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Going on Toward Perfection
Summary —Leaving First Principles. First Principles Explained. Going On to Perfection. The Fatal Consequences of Apostasy. Exhortation to Diligence. The Absolute Assurance of God's Promises.
1, 2. Leaving the principles. The rudiments, the milk fitted only for babes. Let us go on unto perfection. Go on to the higher lessons which belong to full grown men. The exhortation is to go on from the lessons of Christian childhood
to those of manhood in Christ. See verses 13, 14 of chapter 5. Not laying again the foundation, etc. To lay the foundation once is enough, if it is laid right. These first principles are the foundation of Christian life, but
we must build higher and higher upon them. Repentance. This was essential in laying the foundation. All men are commanded to repent. Repentance is essentially a change of the will,
the rebellious will becoming a will to serve the Lord. Dead works. Some try to save themselves by trusting in their works but they are as vain to save as though they were dead. Faith towards God. Faith as well as repentance enter into the foundation. The sinner must believe upon the Lord, and repent. See Acts 16:31 and 2:38.
2. Of the doctrine of baptisms. The third of these first principles which belong to the “foundation” relates to baptism. See Acts 2:38, also Eph. 4:5; Matt. 28:19, etc. But why is the plural used? There is but one baptism in water when the penitent is baptized into Christ (Eph. 4:5; Gal. 3:27). There is, however, another baptism which was promised before Christ came which was not of water. See Matt. 3:12. Christ also promised it before his ascension. Hence there is not only the baptism of the body in water, but of the spirit
in the Holy Spirit, as fulfilled on the day of Pentecost.
Laying on of hands. In the primitive church the extraordinary operation of the Holy Spirit was imparted by the laying on of the Apostolic hands (Acts 8:17). Of the resurrection of the dead. One of the fundamental but primary principles of Christian teaching. Of eternal judgment. This was comprehended in teaching the resurrection. All were to be rewarded according to the deeds of this life.
3–6. If God permit. We will go on to these higher lessons if God permit. The author is led by the 310Spirit in what he says, and hence humbly defers all he shall say in the rest of the epistle to the will of God. 4. For it is impossible. There are sins that have no forgiveness (Matt. 12:31, 32). There are Apostates who can never find a place for repentance, not because of the failure of God's mercy, but because they have destroyed their moral capacity for a heartfelt repentance. Usually the most hardened sinner are apostates. Were once enlightened. Had the light of the Gospel. See John 8:12. Have tasted. Experienced. The heavenly gift. The new life in Christ. Christ “giveth life unto the world” (John 20:31). Partakers of the Holy Ghost. The Spirit of God is sent into the heart of all sons (Gal. 4:6; Rom. 8:9). 5. And have tasted the good word of God. Fed on that word which is food for the soul. The powers of the world to come. The miraculous gifts of the Spirit. The world to come is used in the sense of the Christian dispensation. 6. If they fall away. Apostasize from the faith. To renew them to repentance. He is so far fallen that he has no capacity left for repentance. Judas the Apostate sorrowed, but his sorrows became despair. There was remorse but not repentance. Crucify … the Son of God afresh. By rejecting Christ they place themselves with those who rejected him and crucified him because he affirmed that he was the Son of God. Those meant are not those “overtaken in a fault,” or backsliders only, but men once Christian professors who not only turn away from but oppose Christ.
7, 8. For the earth, etc. These two verses show that treatment depends on what kind of fruit is borne. God sends sunshine and rain on the earth. If it brings forth food for man, it is blessed. But if it brings forth thorns and briers, they are rejected. So God, who blesses our lives, and refreshes them with the Gospel, demands righteous fruit. If they bear thorns, the end is destruction.
9–12. We are persuaded better things of. That you will not bear thorns and briers. 10. For God is not unrighteous to. Though the Hebrew Christians had not advanced in knowledge (5:12), yet they had shown the fruits of the love of Christ in ministering to the saints. 11. Show the same diligence. Not only continue your work of love, but show equal diligence in attaining the 311full assurance of hope, by going on to perfection in knowledge. 12. That ye be … followers of them. Of the glorious heroes of the faith, like Abraham and Moses, and the martyrs, like Stephen and James. Faith and patience. These qualities, essential to steadfastness, must be found in those who “inherit the promises.”
13–20. For when God made promise. The promises are absolutely sure. See how God confirmed his promise to Abraham! See Gen. 22:15–18. 14. Saying, Surely blessing. The promise so confirmed to Abraham is given in these words. 15. He obtained the promise. It was sure, but he had to patiently endure in order to obtain. The history of Abraham shows how he was blessed. 16. For men verily swear by the greater. When men make a solemn oath in order to settle a fact or covenant beyond controversy they usually swear in the name of God. God, however, could swear by no one greater than himself. 17. God willing, etc. God, out of condescension to that human weakness which puts more confidence in an oath than in the bare word, confirmed his promise by an oath. 18. That by two immutable things. By his word of promise, and by his oath, neither of which could ever be broken. Strong consolation. In the absolute certainty of God's promises who have fled for refuge. Fled from the wrath revealed against sin to the Gospel with its promises and blessed hopes. 19. Which hope … an anchor of the soul. As an anchor holds the ship when the storms are raging, so this hope holds the soul stedfast. Entereth into that within the vail. The vail was before the Holy of Holies in the tabernacle, but it was a type of heaven. Hence this means that the hope reaches to heaven. It is a heavenly hope. 20. Whither the forerunner. As the High Priest entered within the veil into the Holy of Holies, so our High Priest has entered for us, and before us, into the heavens. A High Priest forever, etc. See notes on chapter 7:1–10. 311
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