Chewing on the first twelve verses of Hebrews six this morning. Tough chewing. A lot of gristle. Hard to know exactly who is being spoken of as those who “have once been enlightened . . . and then fallen away” (v.4-6). Believer? Unbeliever? Or as some suggest, a different “class” all together, an “apostate” — one who experienced some of the believer’s experience but never believed. Instead, they “have fallen away” holding Christ “up to contempt.” Thus, it is impossible “to restore them again to repentance.”
But what nourishes the soul this morning is what is clear in this passage. That which marks the one truly born again, the fruit of those who abide in the vine, the evidence of a Christ-sourced, Spirit-fueled, living faith. The things that belong to salvation.
Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things — things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do.
(Hebrews 6:9-10 ESV)
While the writer to the Hebrews has a stern warning for the mere professors of salvation, he also expresses confidence in the true possessors of salvation. Those whose claim to saving faith goes beyond what they say but is evidenced by what they do. Things that belong to salvation.
First, there is their work. Not their good works, I don’t think we’re talking good deeds here. I think this is the work of engaging with our salvation. As one commentary puts it, the “whole Christian life of active obedience”. Those who have been baptized into the body (1Cor. 12:12-13) actively being a body part (Eph. 4:16). Those who have been made into a holy priesthood “offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1Pet. 2:5). Those who have been called to be a royal priesthood proclaiming “the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pet. 2:9). Those who are abiding in the Vine bearing much fruit (Jn. 15:5, 16). Things that belong to salvation includes doing the work of salvation.
And then, there is the love that is shown for God. And how is that love shown? In serving the saints.
Check that out! Ministering to other believers. Waiting on those redeemed by Christ. One of the things that belongs to salvation is attending to the needs of others in the church. So, how are we going to do that if we are not spending time with others in the church?
Ours is a busy age. Where once “regular” church attendance was seen as being gathered together three times a week, now it’s viewed as making it to a Sunday morning service two or three times a month. Where once hospitality was preached from the pulpit, I don’t think we hear much about it these days, as it competes with our already over-booked calendars.
Our is also a hyper-individualistic age. Too many, I fear, have taken a “personal relationship” with the Lord to mean that seeking the kingdom is a just-you-and-me-Jesus pursuit. But from what I can see, that’s foreign to what the New Testament teaches.
It seems to me that so much of the New Testament assumes that if you’re saved, you’re also part of a local gathering with others who are saved. If you’re born again you belong to a body of believers. As such, one of the things that belong to salvation is loving God by serving the saints. Living in the context of a family of faith as those adopted as children by the Father is how we demonstrate our affection for the Father. Being part of a body of which Christ is the Head is how we show our allegiance to the Head.
If we’re saved by God, we’re to be loving God. And one way we do that is by serving the saints. It’s part of what marks us as believers. Ministering to the body of Christ is some of the fruit we bear from abiding in Christ. Attending to our family of faith adds to the evidence that we possess a living faith. These are the things that belong to salvation.
By His grace. For His glory.