That Christ Is in You and at Work through You
“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises” (Hebrews 6:9-12).
Whenever we study Scripture, we must always consider the context. Very often the questions that arise in one verse are answered in the verses that follow—if only we would keep reading!
The divinely-inspired words we consider here (Hebrews 6:9-12) come directly on the heels of some rather ominous words, words that make us pause and perhaps even tremble.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (6:4-6).
If we were to read these words after looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Law, then they would appear ominous indeed! After having confessed our sins and turned from the threats of the Law of God to Christ’s cross on Calvary, we find grace to help in time of need.
One of my seminary professors helped to allay my own fears that I was included among those who had fallen from faith and had committed the sin against the Holy Ghost, when he said, “If you are worried that you have committed the sin against the Holy Ghost—then you may be assured that you haven’t.” It is one thing to feel guilt for sin and be troubled by it, but it’s quite another to toss Christ aside with the contempt of unbelief.
The writer to the Hebrews was also confident that his readers were not numbered among those who had fallen from faith. It wasn’t just because He knew their confession of faith; it was also because there was evidence that their faith in Christ was indeed alive and well and expressing itself in acts of love!
While there are those who fall from faith, nevertheless, “. . . we are confident of better things concerning you,” things concerning salvation.
The Spirit of God revealed to this inspired writer that the acts of love about which he had heard were indeed the fruits of faith, rather than futile attempts to earn favor with God. The Holy Spirit was moving them to express their faith in Christ by acts of love directed toward others. That their actions were an expression of love for Christ is evident in the words, “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (v. 10).
While good works do not themselves save, they do stand as evidence of the existence of a living faith (see James 2:20). Faith without works is dead, but a living faith in Christ—quickened by the Spirit of God—is never without fruits of faith. We both confess our faith in Christ and strive to exercise that confidence in Christ by deeds of love.
God help us to trust in Christ and to express our love toward others because they are individuals for whom Christ died. We may then also be confident that Christ is in us and working through us!
Andrew Schaller is pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church in Marquette, Michigan.