David Allen, Dean of the School of Theology at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, contributed to SBC Today a 10-part series on interpreting and preaching Hebrews 6:1-8.
You can access all parts of the series. Dr Allen argues that the highly disputed passage (Heb 6:1-8) is not about salvation or damnation but rather the gain or loss of rewards.
I remain unconvinced by his arguments, but it’s helpful to see a defender of this view. Allen’s interpretation of this tough text is also thoroughly explicated in his commentary on Hebrews in the NAC series. If you’ve never read arguments for the Loss of Rewards view of Hebrews 6:1-8, David Allen writes clearly as an advocate for it.
“The Aim of Incarnation”
A Brief Meditation on Hebrews 2:17
December 24, 2012
“Therefore he had to be made
like his brothers in every respect,
so that he might become a mercful
and faithful high priest in the service
of God, to make propitiation for
the sins of his people” (Hebrews 2:17)
The aim of incarnation
Was death by crucifixion,
A holy substitution
That made propitiation.
Yesterday morning I had the privilege of preaching from Hebrews 11:13-16 at Louisville’s Kosmosdale Baptist Church. The message was called “A Far Country: The End of the Pilgrim’s Progress,” and the audio is here.
Believers are exiles waiting on the fulfillment of God’s promises, which include a world to come. When we live in rock-solid faith that God will bring to pass all he’s promised, we can die in faith with hopes still unrealized. Our faith, even at the point of final breath, is based on God’s trustworthiness. He will keep his word.
The theme of spiritual exile is echoed in a letter written early in church history, The Epistle to Diognetus. The writer says of Christians, “They dwell in their own homelands, but as strangers. They share in all things as citizens, and they endure all things as foreigners. Every foreign land is a homeland for them, and every homeland is foreign” (5:5, my translation).
Strangers in this world we may be, but God has prepared a city for his people, and he is not ashamed to be called the God of those who desire it (Heb 11:16).
A silent night? Maybe in one sense, since mankind went to sleep unaware of what was happening behind the scenes.
The incarnation of God’s Son was a declaration of war against the devil:
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Hebrews 2:14)
This spiritual war was millennia in the making. Before the first couple even left the Garden of Eden, God promised the serpent hostility between it and Eve’s seed: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
This conflict continued through the ages all the way to the cross. Through death, said the Hebrews author, Jesus defeated the devil. The incarnation made it possible to fulfill the promise of Genesis 3:15.
It seems intuitive that a warrior is victorious by avoiding death in order to vanquish his enemy. But God’s wisdom is higher and deeper and often counterintuitive. He sent his Son to battle the serpent, and through death the victory was won.
“It is finished,” Jesus said with his last breath. God’s wrath was satisfied, atonement was accomplished, and the head of the serpent could not bear the crushing weight of the Son’s mighty heel.
The manger and Mount Calvary are separated only by the years it took to get from one to the other, for Christ’s mission concerned both places.
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death…” (Heb 2:14)
God’s Son was born in order to die. His mission was not derailed by the cross. The Place of the Skull was not “plan B” after a failed attempt at securing earthly rule and renown. The incarnation happened for the purpose of crucifixion.
The cross was always the point because on that tree he died. And he could only die if he was human. God’s Son was born outside Jerusalem, and he’d die outside that city too.
His bloody birth was the way to his bloody death. But there’s power in this blood. In it sinners are washed white as snow.
Growing up I used to wonder why God sent his Son to become a man. It’s an important question to ponder, and the Bible gives us the answer:
“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things…” (Heb 2:14a)
In other words, God’s Son became a man because the objects of his rescue (“the children”) were flesh and blood. The Word became flesh, entering our human experience. He laid aside his majesty and put on skin. He descended into time, becoming subject to aging, pain, and death.
The incarnation should leave us in awe. Jesus learned, developed, and obeyed. He grew a specific height, had a certain complexion, and weighed a particular number of pounds. He experienced weariness, hunger, and thirst. His walk, voice, and fingerprint were all distinct. He was fully human.