January 16, 2018

The Evidence of True Belief

Taigen Joos

Recently, our friend Taigen Joos preached a message to his congregation on the well-known (and challenging) passage of Hebrews 6.1-6. When I listened to this message, I asked pastor Joos to share it with us along with his notes. What follows is a synopsis of his message, derived from his notes, with a link to the page on our site where we are hosting the audio file for the message. I hope you will find it to be a blessing to you as you give attention to this critical passage of Scripture.

Several years ago there was a young man whom I had witnessed to and did an evangelistic Bible study with. He understood the concepts of the gospel, gave an affirmation of his need to be saved, and made a profession of faith in Christ in my office. There was an initial joy and excitement in his life. He expressed a desire to be baptized, but never made it into the pool. As time progressed, he got busy at work, working on the Lord’s Day, stopped reading his Bible as much, and we fell out of contact. Last I saw him he was living with his girlfriend, and too busy for the things of God.

I have often wondered to myself whether or not he truly was converted. Ultimately, God knows. I hope he is, but I may never find out on this side of eternity.

Have you ever known someone who has made some kind of profession of faith, even appeared to have some evidence of conversion and fruit, only to see them eventually walk away from the faith altogether? Unfortunately, those kinds of situations happen more often than we would like to believe.

Our text this morning, Hebrews 6.1-6, will address that kind of thing, and I trust that we will take in what God’s Word says, believe it, and let it shape our thinking with regards to this subject as well.

A quick summary of the surrounding chapters will help set our passage in context:

  • At the end of chapter 4, the author begins to discuss in earnest the superiority of Christ with regards to the priesthood.
  • In chapter 5 he puts forth the idea that Christ is superior because of his order, being in the line of Melchisedec, rather than of Aaron.
  • At the end of chapter 5, he says there is much more to say about this, but that his audience, the initial readers, were dull of hearing, still feeding on the first principles of the oracles of God, the milk so to speak, rather than the meat of more mature theology and doctrine.

At this point, one would think that the author would then continue by saying that he would continue to feed them milk until they showed they could handle the meat, but he does not. Our text in chapter 6 has the author saying that their need was not to remain in those elementary principles, but to press on and learn greater truths.

Chapter 6 is something of a parenthesis in the discussion of the priesthood of Christ. Priesthood will not be mentioned again until the last verse of the chapter, which directly leads into chapter 7. Chapter 6 instead turns to analysis of the spiritual life of the reader, discussing the nature of true belief and the security of the believer. There are evidences that help us understand what makes a person truly converted, and therefore help us also seek to discern who is not.

The key points to understand in our text are these:

1. True belief manifests itself by pursuing spiritual maturity (v 1-3)

a. True belief has a solid foundation.

b. True belief progresses from the basic to the more complex teachings.

2. True belief manifests itself by persevering in the faith. (v 4-6)

a. True belief involves more than just an appearance.

b. True belief will not lead a person to fall away from Christ.

True believers will have times of failure. But no true believer will ever fall away from the faith.

Some may reply, “but I know someone who did incredible things for the cause of Christ, but then rejected their Christianity. What about them?” Jesus said in Matthew 7 that many will say that they did many wonderful works in the name of Christ, but will not gain eternal life because they did not know Christ. In the parable of the soils, some seed sprang up immediately and appeared to give some kind of fruit, but quickly fell away for different reasons, revealing a lack of true enduring life.

These instructions from Scripture are meant to serve as a warning for the reader. Some may accuse me of appearing to be a bit cynical when I hear of a person making a profession of faith, but this warning makes me cautious. I rejoice in the profession, but I wait for time to reveal the true nature of it.

One commentator wrote, “A credible profession of faith must be accepted as genuine, but ultimately it is only the Lord who knows those who are his.”[1]

I hope this summary whets your appetite for the whole sermon, which can be found here.

Taigen Joos is the pastor of Heritage Baptist Church in Dover, NH. He blogs at A Beggar’s Bread.

  1. F. F. Bruce, Hebrews, 147. []

Although Proclaim & Defend is the blog of the FBFI, the articles we post are not an expression of the views of the FBFI as a whole, they are the views of the author under whose name they are published. The FBFI speaks either through position statements by its board or through its president. Here at Proclaim & Defend, we publish articles as matters of interest or edification to the wider world of fundamentalist Baptists and any others who might be interested.

Submit other comments here.