Ever walked (or crawled) up to the very edge of a high cliff and peered uncertainly into the abyss? A heart-stopping moment.
There’s a passage in Hebrews 6 that always hits me in approximately the same way. It’s very scary. The writer produces a kind of cliff-edge warning notice and notes that there are some who have gone too far and fallen. Irretrievably lost. It’s possible –he is saying-even for people who have had remarkable religious experiences to lose it and go beyond the point of no return.
However, as he goes on in Hebrews 6: 9-12, you’re not like that!
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case – the things that have to do with salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The reason the writer is so sure that his readers will not go over the edge is that they have not only been loving servants for God’s sake in the past but are still serving. You see that emphasis on stickability, don’t you, at the end of verse 10? You showed love in serving the saints in the past, AND YOU STILL DO.
Their experience was not a temporary decision at a Bible Week or a Miracle crusade. It was a continuing reality. They proved the genuineness of their faith by sticking to it. The writer was confident about them because he saw the present fruit of past decision: they had served the saints, and they continue in the same way. They still do the stuff.
It’s important to realise that the whole letter to the Hebrews is not really focusing on people who flirt with the danger of cliff-edge living, but have moved (and are moving) steadily and carefully, in the opposite direction.
OK then (verses 11 and 12), just keep on that journey and don’t tire or get “sluggish!” Sluggish! That has to be one of my favourite onomatopoeic terms. Don’t turn into Mr Blobby. Shape up! Move away from the danger line.
And then here comes the rationale for their continuing love and service: it’s HOPE: And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness in realizing the full assurance of hope until the end. In other words, with all the zeal of the past that enabled you to work and love in the name of Christ—with all that zeal, keep on pursuing the full assurance of hope to the end. There is no fight, no quest, no challenge, no war more urgent than this. Keep your hope alive and kicking! As Reinhard Bonnke said (in that amazing accent) “Keep your hope HOT!”
But what does “the full assurance of hope” mean in verse 11? It means hope which is fully assured. Hope which is confident. It is not finger-crossing hope. In fact, verse 12 implies that hope and faith are almost synonymous. Notice the connection: verse 11 says, Go hard after full assurance of hope; verse 12 says the result of that pursuit of hope is that you will be like those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Pursue hope so that you can be like men of faith.
The term “full assurance” (used here in verse 11, plerophorian) is found in one other place in Hebrews, in10:22. However, there it is “full assurance of faith” instead of “full assurance of hope.” It says, “Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith.” Then in the next verse it says, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.”
Isn’t that fantastic? I am not wavering on a cliff-edge of indecision, worrying whether or not I’ll make it through. God is my strength and keeper. I believed it once, I work at it now in my love and service and I cannot waver in my trust that “He who promised is faithful.” My hope is rooted in the faithfulness of God, not in the fickleness of my own feelings.
Dear Lord, my hope is in you. You have brought me to this moment and you will see me safe to the end. Even if I sometimes act like a tricky four-year old crossing the road, your hand is on my hand and you will not let me go.
- Jesus our faithful High Priest (davidcampbelljr.wordpress.com)
- Faith Definition: 1. Complete trust or confidence in (adventureoftheheart.wordpress.com)
- Hold Fast (joyfulsorrows.wordpress.com)
- The joy of being Pastor of Divine Unity Community Church (ducc3d.wordpress.com)
- Hope (brendaleebowman.wordpress.com)