The writer of Hebrews has just painted a horrifying picture of a person who was so close and yet lost it all. Hebrews 6:4-8 is a grim picture of a person who had all the attributes of a true Christian but ended up being what we call an apostate. An apostate is a defector, a traitor, one who turns aways from the faith. The author goes so far as to say that there is no hope for such a person to repent and come back to God. Thus, the readers of this letter might find themselves at this point in great dread and hopelessness. So, the author encourages them that even though he is writing such things, he is confident that these things do not apply to them.
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:9–12, NKJV)
As you carefully read today’s text above make note of the reasons why the author has such confidence and hope in his readers. What is the evidence that these Christians are still truly walking in God’s grace? And what exhortations does the author charge the readers with to keep them going strong?
Later, this same author will go on to write…
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin. And have you forgotten the encouraging words God spoke to you as his children? He said, “My child, don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child.” As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really hischildren at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way.” (Hebrews 12:1–11, NLT)