Focal Passage: Hebrews 6:1-8
“Hey, I’m a Christian. In fact, I am a baptized member of your church!” I was shocked, to say the least. The man I was speaking to had finished his third beer and let out a string of profanities that would have made a sailor blush. When I asked him if it bothered him to use such language around a pastor, he made the statement above.
As Southern Baptists we have rightly held to a view of salvation that is eternal in nature. Sometimes coined “once saved, always saved,” we rightly emphasize the divine side of salvation. We emphasize that we are saved by God’s grace, through faith and not of works. We emphasize that if you can do nothing to earn your salvation, you can do nothing to lose it. But, in so doing, I wonder if we have raised a generation of lazy Christians?
The writer of Hebrews seems to be addressing just such an issue (Hebrews 6). Southern Baptists tend to shy away from the first six verses because we are not sure how to handle them. Or worse, we offer the notion that the writer is only speaking hypothetically and, you have nothing to be concerned about. After all, you’ve prayed “the prayer.”
The first three verses emphasize the fact that God expects Christ-followers to be growing and maturing in their faith. This section actually begins back in Hebrews 5:11 where the writer makes the point that “by now you ought to be teachers.” The idea is that there should be a trajectory toward Christlikeness present in every believer. The writer is urging the believers to move forward, not backward. He issues them a warning in verses 4-6: Do not leave Christ. These Jewish Christians were being tempted to return to Judaism. The writer’s point is simple: if you abandon Christ, there is no hope for your salvation. There is no salvation apart from a life-changing encounter with Christ. Frankly, for the writer of Hebrews – and, indeed, the rest of the Bible – there is less concern over whether you have “prayed the prayer” than whether you are faithfully following Christ today.