The writer has covered the major doctrines in chapters 1-12 these believers in Jerusalem needed. Therefore the last chapter of Hebrews gives them a picture of what the result of reversionism recovery should look like. The proper handling of friendship, intercessory prayer, marriage, love, money, etc. by a believer demonstrates his recovery.
“Let love of the brethren continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.”
Love of the brethren must continue because we are all members of the Royal Family of God and there must never be any division in the Royal Family. We are all in the same priesthood, and we all are to have the same objective – spiritual maturity. We are therefore commanded to have a relaxed mental attitude.
The Greek word for hospitality is “philoxenia,” which means love of strangers and is a reference to impersonal love for all mankind. It does not mean that we are required to open our homes to every stranger on the street. However, it does mean that as God’s ambassadors we are to exhibit God’s kind of unconditional, impersonal love for everyone. The effective ambassador is a blessing to others. God blesses the believer when he has developed capacity to receive blessing. Capacity is developed by the believer-priest as he builds his relationship with God. The primary responsibility of a believer as a royal priest is the perception of Bible doctrine. The primary responsibility of a believer as a royal ambassador is the application of Bible doctrine.
Impersonal love is not what we normally think of as love. It is the virtue in your soul that causes you to have a relaxed mental attitude toward others and treat them with kindness, compassion, patience and forgiveness. In other words, impersonal love is how we treat others. Therefore, impersonal love must be based on the virtue of the subject, the one doing the loving (“the treating”). Impersonal love is a function of the Royal Ambassadorship of the believer. It is our love for God that motivates us to exhibit impersonal love toward all. Impersonal love operates from the integrity and virtue that you have developed from learning and applying Bible doctrine. As a Royal Ambassador, you represent God before the world. Therefore, as royalty, you are to conduct your life accordingly. This calls for high standards of excellence in every area of your life. It calls for honor in your dealings with your fellow-believers and with unbelievers alike. With Jesus Christ as our example, we are to exhibit the same kind of love that He exhibited. This kind of love can be accomplished only by a believer with Bible doctrine in the soul, who is being controlled by the Holy Spirit.
When we are properly functioning under the control of the Holy Spirit, we will adhere to the principles found throughout the Word of God. These principles will enable us to exhibit impersonal love toward others. This means that we will treat everyone with respect, not on the basis of our “pet prejudices” regarding race, social status, ability or what a person can or cannot do for us. We will refrain from gossip, maligning, judging, character assassination, etc. In other words, we will “live and let live.” The principle of treating everyone with respect also means that we will be tolerant, be thoughtful and be kind toward others. We will hold no grudges or resentment against anyone. (I John 4:17-18)
Entertained angels without knowing it could be a reference to Abraham entertaining the Lord Jesus Christ as the Angel of Jehovah and several angels accompanying Him. Or it could be a reference to the many times throughout Scripture that an angel or angels appeared to various believers. The point the writer is making is to treat everyone with impersonal love because you never know who you are entertaining.
“Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.”
Love of the brethren can also be exhibited by intercessory prayer. The prisoners are a reference to the persecuted believers by the reigning emperor in Rome in 67 AD who have been imprisoned. This form of impersonal love is expressed in intercessory prayer for people you may not know. You do not have to know the believers personally to pray for them, but as a member of the royal family of God you must understand the doctrine of prayer, how it works and how it functions for your prayer to be effective.
All believers are in union with Christ, there were believers in Rome who were being imprisoned, but these believers in Jerusalem are still free. So the principle is that all believers are in the same Royal Family. (I Corinthians 12) But here, intercessory prayer for those unseen and unknown is a means of expressing brotherly love. Intercessory prayer is grace support for suffering members of the family of God. All believers on the earth are on the same team and we all need the prayer support of others, especially those in adverse circumstances like illegal imprisonment.
“Marriage is to be held in honor among all, and the marriage bed is to be undefiled, for fornicators and adulterers God will judge.”
One of the most important things that every believer needs to understand is morality and spirituality. While spirituality and morality are both found in the Scriptures they cover different areas, although there is some overlap. Morality is best defined as the means by which the divine institutions function, whereas spirituality is the means of functioning in doctrine. Unbelievers can have morality but they do not have spirituality. On the other hand the believer with doctrine has both morality and spirituality. The reversionistic believer has neither. Spirituality functions through the power of the Spirit; morality functions through the volitional and mental aspects of the soul.
A fornicator is a person having premarital sex, whereas an adulterer is a person having sex with someone other than their spouse. Both are condemned by God and should not be a part of a believer’s life. The result of such actions always results in divine discipline and stymies the spiritual advance of a believer.
“Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you; nor will I ever forsake you,’ so that we confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid. What will man do to me?’”
The love of money is the “root of all evil” according to the Scriptures. If you are an advancing believer, then love of money should not be part of your priorities. It should not be part of your character. This does not mean nor does it say that money is evil.
We all need money in order to live and function in life and within the body of Christ. Money is a good thing when used properly by a believer to support their families and support the work of Christ. However, money should never be a priority for a spiritually mature believer.
Contentment is based on the amount of Bible doctrine in the soul. Contentment has to do with sharing divine happiness in every circumstance of life. It is to our advantage to have things from God on the basis of grace. The existing results of certain promises from God are in the five passages quoted from the Old Testament and stand written in the Scriptures, forever. They are a part of the Word of God which endures forever and their message is one which we need constantly in our lives. And these promises are based on the attributes and character of God. (Genesis 28:15; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5; I Chronicles 28:20; Isaiah 41:10)
“Remember those who led you, who spoke the Word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate the result of their faith. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever. Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings; for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, through which those who were so occupied were not benefited.”
This passage is saying to remember those who led you in teaching of the Word of God (Pastors). Imitating their “faith” is imitating their doctrine. Considering their conduct means to consider how Bible doctrine has affected their lives and how they had responded to it. So imitate them to the same degree that they imitate Jesus Christ.
The stability of Christ as a human being and as our prototype (example) is the reason for the phrase, “the same yesterday, today and forever.” Bible doctrine in the soul of Jesus Christ caused Him to be stable throughout His life and ministry on earth. There never was a time when Christ was unstable in His thinking, His attitude or His actions. He maintained stability in every adverse circumstance as a demonstration to all believers of the effectiveness of the filling of the Holy Spirit.
The opposite of stability is chaos characterized by reversionism which results from negative volition toward Bible teaching. Therefore, we have a warning against becoming seduced by false doctrine. When this occurs the believer is negative toward Bible teaching and he is unstable. There is nothing worse than the instability in the life of a believer. Therefore the first command, “Do not be carried away by varied and strange teachings,” which means not to become seduced by the Judaizers.
Judaizerswere those false teachers who had led the unsuspecting and duped believers in Jerusalem astray. The result of following their false teaching was instability leading to reversionism. Some believers had started growing but had moved away from it in favor of law-keeping. That is the principle here. They were hurting themselves (not benefited) by not continuing their advance, but were instead being led astray and falling from the steadfastness that they once had while residing in God’s power system. Whatever doctrine they accumulated in their souls, whatever part of the edification complex that had been constructed was now being destroyed. In their case in Jerusalem they went back to observing Jewish rituals and taboos represented by “foods.” This is a reference to the food taboos of Judaism which are mentioned in Romans 14:1-4. It means a system of pseudo-spirituality. Our spirituality does not depend on what we take into the mouth; it is what we take into the soul that counts.
The “fix” to the problem of being duped by false teaching or human viewpoint thinking is spiritual growth. Spiritual growth is always based on God’s grace. It is God the Holy Spirit Who teaches us. What He teaches, as stated by Christ in the Gospels, is spiritual truth. Therefore, we grow by means of God’s grace as we increase our knowledge of Jesus Christ. A believer increases their knowledge of Jesus Christ by having the mind of Christ. Bible doctrine is the mind of Christ. Problem-solving device number ten is occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ. And God’s grace teaches us and strengthens us through the Bible doctrine in our souls.
Grace depends upon the essence or the character of God. Therefore, grace depends on Who God is. Grace is what God can do for man and be consistent with His own character. Grace is God’s relationship with a believer as well as God’s way of salvation. So grace is all that God can do for man from salvation to eternity, totally apart from man’s merit, man’s ability, man’s talent, or man’s planning.
The great enemy to grace is legalism. Legalism is man’s intrusion into the plan of God with his own works, his own ability, his own talent, his own schemes, and using these in an attempt to gain the approval of God. Legalism has many forms. One form of legalism is religion: man by man’s efforts seeking to gain the approbation of God. One thing Christianity is not is religion. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ you are in the plan of God, the plan of God is grace. Grace excludes religion. Religion is the worst enemy of man. Religion is the devil’s ace trump — satanic systems of human ability and works used as substitutes for God’s works in grace. The believer must learn to sort out the difference between grace and legalism, between grace and religion. Believers often cling to some talent or some ability, some plan, some gimmick, and actually try to infiltrate into the plan of God by these means. But anything that man could add to the plan of God would destroy operation grace. The plan of grace is never neutralized by man’s efforts because grace rejects all energy of the flesh, all human talent, all human ability, and all human viewpoint ideas for spirituality. Therefore we must understand the issue that legalism and grace can never coexist.