The Danger of Not Growing Spiritually.
The author starts the 6th chapter of Hebrews with an exhortation. He expresses his concern about the reader's spiritual infancy and the danger of spiritual apostasy. They were dull of hearing the Word of God and thus became the slow learners. Laziness had led them to ignorance and apathy into spiritual infancy. The sign of infancy is the inability to discern good and evil. The pathway to spiritual maturity is to go beyond baby food. Foundation is important but once it is set, we must move on to maturity (6:1-2). So the writer urges his readers to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and move on to maturity. Paul warned Timothy that the time will come, people will choose only what they want to hear and remain immature in the faith (2 Timothy 4:3, 4). Basic doctrines are the first principles of the oracles of God. But Christians should grow into a fuller knowledge of Christ to become mature. Matured Christians are those who understand the deeper truths about Christ and distinguish truth from error. The elementary teachings fall into three groups. Repentance and faith; Baptism and laying on of hands; Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. These are basic doctrines.
Dead work will not save us. Hebrews 6:1.
Dead works are the works unsaved people do to please God to earn salvation (9:14). Our good works have no saving merit before God. Repentance is the radical reorientation of our outlook towards sin and God which results in a change in behavior. Those who are saved will turn away from idols to serve the true and living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9). Remorse is not repentance. Only godly sorrow can produce repentance (2 Corinthians 7:8-10). Repentance is vital and it must be a daily experience. Faith, on the other hand, is an immediate response to God. Faith and obedience go together. It is more than the head knowledge about God (James 2:23-25). Someone has said "To believe; mind must be convinced, hearts must be excited and will must be exercised". Forcing someone to believe is authoritarianism. Pleading without explaining can lead to sentimentalism. Faith comes from hearing and hearing from the Word of God (Rom 10:17). How important is the reaching of the Word today!
Baptism has no saving merit. Heb 6:2, 3.
The doctrine of baptisms and laying on of hands are the outwards ordinances. The baptisms mentioned here are in plural. These refer to baptismal rites of either Jew or gentiles. They are external in nature and purify only flesh and not conscience (Hebrews 9:13, 14). Only saved people should be baptized according to the commandment of Christ (Matthew 28:19, 20). The laying on of hands was symbolic of ordination, recognition and identification (1 Timothy 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6). It does not impart any special grace. Resurrection of the dead and the eternal judgment are eschatological doctrines revealed in the Old Testament and as well as in the New Testament. The writer warns that to grow spiritually matured, we should leave the basic principles and advance to a higher knowledge of Christ. The author is confident that with God's help we would do this (6:3, 9).
Immaturity can lead to apostasy. Heb 6:4.
If we are not growing spiritually, we may be carried away by the errors of false teachers. Many Christians lack maturity because they never had a good foundation. Spiritual maturity comes as a result of regular use of the Word of God. They train themselves to recognize the difference between good and evil and then do what is right (Hebrews 5:14). We are exhorted to grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8, 9). Also we are strengthened by grace to become useful (2 Timothy 2:1). Paul testifies that "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me was not in vain" (1 Corinthians 15:10). The writer of Hebrews warns his readers the peril of turning away from Christ (Hebrews 3:12-19). But he is confident that those he addresses will not fall away. The interpretation of verses 4-8 has been widely disputed among Christians. Falling away from the faith is a real danger to professing Christians. The parable of the sower clearly reveals this truth (Matthew 13). True believer is not in danger of losing his salvation. No one can be saved, then become unsaved, and then be saved again. Following Christ requires day by day learning and surrendering to the will of God.
The Bible alone is the Word of God that reveals Christ.
To know Christ we have to make the study of the Bible part of our daily life. The Bible alone is the Word of God. The best commentary of the Bible is the Bible itself. The Scriptures are not only profitable for salvation but also for sanctification. It prepares and motivates us to serve God (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The Bible points out what displeases God and helps us to get right with God. Hebrew Christians knew the basic principles but did not profit them because of lack of growth in their faith. They were not growing in the knowledge of Jesus Christ. Thus they were in danger of apostasy. Pray that God helps us to grow in the grace and the knowledge of Christ.
The Danger of Apostasy. 6:4-20
Although the author warns the hearers about the danger of turning away from Christ, he is confident of their salvation. Believers can't lose their salvation. Salvation is not based on their commitment but based on the character of God (6:10). The author is confident of their salvation. They are the beloved children of god. God is just, and will not forget their diligence, love and service they have shown toward His name ministering the saints. Here, the author deals with the problem of spiritual infancy and the danger of apostasy. This warning is to be taken in context with other similar warning passages in this epistle. Who are these people? There are three views about them. The first view is that they are genuine believers who are saved but left their faith and lost their salvation. But the Bible clearly teaches that it is impossible for true believers to lose their salvation (John 5:24;10:28, 29; Philippians 1:6; Romans 8:35-39). The second view is that it is a hypothetical situation (6:6). The third view is that these are people who are influenced by the gospel and shown some sign of salvation but never born again. But the usage of the three pronouns used here give us some clues. “W” in verses 3 and 9 refer to Paul and readers. “You” in verse 9 also refers to believers. “Those and they” refer to a different group of people, most probably apostates. Only the Lord knows His own people (2 Timothy 2:19). They set apart people and will not act like sinners. They are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Peter 1:5). Salvation is a gift from God and it is an eternal gift (Jonah 2:9). If believers can lose salvation the Bible is using the wrong word “eternal life”. Apostate denies the once for given doctrines of Christianity and habitually lives in sin. They don't believe the whole counsel of truth given in the Bible (Acts 20:27).
Are you a professing Christian? 6:4-8.
There are professing Christians in the church. They show signs of salvation but never experienced the life transforming work of Christ. A classic example is Judas Iscariot. He was never born again (John 6:64). Like the seeds fell by the wayside the seed never germinated (Matthew 13:4-7). They were close to salvation but fell short of salvation because of unbelief. They may associate with true believers but they are not real believers (1 John 2:19). There is no such thing as once being saved, then becoming unsaved, and then saved again. If they fall away, they cannot be renewed again to repentance (6:6). Author warns believers of the danger of remaining in their spiritual infancy. In Hebrews 6:4-6, five things are mentioned about these apostates. "They were once enlightened and exposed to the gospel but never believed. They tasted the heavenly gift but never benefited from it. They shared in the Holy Spirit and experienced the influence of the Spirit but never made a commitment to Christ. They tasted the good Word of God and tasted the powers of the world to come but never believed. If they fall away, they can't be renewed again to repent". Jews experienced all these things yet they did not follow Christ (John 6:66). They nail the Son of God to the cross again by rejecting Him and holding Him in public shame. They willfully rejected salvation. Christ died once for our sins and it is not to be repeated (Hebrews 9:28). Their mind was enlightened but they rejected the truth. They profess Christ but never possessed Him. They are intellectually enlightened but never made a commitment to Christ in their hearts. They saw miracles and tasted heavenly gifts but never benefited from it in their personal life. They treat the Word of God the way it was treated in Luke 8:5, fell by the wayside. It is impossible to bring them back because they have no interest in it whatsoever. But the author is confident of better things for his readers. They will not fall away (6:9). Because they persevere in their faith by being diligent in love and good work (6:10). The failure to persevere in faith proves that a person's faith was never real. May God grant us grace to continue in our faith in Christ (Philippians 2:13).
Enlightened does not mean saved. Hebrews 6:9-12. .
They were enlightened people. They had the knowledge of truth concerning Jesus Christ. They were instructed about Christ. Their knowledge was intellectual and appealing to them. Many people saw His light but chose to live in darkness (John 3:19; 2:23-25). They tasted the heavenly gift. The heavenly gift is the Lord Jesus Christ and His gospel (John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 9:15). We may taste food but never benefited from it. Children of Israel tasted the heavenly gift of manna in the wilderness but God was not pleased with them because of their unbelief (1 Corinthians 10:2-5). Jesus fed 5000 people but many of them did not follow Him (John 6:66). The evidence of salvation is the transformation of life. By persevering in service and love we demonstrate our faith in Christ through which we will inherit promises (6:12).
They were Partakers of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus taught and did miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit. People were healed and convicted of their sins but never believed in Christ. They benefited physically from all the miracles Jesus performed. But they sinned against the Holy Spirit (John 12:37). They heard Christ and tasted the good word of God. But it did not benefit them because of their unbelief (Hebrews 4:2; John 8:48, 59). They performed miracles but were not saved (Matthew 7:22, 23). They tasted the powers of the world to come. Jesus taught them about heaven, the coming Kingdom of God and the doom of Satan. But many of them did not believe it. They are like ground that receives rain but brings forth weeds and thorns. What a tragedy to reject Christ after hearing the gospel for years! Apostates are people who make a profession of being Christians but live in open, willful and settled defiance to Christ. It is impossible to renew them again to repentance because Christ can't be crucified again and again.
The author hopes for better things for true believers. Hebrews 6:13-20.
They are the beloved ones. The author is persuaded by better things of them (Hebrews 6:9). This is not based on their commitment but the unchanging character of God. “For God is not unjust to forget your labor of love toward His name” (Hebrews 6:10). They ministered to the needs of others which is a mark of their love for God (1 John 4:20, 21). The author exhorts believers to be diligent to follow the example of those who have received the promises through faith and patience. Here the author uses Abraham as an example. Abraham patiently waited many years in faith to receive the promised son (Genesis 12:3) "In you all the families of the earth will be blessed". This promise was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Galatians 3:16). His faith was in a God who makes impossible things possible. God not only gave promises but confirmed them with oath (Hebrews 6:17). Christ is our sure and steadfast anchor of the soul that reaches heaven. He became our forerunner to lead many sons to glory. Christ has entered within the veil and He is our High Priest forever after the order of Melchizedek (6:20). He went to heaven "as our forerunner on our behalf". He invites us to come to the throne room of God to receive mercy and to find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16). How blessed to have a Savior like Jesus! Dear friend, do you have this assurance and hope?