Hebrews 6:1-8: Part 4 of 5; The Caution of Failure

III. The Caution (of failure)

After exhorting these Jewish believers to move on in the spiritual walk he makes a clear caution, a dire warning for those that fail to mature:

v 4-6 “For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”

This must have been like a shock for these childish, dull-of-hearing believers! I can just hear these Hebrew believers asking: “It’s impossible to restore again to repentance?!” “For who?” For us?!”

We might be tempted to do the same and jump to conclusions about what God’s intent was for this passage.

Let’s walk through it carefully.

We see it begins with an impossible work, one that the author of Hebrews tells us cannot be done (under certain conditions): the restoration to repentance. But of whom—these immature believers? No, I don’t believe that this passage tells us that these believers are in danger of losing their faith.

– We see that the author changes his usage of pronouns from “You” to “those.”

– As well the author has addressed them earlier in Hebrews as brothers—and not just any brothers—Holy brothers.

– And if we skip ahead to verse 9 we see the clearest indication that these specific verses are not directly addressing the state of the believers from verses 1 to 3—“Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.”

So whom is the author talking about? These verses refer to those who participate in the gospel outwardly (at least for a time) but inwardly have hardened their hearts and reject Christ.

And the author of Hebrews gives us 5 conditions that mark these people with the impossibility to restore them to repentance:

  1. they have once been enlightened (been shown the glory of the gospel)
  2. they have tasted of the heavenly gift and
  3. they shared in the Holy Spirit and
  4. they have tasted of the goodness of God and the powers of the age to come (they’ve sampled some of the benefits of the gospel and the church)
  5. and finally they have fallen away (wandered from the faith, rejecting Christ)

These descriptions reveal a person who participates in much of the benefits of the gospel but at the end of this they deny the gospel—they deny the work of Christ and put Him to death and hold Him high to open shame!

Let me ask you: if these people participate in such things—these sweet gospel benefits—but harden their hearts and reject the only living God, what end can there be but a soul who will not come close to repentance again.

I’m reminded of the words of Jesus in Matthew chapter 7 that talk about those who will come to the judgment seat of Christ and claim that they knew him and prophesied and cast out demons and did miracles in His name and he will say to them, in verse 23: “‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’”

You cannot find salvation in the works of flesh, even good and maybe even miraculous works. The heart must be brought to repentance for salvation!

To re-emphasize this severe caution, the author of Hebrews, back in chapter 6, now paints a word picture for us to help us better understand:

Vs 7-8: “For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful for those for whom it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it [the land] bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near [or soon] to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”

The land here is us—men (and women) within the church—who receive the faithful rain of gospel teaching from God’s word. And there are only 2 responses that our land can have to this nourishing rain. A good crop—useful to the edification of the body of Christ, proving that the seed of the gospel has produced salvation. Or they produce thorns and thistles—they are completely useless and even harmful to the body. This worthless crop proves that they never had Christ at all and have only one end—to be judged apart from grace and condemned to the fires of hell.

And we must ask ourselves, what crop are we producing?

Is your crop worthless, revealing your denial of Christ? If so I caution you urgently to continue no more down this path of un-repentance. I beg of you, turn to the living God, Jesus Christ, and plead with Him for a heart of repentance toward your sin and rebellion towards Him, while there is still time! Do not continue to harden your hearts toward the crucified and risen Son of God! Your end will not be sweet if you continue in this way for there is only much weeping and gnashing of teeth at the end of this road you are traveling down!

But for those of you who, as you are watered by the Word of God and cultivated by God’s ministers, do see fruit, that accompanies salvation, springing forth from your hearts and minds and bodies—I praise God for you! And I encourage you, by the grace found only in Jesus Christ in the gospel, to press on towards fuller and deeper maturity! Sink your roots deep into the gospel. That you plumb the depths of the riches of God found in Jesus Christ—the author and perfector of our faith!

And be sobered by this passage, Christian brothers. Do not take lightly this salvation—for we did not attain it on our own accord but only according to the grace of God. Encourage one another to love and good deeds. Spur one another on towards maturity. Remind one another of the price paid for your salvation, and sanctification, and glorification—the blood of the only perfect lamb—Jesus Christ.

We’ll spend tommorrow working on how to apply this to our lives today as we move from jewish sandles into  flipflops of the modern man.

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