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Free Books » Bonar, Horatius » Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles

Chapter 48 - Hebrews 6:9, 10 - God's Loving Memory Light & Truth: The Lesser Epistles by Bonar, Horatius




God's Loving Memory.


     "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous, to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward His name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."-Hebrews 6:9,10.



     These Hebrew Christians were not making progress; and it is against the danger of thus standing still that the apostle warns them in the 4th verse. He puts their danger hypothetically; and every warning of any kind takes for granted that they who are thus warned are in danger of falling away.[7] If they turn their back on this Christ, there is no other Christ to fall back upon. God's secret purpose will keep all His own secure; but this does not make it less true that such and such a course of defection has the tendency in itself to plunge the backslider into ruin.

     Having thus warned these Christians of the danger of backsliding, and pointed out the clear and awful consequences of this, He brightens up and cheers them in the 9th verse: 'But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things connected with salvation (not with destruction), though we thus speak.' He clearly intimates that the cause of this danger, the root of the whole evil, was their standing still, and he tells them his purpose of carrying them on to 'perfection,' that is, to fuller and completer knowledge of divine truth, which alone could preserve them; and the special truth which he proceeds to unfold is that concerning Christ's Melchisedec priesthood. He first shows them the precipice over which they were about to fall, and then, by this glorious exhibition of new truth, he draws them back from it. For though his first words (verse 8) were stern, his after-words are gentler; he softens his voice, and, recognizing them as brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, whom God had kept, and would keep, proceeds to give them a word of kindness and encouragement: 'God is not unrighteous to forget you.'

     The reasons which he gives for thinking that God would not forget them are striking and peculiar,-such as we might have feared to present, looking, as they do, so like the doctrine of creature merit,-such merit as has been proclaimed by Popery in her theology. Yet, seeing the Holy Spirit here presents these reasons, let us consider them. They are in substance this, that God's righteousness is pledged to keep those who have served Him in ministering to His people, however poor that service may have been, even that of supplying temporal wants.

     The truth contained in these words is substantially the same as that in Proverbs 19:17: 'He that hath pity on the poor lendeth unto the Lord; and that which he hath given will He pay him again;' Mark 9:41: 'Whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, He shall not lose his reward;' Matthew 25:40: 'Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.' Note then,

     I. Christian work.-Here we have the divine estimate of it; call it either Christian work, or the work of a Christian man. It is first spoken of simply as 'work,' including every kind of doing for Christ, great or small; and then it is called 'labour of love;' loving labour or labouring love, or labour proceeding from love, or love giving vent to itself in labour. The 'work' and the 'labour' are 'in the name of Christ;' done as to Him, not to man or self; as seeing Him represented by the objects ministered to. It is ministry to the saints, whether in supplying their poverty, or aiding their bodily wants, or comforting them under trial, or giving them a cup of cold water; for the works done unto them were works of the simplest and commonest kind,-contributing a little money to their support; not once, it may be, but once and again, as they required it. Christian work is a wide expression, comprehending a large variety of good deeds, some of them, it may be, costly and difficult, most of them simple and cheap and commonplace,-a mere cup of water, a mere kindly look, a happy and cheering word.

     II. Divine remembrance.-God remembers all that is done for His own; nothing is overlooked.  We forget what we did, He does not; we perhaps did it unconsciously, He notes it in His book. He charges us not to let our alms be seen of men, not to let our left hand know what our right hand doeth; but He sees and marks and records. There is no overlooking, no forgetfulness with Him. Nay more, any such forgetfulness would be unrighteous! That cannot be. God is not unrighteous to forget your works and words of love to the saints. As it is said, 'He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins,' so it may be said, He is faithful and just to remember our doings. Forgetfulness of one good deed, however small, to one of the least of His own, would be unrighteousness! Yet, in the case of our evil, forgetfulness is the divine prerogative: 'Their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.' This is righteous forgetfulness; and it is the righteous forgetfulness that we plead in approaching Him as sinners. Strange yet blessed contradiction! He is just in forgetting, and He is just in remembering!

     III. Present and eternal recompense.-God not only remembers, but He rewards. He rewards bountifully; more than a thousandfold. He rewards just now, and it is of this that the apostle specially speaks. The present reward is the keeping us from going back. Work for Christ thus helps in two ways: it has a claim upon God for upholding power; it carries in itself an upholding influence. God pledges Himself not to let those who minister to His saints fall back. Is not this comfort and encouragement? Is there not in this both strength and stimulus? There is a way in which we may thus call to mind our past work for Christ, and comfort ourselves in the remembrance of it.  He enabled me to work for Him in days past; He will not let me go now. He is not unrighteous to forget my work and labour of love, however small and poor. And then the future reward is infinite and eternal. We are laying up treasure in heaven, and it will all come back to us multiplied beyond measure. Everything done here for God goes to swell our eternal recompense. 'Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom.' 'Behold, I come quickly, and my reward is with me.'

     Let us rouse ourselves to work. We can all do something. The poorest can do what in God's sight is as much as that which is done by the richest. A loving word in common intercourse; a comforting verse spoken at a sickbed; a gentle pressure of the hand; a kindly glance of the eye; a petition presented to the heavenly throne; a friendly visit; a cup of cold water. Oh, there is not one of these that shall be forgotten.

     Aim at being useful Christians; seeking the welfare of others; denying self; trying to be a blessing to every one; ministering to the saints and to all men.