I have written an e-book, Does the Bible Really Say That?, which is free to anyone. To download that book, in several formats, go here.
Creative Commons License
The posts in this blog are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. In other words, you can copy and use this material, as long as you aren't making money from it, and as long as you give me credit.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Warning passages in Hebrews: Table

Warning Passages in Hebrews
(All Scripture quoted from the World English Bible, public domain.)
Persons warned
Punishment predicted
Hebrews 2:1 Therefore we ought to pay greater attention to the things that were heard, lest perhaps we drift away. 3a how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation [?]
Not specific
Hebrews 3:12 Beware, brothers, lest perhaps there be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God
“Brothers” (and sisters)
Not specific
Hebrews 4:11 Let us therefore give diligence to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.
Not entering “rest”
Hebrews 6:4 For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame.
Enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s word, and powers of the age to come
Won’t be able to repent
Hebrews 10:26 For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remains no more a sacrifice for sins, 27a but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, 29 How much worse punishment do you think he will be judged worthy of who . . . has counted the blood of the covenant with which he was sanctified an unholy thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?
“We,” if we sin willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth; and have been sanctified
No more sacrifice for sins, but judgment and punishment
Hebrews 12:14 Follow after peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no man will see the Lord, 15a looking carefully lest there be any man who falls short of the grace of God;. . . like Esau, who sold his birthright for one meal. 17 For you know that even when he afterward desired to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for a change of mind though he sought it diligently with tears.
“Any man (or woman) who falls short of the grace of God”
Falling short of the grace of God, can’t repent.

The above chart is an attempt to show the "warning passages" from Hebrews in a single table.
Who was Hebrews written to? (In other words, who are “we” and “us”?) The NIV Study Bible indicates that it was written primarily to Jewish Christians. So do these verses from the book: (World English Bible, public domain)
Hebrews 1:1 God, having in the past spoken to the fathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 has at the end of these days spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds.
2:3 how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation—which at the first having been spoken through the Lord, was confirmed to us by those who heard; 4 God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders, by various works of power, and by gifts of the Holy Spirit, according to his own will?

You may want to see this post, on the characteristics that Christians should have, according to the Bible.

The warning passages in Hebrews aren't the whole story. There are warning passages elsewhere in the Bible. There are also indications that God is able to keep Christians from falling, as in 7:25 Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them.

Some people believe that the warning passages in the Bible indicate that a person who is saved can become lost, and the warning passages in Hebrews are evidence for that. They believe that, although God is able to keep us from falling, we can still choose to disobey and fall away. The warnings in Hebrews 6 and 10 seem to be speaking to mature believers, sanctified believers.

Those who don't believe that a believer can become lost argue that the warning passages were not really written to Christians, but to some who associated with Christians, perhaps thought they were Christians, but really were not. Here's a scholarly example of such an argument.

I am not going to settle the question of whether believers can fall away or not. (There's a Wikipedia article on the Perseverance of the Saints, which covers the subject pretty well.) Many people, smarter than I, have been unable to settle the question over several centuries of Christian thought. But there is a much more important question, namely, "am I really committed to following Christ now, do I have a relationship with Him, and, with the help of the Holy Spirit, am I doing my best to keep from sinning?"

Thanks for reading!

No comments: