Sure of Better Things
From Gospel Translations
“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things — things that belong to salvation” (Heb. 6:9).
- Hebrews 6:9
Ever since Judas became a disciple of Christ, the Christian community has always included people who claimed faith without really possessing it. Most, if not all, churches have members who are not saved even though they claim otherwise.
This was true even for the original audience of the book of Hebrews. That is why the author continually warns His audience against falling away. He knew that there were some in His congregation who were considering leaving Christ in favor of the older, less complete, covenant. However, to do so would mean that they could not be restored and that they would be judged harshly (Heb. 6:4–8).
We have seen that the author of Hebrews did not believe that a true Christian could lose his salvation. He, like the Apostle John, knew that those who left the covenant were never really saved to begin with (1 John 2:19). But because he makes such sweeping warnings, many have claimed that he denied the perseverance of the saints.
The author makes such sweeping statements because though he realized there were some who would fall away, he did not know who these people were. His many warnings do not demonstrate that he denied the power of God to keep His elect safe. Rather, they show that he, like every other human being, ultimately is ignorant of the state of another person’s heart.
These sweeping statements also demonstrate the pastoral concern the author had for his audience. Though he had to be the bearer of bad news (Heb. 6:4–6), he did not want that bad news to be true of any in his congregation. From his perspective, repentance was still possible, and he still warns against apostasy in order that all of his readers might yet repent and be saved. The tenderness of his language, such as the use of “beloved” in 6:9 only reinforces his concern.
Though he realizes apostasy is possible, the author is also sure of the better things that belong to salvation for his audience. These better things, John Owen says, are the faithfulness of God to His people and the permanent link to salvation that comes with true faith. The author feels sure that some, if not all, of his recipients are saved and will persevere because of the faithfulness of Christ. Though he may not know who they are, he knows that the elect will remain in faith.
If Hebrews 6:4–6 refers to genuine Christians, then the author could never be sure that anyone who professes faith would inherit salvation. In 6:9 we find the death blow to anyone who would think Hebrews denies perseverance. Take some time to thank the Lord for loving His people so much that He will preserve them in faith.
Passages for Further Study
Pss. 37:28; 100
2 Tim. 1:12