BELOVED WE ARE
CONVINCED OF BETTER
THINGS CONCERNING YOU: de peri humon agaphetoi Pepeismetha (1PRPI) ta kreissona
peri humon: (Heb 6:4-6,10,
10:34,39, Php 1:6,7, 1Th 1:3,4 \)
But beloved - This description is
very interesting. For one thing, this is the only used of agapetos (27)
in Hebrews. Beloved is never used in the NT to describe
all 60 uses - the first 9 referring to the Son)!
The contrast word "but" signals a marked change in tone as the writer
addresses the readers as beloved rather than in the case of those
who (see note
The severity of the previous warning passage is further balanced in this
section by an exhortation
to be diligent and an encouragement of a sure hope in Hebrews 6:9-20.
As A W Pink once wrote...
I cannot really love a brother with the Gospel love which is required of
me, unless I have a well-grounded persuasion that he is a brother.
Vincent writes that in the previous verse...
The field of thorns and thistles is burned over and abandoned to barrenness.
But the writer refuses to believe that his readers will incur such a
We come now to the concluding section of this analytical unit. We will need
to remind ourselves again of the historical background and analysis of the
book, and the purpose of the author in writing it. He was writing to the
visible professing Church made up of saved and unsaved. There is no greeting
to the saints like we find in most of the epistles. The concern of the
writer is with those of his unsaved Jewish readers who under stress of
persecution were in danger of renouncing their professed faith in Messiah
and returning to the abrogated sacrifices of the First Testament. These he
repeatedly warns against this act, and repeatedly exhorts to go on to faith
in the New Testament sacrifice, Messiah. The fact that he urges them on to
faith, shows that they merely made a profession and were not saved. After
issuing this solemn warning in Hebrews 5:11-6:8, he addresses the saved among his
readers and uses them as an example to urge the unsaved on to the act of
Having issued this warning, the pastor’s heart of the writer expresses
reassurance and encouragement in Hebrews 6:9-12. Though some among them
deserve his sobering caution, nevertheless he does not see them all in this
dangerous state. It is clear that he sincerely believes that the larger part
of his readers are truly saved and only need exhortation to diligence and
patience. Their works of love and support to other believers strongly
testify to their genuine faith, for as James declares, a faith that does not
result in works is dead! (see note
Hebrews 6:11 - note)
states again the truth found
everywhere in Scripture: The only reliable sign of regeneration is a faith
that does not fail and continues to the end of life. (Ed note: Such
perseverance does not merit or earn the person's salvation but does show the
genuineness of their conversion). It may at times falter
and grow dim as it faces various trials and pressures, but it cannot be
wholly abandoned, for Jesus has promised, “I give them eternal life, and
they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand” (Jn 10:28).
(Hebrews 6:9-12 Good Works Proves Faith Is
This is the only passage in the whole letter where the writer addresses his
people as beloved. Furthermore in this section the writer is clearly
speaking to them as believers which contrast with the way he began to
present the severe warning of Hebrews 6:4-8 addressing them as
those who. As was noted in the discussion of Hebrews 6:4-6 (see
there is a definite distinction being made by the author.
John MacArthur observes that now the writer of Hebrews -
Now he is speaking of things that accompany salvation, whereas in the
previous part of the chapter he had been talking only about things
concerning revelation. Both of these things—the use of “beloved” and the
discussion of salvation conditions—indicate the writer’s change of audience.
The previous topics—intellectual enlightenment about God’s word, tasting
God’s gifts and His Spirit, and so forth—accompany revelation, not
salvation. They are meant, of course, to help lead to salvation, but they do
not do so apart from faith in Jesus Christ.
John: Hebrews. Moody Press
means to come to a settled persuasion concerning some truth or fact and so
to be persuaded, convinced. Peitho suggests that a conclusion has
been reached on reasonable ground. The writer’s observation of what God had
done among the beloved in particular, and his reflections on the ways
of God in general, led him to form this judgment. He was entirely convinced
of the truth of what he said and he thus uses the language of a man who had
no doubt on the subject.
Peitho is in the
meaning “I have come to a settled conviction” (and still hold that
conviction). It expresses the writer's
confidence in a once for all completed work of salvation with present
ongoing results or effects of that salvation. What a contrast with preceding
desolate picture. The writer's confidence is based in part on his
their past and continuing behaviour and partly on the justice of God.
= strong, which denotes power in
activity and effect) serves as the comparative degree of
agathos, “good” (good or fair,
intrinsically). Kreitton/kreisson means more useful, more profitable
more advantageous, greater, superior; greater advantage.
On the 19 NT uses of Better, 12 are in Hebrews. Better than
what? Better than falling away and being compared to a field the
vegetation of which is burned. He assures them that he is persuaded better
things of them than those of falling away and crucifying the Son of God. He
also is persuaded that things that accompany salvation are true of them.
Note that writer switches pronouns from "in the case of those", "them",
"themselves" back to YOU.
Better is a
in Hebrews. This repetition of "better"
demonstrates beyond all doubt to the Jewish reader that the New is
better than the Old system. Study the uses below. What is better?
You will need to read the surrounding context to answer this question.
Hebrews - A "Better"
Uses of "Better"
Hebrews 1:4 (note)
having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a
more excellent name than they.
Hebrews 6:9 (note)
But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and
things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.
Hebrews 7:19 (note)
(for the Law made nothing perfect), and on the other hand there is a
bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.
Hebrews 7:22 (note)
so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better
Hebrews 8:6 (note)
But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, by as much as He is also
the mediator of a better covenant, which has been enacted on better
Hebrews 9:23 (note)
Therefore it was necessary for the copies of the things in the heavens to be
cleansed with these, but the heavenly things themselves with better
sacrifices than these.
Hebrews 10:34 (note)
For you showed sympathy to the prisoners, and accepted joyfully the seizure
of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better
possession and an abiding one.
Hebrews 11:4 (note)
By faith Abel offered to God a
better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony
that he was righteous, God testifying about his gifts, and through faith,
though he is dead, he still speaks.
Hebrews 11:16 (note)
But as it is, they desire a better country, that is a heavenly one.
Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God; for He has prepared a
city for them.
Hebrews 11:35 (note)
Women received back their dead
by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, in
order that they might obtain a better resurrection;
Hebrews 11:40 (note)
because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from
us they should not be made perfect.
Hebrews 12:24 (note)
and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood,
which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
F B Hole (Biographical
Note) writes that...
In verse 9 the writer hastens to assure
the Hebrews, to whom he wrote, that in saying these things he was not
throwing doubt upon the reality of all them, nor even upon the most of them.
The opposite to this was the fact. He stood in doubt of a minority
evidently, but he was assured of the reality of the mass. He discerned in
them features which gave him this assurance. He calls them "things which
There are then certain things which act as a kind of hallmark upon our
Christianity. The hallmark upon a silver article does not make it silver,
but it gives us an official guarantee that it is silver. It assures us of
its genuineness. What then are these things which assure us of the
genuineness of Christians — things which so definitely accompany salvation
that if they be present we know that salvation also is present? This
question is answered in verse 10. And the answer is — they are many little
acts which reveal genuine love for the saints.
Some of us may feel inclined to exclaim: — "How extraordinary! I should have
thought that great acts of faith, great exploits of devotion to God would
better have revealed reality than that." In so saying, or thinking we should
be wrong. Under stress of emotion or sudden enthusiasm great acts are
sometimes accomplished which are no true index to the heart. It is in these
little things that we reveal our true selves far more truly. Ministering to
the saints, who are the people of God, they showed their love toward God
It is one thing to minister to a saint because I happen to like him or her,
and quite another to minister to a saint just as a saint; and it is this
latter which is spoken about here. The former is a thing which might be done
by an unconverted person; the latter is only possible to one who possesses
the divine nature. Now this is just the point here. The things that
accompany salvation are the things which manifest the divine nature; and
things which therefore prove the reality of faith, in a way that the
possession of miraculous powers or the outward privileges of Christianity
THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION THOUGH WE ARE SPEAKING IN THIS WAY: kai echomena (PMPNPA) soterias
ei kai houtos laloumen (1PPAI):
(Heb 2:3, 5:9 Isaiah 57:15, Mt 5:3-12, Mk 16:16, Ac 11:18, 20:21, 2Co 7:10,
Ga 5:6,22,23 Titus 2:11-12, 13-14 )
Things that accompany salvation - For example your work and love and
ministering (see next verse). The constant practice of the
ministering to the saints demonstrates that the Holy Spirit had produced
spiritual fruit in
their lives, and that they were genuinely born-again. Their lives showed
evidence of their saving faith, and the writers point is that the mere professing Hebrew should go on to that act.
(See study of faith that works -
James 2:14 ;
Accompany - The Greek word is literally "having" or "holding". This
was a common Greek idiom meaning to hold one’s self to a
person or thing; hence to be closely joined to it.
soter = Savior in turn from
sozo = save, rescue, deliver) (Click
here for in depth discussion of the related
sozo) describes the rescue or deliverance
from danger, destruction and peril. Salvation is a broader
term in Greek than we often think of in English. Other concepts that are
inherent in soteria include restoration to a state of safety,
soundness, health and well being as well as preservation from danger of
The idea of salvation is that
the power of God rescues people from the penalty of sin, which is spiritual
death which is followed by eternal separation from the presence of His
Glory. Salvation delivers the believer from the power of
discussion on Romans 6-8 beginning at
carried tremendous meaning in Paul’s day, the most basic being “deliverance,”
and it was applied to personal and national deliverance. The emperor was
looked on as a "savior" as was the physician who healed you of illness.
It is interesting that Collin's
(secular) dictionary defines "salvation" as
"the act of preserving or the state of
being preserved from harm...deliverance by redemption from the power of sin
and from the penalties ensuing from it."!
In short, this "so great a
salvation" is not just escape from the penalty of sin but includes
the ideas of safety, deliverance from slavery and preservation from danger
In addition, this "so great a
salvation" includes the idea of what is often referred to as the
Three Tenses of Salvation (justification =
past tense salvation = deliverance from sin's penalty, sanctification =
present tense salvation = deliverance from sin's power and glorification =
future tense salvation = deliverance from sin's presence). It follows that
the discerning student will
check the context to determine which of the
three "tenses" a given use of soteria is referring to.
Mankind has continually looked for
salvation of one kind or another. Greek philosophy had turned inward and
begun to focus on changing man’s inner life through moral reform and
self-discipline. The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus called his
lecture room “the hospital for sick souls.” Epicurus called his
teaching “the medicine of salvation.” Seneca taught that all men were
looking ad salutem (“toward salvation”) and that men are
overwhelmingly conscious of their weakness and insufficiency in necessary
things and that we therefore need “a hand let down to lift us up”. Seneca
was not far from the truth as Scripture testifies
(Jehovah speaking) Is My hand so short
that it cannot ransom? Or have I no power to deliver?...Behold, the LORD'S
hand is not so short that it cannot save...(Jeremiah speaking) 'Ah Lord GOD!
Behold, Thou hast made the heavens and the earth by Thy great power and by
Thine outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for Thee.' (Isaiah
50:2... Isaiah 59:1... Jeremiah 32:17)
through Christ is God’s powerful hand extended down to lost souls to lift
Though we are speaking this way - Seems to allude to the tone of
severe warning just given in the preceding verses.
John MacArthur has an interesting discussion of the things which
accompany salvation writing that...
Many things accompany salvation. The entire fifth and six chapters of Romans
are devoted to these accompaniments. But the particular ones mentioned in
this section of Hebrews are those that contrast with the accompaniments of
unbelief mentioned in Hebrews 5:11-6:5. For example, accompanying
salvation is not infancy but maturity, not milk but solid food, not
inexperience in righteousness but perfect righteousness, not repentance in
dead works but repentance toward God unto life. The accompaniments of
salvation are primarily positive, not negative.
They do not reflect external ceremonial religion but internal regeneration,
transformation, new life. Their significance comes not from repeated
sacrifices but from the one perfect and complete sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
They do not focus on the elementary truths of resurrection and judgment but
on the believer’s blessed hope, not just on being enlightened but on being
made new, not just on tasting salvation but feasting on it, not just
partaking of the Holy Spirit but having Him indwell, not just getting a
taste of God’s good word but of drinking and eating it, not just seeing
God’s miracles but being one. These are the things that accompany salvation.
John: Hebrews. Moody Press
Steven Cole has an excellent exposition of Hebrews 6:9-12...
Things That Accompany Salvation
The football team did poorly in the first half of the game and is getting
beaten badly. They come into the locker room and the coach chews them out:
“You guys are playing as if this is the first time you’ve ever played the
game! Jones, you missed a key block that allowed them to sack our
quarterback. Smith, you didn’t see that receiver that was wide open in the
end zone. We could have had an easy touchdown there. Williams, you weren’t
paying attention to the signals and jumped offside, costing us a penalty
that we couldn’t afford.”
But after a few minutes, the coach changes his focus: “I know that you guys
can do better! I’ve seen you play well. I know that you have it in you to go
out there in the second half and control the ball. You can win this game!
Let’s go do it!”
Our text reminds me of that kind of locker room pep talk. In 6:4-8, the
author has warned the Hebrew church about the danger of repudiating faith in
Christ and returning to Judaism. He is fearful that there may be some in the
flock who are in danger of doing that. But he knows that this is not true of
the majority. He also knows that some sensitive souls in the church may be
discouraged by his strong rebuke. He wants them to know that his words do
not come from anger, but from love and concern. So in 6:9, he changes his
focus from warning to encouragement. He addresses them as “beloved” (the
only time in Hebrews), and tells them, “We are convinced of better things
concerning you, that is, things that accompany salvation, though we are
speaking in this way.”
That statement implies, as I said last week, that the warning pertains to
those in the church who may not be genuinely saved. He hopes that the few
souls who may be tempted to turn from Christ will take the warning to heart.
But now he wants to encourage the majority to press on in endurance to
maturity. He doesn’t want these genuine believers to doubt their salvation,
but rather, to realize “the full assurance of hope until the end” (Hebrews
6:11). So he tells them that he-and even more importantly, God-sees the
evidence of genuine salvation in them. And he encourages them to press on
diligently in serving Christ, so that they will persevere in spite of any
persecution or hardship. The main idea here is that…
Genuine salvation is accompanied by diligent, faithful service to God’s
saints out of love for Him.
1. Genuine salvation is always accompanied by visible evidence.
In Hebrews 6:10, he mentions their work and the love which they had shown
toward the Lord’s name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the
saints. “Shown” points to something visible. He could see how their lives
had changed from living for themselves to now living to serve others. Their
salvation resulted in visible evidence. He refers to this same evidence
again in 10:32-34, where he specifies how in former days they had endured
public reproach, had showed sympathy to prisoners, and had joyfully accepted
the seizure of their property, knowing that they had a better and lasting
possession in heaven.
The point is, if you have faith in Christ, it will manifest itself in your
life. There will be other evidences than those listed here (1 John lists
many evidences of genuine faith), but there are always visible evidences of
the new birth just as there are unmistakable signs of life in a newborn
baby. As we saw (Hebrews 6:7-8), it may take a while to see whether the
ground that drinks in the rain bears thorns and thistles or a good crop. But
as Jesus’ parable of the sower shows, the good soil will yield a crop, “some
a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty” (Matt. 13:8). Genuine salvation
will result in a life of increasing fruitfulness and holiness. Our text
focuses on one such evidence of salvation:
2. A major evidence of genuine salvation is diligent, faithful service to
others out of love for Him.
Note three things in this regard:
A. Love for God stemming from His love for us is the primary motive for
all Christian service.
The author refers to “the love which you have shown toward His name, in
having ministered and in still ministering to the saints” (Hebrews 6:10).
The first and greatest commandment is, “You shall love the Lord your God
will all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matt.
22:37). It is the basis for the second greatest commandment, to love your
neighbor as yourself. Jesus commanded us to love one another as He has loved
us (John 13:34). The basis for loving God is to recognize that He first
loved us, even while we were yet sinners (see notes
5:8; 1 John 4:19).
Many Christian psychologists wrongly teach that you must learn to love
yourself before you can love God and others. But that is to pervert these
commandments! The second commandment assumes what we all know to be true,
that we all love ourselves quite well! Even the person who goes around
dumping on himself loves himself. He is completely self-focused. If he would
care about others as much as he focused on himself, he would begin to obey
the command. Even the suicidal person loves himself more than he loves
others. When he thinks about killing himself, he isn’t thinking about the
effect on others. He is only thinking of trying to escape his own problems,
even if it devastates his family or friends.
The author mentions the love which they had shown toward God’s name. His
name represents all that God is as revealed in His Word. It refers to His
holy attributes and His ways. To love His name is to have a passion for His
glory, to see God exalted to His true place of honor over every creature.
Loving God and His name is the basis for all that we do in service for Him.
John MacArthur (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary, Hebrews [Moody
Press], p. 155) points out, “When Jesus recommissioned Peter, He did not ask
him if he loved men and, if so, then to go out and serve them. He asked
Peter three times, ‘Do you love Me?’ After each of Peter’s affirmative
replies, Jesus commanded him to feed His sheep (John 21:15-17).” MacArthur
concludes, “We can never love men, saved or unsaved, lovable or unlovable,
until we properly love Christ.”
Why does the author begin Hebrews 6:10 by saying, “For God is not unjust so
as to forget your work …”? I think that one reason is that these people had
suffered early in their Christian lives, and now they’re facing the prospect
of more suffering. At such times, Satan tries to undermine our love for God
by whispering, “You trusted in Christ and look where it got you! You’ve had
nothing but problems. Is that how this loving God takes care of you?” He
wants you to start thinking that either God is unjust or else He has
forgotten you. So the author says, “God is not unjust and He has not
for-gotten you.” He goes on to set their focus on the certain hope of
inheriting God’s promises (see notes
Take a moment to apply this to your heart. Perhaps trials or hardships have
caused you to doubt God’s love. Maybe the trial is other Christians who have
disappointed you. The church has not been all that you thought that it
should be. Believers have criticized you when you were simply trying to
serve the Lord. The enemy has come in and gotten you to think either that
God is unjust or that He has forgotten what you have done for Him. If you
buy into that line of thinking, pretty soon you’ll be having a pity party,
you’ll cut yourself off from other believers because of your hurt feelings,
and Satan will have you right where he wants you to be! You’ve got to come
back to love for the Lord and His name as the motivation for everything
B. To love others is one way to show love for Him.
These Hebrew believers had ministered and were still ministering to the
saints, but the author says that this service reflected their love for the
The Russian author, Leo Tolstoy (Twenty-Three Tales, online illustrates this
in a story titled, “Where Love is, God is.” It is about an old Russian
cobbler who has lost his wife and all of his children. He is bitter and
lonely, wanting to die. A traveling monk stops by to visit him and after
hearing his story, tells him that he must not question God’s ways. God has a
purpose for his life. His despair is the result of living for himself. He
must learn to live for God. He tells the old cobbler to read the Gospels to
learn how to live for God.
The old man does so and is transformed. He becomes content and at peace.
Every night he pores over the gospels. One night, he falls asleep reading in
Luke 7 about the Pharisee who did not welcome Jesus to his home. Suddenly,
whether in a dream or what the old man doesn’t know, he hears a voice
calling his name: “Martin, Martin, look out in the street tomorrow for I
The next day, he keeps watch out of his window as he works. He sees an old
man that he knows, invites him in and gives him some tea. He tells the man
about Christ’s mercy as he had been reading in the gospels. The old man
listened with tears running down his cheeks and left thanking him for his
A while later, Martin saw outside a woman dressed in shabby summer clothes,
trying to keep her crying baby warm. He invited her in to sit by the fire.
She was destitute and had pawned her shawl the day before to get something
to eat. He fed her, gave her an old coat to wrap around her baby, and gave
her the money to get her shawl out of pawn.
Later, he saw a poor woman with a basket of apples for sale. A boy tried to
steal one, but she caught him by the hair and was threatening to take him to
the police. Martin went outside, calmed her down, and got the boy to ask
forgiveness and the woman to forgive. He told them both Jesus’ parable about
the master who forgave the servant an incredibly large debt, only to have
the servant go out and mistreat a fellow servant who owed him a slight
amount. After listening, the woman picked up her heavy load to go, but the
boy offered to carry it for her, so they went off together.
It was evening now. Martin went inside, lit his lamp, and opened his Bible.
He had intended to read where he had left off, but the Bible fell open to
another place. Before he read, he heard a voice call out, “Martin, it is I.”
He looked up and saw the old man and then he vanished. This was repeated
with the woman and her baby, and with the woman selling apples and the boy.
Then he read, “I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was
thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you
invited Me in.…” At the bottom of the page, he read, “To the extent that you
did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it
to Me” (Matt. 25:35, 40). Tolstoy concludes, “And Martin understood that his
dream had come true; and that the Savior had really come to him that day,
and he had welcomed him.”
Thus love for God stemming from His love for us is the primary motive for
all Christian service. To love others is one way to show love for Him.
C. Love for others is work that requires diligence, faithfulness, and
Love is not spontaneous and effortless. The author calls it “work,” and
exhorts them to continue showing the same diligence. He doesn’t want them to
grow sluggish or lazy, but through faith and patience, to become imitators
of those who inherit the promises. It’s as Paul writes (Gal. 6:9-10),
Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do
not grow weary. So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all
people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.
The Christian life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. The reward comes at the
end of the race. We need to commit to the long haul and fight the natural
laziness that we’re all prone to. Let’s face it, it’s almost always
inconvenient to show love to others. But love isn’t an optional character
trait for those so inclined! It is the primary Christian virtue.
We hear a lot today about burnout, and I do not mean to be overly
simplistic. But a lot of burnout stems from the fact that we have not
maintained our devotion to Jesus Christ. If we let other things crowd out
time alone with God in His Word and in prayer, and if we do not think often
on His great love as shown to us at the cross, the work of loving others
will soon drain us. Ministry is having your cup full to the brim of God’s
love and then slopping over on others. When you let your cup go dry, you
We’ve seen that genuine salvation is always accompanied by visible evidence
and that a major evidence is diligent, faithful service to others out of
love for God.
3. Diligent, faithful service to others out of love for God will
strengthen your assurance of salvation.
While there may have been a few apostates in the church, the author is
confident that the majority are saved because he has seen the evidence in
their lives in their ministry to the saints. Then (Hebrews
6:11) he shares his
desire that each of them continue with the same diligence and adds, “so as
to realize the full assurance of hope until the end.” Full assurance of hope
is tied in with diligent service, especially practical deeds of love towards
fellow believers. As John states,
“We know that we have passed out of death
into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14; see also 15-20).
The bedrock of Christian assurance is that God has promised eternal life to
those that believe in Jesus Christ, and you know that you have trusted in
Him. But, how do you know if your faith is genuine, saving faith? Since the
apostates had what seemed to be many evidences of salvation (see notes
6:5), and yet
were not truly saved, how can you know that your faith is the real thing?
The biblical answer is, your life should reflect the reality of what God has
done in your heart. As John also states (1 John 2:3),
“By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His
The more that you see God’s working through you, the greater will be your
who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus”
In Hebrews 6:7, the author uses the analogy of ground that drinks in the
rain. If it brings forth vegetation useful to those who tilled it, it
receives a blessing from God. In other words, fruitfulness is the result of
salvation. But when you are fruitful, God adds further blessing, a fuller
salvation (Alexander Maclaren develops this point in Expositions of Holy
Scripture [Baker], Hebrews, pp. 364-366). As 6:10 implies, God will reward
your service for Him, and one reward is “the full assurance of hope until
the end.” Persevering in good deeds is not the cause of why God keeps you,
but it is the evidence of it. That evidence strengthens your assurance.
But diligence is hard to maintain and laziness is easy to fall into. So how
do we keep running the race when we feel like drop-ping out?
4. One key to diligent, faithful service to God is to imitate those who
through faith and patience inherit the promises.
The author is referring to the Old Testament saints. He goes on to use
Abraham as an illustration of a man who patiently waited in faith and
obtained God’s promise (6:15). He will expand this list in chapter 11. All
of these heroes of the faith, plus those in the New Testament, are there so
that we can learn from them and imitate their faith. Both Jesus and Paul
told their followers to learn from and imitate them (Matt. 10:29; John
13:15; 1 Cor. 4:16; 11:1;
Philippians 4:9 [note];
1Thessalonians 1:6 [note];
1Thessalonians 2:14 [note];
2 Timothy 3:10 [note];
2 Timothy 3:11 [note]).
I’ve often said, only half-joking, that child-rearing is easy, because kids
follow your example. So all you have to do is live a godly life before them!
We are to imitate those who by faith and patience inherit the promises. As
Hebrews 11 makes clear, most of the Old Testament saints died in faith
without realizing the promises in their lifetimes (see note
Hebrews 11:39). This means, as
Paul puts it, that if “we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of
all men most to be pitied” (1Cor. 15:19). God’s promises are fulfilled in
eternity. That’s where faith comes into play. Will we trust God to keep His
promises, even if in this life we are despised, rejected, and destitute?
Will we endure hardship as good soldiers of Jesus Christ, knowing that He
will reward us far beyond any sacrifices that we make here below?
Two applications: First, read and study the biographies in the Bible. There
are also some biographical novels of biblical characters. Last summer as we
drove on our vacation, Marla and I read aloud through Francine Rivers’
account of Bathsheba, which had some interesting insights. But before you
read books like that, study the biblical account, so that you know when the
author is speculating and when he or she is relating fact. Learn both the
positive and negative lessons from the saints in the Bible.
Second, read Christian biographies. I’ve benefited greatly from reading
dozens of biographies of pastors and missionaries. I am always reading a
biography, along with other types of books. Currently, I’m reading The
Journals of Jim Eliot. When that’s done, a biography of Augustine is
waiting. Good biographies do not just extol all the amazing things that
these spiritual giants accomplished. They also tell you their struggles and
failures, so that you can learn from their mistakes. You see how they
responded to situations that often are not much different than what you
face. Sometimes the differences in time period or culture will help you
think about is-sues in our culture that you may have been blind to. I have a
bibliography of Christian biographies available.
Note that our text contains the three cardinal Christian virtues, faith
(6:12), hope (6:11), and love (6:10). Those who are genuinely saved will be
growing in these three areas, and so they are good yardsticks to measure
your life by. Are you living by faith in God’s promises in your daily life?
If you are, you will know God’s promises (through Scripture memory), and you
will be praying those promises back to God, claiming by faith what He has
promised in His Word.
Are you growing in hope? Biblical hope is not uncertain, as when we say, “I
hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow.” Biblical hope is certain, but not yet
realized. It is an attitude that is the opposite of discouragement and
depression. The person who hopes in God is buoyed up by the promise of
Jesus’ coming, and that the future will be glorious for all of those who
love God and are called according to His purpose. As Paul prays (see note
Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so
that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Are you growing in love? Do you love God more and more, cherishing His Word?
Do you love His people, difficult as they may be at times? Plug in the marks
of love from 1 Corinthians 13 (see notes
1Corinthians 13:4ff) and ask, “Do I love my immediate family
members in this way?” Do you love the lost enough to give your money and
time so that they can hear the good news, that Christ came into this world
to save sinners? None of these graces are automatic. You must cultivate them
daily through the spiritual disciplines. These are the things that accompany
Some say that if you make assurance depend in any way on works, you
undermine all assurance. What does the Bible say?
Why is the motive (love for God) vital in Christian service? What can happen
if you have other motives?
Some would say that if love requires effort and is not spontaneous, it is
not genuine. Why is this false?
Why is “learning to love yourself” a fundamentally anti-biblical concept?
What does the Bible say we should think about our-selves (see notes
2:4; Prov. 3:7). (Hebrews
6:9-12 Things That Accompany Salvation)