Hebrews – Part 8: What Is Faith?

Christians should not apostatize because faith has the power to keep Christians steadfast and sure, despite trials.

Prologue

“What Is Faith?” is part 8 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the previous parts by clicking one of the links below.

Introduction

NOTE: The following information consists of excerpts paraphrased from Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 11”.

In the close of the previous chapter the writer of Hebrews had incidentally made mention of faith:

Hebrews 10:38-39 (NASB)
38 BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. 39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul.

The object of the whole argument in this epistle was to keep those to whom it was addressed from apostatizing, from the Christian religion, and especially from relapsing again into Judaism.

They were in the midst of trials, and were evidently suffering some form of persecution, the tendency of which was to expose them to the danger of relapsing.

The indispensable means of securing them from apostasy was faith; and with a view to show its efficacy in this respect, the writer goes into an extended account of its nature and effects, occupying this entire chapter.

As the persons whom he addressed had been Hebrews, and as the Old Testament contained an account of numerous instances of persons in substantially the same circumstances in which they were, the reference is made, to the illustrious examples of the efficacy of faith in the Jewish history.

The object is to show that faith, or confidence in the Divine promises, has been in all ages the means of perseverance in the true religion, and consequently of salvation.

In this chapter, therefore, the writer of Hebrews first describes or defines the nature of faith,

Hebrews 11:1 (NASB)
1  Now faith is the assurance of thingshoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

and then illustrates its efficacy and power, throughout the remainder of the chapter, by reference to numerous instances.

In these illustrations he refers to the steady belief which we have that God made the worlds, the examples of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, and Rahab in particular, and numerous other examples without mentioning their names.

The object is to show that there is power in faith to keep – steady and firm – mind and heart in the midst of trials, and that, having these examples before them, those whom he addressed should continue to adhere steadfastly to the profession of the true religion.

Scripture

Hebrews 11:1,3,6 (NASB)
1  Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. …
3  By faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. …
6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and thatHe is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, Scripture tells us that we are saved by grace through faith. Please open up Your Word to us and teach us what faith is. May our faith be strengthened as a result. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Probing Question

How does faith have the power to keep Christians from apostatizing, despite their trials?

Transitional Sentence

Faith has the power to keep Christians from apostatizing, despite their trials, because…

Main Points

1. Faith lays claim to the unseen realities of God and His purpose.

Abel

Hebrews 11:4 (NASB)
4 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.

  • Abel’s name
    • Means, “breath, vapor, meadow”
    • Is associated with the shortness of life
  • The second son of Adam and Eve may have been a twin because Genesis 4:2 literally reads, “And she continued to bear his brother Abel”
  • Some have thought that it was the better sacrifice because it was the sacrifice of an animal, however, the emphasis on “faith” in Hebrews and the idea of a “proper offering” in the Septuagint translation of Genesis 4:7 suggest that Abel’s offering was made with a correct attitude and in the proper manner
  • Because of jealousy, Cain killed Abel
  • Hebrews 12:24 compares Abel’s blood with Christ’s blood
    • Abel’s blood calls for vengeance
    • Christ’s blood carries with it the idea of forgiveness
  • Nevertheless, Abel is outstanding because he was
    • The first person to worship God correctly
    • The first person to demonstrate faith accurately
    • The first person to please God fully
    • The first shepherd and influenced the early Hebrews to place a priority on the pastoral life
    • The first man to be murdered
    • The first human to die

Enoch

Hebrews 11:5-6 (NASB)
5  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he would not see death; AND HE WAS NOT FOUND BECAUSE GOD TOOK HIM UP; for he obtained the witness that before his being taken up he was pleasing to God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.

  • Enoch’s name
    • Means, “dedicated.”
    • Is associated with a large body of ancient extra-biblical literature
  • The son of Jared, taken up to God without dying
  • He became the father of Methuselah
  • Enoch lived in such close fellowship with God that he was translated into the presence of God without dying
  • According to Jude, he prophesied

Jude 1:14-15 (NASB)
14 It was also about these men that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord came with many thousands of His holy ones, 15 to execute judgment upon all, and to convict all the ungodly of all their ungodly deeds which they have done in an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things which ungodly sinners have spoken against Him.”

Noah

Hebrews 11:7 (NASB)
7 By faith Noah, being warned by Godabout things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household, by which he condemned the world, and became an heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

  • Noah’s name is a personal name of uncertain meaning, related to “rest”
  • Noah was
    • The son of Lamech, a descendant of Adam in the line of Seth
    • The father of Shem, Ham, and Japheth who were born when he was 500 years old
    • A good and righteous man, and a survivor of the flood
  • God warned Noah that He was going to wipe mankind from the face of the earth
  • Because Noah walked with God and stood blameless among the people of that time, God gave him specific instructions for building the ark by which Noah and his family would survive the coming flood
    • Noah followed the building instructions down to every detail
    • A week before the flood, Noah led his family and all of the animals into the ark just as God directed
    • After seven days, the rain began and lasted for 40 days
    • As he sought to know whether it was safe to leave the ark
      • He sent out first a raven and then a dove
      • When the dove returned with an olive leaf, Noah knew the water had receded
    • Once out of the ark, Noah built an altar and sacrificed clean animals as burnt offerings on the altar
    • The Lord promised never again to destroy living creatures as He had done in the flood and established a covenant with Noah and his sons and sealed that covenant with a rainbow
  • Noah lived another 350 years after the flood
  • Noah died at the age of 950 years

2. Faith presses on even when some of God’s promises remain unfulfilled

Abraham and Sarah

Hebrews 11:8-19 (NASB)
8  By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went out, not knowing where he was going. 9 By faith he lived as an alien in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, fellow heirs of the same promise; 10 for he was looking for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. 11 By faith even Sarah herself received ability to conceive, even beyond the proper time of life, since she considered Him faithful who had promised. 12 Therefore there was born even of one man, and him as good as dead at that, as many descendants AS THE STARS OF HEAVEN IN NUMBER, AND INNUMERABLE AS THE SAND WHICH IS BY THE SEASHORE. 13 All these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. 14 For those who say such things make it clear that they are seeking a country of their own. 15  And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16  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. 17  By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was offering up his only begotten son; 18 it was he to whom it was said, “IN ISAAC YOUR DESCENDANTS SHALL BE CALLED.” 19 He considered that God is able to raise peopleeven from the dead, from which he also received him back as a type.

Isaac

Hebrews 11:20 (NASB)
20  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau, even regarding things to come.

Jacob

Hebrews 11:21 (NASB)
21 By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshiped, leaning on the top of his staff.

Joseph

Hebrews 11:22 (NASB)
22 By faith Joseph, when he was dying, made mention of the exodus of the sons of Israel, and gave orders concerning his bones.

3. Faith risks everything for God and His purpose

Moses’ Parents

Hebrews 11:23 (NASB)
23 By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.

Moses

Hebrews 11:24-28 (NASB)
24  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin, 26 considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward. 27 By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen. 28 By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.

Children of Israel, escaping from Egypt

Hebrews 11:29 (NASB)
29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passingthrough dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.

Joshua and his army

Hebrews 11:30 (NASB)
30  By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days.

Rahab, the harlot

Hebrews 11:31 (NASB)
31 By faith Rahab the harlot did not perish along with those who were disobedient, after she had welcomed the spies in peace.

4. Faith endures even when earthly deliverance does not come

Hebrews 11:32-40 (NASB)
32 And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, 34  quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. 35 Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured, not accepting their release, so that they might obtain a better resurrection; 36  and others experienced mockings and scourgings, yes, also chains and imprisonment. 37  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were tempted, they were put to death with the sword; they went about in sheepskins, in goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, ill-treated 38 (men of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and caves and holes in the ground. 39  And all these, having gained approval through their faith, did not receive what was promised, 40 because God had provided something better for us, so that apart from us they would not be made perfect.

Conclusion

How does faith have the power to keep Christians from apostatizing, despite their trials?

  • Faith lays claim to the unseen realities of God and His purpose
  • Faith presses on even when some of God’s promises remain unfulfilled
  • Faith risks everything for God and His purpose
  • Faith endures even when earthly deliverance does not come

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for the priviledge of studying Your Word so we can learn more about You and what You expect from us. You tell us we are to have the faith of a child. Help us with our faith we pray. In the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Epilogue

“What Is Faith?” is part 8 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the following parts by clicking one of the links below.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I benefit from this ministry and want to become a member and/or make a donation.

Praise the Lord. We are glad you find Saved by Grace edifying.

Action

  • If you would like to become a member, please click "Register" in the "Log In" section on the top right column of the page. Members are allowed to comment on posts and other comments and may also provide Feedback.

Malachi 3:10 (NASB)
10  "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

  • If you benefit from this ministry and would like to support its efforts, projects, and missions, please consider making a tax deductible donation, of any amount. May God bless you for your generosity.




I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

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Hebrews – Part 4: Jesus: The Great High Priest

The writer of Hebrews stressed Christians’ assurance and responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God.

Prologue

“Jesus: The Great High Priest” is part 4 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the previous parts by clicking one of the links below.

Introduction

Hebrews 4:14-16 (NASB)
14 Therefore , since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens , Jesus the Son of God , let us hold fast our confession . 15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses , but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin . 16 Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

NOTE: The following information is quoted from Albert Barnes, Notes on the New Testament Explanatory and Practical, WORDsearch CROSS e-book, Under: “Hebrews 4”.

  • Great High Priest
    • The object is to show that Christians have a great High Priest as really as the Jews had; to show wherein he surpassed the Levitical priesthood; to show how all that was said of the Aaronic priesthood, and all the types pertaining to that priesthood, were fulfilled in the Lord Jesus; and to state and illustrate the nature of the consolations which Christians might derive from the fact that they had such an High Priest.
    • The idea here is, not merely that the Lord Jesus was a Priest, but that he was at the head of all; in the Christian economy he sustained a rank that corresponded with that of the great high priest in the Jewish.
  • Passed Into the Heavens
    • The Jewish high priest went once a year into the most holy place in the temple, to offer the blood of the atonement. Paul says that the Christian High Priest has gone into heaven. He has gone there also to make intercession, and to sprinkle the blood of the atonement on the mercy-seat.
  • Jesus, the Son of God
    • Not a descendant of Aaron, but one greater—the Son of God.
  • Let Us Hold Fast Our Profession
    • This is the drift and scope of the epistle—to show that Christians should hold fast their profession, and not apostatize. The object of the apostle now is to show why the fact, that we have such a High Priest, is a reason why we should hold fast our professed attachment to him. These reasons-which are drawn out in the succeeding chapters-are such as the following:
      • We may look to him for assistance-since he can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,
      • The impossibility of being renewed again if we should fall away from him, since there is but one such High Priest, and since the sacrifice for sin can never be repeated,
      • The fact that all the ancient types were fulfilled in him, and that everything which there was in the Jewish dispensation, to keep men from apostasy, exists much more powerfully in the Christian scheme.
      • The fact that they who rejected the laws of Moses died without mercy, and much more any one who should reject the Son of God must expect more certain and fearful severity,
      • By considerations such as these, the apostle aims to show them the danger of apostasy, and to urge them to a faithful adherence to their Christian profession.
  • For We Have Not an High Priest Which Cannot Be Touched
    • Our High Priest is not cold and unfeeling. That is, we have one who is abundantly qualified to sympathize with us in our afflictions, and to whom, therefore, we may look for aid and support in trials.
  • But Was In All Points Tempted Like As We Are
    • Tried as we are. He was subjected to all the kinds of trial to which we can be, and he is, therefore, able to sympathize with us, and to aid us. He was tempted-in the literal sense; he was persecuted; he was poor; he was despised; he suffered bodily pain; he endured the sorrows of a lingering and most cruel death.
  • Yet Without Sin
    • The importance of this fact, that the great High Priest of the Christian profession was “without sin,” the apostle illustrates at length in chapters 7 through 9. He here merely alludes to it, and says that one who was “without sin” was able to assist those who were sinners, and who put their trust in him.
  • Let Us Therefore Come Boldly Unto the Throne of Grace
    • A throne is the seat of a sovereign; a throne of grace is designed to represent a sovereign seated to dispense mercy and pardon. The illustration or comparison here may have been derived from the temple service. In that service God is represented as seated in the most holy place on the mercy-seat. The high priest approaches that seat or throne of the Divine Majesty with the blood of the atonement, to make intercession for the people, and to plead for pardon. That scene was emblematic of heaven. God is seated on a throne of mercy. The great High Priest of the Christian calling, having shed his own blood to make expiation, is represented as approaching God, and pleading for the pardon of men. To a God willing to show mercy he comes with the merits of a sacrifice sufficient for all, and pleads for their salvation. We may, therefore, come with boldness, and look for pardon. We come not depending on our own merits, but we come where a sufficient sacrifice has been offered for human guilt, and where we are assured that God is merciful. We may, therefore, come without hesitancy, or trembling, and ask for all the mercy that we need.
  • That We May Obtain Mercy
    • This is what we want first. We need pardon-as the first thing when we come to God. We are guilty and self-condemned—and our first cry should be for mercymercy. A man who comes to God, not feeling his need of mercy, must fail of obtaining the Divine favour; and he will be best prepared to obtain that favour who has the deepest sense of his need of forgiveness.
  • And Find Grace
    • Favour-strength, help, counsel, direction, support, for the various duties and trials of life. This is what we next need-we all need-we always need. Even when pardoned, we need grace to keep us from sin, to aid us in duty, to preserve us in the day of temptation. And feeling our need of this, we may come and ask of God all that we want for this purpose. Such is the assurance given us; and to this bold approach to the throne of grace all are freely invited. In view of it, let us:
      • Rejoice That There Is a Throne of Grace
        • What a World would this be if God sat on a throne of justice only, and if no mercy were ever to be shown to men! Who is there who would not be overwhelmed with despair?
        • In all times of our trial and temptation we may be assured that he is seated on that throne, and, wherever we are, we may approach him with acceptance.
      • Make Use of the Privilege of Coming Before Such a Throne
        • We are sinful, and need mercy; we are feeble, and need grace to help us. There is not a day of Our lives in which we do not need pardon; not an hour in which we do not need grace.
      • Observe the Propriety and Necessity of Prayer!
        • Every man is a sinner, and should pray for pardon; every man is weak, feeble, dependent, and should pray for grace. Not till a man can prove that he has never done any sin should he maintain that he has no need of pardon; not till he can show that he is able alone to meet the storms and temptations of life should he feel that he has no need to ask for grace. Yet who can feel this? And how strange it is that all men do not pray!
      • Ask For Forgiveness
        • All that needs to be done is to plead the merits of our great High Priest, and God is ready to pardon. Who would not be glad to be able to pay a debt in a manner so easy? Yet how few there are who are willing to pay the debt to justice thus!
      • Obtain All the Grace That We Need
        • We have only to ask for it-and it is done. How easy then to meet temptation, if we would! How strange that any should rely on their own strength, when they may lean on the arm of God!
      • If Men Are Not Pardoned, and Fall Into Sin and Ruin, They Alone Are to Blame
        • There Is A THRONE OF GRACE. It is always accessible.
        • There is A GOD. He is always ready to pardon.
        • There Is A REDEEMER. He is the great High Priest of men.
          • He is always interceding.
          • His merits may always be pleaded as the ground of our salvation.

Opening Prayer

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your Son, Jesus Christ and His sacrificial work on the cross. We rejoice that He now sits at Your side interceeding for us on our behalf. we rejoice that because of this, we are encouraged to come boldly to Your throne. Be with us now and enlighten us as we study Your Word. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Probing Question

Why should Christians be assured and take responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God?

Transitional Sentence

Christians should be reassured and take responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God because…

Main Points

1. Christ Is Superior to Aaron

The Priesthood of Aaron

Hebrews 5:1-4 (NASB)
1 For every high priest taken from among men is appointed on behalf of men in things pertaining to God , in order to offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins ; 2 he can deal gently with the ignorant and misguided , since he himself also is beset with weakness ; 3 and because of it he is obligated to offer sacrifices for sins , as for the people , so also for himself . 4 And no one takes the honor to himself , but receives it when he is called by God, even as Aaron was.

The Priesthood of Christ

Hebrews 5:5-10 (NASB)
5 So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest , but He who said to Him, “YOU ARE MY SON , TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU”; 6 just as He says also in another passage, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK .” 7 In the days of His flesh , He offered up both prayers and supplications with loud crying and tears to the One able to save Him from death , and He was heard because of His piety . 8 Although He was a Son , He learned obedience from the things which He suffered . 9 And having been made perfect , He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation , 10 being designated by God as a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.

  • Melchizedek vs. Abraham

Hebrews 7:1-10 (NASB)
1 For this Melchizedek , king of Salem , priest of the Most High God , who met Abraham as he was returning from the slaughter of the kings and blessed him, 2 to whom also Abraham apportioned a tenth part of all the spoils, was first of all , by the translation of his name, 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 , he remains a priest perpetually . 4 Now observe how great this man was to whom Abraham , the patriarch , gave a tenth of the choicest spoils . 5 And those indeed of the sons of Levi who receive the priest’s office have commandment in the Law to collect a tenth from the people , that is, from their brethren , although these are descended from Abraham . 6 But the one whose genealogy is not traced from them collected a tenth from Abraham and blessed the one who had the promises . 7 But without any dispute the lesser is blessed by the greater . 8 In this case mortal men receive tithes , but in that case one receives them, of whom it is witnessed that he lives on. 9 And, so to speak , through Abraham even Levi , who received tithes , paid tithes , 10 for he was still in the loins of his father when Melchizedek met him.

  • Milchizedek’s Order vs. the Levitical Priesthood

Hebrews 7:11-28 (NASB)
11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law ), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek , and not be designated according to the order of Aaron ? 12 For when the priesthood is changed , of necessity there takes place a change of law also . 13 For the one concerning whom these things are spoken belongs to another tribe , from which no one has officiated at the altar . 14 For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah , a tribe with reference to which Moses spoke nothing concerning priests . 15 And this is clearer still , if another priest arises according to the likeness of Melchizedek , 16 who has become such not on the basis of a law of physical requirement , but according to the power of an indestructible life . 17 For it is attested of Him, “YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK .” 18 For, on the one hand , there is a setting aside of a former commandment because of its weakness and uselessness 19 (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 . 20 And inasmuch as it was not without an oath 21 (for they indeed became priests without an oath , but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND , ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER ‘ “); 22 so much the more also Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant . 23 The former priests , on the one hand , existed in greater numbers because they were prevented by death from continuing , 24 but Jesus, on the other hand , because He continues forever , holds His priesthood permanently . 25 Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. 26 For it was fitting for us to have such a high priest , holy , innocent , undefiled , separated from sinners and exalted above the heavens ; 27 who does not need daily , like those high priests , to offer up sacrifices , first for His own sins and then for the sins of the people , because this He did once for all when He offered up Himself . 28 For the Law appoints men as high priests who are weak , but the word of the oath , which came after the Law , appoints a Son, made perfect forever.

2. Danger of Degeneration (i.e., Backsliding)

Immaturity

  • Rebuke for Immaturity

Hebrews 5:11-14 (NASB)
11 Concerning him we have much to say , and it is hard to explain , since you have become dull of hearing . 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers , you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God , and you have come to need milk and not solid food . 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness , for he is an infant . 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.

  • Encouragement toward Maturity

Hebrews 6:1-3 (NASB)
1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ , let us press on to maturity , not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God , 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands , and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment . 3 And this we will do, if God permits.

Apostasy

  • Warning Against Apostasy

Hebrews 6:4-8 (NASB)
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit , 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come , 6 and then have fallen away , it is impossible to renew them again to repentance , since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame . 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled , receives a blessing from God ; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

  • Remember God’s Promises

Hebrews 6:9-20 (NASB)
9 But, beloved , we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation , though we are speaking in this way . 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name , in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints . 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end , 12 so that you will not be sluggish , but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises . 13 For when God made the promise to Abraham , since He could swear by no one greater , He swore by Himself , 14 saying , “I WILL SURELY BLESS YOU AND I WILL SURELY MULTIPLY YOU.” 15 And so , having patiently waited , he obtained the promise . 16 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute . 17 In the same way God , desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose , interposed with an oath , 18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie , we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement 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 one which enters within the veil , 20 where Jesus has entered as a forerunner for us, having become a high priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Conclusion

Christians should be reassured and take responsibility to boldly proclaim Jesus as the great High Priest redeeming them to God because:

  • Christ is superior to Aaron
  • Danger of degeneration (i.e., backsliding)
    • Immaturity
    • Apostasy

We must always remember God’s promises ultimately fulfilled through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, and great High Priest.

Closing Prayer

Heavenly Father, help us to recognize Christ’s superiority over all. Because we are encouraged to come boldly to the throne, help us to remember that fact and give us the courage to seek You. Keep us close to You. Protect us from apostasy. We pray this in the precious name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Epilogue

“Jesus: The Great High Priest” is part 4 of a 10-part study on the Book of Hebrews. You may view any of the following parts by clicking one of the links below.

Gospel Invitation

Is the Holy Spirit stirring within your heart? Is He convicting you of the need to make changes in your life and/or calling you to take action? The Bible says:

James 4:17 (NASB)
17 Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.

1 John 5:3 (NASB)
3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

If the Holy Spirit is urging you to take action, it is important to respond with immediate obedience. Delayed obedience is disobedience. Please read the following sections that apply to your current situation and prayerfully consider the suggested course of actions.

I am lost. I need to accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

John 3:16-18 (NASB)
16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 17 "For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 "He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

Action

  • To learn more about Jesus and His gift of redemption, read God's Plan of Salvation. If you are already familiar with the Plan of Savation, skip forward to section How to Become a Christian.
  • If you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I am saved; but, I have sin in my life that I need to confess and repent.

1 John 1:8-9 (NASB)
8 If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

Acts 3:19 (NASB)
19  "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially confess the sin in your life and your desire to repent. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

I am saved; but, I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Action

  • In your own words, pray a prayer similar to the following:

Heavenly Father, I have fallen short of Your glory and have failed to live up to Your expecttions for me. Please forgive me. Lord, I rededicate my life to You. Not my will; but, Your will be done. Thank You for being a God of second chances. Use me Lord. Shape me and mold me into the person You would have me to be. I pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior. Amen.

  • If you just rededicated your life to the Lord, please let us know by participating in our poll located on the top left column of the page and filling out the Contact Form below.

I benefit from this ministry and want to become a member and/or make a donation.

Praise the Lord. We are glad you find Saved by Grace edifying.

Action

  • If you would like to become a member, please click "Register" in the "Log In" section on the top right column of the page. Members are allowed to comment on posts and other comments and may also provide Feedback.

Malachi 3:10 (NASB)
10  "Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now in this," says the LORD of hosts, "if I will not open for you the windows of heaven and pour out for you a blessing until it overflows.

  • If you benefit from this ministry and would like to support its efforts, projects, and missions, please consider making a tax deductible donation, of any amount. May God bless you for your generosity.




I need to discuss my situation confidentially.

James 5:16 (NASB)
16  Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.

Action

  • Fill out the Contact Form below to confidentially discuss the situation in your life that is troubling you. The information you send will not be shared with anyone else. Your privacy will be protected.

Contact Form








 

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“Is It Possible for Me to Lose My Salvation?”

This question has troubled many Christians throughout history. In fact, many still struggle with it today. To make matters worse, many theologians are divided on the issue making it even more difficult for laymen to arrive at a definitive answer to the question since both sides have Scripture to support their viewpoint. Calvinists support a viewpoint in favor of the security of the believer while Armenians support a viewpoint in favor of apostasy (i.e., the possibility the believer can fall away).

This question has troubled many Christians throughout history. In fact, many still struggle with it today. To make matters worse, many theologians are divided on the issue making it even more difficult for laymen to arrive at a definitive answer to the question since both sides have Scripture to support their viewpoint. Calvinists support a viewpoint in favor of the security of the believer while Armenians support a viewpoint in favor of apostasy (i.e., the possibility the believer can fall away). So, what does the Bible say about it? We will examine the key biblical passages used to support each side and attempt to arrive at a conclusion.

John 10:27-30 (NASB)
27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 “I and the Father are one.”

In John 10:27-30, Calvinists claim that Jesus’ words constitute a powerful declaration of security. Verse 28 is especially emphatic, where the declaration that something will not happen in the future is made. Jesus is categorically excluding the slightest chance of apostasy by His sheep. This assertion is followed by statements that no one can snatch believers out of Jesus’ hand or out of the Father’s hand. This passage is a definite rejection of the idea that a true believer can fall away.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (NASB)
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Armenians argue that Hebrews 6:4-6 represents an equally emphatic case for their position. The passage seems clear enough. The description is apparently of genuinely saved persons who abandon the faith and thus lose their salvation. However, because of the complexity of the issue and the material in this passage, a number of interpretations have grown up:

  1. The writer has in mind genuinely saved persons who lose their salvation. He notes that once they lose their salvation, there is no way to regain it for it’s impossible to renew them to salvation. This point is ignored by many Armenians.
  2. The persons in view were never regenerate. They merely tasted of the truth and the life and were only exposed to the Word of God. They did not fully experience these heavenly gifts. They do in fact apostatize; but from the vicinity of spiritual truth, not from its center.
  3. The people in view are genuinely and permanently saved; they are not lost. Their salvation is real, the apostasy is hypothetical. In other words, the “if”-clause does not actually occur. The writer is merely describing what would be the case if the elect were to fall away (an impossibility).

Upon close examination, the second explanation is difficult to accept. The vividness of the description, and particularly the statement “[those who] were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,” argues forcefully against denying that the people in view are (at least for a time) regenerate. The choice must therefore be made between the first and third views.

Part of the difficulty stems from the ambiguity of the Greek word translated “if they fall away.” It is an adverbial participle which can denote cause, time, concession, and (significant to this discussion) condition. Thus, one legitimate translation would be “if they fall away”; but it could also be rendered “when they fall away” or “because they fall away.” The actual meaning must be determined based upon context, the key element of which can be found in verse 9:

Hebrews 6:9 (NASB)
9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.

This verse might be understood as implying that the people described in verses 4-6, unlike the people to whom Hebrews is addressed, were not really saved. However, as pointed out above (view 2) there is a major difficulty with this interpretation. The other possibility is that the people referred to in verses 4-6 and 9 are the same. They are genuinely saved people who could fall away. Verses 4-6 declare what their status would be if they did. Verse 9, however, is a statement that they shall not fall away. They could; but, they will not. Their persistence to the end is evidence of that truth. The writer of Hebrews knows that his readers will not fall away; he is convinced of better things regarding them, the things that accompany salvation. He speaks of their past work and love and exhorts them to continue earnestly in the same pursuits.

Hebrews 6:10-11 (NASB)
10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,

The full context of the passage would seem to indicate then that the writer has in view genuine believers who could fall away; but, will not.

We are now able to correlate John 10 and Hebrews 6. While Hebrews 6 indicates that genuine believers can fall away, John 10 indicates they will not. In other words, there is a logical possibility of apostasy; but it will not come to pass in the case of true believers. Although they could abandon their faith and consequently come to the fate described in Hebrews 6, the grace of God prevents them from apostatizing. God does this, not by making it impossible for believers to fall away, but by making it certain that they will not. The emphasis on can and will not is not inconsequential. It preserves the freedom of the individual. Believers are capable of repudiating their faith, but will freely choose not to.

What about the “examples” of others who have allegedly fallen away in the biblical texts? It must be questioned whether these individuals were in fact true believers to begin with. There is insufficient evidence to warrant the conclusion that they were true believers who fell away.

The practical implication of the understanding of the doctrine of perseverance is that believers can rest secure in the assurance that their salvation is permanent. Nothing can separate them from the love of God. Thus, they can rejoice in the prospect of eternal life.

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