“But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.”Hebrews 6:9
In writing to the Hebrews, the author of that epistle draws from the world of nature to present the case for effective Christian testimony. Just as the earth drinks in the rain and brings forth herbs which are useful to those who cultivate them, so too the Christian who bears fruit is to show usefulness to the God he serves. He is unlike the plant that brings forth thorns and briers, whose end is to be burned (v. 8). It is a powerful statement that reminds us that every true believer should give evidence of their faith through their works, as James declares in his epistle (Jas. 2:14-26). He states in no uncertain terms that he is persuaded of better things of them and the things that accompany salvation, illustrated by the metaphor used. He was not chiding them as if to say that he expected better things of them. Instead, he was declaring that he was persuaded of their genuine faith because they were displaying the things that accompany salvation.
In Acts 9, we have a brilliant example of this in the account of the conversion of Saul of Tarsus, who later was known as the apostle Paul. It is the amazing record of a man who was a main persecutor of the early church, who was brought to his knees in repentance by the amazing grace and mercy of our God. Speaking later about this phase of his life, Paul cited that he had attempted to destroy the Church of God beyond measure having exceeded his contemporaries in Judaism (Gal. 1:13-14). The great Jewish upstart soon became a trophy of God’s grace. It truly was “amazing grace” and it is replicated in the lives of those who find the Savior and are likewise struck by the light of the gospel on their own road to Damascus.
From the very beginning of his new life in Christ, the dramatically transformed Saul of Tarsus immediately manifested “the things that accompany salvation.” When the Lord directed Ananias to seek out Saul at the street called Straight, the Lord said that he would find him praying (v. 11). That seemed ironic for someone who had been so entrenched in Judaism. Yet Paul’s praying certainly was not mechanical or perfunctory as is often the case in ritualistic religion. Rather, it came from one who called upon the Lord with a pure heart—a heart softened and made new by the love of Christ. It is perhaps one of the primary indications of the “things that accompany salvation” and confirmation to Ananias that he had found his man.
Another one of the things that accompany salvation is seen in Saul’s baptism (v. 18). When Ananias arrived and entered the house where Saul was, he addressed him as “Brother Saul.” He called him a brother because he knew he was a child of God. It was then that the scales fell from his eyes, and he was baptized. The fact that he called him brother was proof positive that he had become a believer apart from baptism—a good argument against baptismal regeneration. It is also a good reminder that we should not delay in having new converts publicly demonstrate their allegiance to the Savior.
The next evidence of his genuine faith in the Lord is demonstrated by Saul spending “some days with the disciples” (v. 19). Fellowship with the Lord’s people was a steadfast priority for the early church (Acts 2:42). It characterized the life of Lydia, who begged Paul and his associates in ministry to come to her house (Acts 16:15). It was also true of the Philippian jailor who brought Paul and Silas to his home to eat as he rejoiced and believed in God with all his household (Acts 16:34). Desiring to be with other believers is an obvious indicator that we love the Lord and His people. 1 John 3:14 says it well: “We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.” Like prayer and the study of the Word, the level at which we fellowship with the brethren is an adequate barometer of the soul.
The final thing in this portion relating to Saul’s testimony and showing the things that accompany salvation is the desire to witness for the Lord. Immediately (a word that shows up three times in this chapter alone) he preached Christ in the synagogues as the Son of God. He was not ashamed of the gospel, and he was not afraid to return to his kinsmen to declare the gospel of God’s grace. He confounded them in the very place that he had previously attempted to jail these followers of the Way, whom he now identified with (vv. 20-22). With that identification also came suffering and persecution, another benchmark of true faith in Christ (John 15:18).
In some ways, the things that accompany salvation is a litmus test to identify those who have shown evidence of true transformation and conversion to Christ. Is this true in your life?