6 So let us stop going over the basic teachings about Christ again and again. Let us go on instead and become mature in our understanding. Surely we don’t need to start again with the fundamental importance of repenting from evil deeds[a] and placing our faith in God. 2 You don’t need further instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And so, God willing, we will move forward to further understanding.
4 For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened—those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come— 6 and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross once again and holding him up to public shame.
7 When the ground soaks up the falling rain and bears a good crop for the farmer, it has God’s blessing. 8 But if a field bears thorns and thistles, it is useless. The farmer will soon condemn that field and burn it.
9 Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love to him by caring for other believers,[b] as you still do. 11 Our great desire is that you will keep on loving others as long as life lasts, in order to make certain that what you hope for will come true. 12 Then you will not become spiritually dull and indifferent. Instead, you will follow the example of those who are going to inherit God’s promises because of their faith and endurance.
God’s Promises Bring Hope
13 For example, there was God’s promise to Abraham. Since there was no one greater to swear by, God took an oath in his own name, saying:
14 “I will certainly bless you,
and I will multiply your descendants beyond number.”[c]
15 Then Abraham waited patiently, and he received what God had promised.
16 Now when people take an oath, they call on someone greater than themselves to hold them to it. And without any question that oath is binding. 17 God also bound himself with an oath, so that those who received the promise could be perfectly sure that he would never change his mind. 18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. 20 Jesus has already gone in there for us. He has become our eternal High Priest in the order of Melchizedek.
God’s trustworthy promises. In 1934, when twenty-eight-year-old John Stam, missionary to China, was being led away to execution by the communists with his wife Betty, someone on the road asked, “Where are you going?” John laid hold on the hope set before him and said, “We are going to heaven.”
The author writes in vs. 19 how this hope we have in Jesus is a “strong and trustworthy anchor” Because of this verse the image of an anchor became a symbol of hope to the early church. If you go to Jerusalem and visit the garden tomb, you will find an anchor carved into the sandstone just to the left of the tomb entrance. We cannot be certain that it is the actual tomb where our Savior was laid, but we can be sure that early believers came there and prayed. This same anchor symbol has been found throughout the Roman Empire as well as on the catacomb walls of Rome, where 66 depictions of anchors have been found so far.
Why the image of the anchor? The symbol of an anchor reminded them (and us) of the security of God’s promise of salvation and eternal life, and that He firmly holds us through the storms of life. The reason we use an anchor on a boat is to prevent us from drifting. In the same way, as people our soul tends to drift away as well. We face temptation, sin, and battle empathy. Each and everyday, bad things happen to us, but we have this “sure and steadfast” anchor we can secure ourselves to and we can know that anchor of hope will prevail.
So how do we build that trust in that anchor? How do we feel secure in it? How do we come to a place where we long for God’s security, as God becomes our default, not our last resort? It takes time, experience and some some work on our part too. Here are a few practical ways to deepen that understanding of God and strengthen that trust in the anchor.
- Meditate from the Bible on how sure your hope is in the presence of God.
- Pray earnestly that God would open your mind and heart to His mightiness, and to a deeper understanding of His promises.
- Take time to think about how much Christ has suffered for your hope.
- Think about Christians like yourselves who have laid hold on hope in Christ, like the story of John Stam we read earlier
- Find someone you consider wise and mature in their faith and talk with them about their experiences
- Help each other do all these things in your small groups, friend groups or family. Encourage each other every day to lay hold on hope.
Pray for God to reveal new understanding of His hope and promises to you today.