Hebrews 4-7 Falling Away or Following Faithfully

TMS Luke 9:23 Call To Discipleship
Lk 9:22 "The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed and be raised up on the third day."

23 “And He was saying to them all,
"If anyone wishes to come after Me,
he must deny himself,
and take up his cross
and follow Me.

24 "For whoever wishes to save his life/soul will lose it, but whoever loses his life/soul for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 "For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits his soul? 26 "For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels.”

Observations: 9:23 Jesus just finishes telling the disciples He is going to be rejected and murdered, and then asks if anyone wishes/desires to follow Him. It would be an absolutely crazy invitation were it not for the resurrection and glory piece. The reality is that we can't keep any of this life, and we can't lose the glory God gives in the next life. So the decision should be a no-brainer, except for the pain of the methodology of following. Self denial, just saying “No” to our desires and ambitions is a matter of daily death and self-crucifixion. See comments on Luke 9 for the context and what it meant to carry one's cross in that culture (an admission that the cross-bearer was wrong and worthy of death, and the governing authority was right). Those who wish or desire to follow Christ as His disciple to glory are not forced to do so. It is a free-will decision, but the wise one to make.  Many don't make it.  To see how Jesus sells them on making the decision to follow, take a peek at the verses after the invite. What is the net gain to you if you succeed in all the trivial pursuits this life offers and forfeit the purpose for which God put you on earth? Pretty silly.
Application: Exchange the minutes of each day for something that has eternal value, by learning and doing God's will rather than your own.
Prayer: God, help me keep my focus on the purpose of life on this planet, and live it for Your and my glory in the next life; don't let me fall for any of Satan's lies and deceptions. Thanks. Amen.

Hebrews 4-7 Continuing his theme of the superiority of Christianity to Judaism, the author of Hebrews shows Christ's superiority to Moses and Aaron in an attempt to keep believers from going back to the way they were (Judaism for them). He first holds out the conditional promise of sharing in the glory of Christ in chapter 4, and then the certain promises of destruction for those who fall away from following Christ in the severe warning passage in chapter 6. Mystery man Melchizedek makes appearances in a couple of chapters, complementing Christ's triple roles as Prophet, King, and Priest. The author makes use of Psalms 95 and 110 to encourage believers not to harden their hearts to God's revelation, and to demonstrate the superiority of Christ's priesthood in being able to bring believers to perfection/glory. The author remonstrates his readers for being babies needing instruction, rather than being in a position to teach and serve others. May that not be said of any of those who read (and study) DailyTruthbase.

Hebrews 4 Rest and Reward
4:1 Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest. 2 For indeed we have had good news preached to us, even as they also did, but the word they heard didn’t profit them, because it wasn’t mixed with faith by those who heard. 3 For we who believe do enter into that rest, even as he has said, "As I swore in my wrath, they will not enter into my rest"; although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. 4 For he has said this somewhere about the seventh day, "God rested on the seventh day from all his works"; 5 and in this place again, "They will not enter into my rest." 6 Seeing therefore it remains that some should enter therein, and they to whom the good news was before preached failed to enter in because of disobedience, 7 he again defines a certain day, today, saying through David so long a time afterward (just as has been said), "Today if you will hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts." 8 For if Joshua had given them rest, he would not have spoken afterward of another day. 9 There remains therefore a Sabbath rest for the people of God. 10 For he who has entered into his rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from his.
11 Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience. 12 For the word of God is living, and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing even to the dividing of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and is able to discern the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 There is no creature that is hidden from his sight, but all things are naked and laid open before the eyes of him to whom we have to give an account (NIV).
14 Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession. 15 For we don’t have a high priest who can’t be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.

Observations: 4:1-10 If your response to the warning passage in chapter 2 and the truth in chapters 3-4 is that you've got nothing to worry about because you've trusted Jesus as the payment for your sin, you have a lot more to worry about than you think. In fact, panic would be a better response, because you'd have to be spiritually blind to miss the point. The author concludes that the correct response is to fear (as in knee shaking dread or terror, from which we get the English phobia). The fear is that of missing (left behind or coming short of a goal) the eternal blessing/rest of God. The author draws the same conclusion that Paul did in 1Corinthians 10:1-12. NT audiences are like the OT audiences in that the good news of God's planned blessings don't profit or benefit them unless they believe the promises. This is not about forgiveness/justification, but blessing/glorification. It is only those who believe enter God's rest. The aorist is the most common tense; it is used to present a snapshot of the action, and is called the undefined tense. The time (past, present, future) and type (once, repeated, etc.) must be determined from context. The context is not that those who believe once in the past (although the aorist can be used for that) enter the rest (present is put for the future), but those who continue to believe (see verse 11). The Exodus generation believed at the Red Sea, but failed to continue to believe (and thus obey) consequently missed the rest, and did not profit from hearing of it. In verse 6, the author links belief with obedience. If you believe that God rewards those who obey, you obey. If you don't believe it, you don't obey. God had planned out the rest from Creation since it was part of His plan to glorify Himself by glorifying faithful believers (unlike the fallen angels -see Eph 3:10 and 2Cor 5 under Digging Deeper), but not everyone would trust and obey. In Psalm 95:7, during the time of David, God speaks again of hearing and obeying God's revelation. The author argues that if Joshua had given the people rest in his time, then David would not have spoken of another day. The children of the Exodus generation didn't fulfill the “rest” plan, so there remains a “Sabbath rest” for the people of God. This would imply a period of rest and peace corresponding to the seventh day of creation. For folks who like 2Peter 3:8 and can do math, things can look exciting. Those who hear, trust and obey, will labor, but have the hope of a rest to look forward to, the Millennial Kingdom.
4:11-16 I wish those who deceive believers with “let go and let God” would let go of Satan's lie and drop it in the pit, from which the lie came. God wants believers to make every diligent effort to enter into the rest, by obeying, and not following the OT example of disobedience. Last time I checked, obedience required work (2Cor 11:23-31). The word of God will judge our actions and motives when we stand before God on judgment day (2Cor 5:9-10). This is obviously not a determination of whether we trusted Jesus as our sin-bearer or not, but of dividing which decisions of our life were motivated by the Spirit, and which by the soul (mind/will/emotions). The contrast is between that which is of God (spirit/Spirit, and of man (soul). The level of obedience required is not mere external perfunctory compliance with ritual, but that which springs from a purified and renewed heart. Such a life transformation does not occur without our will and God's help. Fortunately, the latter is readily available. Jesus, our High Priest can sympathize with and help our weakness if we are willing. He was tempted in all things we're tempted by: power (security/significance), pleasure, and possessions, yet was victoriously without sin. It is not that He was incapable of sin (books have been written/committed on this topic), but that He depended upon the grace/power of God to live so as to please God. That same dynamic is available to us. As God's children and subjects of the Lord Jesus, we can come boldly before the throne of grace to find both mercy for when we've sinned (1Jn 1:9) and grace to help in time of need.
Application: God will always provide all the grace we need to obey Him and reap the reward He has planned; the only thing that is lacking is our determination to learn and do what He's said.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, thanks for Your example and desire to help me succeed in doing Your will; may I never shrink in shame from seeking forgiveness nor fail to depend on Your infinite grace to live victorious over temptation, as You did. Amen.

Hebrews 5 Melchizedek the Mystery Man
5:1 For every high priest, being taken from among men, is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 The high priest can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray, because he himself is also surrounded with weakness. 3 Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself. 4 Nobody takes this honor on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was. 5 So also Christ didn’t glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him, "You are my Son. Today I have become your father." 6 As he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."
7 He, in the days of his flesh, having offered up prayers and petitions with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death, and having been heard for his godly receptivity, 8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered. 9 Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation,10 named by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.
11 About him we have many words to say, and hard to interpret, seeing you have become dull of hearing. 12 For although by this time you should be teachers, you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God. You have come to need milk, and not solid food. 13 For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness, for he is a baby. 14 But solid food is for those who are mature, who by reason of use have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

Observations: 5:1-6 The author is now going to demonstrate the superiority of Christ over the Levitical (Aaronic) priesthood, so his original audience wouldn't be tempted to go back to Judaism. Jesus is seen as Prophet and King, and now Priest. Melchizedek, who shows up in this chapter and the next was a priest back in the time of Abraham (Gen 14:18), over 400 years before the Law and Levitical system. Christ was not a priest in the line of Levi, (being from the tribe of Judah), but was instead appointed a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek, according to Psalm 110 (a vision David has of the Messiah – See comments on Ps 110). Unlike a Levitical priest who had to first offer a sacrifice for his own sins, Jesus, didn't have to do that. The eternal duration of Christ's priesthood will be discussed in the next chapter.
5:7-10 These verses are more applicable to a modern audience. Christ's prayers were answered during His days on earth, including being saved from/out of (ek) death because of His receptivity (literally good+receive) and resultant obedience. Even though He was the chosen Son (as in a Suzerain-Vassal relationship) he demonstrated obedience in the things He suffered and thus was glorified/perfected by God and became the author of eternal (of the Age) salvation (glorification) to all those who obey Him. He received glory on the basis of His obedience, and shares it with those who obey (cf. Rom 8:17).
5:11-14 The author has more to say about Melchizedek, but his audience needs to go back and master the basics of the Christ-following life, because like their forefathers, and unlike Christ, they are not listening to God very well. They ought to be teachers, but need someone to teach them the basics. There is a timetable for growth in the Christian life (2Tim 2:2). I'm always astounded by the perpetual infancy of folks who have spent decades hearing the same evangelistic message preached every Sunday, and can't lead someone to Christ, much less help them get established in the Christian life. Immature infancy is caused by bad teachers, and bad hearers. The immature can't even define righteousness, much less demonstrate it in their life. The mature are those who are skillful in the word about righteousness (knowing and doing what is right in God's sight). They have trained themselves to discern good from evil (as well as best from better) and can pass it on to others. Those who can't are defenseless babes.
Application: If you don't own the 7PASSAGES in the sidebar (or ones like them) it might be time to grow up and make them part of your life, so you can minister to others with them.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, thanks that You hear my prayers; help me develop a greater sensitivity to Your Spirit and truth so I may clearly embrace the good and eschew the evil; and teach others to do the same. Amen.

Hebrews 6 Falling Away
6:1 Therefore leaving the teaching of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection—not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, 2 of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 This will we do, if God permits. 4 For it is impossible for those
who were once enlightened
and tasted of the heavenly gift,
and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
5 and tasted the good word of God,
and the powers of the age to come,
6 and then fell away,
it is impossible
to renew them
to repentance;
seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again,
and put him to open shame.
7 For the land which has drunk the rain that comes often on it, and brings forth a crop suitable for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and thistles, it is rejected and near being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded of better things for you, and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this. 10 For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them. 11 We desire that each one of you may show the same diligence to the fulness of hope even to the end, 12 that you won’t be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, since he could swear by none greater, he swore by himself, 14 saying, "Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you." 15 Thus, having patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by a greater one, and in every dispute of theirs the oath is final for confirmation. 17 In this way God, being determined to show more abundantly to the heirs of the promise the immutability of his counsel, interposed with an oath; 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to take hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and entering into that which is within the veil; 20 where as a forerunner Jesus entered for us, having become a high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.

Observations: 6:1-2 Those who can discern good and evil, and demonstrate righteousness in their lives should press on to perfection/glorification, and not lay again the foundation of the basics of the Christ following life: repentance from (changing one's mind about the desirability of) works that lead to death (loss of dominion); faith toward God; baptisms (Spirit, and water -the first step of discipleship in which a believer died to the old so they could live for the new -Rom 6); laying on of hands (for service or healing); the future resurrection of the dead (Dan 12:2-3); and future judgment of believers (2Cor 5:10). Those are just the basics. Don't get bogged down here, but move onto the ministry that gains glory.
6:3-8 The second warning passage, like all the others is directed toward those who have believed in Christ and are born again, but are tempted to go back to Judaism. It is totally inappropriate to try to twist the truth to say this passage applies to unbelievers, or those who said they trusted Christ but really didn't. The reason false or confused “teachers” come up with such machinations is to support an illogical theology, or because they don't understand rewards and the different aspects of salvation (they've been parroting the party line rather than mastering the truth).
The people the author describes are enlightened, born again believers, who have been partakers of the Holy Spirit, and then have fallen way from their faith in Jesus as the Messiah, as their family and friends would be pressuring them to do (see the persecutions of believers in Acts, by the Jews who rejected Christ). “Tasted” is the same as Christ “tasting” death for all of us in 2:9; it means to eat the whole enchilada.
The thing that is impossible is to re-new them again to the state of repentance. Note the word again. That means they were once there. The impossibility is not of them being justified or forgiven, but of being brought back again (re-new = make new again) to their initial repentance. That was the state where their slate was wiped clean, and their new life began. It is impossible to bring them back to that state for three reasons.
The first is that there are consequences for sin, as demonstrated by the Exodus generation at Kadesh-Barnea (Numbers 13-14 see post). The nation's refusal to face the giants and obey God's command to go into the promised land resulted in their exclusion from it, and death in the desert. We can reach a point where God judges our rebellion with not just loss of rewards, but disinheritance.
The second reason it is impossible to renew them again to repentance is that in going back to Judaism, they were siding with the Jewish party line that Jesus was a ungodly criminal who deserved to die for His sins. Like the unpardonable sin (see comments on Mt 12:31) one can't be in both the sphere where forgiveness is and in the sphere that denies Jesus is from God. Those who leave the sphere of forgiveness, don't lose what God has already graciously given them, but lose the relationship with God due to their unconfessed sin (and disobedience). Ongoing grace and forgiveness are found in Christ, not Judaism. Those who are confessing Christ as an evil charlatan, and putting Him to shame, don't have the same kind of relationship with Him as those who confess Him as Lord. When Christ died for their sins, He died for all their sins, so judgment in the lake of fire isn't their future, but the burning of their works in the garbage dump of Ghenna (1Cor 3:15) is in their future if they remain where they are (see verses 7-8). The can't be repenting (changing their mind about Christ) while denying Him.
The third reason it is impossible to renew them again to repentance while they are denying Christ is the Messiah is found in the illustration in verses 7-8. Land that takes in the blessing of rain and yields a crop as the farmer intended, is good, and in the analogy gets a blessing from God. But that which yields thorns and thistles rather than a fruitful crop, is rejected from blessing, and headed to burning. The crop is burned, not the land. All it produced goes up in smoke, nothing remains. In the initial state of repentance, God forgave all sin, and if the person had died immediately thereafter, like the thief on the cross, they would be with Christ in Paradise. But by bearing bad crops and being disloyal, they lost that state of initial repentance. Failure isn't always fatal. Land was often burned of bad growth so it could be replanted and produce a good crop. Those who repent can start again, on plan B. Blessing plan B is far better than cursing plan A. It would be better to stick with blessing plan A, regardless of the discomfort.
6:9-12 The author was persuaded that better things than falling away and being cursed/disinherited would accompany the salvation/justification of his audience. God is not unjust, so He will not forget the work and love they've done in loyalty to His name, shown by their service of the believers. He desires that each reader shows the same diligence/earnestness in loyal service with a view to getting the full assurance/fulfillment of their hope (of reward) until the final culmination of the age (telios). To do so, they must not be spiritual sluggards but imitators of those who through faith in God's promise to reward (11:6) and longsuffering, inherit the promises (plural, not forgiveness, which is not a matter of inheritance but the blessings of the Messianic age -Col 3:24 inheritance=reward).
6:13-20 To bolster his audience's faith and confidence in their reward, the author cites the promise of God to bless Abraham, swearing by Himself, as well as promising. After Abraham patiently endured, he obtained the promise (of his son and descendents). God did the double guarantee so that the heirs of the promise (the author's audience, and you and me), would have extra encouragement to believe in spite of opposition, so we could take hold of the hope of reward (not hope of forgiveness) set before us. Hope or expectation of reward is the anchor for our mind, will and emotions (soul) to keep us fixed on obeying when pressured to go back to the way we were. This hope or anchor enters within the veil where Christ is in heaven, gloriously rewarded at the right hand of God. He is the forerunner (advance scout), aiding and interceding for us as an eternal priest in the order of Melchizedek.
Application: Going back to the way we were is a surefire way to be disillusioned and disinherited; going forward through the difficulties is a sure way to escape fiery judgment, and reap our eternal reward (the better choice).
Prayer: God, thanks for the encouragements and incentives You give to guide us to blessing; may I not be hard-hearted and rebellious, but one who by faith and loyal endurance inherits Your promises. Amen.

Hebrews 7 Once For All
7:1 For this Melchizedek, king of Salem, priest of God Most High, who met Abraham returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham divided a tenth part of all (being first, by interpretation, king of righteousness, and then also king of Salem, which is king of peace; 3 without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God), remains a priest continually. 4 Now consider how great this man was, to whom even Abraham, the patriarch, gave a tenth out of the best spoils. 5 They indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have a commandment to take tithes of the people according to the law, that is, of their brothers, though these have come out of the body of Abraham, 6 but he whose genealogy is not counted from them has accepted tithes from Abraham, and has blessed him who has the promises. 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater. 8 Here people who die receive tithes, but there one receives tithes of whom it is testified that he lives. 9 We can say that through Abraham even Levi, who receives tithes, has paid tithes, 10 for he was yet in the body of his father when Melchizedek met him.
11 Now if there were perfection through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people have received the law), what further need was there for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, and not be called after the order of Aaron? 12 For the priesthood being changed, there is of necessity a change made also in the law. 13 For he of whom these things are said belongs to another tribe, from which no one has officiated at the altar. 14 For it is evident that our Lord has sprung out of Judah, about which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. 15 This is yet more abundantly evident, if after the likeness of Melchizedek there arises another priest, 16 who has been made, not after the law of a fleshly commandment, but after the power of an indestructable life: 17 for it is testified, "You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek." 18 For there is an annulling of a foregoing commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (for the law made nothing perfect), but a bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God. 20 Inasmuch as he was not made priest without the taking of an oath 21 (for they indeed have been made priests without an oath), but he with an oath by him that says of him, "The Lord swore and will not change his mind, ‘You are a priest forever, according to the order of Melchizedek.’" 22 By so much, Jesus has become the pledge/sponsor of a better covenant. 23 Many, indeed, have been made priests, because they are hindered from continuing by death. 24 But he, because he lives forever, has his priesthood unchangeable. 25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them. 26 For such a high priest was fitting for us: holy, guiltless, undefiled, separated from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; 27 who doesn’t need, like those high priests, to offer up sacrifices daily, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. For he did this once for all, when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men as high priests who have weakness, but the word of the oath which came after the law appoints a Son forever who has been perfected.

Observations: 7:1-10 Going back to Melchizedek who was greater than not only Levi, but also Abraham, the author again demonstrates the superiority of Christ to all that was in Judaism. His origin and identity is a mystery. He is clearly a type of Christ, but the author does not identify him as the pre-incarnate Christ, since Melchizedek is called a man, and Christ is in the order of him, not him. Being the king (mel) of chizedek/righteousness and king of Salem/peace, does prefigure Christ. No listed/written genealogy alludes to that of the eternal Christ.
7:11-28 The interest of the author is in the need for a priesthood after that of Aaron (Ps 110 comes after Leviticus). The Levitical priesthood could not bring worshipers to perfection/glory. If it could have, there would have been no need for another priesthood, since glorification was the end goal of God (justification is the prelude -Eph 1; Heb 2:10). The law didn't perfect, but brought in a better hope, on the basis of which we draw near to God. Jesus was made an eternal (and thus final and superior) priest (Ps 110) on the basis of God's oath. As a result of God's oath and the permanent nature of Christ's priesthood, He is the pledge or sponsor or guarantor of a better covenant/testament (next chapters). By living forever, He is always able to help those who draw near to God through Him. Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost (glorification) those who are in union with Him. “Once for all” (two major theological schools of error are exposed by that phrase) He offered Himself for our sins, and is a perfected/glorified Son, forever.
Application: God's goal is to perfect/glorify those who draw near to Him in union with Christ, so get moving.
Prayer: God, thanks for providing such a perfect Priest to help me experience the salvation You so graciously planned for me; may I enter it to the uttermost. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God promises glory to anchor our soul in His purposes for us. He made Christ an eternal priest to save us to the uttermost.

Build-a-Jesus: Jesus is a faithful eternal forever priest and Son. He lives to always help and make intercession for His followers.

Us in a nutshell: We will lose out if we harden our hearts towards God's word and go back to the way we were. We will not lose our justification, but we will lose our fellowship with God and future glory. Those who resist the temptations to quit and instead persevere will inherit the promised glory.

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