Study 2 SEVEN SOLEMN WARNINGS TO CHRISTIANS
HIGHLIGHTS IN HEBREWS
by Francis Dixon
(Key verse: Hebrews 2:1)
The key words in this epistle, written to Christians, are ‘better’ or ‘superior’: Hebrews 1:4; 6:9; 7:19; 7:22; 8:6; 9.23; 10:34; 11:16; 11:35; 11:40; 12:24. It is very much better to be a Christian than not to be one, for God has so many better things in store for His people. But Christians are constantly in danger of losing not their salvation but the reward that God promises to those who follow on to know Him. Christians can be careless and neglectful and fail to progress into all that God has planned, purposed and provided for His children here; hence the exhortation in Hebrews 6:1 about spiritual maturity. It is not possible for a truly born again child of God to fall away and be lost. Such a person is eternally secure for seven reasons:-
- 1. Because of divine election (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4; 2:10; 2 Timothy 1:9; 1 Peter 1:2).
- 2. Because of the completeness of Christ’s redemptive work (Hebrews 1:3; 7:25; 10:10-14).
- 3. Because salvation is of grace (Ephesians 2:8-10; Philippians 2:12-13; Titus 3:5).
- 4. Because of the eternal nature of salvation (John 3:16; 2 Timothy 4:18; Hebrews 9:12).
- 5. Because of the clear promises of Scripture (John 5:24; 6:37; 10:28-29; Philippians 1:6).
- 6. Because of the believer’s union with Christ (John 1:12-13; 15:5; Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 1:13).
- 7. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit which is eternal (Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30).
It’s not possible for a saved man to fall away and be lost but very possible for him to fail to realise God’s purpose in saving him. In connection with this the writer to the Hebrews gives seven warnings to Christians - that if they are careless and disobedient and do not go on to mature, two things will happen:-
- 1. They will incur God’s discipline here and now (Hebrews 12:6-11); compare John 15:2 with 1 Corinthians 11:28-32.
- 2. They will lose their reward later on (1 Corinthians 3:12-15).
So what are the warnings, the dangers, which we face as Christians?
1. The danger of drifting like a ship without a rudder (Hebrews 2:1-3).
The picture is of a ship that has drifted past its moorings, and this is our danger. Verse 3 tells us how we drift: it is by sheer neglect of prayer, Bible study, soul-winning and so on; and one reason for this is that we become preoccupied with secondary and unimportant things in the light of eternity.
2. The danger of having an evil heart of unbelief (Hebrews 3:12-19; 4:1-2).
The danger of unbelief is the danger of not believing God, of not trusting Him, of failing to take Him at His word (Hebrews 11:6)! What is unbelief?
- 1. It is like turning our back upon God (3:12).
- 2. It is a dangerous sin, and sin is so deceitful (3:13).
- 3. It leads to hardness of heart (3:15).
- 4. It grieves God (3:17-18).
- 5. It deprives us of blessing (3:19).
Now look at Hebrews 4:1-2. How easy to listen to the Word without the mixing of faith, and how often the Lord has to say to us - look up Luke 8:25!
3. The danger of being content with spiritual immaturity.
Hebrews 5:11-14; 6:1 show us that:
- 1. Christians can be “slow to learn” (5:11).
- 2. We should be teachers, but we are not taught (5:12).
- 3. We are babies (5:12-13).
- 4. We lack discernment (5:14).
- 5. We should go on to maturity (6:1; Ephesians 4:13-14).
4. The danger of serious backsliding and the failure to repent.
We see this in Hebrews 6:4-10. The writer is addressing Christians, for they have been “enlightened”, “have tasted the heavenly gift”, “have shared in the Holy Spirit” (all in verse 4); they ”have tasted the goodness of the word of God” and “the powers of the coming age” (both in verse 5) - but these are Christians who have been backsliding. Notice verse 6 does not refer to salvation but “repentance”. When a believer falls into sin and does not repent he is in danger of becoming one of God’s castaways (1 Corinthians 9:24-27); that is, he is not in danger of losing his salvation but he is disqualified for service and comes under God’s judgment – he is set aside. Perhaps he will become sick in body, or perhaps he will die, and he will suffer loss at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 11:28-32).
5. The danger of committing deliberate and wilful sin (Hebrews 10:26-29).
This is not sin of ignorance but wilful sin, and Christians are capable of this! Is there forgiveness for wilful sin? Yes there is (1 John 1:9). But if we refuse to give up our sin and to repent, what then? What will God do? He will judge us, not with eternal judgment but with discipline in this life and loss of reward in the next. The danger that faces Christians is not that of losing their salvation but the danger of losing God’s best.
6. The danger of being careless and undisciplined (Hebrews 12:12-17).
We can get spiritually slack and discouraged (verse 12); how we need to be determined to go straight ahead in our Christian life (verse 13); to be peaceable and holy (verse 14); not to become resentful and bitter (verse 15); and verses 16-17 tell us that if we go on like this, failing and falling in a careless and undisciplined way, chastening now and loss at the Judgment Seat will follow.
7. The danger of refusing to hear the Word of God (Hebrews 12:18-26).
God has spoken in two ways – first to Moses; this was the voice from Sinai (verses 18-21); but second, He speaks to us now, and our danger is shown in the first part of verse 25. Are you at any point refusing to hear His voice and to do His will?
These are some of the dangers we are warned about and which we, as Christians, face. To heed them will make for progress, sanctification, maturity and usefulness; to ignore them will make for failure and fruitlessness, and this will bring the Lord’s chastening now, and when Jesus comes - shame and loss - look up 1 John 2:28.