A fruitless faith can’t deliver hope

“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:9–12 ESV)

This section is on immediately following one of the most difficult passages of scripture in the Bible (Hebrews 6:4-8).  Though the previous section was difficult and perhaps a bit harsh, the author is confident that there are better things in store for His readers.  Why?  Because he has observed their lives – He has seen things that belong to salvation.  It is important to recall that we add nothing to the gospel and that it is the finished work of Jesus alone that saves and sustains us, but the saved person has a regenerated heart that has an increasing appetite for God and godliness and their lives begin to bear fruit.  If there is not fruit – often times seen in an affection for God and fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) then there is no evidence of regeneration.  Tim Keller says that “you are saved by faith, not fruit. But you will never be saved by fruitless faith. Real faith will inevitably lead to growth” (here).

God never overlooks our faithful efforts to obey when driven by a heart that is surrendered to Him. The author wants them to have the “full assurance of hope until the end;” this is inextricably tied to their authentic faith.  The theme of perseverance, a major theme in Hebrews, again comes in view.  This sounds similar to Paul in Romans 5:  “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” (Romans 5:3–5 ESV).  The call is to endure difficulty “so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:12 ESV).  Apparently, according to the scriptures, suffering, hardships and difficulties are a prerequisite to hope.  Despite the degree of difficulty and suffering in this life, stay faithful, patient and have your hope strengthened.  Fix your eyes on things to come when things are made new!

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