Scripture quotations taken from the NASB

Hebrews

Don't Drift Away

"God" (Heb 1:1) "in these last days has spoken to us in His Son" (:2). "After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard" (2:3). It is "what we have heard" (:1). "For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard" (:1). "We must pay more careful attention therefore" (:1 NIV). It was "the word spoken through angels" (:2) and "are they not . . . sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?" (1:14). It was salvation "spoken through the Lord, [and] it was confirmed to us" (2:3). "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard' (:2 KJV). What was heard? It was the Gospel. But we must be careful "that we do not drift away from it" (:2 NIV) which is "what we have heard" (:2). We can forget if we are careless and ignore it. The author therefore says to them "it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing" (5:11). The process is illustrated by drifting away which is being swept along by a water current or washed away. The Gospel can be seen as a boat dock which you grab on to for safety, security and to have the truth. But if you're not attentive you can lose your handhold and drift away. Worse yet you can refuse to accept it and deliberately push off from the dock back into the current. Rejecting it represents unbelief. "Therefore do not throw away your confidence" (10:35). Prolonging that process results in apostasy because that person has neglected to "pay more careful attention" (2:2 NIV) or "pay much closer attention" (:2 NASB). The Gospel represents "the things which we have heard [and not] at any time . . . should [we] let them slip" (:2 KJV). It represents salvation and heaven to the believer.

You are Partakers

You might respond that this warning doesn't appy to me because I am saved. But the author addresses the "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling" (Heb 3:1). "He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him" (7:25). You have "been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit" (6:4). "Beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation" (:9). Therefore they are Jewish believers. So why warn them about backsliding? Perhaps they are vulnerable because the New Covenant requires a different kind of faith than the Old Covenant.

Scripture should have been clear enough to them. "'He who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life'" (Jn 6:40). "'I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand'" (10:28). You would think that without science fiction sources to distract them they would take eternal life literally. Jesus promised, "'He who believes in Me will never thirst'" (6:32). It is a matter of trust, and when Hebrews was written, a number of people were still alive who had heard Jesus. He said "'the one who comes to Me, I will certainly not cast out'" (:37). "'All that [the Father] He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day'" (:39).

Maybe they missed the security of the religious routines of Tabernacle worship. But Jesus has become the New Covenant. "Christ was faithful as a Son over His house-whose house we are" (Heb 3:6). "Through Him we both have our access in the Spirit to the Father . . . and are of God's household" (Eph 2:18-19). Paul asks "who will separate us from the love of Christ?" (Ro 8:35). "For I am convinced that . . . [nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (:38-39).

Danger of Apostasy

Bible teachers explain that our position in Christ is based upon the foundation of the scriptures. However, each believer didn't have his own personal Bible like we do today. But the author of Hebrews reminded them "to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard" (Heb 2:2 KJV). Those Jews had been taught weekly on the Sabbath about the Old Covenant. Those "things" included "the man who finds wisdom and the man who finds understanding" (Proverbs 3:13). "The Lord by wisdom founded the earth, by understanding He established the heavens. By His knowledge the deeps were broken up" (:19-20). Hebrews was warning them not to "drift away" but to keep focused. "Let them not vanish from your sight; keep sound wisdom and knowledge" (:21).

Hebrews urges them to persevere. "Solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained" (Heb 5:14). "Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about Christ, let us press on to maturity" (6:1). They must have known "in Him you have been made complete" (Col 2:10) and that "He made you alive together with "Him" (:13). "Having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance (Eph 11:13-14) and "by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (4:30). They should have put their eyes on the future and not be returning to the past which would represent apostasy. "By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all" (Heb 10:10). "For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (:14). Hebrews is warning them not to reject the Gospel. "In later times some will fall away from the faith" (1Ti 4:1) but the day of the Lord "will not come unless the apostasy comes first" (2Ti 2:3). "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God . . . by which he was sanctified?" (Heb 10:29).

Salvation is Escape

The author predicates asking, "For if . . . every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape?" (Heb 2:2-3). It is a cause and effect. God told Moses, "'When you enter the land . . . when you eat of the food of the land, you shall lift up an offering to the Lord'" (Nu 15:19). "But when you unwittingly fail" (:22) you "shall offer one bull for a burnt offering . . . with its grain offering and its drink offering . . . and one male goat for a sin offering" (:24). This was to illustrate "how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (Heb 2:3). To escape is to avoid the consequences. "If the righteous will be rewarded in the earth, how much more the wicked and the sinner!" (Pr 11:31). Salvation means that "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1Ti 1:15) and "having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life" (Ro 5:10). The Lord is "not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance" (2Pe 3:9). The result of not escaping is to perish. It is an either-or proposition. Unfortunately "the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing" (1Co 1:18). But the author of Hebrews is addressing "those who are sanctified . . . [and Jesus] is not ashamed to call them brethren" (Heb 2:11) because they are "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling" (3:1). They are referred to in the same way in Hebrews 3:12, 10:19 and 13:22. Therefore believers are being addressed with the question "how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?" (2:3). The cross is "to us who are being saved . . . the power of God" (1Co 1:18). Why had Israel "turned away in continual apostasy? They hold fast to deceit, they refuse to return" (Jer 8:5). Peter advised to "repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away" (Ac 3:19) and Jesus preached "'repent and believe in the gospel'" (Mk 1:15).

Signs and Miracles

The author is concerned about those who may disregard salvation. He first makes it clear that it isn't because there wasn't enough evidence. "It was confirmed to us by those who heard" (Heb 2:3). Luke cites that "they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word" (Lk 1:2). It was "Jesus, because of the suffering of death . . . that by the grace of God He might taste death for everyone" (Heb 2:9) whereby "bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings" (:10). This is not just a generalization for posterity's sake in accordance with "'Has it not been written in your Law, 'I said, you are gods'?'" (Jn 10:34). "You have appointed him over the works of Your hands; you have put all things in subjection under His feet" (Heb 2:6). It is in accordance with the brethren because "beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation" (6:9). For this "reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren" (2:11). "'I will proclaim Your name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Your praise'" (:12).

At first glance Hebrews 2:1-4 could be looked at as a brief mention of importance. Verse one is apostasy, two the Law, three the gospel and four miracles. The Hebrews being addressed would remember when reminded. One would think a subject of such importance would require more emphasis. Peter's sermon reiterates Jesus' "miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know" (Ac 2:22). "Everyone kept feeling a sense of awe; and many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles" (:43). Hebrews then repeats that it was "God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will" (Heb 2:4). Paul thought it important to ask the Galatians "does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it . . . by faith?" (Gal 3:5). Revelation came "to you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven" (1Pe 1:12). But even today cessationists believe that miracles ceased when the apostles died. The author of Hebrews is reminding them of the applicability of the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Jesus highlighted the tendency of "'unless you people see signs and wonders, you simply will not believe" (Jn 4:48). Also, "'You seek Me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled'" (6:26). The Hebrews should have been challenged by this message.

A Firm Root

It is "His house-whose house we are" (Heb 3:6). But there is a contingency because the next phrase starts with "if." "If we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end" (:6). There is a parallel regarding the sower of seed where some "'fell on the rocky ground . . . [but] it had no depth of soil'" (Mk 4:5). It represents people who "'when they hear the word immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away'" (:16-17). If they receive the word joyfully you would assume it had been understood. "But a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised" (1Co 2:14). However, it is predicated on whether they have a "'firm root in themselves'" (Mk 4:16). You are motivated "'with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind'" (Mt 22:37). It is more than just your mind saying to itself that something is true. If that was the only criteria then if you drink in this way you "'will thirst again'" (Jn 4:13). "'Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it'" (Mt 16:25). He who "'drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day'" (6:54). They are to then hold on to it firmly "'until the end'" (:6). But for these it is only "'temporary'" (:17) and they "'fall away'" (:17) which is defined as apostasy.

In Hope Believed

Christ was "a Son over His house whose house we are if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope" (Heb 3:6). The word "hope" is used several times in the book of Hebrews. Having hope means that you have an expectation that something will come to pass. It can be based on justification or reasonableness, otherwise it would be hopeless. You can even have hope in a person who you feel can accomplish what you expect. Hope can have a connotation of doubt because if what you expect seems impossible, you wouldn't say "I hope so" questioning it. Therefore "hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees?" (Ro 8:24). "But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (:25). There is an eager anticipation not normally there as we are "looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). To Paul it was "according to my earnest expectation and hope" (Php 1:20).

One piece of the armor of God is the "helmet, the hope of salvation" (1Th 5:8). It protects the mind. When you get an understanding of something you reply, "I see what you mean." Seeing is a physical experience and a metaphor for mentally comprehending something. When it is established "our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing" (2Co 1:7). It is a deliberate decision. Paul advised "instruct those who are rich in this present world not . . . to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches" (1Ti 6:17). It shows you can misplace your hope as the Jews were told it is "'Moses, in whom you have set your hope'" (Jn 5:45). The proper focus is that "we have fixed our hope on the living God, who is the Savior of all men" (1Ti 4:10) and it is "He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us" (2Co 1:10).

There are attributes which include "believes all things, hopes all things" (1Co 13:7). The two are separated. Also "now faith, hope, love, abide these three" (:13). Separate words have individual meanings which sometimes need careful interpretation. Abraham is said that "in hope against hope he believed" (Ro 4:18). Both hope and believing are cited incorporating two meanings. Hope is fixing or setting your mind on a probable future result. "Against hope" (:18) means you wouldn't logically expect something to happen because the chance of it is almost zero. Abraham nonetheless hoped in it anyway and "in hope . . . he believed" (:18). These two words must have different uses or else they'd be redundant together. For instance, "we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness" (Gal 5:5). "We have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and exalt in hope of the glory of God" (Ro 5:2). Paul prayed that "the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit" (15:13). We "through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God" (1Pe 1:21). Abraham "believed in hope" (Ro 4:18 KJV) because he trusted in the promise "that he might become a father of many nations according to that which had been spoken" (:18).

Hope in God

The "hope of Israel" (Ac 28:20) is "the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain" (26:7). It is the "hope of the promise made by God to our fathers" (:6) regarding "the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago" (Titus 1:2). God has "given us eternal comfort and good hope by grace" (2Th 2:16) and we are "made heirs according to the hope of eternal life" (Titus 3:7). "There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling" (Eph 4:4). Paul prayed "that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling" (2:12).

How do you have hope? Hoping must be directed properly. It is necessary to "hope in God" (Ac 24:15) and to "hope in Christ" (Eph 1:12) because it is "Christ Jesus, who is our hope" (1Ti 1:1). Next we are to "take hold of the hope set before us" (Heb 3:18) and then your "flesh also will live in hope" (Ac 2:26). Where is the source of hope? "In earlier times [it] was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope" (Ro 15:4). "Hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts" (5:5). "In His name the Gentiles will hope" (Mt 12:21). It is "this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col 1:27). There is a "hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel" (:5). "This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast and one which enters within the veil" (Heb 6:19).

What is our position? "His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead" (1Pe 1:3). "Everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself" (1Jn 3:3). "Show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end" (Heb 6:11). "Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ" (1Pe 1:13). "If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied" (1Co 15:19). Therefore be "steadfast in hope" (1Th 1:3) and "continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation" (Col 1:23). "Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you" (1Pe 3:15).

Confess your Hope

"Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful" (Heb 10:23). The Greek word for confession means to say the same thing or to agree with. Another way to look at it is to speak out of as with a public declaration. Since it is confessing your hope it is agreeing with the expectation which you have identified. That is what you "hold fast . . . without wavering" (:23). Your faith depends on that "He who promised is faithful" (:23). "The promise was approaching which God had assured Abraham" (Ac 7:17). But make sure you aren't a "double-minded man, unstable in all his ways" (Ja 1:8). If you waver you're not holding fast and you can drift away. The most important aspect of this is when "you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord" (Ro 10:9). There's a saying that you should put your mind in motion before setting your mouth in gear. But with the engine running in neutral you'll never get anywhere if you don't engage the transmission. So when you "believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved" (:9) and "with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation" (:10). The first part of the verse says "with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness" (:10). Its as if without the second half of the verse the process is incomplete. Some have pointed out that even though doctrine itself is truth, if its only treated mentally, it isn't alive and has to be activated before it can be used.

Jesus said that "'everyone who confesses Me before men, I will also confess him before My father who is in heaven'" (Mt 10:32) and "'also before the angels of God'" (Lk 12:8). Its as if it was a requirement to speak it out openly "before men" (Mt 10:32). But the Pharisees said "if anyone confessed Him to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue" (Jn 9:22) so "they were not confessing him" (12:42). Paul advised to "fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called" (1Ti 6:12). He recognized that "you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses" (:12). So as "partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus" (Heb 3:1) who is the "great high priest who has passed through the heavens" (4:14) and the "High Priest of our confession" (3:1).

The author of Hebrews warns to hold on to the "confession of our hope" (Heb 10:23). Should the word's use be limited to just declaring, agreeing and praising? Or should its understanding be expanded to the larger context to where it is also used? If it means to audibly profess before men then when they were baptized in the Jordan River "they confessed their sins" (Mt 3:6) applies. Doctrinally "if we confess our sins He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins" (1Jn 1:9). The big picture is "your obedience to your confession of the gospel of Christ" (2Co 9:13). "The one who confesses the Son has the Father also" (1Jn 2:23) and "whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God" (4:15). "Every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord" (Php 2:11) and "every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God" (1Jn 4:2). In the longer perspective "all these died in faith, without receiving the promises, but having seen them and having welcomed them from a distance" (Heb 11:13). They had "confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth" (:13).

Assurance of Hope

It is "whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end" (Heb 3:6). "Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen" (11:1). We can have confidence if we're assured in our faith and have a conviction of what we're convinced of. When you are assured about something you know enough of the facts about it so that you can predict its behavior. It must be logical so that you can depend on its performance. You must feel good about it to place your faith in it. In fact, "faith is the assurance of things hoped for" (Heb 11:1). If your hope in something is well-founded based on evidence and how confident you feel about it then assurance is produced which represents faith in something. It is "the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding" (Col 2:2). To understand is to know. But there is the starting point where "we were dead in our transgressions" (Eph 2:5). Then there is "the beginning of our assurance" (Heb 3:14). Next, God makes "known to us the mystery of His will" (Eph 1:9) "resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery that is, Christ Himself" (Col 2:2). It is so "you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God" (4:12). Then "we will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him" (1Jn 3:19). In their desperation "men's hearts were failing them for fear . . . [of what was] coming on the earth" (Lk 21:26 KJV) and God's solution is, "'Cease striving and know that I am God'" (Ps 46:10). Scripture has been written "so that you may know that you have eternal life" (1Jn 5:13). "This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent" (Jn 17:3).

God "gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life" (Jn 3:16). "I give eternal life to them" (Jn 10:28). I've heard many people ask how does one comprehend eternal life? The Father sent Christ "into the world so that we might live through Him" (1Jn 4:9). "He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him" (Heb 7:25). "The testimony of God is this, that He has testified concerning His Son" (1Jn 5:9) and "that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son" (:11). "The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself" (:10) and "he who has the Son has the life" (:12). Your confidence is predicated on "that you may stand perfect and fully assured" (Col 4:12). But you don't stand on what you have personally figured out all by yourself. It is "He who began a good work in you" (Php 1:6) by way of "His calling and choosing you" (2Pe 1:10). His "great mercy has caused us to be born again" (1Pe 1:3). There is deliberation to it because "whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved" (Ro 10:13). It is "what I have entrusted to Him" (2Ti 1:12). "After listening to the message of the truth, the gospel" (Eph 1:13) "'everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me'" (Jn 6:45). Paul states "you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you unless you believed in vain" (1Co 15:2). It is "on the basis of faith in His name" (Ac 3:16) and a choice to "repent and return" (Ac 3:19) in "repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus Christ" (20:21).

Guaranty of Salvation

How do you know you possess salvation? "Believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead you will be saved" (Ro 10:9). "The one who believes in the Son of God has the testimony in himself" (1Jn 5:10) for "he who has the Son has the life" (:12). "Whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed" (Ro 10:11) for "as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name" (Jn 1:12). "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God" (Ro 8:16). "We have obtained an inheritance" (Eph 1:11) and are "heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ" (Ro 8:17) "with a view of the redemption of God's own possession" (Eph 1:14). He "gave us the Spirit in our hearts" (2Co 1:22) "as a pledge of our inheritance" (Eph 1:14).

How do you experientially know that you are a "new creation in Christ" (2Co 5:17). "By grace you have been saved through faith; and that it is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God" (Eph 2:8). It is "bestowed on us" (1:6) and "He has "blessed us with every spiritual blessing" (:3). "The love of God was manifested in us" (1Jn 4:9) and "God is for us" (Ro 8:31) and "intercedes for us" (:34). It is "an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you" (1Pe 1:4). "He is able to guard" (2Ti 1:12) and "perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus" (Php 1:6). You are "protected by the power of God through faith" (1Pe 1:5).

Is there a guaranty that what you believe in will be fulfilled? Abraham was "fully assured that what God had promised, He was able also to perform" (Ro 4:21). "The one who endures to the end will be saved" (Mk 13:13) "if we hold fast . . . until the end" (Heb 3:14). Some have commented that if there wasn't any ongoing responsibility of the believer to continue in faith then maybe God would rapture each one at the point of salvation. Calvinists believe that those "He foreknew, He also predestined" (Ro 8:29) takes away the threat of backsliding. But why would Peter warn "brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you" (2Pe 1:10). He answers "as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble" (:10). There are many scriptures you can rely on but they must experientially become a part of you. Therefore make sure you are "building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit" (Jude 20). It requires your effort to "keep yourselves in the love of God (:21). Furthermore, you must be "waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord" (:21). Anxiously means with anticipation and diligence.

Hold Confidence Fast

"Christ was faithful as a Son over His house whose house we are if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope" (Heb 3:5-6). We are "Christ's body, and individually members of it" (1Co 12:27). "You are a temple of God" (3:16) "of the Holy Spirit who is in you" (6:19). This is contingent "if we hold fast our confidence" (Heb 3:6). The phrase "hold fast" doesn't sound modern but it does have the connotation of to fasten something which is to firmly attach securely in place. The NIV translates it to "hold on to our courage" (:6) which means it is highly recommended. The word "courage" seems to denote positive thinking, and "holding on" self effort. The NASB uses the word "confidence." But the spiritual interpretation is, "'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit'" (Zec 4:6). The author of Hebrews warns "do not throw away your confidence, which has great reward" (10:35). That shows at least that it is a matter of will power. The NIV expresses that "we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first" (3:14). To hold connotes grasping with your hand, and if you don't have a firm handhold, you might drop it. Does it imply that you might get tired of holding it and set it down? The starting point is marked as "the beginning of" (:14 NASB) or "at first" (:14 NIV). Then you are to "show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure" (6:11 NIV) "so as to realize the full assurance of hope" (:11 NASB). We are to "hold unswervingly to the hope we profess" (10:23 NIV) "without wavering" (:23 NASB). You will receive "God's kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off" (Ro 11:22).

Another facet of perseverance is to "hold fast the word which I preached to you" (1Co 15:2). The understanding is in your mind, memory and comprehension. Paul applied this telling Timothy "continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them" (2Ti 3:14). Becoming convinced shows that it is not instantaneous but a process of study. "They observed the confidence of Peter and John . . . and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus" (Ac 4:13). Paul stated "we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him" (Eph 3:12) and "before Him" (1Jn 5:14). "Such confidence we have through Christ toward God" (2Co 3:4) and "great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus" (1Ti 3:13). "We have confidence in the Lord concerning you" (2Th 3:4), "in you in the Lord" (Gal 5:10) and "am convinced in the Lord Jesus" (Ro 14:14). There is always an object associated with confidence. You are "convinced of this" (Php 1:25) and your "confidence is this" (2Co 1:12). Also you "confidently say" (Ac 2:29), "speak confidently" (Titus 3:8), and "make confident assertions" (1Ti 1:7). Furthermore, servants are to "speak Your word with confidence" (Ac 4:29) and you are to "speak to him [the king] also with confidence" (26:26). "By this, love is perfected with us, so we may have confidence in the day of judgment" (1Jn 4:17). "Abide in Him, so that when He appears, we may have confidence" (2:28) "because as He is, so also are we in this world" (4:17).

Don't Harden Heart

"Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see" (Heb 11:1 NIV). "I know whom I have believed" (2Ti 1:12). "Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind" (Ro 14:5). "Our proud confidence is this: the testimony of our conscience . . . not in fleshly wisdom but in the grace of God" (2Co 1:12). "We are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh" (Php 3:3). "If anyone is confident in himself that he is Christ's, let him consider this again within himself, that just as he is Christ's, so also are we" (2Co 10:7). "If our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God" (1Jn 3:21). We are composed of body, soul and spirit and the heart is, spiritually speaking, connected with the last two whereby each person is "convinced in his own mind" (Ro 14:5). Accordingly Paul warns, "'Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness'" (Heb 3:8). "'They rebelled against Me and were not willing to listen to Me'" (Eze 20:8). "'Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts'" (Heb 3:7) "as at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness" (Ps 95:8). This can result in apostasy which is to reset your position by standing away from where you had previously associated yourself. "The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith" (1Ti 4:1) when "apostasy comes" (2Th 2:3). "In time of temptation [they] fall away" (Lk 8:13). "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His'" (2Ti 2:19).

The author then quotes Psalm 95:7-11. In the first two chapters he quoted the Old Testament logically because he was appealing to Jews. He precedes this quote with, "Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says" (Heb 3:7). "Therefore" signifies a conclusion. Also he is specifying God as this speaker as well as having written the psalm. Unbelief and rebellion are the subject. Consequences of this are emphasized with the parallel that "'they shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it'" (Nu 14:23). The wording of the Psalm 95:8-9 quote is a little different that Hebrews 3:8-9 but the content is the same. "'Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me, as in the day of trial in the wilderness'" (Heb 3:8). The psalm specifies "at Meribah, as in the day of Massah in the wilderness'" (Ps 95:8). The Greek word for "provoked" is dokimazo meaning to test with a view toward approval. It is associated with the geographical location Meribah which is called the place of strife. In the wilderness Israel stayed at Kadesh. "There was no water for the congregation . . . [and] the people thus contended with Moses" (Nu 20:2-3). God told Moses, "'Take the rod . . . and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water'" (:8). "Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and the water came forth abundantly" (:11). "He split the rocks in the wilderness and gave them abundant drink" (Ps 78:15). "Those were the waters of Meribah, because the sons of Israel contended with the Lord, and He proved Himself holy among them" (Nu 20:13).

Tried and Tested

Then they "camped at Rephidim, and there was no water for the people to drink" (Ex 17:1). "The people quarreled with Moses . . . [and he] "said to them, 'Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord'" (:2). The Greek word for "test" is peirazo meaning to test with a view toward destruction. It is associated with the geographical location Massah which is called temptation. Moses said, "'What shall I do to this people? A little more and they will stone me'" (:4). God told Moses, "'I will stand before you on the rock at Horeb; and you shall strike the rock [with your staff], and water will come out of it'" (:6). Moses "named the place Massah and Meribah because of the quarrel of the sons of Israel, and because they tested the Lord, saying, 'Is the Lord among us, or not?'" (:7). The author quotes, "'Your fathers tried Me by testing Me, and saw My works for forty years'" (Heb 3:9). The psalm phrased it, "'When your fathers tested Me, they tried Me, though they had seen My work'" (Ps 95:9). The words 'try' and 'test' are reversed but synonymous in context. "Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice'" (Nu 14:22).

"The Lord said to Moses, 'How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?'" (:11). "Yet they still continued to sin against Him, to rebel against the Most High in the desert, and in their heart they put God to the test by asking food according to their desire. Then they spoke against God; they said, 'Can God prepare a table in the wilderness?'" (Ps 78:17-19). "How long shall I bear with this evil congregation who are grumbling against Me? I have heard the complaints of the sons of Israel, which they are making against Me'" (Nu 14:27). "'I, the Lord, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they will die'" (:35). It is the result of a people who "'always go astray in their heart, and they did not know My ways'" (Heb 3:10). A rule was later made official when Moses said, "This is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you" (Dt 6:1). "'You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah'" (:16).

Result of Disobedience

"'Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me'" (Heb 3:15). "Who provoked Him when they heard?" (:16). "Was it not those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness" (:17) and "who were disobedient?" (:18). "They were not able to enter because of unbelief" (:19). Therefore, be careful "that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God" (:12). Make sure that "none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (:13). Disobedience results in sin due to hardness and unbelief. It leads to falling away from God. But why would the author of Hebrews bring this up to Jews who were now living under a New Covenant where the old one had been superseded? They would know not to make those same mistakes again. However, the reason is that "these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they craved" (1Co 10:6). They were not to "be idolaters" (:7). They said to Aaron, "'Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses . . . we do not know what has become of him'" (Ex 32:1). "They were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ" (1Co 10:4). The lesson is "that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe" (Jude 5).

One event in the wilderness was when they didn't have any water. God told Moses, "'Take the rod . . . and speak to the rock before their eyes, that it may yield its water'" (Nu 20:8). "Then Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock twice with his hand" (:11). But he was told to only speak to it. God then responded, "'Because you have not believed Me, to treat Me as holy in the sight of the sons of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them'" (:12). Later Moses recounted, "'The Lord was angry with me also on your account, saying 'Not even you shall enter there''" (Dt 1:37). The decision was that they "'shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers . . . but My servant Caleb, because he had a different spirit and followed Me fully'" (Nu 14:23-24). Entering the promised land is a picture of God's plan. "His works were finished from the foundation of the world" (Heb 4:3). "By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done" (Ge 2:2). The land God was giving Israel is symbolic of the result of the work he had finished which he was now resting from. However, "to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were not able to enter because of unbelief" (Heb 3:18-19). "Therefore, let us fear if, while a promise remains of entering His rest, any one of you may seem to come short of it" (4:1). "We who have believed enter that rest" (:3).

Enter that Rest

"Just as has been said before, 'Today . . . hear His voice'" (Heb 4:7) such that "we have had good news preached to us, just as they also" (:2) because they "had good news preached to them" (:6). Therefore ignorance isn't an excuse. "The word they heard did not profit them" (:2) "because of disobedience" (:6). They ignored the advice to "'not harden your hearts'" (:7) and "unbelief" (3:19) interfered "because it was not united by faith in those who heard" (4:2). "There remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God" (:9) and "it remains for some to enter it" (:6). "We who have believed enter that rest" (:3) "for the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works as God did from His. Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest" (:10-11). "Since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus" (10:19) "let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith" (:22). "We through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness" (Gal 5:5). But there is the other side of the coin. "The Lord said to Moses, 'Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book'" (Ex 32:33). No one "who is an idolater, has an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God" (Eph 5:5).

The author of Hebrews addresses them as "beloved" (6:9) and "holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling" (3:1). He recognizes they "have become dull of hearing" (5:11) and warns accordingly "do not drift away" (2:1). He is not concerned about unbelievers because they would not need to "hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end" (3:6). They have been "enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift" (6:4) and also of "the good word of God and the powers of the age to come" (:5). But he warns again for those who have "fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance" (:6). He is concerned about "better things" (:9) for them and to "press on to maturity" (:1). It is your "confidence, which has a great reward" (10:35) that "when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised" (:36). "He is able also to save forever those who draw near" (7:25) and "has perfected for all time those who are sanctified" (10:14). To many this means eternal security as with the Calvinists who believe in eternal salvation. "'Everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day'" (Jn 6:40). "'I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand'" (10:28). Is this an automatic passport to heaven no matter what happens? Or is it possible to completely, irreconcilably "drift away"? (Heb 2:1). One qualification is to "be imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises" (6:12). "We are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul" (10:39). Don't be like Esau who "even afterwards, when he desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance" (12:17).

Falling Away

There are warnings to the Jews in Hebrews about falling away. One theological premise is that it can be apostasy representing loss of salvation. That would have to be determined based on the definition of the words used and the context they are in. We have "a great high priest" (Heb 4:14) who David prophesied about saying, "'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts'" (:7). We are to "draw near" (:16) to him to "find grace to help in time of need" (:16). "The one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works" (:10). So we are to be "diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience" (:11). The example was when Israel failed to enter the promised land. If you don't enter that rest you will fall, and that generation "fell" in the wilderness. They died, so does that mean that if you do not believe, you will not enter in to heaven? These Hebrews were told they had "need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God" (5:12) because they were "not accustomed to the word of righteousness" (:13). What does it mean that you can "fall" (4:11)? Apparently these Hebrew believers were jeopardizing their position because they were being warned. Their immaturity (:12) was eroding their standing and the solution was to "press on to maturity" (6:1). Without perseverance it is possible to become like them who "have fallen away" (:6).

Answering a particular question without addressing the overall theme it is a part of is almost taking it out of context. But compensating by explaining everything can be overkill. You could begin by citing the introductory statement of God that "in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things" (Heb 1:2). It follows that if we don't listen and "neglect" (2:3) it we can "drift away from it" (:1). It is "salvation" (:3) marked by "the beginning of our assurance" (3:14). This is tied to having "once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift" (6:4). They had shared and had become "partakers of a heavenly calling: (3:1) and "partakers of Christ" (:14). Furthermore God had testified "by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit: (2:4) and they "have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit" (6:4). The message necessitates that "for this reason we must pay much closer attention" (2:2) to be one "who partakes" (5:13) "therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ" (6:1).

Falls Away

Continuity is an important ingredient in comprehending the meaning of a treatise. The author mentions that they must "hold fast . . . firm until the end" (Heb 3:6,14). In previous sections of this paper the subjects addressed were assurance, hope, confidence and confession. The author cautions there must not be "an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God" (3:12 NASB) since "they were not able to enter because of unbelief" (:19). It is also translated a "sinful" (:12 NIV) "heart of unbelief" (:12 KJV). "Falls away" (:12) is also phrased as "in falling away." It is a "heart that turns away" (:12 NIV) and one "in departing from the living God" (:12 KJV). The Greek word for "falls away" is aphistemi meaning to lead away or to depart from being composed of apo meaning away from and histemi meaning to make a stand. The connotation is that it is a wilful, irretrievable act in the sense of a deliberate repudiation. If it were just a temporary decision without permanent ramifications it would be so non-consequential that being mentioned in the first place would be questionable.

They will "press on to maturity" (Heb 6:1) "if God permits" (:3). They are "those who" (:4) have experienced God's provision and "then have fallen away" (:6 NASB). The KJV translates it "if they shall fall away" and the NIV "if they fall away." That Greek word is parapito meaning to fall in, into or away and even to fail. It is composed of pipto meaning to fall and para designating from beside, by the side of, by or beside. But it does not define what has been rejected or disconnected from. However the five substantival participles are grouped together by the article tous which means "those who" (:4). The first four speak of spiritual characteristics so it is the environment that those people are experiencing. How serious is this "falling away?" The Old Testament equivalent is the word mahal meaning to act unfaithfully. It is used in Ezekiel 14:13 referencing, "'If a country sins against Me by committing unfaithfulness'" and in Numbers 5:12 by, "'If any man's wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him.'" In the latter it is a conscious turning her back on her husband which is why the word is translated "trespass." The word inherits the meaning of "completely turning away from" which qualifies it as defined as "apostasy." This would designate "fallen away" as more serious because the context is that "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" (Heb 6:6). "It is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned" (:8).

The act of the crucifixion "cancelled . . . the decrees against us . . . having nailed it to the cross" (Col 2:14). He gave "His life a ransom" (Mt 20:28) because that sacrifice was payment for our debt. Therefore he who recognizes and accepts this "'he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me'" (Lk 9:23). That takes repentance. But those who "have fallen away" (Heb 6:6) repudiate that by unbelief. However, God will not permit certain things (:3). That is why it is not possible "to renew them again" (:6) because "they again crucify" (:6) Christ. God told Moses to "'strike the rock'" (Lev 17:6) but then he "struck the rock twice" (Nu 20:11) and because of this, he was not able to bring them "'into the land'" (:12). “If we go on sinning willfully . . . there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins” (Heb 10:26). We know it isn’t just being “caught in any trespass” (Gal 6:1) because there is forgiveness. However, anyone “who does anything defiantly” (Nu 15:30) and “who has set aside the Law of Moses” (Heb 10:28) “shall be cut off from among his people” (Nu 15:30) and “’you shall not pity him’” (Dt 19:13) because treating the cross as just a common death is to repudiate that sacrifice. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall” (1Co 10:12).

If God Permits

One observer commented that Hebrews 6:4-6 and 10:26-27 are directly related because of fiery judgment. The first says "it ends up being burned" (6:8) and the second that there is "judgment and the fury of a fire" (10:27). Are you willing to bet your eternal destiny on how certain verses are exegeted? He said this judgment took place at "the great white throne" (Rev 20:11) and "if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire" (:15). To ensure that their destiny would be favorable the Hebrews were being encouraged to "press on to maturity" (Heb 6:1). A comment follows that "this we will do, if God permits" (:3). Why would there even be a question? "As many as are the promises of God, in Him they are yes" (2Co 1:20). "For" (:4) predicates God's permission "in the case of those who have once been enlightened" (:4). There they are "partakers" (:4) because "we have become partakers of Christ" (3:14). But possibly those Jewish believers were being tempted to return to tabernacle worship because it was becoming inconvenient to walk by grace through faith in the new covenant. One solution was to "encourage one another day after day" (:13). However, believing is an individual decision which is based on a personal relationship with God when you "hear His voice" (:15). "Today, if you would hear His voice, do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah" (Ps 95:7-8). Israel had "'put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice'" (Nu 14:22). "With the heart a person believes" (Ro 10:10). The Hebrew believers were warned not to harden their hearts as Israel did (Heb 3:15). How do you harden your heart? You are "hardened by the deceitfulness of sin" (:13). Israeli people were "those who sinned" (:17) "who were disobedient" (:18). It is one with "an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God" (:12). Therefore "they were not able to enter because of unbelief" (:19). Sin is a transgression of the law producing "people weighed down with iniquity, offspring of evildoers" (Isa 1:4). They "abandoned . . . [and] despised God" (:4). God didn't permit them to "enter His rest" (Heb 3:18) and it is only "if God permits" (6:3) questionably disobedient followers to "press on to maturity" (:1).

What then happens to "those who have once been enlightened" (Heb 6:4) "and then have fallen away" (:6)? Some have "set aside the Law of Moses" (10:28) and others "trampled under foot the Son of God" (:29). They continue "sinning willfully" (:26) and become "worthless" (6:8). They have "regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant" (10:29) and "again crucify to themselves the Son of God" (6:6). They have "put Him to open shame" (:6) and "insulted the Spirit of grace" (10:29). To "crucify to themselves" (6:6) is equivalent to Peter explaining "'this Man . . . you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men" (Ac 2:23). "After receiving the knowledge of the truth" (Heb 10:26) it became "the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified" (:29). But now "there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins" (:26) and "it is impossible to renew them again to repentance" (6:6). In the Old Testament he "dies without mercy" (10:28) and now is "close to being cursed" (6:8). "How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve" (10:29)? "'The Lord will judge His people'" (:30). "It ends up being burned" (6:6) and there is "a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire" (10:27). Is one with an "evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God" (3:12) in irrevocable apostasy? Is he one who has failed to "hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end" (:14)?

Saved in the End

The author of Hebrews bases his exhortation on teaching which was "first spoken through the Lord" (Heb 2:3) because God "has spoken to us in His Son" (1:2). There were "those who heard" (2:3) and "we have heard" (:1) and "have tasted the good word of God" (6:5). Therefore it is our responsibility "that we do not drift away from it" (2:1). What we have heard is alive and personal because "the word of God is living and active" (4:12). Our response should be to "hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end" (3:6). Therefore, "'Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts'" (:7-8). "We have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end" (:14).

I heard a seminary graduate state that there were differences between Calvinism and Arminianism, and another say in his book that it was a subject in school and the crux of the matter was eternal security, and it depended on how you interpreted the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints. Apparently seminaries categorize reasoning regarding certain arguments as doctrines. But he didn't cite the scripture, so I found Revelation 14:12 which says, "here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus." People who keep something hold fast to it in faith. If you hold on you will retain your eternal security and Calvinists say all real Christians will persevere. But Arminians say you can lose it if you harden your heart. Jesus explained that in the last days "'the one who endures to the end will be saved" (Mk 13:13). Endurance is synonymous with the word perseverance in that doctrine. "'By your endurance you will gain your lives'" (Lk 21:19).

The doctrine of perseverance holds that saving your life at the end is salvation. One might say that "the end" represents the end of your life, or it may incorporate all those believers who overcome the trials of those last days. In the end "'he will be saved'" (Mt 24:13). However, "at that time many will fall away and betray one another'" (:10). If they fall away then "the perseverance of the saints who keep . . . their faith in Jesus" (Rev 14:12) doesn't apply. "'Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven'" (Mt 7:21) because Jesus will say, "'I never knew you'" (:23). He "'is able to destroy both soul and body in hell'" (10:28). There will be "retribution to those who do not obey God and the gospel . . . [and] these will pay the penalty of eternal destruction (2Th 1:8-9). "'He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned'" (Mk 16:16). "'He who believes in the Son has eternal life'" (Jn 3:36).