What God Sees

Things pertaining to salvation (6)

 

To this point, the writer of Hebrews has been trying to shake any false assurance of salvation that may exist on the part of his readers. Any who are hoping for salvation on the basis of a simple confession of faith in elementary teachings of the Gospel, or on some rudimentary experience of grace, or even on their continued attendance upon the ministry of the Word - any for whom these alone were the basis of their assurance should reflect that these are not necessarily things that pertain to salvation (Heb. 6.9).

God is looking for something more to persuade Him of the sincerity of their faith, that He might grant them the assurance they desire. For, at the end of the day, it does not matter how persuaded we are of our salvation; what matters is whether God is persuaded that the things we claim about our relationship with Him are, in fact, true (cf. Mat. 7.21-23). Among those to whom the book of Hebrews was sent were some, at least, who evidenced what God is looking for in those hoping for salvation through Christ. Some, but not all, as verse 11 implies.

God sees works of love, especially those directed toward the saints, as the mark of a genuine experience of saving grace (Heb. 6.10; cf. Eph. 2.10; Jn. 13.35; Gal. 6.10). As is surely the case in every congregation, some of those hearing this letter read would have been readily recognizable by all for their conspicuous good works (1 Tim. 5.25). The works God saw, and was not unjust to overlook, others would have seen as well. The words of verse 10 would have settled like a warm blanket of assurance upon such people, humbling and confirming them at the same time: "For God is not so unjust as to overlook your work and the love that you showed for his sake in serving the saints, as you still do."

We note here that it's not just that these people had sometimes done good works and shown the love of Christ toward their brethren. They had done them and were still doing them, so that it was obvious to all that God Himself dwelled in them and was at work within them, willing and doing of His own good pleasure (Phil. 2.13).

What pertains to salvation, what is the outworking of our redemption, is that the saints of God devote themselves to good works of love, especially toward their fellow believers, but toward all other people as well (Tit. 3.14). It is for just such abiding fruit that Jesus calls us to follow Him (Jn. 15.8, 16, 17). Such fruit is the only means by which we may be assured that saving grace has rooted the seed of the Gospel in our souls and is beginning to nurture it to life and health (Matt. 7.15-20).

It is clear in this passage that not all those hearing this word would have been able to count themselves among that number, for, to that point, they lacked the kind of earnestness in following the Lord, in working out their salvation and making their calling and election sure, which characterized those whom everyone would have recognized as fruitful in works of ministry and love (v. 11). But it was the writer's desire - as it should be the desire of every shepherd in God's flock - that all those professing faith in Christ should press on to bear fruit for Him. For only thus - only by the evidence of a fruitful life - can we have full assurance of hope until the end of our lives, that we do, indeed, belong to Jesus Christ and are following Him as King.

T. M. Moore

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.