The warning passages in Hebrews have always sparked serious controversy. Some argue that they are addressed to those who profess to be believers but really aren’t. Others point out the many times the writer addresses them as brothers and believers in his letter. Some say these are indeed true believers but they can become unbelievers at any time and thus the warning is for those who are tempted to cast aside their previously held faith. Still others argue from earlier passages in Hebrews and other New Testament statements that once you’re a believer, you’re always a believer. There are other issues involved in this controversy but I’m thinking the author of Hebrews settles this debate with two brief statements in Hebrews 10:30-31. He writes, “For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine; I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

I believe the writer of Hebrews is acknowledging that he doesn’t know the true hearts of all those who might read his letter or hear his sermon. Isn’t it the same with us? We can’t judge the place and position of others in this life and thankfully we’re not called to do that. We’re called to look to ourselves and judge ourselves. In Matthew 7:1, Jesus warns us that when we judge others we open ourselves to judgment saying, “Judge not, lest you be judged.” Paul instructs us in Romans 14:4, “Who are you to pass judgment on the servant of another? It is before his own master that he stands or falls.” James also seems to repeat the ideas of Paul and the author of Hebrews. In James 4:12 he writes, “There is only one lawgiver and judge, he who is able to save and to destroy. But who are you to judge your neighbor?”

It appears that the intention of the writer of Hebrews is that everyone will be encouraged in their faith in the full and complete sufficiency of Christ. Jesus is enough for me! When he said on the cross it is finished he meant it. Any attempt to add to his work on our behalf does nothing but diminish what he did for us. Anything that can be added to Christ’s work whether it be ritual, sacrifice, or severe duty cancels his work for us and offends the God of all mercy. I think Kent has it right when he comments on this passage saying, “Those who truly love the Lord will heed the warning and strengthen their trust in Christ as the one sacrifice which is valid for sin. May those whose understanding of God’s truth has never been clear find instruction in this solemn warning and flee from the day of vengeance to the Son of God, whose blood shed at Calvary provides the only perfect sacrifice.”[1] We should not be looking at others regarding this warning, but only to ourselves with the ever growing, maturing faith in the fact that Jesus is sufficient for me!

[1] Homer A. Kent Jr., The Epistle to the Hebrews: A Commentary (Winona Lake, IN: BMH Books, 1983), 209.