Life Application Bible Studies: Hebrews
Reviewed by Jim West
Tyndale has published a massively useful and thoroughly engaging study-guide for those Christians looking for help in understanding one of the more difficult New Testament books (and been kind enough to send along a copy for review). Based on their New Living Translation, the guide is comprised of two major sections. First, the text and notes of the NLT are offered and second, a series of 13 ‘lessons’ naturally based on the 13 chapters of Hebrews.
The lessons consist of a set of questions (called ‘Reflections’), a ‘quiz’ on the content of the biblical text and textual notes (titled ‘Read’), a section called ‘Realize’, one called ‘Respond’ (which is of course self explanatory) and finally ‘Resolve’. The questions are designed either for personal or group use.
The heart of the guide, though, is of course the biblical text. The translational basis is introduced rather thoroughly and then it commences. The text is fair to the original language (here of course that being Greek) and the notes are unashamedly and unabashedly Christian. Unapologetically the editors assert the truth of Christianity’s claims, and that’s the most refreshing part. In a day when editions of the Bible are often besmirched by rather sterile and uninteresting marginal notes and explanations, the NLT is thoroughly Christian in outlook and result.
For example, in explaining two very difficult and controversial passages, the editors don’t shirk from plain speaking. At Hebrews 6:4-6 the notes assert that ‘those who persist in believing are true saints; those who continue to reject Christ are unbelievers, no matter how well they behave’ (p. 13). Further, at 6:6, the write observes ‘However, the author does not indicate that his readers were in danger of renouncing Christ (see 6:9). He is warning against hardness of heart that would make repentance inconceivable for the sinner’ (ibid.).
This Christocentric focus continues at 10:26-29 where we learn that ‘… the point is that there is no other acceptable sacrifice for sin than the death of Christ on the cross. If someone deliberately rejects the sacrifice of Christ after clearly understanding the Good News teaching about it, then there is no way for that person to be saved, because God has not provided any other name in all of heaven for people to call on to save them’ (p. 22).
No one reading this study guide will be able to come away from it with anything other than a clear and precise understanding of the intention and purpose of the book of Hebrews and a firm grasp of its underlying theology. I highly recommend it.