Summary: Moving on to better things.
THE ASSURANCE OF HOPE
We saw last week that the writer to the Hebrews concludes that those who are inclined to fall away are NIGH unto cursing (Hebrews 6:8); but he emphasises to the recipients of his letter that “we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak” (Hebrews 6:9). After all, he continues, “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of LOVE, which you have shown toward His name” (Hebrews 6:10a).
This is not to suggest that suddenly we are back in the realm of salvation by works, but rather to give encouragement to those who show that they love God by ministering to their brothers and sisters in Christ (Hebrews 6:10b). We need not be afraid of the idea of reward, because Jesus promises it (Matthew 10:42). So, ‘let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works’ (Hebrews 10:24).
As well as love, Hope and Faith also find a place in this passage (Hebrews 6:10-12; cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3). The writer encourages his readers to “show the same diligence” towards nurturing “the assurance of HOPE unto the end” (Hebrews 6:11) as they had already shown in their work and labour of love toward God’s name, in that they have ministered to the saints (Hebrews 6:10). Thus they would not be sluggish, but “imitators of those who through FAITH and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:12).
The example that the writer here turns to is that of Father Abraham (Hebrews 6:13-14). God made a promise to Abraham, and swore by Himself (Genesis 22:16), that ‘in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply you’ (Genesis 22:17). Through all the ups and downs of his life, Abraham held on to that promise, trusting in the faithfulness of God (cf. Hebrews 10:23), until at last, “having patiently endured (he) obtained the promise” (Hebrews 6:15).
Perhaps we are familiar with the idea of oaths among men (Hebrews 6:16) when, with their hand upon the Bible, men swear by One greater than themselves that they will tell ‘the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth: so help me God’. When the unchangeable God adds an oath “by Himself” (Hebrews 6:13) to His already reliable promise, He adds nothing to it, but in His gracious condescension demonstrates “unto the heirs of the promise the immutability of His counsel” (Hebrews 6:17).
These are the “two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18a): His promise AND His oath. And all this is for a purpose: that we “might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us” (Hebrews 6:18b). We are reminded of the cities of refuge in the Holy Land back in Old Testament days.
“Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters into that within the veil” (Hebrews 6:19). Ultimately it is JESUS who has entered “behind the veil” into the heavenly Holy of Holies. He goes ‘to prepare a place for us’; if it were not so He would have told us (John 14:2-3). Our hope is based entirely in Him: His life, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, His coming again to receive us to Himself.
As a man, He is our representative (Hebrews 9:24), our “forerunner” (Hebrews 6:20a), our “high priest” (Hebrews 6:20b); ‘ever interceding on our behalf’ (Romans 8:34). What better grounds for Blessed Assurance! Amen.