And being made perfect, he [Jesus] became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Hebrews 5:9)
How we approach the Bible often drastically impacts how we read many verses, including the one above from Hebrews chapter 5. Is this verse giving us a prescription about how we must behave in order for Jesus to be the source of our salvation? Or, is the verse describing the behavior that is seen in those for whom Jesus is the source of their eternal salvation? To put it simply:
- Does Jesus save me because I obey, or
- Do I obey because Jesus has saved me.
I believe how we answer this often comes back to our view on the central character of the Bible. Do we believe the Bible is about God and how he is accomplishing his glorification. Or is the Bible primarily about us? In the words of Toby Keith:
I wanna talk about me
Wanna talk about I
Wanna talk about number one
Oh my me my
What I think, what I like, what I know, what I want, what I see
The Bible certainly paints us as the high point of his creation. In thinking about that fact, we can easily miss that little ol’ fact that even if I am the high point of creation, I am still just a creation. Not the Creator. Big difference. In fact, an infinite and eternal difference.
So, looking back again to Hebrews 5:9 through the correct interpretive lens that puts God front and center, we can see that answer 2 must be correct. Particularly when taken in context with the whole book of Hebrews. Jesus does not save us “after all we can do.” Rather, we do all we can because Jesus has saved us.