If believers come away in despair from a study of the sixth chapter of Hebrews, this is an indication of a serious misreading of the text. This portion of Scripture provides some of the strongest comfort that can be found in the entire Bible.
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. For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek (vv. 10-20).
The warnings in the first part of the chapter are warnings against true covenant apostasy, but they are not consistent with those things which “accompany salvation” (v. 9). What then, does accompany salvation?
1. Full assurance of hope until the end (v. 11);
2. Faithful and patient inheritance of the promises (v. 12);
3. An abundant demonstration of God’s immutability in saving us (v. 17);
4. Strong consolation for heirs of this hope (v. 18);
5. And an anchor for the soul, sure and steadfast (v. 19).
So the sixth chapter of Hebrews is the great chapter on the everlasting security of the one who through faith trusts in Christ. Is every covenant member such an heir? No — that is why the covenant warnings are present in the first part of the chapter. But those covenant members with true faith in Christ are not left to twist in the wind.
We must remember the context of this book. Three things are worth remembering about the language of Hebrews. Remember the destruction of Jerusalem, which will occur within a very short period of time of the writing of this letter. These are people contemplating a return to a religion centered in Jerusalem, which was about to be destroyed in the raging fire that would consume the adversaries of God. Remember the corporate plural language in the early warnings — the land drinking in the rain is the vineyard of the Lord, which is the church not the individual heart. And third, recall that the issue is visible apostasy, not invisible “sins against the Holy Ghost.”
The strength of our consolation here is based entirely upon God’s character. God does not change. We have been given two immutable things — God’s character does not change, and consequently His Word does not change. But so that we could have an even stronger hope, God swore by Himself — His oath cannot change either. So now we have fled to this refuge, the refuge of God’s immutability in His purpose of saving us (v. 18).
But think for a moment. If our salvation were what most Christians assume it to be — a cooperative effort between God and man — how does this provide strong consolation? This reduces the whole sorry affair to “you will never be lost if you…” If God has immutably decreed that we will not be lost if we . . ., then where are we? Not only are we without strong consolation, we are without any consolation at all. A chain, including the chain of salvation, is only as strong as its weakest link. Are you one of those links? Or do you glory in the fact that you are not?
Look away. Away from your heart, away from your sins, away from your doubts, away from your trials, away from your motives, away from yourself. Outside Jerusalem, two thousand years ago, Christ was hung on the cross to accomplish God’s immutable purposes in salvation. “Yes, but I want to know if I am a part of that salvation. Does it include me?” If you really want to know, then look away. Look to Christ. Those who do, see Him. Those who do not, are left with their own goodness and only enough attachment to the covenant to make them miserable.