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Hebrews 6

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Introduction**

Gessius Florus, was the last Roman procurator (governor) of Judea from 64 to 66 AD.

He was notorious for his cruelty and generally hated by the Jews.

He had no love for them, either.
When tax revenues were low, he seized money from the temple, which didn't help matters.
And as the uproar against him grew, he sent troops into Jerusalem and there was a massacre of 3,000 Jews.
And
That was in 66 AD.
This stirred up the first Jewish revolt, which began and then ended at Masada, a fortress stronghold near the Dead Sea.
Soon, all Judea joined in the revolt and after that Galilee.
A relatively small Roman force of 20,000 soldiers moved from Syria to Jerusalem where they besieged the city.
That lasted about 6 months and ultimately failed.
The siege failed and 6,000 Roman soldiers were killed … leaving the Israelites with Roman weapons.
The Emperor Nero then sent General Vespasian to take care of the rebellion.

Vespasian took down opposition in Galilee, and elsewhere and then moved in to circle Jerusalem.

But at this same time, Nero died and Vespasian assumed the throne.

He sent his son, Titus, to crush the revolt.
In the meantime, the Jews, who were once united in revolt, became fractured into various groups who couldn't agree on how to defend the city.
As the city was besieged once again, people began to die from starvation and plague.
The Romans pounded the city and it's walls with Catapults and Battering Rams.
During the day the Jews fought and at night they tried to rebuild the walls.
When the Romans broke through the walls surrounding the city, those Jews who could ran to the Temple.
But they eventually were taken or killed and the Temple was burned.
The stones of the temple were overturned and cast down to get to the melted gold and other treasures.
The destruction of the Temple put an immediate end to the sacrificial system.
But it was no longer needed.
40 years before, the Lamb of God, Jesus had been sacrificed on the Cross, fulfilling the sacrificial system by appeasing the wrath of God and reconciling to God all who believe on Christ.
The only way for God’s wrath against sinful man to be appeased and for us to be reconciled to God is through Jesus Christ.
There is no other way.

Seeing that Christ, "is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world" it would make no sense For Christians Especially to return in any way to the sacrificial and temple system.
Do not read below:
1 John 2:2 NKJV
And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.
The letter to the Hebrews was written prior to the destruction of the Temple.
And it was written to Jewish believers who were being tempted to return to the old system.
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Last week we wrapped up chapter 5 and so today we move into chapter 6 of Hebrews.

Now, since chapter 1 … in fact, immediately in chapter 1 without any introduction, the author started putting forth his argument that Jesus is better.

He's better than the forefathers.
He's better than the prophets.
He's better than the angels.
He's better than Moses.
He's better than Aaron.
He's better than any of the High Priests.
But starting with verse 12 of chapter 5, the author took a detour.
He had just started talking about the better High-Priesthood of Jesus when he suddenly says, "Concerning this we have much to say and it is difficult to explain since you have become sluggish of hearing."
Do not read below:
Hebrews 5
Hebrews 5:11 LEB
Concerning this we have much to say and it is difficult to explain, since you have become sluggish in hearing.
Hebrews 5:11 NKJV
of whom we have much to say, and hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.
(I used the Lexham English Bible because it gives a better translation of this verse, using "which"instead of "whom"as the NKJV does.)
He then went on to explain that while they should have been mature and knowledgable enough to teach others, they have instead reverted back to immaturity.
After saying this, the author then went on to explain that while they should have been mature and knowledgable enough to teach others, they have instead reverted back to immaturity.
They were not progressing beyond the "elementary principles of Christ"… in fact, they needed someone to re-teach them those "basic"things.

At the root of the issue is their lack of response to theological instruction.

We know that they had heard the elementary things and had progressed to deeper things, but had slid backwards.
In fact, they had not regressed just to the basics … but according to what the author said in verse 12, they needed to be taught the basics again!
Do not read below:
Hebrews 5:12 NKJV
For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.
The enemy of regression is perseverance.
Hebrews 5:12
The enemy of regression is perseverance.
Perseverance in theological truth prevents drifting away.
The original audience of this letter were believing Jews who were drifting backward into the things that Christ fulfilled.
They were getting back into the sacrificial system and the temple system.
Because they were clinging to the shadow, they were unable to mature in theological truth.
Your theology will always direct your doxology.
If your theology takes you back to the law, then your doxology will reflect it … hence they were being drawn back to the system Christ fulfilled.
And thus they were turning back to the wilderness … that is works … instead of entering into the rest that Christ's satisfaction of the law gives us from works.
Theology that is based on Christ's fulfillment of the law produces a greater doxology because by grace that veil of separation was torn.
They were distracted by the shadow and missing the substance.
The former things … the sacrificial system, the Tabernacle and it's implements, the Priesthood … were shadows.
The substance is of Christ … He fulfilled these things.
Do not read below:
Colossians 2:17 NKJV
which are a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ.
Colossians
In fact, Paul wrote that we have, "Died with Christ from the basic principles of the world."
Do not read below:
Colossians 2:20 NKJV
Therefore, if you died with Christ from the basic principles of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to regulations—
Colossians 2:20
Colossians 3:20 NKJV
Children, obey your parents in all things, for this is well pleasing to the Lord.
The immature can only handle the milk … the basics.
Colossians
The mature, however, are able to handle the "solid food"… that is, the advanced teachings of the faith.
In regards to what the author is presenting in this letter, the milk would be the basics … what Jesus Christ did on earth … His birth, teaching, death, burial, and resurrection.
So then, the “meat” of the Word is the teaching about our Lord’s ministry now in heaven as our High Priest.
The author will continue along those lines in chapters 7-10.
We grow in the Christian life on the basis of His ongoing work in heaven.
For now, though, the author moves on to challenge them to make a course correction and move on to maturity.
The author wishes to challenge his hearers with this image of maturity that they might wade with him into the deeper waters of the following chapters. His hope is that they will repent of their spiritual immaturity, grasp hold of the deeper matters of the faith, and, ultimately, endure in the face of persecution.
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We might wonder, though, that if they are so immature … and as a result unable to handle such advanced teaching, … why doesn't he stop now and school them?
The author wishes to challenge his hearers with this image of maturity that they might wade with him into the deeper waters of the following chapters. His hope is that they will repent of their spiritual immaturity, grasp hold of the deeper matters of the faith, and, ultimately, endure in the face of persecution.
Instead, as we'll see, he begins by saying, "Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ."
Do not read below:
Hebrews 6:1 NKJV
Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
Instead of stooping down to them, he lifts them up to move them on to maturity.
Taking them back to what they already know but have regressed from is not going to move them forward to maturity.
In fact, we might be surprised for the author to say, ἀφίημι aphiēmi … leave … abandon the discussion of these elementary truths of the faith.
ἀφίημι aphiēmi: leave; abandon

This doesn't mean the basics are dispensable … that they aren't important.

The ABC's are necessary to move beyond kindergarten.

Instead, he's confronting their indifference to the weightier matters and their need to move to a new level of commitment.
We all start as babies.
And we all love babies.
But as parents we all expect our babies to grow up and mature so that they can enjoy life as a mature adult.
God has the same desire for His children, and that is why He calls us to "Go on to maturity."
So, with all that being said, let’s pray and move on into Hebrews chapter 6.
Prayer: Lord, as we embark to study your Word, we ask that our hearts would be open to receive all that You have to say to us. We desire to be hearers and doers and for You to lead us in Your ways. We pray this in Jesus' name. Amen.

v1-3

If we are going to make progress, we have to leave the childish things behind and go forward in spiritual growth.

As I pointed out earlier, the Hebrew word aphiemi means both leave and abandon in the sense of once and for all.

It reads:
Hebrews 6:1 LEB
Therefore, leaving behind the elementary message about Christ, let us move on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and faith in God,
Kids learn elementary things in elementary school not in order to continuously dwell on elementary things, but as building blocks to understanding even greater things.
If we are going to make progress, we have to leave the childhood things behind and go forward in spiritual growth. literally reads, “Therefore, having left [once and for all] the elementary lessons [the ABCs] of the teaching of Christ.” When I was in kindergarten, the teacher taught us our ABCs. (We didn’t have television to teach us in those days.) You learn your ABCs so that you might read words, sentences, books—in fact, anything in literature. But you do not keep learning the basics. You use the basics to go on to better things.
literally reads, “Therefore, having left [once and for all] the elementary lessons [the ABCs] of the teaching of Christ.”
The ABC's are the building blocks for words, which allows us to read sentences and paragraphs and books.
In other words, the building blocks allow us to move on to deeper things.
In other words, the building blocks allow us to move on to deeper things.
When I was in kindergarten, the teacher taught us our ABCs. (We didn’t have television to teach us in those days.) You learn your ABCs so that you might read words, sentences, books—in fact, anything in literature. But you do not keep learning the basics. You use the basics to go on to better things.
The phrase, “Let us go on,” means, "Be borne along"… that is, to progress.
When we yield to God, receive His Word, and act on it, He allows us to progress.
It is God who enables us to progress as we yield to Him, receive His Word, and act on it.
No child grows due to sheer force of will.
A child grows as he eats, sleeps, plays, learns, and … well, functions.
Maturing into an adult is a God ordained process that we all go through.
And, though it may be frightening and awkward for a child … their desire is to grow up … it's something they want to do.
Similarly, it is normal for a Christian to grow … and to not grow is abnormal.
Growth for the Christian, however, does not necessarily refer to a physical change as it does a mental and spiritual progression.
This progression means going beyond the basics.
The author doesn't mean that basic Christian principles are dispensable.
They are no more dispensable than the letters of the alphabet for moving children beyond the first steps of education.
Instead, the fundamental truths of the faith are presupposed as building blocks toward maturity.
This has to do with indifference to weightier matters of the faith and the need to grow in understanding.
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Starting in the second part of verse 1, the author lists 6 foundational truths of the Christian life.

The writer lists six foundational truths of the Christian life, all of which, by the way, are also foundational to the Jewish faith. After all, our Christian faith is based on the Jewish faith and is a fulfillment of it. “Salvation is of the Jews” (). If the readers of this epistle went back to Judaism in order to escape persecution, they would only be abandoning the perfect for the imperfect, the mature for the immature.

Each of these things were also foundational to the Jewish faith.

Which makes sense … The Christian faith is a fulfillment of the Jewish faith.
Remember what Jesus said to the Samaritan woman, "For salvation is of the Jews."
Do not read below:
John 4:22 NKJV
You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews.
So then this takes us to what I expressed earlier …
If the readers of this epistle went back to Judaism in order to escape persecution, they would only be abandoning the perfect for the imperfect, the mature for the immature.
… if the readers of this epistle went back to Judaism, they would be abandoning the perfect for the imperfect, the mature for the immature.
In his Understanding the Bible commentary, Hagner suggests the reason the author includes this list of basics may be because, "The readers were attempting somehow to remain within Judaism by emphasizing items held in common between Judaism and Christianity. They may have been trying to survive with a minimal Christianity in order to avoid alienating their Jewish friends or relatives.”
this may suggest that the readers were attempting somehow to remain within Judaism by emphasizing items held in common between Judaism and Christianity. They may have been trying to survive with a minimal Christianity in order to avoid alienating their Jewish friends or relatives.”
Also, commentators have noticed that the six fall into 3 groups:
Repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.
The first two items (repentance and faith) are Godward and mark the initiation of the spiritual life.
The doctrine of baptisms and laying on of hands.
And resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment.
The first 2 on the list (repentance and faith) sum up the initial steps of Christian commitment.
- Repentance refers to changing one's mind about God and about sin … a change so substantial that you turn away from sin and toward God.
Repentance and faith go together … once a sinner has repented, then he is able to exercise faith in God.
It is a gift from God … and 11 reveal that God grants repentance to both Israel and Gentiles.
- And faith is “trusting in something you cannot explicitly prove."
To repent means to change one’s mind.
This also is a gift from God.
It is not simply a “bad feeling about sin,” because that could be regret or remorse. It is changing one’s mind about sin to the point of turning from it.
We do not summon up or make faith … God gives us faith according to His grace and mercy.
Once a sinner has repented (and this itself is a gift from God, ; ), then he is able to exercise faith in God.
Repentance and faith go together ().
The next two items (baptisms and laying on of hands) have to do with a person’s relationship to the local assembly of believers.
- In the New Testament, a person who repented and trusted Christ was baptized and became a part of a local church ().
The word “baptisms” here is plural and can be translated “washings” as it is later in chapter 9.
tells us that water itself can never cleanse sin.
Rather, it is a symbol not of the outward washing of dirt from the body … but of spiritual cleansing.
While water itself can never cleanse sin (), baptism is a symbol of spiritual cleansing (“Get up, be baptized, and wash your sins away, calling on His name”—, niv) as well as our identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection ().
It is also our identification with Christ in death, burial, and resurrection as Paul expressed in .
Ritual immersion in a Mikvah was a part of Judaism … to be cleansed after certain events and to meet Torah regulations.
In Judaism it is an outward washing … a work of ritual behavior which is repeated when needed.
In Christianity, it is a one time act symbolic of the work that God has done in us according to His grace.
- The “laying on of hands” () symbolized the sharing of some blessing or setting apart of a person for ministry as with Timothy.
The “laying on of hands” () symbolized the sharing of some blessing (; ) or the setting apart of a person for ministry ().
In the sacrificial system, worshippers laid hands on certain sacrifices.
- The last two items are the resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment.
These have to do with the future.
Both Judaism and Christianity teach these doctrines.
Some elements of Judaism embraced resurrection while others, like the Sadducees denied the doctrine of resurrection.
Some elements of Judaism embraced resurrection while others, like the Sadducees denied the doctrine of resurrection.
The New Testament teaches a resurrection of the saved and also a resurrection of the lost.
The saved are raised to eternal life … that is life that is forever in quantity and wonderful in quality.
Those who reject Jesus are raised to judgment and eternal punishment.
Okay … so before we move on … what is the point here?
Well, the point is this … You know the basics, and now it's time to move forward and let God carry you to maturity.
The lesson of the paragraph () is clear: “You have laid the foundation. You know your ABCs. Now move forward! Let God carry you along to maturity!”

v4-6

Perhaps no other verses in the Bible have caused greater worry and concern for believers than these.

And then in chapter 10 we read:

Hebrews 10:26 NKJV
For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
Put these verses together with no context and you can create a fearsome scenario where Christians are constantly losing and regaining their salvation.
These verses, along with the exhortation in , have given people cause for worry and concern, mainly because these verses have been misunderstood and misapplied. I have received long-distance phone calls from upset people who have misread this passage and convinced themselves (or been convinced by Satan) that they were hopelessly lost and had committed some unpardonable sin. While I do not want to give a false assurance to any professed Christian who is not truly born again, neither do I want to cause some true believer to stumble and miss God’s best.
But where these verses cause worry, it is mainly because they have been misunderstood and misapplied.
Many believers have upon reading these verses or hearing them taught out of context become convinced that they had become hopelessly lost by committing a sin which God would not pardon.
Certainly we do not want to give false assurance to anyone who is not truly born again, but what a shame that these verses could be so mishandled as to cause a believer to stumble.
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While I do not want to give a false assurance to any professed Christian who is not truly born again, neither do I want to cause some true believer to stumble and miss God’s best.

No doubt this is a difficult passage.

And many scholars offer many different approaches to it.

One possibility is that the writer is warning us against the sin of apostasy.
Bible students over the years have come up with several approaches to this serious passage. One view is that the writer is warning us against the sin of apostasy, willfully turning one’s back on Jesus Christ and returning to the old life. According to them, such a person would be lost forever. I have several problems with this interpretation. To begin with, the Greek word apostasia is not used in this passage. The verb for “fall away” () is parapipto, which literally means “to fall alongside.” Second, we always interpret the obscure by the obvious. There are many verses in Scripture that assure the true believer that he can never be lost. In fact, one of the greatest arguments for security is the last section of this chapter! (; see also ; ; )
Apostasy is the denial of the truth, a breach of faith.
It can be applied to many different institutions.
In regards to Christianity, it is “willfully turning one’s back on Jesus Christ and returning to the old life.”
If this is the correct approach to these verses, such a person would be forever lost.
However, there are several problems with applying this meaning to these verses.
For one thing, the Greek word in verse 6 for "fall away"here is παραπίπτω parapiptō which means, "to fall alongside."
The Greek word for apostasy is apostasiaand is not in this passage.
We should not further cloud what is obscure by adding in opinion.
That is not good interpretive practice.
Rather, we interpret scripture by scripture … what does the Bible say elsewhere?
Second, we always interpret the obscure by the obvious.
There are many verses in Scripture that assure the Christian that he can never be lost.
And, in fact, one of the greatest arguments for the eternal security of the believer is the last section of this chapter, and we'll get to those verses in a few minutes.
But other scriptures that attest to our security are:
John
(; ; )
John 5:24 NKJV
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.
John 10:26–30 NKJV
But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.”
Romans 8:28–39 NKJV
And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose. For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
rr
Romans 8:38 NKJV
For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,
It is interesting that even those who overlook such scriptures and teach that we can lose our salvation also teach the restoration of salvation.
Those who teach that we can lose our salvation also teach that such a person can be restored.
But this passage says exactly the opposite.
If you remove the conditional clauses in-between, you have the statement, "For it is impossible … to renew them again to repentance.”
Put simply, if this refers to apostasy, once a saved person turns his back on Christ, he cannot be restored to salvation.
In other words, if this refers to apostasy, once a saved person turns his back on Christ, he cannot be restored to salvation. He is lost forever.
Such a person is lost forever.
Another possible explanation is that the people addressed were not truly believers.
Those who lean toward this interpretation say the people this passage speaks about had been enlightened to a point, but were not actually born again.
Is this a feasible explanation?
At first glance it might seem so, since the author has previously talked about Israel going up to the promised land but refusing to enter it as an allegory.
But

Let’s take a few minutes to think about the description of these people and see if they possessed true salvation.

Verse 4 says that they were “enlightened."
It's the Greek word φωτίζω phōtizō meaning “give light to.”
That same verb is later used in chapter 10 to indicate the experience of true salvation … as well as other places in the New Testament … "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"and the "light of the gospel of the glory of Christ"as Paul puts it in .
The way this same verb is used in indicates an experience of true salvation … "the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ"and the "light of the gospel of the glory of Christ"as Paul puts it in .
Do not read below:
2 Corinthians 4.(see ).
2 Corinthians 4:4–6 NKJV
whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them. For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
In our text, the author also says that they, “Tasted the heavenly gift” and “have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come.”
To say that they have “tasted” means that they have partaken of … it does not mean that they tasted but did not eat.
uses this same word saying that God permitted His Son to, “Taste death for every man.”
Do not read below:
Hebrews 2:9 NKJV
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.
Jesus did not just sample death … He completely died on the cross.
Jesus did not just sample death … He completely died on the cross.
God permitted His Son to “taste death for every man” ().
So we stick with this intent for the verb … that of “having completely partaken of.”
These Hebrew believers had experienced the gift of salvation, the Word of God, and the power of God.
So far, I see no reason not to say this is describing authentic salvation.
These Hebrew believers had experienced the gift of salvation, the Word of God, and the power of God. Doesn’t this describe authentic salvation?
But let’s not stop here … the text also says that they, “Have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.”
Again, the verb does not allow for any idea that they “only went half way” with the Holy Spirit.
The Greek word μέτοχος metochos in this sense means “to become sharers.”
So they had become sharers in the Holy Spirit.
But that’s not all.
Earlier in chapter 3, the author calls them, “Sharers in a heavenly calling” and “Partners of Christ.”
Do not read below:
Hebrews 3:1 LEB
Therefore, holy brothers, sharers in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession,
Hebrews 3:14 LEB
For we have become partners of Christ, if indeed we hold fast the beginning of our commitment steadfast until the end,
So then, it seems to me that the people being addressed were without doubt believers.
These same people were not only “sharers of the Holy Spirit,” but also “sharers of the heavenly calling” () and “sharers of Christ” ().
And to punctuate my point, verse 6 concludes that they put Christ to open shame.
n view of these facts, I have concluded that the people addressed were true believers, not mere professors. Furthermore, how could unsaved people ever disgrace Jesus Christ and put Him to open shame?
How could unsaved people ever disgrace Jesus Christ and put Him to open shame?
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And that is this:
A third explanation that has been suggested is that:
This sin could only be committed while the temple services were still going on.
But if this is the case why interpose this exhortation between the heavenly priesthood of Christ and the importance of spiritual maturity.
And we still run into the issue of a believer losing his salvation which clearly contradicts the teaching of scripture.
If what he wrote about cannot happen today, what is the motivation behind the exhortation?
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It all seems futile to me if we limit these verses to first-century Jewish believers.

So that’s 3 arguments that are often used in regards to these verses.

But the writers purpose was to assure the reader … and these explanations certainly don’t lead to any positive assurance.

So, what is happening here?
I believe is going on here is the author is not making the point that God will not accept the repentant.
Well, the author is not saying that God will reject the repentant.
Instead, it’s that willfully choosing the system of works over the fulfillment of the system (and salvation by grace) will harden one’s heart against the gospel.
But doesn’t that suggest that salvation can be lost?
No, because he is presenting a hypothetical case.
We know this because in verse 9 the author says it’s hypothetical:
Hebrews 6:9 NKJV
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
Hebrews 6:9 ESV
Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.
He is actually presenting a hypothetical case to prove the point that a true believer cannot lost his salvation.
You, see, having brought up “drifting away” in chapter 2 and “come short of [God’s rest]” in chapter 4 … and then pointing out their failure to mature in chapter 5 …
… the readers may have become concerned that they had lost their salvation.
And so the author says … and this is my own translation … “Grow up! You’re acting childish. No, you haven’t lost your salvation. That would be impossible! But if you could lose your salvation, it would be impossible to get it back again; and it would disgrace Jesus Christ. He would have to be crucified again for you, and that could never happen.”
Christ cannot be crucified again.
Romans 6:9 NKJV
knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
Look … the purpose of these verses (written some 1500 years before Calvinism or Arminianism were even a thought) were written not as evidence of either school of thought.
They were written to turn the reader’s concern away from the sacrifices of animals at the Temple and toward the significance of Jesus’ final sacrifice.

So then, even though it’s a hypothetical case … we should receive the warning as very real.

Now, as you may have guessed, I saved the most plausible explanation for last.
However, there is another possible interpretation that does not require a hypothetical case. You should note that the words “crucify” and “put” in are, in the Greek, present participles: “while they are crucifying … and while they are putting Him to an open shame.” The writer did not say that these people could never be brought to repentance. He said that they could not be brought to repentance while they were treating Jesus Christ in such a shameful way. Once they stop disgracing Jesus Christ in this way, they can be brought to repentance and renew their fellowship with God.
Those who reject Jesus and continue in the sacrificial system are lost.
Whatever approach you take, please keep in mind that the writer’s purpose was not to frighten the readers but to assure them. If he had wanted to frighten them, he would have named whatever sin (or sins) would have caused them to disgrace Jesus Christ; but he did not do so. In fact, he avoided the word apostasy and used instead “to fall by the wayside” (see for a similar word).
Those who proclaim understanding of Christ yet continue in the sacrificial system demonstrate they never had an understanding of the Gospel.
They were not saved in the first place and they harden their hearts even more against the LORD by continuing with the temple sacrifices.
(Lots of people have head knowledge of Christ but have rejected the Lord in their hearts.)
Those who are saved should not return to that system which Jesus fulfilled.
The act of doing so, should cause question as to whether they are truly saved.
God has given them everything He can give … yet by returning to sacrifices he rejects his status as righteous before God.
If they are truly saved and yet are willing to participate in the sacrifices at the temple, they harden their hearts toward Jesus and will be chastened as sons by God.
The writer of Hebrews will take up the theme of God’s chastening of His children in Hebrews 12.

v7-10

The good gifts of the Lord from verses 4 and 5 are now pictured as rain which are intended to make a crop grow.

However, if an evil crop springs up instead, it is eventually burned.

as well as Paul’s teaching about the fire testing our works ().
A field proves its worth by bearing a good crop.
In like manner, a believer, as he makes spiritual progress, bears fruit for God’s glory.
Now, before I go on, I want to make clear that “fruit” does not speak of purpose driven dream destiny.
God has not laid before you some nearly impossible task that if you don’t fulfill you are in sin.
No, fruit in the life of a Christian is natural … it’s the natural result if we abide in Him.
As I’ve told you before it’s not necessarily preaching to 1,000 people at a crusade.
When we have committed ourselves to Christ and live to please Him, the natural result is behavioral choices that look like His.
It is glorifying Jesus in serving your family.
It is serving your boss in a way that is glorifying to Jesus.
Good fruit is regular daily life activities that are done as unto the Lord.
There are many, many ways that a Christian can be fruitful.
And true fruitfulness does not begins with ourselves, but with the fruit of the Spirit.
That inner fruit affects outward actions; our words and our activities will glorify the Lord, and God’s will is accomplished.
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Now, back to our text, note that the “thorns and briars” are burned.

But the field is not.

Yes, there is danger there … the crop is rejected and the earth is near to being cursed.
If we are in Christ we should have no worry of any condemnation from God, for “Christ became a curse for us” and “has redeemed us from the curse of the law.”
Do not read below:
Galatians 3:13 NKJV
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”),
The better crop of useful herbs of verse 7 is in verse 9 called “things that accompany salvation” in .
The crop of God’s blessing pictured in is called “things that accompany salvation” in .
If you are saved … the good crops come forth … they spring up out of salvation.
And again, we may hear that and feel guilty over not being the Billy Graham of our neighborhood.
But when we consider fruit in it’s scriptural sense we find that God defines it as character and conduct which is produced by the Spirit as we mature in Christ.
Galatians 5:22–26 NKJV
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.
Fruit doesn’t mean we have the gospel equivalent of the Midas touch … everyone we share with get’s saved.
The writer listed some of the fruit that he knew had been produced in their lives (): because of their love, they had worked and labored for the Lord; they had ministered to other saints; and they were still ministering (see ; ). These are some of the “things that accompany salvation.”
In fact, verse 10 lists some of the fruits that the author is aware of in their lives.
Because of their love, they had worked and labored for the Lord; they had ministered to other saints; and they were still ministering (see ; ).
The writer listed some of the fruit that he knew had been produced in their lives (): because of their love, they had worked and labored for the Lord; they had ministered to other saints; and they were still ministering (see ; ). These are some of the “things that accompany salvation.”
Paul listed out some Thessalonian fruit as, “Work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Do not read below:
1 Thessalonians 1:3 NKJV
remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,
1 Thessalonians 1:3
And in that same chapter he names their joy, their being examples to other believers, and faithfully sticking to God’s Word.
In , Jesus names some good fruits … “laboring for Him, patience, and contending for the faith.”
Do not read below:
Revelation 2:2 NKJV
“I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars;
These are some of the “things that accompany salvation” according to verse 9 and verse 10 … and it reminds us that ministering to one another is very important to the LORD.
These are some of the “things that accompany salvation.”

v11-12

v11-12

There are 2 important phrases here.
“Show the same diligence” in verse 11.
“Do not become sluggish, but imitate” in verse 12.

While it is true that God “brings us along” to maturity, it is also true that the believer has a part.

While it is true that it is God who “carries us along” to maturity (, ), it is also true that the believer must do his part. We must not be lazy (“slothful,” the same word as “dull” in ) but apply ourselves to the spiritual resources God has given us. We have the promises from God. We should exercise faith and patience and claim these promises for ourselves! Like Caleb and Joshua, we must believe God’s promise and want to go in and claim the land! The illustration of the farm (), and the admonition to be diligent, always remind me of Solomon’s warning (). Read it—and heed it!

We must not be sluggish.

This is the word νωθρός nothros which also means lazy.
It’s the same word that was used back in chapter 5 when pointing out that they had become “dull of hearing.”
Instead, of being lazy, we apply ourselves to the spiritual resources God has given us.
We have the promises from God.
We should exercise faith and patience and claim these promises for ourselves!
Like Caleb and Joshua, we must believe God’s promise and want to go in and claim the land! The illustration of the farm (), and the admonition to be diligent, always remind me of Solomon’s warning (). Read it—and heed it!
Hebrews 6:7–8 NKJV
For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
Proverbs 24:30–34 NKJV
I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man.
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More proof that the author has not been suggesting that a Christian can lose his salvation is found in these verses.

Perhaps the author was concerned that some would misinterpret what he wrote earlier about spiritual maturity.

And many have … but as is always the case, if you study God’s Word in context, you avoid a lot of wrong understanding.
So, we will see now that the writer ended this section with a tremendous argument for the assurance of salvation.
Now, so that no one would misinterpret his exhortation to spiritual maturity, the writer ended this section with a tremendous argument for the assurance of salvation.
We might read what was written earlier and start pointing fingers … so and so isn’t maturing in Christ as he should.
But, you know, I doubt any of us are making the spiritual progress we should.
All of us Christians are not making the spiritual progress we should, but we need never fear that God will condemn us.
We so easily give in to the desires of the flesh, get distracted, or pay heed to teachers who have their own agendas … we may also get caught up in ritual and traditions that are more harmful than good.
But we need never fear that God will condemn us.
And so the author closes with as solid a passage on eternal security as we will find anywhere in the Bible.

v13-15

v13-15

God’s greatest promise to Abraham is recorded in .

Over the course of Genesis we find the LORD making a covenant with Abraham and then the text expanding on that promise.

But sums it up really well … and the author quotes from that here in verse 13.
We look at Abraham as the great man of faith … and he really was.
He took God at His word.
But he wasn’t perfect … and he had many stumbles.
And in spite of Abraham’s failures and sins, God kept His promises.
God’s promises do not depend so much on our character as on His faithfulness.
But certainly we can resist His work and prolong our spiritual growth to maturity.
While at the point of salvation we are sanctified as belonging to God, there is a continuing work of sanctification that is progressive as we surrender more and more to Him.
We may resist this … certainly these Jewish believers who were going back to the sacrifices were doing so.
Yet, those who are saved are never going to prevent God from completing that work which He has begun in us.
Philippians 1:6 NKJV
being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
But we should understand that His work of refining us involves testing and trials … as Abraham endured testing and trials as he “patiently endured.”
The phrase “patiently endured” () is the exact opposite of “slothful” ().
It’s the word μακροθυμέω makrothymeō meaning perseverance.

The readers of this letter were enduring persecution from their fellow Jews who wanted them to drop this Christianity stuff and return to Judaism.

And while they had endured for a while, their endurance was running out.
And they were not alone … others had endured before them.
In chapter 11, the author will point out others who came before and who endured great trials.
And then he will say in chapter 12, “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.”
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 looking unto Jesus
Do not read below:
Hebrews 12:1–2 NKJV
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Hebrews 12:1-2
Hebrews 12:1
We are to walk by faith rather than by sight.
We Christians today have more of God’s promises than did Abraham! What is keeping us from making spiritual progress? We do not apply ourselves by faith. To return to the illustration of the farm, the farmer does not reap a harvest by sitting on the porch looking at the seed. He must get busy and plow, plant, weed, cultivate, and perhaps water the soil. The believer who neglects church fellowship, ignores his Bible, and forgets to pray is not going to reap much of a harvest.
In , the word “walk” is a metaphor for “live” … we are to live by faith rather than by sight.
Do not read below:
, the word “walk” is a metaphor for “live” … we are to live by faith rather than by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7 NKJV
For we walk by faith, not by sight.
And in , “run with endurance the race that is set before us” is a metaphor for “follow the leader.”
Follow the leader?
Yep, you see, we are to be looking unto Jesus … whom this very letter says is the “author and finisher of our faith” having endured far more and is now seated at the right hand of the throne of God.
You see, we are to be looking unto Jesus … whom this very letter says is the “author and finisher of our faith.”
But that does not mean we are blindly running the race … we do have the direction of God’s Word and the assurance of His promises.

v16-18

We Christians today have more of God’s promises than did Abraham! What is keeping us from making spiritual progress? We do not apply ourselves by faith. To return to the illustration of the farm, the farmer does not reap a harvest by sitting on the porch looking at the seed. He must get busy and plow, plant, weed, cultivate, and perhaps water the soil. The believer who neglects church fellowship, ignores his Bible, and forgets to pray is not going to reap much of a harvest.

v16-18

God gave Abraham a promise, and He confirmed that promise with an oath.

I don’t know if it’s still the case, but it used to be that when a witness took an oath in court, he used the words “so help me God.”

God not only gave Abraham a promise, but He also confirmed that promise with an oath. When a witness takes an oath in court, he is confronted with the words “so help me God.” We call on the greater to witness for the lesser. None is greater than God, so He swore by Himself!
And in other instances as well … We call on the greater to witness for the lesser.
None is greater than God, so He swore by Himself!

But God did not do this only for Abraham.

Verse 17 says he has also given His promise and oath to “the heirs of promise.”
Well, Abraham and his descendants are the first of these heirs.
But all believers are included as “Abraham’s [spiritual] seed.”
Galatians 3:29 NKJV
And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.
The author speaks in verse 18 of God’s promise and oath as “two immutable things.”
Immutable means “unchangeable.”
God is the greatest authority and He does not change … He cannot lie.
So our assurance of salvation is guaranteed by God’s promise and God’s oath, “two immutable [unchangeable] things” ().
So then His Word … His promises and His oaths … are dependable and everlasting.
And because of this, we have “strong consolation” (or as the ESV puts it, “great encouragement”) concerning the hope set before us.
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Now, look at that phrase “fled for refuge” in verse 18.

The author is thinking of the Old Testament “cities of refuge.”

We actually talked about the cities of refuge back in chapter 3 … their names and how God meets our needs.

God appointed six cities, three on each side of the Jordan, into which a man could flee if he had accidentally killed someone.
The elders of the city would investigate the case.
If they determined that it was indeed manslaughter and not murder, they would permit the man to safely live in the city.
And he would live there until the death of the high priest.
Then he could return to his home.
The members of the slain man’s family could not avenge themselves so long as the man remained in the city.
As Christians, we have fled to Jesus Christ, and He is our eternal refuge.
As our High Priest, He will never die; and we have eternal salvation.
No avenger can touch us, because He has already died and arisen from the dead and we are in Him.

v19-20

“As an anchor of the soul.”

Our hope in Christ is like an anchor for the soul.

Our hope in Christ is like an anchor for the soul. The anchor was a popular symbol in the early church. At least sixty-six pictures of anchors have been found in the catacombs. The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote: “One must not tie a ship to a single anchor, nor life to a single hope.” Christians have but one anchor—Jesus Christ our hope (, ).

The symbol of an anchor was popular in the early church.

In fact, the first century symbol of for Christians wasn’t a cross … it was an anchor.
Many Christians hiding in the catacombs of Rome during persecution carved anchors to remind them that Jesus is their anchor.
The Greek stoic philosopher Epictetus wrote: “One must not tie a ship to a single anchor, nor life to a single hope.”
Many ships require more than one anchor, but Christians need only Jesus … He is our sure anchor Who cannot break and cannot slip.
Strangely, though, our anchor secures us and pulls us upward rather than downward.
Our Anchor gives security like no other can.
For one thing, we are anchored upward—to heaven—not downward. We are anchored, not to stand still, but to move ahead! Our anchor is “sure”—it cannot break—and “steadfast”—it cannot slip. No earthly anchor can give that kind of security!
So, that’s where we’ll end today … Anchored heavenward!
Dr. H.A. Ironside has suggested that the two phrases “within the veil” () and “without the camp” () summarize the Epistle to the Hebrews. Jesus Christ is “within the veil” as our High Priest. We can therefore come boldly to His throne and receive all the help that we need. But we must not be “secret saints.” We must be willing to identify with Christ in His rejection and go “without the camp, bearing His reproach” (). The Hebrew believers who received this letter were tempted to compromise to avoid that reproach. However, if we live “within the veil,” we shall have no trouble going “without the camp.”
A good, good place to be.
Regardless of what approach you take to the exhortation in this section, be sure to lay hold of the main lesson: believers must go on to maturity, and God has made it possible for us to do so. If we start to drift from the Word (), then we will also start to doubt the Word (). Before long, we will get dull toward the Word () and become lazy believers. The best way to keep from drifting is—to lay hold of the anchor!
Prayer: Lord, we thank you for this time we have had together worshipping You and studying Your Word. We thank you that You are faithful and Your mercy endures forever. Increase our love for one another and for all, establish us in all things. Keep our minds and our hands from evil and protect us from the deceptions of our enemy the devil. Thank You for being our Great High Priest. Lord, we place ourselves before you to do Your will. Lead us in victory, and use us to spread knowledge of Jesus Christ to the unsaved world.
Anchored heavenward! How much more secure can you be?
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