James Nisbet Commentary - Hebrews 6:1 - 6:2

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James Nisbet Commentary - Hebrews 6:1 - 6:2

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This Chapter Verse Commentaries:


‘Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.’


Christianity has its fundamental doctrines, the fundamental doctrines on which a great system is based. Not the mere precepts which, from their beauty and simplicity, captivate the imagination. For it must be sorrowfully admitted that if these represent fundamental Christianity, then Christianity has been a lamentable failure, and is barely in evidence. The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews tells us that fundamental Christianity has this as its permanent characteristic—the doctrine of repentance from dead works, and of faith towards God: the need of Christ’s blood, that is, to cleanse even those works which we think to be good; how much more those which are palpably evil.

I. Here is a foundation of Christianity.—Here is something which we must ever keep before us if we would go on unto perfection, and that is the necessity of dealing with sin. Repentance has to be taught in preference to human excellence. Repentance from sin, and from the pride of life, which thinks it can do without Christ, and perfect itself without reference to Him.

II. It is a fundamental doctrine of Christianity that every Christian should know what sin is, and that he must flee from selfishness and repent of sin. To teach children the doctrine of self-sufficiency, respectable pride, laudable ambition, self-interest, and self-respectability, is to preach an inadequate and deceptive Gospel. No account has been taken of sin, what it means, its power, its malignity, and what has been done to meet it, and how it may be resisted and overcome. The Christ of Christianity is not first of all a Teacher; He is a Saviour, the Saviour of mankind. It is degrading to Christian intelligence, and futile in view of the extreme power and malignity of evil, to put Christ before the people as an amiable philanthropist, and to be silent about Him as the Saviour of mankind.

III. Whatever we may think of the Atonement in its strange mystery, at least we learn this from the contemplation of the Crucified—that it never has been and never will be an easy thing to be good. Aristotle discovered this, as he told us: ‘It is a work to be good.’ The Bible, used as a poetry book, or as a study in comparative religions, or as a stimulus to the imagination, may add to the frivolous self-sufficiency of the human prig, but it will never give that foundation of repentance on which the perfect life is reared. It will never enable the child to answer that longing cry, ‘How can a man be just with God?’ or enable him to stand firm when the powers of evil deliver their deadly assault.

Rev. Canon Newbolt.


‘The very walls of a modern school are eloquent of a change which is passing over us, and which it is now sought to intensify and deepen. There we see maps, pictures of industry, things to brighten, cheer, and ornament; we look in vain for that which the great Dean Colet ordered for his scholars: a picture of the Child Jesus, which might serve as an example and a help to his scholars in the school; from which he looked, as he tells us, for the intercession of children, who should put up their white hands in supplication to Almighty God for him a sinner.’