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Thu, Feb 01, 2007

76 - Qualities to Emulate [b]

Hebrews 6:12 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:54 mins 15 secs

Hebrews Lesson 76  February 1, 2007 

 

NKJ John 17:17 "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.

 

We are about to wrap up this one paragraph in Hebrews 6 that we have been studying for over a month time wise, but then I was gone to Kiev for three weeks that we missed out on. We are in Hebrews 6 and we are in that paragraph from 9-12 that the writer of Hebrews is at the point where he is setting us up to go back to a discussion of Melchizedek which is where the chapter ends getting ready to go into the next section. So we are going to start working on that transition before long. 

 

Now just to review in chapter 6:9, the writer says that we can have confidence that despite failure, no matter how much failure there has been God's grace always provides for recovery.  He says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.

 

As I pointed out, that has a future orientation. Now I almost feel like a broken record saying this every time we start, but we have to keep coming back to this content. The focus here is on the future. We talked about salvation, soterion, as phase 3 glorification. We have this emphasis on hope in the passage which again is a confident expectation, future orientation and then the emphasis on inheritance when we get to verse 12. The whole focus here is to get the readers to think not in terms of just the day-to-day struggle of living the Christian life or just living life, but to focus on the fact that we have a future destiny and that we are in that training period that God is preparing us for that future destiny and not to give up, become weary (this is a major theme all the way through the book of Hebrews) fall by the wayside, fall short of grace or various other terms that the writer of Hebrews uses. 

 

So in the second statement in this paragraph the writer reminds the readers that God's justice doesn't forget or overlook that which has already been accomplished in the power of God the Holy Spirit, but not to just rest on their laurels or not to think that we did some good so now let's go and not focus on spiritual growth. 

 

Then in verses 11-12 he encourages them to press on with continued diligence.

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end,

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

The believer he says is to persevere in light of that  future expectation, that full assurance of hope until the end of this life. Don't fall by the wayside, not because you will lose your salvation as the Arminians teach, or not because it will show that you are not a true believer as the lordship salvation people believe, but because there is a threat of a loss of reward – not that which has already been accomplished in the Holy Spirit but that which is yet to be accomplished by means of the Holy Spirit. We are to persevere in light of that future expectation to persevere in faith and patience. It is a key word here because patience is going to be picked up again when we get down into verse 15. We will have the verb form and that will be picked up again to realize as full inheritance. The idea of inheritance is again picked up in relationship to the word "promise" because in verse 12 we are reminded that we are to persevere and imitate those who went before who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

Now I want you to notice something. In your Bibles, look at verse 12. The last word probably is "promises." If you look at verse 13, we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself,

 

So, you can connect the dots there. Then if you look at verse 15, we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.

 

So connect the dots again.

 

Then in verse 17, we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath,

 

So four times in about 6 verses we have a reference to the word promise. Now, where do you get a promise? You get a promise because somebody makes a declaration, a verbal declaration of what they are going to do and they are going to be faithful. That is a sub theme in this whole section – the faithfulness of God to fulfill His promise. I don't want to get off on that right now. I just want you to think about the concept of a promise. A promise is a verbal declaration. Think with me. We go all the way back to the first two verses of Hebrews. What do the first two verses of Hebrews say?

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:1 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

 

It is this idea of God speaking which entails an obligation on the part of the hearer to respond positively to that revelation. 

 

God's speaking is not just some academic articulation that we can sit there and study and say, "Oh isn't that interesting. Let's try to understand all of the nuances and all the innuendos of what God has said." 

 

But it entails an expectation of obedience and application. I pointed this out all through Hebrews. You constantly have these references in one way or another to God making a verbal statement. This again is a major theme throughout the book of Hebrews that God speaks in some way and this entails a certain response, necessitates a certain response on the part of the hearer. So we come to verse 12 and the emphasis here is on imitation. This is where we stopped the last two or three times. 

 

I have been covering the five things that made these Old Testament heroes (and in addition we can say now the New Testament apostles) such great, mature believers. It is not because they had something you and I don't have. It is not because they were made of different flesh.  It is not because somehow God gave them something that he didn't give you and me. He has given them the same assets that you and I have. The difference is that what they do with their volition is different from what you and I do with our volition. So in verse 12 the writer says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

Now the reason you are to imitate these leaders is not in their flesh. Okay it is not in their humanity, in their failures; but in their walk with the Lord. They are set up throughout all of the rest of Hebrews. We get to Hebrews 11 and there is this entire listing of Old Testament saints who by faith accomplish certain things and are praised by God for what they did in those verses. Now this word imitate is the Greek word mimnetes which means to mimic, to imitate, to follow in the pattern of someone. Ultimately they are all imitating the Lord Jesus Christ. This is what Paul says in I Corinthians 4:16 when you put it together with I Corinthians 11:1.  He says …

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 4:16 Therefore I urge you, imitate me.

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

 

That is the focal point. Don't imitate Paul in his failures, but imitate Paul in that which made him the great apostle, the great believer that he was. 

 

In I Thessalonians 1:6 he praises the Thessalonians because they "became imitators of us - Timothy, Titus and the growing and advancing believers that were in the apostle's entourage.

 

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 1:6 And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit,

 

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 2:14 For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God which are in Judea in Christ Jesus. For you also suffered the same things from your own countrymen, just as they did from the Judeans,

 

So he is picking out those positive attributes of other believers and other churches where they are applying the Word and saying, "Imitate those. Follow in their footsteps. Follow their example." 

 

He says that…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

 

The key word makrothumia which is a compound word in the Greek (makros meaning long like macro (that is where we get our word macro in contrast to the word micro), large and thumia meaning anger) means longsuffering, to be forbearing to have self restraint, not to be impatient but to wait on the Lord. 

 

James 5:17 reminds us that Elijah was a man of like nature as we are. He wasn't any different. He didn't have something in his makeup that you and I don't have. In fact we have more than Elijah. We have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we have the filling of the Holy Spirit, and we have the completed canon of Scripture. We have all of the assets that belong to every believer in Jesus Christ. Just as Elijah persevered - that is the point of this whole illustration in James 5:17 – Elijah's endurance and perseverance.  That is the theme from James 5:7 all the way from all the way down to the end of the chapter.  It is to close out on the importance of perseverance and endurance. 

 

So we ask the question, "What made them different?"

 

Why were they different? What ways did they exercise their volition that you and I can imitate? 

 

The first point that I made was that in their faith they had the will, the gumption, and the guts to believe God and to take up the challenge to walk by faith and not by sight. II Corinthians 5:7. This is the problem with too many believers today. They are so distracted by the details of life, by the every day pressures of life, by the materialism that is driven as part of our culture, by all of the different pressures that are brought to bear in the career, in the family, in friends, all the different things. We lose sight of the real focus and purpose of why God called us to serve the Lord Jesus Christ. It doesn't matter whether you are in professional Christian service or whether you are every day Joe Six Pack - anybody can serve the Lord Jesus Christ in whatever area you find yourself – whether you are working for a large corporation as an executive or whether you are working for the city in some sort of basic government job. Whatever it may be, wherever you are that is your missionary responsibility where you can serve the Lord. You can also serve the Lord in relationship to the local church. You can serve the Lord in relationship to praying for and financially helping missionaries. There are an untold number of ways that every one of us can be involved in different areas of Christian service. It is going differ from person to person simply because you have different spiritual gifts.  Every person has different spiritual gifts. They may have one or more spiritual gifts. How they are given to you according to the grace of God and whatever measure they are given to you is going to be different from someone else. Whatever your natural abilities and talents are, they are going to be different from somebody else. 

 

But the bottom line is we have to be willing to take up that challenge to walk by faith and not by sight, where the Word of God is more real to us than circumstances, than people's opinions, than the pressures of day-to-day life, than the various details of life that surround us. 

 

As a result of their walking by faith and not by sight, they had a biblical view of reality. This radically transformed their norms and standards. They were living in this world as if they were from somewhere else. They recognized that their citizenship was in heaven.  It wasn't here on earth.  They had a genuine grasp of how transitory life was – right now in this physical plane. This is a drop in the bucket compared to eternity. So this revolutionized their core values.  Rather than having the values of the culture around them, they had a focus on the eternal virtues. 

 

I pointed out last time the difference between values and virtue. Values come out of the culture or what the Bible calls the world system. Values are transitory. Values are relative. Values are personal preferences. But virtues are eternal absolutes that are grounded in the Word of God. Values are something that everybody has. Virtues are something that we are to strive for. They are perfections that we are to grow in the direction of. The three cardinal virtues biblically are faith, hope and love each of which is mentioned in this particular passage. We talk about their work and labor of love in verse 10, the full assurance of hope in verse 11, and that they are to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. So faith, hope and love are each mentioned in this passage. So they were willing to be radically submitted to the plan of God and to be servants of God and servants of Christ. We went through these various passages last week. 

 

NKJ Deuteronomy 6:13 "You shall fear the LORD your God and serve Him, and shall take oaths in His name.

 

We are called to serve God. 

 

NKJ Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.

 

The word that is used here, latreia, is a word that is sometimes translated worship. We are going to study this in our study on worship on Sunday morning as we are going through Revelation 4. This doesn't have to do with corporate worship. It has to do with personal worship – how our life becomes a personal sacrifice to God as we serve Him rather than serving our own desires, our own goals, and our own objectives. We put God's plan first. This is one of the most difficult things for anyone to apply – we are to be radically oriented to the plan of God, not to our own desires, our own agenda. Most people spend most of their lives trying to figure out which master they are going to serve which is what Jesus emphasizes in several passages in the gospels.

 

NKJ Matthew 20:28 "just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."

 

NKJ Matthew 23:11 "But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant.

 

NKJ Luke 16:13 "No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon."

 

This is what James talks about in James 1 – the two-souled or double minded individual who can't decide where his priorities are. This is where most Christians fail in the spiritual life. They just can't crack the priority issue in making the Word of God the central issue in their life. Nothing else matters except knowing the Word of God and applying it. It is not just knowing the Word of God academically; it is know the Word of God as the way to have a rich relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ because we think as He thinks. 

 

In Acts 20:18-21 Paul gives an illustration of what this meant in terms of his role as an apostle. In verse 18 we read…

 

NKJ Acts 20:18 And when they had come to him, he said to them: "You know, from the first day that I came to Asia, in what manner I always lived among you,

 

Notice how he can use himself as an example. We know from the very beginning where Asia is because we looked at that map until we are all sick of it.  Sunday morning we saw the 7 letters to the 7 churches in Asia Minor. This isn't talking about China; this is talking about the Roman province of Asia in eastern Turkey. 

 

Asia is actually Ephesus.

 

NKJ Acts 20:19 "serving the Lord with all humility, with many tears and trials which happened to me by the plotting of the Jews;

 

That is our priority – to serve the Lord. We are not serving other people. This is the same mentality that Paul talks about in Colossians 3:18f when he talks about when you are working you are doing your job as unto the Lord and not the human master. You are actually serving the Lord in that position. 

 

Over in II Corinthians he details this whole litany of things he had to go through in ministry. He was shipwrecked. He was hungry. He was thrown in jail and he was beaten and all these different things that he put up with. 

 

Many people would say, "If I had to put up with all of that, I would go find something else to do. I would take that as a sign that God wanted me to do something else. That must not be God's will for me to be involved in ministry if I am going to be thrown in jail and beaten and shipwrecked and go through all of that."

So he talks about this is part of humility which is authority orientation to God.

 

NKJ Acts 20:20 "how I kept back nothing that was helpful, but proclaimed it to you, and taught you publicly and from house to house. 

 

He was completely oriented. Everything in his life focused on that one mission which was to communicate the gospel and to teach believers how to live.

 

NKJ Acts 20:21 "testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

These two verses explain what he means in verse 19 by serving the Lord with all humility. It is fulfilling his mission as an apostle in relation to his spiritual gift and in relationship to God's plan for his life. 

 

Now in I Corinthians 4:1 he gives us another illustration of what it means to be a servant. What it means to be a servant is not that you go out and that like some of these people that we see on television or whatever where it is all about them and their ministry and what God is doing for them; but, it is all about them. It is all about the institution that they are developing. Paul says…

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so consider us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.

 

It wasn't about Paul. It wasn't about Timothy. It wasn't about Barnabas. It wasn't about Luke of Matthew. It was always only about the Lord Jesus Christ.  He said that we are to be considered as servants of Christ. 

 

Stewards are those who are responsible for the communication of the mysteries of God. That is the mystery doctrine that hadn't been revealed yet. Now this word for servant is one of those picturesque words that is picked up in Koine Greek and used several times in Scripture to describe the disciples and those who are involved in any kind of ministry. 

 

Many times Paul went places and he was supported by his own hand by tent making. I don't think that Paul actually sat down too much with a canvas across his legs sewing. He had a business. He was tent making in Corinth when they were preparing for the Olympic Games that would have been conducted while he was there. There would have been as many as 50,000 or 60,000 people who would have come into Corinth from out of town. So they were constructing the awnings and the tents for all of these people that were coming. He was a good capitalist. He had a good business. 

 

But this word for servant is the Greek word huperetes. It literally means an under rower. That is its etymological derivation. In was used by the Koine period to describe someone who was a subordinate, a servant, an attendant, a general assistant or someone who is an aide de camp to a general perhaps.  They were never to be seen – like that old saying about kids that they are never to be seen or heard. They weren't supposed to be seen or heard. No one was supposed to pay attention to them. But, they were working, doing most of the hard work and difficult work. It was all about the person who was in charge and the person who was in authority. All of the attention, honor and glory went to the person they worked for and not to this person. This person is the one who does all of the work behind the scenes and nobody even knows that they are there. 

 

I was talking about the etymological derivation of this. It comes from the use with the trireme. The trireme was they think developed by the Phoenicians and of course the Phoenicians had a certain relationship to the Greeks. The Greeks really developed it as an ancient weapon.  It was designed to ram. If you want to ram another ship in naval warfare, the best thing that you can have going for you is momentum. So rather than having all of the rowers on the same level, they had three decks of rowers. Of course the guy who is down on the lowest level is the huperetes. That was the term that was used to describe that guy down in the very pits. If you saw the movie Ben Hur, if you watched that, (if you are too young to remember that you need to watch it. It was a good movie) that is the galley slave. That is the term that Paul is using to describe himself. He is somebody who is in the divine viewpoint approach is basically inconsequential. 

 

It is all about the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ said that if He wanted to He could make the stones cry out to praise Him. God doesn't need pastors. He doesn't need for any of us to do anything. It is a tremendous privilege that we have to serve Him and to participate in that ministry. It is not about me. It is not about any other pastor. The focus is always on the Lord Jesus Christ and what He has done for us.

 

So Paul views himself with a complete lack of pride. He is not in this for personal recognition. He is not in this for anything other than just serving the Lord and being willing to hear that praise at the end of life – "well done good and faithful servant".

 

Incidentally we are no better than Paul. Paul was beaten. Paul was imprisoned. Paul did everything right, but he was beaten and imprisoned. He had to go through a lot of suffering because that is the process that God uses to teach us. As long as we are in this cosmic system we are always going to have a target on our backsides in the angelic conflict. None of us are going to be able to escape that. The only way we can keep the focus in the midst of all of this hostility around us is to be completely and radically oriented to the plan of God and recognize that our sole purpose is to serve Him. 

 

Now the third characteristic that we find of Old Testament prophets and the New Testament apostles was that they had a passion for giving the gospel to unbelievers. It was a desire to give the gospel to anyone, any time, anywhere. 

 

What do I mean by passion? I don't mean it was some sort of emotional kick. It wasn't emotion-driven although passion has that as a primary meeting.  What I mean by passion is that they had a driving desire or devotion, an all-encompassing interest to energetically pursue a particular cause. They were completely sold out to achieving that goal and nothing was going to distract them from that goal. This meant that they had an understanding of the realities of heaven and hell that are often lost today. 

 

It is sad but in the last 25 years it seems like the teaching about eternal condemnation and the reality of the Lake of Fire has all but disappeared from many churches. In fact, there are a number of evangelical theologians who have rejected the idea of eternal condemnation as not being quite appropriate for the love of God. I am talking about some highly respected evangelical theologians. It is just not politically correct you might say to talk about eternal condemnation. But Paul and Luke and Matthew and these men in the New Testament understood that everybody they looked at was either on their way to heaven or on their way to hell and they needed to hear the gospel that Jesus Christ died on the cross for them and that was the only solution. This was so much more real to them than any other considerations in life that they had this driving compassion to give the gospel to people. It takes us awhile to get worked up on that. They understood the doctrine of ambassadorship. In II Corinthians 5:19-20, Paul says…

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

 

This is a recognition that if I don't tell those people, then they may not hear. Now obviously if they are positive God will bring somebody else along but guess what. Then you miss out on being part of that blessing to give them the gospel. So Paul says…

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.

 

There is a passion in that term "as if God were pleading through us". It isn't as if some academic exercise, but a pleading with unbelievers, giving them the gospel. So Paul concludes by expressing it this way.

 

He says…

 

NKJ 1 Corinthians 9:22 to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.

 

In other words, he was willing to do whatever it took in terms of adjusting in the unimportant particulars so that he could present the gospel clearly to those who needed it.

 

He says…

 

NKJ 2 Timothy 2:9 for which I suffer trouble as an evildoer, even to the point of chains; but the word of God is not chained.

 

That doesn't mean he was an evil doer, but he was suffering trouble just as if he were a criminal.

 

In Romans 1:16 he says…

 

NKJ Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.

 

The fourth characteristic is that they were totally submissive to the will of God. They put aside all self-interest and personal desire for God's plan. They exchanged their priorities for God's priorities. 

 

NKJ Acts 20:24 "But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

 

The fifth point is that knowing doctrine was the means to know Christ and serve Him. That was the focal point. What we are going to study when we get into worship on Sunday mornings is that what drives everything in the Christian life is knowledge of doctrine. It doesn't end there though. That is the starting point. 

 

In Philippians 3:8 as Paul has reflected on what he was as a Jew – that he was a Pharisee of the Pharisees, he was of the tribe of Benjamin and all of the positive things that he had from a religious viewpoint; he concludes by saying….

 

NKJ Philippians 3:8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ

 

He suffered the loss of his reputation and everything that he had achieved as he went through rabbinical training, all of the recognition that he had.  Paul was probably the greatest student that Gamaliel ever had. Yet he gave it up. He could have been the greatest rabbi of all time and he gave all of that up and counted it as rubbish. That is such a pusillanimous translation of the Greek. The Greek word is skuballah which is dung to put it politely. He counts all of it to be as worthless as anything that could possibly be. 

 

This is not just a knowledge about Christ, but gain Christ. 

 

Verses 8 and 9 are talking about his salvation.

 

NKJ Philippians 3:9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;

 

This is understanding the doctrine of imputation. I cannot become righteous on my own. I can only get it through imputation from Christ. It is a righteousness that is from God by means of faith.

 

Getting saved isn't the end. Paul said in Ephesians 2:10…

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.

 

There was a purpose – three things. That I may know Him.  The only way that we can know Christ is through the Word. Number two is the power of His resurrection. That is the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer. 

 

NKJ Philippians 3:10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,

 

That takes us back to a passage that we have covered a few times here when we talked about inheritance. 

 

NKJ Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs -- heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together.

 

Paul talks about being an heir of God and then a joint heir of Christ. 

 

So his focus here when he talks about the fellowship of His suffering is talking about that second category of inheritance where we go through suffering as part of our spiritual growth and that qualifies us for joint heirship with Christ. 

 

Then he concludes in Philippians 3:11…

 

NKJ Philippians 3:11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.

 

Verse 11 begins with an idiomatic statement in the Greek which some translations translate with an "if" as if it is "but I might" as if he is uncertain. But he is certain. It is a certain kind of construction that indicates a certainty—"since I will."

 

He is focused on the future. He knows that he will attain to the resurrection. It is the Greek word exanastasis which is really a focus on the rapture. Now some of you may have heard it said that when it is translated as if Paul was thinking that he would be part of the rapture and maybe he won't.  Now whether you are dead or alive you will be part of the rapture. Right? I Thessalonians 4.

 

NKJ 1 Thessalonians 4:16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.

 

We are all going up in the rapture. So he is not questioning whether or not he will be a part of the rapture or that he might be part of the rapture generation. He is saying that since he will be part of the resurrection of the dead which leads to the Judgment Seat of Christ and evaluation, he wants to make sure that his priorities are focused on knowing Him, the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His suffering so that he will be ready for the Judgment Seat of Christ because he is going to be part of the resurrection of the dead. That would be the first resurrection. 

 

So these are the 5 areas that distinguish these great Old Testament saints and the New Testament believers. 

 

Now let's go back to our passage in Hebrews 6:12.  It says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

So let's stop and review for a minute this concept of inheritance. 

 

He is looking at these Old Testament saints and he says, "Imitate them. They are the ones who are going to inherit the promises."

 

There was one illustration and that is going to be Abraham. He has talked about Abraham briefly earlier. He is going to talk about Abraham even more and expand this when we get into Hebrews 11. But here he is talking about inheriting the promises. Inheritance always throws our attention to the Judgment Seat of Christ which is where we will receive rewards for gold, silver and precious stones that is produced under the filling of the Spirit or wood, hay and straw in which case our works are burned up.

 

So let's review four things about inheritance. Three forms of this word appear in Hebrews. The root that is found here in Hebrews 6:12 is the verb kleronomeo. Now here it is an articular participle. Now the difference between whether it has the article or not has to do whether it is used as a noun or an adverb. If it is articular, it is used like a noun. Here it should be handled as a relative clause. As it is translated in the New King James here, it is a present tense. It almost has a future sense - those who will inherit. There is a future nuance at times to the present tense, so it may be a futuristic present here.  Through faith and patience they will inherit the promises. It is yet future.

 

So we have the verb as it is used here, used 18 times in the New Testament. Four times the verb is used in the book of Hebrews. 

 

In Hebrews 1:4 it is used in relationship to Jesus Christ as the one who inherited a better name than the angels. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

 

It is used in 1:14 to refer to advancing believers who will inherit salvation. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation?

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

 

It is used in 12:17 in relationship to Esau's desire to inherit the blessing.

 

NKJ Hebrews 12:17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.

 

The noun form of this verb is kleronomia. It is the noun form indicating that which is inherited, the inheritance or the property itself, the possession.  Kleronomia is a word that is used 14 times in the New Testament. It is used two times in Hebrews. It is used in Hebrews 9:15 to refer to the promise of our eternal inheritance. It is used in Hebrews 11:8 in relationship to Abraham, but there it refers to the land he would receive as an inheritance. 

 

The promise here that we find in Hebrews 6:12 is not related to the land promise, but the seed promise. So we have to make that distinction.  In Hebrews 11: 8 it is reference to the promise of the land. 

 

The third form is the noun indicated the designated recipient, that is the heir. That is the form kleronomos. Kleronmos is used 15 times in the New Testament and three times in Hebrews. In 1:2 it is used of Christ.

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

 

NKJ Hebrews 6:17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath.

 

In 6:17 which is coming up in our study it refers to the heirs of the promise. That refers to the first two believers – Church Age believers. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 11:7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.

 

In Hebrews 11:7 it refers to Noah as an heir of righteousness because of his obedience to God. That would be experiential righteousness. So what we find here is that inheritance is (used in one form or another) used nine times in the book of Hebrews. Whenever you have a word of this significance that is used more than one or two times in a book that tells you that it is an important theme in that book. Even though you don't always have inheritance mentioned, you have others words associated with that so that this is a major focus in the book of Hebrews. They are to be ready to receive their inheritance. 

 

Now what exactly is an inheritance? We have gone through some of this before. A lot of people think that the word "inherit" has the idea (especially when it is used of inheriting the kingdom) that it is gaining entrance into heaven, gaining eternal life. But it doesn't mean that. Inheritance is as we will see in a second is a reward for works. Salvation is a free gift. The core semantic meaning of inherit is the idea of possession, the idea of property, the idea of ownership. When we think about inheritance we often think of it in our culture as something related to what happens when someone dies. There are a number of passages where that is true. The idea of gaining something on the death of another is a secondary idea. It is not the core semantic meaning. It is a secondary idea in Greek culture. You could be the heir of something without anyone having died. We find that usage in the Scripture. For example in Hebrews 11:8 which I referred to a minute ago we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to the place which he would receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going.

 

Now was Abraham supposed to receive it as an inheritance when somebody died? No. It is simply the idea of possession which he would receive as his possession, as his property.

 

In Hebrews 1:2 we read…

 

NKJ Hebrews 1:2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds;

 

Now does somebody have to die for Jesus Christ to gain the property? No. We aren't talking about the death of Christ. We are talking about somebody dying to bequeath all things to Jesus. No. The Father doesn't have to die so that Jesus can inherit. It is simply a word for ownership of property. So Jesus is appointed the heir, the owner of all things. So the core value of inherit is the idea of possession, property, or ownership. 

 

Now the third idea of inheritance is in relationship to Abraham. In relationship to Abraham it can be related to either the land promise as we just saw in Hebrews 11:8 or it can be related to the seed promise. But, it is always related to the idea of the divine promise that God has obligated Himself to bring something about for Abraham. A couple of important passages related to this are found in Galatians 3:18 and also in Romans 4. 

 

Galatians 3:18 has a context where Paul has been very hard on the Galatians because they have been trying to live the Christian life on the basis of the law.  So he is building this contrast between the ineffectuality of the law because it was temporary and the value of the eternal promises given to Abraham. So he concludes…

 

NKJ Galatians 3:18 For if the inheritance is of the law, it is no longer of promise; but God gave it to Abraham by promise.

 

That is the conclusion of his argument. Since God gave it to Abraham by promise then we achieve the promise, the blessing by grace and not by law. The only point that I am making here is that the concept of inheritance here is related to the divine promise. It is that way in Romans 4:13 -14 as well. That is a great chapter on justification by faith alone. In his discussion of justification by faith, Paul uses Abraham as the benchmark example going back to Genesis 15:7.  In verse 13 he says…

 

NKJ Romans 4:13 For the promise that he would be the heir of the world was not to Abraham or to his seed through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.

 

It was based on grace – righteousness by means of faith, not works. So the promise to Abraham in the Abrahamic Covenant was grace not based on a condition. It was an unconditional covenant.

 

NKJ Romans 4:14 For if those who are of the law are heirs, faith is made void and the promise made of no effect,

 

The point that I am making here is simply this. Inheritance in relationship to Abraham is always related to the idea of promise. That is exactly what we are going to see in verses 13-15. I had you circle those words for promise in these verses. In verse 12 we have promise. In verse 13 we have promise. In verse 15 we have promise. In verse 17 we have promise. The whole focus here is on the promise of God – that God stands behind the promise. It is His character. It is His integrity that guarantees that promise. So the third point related to inheritance is simply that in relationship to Abraham, it is related to promise – either the land promise or the promise of the seed. 

 

Fourth, inheritance is related to rewards for what is earned for service whereas salvation is free gift. Paul makes this statement in Colossians 3:24. Now Colossians 3:23 talks about the fact that servants are to serve their masters, not as eye pleasers but as unto the Lord.

 

NKJ Colossians 3:24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

 

Now that gives you a whole new doctrine of work. Going to work tomorrow morning you know that you are there (no matter who your boss is, no matter how curmudgeonly he is, no matter how awkward it is, no matter what the circumstances are) not to serve them, but to serve the Lord. You will receive the reward of the inheritance from the Lord for you serve the Lord Christ in your job. You don't have to be a missionary or a pastor or a seminary professor or in some sort of professional Christian work. This is everybody that is included in this category. Everybody is serving the Lord at your job whatever it is – no matter how menial it may be, no matter how extensive the responsibilities - you are actually serving the Lord.

 

We are almost done and I don't want to get into the next verse and have to stop in four minutes so we will stop a few minutes early. Let's close with a word of prayer. 

 

Illustrations