A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 16: IMMUTABILITY OF GOD’S PROMISE
Hebrews 6:9 - 20
Just like contemporary Christians, the Hebrew Christians needed encouragement and exhortation to endure and “hope to the end”. After believing in Christ, they had suffered great persecutions (Hebrews 10:32-39) and some of them were in danger of turning back from Christ. The Apostle warned them of the danger of unbelief and backsliding. In the first few verses of this chapter he also warned them of the terrible fate of apostates, that is, of those who fall away completely from the faith. Now he gives us exhortation to steadfastness and diligence.
Believers need both warning and encouragement. Warning alone may close our eyes to the reality of God’s grace and power to keep us till the end. It may drive us to relying on our own insufficient strength. On the other hand, encouragement alone may lead us to taking God and His promises for granted to the point that we think we are doing God a favour by remaining in the faith. The faithful preacher must maintain a balance between warning and encouragement. There is no question about the faithfulness of God. The question is how much faith do we have in God.
FOLLOWING CHRIST STEADFASTLY WITH PATIENCE
Hebrews 6:9-12; Philippians 1:6,7; 1 Thessalonians 1:3,4; Philippians 1:9-11; 1 Thessalonians 4:9,10; 2 Peter 1:5-11; 3:14; Hebrews 12:1,2; 13:7.
There is no doubt that the people being addressed in this epistle were Christians. The writer addressed them as “beloved” (Hebrews 6:9). Not wanting them to be drowned in the fear of backsliding and falling away, he said “we are persuaded better things of you and things that accompany salvation. THOUGH WE THUS SPEAK” (Hebrews 6:9). He had written to them of the danger of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19; 4:1,11) and the damnation of apostates who fall away and cannot be renewed again to repentance (Hebrews 6:4-6), now he shows that he believed they were saved and that they would inherit the blessings that accompany salvation.
The Apostle further showed that these Hebrews were not mere religious Jews, but truly converted Christians. He spoke about their “labour of love” (Hebrews 6:1), their “assurance of hope” (Hebrews 6:11) and “faith” (Hebrews 6:12). These three qualities - love, hope and faith (1 Thessalonians 1:3) - make us know, without any doubt, that they were saved.
Yet these believers must “not be slothful” but “show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope UNTO THE END” and follow the examples of faith and patience in order to “inherit the promises”. Spiritual sloth and laziness is dangerous in the believer’s life. If we neglect our spiritual lives and follow the path of no endurance, no more denying of self and bearing our cross, we may lose all the spiritual experiences and virtues which we obtained from the Lord. Let us be diligent and prayerful, following and obeying the Lord in all things at all times.
FOUNDATION OF GOD’S PROMISES
Hebrews 6:13-15; Genesis 12:1-3; 22:16-18; Exodus 32:13; Psalm 105:9-11; Romans 4:17-21; Isaiah 45:23-25; Micah 7:18-20; Luke 7:18-20; Luke 1:73-75.
The promises of God are not based on our unstable feelings and emotions but on the faithfulness of God who “cannot lie” (Hebrews 6:18; Titus 1:2). Who can we trust? Not Satan, who is “the father of lies”. Not men in our society who make lying the norms of human behaviour. Who can we trust? The only One who can be trusted without reservation is God. Why? Because it is “impossible for God to lie” (Hebrews 6:18). This holy nature of God is the foundation for our faith in the promises of God.
God’s promise to Abraham was confirmed by an oath. Abraham knew that God could not fail. He had God’s word of promise, and he knew that He must keep it. He believed and waited patiently until the promises were fulfilled. We know that God cannot fail. Let us believe and wait patiently until the promises are fulfilled.
FAITHFULNESS TO HIS PEOPLE
Hebrews 6:16-20; 2 Timothy 2:13; Isaiah 55:11; Psalm 33:11,12; Isaiah 54:10; Jeremiah 33:20-22; Malachi 3:6; Matthew 24:35.
God has given us the guarantee of His faithfulness. All angels and redeemed men in all generations confirm that God is always faithful. He cannot deny Himself; He cannot deny His Word. What He has promised, He will do. There are two immutable (unchangeable) things revealed in Hebrews 6:18 - God’s promise and His oath. They are without any possibility of change or variance. We can flee for refuge in Christ and “lay hold upon hope” in Christ, which is a “sure and steadfast” “anchor of the soul”. He is faithful, He cannot fail.
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