Don’t tell me you love him; (mere) partakers

D. James Kennedy employed an arresting illustration which is pertinent to my (sub)thesis [that the context of Hebrews as a whole and, in particular, 1:1 through 6:8, indicates that the warning which ends at 6:8 is operative upon those who are satisfied with “milk” and, concomitantly, have no appetite for “solid food” (the “solid food” is the primary issue!)]. Dr. Kennedy, in his inimitable fashion, told of a young woman who talked much about her love for a soldier overseas. She spoke so convincingly that she seemed to truly believe that she did indeed love him. At home, however, was a stack of unopened letters she’d received from him. “DON’T TELL ME YOU LOVE HIM“, Dr. Kennedy bellowed. Instantaneous conviction; no need to connect the dots.

Joe Stowell employed an unforgettable illustration as to the greatest commandment {“[y]ou shall love the Lord your God with all your soul, with all your heart, and with all your mind” [Matthew 22:37 (Holman C.S.B.)]}. Dr. Stowell portrayed a “word picture” of a child playing in the street, a vehicle speeding toward the child, and a parent diving into the street to move the child out of harm’s way, concomitantly risking serious bodily harm. The parent, explained Dr. Stowell, yielded his/her best for the child’s best; that is, the parent loved (action verb!) the child.

Jesus was anything but “Jesusy” as to those who “honor[] [Him] with their lips, but their heart is far from [Him]” [Matthew 15:8 (HCSB)]. His letters to the churches, delivered by John via Revelation 3 – 4, are, unlike Hebrews and other letters to churches which comprise the New Covenant Scriptures, not pastoral in tone.

I know your works: you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before My God.

Revelation 3:1 – 2.

John, by referring to himself as the disciple “whom Jesus loved” [John 13:23 (HCSB)], inter alia, is probably (unfortunately) the role model for “Jesusy” folk. John “was reclining close beside Jesus” (id.) –even after Jesus announced “I assure you. One of you will betray me.” (v. 21)

It was much different when John encountered Jesus while “in the Spirit” [Revelation 1:12 (HCSB)] while he was exiled on Patmos: “When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man”. (v. 17) Isaiah’s experience was similar:

‘Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts!’

Isaiah 6:5 (ESV).

He knows whether we love Him. Others know whether we love Him “if [we] have love for one another” (John 13:35). “One another” = regenerate elect. Koinonia is sweet and it’s unmistakable. The foundation of fellowship is shared love for the Word.

The unregenerate are able to “taste and see that the Lord is good” [Psalm 34:8 (HCSB)]. They’re also able to “bec[o]me companions with the Holy Spirit” [Hebrews 6:5 (HCSB)]/”share in the Holy Spirit” (ESV)/”become partakers of the Holy Spirit” (NKJV). “[T]he absence of the article [in the Greek] [ ] suggests a less than fully personal activity of the Holy Spirit at this point”. Paul Ellingworth, NIGTC at p. 321; Ellingworth prefers “participate”. Edgar Andrews quotes John Calvin: “God certainly bestows his Spirit of regeneration only on the elect … . But I do not see that there is any reason why he should not touch the reprobate with a taste of his grace, or illumine their minds with some glimmering of his light, or affect them with some sense of his goodness.” A Glorious High Throne at p. 165. The unregenerate can and do become “once enlightened” [v. 4 (NKJV, HCSB)] — that is, educated as to the way of salvation. The non-elect, however, invariably “relapse[] into the darkness of works-religion and ritualism. This is never true of one born of the Spirit, for the Holy Spirit never ceases to enlighten the child of God concerning Christ (John 16:14 – 15).” A Glorious High Throne at p. 166.

Now we’re ready to consider Jesus’ metaphor … next time (!). In the meantime, two recommended resources:

1. Thank God I’m Not A Pharisee … Or Am I?

2. 12 Steps For The Recovering Pharisee (like me)

3 thoughts on “Don’t tell me you love him; (mere) partakers

  1. Hey Jim!

    I know you’re not at 6:9 just yet and I’m looking forward to getting your take on it in light of your stance that the writer is addressing unbelievers in this section.

    Your take on Psalm 34:8 is interesting. The fact that its historical setting is the Old Covenant picture makes it doubly interesting. Would you agree that it was addressed to the people of God and not to those outside the people of God? True, they were a physical picture of what was coming (but who knew?), but in the historical setting, they were the people of God at that time. Is Psalm 34:8 evangelistic? Possibly. But at it’s core, it was a cry for the Old Covenant people of God to enjoy his goodness because they were his people already. You and I know there’s more to the story, but that’s because we live this side of Pentecost.

    I still think this section is simply a warning passage to professed believers to persevere to the end. Why warn unbelievers to persevere in a faith they don’t possess in the first place? What they need is the gospel. But I do look forward to your comments on Hebrews 6:9-12.


  2. Kudos to Mike!* Thanks, again, Mike, for the sharpening!

    I cite(d) Psalm 34:8 presuming that those (B.C.) who “taste and see that the LORD is good”, like the “tasters” of the first century and of the twenty-first century, are NOT regenerated via the tasting. The operation of the warning on “tasters” in no way corroborates contention that salvation may be lost.

    Via my next post — finally(!) — I intend to employ KERRY KINCHEN’s book (for link, see comment to “Got Solid Food? Preliminary Matters”) as to who’s being warned. In the end, I contend, the warning is operational upon those satisfied with milk/without appetite for “solid food”.

    You’ve alluded to a paradox; I’ll restate it: Only the elect will develop appetite for “solid food” (again, I advocate that all mentally capable regenerate elect WILL develop such appetite!), so, why warn those without appetite? I assert that it’s loving to challenge folks to examine themselves (granted, Paul and Peter challenge individuals to do so for themselves; we know, though, that the Holy Spirit uses us in each other’s lives); concomitantly, I assert that it’s the opposite of loving to disregard such important indicia as absence of “appetite”. As to ecclesiology concerns, see my previous Reply.

    * SEE [“When it Comes to NT Church Life: Form Follows Function (2/11)] and [Leaving Behind Left Behind (2/8)]; for link to The Road To Emmaus, see right margin. Both were linked via (FIDe-O), by-the-way; good for IDS!

  3. Pingback: Got Solid Food? Setting The Table | IDS Blog

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