Saturday after the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hebrews 6:1-20 (NKJV)
1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits. 4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
13 For when God made a promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no one greater, He swore by Himself, 14 saying, “Surely blessing I will bless you, and multiplying I will multiply you.” 15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. 16 For men indeed swear by the greater, and an oath for confirmation is for them an end of all dispute. 17 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us. 19 This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast, and which enters the Presence behind the veil, 20 where the forerunner has entered for us, even Jesus, having become High Priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.
[v.1:] “Let us therefore leave the simple teaching which begins in Christ…”
These words go together with the preceding ones. We therefore are leaving the primary rudiments in which little children receive their first instruction and as were sufficiently instilled in us. Now let us recognize and learn loftier teachings and those which are the stuff of full-grown men, and do this in the faith of Christ (Eph. 4:11ff.).
[v.3:] “…if God permit.”
The rudiments are to teach and have regard only for the external Sacraments as well as some voluntary observances according to the ritual which the apostles had observed, as was the laying on of hands without which the Holy Spirit could then be given and was being given and is always being given to Christians. Those rudiments also include teaching us to say: “I believe in God the Father, etc.,” to teach you to abstain from fornication, false witness, etc., and to say the Lord’s Prayer. These alone are the sort of things which our men teach where they are the best, namely, the perfection of faith and how rich it is to be in God, as those who don’t know and are unable to teach in this way.
The people therefore err along with them, when they never truly come to their senses and always are stuck in the same mudhole. They nevertheless invent a repentance from dead works once a year for themselves. They therefore are wrong and are not Christians until God has mercy on them and opens for them the way of salvation that they may learn not to cling to external works in vain like little children but to hope for salvation through Christ Jesus in God alone. We must call forth such people to better things, as you see here. We shall hear another judgment about those who truly knew Christ and later blasphemed His grace, which is terrible wickedness.
Johannes Bugenhagen, Annotations on Paul’s Epistles (1525)