Life-Study of Hebrewsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
The Bible, especially the New Testament, is a complete revelation. In the New Testament we see how the Savior came, was revealed to us, and accomplished redemption for us, and how we can believe in Him, receive salvation, and be regenerated. The New Testament also tells us that the saved ones form the church and that we can live the church life on earth today. In addition to all this, the New Testament gives us a warning. After we have been saved and regenerated, we must hold on to God’s grace, enjoying all that God has prepared for us in His grace. If we fail to do this, not holding on to God’s grace and enjoying His riches, we shall suffer loss and punishment. The New Testament gives us such a clear and definite warning. It also encourages us to gain the prize. In order to gain this prize, we must pay the price. Hence, either punishment or a prize are ahead of us. Whether we receive the prize or suffer the punishment does not depend whatsoever on our salvation; it all depends upon how we live and work after being saved. If we live and work in the proper way ordained by God, we shall receive a prize. But if we neglect God’s grace, we shall suffer loss, and a certain punishment will await us. As we pointed out in past messages, the Gospel of Matthew tells us that when the Lord Jesus comes back He will reward us according to our works (16:27). The parables in Matthew 25 also make this matter very clear.
In the book of Hebrews there are five warnings, all of which are the same in nature. In the seven epistles in Revelation 2 and 3 we also have some warnings. The seven warnings in Revelation 2 and 3 are the same in nature as the five warnings in Hebrews. Therefore, we may say that altogether there are twelve warnings, five in the book of Hebrews and seven in Revelation 2 and 3. Of course, with each of these warnings there is a certain amount of promise, for if we heed the warnings, we shall receive a prize. The first warning in Hebrews is in 2:1-4, telling us “to give heed more abundantly to the things which were heard, lest at any time we drift away” and not to “neglect so great a salvation.” The second warning, found in 3:7 through 4:13, tells us not to come short of the promised Sabbath rest but to “be diligent to enter into that rest, lest anyone fall after the same example of disobedience.” In a sense, these messages on the remaining Sabbath rest have all been concerned with the second warning. The third warning, regarding being brought on to maturity (5:11-6:20), tells us not to be like the earth that brings forth “thorns and thistles” because “it is disapproved and near a curse, whose end is to be burned.” In the fourth warning we are told to come forward to the Holy of Holies and not to shrink back to Judaism (10:19-39). And in the fifth warning we are encouraged to run the race and not to fall away from grace (12:1-29). The Arminians use these five warnings as a basis for saying that a saved person can be lost again. But if we look into these portions of the Word in a proper way, we shall see that they do not speak of being lost again but of the matter of reward, either the positive reward of gaining a prize or the negative reward of receiving punishment.
Let us now consider the fourth warning. Hebrews 10:26 says, “For when we sin willfully after receiving the full knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” What does it mean to “sin willfully”? To understand this we must go back to verse 25 as the word “for” at the beginning of verse 26 indicates. Verse 25 says, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the custom with some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day drawing near.” To sin willfully in verse 26 is to forsake the assembling together in verse 25. This warning had to be taken seriously by the Hebrew believers. When the book of Hebrews was written, many of the Hebrew Christians were on the edge between Judaism and the church, uncertain whether to forsake the church and return to Judaism, or to forsake Judaism and go on with the church. Where is the church? The church is in the assembling, the meetings of the believers in Christ. For the Hebrew believers not to attend the meetings with the believers in Christ meant that they had forsaken the church. If those staggering Hebrew Christians would forsake the meetings of the church, it meant that they were sinning willfully after they had received the knowledge of the truth. The writer seemed to be saying to them, “In this epistle I have presented to you the knowledge of the truth. You must attend all the meetings of the church. If you don’t, it means that you sin willfully. If you sin willfully by forsaking the church meetings and returning to Judaism to offer the sacrifice for sin, you must realize that there no longer remains a sacrifice for sin, for all the types of the offerings are now over.” This is the correct meaning of “there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.” It does not mean that if we sin we cannot be forgiven or have our sins remitted. It means that the types are over, having been replaced by Christ, and that the Hebrew believers must stay with the church and not forsake the meetings. But if they would forsake the church and return to Judaism to offer the sacrifice for sin, they would be sinning willfully and offering the sacrifice in vain, for no such sacrifice for sin remained any longer in God’s economy.
The writer warned the Hebrew believers that there no longer remained a sacrifice for sins, “but a certain fearful expectation of judgment and fiery zeal about to consume the adversaries” (10:27). If the Hebrew believers would forsake the church, they would suffer the punishment which is intended for the adversaries.
Verses 28 and 29 continue, “And any one who has set at naught Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses: by how much do you think he shall be thought worthy of worse punishment who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” What does it mean to trample underfoot the Son of God? It means that if the Hebrew believers would return to Judaism to offer the sacrifice for sin, trusting in that sacrifice, they would in effect be trampling under foot the Son of God. They would be despising Him. The sacrifice for sin was a type of Christ. Since Christ had come to fulfill and replace the sacrifice for sin, the Hebrew believers had to stay with Him and not return to Judaism to offer the sacrifice for sin. If they were to do that, they would have been regarding the blood of the covenant a common thing, making it the same as the blood of sheep and oxen. The Hebrew Christians were warned not to return to Judaism to offer again the sacrifice for sin. For them to do this would have been to despise the Son of God in whom they believed and whose blood had sanctified them and to make His blood as common as that of the animal sacrifices. To do such a thing is also to insult the Spirit of grace. The Spirit of grace was working, moving, and anointing in them, and they had to listen to Him. Then the writer warned them by saying, “For we know Him Who said, Vengeance is Mine, I will repay. And again, the Lord will judge His people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (vv. 30-31). This is not the Lord’s judgment on the unsaved ones; it is His judgment on “His people,” His believers, the saved ones.
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