse 8 it reads: And all the people arose as one man, saying, “We will not any of us go to his tent, neither will we any of us turn into his house” One man is ‘iysh echad in Hebrew. All the people – the many soldiers from the other eleven tribes were as one in purpose to fight against the tribe of Benjamin. As one man but many people – another example of echad meaning a composite unity,
Yehovah is one – Yehovah is echad. There is only one true God, but He is a composite unity of one God in three persons
The third foundational principle is instruction about cleansing rituals also translated as baptisms. The regulations concerning ceremonial cleansing were outward washings so that a person would be ritually clean in order to enter into the temple in Jerusalem and participate in the sacrificial system.
For from within the hearts of men come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, debauchery, envy, slander, arrogance, and foolishness. All these evils come from within, and these are what defile a man.”… Mark 7:21-22
As believers in Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah (the Christ) we know that it is what is in a man that makes him unclean. Ritual washings only concern the cleansing of the flesh, not the heart.
He is to lay his hand on the goat’s head and slaughter it at the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered before the LORD. It is a sin offering. Leviticus 4:24
The laying on of hands is the fourth principle that the author of Hebrews addresses which is no longer necessary under the New Covenant. When each Jew offered up an animal sacrifice, he laid his hands on the head of the substitutionary animal in a symbolic transfer, confessing his sins. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would lay his hands on the scapegoat in a symbolic transfer of the sins of the nation of Israel.
The fifth element refers to the resurrection from the dead. The Jews, with the exception of the Sadducees, believed in the resurrection from the dead according to the prophet Daniel.
Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Daniel 12:2
The foundational principle in Christianity that the Hebrew believers needed to understand more fully is the critical significance of Jesus’ resurrection.
who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, Roman 1:4
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ the firstfruits; then at His coming, those who belong to Him. 1 Corinthians 15:22-23
Jesus proved He was the Messiah and the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. We who are born-again by the Spirit who raised Christ from the dead are assured of our resurrection to eternal life as well.
The last of the basic principles is the doctrine of eternal judgment. Eternal judgment encompasses both judgment for degree of eternal reward for the believer and judgment for degree of eternal punishment for the unrighteous. While those who have rejected God’s gracious gift of eternal life through the substitutionary sacrifice of His Son, will be sentenced at the White Throne Judgment.
For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. 2 Corinthians 5:10
The righteous will appear before the judgment seat of Christ.
For no one can lay a foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, or straw, his workmanship will be evident, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will prove the quality of each man’s work.
If what he has built survives, he will receive a reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss. He himself will be saved, but only as one being snatched from the fire. 1 Corinthians 3:11-14
The believer’s rewards are based upon the quality of his works. When a believer’s intentions are out of pure motives by considering the needs of others, desiring to share the gospel and to disciple others in the faith, his works will be acceptable in the eyes of God.
If his works are revealed to be worthless because his motives were impure and his works were done out of selfish ambition and vain conceit, he will suffer the loss of rewards but not his salvation.
The unrighteous must face the White Throne Judgment.
Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 20:11-15
Among the books that were opened (the words and deeds of each individual) as well as the Old and New Testament, was the Book of Life. There will be some at the White Throne judgment who will be spared from the Lake of Fire. The second resurrection, for the most part, will unite disembodied, spiritually dead souls with transformed immortal bodies. They will be ushered into the presence of God to be judged for degree of punishment. They have been resurrected to life (spiritually alive/no longer separated from God), only to be cast from his presence for eternity. They will suffer the second death as they are cast into the Lake of Fire. They will go from the glory of his presence to eternal separation and great torment.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Hebrews 6:4-6
Judas was among the twelve disciples when Jesus gave them to authority to drive out impure spirits and to heal every disease and sickness (Matthew 10:1).
These twelve Jesus sent out with the following instructions: “Do not go among the Gentiles or enter any town of the Samaritans. Go rather to the lost sheep of Israel. As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give. Matthew 10:5-8
Judas spent over three years with Jesus. He listened to Jesus’ sermons and he witnessed many miracles that Jesus performed. Judas tasted the goodness of the word of God and even tasted of the heavenly gift of the Holy Spirit who empowered him to heal the sick and cast out demons. Yet, Judas betrayed the Lord.
Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” Matthew 26:34
Peter denied the Lord three times, but repented as was restored to an intimate relationship with Christ. Judas had fallen away. He was not brought back to repentance and hung himself.
Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to Thessalonica… 2 Timothy 4:9-10a
Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15
The Apostle Paul writes to Timothy stating he was abandoned by Demas because he loved the world. If Demas did not love the Father, Demas was not saved.
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:18-19
Just because a person studies God’s word, fellowships with believers, and is aware of the message of the gospel, doesn’t necessarily mean that they are born-again children of God.
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. Hebrews 6:7-8
The work of the Holy Spirit through the gospel of Christ is a work on the human heart intended to cause its recipients to bring forth fruit. Thorns and thistles were a result of sin and of God’s curse on the ground (Genesis 3:18). The writer of Hebrews warns that those who do not produce fruit in keeping with repentance (Matthew 3:8), are in danger of hell fire.
But, beloved, we are persuaded of better things for you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this. Hebrews 6:9
The writer addresses the believing Hebrews, as “beloved.” They are loved by the Lord, not because they are the descendants of Abraham, but as the elect of God. They have been called by grace and chosen in Christ unto salvation. They were beloved by him, not merely as being his countrymen, but as fellow saints.
The previous warnings and admonishments to the Hebrew believers in this letter were to alert them not to stumble. The case for the supremacy of Christ above Moses and the high priest Aaron made it evident that they should not be tempted to return to the ceremonial law and offer up sacrifices for sin.
God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. Hebrews 6:10-12
God is just and true. He remembers how the Hebrew saints out of their love for him have been charitable and ministered to God’s people.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
The Hebrews are encouraged to remain steadfast in their labors of love. They must be patient and remain faithful as were their forefathers who awaited the settlement of the Promised Land and the coming of the Messiah. What they must wait patiently for is the promise of the return of Christ in spite of persecution for their faith.
When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.” And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised. Hebrews 6:13-15
When God made this promise, Abraham believed it, despite being quite old and his wife having attained the age of menopause. Abraham, after 15 years of waiting for the promise, was visited by God who assured him that the promise would be fulfilled in due time. It took another 10 years when Abraham was 100 years old for Sarah to give birth to their son who was named Isaac.
Abraham lived 175 years. He lived seventy-five years after Isaac’s birth and thirty-eight years after Sarah’s death. Keturah was the woman whom Abraham, the patriarch of the Israelites, married after the death of his wife, Sarah. Keturah bore Abraham six sons. After awaiting 25 years for the birth of Isaac, he awaited another 37 years to have his first son with Keturah.
People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope set before us may be greatly encouraged. Hebrews 6:16-18
God is uniquely supreme and holy and there is no one that is superior to Him. Since there was no one greater to swear by, He swore by himself and confirmed his promise to Abraham with an oath. God bound himself by his oath in his covenant promises to Abraham
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where our forerunner, Jesus, has entered on our behalf. He has become a high priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek. Hebrews 6:19-20
Here are two illustrations that are beautifully combined to encourage believers of their secure and firm hope. For the non-believer, the word hope means that something desired may or may not come to pass. But for the child of God, hope is the confident expectation that God will perform His word and work all things for our good and His glory (Romans 8:28).
The soul is the ship and the world is the sea. The distant coast is heaven. The hope resting on faith is the anchor which prevents the vessel being tossed to and fro. The encouraging consolation through the promise and oath of God is the cable connecting the ship and the anchor.
The world is the outer court of the temple, while the Holy of Holies represents heaven. Christ is the High Priest who has gone before us. So, through Him the veil was rent and now we can enter into the Most Holy Place.