Study On The Book Of Hebrews

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Hebrews 10:1-18 The Superior Sacrifice


The tenth chapter of Hebrews emphasizes the perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ, in contrast with the imperfect sacrifices that were under the Old Covenant. Our Lord’s superior priesthood belongs to a better order – Melchizedek’s and not Aaron’s. It functions on the basis of a better covenant – the New Covenant – and in a better sanctuary, in heaven. But all this depends on the better sacrifice, which is the theme of this chapter.

The need for a better sacrifice (vv. 1-4): Sin, of course, is man’s greatest problem. It has been said well that, “We are not sinners because of sin. We sin because we are sinners.” So, why were the Old Covenant sacrifices inferior? After all, they were ordained by the Lord; and they were in force for hundreds of years. The very nature of the Old Covenant sacrifice made them inferior. The Law was only “a shadow of good things to come” and not the reality itself. The sacrificial system was a type or picture of the work our Lord would accomplish on the cross. This meant that the system was temporary, and therefore could accomplish nothing permanent. The very repetition of the sacrifices day after day, and the Day of Atonement year after year, pointed out the entire system’s weakness.

The provision of the better sacrifice (vv. 5-9): It was God who provided the sacrifice and not man! The verses in Psalm 40:6-8 makes it clear that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Covenant sacrifices. Each of the offerings typified the sacrifice of Christ and revealed some aspect of His word on the cross (see Lev. 1-7). Twice in these verses (see Heb. 10:6, 8) the writer stated that God “had no pleasure” in Old Covenant sacrifices. This does not suggest that the old sacrifices were wrong, or that sincere worshipers received no benefit from obeying God’s Law. It only means that God had no delight in sacrifices as such, apart from the obedient hearts of the worshipers. No amount of sacrifice could substitute for obedience. Jesus came to do the Father’s will. This will is the New Covenant that has replaced the Old Covenant. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus Christ has taken away the first covenant and established the second.

The effectiveness of the better sacrifice (v. 10): Believers have been set apart (“sanctified”) by the offering of Christ’s body once for all. No Old Covenant sacrifice could do that. An Old Covenant worshiper had to be purified from ceremonial defilement repeatedly. But a New Covenant saint is set apart finally and completely.

Christ’s sacrifice need not be repeated (vv. 11-18): Again the writer contrasted the Old Covenant high priest with Jesus Christ, our Great High Priest. The fact that Jesus sat down after He ascended to the Father is proof that His work was completed. The ministry of the priests in the tabernacle and temple was never done and never different: they offered the same sacrifices day after day. This constant repetition was proof that their sacrifices did not take away sins. What tens of thousands of animal sacrifices could not accomplish, Jesus accomplished with one sacrifice forever!

The phrase “sat down” refers us again to Psalm 110:1. Christ is in the place of exaltation and victory. When He returns, He shall overcome every enemy and establish His righteous kingdom. Those who have trusted Him need not fear, for they have been “perfected forever” (v. 14). Believers are complete in Him (Col. 2:10). We have a perfect standing before God because of the finished work of Jesus Christ. How do we know personally that we have this perfect standing before God? Because of the witness of the Holy Spirit through the Word (vv. 15-18). The witness of the Spirit is based on the work of the Son and is given through the words of Scripture. The New Covenant believer can say that his/her sins and iniquities are remembered no more. There is “no more offering for sin” (v. 18) and no more remembrance of sin!

Hebrews 10:1-18 Reflection Questions:

How does it make you feel knowing what Jesus did on the cross for you?

Do you have complete trust in what Jesus did or are you trying to earn your way to redemption?

Knowing what Christ has done, how free do you feel and what are going to do with that freedom?

Hebrews 9:15-28 Covenant and Blood


The Old Testament system, which provides the prefigurement for Christ’s sacrifice, was a gory affair indeed. During the thousand-plus years of the old covenant, there were more than a million animal sacrifices. So considering that each bull’s sacrifice spilled a gallon or two of blood, and each goat a quart, the old covenant truly rested on a sea of blood. Why the perpetual sea of blood? For one main reason – to teach that sin demands the shedding of blood. It demonstrates that sin both brings and demands death. Steaming blood provided the sign – even the smell – of the old covenant. Thus, the devout worshiper of the old covenant came with a definite awareness, first, that sin requires death – second, that such a sacrifice required a spirit of repentance – third, that he was pleading the mercy of God – and, fourth, in some cases, that a great sin-bearer was coming.

Of course, the old covenant system was flawed in that, by design, it could only deal with sins of ignorance and could never completely clear one’s conscience. But then came Jesus with the new covenant in His own blood – a superior blood sacrifice that completely atoned for sins and completely cleared the conscience. Jesus was no uncomprehending, unwilling animal, but rather a perfect God-man who consciously set His will to atone for our sins. He is therefore a superior Savior and priest. With this being understood, the logic of verse 15 and the following verses becomes clear.

The job of mediator is to arbitrate in order to bring two parties together; here, the Holy God and sinful humanity. As the Father’s mediator, it is Christ’s job to bridge the vast gulf and obtain entrance for us into God’s holy presence. His sacrifice is the medium of arbitration, because His shed blood is both retroactive and proactive in bringing forgiveness for sins. The point in verses 16-17 is that Christ’s death activated His incredibly rich will – a fact alluded to by Paul in 2 Corinthians 8:9. Think of the benefits we enjoy because of Christ’s death: forgiveness, a clear conscience, peace, purpose, and ultimately eternal life in Heaven! All this is impossible apart from His death. And it is all activated by His death.

The writer wants his readers to understand that the old covenant law was initiated with a pronounced spilling of sacrificial blood that prefigured Christ’s blood in initiating the new covenant. The noun “blood” is used six times in verses 18-22. The old covenant sailed on a sea of blood, for two fast reasons. First, to emphasize the seriousness of sin; the Bible takes sin seriously, more than any other religious scripture. Sin alienates one from God; sin is rooted in the hearts of humanity. Sin cannot be vindicated by any self-help program. Sin leads to death – and it will not be denied. The second reason is the costliness of forgiveness; death is the payment. It will either be Christ’s life or our life!

Having demonstrated the importance of blood/death in the old covenant, the writer now describes the surpassing effect of Christ’s sacrifice in establishing the new covenant. He begins by stating that the better sacrifice of Christ brings better purity (v. 23). Next, the writer expresses that Jesus’ blood grants us a better representation before the Father (v. 24), and as a further evidence of the superiority of Jesus’ shed blood is its efficacy (vv. 25-28a). Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient and thus needed no repeating. He is our constant priest, but this in no way suggests that He is perpetually offering Himself. The sacrifice was so monumental and efficacious that it could only be once-for-all. His blood is totally sufficient. The sufficiency of Christ’s atoning death is the centerpiece of our salvation.

Finally Christ’s blood gives us a better hope that He “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him” (v. 28b). Here we have a brilliant fresh perspective on the return of Christ. Our Lord Jesus entered the heavenly sanctuary “to appear in the presence of God on our behalf” (v. 24), and He “will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for Him” (v. 28). Hallelujah! – He is coming again as both King and Priest. The blood of Christ may be a stumbling block to a lost world. But for the heart that knows the depth of its sin and its lostness, the metaphor of the sea of blood is sweet because it means Jesus gave His life for us.

Hebrews 9:15-28 Reflection Questions:

What were your thoughts of the “sea of blood” before this study? Was it disgusting or is it sweet because of what it represented?

What stands out for you in this study?

Hebrews 9:1-14 Covenant and Conscience


The writer of Hebrews begins his telling comparison between the saving powers of the old and new covenants with a brief summary in verses 1-5 of the layout and furnishings of the wilderness tabernacle, which he concludes by saying, “Of these things we cannot now speak in detail” (v. 5). Indeed, there was no real need to discuss them in detail because his Jewish readers were well acquainted with the desert sanctuary and its regulations for worship.

The inadequacy of the Old Covenant (vv. 6-10): The old system was inadequate for two reasons – its limited access and its limited efficacy. Just how restricted the access was, is seen in the experience of the official hereditary priesthood as verse 6 describes it. If they were fortunate, they got to go into the outer room once in their priestly lives for a week. The Israelite layperson’s access was even less – the front of the courtyard, and that’s all! If one was fortunate enough to attain high priest, one could have access for a blessed (and tense!) minutes at best. On the Day of Atonement, when the high priest took his censer in to first burn incense in God’s presence, it was prescribed that he must not stay too long “lest he put Israel in terror.” The people waited with bated breath, so that when he came out from the presence alive, there went up a sigh of relief. In verses 7-8 the point is crystal-clear: throughout the ages of the old covenant, there was no direct access to God, period!

But as inadequate as the access to God under the old system was, it was exceeded by its limited efficacy. The blood sacrifice that the high priest offered only covered sins of ignorance (v. 7). There was no provision in the old covenant’s sacrificial system for forgiveness of premeditated sins! Premeditated, willful sins were called sins of the “high hand,” and for such there was no remedy (see Num. 15:30-31).The spiritual limitations of the old system went even deeper, because since only sins of ignorance were forgiven no one could have a completely clear conscience (vv. 9-10). So the limitations of the old covenant were profound – limited access and limited efficacy.  The average Joes were several ecclesiastical layers removed from access to God’s presence – and their consciences never rested easy.

The adequacy of the New Covenant (vv. 11-14): Christ’s unrestricted access is dramatically stated in verses 11-12. Christ came having given His own precious blood once and for all, and then He sat down at the right hand of the Father – never more to leave. Everything foreshadowed by the earthly tabernacle is fulfilled in His priesthood in ways beyond description. But there is even more, for the unlimited access is crowned with unlimited efficacy as Christ makes consciences clean. To make this point, the author reiterates the limited nature of the old system in verse 13. Considering that the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer had that much effect described in Numbers 19:1-13, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God” (v. 14). There is deep glorious forgiveness in the new covenant, and it is available to all! What more can we ask for than forgiveness of our sins and a clear conscience? We have exactly that in Christ!

Hebrews 9:1-14 Reflection Questions:

What type of priest was Zechariah in Luke 1:5-25?

How does the old covenant point to Christ?

What type of sins were committed by the high priest and Jewish leaders that convicted Jesus to death?

Hebrews 8:1-13 Christ’s Surpassing Priesthood and Covenant


The study of the Word of God, especially lofty passages in Revelation or Ezekiel or Hebrews, sometimes makes us feel like we are traveling on the wings of angels. Certainly John’s Revelation was given to expand our minds and quicken our heartbeats to the glories we will experience. As we continue to consider the surpassing glory of the Christ’s heavenly priesthood, let us imagine what it must have been like when the Lamb of God ascended to take His seat at the right hand of the Father as our eternal High Priest. This is what the writer of Hebrews wants us to see and take to heart at this point in the letter (vv. 1-2). The precise point here is that Christ’s priestly session in Heaven is transcendentally supreme and superior to the old earthly priesthood of Aaron.

Apart from its unspeakable glory, the supremacy of His priesthood is seen in that Jesus is seated at the right hand of the Father. His posture points to His completed work. It is the physical expression of His triumphant cry from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30). Because in His person He brought finite man and infinite God together, He could then do what no one else could – He could bear all our sins in a single cosmic sacrifice.

Jesus’ footwashing service here on earth was not an aberration of the Incarnation. Serving is part of His divine being. Think of it! Jesus, our eternal Priest who sits at the Father’s right hand in ineffable glory enthroned on emerald atop a crystal sea amongst the adoration of millions, serves in our behalf! “God serves me”! It is a ludicrous expression but true. Take a deep breath, swallow your disbelief, and humbly believe it. Jesus’ prayers are placed in your service and mine. There are no lapses, no disaffections, no uneven devotion – only a loving constancy of intercession – serving, serving, serving… The writer goes on to further demonstrate the surpassing nature of Christ’s priesthood by pointing to its superior reality and substance (vv. 3-5).

Our author’s logic moves from Christ’s superior session, through His superior reality, and now to His superior covenant and ministry. He introduces the subject of the new covenant by pronouncing the old covenant flawed (vv. 6-8). The old covenant was flawed, not in what was spelled out in the Law’s requirements, for the Law was good, but in that it was “weakened by the flesh” of the people (Rom. 8:3), because “the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s Law; indeed, it cannot” (Rom. 8:7-8). Because of this, it could not deliver on its wonderful promises. But the new covenant was founded on “better promises,” both because of their extent and because of the covenant’s ability to bring them to fulfillment in the lives of sinful humanity. This new covenant was to prove superior in every way, because it was founded on “better promises” (v. 6).

So what are these promises? First of all, the new covenant promises superior inwardness (v. 10a). The problem with the old covenant was, it was patently external. Its laws were written on stone. They provided no internal power to live them out. To be sure, there was (and is) great benefit in memorizing God’s Word, but the writing on the heart was beyond the power of unaided man. Something far more radical was needed – a spiritual heart operation.

Next, the new covenant promises a superior relationship (v. 10b). This is perfectly fulfilled in all who partake of the new covenant, in which believers actually become God’s possession and possess God. There is a tender, truer relationship of heart to heart, spirit to spirit – so that “I will be their God, and they shall be My people” is true in a deeper, more soul-satisfying way than those on the outside can imagine.

Superior inwardness and superior relationship are followed by a superior knowledge (v. 11). The old covenant was corporately entered into by a nation, including many who did not know God personally. But those who experience the new covenant come one by one as they are born into a relationship with God. Jesus defined eternal life by saying, “And this is eternal life, that they know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3). God’s command “Know the Lord” is meant to allure men and women, boys and girls toward life. For those on the inside, personal knowledge will make them ache for more.

Finally, there is the promise of superior forgiveness in the new covenant (v. 12). This is precisely what the old covenant could not do. Under the old covenant, sins were never completely forgiven because they were never truly forgotten. They were covered, awaiting and pointing to the forgiveness through Christ’s death. Forgiveness is the most important of the qualities we have discussed, for it is the basis of the other three. Here forgiveness is tied to memory. God never forgets anything. In fact, He cannot forget unless He wills to do so. Any sin He remembers must be punished because He is holy. The new covenant brings total forgiveness! God does not just forget our sins. It is impossible for God to remember them!

Hebrews 8:1-13 Reflection Questions:

Do you know God personally? Do you ache for more of God?

Why is important that we forgive “those who sin against us”?

How are the above promises accomplished?

Hebrews 7:26-28 The Superiority Of Melchizedek


So far we have seen that Christ is a superior priest because of God’s oath and because of the permanence of Christ’s priesthood. No matter how devoted and obedient the Aaronic priests were, they could not always meet the needs of all the people. But Jesus Christ perfectly meets all our needs. Being perfect, He is able to exercise a perfect ministry for His people. Because of their sins, some of the Old Testament priests not only were unable to serve the people, but actually abused them. This could never happen with Jesus Christ and His people.

Old Testament priests were “set apart” for their ministry, so in that sense they were “holy.” But they were not always holy in character. They were sinners like the people to whom they ministered. The word “harmless” (v. 26) means “blameless.” No Jewish priest could claim this distinction. “Undefiled” means “unstained.” Again only Jesus Christ can claim these characteristics. When He was ministering on earth, our Lord was a friend of publicans and sinners (Matt. 9:10; 11:19), but His contact with them did not defile His character or His conduct. There was contact without contamination. He was not isolated, He was separated. Today, He is “separate from sinners” because of His position (“made higher than the heavens”); but He is not separate from the people to whom He ministers. He is always available to us at His throne of grace.

Another proof of His sinlessness is the fact that our Lord never had to offer sacrifices for His own cleansing, as did the priests. On the annual Day of Atonement, the high priest first had to sacrifice for himself before he could sacrifice for the people (Lev. 16). There were also daily sacrifices offered as a part of the temple ritual; and if a priest had sinned, he had to bring a sacrifice for his own cleansing. But Jesus Christ offered just one sacrifice for our sins and settled the matter forever (9:23-28).

This is the kind of priest we need! We are prone to sin daily, even hourly; and we need to be able to turn to Him for spiritual help. As our High Priest, Jesus Christ gives us the grace and mercy that we need not to sin. But if we do sin, He is our Advocate at God’s throne (1 John 2:1-2). If we confess our sins to Him, He forgives us and restores us (1 John 1:9).

The application is obvious: why turn away from such an adequate High Priest? What more can you find in any other person? The men who served under the Law of Moses had human infirmities and weaknesses, and they often failed. Our heavenly High Priest has been “consecrated [perfectly] forevermore” (v. 28) and there is no spot or blemish in Him. Such a High Priest “suits us perfectly”!

Hebrews 7:26-28 Reflection Questions:

When you are out in the world, does your character and conduct model that of Christ’s? Do you stand out?

Are you availing yourself of Jesus’ gracious ministry? What is your need? Bring it to Him in prayer today!

Hebrews 7:11-25 The Sufficiency of Melchizedek


With these verses the writer took his argument one step further. Not only is Melchizedek greater than Aaron, but Melchizedek has replaced Aaron. It is no longer “the order of Aaron” or “the order of Levi.” It is forever “the order of Melchizedek.” Why would God effect such a radical change?

Because both the priesthood and the Law were imperfect (vv. 11-14): The words translated “perfect” and “perfection” are key words in this epistle. They essentially mean “completed, fulfilled.” The Old Testament priests could not by their ministry complete the work of God in the heart of a worshiper. The animal sacrifices could not give any worshiper a perfect standing before God. The Mosaic system of divine Law was not a permanent system. It was “added” to serve as a “schoolmaster” to prepare the way for the coming of Christ (Gal. 3:19-4:7). The new arrangement does not suggest that a Christian has the right to be lawless. “Free from the Law” does not mean “free to sin.” Rather it means that we are free to do the will of God. We obey, not because of outward compulsion, but because of inward constraint. The indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to fulfill the “righteousness of the Law” as we yield to Him (Rom. 8:1-4).

Because, being imperfect, the priesthood and the Law could not continue forever (vv. 15-19): The word “another” in verse 15 means “another of a different kind.” The Levitical priests were made priests by the authority of a temporary and imperfect Law. Jesus Christ was made Priest by a declaration of God. Because the Law was “weak and useless (v. 18), it could not continue forever. But because Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God, He lives by “the power of an endless life” (v. 16). What a contrast between the profitless Law and an endless life. The writer kept in mind the temptation his readers were facing to go back into the old temple system. This is why he reminded them (v. 19) that Jesus Christ has accomplished what the Law could never accomplish: He brought in a better hope, and He enables us to draw near to God. To go back to Judaism would mean losing the enjoyment of their fellowship with God through Christ. The only hope Judaism had was the coming to Christ, and that blessing these believers already had.

Because God’s oath cannot be broken (vv. 20-22): No priest in the order of Aaron was ever ordained and established on the basis of God’s personal oath. The important thing was that a priest belonged to the right tribe and met the right physical and ceremonial requirements (Lev. 21:16-24). Jesus Christ’s heavenly priesthood was established on the basis of His work on the cross, His character, and the oath of God (v. 21). Note the introduction of the statement: “The Lord swore and will not repent [change His mind].” The matter is finally settled and it cannot be changed. The writer has given these three reasons why God changed the order of the priesthood from that of Aaron to that of Melchizedek. Then the writer of this letter to the Hebrews closed this section with a fourth.

Because, being men, the priests died (vv. 23-25): Not only was the priesthood imperfect, but it was also interrupted by death. There many high priests because no one priest could live forever. In contrast, the church has one High Priest, Jesus the Son of God, who lives forever. An unchanging priest means an unchanging priesthood, and this means security and confidence for God’s people. The fact that the unchanging Christ continues as High Priest means, logically, that there is an “unchangeable priesthood” (v. 24). The Greek word translated “unchangeable” carries the idea of “valid and unalterable.” The word was used at the end of legal contracts. Our Lord’s priesthood in heaven is “valid and unalterable.” Because it is, we can have confidence in the midst of this shaking, changing world. The conclusion of the matter is in verse 25. The fact is that Christ saves completely, forever, for all who put their faith in Him. Because He is our High Priest forever, He can save forever.

Hebrews 7:11-25 Reflection Questions:

How do you yield to Jesus through the Holy Spirit?

Are you fellowshipping with God daily?

Hebrews 7:1-10 The Mystery of Melchizedek


When I was much younger (which was a long time ago) I used to love watching the old Sherlock Holmes movies with Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. I would always try to solve the mystery before the end of the movie (which I wasn’t very successful at). The one thing I did learn is to never overlook any character in the story, even the most incidental. If you were asked to name the most important people in the Old Testament, I doubt that Melchizedek’s name would be on your list. He appeared once in Genesis 14:17-24; and he was referred to once more in Psalm 110:4. You could hardly call this “top billing.” But the Holy Spirit reached back into the Old Testament and used those two passages to present a most important truth: the priesthood of Jesus Christ is superior to that of Aaron because “the order of Melchizedek” is superior to “the order of Levi.”

The record of the event of Melchizedek and Abraham is in Genesis 14:17-24, so take the time to read it. The writer of Hebrews wanted us to note several facts about this mysterious man: He was both king and priest (v. 1), Aaron never had that privilege. It’s important to note that Melchizedek was not a “counterfeit” priest: he was the “priest of the Most High God” (Gen. 14:18 & 22). His ministry was legitimate.

His name is significant (v. 2b).In the Bible, names and their meanings are often important. The name of Melchizedek is “king of peace” as well as “king of righteousness.” “Righteousness” and “peace” are often found together in Scripture. True peace can be experienced only on the basis of righteousness. If we want to enjoy “peace with God” we must be “justified [declared righteous] by faith” (Rom. 5:1). Man cannot produce righteousness by keeping the Old Testament Law (Gal. 2:21). It’s only through the work of Jesus Christ on the cross that righteousness and peace could have “kissed each other.”

He received tithes from Abraham (v. 2a). This important fact is explained in verses 4-10. The word “tithe” means one tenth.” Under Jewish Law, the Jews were commanded to give God one tenth of their crops, herds, and flocks (Lev. 27:30-32). Tithing, however, did not originate with Moses. Abraham practiced tithing long before the Law was given. In fact, archeologists have discovered that other nations also tithed in that day.

His family history is different (v. 3). Melchizedek was a man, so he had to of had parents. But there is no record of his genealogy in the Old Testament; and this is significant because most great persons in the Old Testament have their ancestry identified. It was especially important that the priests be able to prove their ancestry. Melchizedek was not an angel or a superhuman creature; nor was he an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ. He was a real man, a real king, and a real priest in a real city. But as far as the record is concerned, he was not born, nor did he die. In this way, he is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the eternal Son of God. Though Jesus Christ did die, Calvary was not the end; He arose from the dead and today lives in “the power of an endless life (v. 16). The application is clear: neither Aaron nor any of his descendants could claim to be “without genealogy” (v. 3). They could not claim to have and endless ministry or claim to be both kings and priests like Jesus Christ.

He had authority to receive tithes and to bless Abraham (vv. 4-10). The greatness of Melchizedek is seen in the fact that Abraham gave tithes from the loot of a miniwar. Abraham acknowledged the authority of Melchizedek. Furthermore, Melchizedek blessed Abraham in a special way; and “the less is blessed by the better” (v. 7). In giving Melchizedek tithes and in receiving his blessing, Abraham affirmed the greatness of this king-priest. But how does this relate to Aaron? In an interesting way: Aaron and the tribe of Levi were “in the loins” of Abraham, yet unborn. So, when their father, Abraham acknowledged the greatness of Melchizedek, the tribe of Levi was also involved. The paying of the tithes involved not just the patriarch Abraham, but also the unborn generations in his loins. Since Jesus Christ came “of the seed of Abraham” (Heb. 2:16), does this mean that He too was a part of this experience? No, because Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God. His identification with Abraham was for “the days of His flesh” (Heb. 5:7). Since Christ existed before Abraham (John 8:58), He could not have been “in Abraham” as were Aaron and his family.

Hebrews 7:1-10 Reflection Question:

What are some O. T. and N.T. examples of using “peace and righteousness” together?

Hebrews 6:13-20 The Basis for Spiritual Security


No one should misinterpret his exhortation to spiritual maturity; the writer ended this section with a tremendous argument for the assurance of salvation. All of us Christians are not making the spiritual progress we should, but we need never fear that God will condemn us. The writer gave three arguments for the certain salvation of true believers.

Gods promise (vv. 13-15): God’s main promise to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 22:16-17. In spite of Abraham’s failures and sins, God kept His promise and Isaac was born. Many of God’s promises do not depend on our character but on His faithfulness. The phrase “patiently endured” (v. 15) is the exact opposite of “slothful” (Heb. 6:12). The readers of this letter were about to give up; their endurance was running out. We Christians today have more of God’s promises than did Abraham! So what’s keeping us from making spiritual progress?…We don’t apply ourselves by faith. To use the illustration of the farm, the farmer does not reap a harvest by sitting on the porch looking at the seed. He must get busy and plow, plant, weed, cultivate, and perhaps water the soil. The believer who neglects church fellowship, ignores their Bible, and forgets to pray is not going to reap much of a harvest.

God’s oath (vv. 16-18): God not only gave Abraham a promise, but He also confirmed that promise with an oath. God did not do this only for Abraham. He has also given His promise and oath to “heirs of promise” (v. 17). Abraham and his descendants are the first of these heirs (see Heb. 11:9), but all believers are included as “Abraham’s (spiritual) seed” (Gal. 3:29). So our assurance of salvation is guaranteed by God’s promise and God’s oath, the “two unchangeable things” (v. 18). We have great encouragement concerning the hope set before us! Hebrews is a book of encouragement, not discouragement! The phrase “fled for refuge” (v. 18) suggests the Old Testament “cities of refuge” described in Numbers 13:9 and Joshua 20. We have fled to Jesus Christ, and He is our eternal refuge. As our High Priest, He will never die; and we have eternal salvation. No avenger can touch us, because He has already died and arisen from the dead.

God’s Son (vv. 19-20): Our hope in Christ is like an anchor for our soul. The anchor was a popular symbol in the early church. However a spiritual anchor is different from material anchors on ships. For one thing, we are anchored upward – to heaven – not downward. We are anchored, not to stand still, but to move ahead! Our anchor is “sure” – it cannot break – and “steadfast” – it cannot slip. No earthly anchor can give that kind of security! The writer then clinches the argument: this Savior is our “forerunner” who has gone ahead to heaven so that we may one day follow (v. 20)! Jesus Christ is “within the veil” as our High Priest. We can therefore come boldly to His throne and receive all the help that we need. But we must not be “secret saints.” We must be willing to identify with Christ in His rejection and go “without the camp, bearing His reproach” (Heb. 13:13). The Hebrew believers who received this letter were tempted to compromise to avoid that reproach. However, if we live “within the veil,” we shall have no trouble going “without the camp.”

Don’t miss the lesson of the past three studies: believers must go on to maturity, and God has made it possible for us to do so. If we start to drift from the Word, then we will also start to doubt the Word. Before long, we will get dull toward the Word and become lazy believers. The best way to keep from drifting is – to lay hold of the anchor! Anchored heavenward! How much more can you be?

Hebrews 6:13-20 Reflection Questions:

Are you progressing to spiritual maturity?

In what ways will you expand on your “spiritual maturity” journey?

Hebrews 6:1-12 The Call to Spiritual Maturity


No one can escape coming into the world as a baby because that is the only way to get here. But it is tragic when a baby fails to mature. No matter how much parents and grandparents love to hold and cuddle a baby, it is their great desire that the baby grows up and enjoy a full life as a mature adult. God has the same desire for His children. That is why He calls to us, “be taken forward to maturity!” (v. 1).

It is a call to spiritual progress (vv. 1-3). If we are going to make progress, we have to leave the childhood things behind and go forward in spiritual growth. This means you don’t keep learning the basics. You use the basics to go on to better things. God enables us to progress as we yield to Him, receive His Word, and act on it. It’s normal for Christians to grow; it’s abnormal for them to have arrested growth. The writer lists six foundational truths of the Christian life. The first two items (repentance and faith) are Godward and mark the initiation of the spiritual life. The next two items (baptism and laying on of hands) have to do with a person’s relationship to the local assembly of believers. In the New Testament, a person who repented and trusted Jesus Christ was baptized and became a part of a local church (Acts 2:41-47). The last two items, the resurrection of the dead (Acts 24:14-15) and the final judgment (Acts 17:30-31), have to do with the future. The lesson of verses 1-3 is clear: You have laid the foundation. You know your ABC’s. Now go forward! Let God carry you along to maturity.

This progress does not affect salvation (vv. 4-6). These verses, along with the exhortation in Heb. 10:26-39, have given people cause for worry and concern, mainly because these verses have been misunderstood and misapplied. There are many verses in Scripture that assure the true believer that he can never be lost. In fact, one of the greatest arguments for security is the last section of this chapter! (Heb. 6:13-20; see also John 5:24; 10:26-30; and Rom. 8:28-39) Then what is the writer trying to say to us? It is probable that he is describing a hypothetical case to prove his point that a true believer cannot lose his salvation. Please keep in mind that the writer’s purpose was not to frighten the readers but to assure them.

This progress results in fruitfulness (vv. 7-10). This illustration of a field reminds us of our Lord’s Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:1-9, 18:23), as well as Paul’s teaching about the fire testing our works (1 Cor. 3:6-23). A field proves its worth by bearing fruit; and a true believer, as he makes spiritual progress, bears fruit for God’s glory. Note that the “thorns and briars” are burned, not the field. God never curses His own! Not every believer bears the same amount of fruit as proof that he is a child of God (Matt. 7:15-20). This is the fruit of Christian character and conduct (Gal. 5:22-26) produced by the Spirit as we mature in Christ. The writer listed some of the fruit that he knew had been produced in their lives: because of their love, they had worked and labored for the Lord; they had ministered to other saints; and they were still ministering. These are some of the things that accompany salvation. But he was concerned lest they rest on their achievements and not press on to full maturity and the enjoyment of God’s rich inheritance.

This progress demands diligent effort (vv. 11-12).While it is true that it is God who carries us along to maturity, it is also true that the believer must do his part. We must not be lazy but apply ourselves to the spiritual resources God has given us. We have the promises from God. We should exercise faith and patience and claim these for ourselves! Like Caleb and Joshua, we must believe God’s promise and want to go in and claim the land!

Hebrews 6:1-12 Reflection Questions:

Do a personal evaluation of your spiritual growth; are you progressing forward every year?

Hebrews 5:11-14 The Marks of Spiritual Immaturity


“We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised” (Heb 6:12). This verse summarizes the main message of this difficult (and often misunderstood) section of the epistle. Israel wanted to go back to Egypt; and, as a result, a whole generation failed to inherit what God had promised. They were safely delivered out of Egypt, but they never enjoyed the promised rest in Canaan. We believers today can make the same mistake. If you keep in mind that the emphasis in this section is on making spiritual progress, you will steer safely through misinterpretations that could create problems.

The writer is about to begin his explanation of the heavenly priesthood of Christ, but he is not sure his readers are ready for what he has to teach. The problem is not that he is a dull teacher, but that they are dull hearers! The word translated “dull” in Heb. 5:11 is translated “slothful” in Heb. 6:12. It refers to a condition of spiritual apathy and laziness that prevents spiritual development. What then, are the marks of spiritual immaturity?

Dullness toward the Word (v. 11): These believers started on their “backward journey” by drifting from the Word (Heb. 2:1-4), and then doubting the Word (Heb. 3:7-4:13). As a result, they were now “dull of hearing”; that is, unable to listen to the Word, receive it, and act on it. One of the first symptoms of spiritual regression, or backsliding, is a dullness toward the Bible. Sunday School class is dull, the preaching is dull, anything spiritual is dull.

Inability to share (v. 12a): The ability to share spiritual truth with others is a mark of maturity. Not all Christians have the gift of teaching, but all can share what they learn from the Word. The recipients of this letter had been saved long enough to be able to share God’s truth with others. But, instead of helping others to grow, these Hebrew Christians were in need of learning again the simple teachings of Christian life. They were experiencing a second childhood!

A “baby food” diet (vv. 12b-13): The writer defines the “milk” as “the first principles of the oracles of God” (v. 12). The “meat” of the Word is the teaching about our Lord’s ministry now in heaven as our High Priest. The writer wanted to give this “meat” to them, but they were not ready for it. The “milk” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ did on earth. The “meat” of the Word refers to what Jesus Christ is doing now in heaven. Of course, even the maturest adult never outgrows milk. As believers, we can still learn much from our Lord’s work on earth. But we must not stop there! We must make spiritual progress, and we can do this only if we learn about Christ’s priestly ministry for us in heaven.

Unskillful in using the Word (v. 14): As we grow in the Word, we learn to use it in daily life. As we apply the Word, we exercise our “spiritual senses” and develop spiritual discernment. An immature believer will listen to any preacher on the radio or television and not be able to identify whether or not he is true to the Scriptures. Just as our physical bodies have senses without which we could not function, so our inner “spiritual man” has “spiritual senses” (see Ps. 34:8 & Matt. 13:16). As we feed on the Word of God and apply it in daily life, our inner “spiritual senses” get their exercise and become strong and keen.

The ability to discern good from evil is a vital part of Christian maturity. The nation of Israel in Moses’ day lacked this discernment and failed to claim its promised inheritance. The readers of this letter were in danger of making the same mistake. It is impossible to stand still in the Christian life: we either go forward and claim God’s blessing, or we go backward and wander about aimlessly. Most Christians are “betweeners,” they are between Egypt and Canaan – out of the place of danger, but not yet into the place of rest and rich inheritance; they are between Good Friday and Easter Sunday – saved by the blood but not yet enjoying newness of resurrection life.

Hebrews 5:11-14 Reflection Questions:

Are you a “betweener”?

Are you taking advantage of your rich inheritance?

Have you become spiritually lazy or are you spiritually active?