Friday, April 29, 2005

It's All About Him: Hebrews -- Lesson 22

To start at the beginning of this series, click here.

Tasting and Feasting (3)

One of the reasons why believers in the USA--I cannot speak for places that I have not been--might be particularly troubled by the issues raised by Hebrews 6:1-10, is that we tend to think of salvation in binary terms. By this I mean that a person is either saved or he isn't. This is why we try so hard to get people to recite the sinner's prayer to secure his soul. The Scriptures do not contain a "sinner's prayer," and we bandy it about as if it were a binding contract between man and God--a legal instrument of grace.

The Scriptures are not binary on this subject. Jesus has this interpretation of his parable of the sower:

And He said to them, "Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables?

"The sower sows the word.

"These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them.

"In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away.

"And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

"And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold." (Mark 4:13-20, NASB 95)

If we look at the growing plant as emerging life in Christ, then there are those who will receive the word, but will not let it take root sufficiently to last. Others will have a choked life. Others will have a productive life. Others have no chance of life at all. It is interesting to note that Jesus' parable immediately follows his words about the "unforgivable sin." I made the connection between that concept and this message in Hebrews 6. Of further interest is that our Hebrews passage also makes an appeal to soil:

For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned. (Hebrews 6:7-8)

Here is an interesting parable. As I read it, the rain is all that the Writer has just talked about: enlightenment, the heavenly gift, the Holy Spirit, the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come. When such things come along they have a way of revealing the heart of the hearer. The heart will either produce praise to God or will reject God and produce something ugly.

If I were to draw a single application from all of this, it would be that we pay attention to soil preparation as we take our message to a lost world. The Word is a seed and we must preach it. But every rock I remove from rocky soil, every weed that I see and pull out, and every bird I shoo away helps prepare a receptive soil.

I do not think that I am done yet with this passage, but I have to go.

Test everything. Cling to what is good.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Salvation in binary terms... apt way of describing the closed thinking of some folks. I love the parable of the sower; it is by far my favorite, for reasons you've listed and then some.

8:00 PM  

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