A Study of Hebrews 6:9
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” (Hebrews 6:9)
Paul the apostle, we strongly assume, wrote the book of Hebrews, as well as thirteen other books of the New Testament. His chief premise in this book clearly seemed to be regarding things “better”. Besides the above text, he spoke of Christ being made so much better than the angels, Hebrews 1:4; the bringing in of a better hope, Hebrews 7:19; Jesus made a surety of a better hope, Hebrews 7:22; Christ, the mediator of a better covenant, Hebrews 8.6; which was established on better promises, Hebrews 8:6; better sacrifices to purify the heavenly things, Hebrews 9:23; a better and an enduring substance, Hebrews 10:34; a better country, that is a heavenly, Hebrews 11:16; a better resurrection, Hebrews 11:35; better things than promised the Old Testament saints, Hebrews 11:40.
It appears clear as the noon day sun that the better things spoken of throughout the book of Hebrews were vastly, even infinitely, superior to those with which they were contrasted. The better things that accompany the salvation of all the elect were no exception. They were “better” than the worthless products of those persons to be rejected, described by Paul as briers and thorns, Hebrews 6:8. Two things at once appear evident here: first, the reprobate, as well as the elect, give certain evidences of their nature; and second, the apostle was sure that the saved would manifest better “things that accompany salvation.”
Some, especially among the conditionalist persuasion, have the mistaken notion that there is a large segment of the elect family, maybe even a majority, that will finally be in heaven as a result of the redemptive work of Jesus, yet they will in this life be completely ignorant of this great work of salvation, and must await the final resurrection of the dead for these things to be revealed to them. It is suggested too that millions will be saved but never believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, never love Him for His own self, never rejoice in the light of the Lord, never repent, and never hope for deliverance or grieve over sin. All this, it is said, because this multitude of “ignorant” children of God have never heard the gospel! Or, as some contend, because God has not blessed them to receive it when it is heard. This situation, then, sets up the predicament, at least for those that espouse this view, of having to contend that these “ignorant” elect ones will live out their days on earth without ever manifesting those better things Paul says accompany salvation.
We would suggest that much of the confusion this erroneous view causes is a result of believing somehow that the poor sinner chosen to salvation cannot hear the gospel unless it is preached to them by man. Make no mistake about it, the gospel and the preaching of the gospel are two very different things. The gospel is, as the Old School have always contended, good news, and God is not limited to using the vocal cords of preachers to bless His little children with “good news”.
What then are these things that accompany salvation, of which the apostle was persuaded? Primarily, they are the fruits, or evidences, of their having been born again by the Spirit of God. We would affirm here that all that will finally be in heaven with God, those called the saved, will positively have been born again in this life. “Ye must be born again” is, to our mind, foundational truth. All the elect, without exception, must be born again or there must of necessity be more than one way to heaven.
The new birth accomplishes at once two vital requirements for heaven. First, the chosen of God are born in Christ, and second, Christ is born in them. One is as vital as the other in order that they might be saved. Both are accomplished in their regeneration. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
The new birth is a begetting, I Peter 1:3; James 1:18. Those thus begotten are the work of God. “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6)
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:13)
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
This work is complete and entire, and in no respect will it fail to accomplish that for which God intended it.
This work is as well a creation, as just cited in Ephesians 2:10, and is unto good works. We hardly think there is anyone that can successfully prove that those thus created in Christ Jesus will fail to bring forth those good works God has ordained to be brought forth by them. Some argue that the text says those ordained should, not would, walk in good works. However, if God has ordained that we should, then certainly we shall, or His ordination is of little or no effect. This walking in good works is one of the things that accompany salvation.
What takes place when those chosen to obtain salvation are begotten, or born again? The inspired Apostle says they are called out of darkness into His marvelous light, I Peter 2:9. Thus the born again are enabled to see the Light of life. “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life” (John 8:12). As light was the first order in the old creation, so is light the first order of the new creation, or new birth. “And God said, let there be light: and there was light” (Genesis 1:3). This was the initial order in the old creation. “For with thee is the fountain of life: in thy light shall we see light” (Psalm 36:9). “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (II Corinthians 4:6). This is the first work in the new creation. This (the light of the knowledge of the glory of God) is one of those things that accompany salvation.
Another vital thing that takes place in the new birth is that the begotten of God hear the voice of the Son of God. “Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37). The expression “every one” surely embraces all the elect, and Jesus testified before Pilate they, those of the truth, will hear His voice; every one of them. “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out” (John 10:3). Is there any room for doubt that the born again hear His voice? The sheep hear His voice! If they are sheep they positively hear His voice. Can we conclude anything else than, that those that do no: hear are goats? Is there another conclusion we could possibly come to? “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). Before the sheep were born again they were dead in trespasses and sins, Ephesians 2:1. But they do not remain that way, for, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25). These things — living, hearing, and following — are things that accompany salvation as surely as God is Holy.
“We love him, because he first loved us” (I John 4:19). God has loved His children with an everlasting love. It may well be said that there never was a time that God did not love His elect. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Surely the love of God towards His little children is as unchanging as God Himself. Thus, all the elect will, without exception, love their God as well as the brethren for, “Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love” (I John 4:7-8). Love to God and the brethren are things that accompany salvation.
“And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad, and glorified the word of the Lord: and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed” (Acts 13:48). Many poor sinners have found comfort in reading this text. This is a sure bastion against the errors of the soul-saving system that has swept through the religious world. Do all those, in every circumstance, and in every age, that were ordained to eternal life believe? This is a question that has long vexed many, though it shouldn’t if those who read the Bible are blessed to receive what it says. Consider the following: “Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul” (Hebrews 10:38-39). The cannons of infidelity may bomb away at this text, but they shall never shake the bedrock truth contained herein.
First, the just shall live by faith. Who are the just? We answer, they are those justified by the blood and righteousness of Jesus, the Saviour of sinners. That includes them all! Thus, faith is wrought in all those who are saved, being saved, and to be saved. Without faith, the blessed Book proclaims, it is impossible to please God. “By grace are ye saved, through faith” fortifies this position with unmistakable clarity. We contend that faith is an integral component in the salvation of all the elect. It, faith, is a gift of God to all He justifies. We strongly recommend a serious reading of both chapters four and five of the book of Romans in this regard. Faith is one of those things that accompany salvation.
Second, the distinctions between the reprobates and the vessels of mercy are plainly delineated by Paul in verse 39. The reprobate draws back; there is no faith in God, or His acceptable sacrifice. God’s little children believe, however, and that to the saving of the soul. Paul offers no hint whatsoever of any other class of individuals that live, act, look like reprobates, but, despite the absence of any of the things that accompany salvation, will finally be wafted off to heaven, to there learn what the Bible says the elect know in this life. Those in verse 39, Paul included, believed unto salvation because they had faith to believe. They had faith because they were just, and they were just because God justified them with the imputed righteousness of His Son. It would be worse than spiritual insanity to attempt to prove that any of those of whom Paul spoke did not believe, and it would be equally absurd to contend that God has a sub-culture class of children somewhere, void of these things that accompany salvation.
The family of God is just that; a family. The family is in various places in the Scriptures called brethren, children, and sons. Christ is called “the firstborn among any brethren” (Romans 8:29). God is our father. All this indicates the family tie, or as our Saviour prayed in John 17, that we may all be one. That all the family reacts in common in certain respects is clear from the following texts: “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear: but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God; And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together” (Romans 8:14-17). These heirs, as many as are led by the Spirit, being sons, cry, “Abba, Father.” This is not the confession of “ignorant”, unbelieving children of God. This is the cry of those, as many as, that the Spirit beareth witness to that they are children. Are any of the children of God left out? If they are, these texts, and the rest of the Bible, is stone silent on it. The cry, “Abba, Father,” is brought forth by the Spirit that dwells in all the elect; for, “if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” (Romans 8:9). This cry is among those things that accompany the salvation of all the elect.
“For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons” (Hebrews 12:6-8). All the elect of God are loved by Him; thus all are chastened. This is His manner of dealing with sons, and the text allows of no exceptions. All else are bastards! Wherever, and in whatever circumstances the elect are in, God the Father deals with all His chosen family alike for their profit; they are scourged, “that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Hebrews 12:10). The Apostle gave the reason for this chastening in verse 12 as the exercise of God to yield peaceable fruits of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. We would conclude then from these texts that the peaceable fruits of righteousness are things that accompany the salvation of all the sons of God.
What, then, are we to make of all these examples of things, and there are many others we have not touched on, that accompany salvation? Just this: There is no evidence in the Bible whatever to sustain the notion that God has withheld from any of His elect children those things that accompany salvation. If they are born again they will all respond in kind; they will love, see light, groan, pray, rejoice, serve, sin, repent, believe, doubt, and any other thing that is common to the experience laid down in the Scriptures. The supposed mass of millions of God’s “ignorant” children simply cannot be found, if we use the Bible as our only guide.
If we asked for a text from those that differ with us, to show that there really are those (unconverted elect, they call them) masses out there that belong to the Lord, but are void of knowledge, we would probably get this response: Did not Jesus say, “Other sheep I have, which are not of this fold:”? Surely He did, and so we are obliged to compare our views with this text. To make that comparison we must quote the rest of the text cited. “Them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd” (John 10:16). So, there it is again. “They,” that is the other sheep, “shall hear my voice.” We must conclude then, that all the elect, world without end, will be born again, hear the voice of the Son of God, believe, and bring forth things that accompany salvation.
Probably the greatest objection that will be raised to our pressing the Scriptures on this matter is the perceived “exceptions” such as infants, idiots, and the heathen. There are those that believe God will save some, or all from these categories because they do not have the same privileges as we “normal” folks. It is contended that these excepted people cannot perform such things as accompany salvation. If the things that accompany salvation were the products of the flesh or natural mind we would fully agree and close the subject. But they are not.
Concerning the first group, the infant; we ask, what has age to do with the redemptive work of God? Why contrast them with adults? Does it require something more special than saving grace to deliver an infant? We think not. The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sins, including the sins of infants. (In Adam all died.) But it may be countered that an infant cannot believe or do good works; it cannot experience the things adults can. Who says they can’t? Brethren, we are not of that religious persuasion that holds that the things that accompany salvation are produced in, or by, the flesh. According to our Saviour, “The flesh profiteth nothing” (John 6:63). That includes infant flesh as well as adult flesh. Those things that accompany salvation must come forth from the inward man always, and are not restricted by age. Cannot an infant, who must be born of the Spirit just like an adult in order to be saved, hear the voice of the Son of God? We affirm that they must hear the voice of the Son of God if they are among the elect number. With God, all things are possible, including speaking life, hope, faith, and other blessings into the heart of an infant. If the infant is not born of the Spirit, it is without hope; doomed forever, just like adult sinners. If it is born of the Spirit, it possesses those things that accompany salvation.
What we have said, will, in general, apply to the case of the idiot and the heathen as well. Their situations are not too far removed from God that they cannot be saved by grace like all the chosen family will.
In summary, nothing more could point up what we have written than the words of Isaiah: “They shall be all taught of God.” If taught then of God, they, all the elect children in every age, will certainly bring forth such things as accompany salvation, for these are better things than could possibly be imagined under any other system or creed. To contend for a class of redeemed sinners, even one single sinner, that is saved apart from the manner taught in the Bible may be popular, and may be thought charitable, but it is totally unprovable by the Word of Scripture. There is not one single example of such to be found there.
J. F. Poole – 1993