Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Heb 6

6:20. Calvin makes a good point at the beginning of his comment on the chapter, in saying "they then act most unreasonably who remain in the first elements, for they propose to themselves no end, as though a builder spent all his labor on the foundation, and neglected to build up the house."

How many of us by illustration have books that we've started, should have finished, but didn't or haven't until now? Books. Tasks. Careers. Family matters. It also applies in matters of salvation -- not its foundation, but going forward from the foundation.

Here is even a place in which the common practice of younger Christians is appropriate in mocking those "who remain in the first elements." Didn't the Lord also explicitly mention the mockery of those not finishing their tower, in Lk 14:29-30? How appropriate this is, in view of the letter to the Hebrews' purpose, for exhorting the hearers to not go back to "first principles," in particular, the Old Covenant. Calvin says "the foundation is laid for the sake of what is built on it."

We can develop an understanding of the place of 6:4ff. in this context as well. The author's concern is to "go on to maturity." (6:1). "And this we will do if God permits." (6:3). Then, as a final codacil to this task, (not as the main doctrine of salvation, as some would have it), before he starts with the things pertaining to going on to maturity, the writer of Hebrews brings up a strategy that doesn't work. Why? Perhaps there is yet another reason he hasn't explained why some want to go back to the foundations he mentions in 6:1. There may be a well-meaning attempt to re-gather those who have fallen away, by starting at the beginning again with them. The author does a very short recap of why this fails.

In short, if someone is "crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm...," (6:6), they are not going to be helped by the "foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God," lesson one, again. They have gotten to farther in the book and harmed themselves by rejecting not only the book, but their own later experience. They need not chapter one, water, but their weeds to be burned.

A well-meaning attempt (by going back to what all agreed upon before, and starting over with the Old Covenant beginnings), in order to regather those who are exposing Christ to open shame, the writer says is impossible. So he goes on. So consider that another reason to move on to maturity -- even for the sake of the possible deserters -- going back to first principles doesn't help.

What does the writer of Hebrews says helps! Surprise, the "unchangeable character of God's purpose." (6:17) This is good to remember in all cases: "the soul," here (not "some souls," as in a "you're soul is out, mine's in..." -- the writer is not separating wheat from tares here!), "the soul," as such, has something to hold onto, not just itself or the Old Covenant temporariness. And as we know, if the anchor of the soul were only a weight inside of us, whether we're far away, or close, we would really sink. But it's outside us.

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