During the winter Bible class quarter where I minister some of our adult classes will study the book of Hebrews on Sunday mornings (Dec. 1 thru Feb. 23). This study is entitled Hebrews: Keep Calm & Carry On. To aid lesson prep, I’m posting ten sets of twenty exercises/questions to research and consider from each major section of Hebrews (as broken down in David A. DeSilva’s work Perseverance in Gratitude). Today’s set of exercises/questions interacts with Hebrews 5.11-6.20 and is entitled “Honoring God Necessitates Perseverance.”
1. “We have a lot to say about this topic, and it’s difficult to explain …” (5.11) K.I.S.S. is the common cry from seemingly everyone these days and yet, much of Scripture itself is anything but simple, quick and easy, or instantly relevant and practical. What practical steps can/must a disciple take to resist the temptation to tune out whatever is lengthy and/or difficult?
2. “… you have been lazy and you haven’t been listening …” (5.11) Don’t hold back, preacher; please, tell us what you’re really thinking! When was the last time you seriously thought about how you listen to teachers and preachers? What can a Christian do to maximize their listening?
3. “… you should have been teachers by now …” (5.12) Not every Christian has any business teaching … or do they? Explain with this specific text in view.
4. “… you need someone to teach you an introduction to the basics about God’s message …” (5.12) Make a list of what you would say are “the basics” of God’s message. Then make another list, this one of “the basics” as the writer of Hebrews has in view. How do these lists differ?
5. Carefully read 5.12b-14. Believers need to grow beyond living on milk (cf. question # 1 above); they need to learn to eat “spiritual meat.” So what exactly is, as the writer of Hebrews would have understood it, “solid food?” What do you do if you’re a leader and the spiritual babies complain about the menu and demand milk again instead of meat? How do you know if you’re one of those babies?
6. “… let’s press on to maturity, by moving on from the basics about Christ’s word.” (6.1) This is much easier said than done. In view what you’ve read thus far in Hebrews (1.1-6.1), what would the “maturity” the writer has in mind for his audience look like?
7. With the aid of more than one quality commentary at hand, bone up on each of the specific matters the author has in mind in 6.1b-2.
8. “… it’s impossible to restore people to changed hearts and lives who turn away once they have seen the light …” (6.4) This much is certain: the writer is not saying repentance is impossible if a person leaves Christ for we all know of cases where repentance and restoration has occurred. So what is the writer saying here?
9. What are the specific blessings converts to Christ experience enumerated in 6.4b-5? What are each of these blessings about? Research and meditate on these matters. Are these blessings you consider and thank God for very often? How might your prayers change somewhat if they were?
10. To drop out of a life of faith and interaction with the community of faith, the church, is no small thing. Specifically, to turn away from Christ is to personally crucify him again (6.4a,6). Someone must die … and it’s either you or Jesus. Make a list of the matters you’ve seen that have greatly contributed to people giving up their walk with Christ. Then, consider specific people you know have given up following the Lord. Do they realize the seriousness of their condition? Pray for them.
11. How is it that every dropout Christian exposes Christ to “public shame” afresh (6.6b)?
12. With 6.7-8 in mind, how would a disciple know they could be in jeopardy of being pronounced by God as “useless and close to being cursed?” Similarly, how could they know they are a “useful crop?”
13. Consider 6.9. The person preaching this sermon we call “Hebrews” says that though he’s speaking hard words, he’s not preaching people into hell. Why is it important to say such a thing and to avoid such preaching as the writer avoided?
14. Surely 6.10 is one of the most encouraging passages in the entire Bible. Read it slowly and thoughtfully several times. Drink in the promise deeply. Then drink in just as deeply the words of 6.11-12.
15. How exactly does a Christian make their “hope sure until the end” (6.11b)? What role does “faith and patience” play in this (6.12b)?
16. There is such a thing as being a “lazy” Christian, and such is to be avoided at all costs (6.12). How can a disciple ward off the effects of the relentless pull of gravity that is laziness in faith?
17. Read 6.13-15. Then note that the quote in 6.14 is from Genesis 22.17. Refresh your mind as to the full context of that quote by reading the deadly serious events recorded in Genesis 22.1-19.
18. The fact that God makes “pledges” and “promises” is strongly stressed in 6.13-20. Why does God makes promises to people? Form your answer(s) with exact wording from this passage.
19. Yes, there are some things God cannot do. For example, “it’s impossible for God to lie.” (6.18) What else do we know specifically from what’s stated in Scripture that God cannot do?
20. What exactly does the author mean when he says “this hope … enters the sanctuary behind the curtain” (6.19b).