Confident Of Better Things
Key Verse 6:9
“Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case— things that accompany salvation.”
In Hebrews 5:11-6:8, the Apostle had spoken very honestly and harshly to them warning them against remaining infants in the faith. He had especially warned them against becoming so stagnant in their faith that they would require to be taught about the fundamentals of the Christian faith all over again. That would not be healthy at all, but rather destructive. He had even shown them that those who end up in that situation would surely not be able to recover spiritually at all. It would be impossible for them to repent all over again like non believers coming newly to faith in Christ. He says it would be like an insult to the glorious Son of God who was once crucified for them to have to be crucified for them all over again. When a Christian doesn’t grow in his or her faith to maturity as they should, and remain in the cradle, there is always the danger that when hardship or temptation comes they would easily fall for it, from which there is no turning back because the heart is too hard to repent.
So the apostle urged them to move on to maturity in the faith so that the salvation they received through their faith in Christ may bear the fruit it was meant to bear in their lives. In other words God wanted to see the fruit of the salvation he gave them in Christ in each of their lives. You see, the Lord’s purpose isn’t just to save us, but to also bear the fruit of this salvation in our lives. While this truth is pretty evident in the whole Bible, the apostle also makes it very clear. He tells them in verse 7: “Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God.” What’s he’s saying here is that the land that benefits from the rain often falling on it, produces or should produce a crop useful to the one who farms it. Or, if a farmed land gets the rain it needs and in abundance, then it should produce a useful crop for the farmer. Then in turn the farmer will be greatly pleased and take God care of it. In other words if the Lord sacrificed his Son to Save us (and that’s the rain falling on the land), then we ought to produce the fruit of salvation. And those who do, in turn are abundantly blessed by the Lord and greatly rewarded.
The apostle warned them not remain infants in the faith, content in their elementary teachings and the basics of the knowledge of Christ in all his glory. If the rain falls and the land rather than producing a useful crop, produces nothing but weeds, that land isn’t doing what it’s supposed to do. If the Christian isn’t producing fruit, but if his or her salvation is producing complaints and burdens, troubles and sin sickness, he or she isn’t doing what they’re supposed to do with their salvation for the Lord. They are standing on very precarious ground. If you and I have received the Lord’s salvation, we have to be producing the fruit of salvation for the Lord. It was a tough warning. But the apostle had no intention of discouraging them at all. Rather warnings regarding repentance are always good for the soul. And warnings to maintain a life of repentance is even better for the soul! The apostle intended for them to make every effort to mature in the faith, to maintain a humble life of repentance as they hold on to the grace of the Lord in their lives, and produce the fruit of salvation as the Lord intended them to.
Look at verse 9. “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case— things that accompany salvation.” He had spoken hard words to them. But he is convinced of better things in their case. What things? Things that accompany salvation. And what are the things that accompany salvation? These are the fruits of salvation. These are the useful crops the Lord expects from the lives of those he has delivered to salvation. (7) Not every believing Christian bears the same amount of fruit, because the Lord already told us that some will bear thirty, some sixty, some even a hundred fold fruit (Matthew 13:23). But the truth is that every believing Christian bears the same kind of fruit as the evidence that he or she is indeed a child of God (Matthew 7:15-20). And the fruit we’re talking about here is diverse, but fundamentally it is the fruit of a Christ-like character and conduct (Galatians 5:22-26). And this fruit is produced by the Holy Spirit as we mature in Christ. Humility, repentance, patience, obedience, perseverance, godly peace and prayer and the joy of knowing that you are growing in the likeness of the Lord, and more! These are the better things that accompany salvation, that can’t be separated from salvation, the very fruits of salvation. When God rains down salvation on us, how can a believing Christian not bear such fruits to the Lord! But unless we mature, how can we possibly bear this fruit that the Lord in his grace desires! We can’t.
But look at verse 9 again. What a glorious word of encouragement this is to them and to us regardless of what our spiritual condition is, or what we think it is! The fact that the apostle is speaking by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit encourages our hearts that the Lord has great hope for them and for us, although most of us are surely but babes in the faith. “I’m convinced of better things for you,” he says, “things that accompany salvation”. Better yet, “I’m certain that hearing these words, you’re going to grow out of your childish faith into mature and faithful servants of the Lord, whose fruitful lives will reflect your salvation in every way”. Thus he was convinced of better things for them, and for us. And so also should be our faith as well, for ourselves and for those we pray for. His words convict and comfort our hearts at the same time.
The apostle now reveals the reason of his own conviction in regards to his hope for them. Read verse 10. “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” First, God’s righteous character is the foremost reason for his hope for them to mature in their faith and bear the fruit of salvation. God is not unjust but rather just in character, treating his children with fairness, and never forgetting the good they had done in his name, and for his sake. Once when our Father of faith Abraham weakened in his faith and went to Egypt to escape the famine, the great God in heaven who promised to take care of him should have been insulted and left Abraham to wallow in his sin. But God remembered Abraham’s faith and rescued him from Egypt. God never forget his a own but is fiercely loyal to them. One time the most wicked king Ahab of Israel, after years of living in enmity with God showed one sign of repentance, and God averted his anger from him. How much more fairly will God deal with his own children? God is just, righteous and fair in his dealings with us. We also remember these words “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9) And these words: “Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) Because God is faithful and just, righteous, we always have hope, because God’s hope for us is never-ending and everlasting.
Second, the apostle revealed another reason for his conviction of hope for them to mature. Look at verse 10 again. They had already borne the fruit of salvation in their lives. And God in his righteous character wouldn’t forget that. They had borne the fruit of love in their lives, expressed through their labor and sacrifice for the fellowship of believers, which they continued to express. They loved the Lord of grace and mercy, and they have expressed it by helping one another in the fellowship of believers. Their labor of love has revealed itself through selfless acts of sacrifice towards one another and towards those who belonged to Christ Jesus our Lord. There can be no greater fruit of salvation than the fruit of love, expressing itself through sacrifice. Our Lord himself had said: “Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Our Lord Jesus has said: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” And he said: “I have set before you an example that you should do as I have done for you… Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.” (John 13:13-17) These Christians to whom the apostle was writing had a serious problem with their faith; their faith was young and immature, feeble and weak. They certainly needed to grow in faith so that they might experience and demonstrate all the fruits of their salvation, and so that they might become productive Christians in the Lord’s kingdom work. But we can clearly say that they had love shown the fruit of love.
The fruit of love and the Labor of sacrifice and of self giving that usually flows from love is the one fruit that sets his people apart from the world, and identifies them as the Lord’s own holy people. It is his own love flowing in and through his children that enables us to love and serve one another in a way that is totally foreign to the world. The world loves in a worldly way, tainted by selfishness and by self serving motives. It is easily turned or diminished when it no longer receives the benefits of another. But the love the Lord has poured into our hearts is different. It is his own love, unconditional and sacrificial and self giving. The seeds of that love is there, such that we know what true love is, and how different it is from the love we knew when we were in the world. We when that love is poured into our hearts by his grace which saved us, then we mysteriously have love for the family of the Lord, for brothers and sisters we know and those we do not even know. Yet we love them, and our hearts go out to them; and it’s more than a feeling, but an affinity for them, a familiarity with them that they belong to us and we belong to them. Especially in a fellowship or community of believers that love grows strong over time. We are ready to help or to sacrifice for them whatever the cost. But we cannot relay on the miracle of love to grow naturally in our hearts. The fruit is there because of the Lord; but the seed must be watered and tended and cared for; and the tree nurtured that it might take deeper root, and be free from parasites and things that hinder its growth; that it might grow even more luscious fruit. Love that flows from the heart of the Savior to our heart is good and wondrous. But if we are content and it is left alone, it will not spring up by itself, rather it will shrivel up and become even sour. There are many children of God who, by not tending the fruit of love, become distant and irritable and unwilling to put forth love. They love because of the Lord— but their love is cold and weak and reluctant.
God gives us many opportunities to exercise and grow the love he has poured into our hearts, especially for our love to be expressed not in words of mouth, but in a labor of sacrifice and of self giving. No fellowship can serve the purpose for which it was established by the Lord unless all the believing Christians in it exercise the fruit of love which the Lord has placed upon each of their hearts. And from the fruit of love, when put into action, usually grows most of the other fruits of salvation that we inherit from the Lord as well. We emphasize one on one Bible study in our ministry for example, as one of our most precious acts or offerings of sacrifice and of self giving. We emphasize and encourage it upon the believing Christians in our community because we see it demonstrated in the Bible, and because it is an effective way of evangelizing young people. But we also encourage it because one on one Bible study requires a tremendous labor of love for those who are truly engaged in it. When love is shown through one on one Bible study, a relationship emerges, through which patience and longsuffering and prayer and the bearing of many weaknesses and failings of those who are being taught and mentored is required. When love is engaged through loving one on one Bible study, not only love is severely put through the test, but other fruits of one’s salvation are also forced to the forefront, and tested in turn and by the Lord’s gracious hand at work, they too are grown and matured as well. There are many ways to help the young emerging Christians in their Christian walk, but love demonstrated through the sacrifice and self giving of one on one mentoring truly by far surpasses many other kinds of helps. No wonder the New Testament brightly shines light on Bible teaching, whether personal one on one or simply the teaching of the word to the fellowship of believers, because the fruit of love and other fruits through that can best grow. Indeed, God gives us many opportunities to exercise and grow the love he has poured into our hearts. And we must take them.
Read verses 11-12. “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” He doesn’t want them to become lazy, but he wants each one of them to show the same diligence in the labor of love— to the very end! And that is the trouble among most of God’s children, whoever they may be, wherever they may be. We may begin well— sometimes even very well— but it is so difficult to remain the course to the very end. The love that the Lord pours into our hearts, when we first taste it is so beautiful, so wondrous, so amazing that we cannot contain it, and we want to share it, we want to shout it out, we want to publish it all over the world if possible. Our hearts are inspired by his grace, and our minds are set on obeying his every command. Love is so natural to us that we don’t even need to be told, or reminded of the love we are to show each other— love even to the wicked stranger. And we are ready to face the challenges that visit upon us. But as time goes by, and challenges become more and more difficult, disappointments and misunderstandings, painful experiences of love not returned, love spurned, love beaten up and left hurting— There are two ways to go. Either love grows through these experiences because we have learned to drink deeply only from the one fountain of love that never goes dry— that fountain of the Lord Jesus, and we have grown through our ordeals in forgiveness, and in patience, and in understanding and in prayer so that the fruit of love in our hearts is fiercely protected by his grace, and by the hope we have to be more and more like him— for in all these things our Lord himself has suffered in love yet, he loved and he loved even more and he loved to the very end. For the apostle tells us in verse 11 that those who are diligent in love to the very end, have their hope made sure and secure. Of course, our hopes in Christ are many, to inherit his kingdom and to enjoy him forever. But our foremost hope in Christ is to be made like him in every way. And there is nothing that a believing Christian truly desires more than to love as Jesus loved. That is our supreme hope over and above all others.
While the first road has its way cut through diligence and perseverance and ends in hope realized, the other road unfortunately is mired in so many sorrows. When challenges come to test love, and they are not met within with the necessary grace to sustain and grow it. At some point in time, after it has given itself to others many times and come out hurt, love becomes touchy and sensitive and critical of others, and retreats to a safe place where it finds shelter and remains secluded and on guard. That’s when Christians no longer show diligence in love, and have no interest in doing the things they did at first, which the Lord has put on their hearts to do. That’s when they grow lazy and self justified in their loveless retreat, making excuses as to why they will no longer give of themselves in loving sacrifice. That is the spiritual trauma many of us face today. As a fellowship, we have for the most part retreated from one on one ministry where God calls most of us to put out love especially for those who are suffering in sin and who are in need of serious mentoring. Even as a fellowship of believing Christians who must diligently help one another, we may be severely lacking. The church, for example, cannot function without those who give of themselves to love the church. God has given us a great opportunity to fill out the servantship post and giving post for leadership in the church. These are by far wondrous ways to exercise love for the church community, for our Lord himself was first a self giving and Servant Lord in all that he did. If our hope is truly to be like him, the post of giving and of servantship should be the first on our hearts, even though these posts offer no glory to those who fill them, and regardless of the sacrifice it takes to lead in that capacity. For it is an opportunity to test our love, to take it out of its cold shelter where it has retreated, and to place it out in the open where it can blossom and bear fruit. We cannot afford to be lazy, nor to lose interest in serving, or in sacrificing, or in giving of ourselves to the work of the Lord and to his people who desperately need our help. A church can only function and fulfill its purpose when we are all engaged in a labor of love towards each other and the body of the Lord whom we love, to the honor and glory of his name. Laziness and lack of diligence in love is a disease that can only be eradicated through repentance and a renewal of hope to be like him. Let’s sincerely repent this day, one and all for sheltered lazy love, and let us truly find our place again in the church community.
In verse 12 the author draws their attention and ours to “Those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” He wants us to imitate them, especially to imitate their faith because as faith grows, so also does love and hope as well. And the apostle gives us an example of those of whom he is speaking, mainly our ancestor of faith Abraham, who received from God what was promised to him. May God give us renewed hope to grow in love, to be diligent in it to the very end, so that we may also grow in all the fruits of salvation that God himself is so confident that we will grow in for he is a righteous God who always fulfills his promise.