Turn your Bibles to chapter 5 of the Book of Hebrews, Hebrews chapter 5. Dealing with this particular passage is somewhat difficult, and I'm going to perhaps take a hint. Every one of us that have gathered for prayer in recent days and praying about our Sunday evening series, all of those who've been praying about it have been asking the Lord to give me wisdom when to quit...so that I don't give too much material, and so we'll trust the Lord'll answer their prayers. However, if I do go long, it's that the Lord said no...
The issue in the passage that we're considering, Hebrews 5:10 through 6:12, is the issue of spiritual maturity. This is the third parenthetical warning in the Book of Hebrews given in very specific terms to a group who have intellectually responded to the Gospel, who have, on the outside, made a profession of faith in Christ, but who are not real believers...They know the truth. They believe it. They even follow some of the patterns of Christians, but they aren't for real; and they are warned periodically through the Book of Hebrews that they better be for real lest having heard the Gospel so much and become so familiar with it, they find themselves falling away into an evil heart of unbelief, and it is impossible for them to be saved.
Now, the question in Hebrews 5:10 or 11 through 6:12 is not whether one is a Christian, immature or mature, but whether one is a Christian or not a Christian. In other words, the issue is when talking about a babe or a mature person, the issue of whether one is an unbeliever or a believer, the babe referring to an unbeliever, the mature person referring to a believer. We went into that in great detail last time. The babe in this passage is the Jew who hangs onto the ABCs or the elements of Judaism. The mature person is the one who grows up instantly by putting faith in Jesus Christ and accepting the more mature, full revelation of the New Testament.
So the issue here is not simply a contrast between two Christians, not at all; but rather a contrast between Jews who hold onto Judaism with all of its ABCs, baby talk, and basic elements, and the Jew who receives Jesus Christ, moves into the maturity of the new covenant, the full and final revelation. That's the issue.
Now, in this passage, those Jews who are still hanging onto the old covenant and warned that, if they continue to do that, if they stand on the edge of faith in Christ, they've heard it all; they've seen the miracles; they've heard the message; they've got all the information; but they never make the decision. They are in danger of turning around and going back to Judaism and being lost forever. This has special importance to anyone, for that matter, who comes to the edge of a decision in Jesus Christ and plays around with it, never makes it, turns around, and falls away...
Someone mentioned to me this week that perhaps in the message I oughta say something about the fact that people can go to church for years and years and years and hear the Gospel over and over and over again and never really make a commitment to Jesus Christ. That kind of person would definitely fall into the category of those here. One who knows the truth, who's seen it in action, who's heard it preached, who's seen it operate in the lives of people, yet turns around and walks away from Jesus Christ; and that's what always happens to one who's indecisive. He soon turns his back, winds up with an evil heart of unbelief, and departs from the living God.
So it's a serious warning then to them who hear, who know the truth, but who make no response of faith in Christ. Maybe those who go to church, who understand it all, who maybe even believe it, who even pretend to be a part of it, but who never know Christ. Like these Jewish people to whom he writes in Hebrews in these warnings, they have adopted a form without a reality; and there are many people in the church of Jesus Christ who have adopted the form, but have not the reality. Jesus said, "Many will say unto Me, 'Lord, Lord,' and I'll say, 'Depart from Me. I don't know who you are. I never knew you. I have no blood relationship with you.'" So the issue here is just that. He is saying in a parenthetical statement, for the main of Hebrews is written to Christians, but in this parenthetical statement, he is saying to the intellectually convinced who have not really received Christ, "You better come on, lest you fall away and be lost forever."
Now, let's return to our study; and a brief review will start us off; and let's look at the problem. The problem. The problem he deals with is verses 10 to 14, and it's a very simple problem. Verse 10, he wants to talk about the order Melchizedek. Now I'm not gonna talk about that now till we get to chapter 7 when he talks about it; but it's...it's a kind of a view of the priesthood of Christ. Christ being a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Now, it's kinda heavy stuff, and he'd like to talk about it, but he says in verse 11, "Of whom...that is Melchizedek...we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered seeing you are dull of hearing. I'd like to talk to you about the priesthood of Christ. I'd like to explain to you about how He's a priest after the order of Melchizedek, but you are dull of hearing."
We talked about the fact that the word means slow, sluggish, or stupid. In other words, "You are spiritually so immature that I can't really open up to you these deep truths. You'll never be able to handle them."...They had become neglectful of the truth they had received, chapter 2 verse 4 says. They had become hard in their heart, chapter 3 verse 15 says; and now they have become sluggish in their thinking. They were in danger, chapter 6 verse 6 says, of falling away and never being able to come to repentance again. Verse 12 says, "For when for the time you ought to be teachers, you have need that one teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and you have become such as have need of milk and not of solid food. You're babies. For every one that uses milk...verse 13...is unskillful in the word of righteousness, for he's a babe."
In other words, "In your understanding, you're babies. You're still fooling around in the baby talk of the Old Testament. For the length of time and the amount of information dispensed to you, you should be teachers of the new covenant, but you haven't even graduated out of the kindergarten of the old covenant yet. In fact, you need to go over your kindergarten lessons and see what the real meaning of them is."...Like many seminary students, they needed a good course in remedial Old Testament.
Now, he says that, "We need to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God," and these, we remember, occurred or...or referred to the old covenant. The law...and the promises of the Old Testament. The oracles of God to the Jew meant the Old Testament; and they needed to be refreshed about the baby principles, the beginning facts of the old covenant. So much were they in a state of spiritual stupidity that he could not not only teach them the new covenant, he had to go back over the old covenant again and give them the real meaning of that.
Verse 13 says, "They're unskillful in the word of righteousness." The word unskillful means without experience. They had no experience in righteousness. Verse 14, "But solid food belongs to them that of full age, even those by reason of use...who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil." In other words, they were not able to make a right decision about the new covenant. They couldn't choose what was good, because they were so dull of hearing. They were so spiritually stupid and immature that they could not make the right decision; and because they had not used their senses, they had fallen into disuse. You know how anything stays keen and sharp and that is by use; but they, by not using their senses when they were fresh, when the call of the Gospel was there to begin with, when they knew it, when they believed it, when they professed it, had begun to grow sluggish and indifferent and neglectful and hard; and by...because of the misuse and disuse of their senses, now couldn't make the right decisions...and were in danger of making a desperately wrong one, turning around because of pressure and persecution and going back to Judaism...
Now, that's the issue. Instead of being mature with sharpened senses and making the right decision by non-use, they had lost their power to discern. They were be grow...they were growing dull, hard, and stupid. Now, we went into that in tremendous detail last week, supporting that view of this passage. We'll progress from there. That's the problem.
Let's look at the solution, and he offers them a solution to begin with in chapter 6 verses 1 and 2. The solution to the problem of spiritual stupidity, verse 1, and we'll read both of 'em just to set the stage for what we're gonna say. "Therefore - now here's the information you need to get to do something about your problem. Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto maturity or perfection...but maturity...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."
Now, he says there two things that I wanna just grab to begin with. He says "leaving" and "let us go on to maturity." Now this becomes the crux of interpreting these two verses...He says, "You've got to move on, and you've got to move on right now." Now, if he was talking to Christians who needed to grow up spiritually, he couldn't say it that fast, because it would take a long, long time for them to grow up. But because he is talking to Jews, and that maturity is an instant thing, for he's referring to the maturity that salvation brings and the reception of the new covenant, he can say, "Leave it, and let's go." It's not a process. It's an instantaneous miracle that he's talking about. The maturity of this passage is that of leaving the ABCs of the old covenant to come to the full revelation.
Now, I wanna talk to you a minute about the word leaving, because it's important. Leaving in the Greek is the word efeahme. It means...this is a strategic thought. It means to forsake, to put away, to let alone, to disregard, to put off. It is a total detachment. It does not mean to build on something. It doesn't mean to add to something. It means to cut it off and move away from it. That's interesting. The preposition at the beginning of efeahme, efin that form, implies separation. The basic idea is separation from an original condition.
Now, lemme give you some illustrations. For example, Matthew chapter 13 verse 36. "Then Jesus sent the multitude away and went into the house, and His disciples came unto Him saying, 'Explain unto us the parable of the tares of the field.'" Now, the point here is the use of the preposition comes in sending them away from one place to another. In Mark 4:36, the same use is indicated. He doesn't say, "Build up something where you stand." He says, "Leave here and go there." The idea of the preposition is separation. Expositor's Greek Testamenttranslates Hebrew 6:1, "Therefore, let us abandon the principles of the doctrine of Christ." Now catch this. This is very important. "Let us abandon the principles of the doctrine of Christ." Alfred's New Testamentsays, "Leaving behind and done with in order that we may go on to another."...
Now, for example, marriage and divorce in 1 Corinthians chapter 7 is the discussion of Paul, and he makes an interesting statement, 1 Corinthians 7:11, talking about a particular situation that comes about when you have a believing partner and an unbelieving partner; and it says, "But and if she depart, let her remain unmarried, or be reconciled to her husband. And let not the husband put away his wife." Now, the put away here is efeahme. That is divorce. Now, divorce is a very obvious separation. Putting away, that's the use of efeahmein that context. It is used again, for example, in Matthew chapter 9 verse 2, Jesus says, "Son, be of good cheer. Thy sins be forgiven thee." It's the same thing again. "Thy sins be separated from thee." Jesus didn't say to him, "Okay, now start building on your sins." No, separation is the issue, not going on to something else, but separation.
In Matthew 15:14, it is used to speak of separating yourselves from false teachers. So the term has the idea of an obvious separation, forsaking one thing for something else...Mark 1:20, "And straightway He called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants, and went after Him," and the same term is used there. They left Zebedee. They went with Jesus. Complete separation, and there are many other uses of this common word efeahmeto illustrate that it means a separation. It means with no necessary connection remaining.
Now, hang onto that. You say, "What are you belaboring the point for?" I'll tell you in a minute. The issue here is not that you're already a Christian, and all you need to do is add to what you've got. The issue is drop what you're doing and go to something else. Therefore, it can only be a reference to an unbeliever, because at no time would the Word of God ever say to a Christian, "Drop the basics of Christianity and go on to something else." No...
The Apostle Paul made the statement, "For I am determined to know nothing among you except Christ and Him...what?... crucified." That's basics, friends, and Paul said, "I'll know till the end of my ministry. You're never to depart from the basics of Christianity." And when he separates and says, "Let's drop it and go on," he's saying, "Drop the old covenant, drop the forms of Judaism, drop that economy, and go on to another one." It's not a question of adding to what you have. It's a question of separating yourself from what you have to something else. This is precisely what the Holy Spirit asks the Hebrews to do - to abandon the shadows, the types, the pictures, and the sacrifices of the old economy, and come to the reality of the new covenant in Jesus Christ.
The arrisparticiple translates this passage, "Therefore, having abandoned once for...once for all the principles of the teaching of Christ," and you realize the word Christ is anointed in the Greek. It's the New Testament word for the Old Testament Messiah, and that's what he's saying. Listen to it this way. "Therefore, abandoning the principles of the teachings of Messiah, let's go on to maturity. Let's leave the pictures of Messiah, and go to the Messiah." You see?
Now we're never told, as Christians, to abandon the principles of the New Testament. In fact, in Galatians 1:6, Paul says, "I marvel that you are so soon removed from Him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another Gospel." In other words, that's a horrible thing when...when a Christian departs from the faith. In fact, that's a characteristic of the end time. Paul said to Timothy in 1 Timothy 4:1, "Some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirit, doctrines of demons." No time, no place in Scripture is a Christian ever enjoined to depart from the faith, to drop and separate himself from the basics. Therefore, it must refer to unbelievers who are to drop the old covenant and move to Christ.
Now notice also that what they are to leave is the principles of the doctrine of Messiah. Now, this refers, of course, to the pictures and types in the Old Testament that taught the doctrines of the coming Messiah. Things, for example, like the Old Testament sacrifices, like the various types that were really foretelling the coming of Messiah. They were to drop all the pictures and all the types, all the basic principles, the beginning things, and go on. In fact, the literal Greek translation is this, "Leaving the beginning teaching of Messiah, the beginning teaching of Messiah. Go on to the new covenant."...
Now he says to them, "Go on to perfection." The idea of perfection is, of course, maturity. "Go on to a full-grown maturity." Now this would come in Jesus Christ. Over in chapter 7 verse 11, it says this, "If there perfect...if therefore," now watch this, "If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood...skip the parenthesis...what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchizedek?" If you could be mature by the old covenant, you wouldn't need Christ, right? So he uses the word perfection here to refer again to going from the old covenant to the new covenant; thus, we would interpret it in the context as meaning exactly the same thing in chapter 6 verse 1 when he says, "Let's go to perfection." He doesn't mean, "Come on, Christians, grow up." He means, "Come on, you Jews, drop the old covenant and accept the new." And in 7:11, it says, "If perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, you wouldn't need Christ," assuming that Christ brings what? Perfection.
In 7:19, look at it here. "For the law made nothing... what?...perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did." Who was that? Jesus Christ brought perfection. Then how do you go to perfection? If you're a Jew, how do you get outta the basics and get on to the maturity? You drop the old covenant. You accept the new. That's the issue.
So we believe it speaks of the New Testament, perfect sacrifice of Jesus Christ. In fact, it says in Hebrews 10:14, "For by one offering He hath perfected for ever them that are made holy. For by one offering He accomplished...what?... perfection." So the writer of Hebrews is telling him to go on to positional perfection. Go on to the full maturity of a relationship to the Messiah. Drop the forms. Accept the reality. The foundation was laid in pictures and types. The reality is here.
Now, the old foundation had six features that he points out. After talking about the old foundation, he describes it. "Laying again the foundation of," and then he says, "repentance from dead works, faith toward God, doctrine of baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." Now there are six features of the Old Testament foundation...Now watch very carefully here, 'cause many people, in fact, the majority of people have...have assigned this to Christians. Saying to Christians, "Get rid of all the fooling around and the basics, and grow up." That can't be what it means. These are Old Testament concepts.
Now watch what I mean. No. 1 of them is repentance from dead works. "Let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works." Repentance from dead works is very simple. All that means is you turn around from your evil deeds, deeds that bring about death. Hebrews 9:13 says, "For if the blood of bulls and goats and ashes of a heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh, how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?"
Now one of the Old Testament concepts was dead works, because the works that were evil brought about death. "The soul that says...said Ezekiel...it shall...what?...die." New Testament says it another way, "The wages of sin is death." But we're certain evil works always brought about death. The Old Testament taught that a man should repent and turn from his evil works that brought about death. That's simply and Old Testament pattern, to repent from works that lead to death. Now that's only the first half of repentance. That's the Old Testament pattern. All men knew was to turn away from evil works, turning toward God. That was the whole thing. That's all there was in terms of definition; and, in fact, when John the Baptist came preaching, and Jesus Himself in His early ministry, the message was repent, for the Kingdom is at hand. There was only repentance. There wasn't anything else really in defining this whole thing. Just turn from evil toward God.
But the doctrine of repentance becomes mature in Jesus Christ. For in Acts chapter 20 verse 21, we read this. "Testifying both to the Jews and also to the Greeks...listen to this...repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." You see, all of a sudden, it doesn't do a man any good to turn from evil works toward God unless he comes to God through whom? Jesus Christ, and so without the concept of faith in Jesus Christ, repentance is meaningless in the new economy. "No man cometh unto the Father, but...what?...by Me," said Jesus.
So for a man to say, "Well, I'm repenting of my sin and turning to God," and for that same man to say, "But not through Christ," is to say, "Oh, no, I'm not," because there's no other way to God. So, you see, the doctrine of repentance from dead works is simply a turning from evil. That's an Old Testament concept. The fullness of it comes when they turn from evil to God through faith in Jesus Christ.
Another passage comes to my mind in Acts 26, yes, verse 20, "But showed first unto them in Damascus and Jerusalem, throughout all the borders of Judea, then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works fit for repentance." And, of course, the definition of this comes through Jesus Christ down in verse 23. Always, whenever men then were commanded to repent and turn toward God, it was with a view toward faith in Jesus Christ. Certainly the ministry of Paul bears this out. So the doctrine of repentance from dead works is made full by the doctrine of repentance toward God through faith in Christ.
All right, here's another Old Testament doctrine. Faith toward God, and we've already implied what that is. It doesn't do any good at all today to have faith in God unless you have faith in whom? In Jesus Christ, who is the only way to God. In Acts chapter 2 verse 38, Peter said, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, the name of Jesus Christ." You see, that's the point. "For the remission of sins." Repentance comes by faith in Christ, and here those two are just tied together. Either of these passages could be for either point.
And then another thought, Acts 11, bearing, I think, the same message, verse 17, "For as much then as God did give them the same gift as He did unto us who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ." Then verse 18, "Then of God also to the Gentiles granted repentance, but repentance only comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ." So the Old Testament taught repent from your dead works and faith toward God. The New Testament says, "Repent in faith toward Christ. That's the only way to God." See the distinction is clear.
The Jews believed in God, but they weren't saved. They may repent from their works and turn toward God, assuming they were getting there, but without Christ, they were not; and Peter clarified this in Acts 4:12 when he said, "Neither is there salvation in...what?...any other." There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved; and so the Old Testament doctrine of simply being sorry for your deeds and turning around and believing in God was not enough anymore. They had to drop that one and come to faith in Christ.
There's a third thing that the Old Testament taught that was a foundation. Verse 2 of the doctrine of baptisms. Now, here you have a little case of eisegesis. Now, two words that are used in Bible study, exegesis means to go the text and see what it says. Eisegesis means to go to the text and make it say what you want it to say. You've done that. You find the verse that proves your point. Reading into the text.
Now the word here that is translated baptisms, baptismos, is not the same word as baptize or baptidzo. It's a different form. It is used four times in the New Testament. All three other times it is translated correctly as washings. Washings. But because the translators believed this passage referred to Christians, they put baptism in there instead of what it really means, washings. So it was a case of reading their theology into the passage, and so we've inherited that error. The word means washings, and it refers to Old Testament washings. Drop the teaching of washings. Now you know all about those. You know that every Jewish home had all those pots at the door by the entrance, so that everybody coming in could go through the ceremonial cleansings. You know that the pots and the pans and the utensils had to be washed. They could not eat without washing hands. There were just endless ceremonial cleansings...
So he says, "Drop all of the doctrine of ceremonial cleansing and come on up to the true cleansing." Remember what Ezekiel had been told by God? He said, "I will sprinkle you with water, and Jews shall be clean. Only this time it'll be on the inside." And you remember what Paul said to Timothy? "There's coming a washing of regeneration, an inside washing." "Drop the external washing; abandon that; and grab the real washing that comes in your heart by faith in Christ." That's what he's saying. It's time to leave the teaching of washings and come to that true washing that comes as Jesus said in John 3, when he said to Nicodemus, "Except a man be born of the...what?...water and the Spirit, he can't really enter into the Kingdom." What does that water mean? That's simply the washing of regeneration. That's the inside cleansing of which Ezekiel spoke. That's the only frame of reference Nicodemus would ever have had for understanding that statement. He would never have thought of Christian baptism at all. What he was talking about there was simply the inside cleansing that going to come through Messiah; and so he says, "Drop the ceremonial washings and go on."
Now, there's another Old Testament doctrine, and that's the laying on of hands. Now, please don't confuse that with what we see in the apostolic times in the laying on of hands to commission certain men to...to eldership or for the impartation of the Holy Spirit. This is something different.
In the Old Testament, whenever a sacrifice was made, the one who brought the sacrifice had to put his hands on the sacrifice. He had to lay his hands on the sacrifice as a point of identification with that sacrifice; and what the writer is saying here is simply this. "You have all the way through all of your religious activity, literally laid your hands on the Old Testament sacrifice. Forget it, and lay hold of Christ by faith." That's the point. Our identification with Jesus Christ doesn't come by putting our hands on Him. It comes by baptizing, the Spirit baptizing us into union with Him by faith.
So forget that doctrine of laying your hands on the sacrifice incessantly, and by faith, lay hold of Christ. Let's go on. Then he says, "Also, let's go on from the resurrection of the dead. In the Old Testament, the doctrine of resurrection is very undefined. It's very hazy. It's very vague. There isn't really much there. All we know, basically, is that men will live after death; that there will be reward for the good, and it will be bad for the bad. That's about it. We really don't know much more than that. Job indicates to us that resurrection will involve a body that Job said, "In my flesh shall I see God, whom I shall see and not another, though my reins be consumed within me." He knew he'd have a restored body.
But apart from that, the whole concept of resurrection is undefined. Not so in the New Testament. The full doctrine of resurrection blooms in the New Testament in the fullness of the person of Jesus Christ, who said, "I am...what?...the resurrection and the life." The resurrection body is defined in 1 Corinthians 15, further defined in 1 John 3:2, where it says, "We shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is."
All of these things are clearly defined in the New Testament; and so he says, "Let go of the simplicity of just knowing about the resurrection of the dead, and come to the full revelation of the New Testament." And then he says, lastly, of eternal judgment. This is also an Old Testament concept. Ecclesiastes 12:14 says, "God shall bring every secret thing to judgment whether it be good or evil." That's about all they knew. There wasn't much more declared, except that the punishment would come to the evil, and blessing would come to the good; but in the New Testament, judgment becomes so technical, so detailed. We know what's gonna happen to believers. There's therefore now no condemnation, yet we know that we shall stand before the Lord for rewards. We know what's gonna happen to unbelievers. We understand the judgment of sheep and goats. We understand the judgment of the great white throne. We understand that unto Jesus Christ has been committed all judgment. We see all of this unfolding in the New Testament.
So he is simply saying, "You've got some of these basics. Now, let them go, and let's go on and get the full thing." The Holy Spirit is saying, "Leave the ABCs of repentance from dead works for the New Testament teaching of repentance toward God and the life. Leave the ABC of faith toward God for faith in the person of Jesus Christ. Leave the ABC of ceremonial washing for the cleansing of the soul by the Word. Leave the ABC of laying hands on the sacrifice for laying hold of the lamb of God by faith. Leave the ABC of the resurrection of the dead for the full resurrection of the future and future life. Leave the ABC of eternal judgment for the full truth of judgment and rewards as revealed in the new covenant.
So those six foundational things compose the doctrines of Judaism that are to be laid aside in favor of the better things that come in Christ...The Old Testament is incomplete. It is only partial revelation. Leave it for the full. Judaism is abrogated. Judaism is nullified. Let's go on.
Now that is the solution to the problem. "Drop what you're doing and come on to Christ," is what he's saying. I pray God that your heart, if you're here tonight, has not been hardened against Jesus Christ to the point where you can't hear the Word of God to you; and if you come all the way up to faith in Jesus Christ, and you've heard it again and again and again and again. You know all about it, and you've never committed yourself to Jesus Christ, I pray God that somehow the Spirit will challenge your heart to drop whatever it is you're hanging onto and move toward Jesus Christ.
So we see the problem and the solution. Simply and very briefly, we see the power. How is this all gonna happen? Well, interpreting verse 3 is very difficult, even though it's very brief; but let's just look at it from two angles. The power in verse 3, "And this will we do, if God permit." Now, some people say this refers to the writer of Hebrews. The idea is that the Spirit is saying one possibly this, that the writer of Hebrews is saying, "I will go on and teach you what I want you to know, if God permits me." The other interpretation is that he's saying, "You will go on to maturity, if God permits you."
Now, since there's no way to be sure which, let's just take both. For whether you're talking about salvation or service, it's all energized by the Holy Spirit; and the writer can say, "I wanna go on and say more about this, if the Spirit wills, or if God permits; and I want you to come to Jesus Christ, all the way to maturity, if God permits." You see, really everything revolves around the permission of God. Divine enablement is the issue in every case, and the writer acknowledges that.
In 2 Corinthians 3:5, it says, "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think anything as of ourselves, but our sufficiency is of God." And in that sense, referring to a believer or to the attitude of this writer, he is simply acknowledging that he really has no right to go on unless God directs him to go on. James chapter 4 verse 13, applying, perhaps, this to the unbeliever says, "Come now ye that say, 'Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city and continue there a year, and buy and sell and get gain'; whereas you know not what shall be on the next day. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time, and vanishes away. You ought to say, 'If the Lord will, we shall live and do this or that.'"
In other words, whatever it is, it's subject to the sovereignty of God. So the problem is immaturity. The solution is go on to maturity by faith in Christ. The power for going on to maturity in Christ is God's power. Nobody comes to Christ except the Father what? Draws him, and if it refers to the writer wanting to go on, it's equally as important. He cannot go and continue to teach lest God empowers him and permits him to do it.
So the problem, the solution, and the power. Now still speaking to the unsaved who have heard the truth, responded to it, believed it, but hesitated to embrace Christ, the Holy Spirit gives the warning. No. 4, and this, of course, is the crux of the passage. The warning, lemme read verses 4 to 6. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame."
This is a very serious warning, and the warning is simply this. You had better come to Christ; for, if you fall away, it will be impossible to renew you again to the point where you've repented...That's the issue. Now, some people say it proves you can lose your salvation; but as I've been saying all along, it's not even talking to Christians at all here. In fact, those brothers in Christ who would teach us that it proves you can lose your salvation have got some real problems. Because if that teaches you can lose it, it also teaches you can't get it back again; 'cause it says, "If you fall away, it is impossible to renew you to repentance."
So I daresay you would not wanna assign this to believers who could lose their salvation. For once lost, would be damned forever if interpreted that way. So we must, in the context, see that he's talking to these on the...on the verge of commitment to Christ; and let me say that there is no need for the believer ever to fear that he'll lose his salvation. None at all. The Bible is so absolutely clear about that. John chapter 10 comes to mind, and verse 27. "My sheep hear My voice. I know them. They follow Me. I give unto them eternal life. They shall never perish. Neither shall any man pluck them out of My hand. My Father, who gave them to Me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are one." Now you try to get anybody out of that...
Romans chapter 8, and still people believe that, and I'll never understand it. Romans 8:35, "What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall Tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword?" Verse 37, "Nay." Verse 38, "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 creation, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." And then I've heard people say, "Except you. You can do it yourself." Oh...
It says, "Nor any other creation." You want names?...There is no reason at any point in the Christian life to believe that salvation can be lost..."He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until...what?...the day of Jesus Christ."...First Peter 3...1 Peter 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a living hope to an inheritance, uncorrupt...incorruptible, undefiled, that fadeth not away, reserved in Heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God." And if the power of God can't keep you, nothing's worth anything.
So the ones in view in Hebrews 6 then have to be unbelievers. The same intellectually convinced Jews who are neglecting to come to Christ. They were in great danger, because if they succumbed to the pressure and the persecution in their spiritual stupidity and sluggishness, turned around and went back to Judaism, they would be lost for good. Why? Because there's no other Gospel to preach. There's no other message to give. There's nothing to tell 'em they haven't been told. There's nothing to show 'em they haven't seen.
You have to understand the circumstances. The Gospel was preached unto these Jews by the apostles. In chapter 2 it said that they saw the signs, the wonders, the miracles, the gifts of the Spirit. All the manifestation that God could give came their way. All the information God could give came their way. They had it all. They accepted it, intellectually. They entered the sphere of the new covenant manifestation. Now anybody who had all of that, turned around, walked away, went back into Judaism was lost...because there's no other alternative. You either go on to full knowledge in Christ...or you turn around and go back to what you had before, and you're lost forever. That's a classic definition of apostate...and, boy, it's a heavy thing, because it says it is impossible.
Now some translators have translated impossible difficult. You can't translate that difficult. That word means impossible. ________ "Well, of course, we don't really mean impossible. Just very hard." Like the little sign that says, "The difficult we do immediately. The impossible takes a little longer." No...no...and I show you why. Chapter 6 verse 18, this is great....talking about God. "That by two immutable things, in which it was difficult for God to lie," same word. You're not convinced? Chapter 10 verse 4..."For it is difficult for the blood of bulls of goats to take away sins." It is not difficult. It is impossible. Chapter 11 verse 6, if you're still not convinced. "But without faith it is difficult to please Him." No, "Without faith it is impossible." You wanna preach a good sermon, preach a sermon on the four things that are impossible with God. There they are...and one of them is, "One who falls away from full revelation, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance."
So what I'm saying, friends, is very serious for your consideration. When you come all the way up, and you know all the facts about Christ, and you've been sitting in church. You've been taking it in, and you're growing a little bit less excited and a little bit sluggish and a little bit spiritually indifferent, you are in danger of falling away and, beloved, it is then impossible for you to be saved. That's what the Word of God says...
It's an interesting thing that, when they wanna immunize you to a disease, they give you a little bit of it. Did you know that? That's what a vaccination is. If you wanna be vaccinized, vaccinated against Christianity or immunized against it, just get a little bit of it. Do nothing about it, and that's problem with so many people. They've had a Christian vaccination so that they're insensitive to it...I say to you if you haven't received Jesus Christ and you're coming constantly, if you're not really considering coming to Jesus Christ, get outta here, lest you become so hard that you never are able to come...
Now, these Hebrews had five great advantages that made their revelation complete. Look at them in verse 4. "Those who were once...No. 1...enlightened. what does it mean to be enlightened? Now I want you to notice the absence of certain things. You'll not find in this whole passage anything, any word that is ever used in connection with salvation or the doctrines of salvation. You don't find the word justification, sanctification, new birth, regeneration, born again, made holy, made righteous, anything. No salvation terms that we know in terms of...of the doctrine of salvation, but all these terms. The beginning is once enlightened.
Now what does it mean to be once enlightened? It means to have come to a perception of truth intellectually. Enlightenment is just that. For example, in the Septuagint, it is translated, "To give light by knowledge or teaching," in several old testament passages. It means simply to be mentally aware of something. It is the idea that your mind has been at least instructed in some information. It does not demand a response at all. Now, a key thing to note here is Matthew 4:16. When Jesus came, fulfilling the prophecy of Isaiah, He came to Galilee, and it says, "The people who sat in darkness saw a great Light." Now, they saw the Light. That does not mean that all of Galilee got saved, does it? They were enlightened. They saw Christ. They saw His deeds. They had natural knowledge that feed...that fed certain information into their computer. The Light of the glorious Gospel had broken in on their darkness. Life could never be the same again.
Same thing had happened to these Hebrews. John even tells us in John 1:9 that Jesus Christ is the "Light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world." Peter tells us in 2 Peter chapter 2 verse 20, "For if, after they escape the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." You see, there's a case of apostates again who actually move right out of the system and have the knowledge of Jesus Christ, but they weren't saved, because it says they turned around and went right back, and, "The end was worse than the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than, after they knew it, to turn from it." That's the tragedy. Better not to know it. "That means of much sorer punishment shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden underfoot the Son of God and counted the blood of the covenant an unholy thing." Better you should know nothing than to know the Gospel and tread on it, turn your back, and walk away...having been enlightened, having the information in your head.
Now only was this group enlightened, but they tasted the heavenly gift. And you say, "What does it mean to taste the heavenly gift?" Well, what is the heavenly gift? There are three things that could be the heavenly gift. No. 1, the Holy Spirit is a heavenly gift; but since the Holy Spirit is mentioned in the very next phrase, "made partakers of the Holy Spirit," I think that the Holy Spirit is not referred to here. The other heavenly gift is the coming of Christ and salvation, and that must be what is meant. Salvation is called, for example, the gift of God in Ephesians 2:8. Christ is called the unspeakable gift in 2 Corinthians 9:15. So Christ and salvation is the heavenly gift.
Now, it says that they tasted the heavenly gift. Now, it doesn't say they feasted on it. Doesn't say they lived by it. Doesn't say they ate it. It just says they tasted it. Lemme illustrate this. Two illustrations out of John's Gospel. You remember the woman at the well who had all those problems. Jesus knew 'em all, told her all about 'em. Well, in John 4:10, "Jesus answered and said unto her, 'If thou knewest the gift of God...salvation...and who it is that saith to thee, 'Give Me to drink,' thou wouldest have asked of Him, and He would have given thee living water.'" Now, here, the gift of God refers to salvation as illustrated by living water, and He goes on to say, "All those who drink of living water are saved truly."
Tasting is not drinking. Tasting is just getting a little bit of a feel about whether or not you wanna drink it. It doesn't taste good, you spit it out. Drinking and consenting to the first taste and committing yourself to the water, that's salvation. You have the same thing in chapter 6 in the bread of life discourse. John 6:32, "Jesus said, 'Verily, verily I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from Heaven, but My Father giveth you the true bread from Heaven.'" And then over in verse 51, He said, "You've gotta eat My flesh. You gotta drink My blood," and He goes right on down the line; and, of course, they can't figure that out at all. They're looking at Him and figuring, "Well, 5'8" at the best, and He weighs about 180 or whatever, and no way He's gonna go around." See, that's what they were thinking. They were actually thinking about eating His flesh...
What He was saying to them was, "You need to take Me in." It wasn't a matter of tasting. It was a matter of totally devouring. You remember the spies of Kadesh-Barnea? They got a taste of the land. They had the first fruits in their hand. They turned back. That's the illustration right in Hebrews chapter 4. One of the pre-salvation ministries of the Spirit... watch this...is to enable the unsaved to have a certain feeling about the blessedness of salvation. That's what pulls you into it, you see?...And tasting it is not eating it, much less digesting and turning it into nourishment. They tasted it. The Spirit of God placed the blessing of salvation to their lips, but they hadn't eaten it yet.
Then it says this, "And they were partakers of the Holy Spirit." And we must be careful to note what is said here. Partakers is interesting, nodikos. It doesn't mean possession. It means association. It doesn't mean they possessed the Holy Spirit. It means they were around when the Holy Spirit was around. They were sharing in an association with the Holy Spirit. This word is used to speak of fellow fishermen in Luke 5 about verse 7. It's used to speak of Christ and His fellows in reference to Christ and the angels in Hebrews 1:9; but it refers to an association or a common sharing in certain activities or events.
Now, it can refer to Christians. Definitely can. In fact, in Hebrews 3:1, it does. "Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers... metakoos...of the heavenly calling."...It could also refer to anybody who is around when the Holy Spirit ministers. It is possible to have an association with the Holy Spirit, a share in what He does, and not be saved. Now, if you go back to chapter 2 verse 4, you see it. They heard the Word. "God bore witness with diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Spirit." They actually partook of what the Holy Spirit was doing...They were actually involved. Nowhere in the Bible does it say Christians are associated with the Holy Spirit. It says the Holy Spirit is in them, always in them, in them, in them; but, here, we find some who simply are associated with the Holy Spirit. Great difference. A great difference. This is almost the equivalent of the Old Testament economy in which it says, "The Spirit is with you and shall be in you." This is the with you concept. The Spirit was moving in their midst, doing things, and they were a part of it, much like the crowd that sat on the hillside; and when the Spirit multiplied the bread and the fish, they ate it and, in that sense, were partaking of what the Spirit had done, without having the Spirit within them.
So they are associated, really, in two ways with the Spirit. No. 1, in the...in seeing the miracles; and, No. 2, in the Spirit's work on their hearts and conviction and enlightenment...This could be illustrated, I think, very graphically by the case of Simon Magusin Acts chapter 8 who was really involved with the Holy Spirit, but not saved. Simon Magus, listen to the interesting, interesting story. "There was a certain man called Simon, who previously in the same city used sorcery and bewitched the people of Samaria, giving out that himself was some great one." Don't you like that? "Giving out that himself was some great one, to whom they all gave heed from the least to the greatest, saying, 'This man is the great power of God.'" This guy was something.
"And to him they had regard, because for a long time he had bewitched them with sorceries. But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the Kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women." Revival happens in Samaria, see? "And Simon himself believed also." Um-hum, remember that kind of belief? John chapter 8, "Many believed on His name, but He said to them, 'If you continue in My Word, then are you My disciples indeed. Then you shall know the truth. The truth shall make you free."
Believing is only the beginning. He believed it intellectually. He went to the point where he believed it. "Then when he was baptized...oho...he got into the group. He moved right in, went through the ordinance." It's nice to know that the apostles baptized some that weren't genuine, too...
"He continued with Philip, and he was amazed, beholding the miracles and signs which were done." He still had his eyes on that. "Now when the apostles who were at Jerusalem heard the Samaria had received the Word of God, they sent unto him Peter and John," etc. Down here in verse 18, they lay their hands on. The Spirit came, and Simon comes up and says, 'Ohhhhh, this is great,' and Simon saw that laying on of hands the apostles...the...the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, 'Give me this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Spirit. I'll buy this off you guys. I could make a fortune with this one.' Peter said unto him, "Thy money perish with thee.'" Peter didn't rebuke him like a fellow Christian, did he?..
"Because that thou thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money! Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter. You're a fake, Simon. Thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God that perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.'"
Now, here was a guy who was right there partaking what the Holy Spirit was doing, but he was not for real. Now going back to Hebrews, you have partakers of the Holy Spirit again. They do not possess the Holy Spirit. He does not dwell in them. He merely was around when they were around, and they saw what He did. Now, it also says, catch it, verse 5, "They tasted the good Word of God." They had even had opportunity to taste the Word of God. The utterances, raymanot logos, the very speeches concerning God and Christ had been given to them. They'd been taught. I betthey regularly came to the assembly of the church. They were there, right there in their little sanctified spot, just taking it all in. I imagine they were very much entertained by whoever it was that was dispensing the information...I...they probably even went to special conferences...Maybe they were very entertained by the preacher, but they couldn't say with Jeremiah, "Thy Words were found, and I did eat them, and Thy Word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart." No, because they didn't eat it. They only what? They only tasted it. They just barely got it into their lips. They never let it become part of their life.
Herod was like this. Mark 6:20, "Herod feared John, knowing that he was a righteous man and holy, and protected him. And when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly." Did you Pharaoh...Herod loved to hear John? He liked to hear that guy. That John was something else. He heard him gladly. These Hebrews had tasted the Word of God. You know as well I do that every man must taste the Word of God before he accepts it, don't you? We all taste it before we eat it. So the Hebrews, is to so many, the first preaching of the Gospel was sweet. It tasted so good. It was savory; but as it lingered in their mouth and they didn't eat it, it grew dull and it didn't taste so good, and they became sluggish and indifferent, and their spiritual taste buds were no longer excitable...
Frankly, I don't really know how many of you people here tonight have come to this church for a long time. Maybe some of you for over three years that I've been here, and maybe there's some of you that I wouldn't know about, only God knows; but you've never met Jesus Christ. You've made a profession a long time, but you don't know Him. The Apostle Paul said to the Corinthians, "Examine yourself whether you be in the faith." Oho. Look at yourself. Have you just been tasting the good Word of God? There's never any change in your life; Jesus isn't your Savior? My friend, you're on the brink of the greatest disaster in the universe. You're coming to the place where grace is an impossibility...
Lastly, it says that they "tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come." The age to come is the Kingdom. The power of the Kingdom was the miracle power. They saw the same kind of miracles that are gonna come in the Kingdom. They tasted it. They saw those apostles do signs and wonders like they're going re...be reproduced in the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. They saw miracle upon miracle, and this increased their guilt. We believe, of course, that the age of the Kingdom will be an age of miracles. We read about 'em in the Old Testament repeatedly; and these Hebrews had seen some of the things that were just a foretaste of the age to come...but they had not believed. They had seen miracles done by these apostles. They were so like those in Jerusalem. How hard it is to explain the hatred and the unbelief of the Jews who saw a resurrected Lazarus, who saw healed blind and deaf and dumb...How guilty they will stand before God in the great white throne judgment, because they saw such things and did not believe.
Then he says this, "With all of this benefit, you people have had it all. You have had the whole Old Testament revelation...verses 1 and 2...all the basic elements are there. You've had it all. Not only that, in this age, you've been enlightened. You've tasted the gift of salvation. You even worked and you even saw the Spirit working in your midst. You even got a taste of the good speeches and utterances concerning God, and you saw miracle upon miracle." Then he says this, "If you fall away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance. That's it." The word fall away is a tragic word. It's used only here in the New Testament, and it says, "If they have fallen away, to renew them again to repentance...back to verse 4...is impossible." Oh, this is tragic thing.
This class as been defined earlier in Hebrews as those who depart from the living God. This class is defined in Peter as the apostates. Those that I read to you earlier who Peter calls dogs who return to their own vomit...Now, you see, in all of these verses from 5:11 on, you find no of...none of the salvation terms that we're familiar with in theology. It says nothing about saved, justified, righteous, called, elect, believers, sons, redeemed, sanctified, adopted, chosen, bought, regenerated, born again, whatever, whatever. It doesn't use those terms, because these are not believers. It says nothing about the direct ministry of the Holy Spirit. To them it doesn't say they're born of the Spirit, sealed by the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, anointed by the Spirit, led by the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit, or filled with the Spirit. Only that they were around sharing in what He was doing. They're not true Christians; and if they fall away, it's impossible for them to be saved. To renew them again to repentance is an impossibility.
You say, "Why?" Well, look at the word renew. It means to restore, to bring back to an original condition. What was their original condition? They heard the Gospel. They were excited about it. It was beautiful, and they moved away from Judaism right up to the edge of Christianity. They really got turned on about it; and then, evidently, they had even moved to repentance. They had turned from their old ways. They had turned from their sin. They had begun to turn toward God, and...and there was a repentant spirit in their hearts, and they had been seeing the miracles, and they'd got it all. They came all the way up to the edge, all the revelation God had He gave them. There was nothing else you could say. They had all there was, including the Old Testament. There wasn't anything else God could do. If they fell away, they did so with an evil heart of unbelief, and they did it against full revelation. The old and the new together they had, and they fell away from that. If that be the case, they had departed from the living God, and there was no hope that they would ever be restored to the place again where the Gospel was fresh, where the gospel taste was sweet, where repentance was the natural response. They couldn't get back there. They'd been there, and they'd grown hard and neglectful and callous and sluggish and stupid and fallen back, and they'd never get back to that freshness again...
Oh, I say to you tonight, "Don't you ever put off the decision to receive Jesus Christ when it still sounds sweet, when it still sounds fresh. With all of your doubts and all of your misgivings and all of your misunderstandings and the things you'll never be able to understand till you know Him, come to Jesus Christ just as you are lest you get to the place where hard and callous and the impossibility sets in.
These Hebrews had allowed the Holy Spirit to carry them along to the place of repentance. They'd come that far, and now, should they refuse the faith offered them and return to Judaism, it would be impossible to bring them back to that original fresh condition when the Gospel was sweet and repentance was natural.
Why can't they be renewed? Look at verse 6. This is so sad. "Seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame." They can't be renewed, because they've done that. You say, "What does that mean?" You've read that a lotta times, maybe. What does it mean? Well, first, it says they...they crucified of themselves the Son of God. The word afresh is not best there. It's really put in there because of a preposition that's connected to the word crucify, but it means to crucify up, not afresh; and that simply means to lift up in crucifixion. It says, "They crucified of themselves the Son of God."
What does it mean to themselves? As far as they're concerned...as far as they're concerned, the Son of God deserves to be crucified. That's what it's all about. In other words, here's the point. They came all the way up to the edge of faith. They heard it all. They got all the revelation. They turned, went back to Judaism, which had been guilty of killing Jesus Christ. They took their stand with the crucifiers. They said, "That's the same verdict that we give." Consequently, according to them, Jesus should be crucified. Do you see? They are declaring that they have made a trial of Jesus Christ with all the evidence possible, and found Him no true Messiah, turned around, gone back to Judaism, said, "Jesus is an imposter and deceiver, and He got exactly what was coming." That's what that means. They agree with those who killed Jesus, that He was a fake, and they put Him to an open guilt. The word shame means guilt. They declare openly that Jesus is guilty.
Now you can imagine what would happen. Take a Jew who came all the way up here. His friends were persecuting him, really rapping him for this. He turns around, forsakes Christ, goes right back to Judaism. He has declared, for all time and for everybody around, with all the evidence in, friends, "Jesus is a fake. I'm going back to Judaism." And, thus, Jesus is exposed again to shame, ridicule, and guilt that really isn't His.
Lemme say it to you simply. If Jesus Christ were here tonight, I daresay there's not one person in this building that would take hammer and nails and nail Him to a cross. You say, "I'd never do that." If you come to this place tonight, and you hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and you turn your back on Christ, and you walk away, you have done exactly that. You have said, "I've heard the evidence. My verdict is the crowd that killed Him was right. I stand with the crucifiers."
Jesus said, "A man is either for Me or he's...what?...against Me."...Salvation to that apostate then becomes impossible, for he rejects against full light, and that is incurable, and reserved for such a one is the hottest hell. Everything in this passage could be said of Judas, and his hell must be the hottest of all...
Hebrews 10:29, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and counted the blood of the covenant, with which he was sanctified, an unholy thing?" And that's what an apostate does, comes all the way up and says it's a lotta baloney. Jesus was a fake, and His blood isn't holy. Turn around and walk back.
You say, "I'd never do that. I'm tolerant. I...I'll just...I'll just kinda stay on the edge for a while." My friend, if you don't come to Jesus Christ, eventually you'll go away from Him; and when you go away from Him in full light, you step into the possibility of impossibility...and later, after the verse I just read to you, does the Spirit say this. "'Vengeance belongeth to Me. I will recompense,' saith the Lord. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of a living God." How serious it is to reject Jesus Christ.
I close, 'cause our time is long gone, by just giving you the illustration in verses 7 and 8 to show you that this is the correct interpretation. Look at this. "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh often upon it, and bringeth forth herbs fit for them by whom it is tilled, receiveth blessing from God. But that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected and is near unto cursing, whose end is to be burned." You see what he's illustrating? He's saying, "All those who hear the Gospel are like the earth, and the rain falls. The Gospel message comes. In the context of the Gospels, the seed is planted. The Word is heard; but sometimes it brings forth herbs, fit for them by whom it is tilled." In other words, good for use. Oh, and that is blessing from God. But other times, under the same message, same Gospel, same preachers, some bring forth...in verse 8..."thorns and briars, and are rejected, and they're near to cursing. Their end is to be burned." You see God's grace falls, but some men bring forth fruit. Others bring forth thorns.
I pray God that, when the rain of the Gospel of Jesus Christ falls on you, it shall issue forth in herbs fit for use.
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