God's Solemn Oath, Hebrews ch.6 vv.15-20
Preacher Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness
Sermon Title God's Solemn Oath
Text Hebrews ch.6 vv.15-20
Sermon ID 985
"And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec" (Hebrews 6, 15-20).
Hebrews 6 deals with two different subjects and they are in marked contrast one to the other. In the first half of Hebrews 6 we have one of the sternest and most dreadful warning passages anywhere in the Bible. You can see from the reading how awesome it is. There are some people it says whom it is impossible to renew to repentance because they crucify Jesus Christ to themselves afresh. But the last half of Hebrews 6 is exactly the opposite in character: not a warning passage but a reassuring passage; a passage giving comfort.
We are all inclined to doubt God. We are all inclined to let his promises and his words go in one ear and come out of the other. It really is terrible how little we take God seriously when reading and studying His Word. These doubts are dishonouring to God but even the best of believers have these sinful doubts at times. I am sure you all remember there was an occasion when Peter was in the boat with the other disciples and Christ was seen walking towards them on the water - on the Sea of Galilee. Remember that Peter said: "Lord, if it be thou, bid me to come unto thee on the water" (Matthew 14, 28). Peter climbed out of the ship and, by the power of Christ, began to walk on the waves. As he had made a number of paces on to the water, he began to look at the way the waves were swelling under his feet and as he did so his faith turned to doubt. As he doubted he began to sink, and he cried out, "Lord, save me" (Matthew 14, 30). The Lord put forth his hand and said to him, "O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" (Matthew 14, 31). That question comes to us all - Why do we doubt God?
We must confront our doubts. Doubts never come from God, they come from the devil. I would remind you of what happened in the very beginning when our first father, Adam, and Eve were in the garden and in came the devil. What was the way he approached our first parents? "Yea," he said, "hath God said?" (Genesis 3, 1) - casting doubt on what God had said. That's an old sin. Today we are apt to call it "liberalism" or "the higher critical" view of the Bible. The devil has his servants in most of the pulpits of Scotland, without any doubt whatsoever, because in the majority of pulpits in Scotland (maybe England and other countries too) they don't take the Bible seriously. They have doubts as to its reliability; they have doubts about its authenticity and those doubts come from the devil.
Remember the devil's way of speaking to Jesus our Lord in the desert when he tempted Him for 40 days. Satan said, "If you are the Son of God, then do this.... If you are the Son of God then come down.... If you are the Son of God, then turn this into bread..." and so on. If... if... if... - doubts, in other words. My friends, doubts I'm afraid are the things which all too often characterise our lives. This evening I want to show from my text that God assures his own people of the truth of the Gospel by which we are saved. I say it again: God assures his people; God loves to give assurance to believers as to the truth of the Gospel. It is not God who inspires men and women with doubts, but the devil. On the other hand, God's kindness is such, that he loves men and women who are believers to receive assurance. Be clear on this point: God desires all who trust in Christ to be assured of that fact. Our doubts do not come from God - wherever they come from - from our own frailty no doubt and sometimes the suggestion of the devil, as I have said. Wherever they come from, they do not come from God if we are genuine believers.
That's the subject before us in this text. He is here describing how it is that God gave assurance of salvation to Abraham. Abraham is not a name plucked at random; he is the father of all believers in a spiritual sense. Abraham is a sort of paradigm, a sort of standard or outstanding example to us all. He is a kind of model believer in many ways and what God did for Abraham is significant for all believers. We have this phrase - "the immutability of his counsel"; let me show you where that is. He talks about the immutability of his counsel here: "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath" (text). My subject here is the way in which God reassures believers; the way in which God gives inward certainty to believers that they are safe. When God uses this phrase here, "the immutability of his counsel", He is referring to the Gospel; He is referring to Abraham's faith in the promises of God - Abraham's believing God and being justified. It's true for us all, because we are all the heirs of salvation if we believe in Christ. We are in a spiritual sense, as I have said, all children of Abraham when we believe in Christ. So the "immutability of his counsel" means that the Gospel is rock-solid and that it cannot let us down. It is "immutable", meaning it cannot be changed - that is the meaning of immutable. His counsel is His gracious salvation given freely to all those who, by their faith, wish to receive it - of whom Abraham was an eminent example.
The Gospel, we are told here, is a promise. You see where that is found? (v.17-18): "God," he says, "willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation" (text). Here he refers to the promise that God gives of everlasting life. My dear friends, God loves people to be saved and He loves those who are saved to be reassured of that fact. He doesn't love to keep people in the dark. God loves to have people fully assured. That's why He gives us this promise. The Gospel is a promise, that whosoever believes in Jesus shall have everlasting life; it is a promise. That's the way God comes to us - a promise of everlasting good. In that way, God reassured Abraham. He said to him, "Abraham, I will be to you a God. I will bless you and I will multiply you," which is exactly what has happened, because the Jews are Abraham's children. There's the proof of it. There are millions of Jews in the world today, and these are the spiritual seed - at least heirs of promise. Not all of them believers but there were many of them in the Old Testament, and in a certain sense they are a peculiar people still - but there they are. God has given this promise to Abraham that He will be to him a God, but said to Himself as it were, that it was not enough of a reassurance. Therefore, God has added a second reassurance. What is that? It's one of these two immutable things. The first one is this promise and the second one is an oath. It is confirmed by an oath.