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   Heb. 6:4-9
   What Does It Mean?

"He brought me to the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love." --- (SofS 2:4)
Travis Case, Pastor/Teacher          Northgate Baptist Church          F.E.A.S.T Ministries


Heb. 6:4-9, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 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. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God. 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. 9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."

Introduction:

A. There are a number of Different Interpretations of Hebrews 6:4-7:

1. Calvinists teach that it is speaking of lost Jews who had Great Spiritual Light and knowledge of Christ and salvation by grace but "Relapsed Back To The Law" before becoming True Christians.

2. Arminians teach it is speaking of Christians who turned back to sin and "Lost Their Salvation".

If this is true, then a person who was once saved and then lost it Could Never Be Saved Again.

3. Others teach that it is speaking of a Hypothetical Situation that could never actually happen --- To Prove the point that a True Believer Could Not Lose His Salvation.

a. Its purpose was to exhort believers to be obedient by showing the seriousness of denying Christ.

b. However, Biblical Writers are Not given to the "Setting Up of Straw Men" and Fictitious Situations.

c. Can you imagine God using a Deceitful , Fictitious, and Impossible, Hypothetical situation to teach a Spirit Truth.

4. It is speaking of Christians who committed the sin that leads to becoming a "Castaway" --- or the "Sin Unto Death".

B. In order to arrive at the truth, let's examine Heb. 6:4-9 in light of other Scriptures because No Scripture Is of Private Interpretation.

2 Peter 1:20, "Know this first, that No prophecy of the Scriptures is of any Private Interpretation."

C. We will find that Each Phrase in these verses present a Progressively Builds Upon The Previous leading to a deeper experience of faith.

D. Also We Must Determine Who God Is Talking To --- Who These People Are --- They:

1. "... Restore Again To Repentance ..." --- Those who had previously "Repented".

a. Genuine Repentance is a turning:

(1) From the old way of life,

(2) Unto Christ as our Lord and Saviour.

b. Most Bible scholars agree that Repentance And Faith Goes Together. You cannot have one without the other.

(1) However, some seem to make an Exception for this verse.

(2) Question: "Can You repent (turn from sin unto Christ) Without having placed your faith in Christ?"

(3) 2nd Question: "If You Have place your faith in Christ, Are You Not Saved By Grace Through Faith?"

2. "... Those Who Were Once Enlightened ..."

a. This term occurs again in 10:32 and can only refer to the "Saved".

Hebrews 10:32, "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;"

b. To be "Enlightened" (V. 32) corresponds to the experience of "Receiving The Knowledge of The Truth" (V. 26).

c. Ephesians 1:17-18, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him: 18 The eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that ye may know what is the hope of his calling, and what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the saints,"

3. " ... Have Tasted of The Heavenly Gift ..."

a. Some have interpreted "Tasting" to refer to a Temporary or Superficial participation in salvation.

b. However, the metaphorical usage of the verb "To Taste" does Not Warrant such an interpretation.

c. The same word is used in 2:9 where Christ is said to have "Tasted Death" for us.

Hebrews 2:9, "But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man."

d. Did Jesus only Temporary or Superficial "Taste Death" for us, was it a Shallow Experience or was it:

Hebrews 10:10-12, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. 11 And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: 12 But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God;"

e. "Heavenly Gift" is a Synonym For Salvation which God has bestowed upon us --- sent down from heaven.

(1) If this "Heavenly Gift" comes as a results of "Being Enlightened" --- It must refer to "Salvation".

(2) It is a Gift received Without Payment or recompense.

(3) The article is repeated, stressing the gift's Heavenly Origin and Supernatural Character.

f. Westcott agrees, when he describes the gift as, "the divine life brought by Christ which is only tasted in this age but will be fully realized in the coming age."

g. The Christian knows the Immeasurable Relief of experiencing the Free Gift of the Forgiveness of God.

4. "... Were Made Partakers of The Holy Ghost ..."

a. You become "partakers of the Holy Ghost" by Reception or Importation of the Holy Ghost.

b. The same term is use in 3:14 in reference to Christ.

Hebrews 3:14, "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;"

c. Each phrase Progressively Builds upon the previous:

(1)Conviction and illumination (Enlightenment),

(2)Followed by conversion (the Heavenly Gift),

(3)The indwelling of the Holy Spirit (become Partakers of The Holy Ghost).

5. "... Have Tasted The Good Word of God ..."

a. "To Taste" implies to experience something in a manner that is Real and Personal.

b. The expression "The Good Word of God" is a synonym for "The Good News" which is "The Gospel".

c. 1 Peter 1:23, "Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever."

d. Refer back to comments under " ... have Tasted of The Heavenly Gift ...".

e. However, some, after tasting and being trained and instructed in doctrine and Christian living, did Not Grow In The Grace And Knowledge of The Lord but rather turned back to the world.

Heb. 5:12, "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.."

6. "Have Tasted, The Powers of The World To Come"

a. "Powers of the age to come" is similar to the "Signs and Wonders … Various Miracles … Gifts of The Holy Spirit" in Chapter 2, Verse 4.

b. These powers are associated with a Future Age even though they are tasted in the Present Age.

c. Some believe that it refers to a "Supernatural Experience of Grace" Transforming Their Character And Conduct --- However, this could only be a Secondary meaning if at all.

d. In the Bible, the Messiah is presented as one Who will:

(1) Shepherd God's flock in Strength (Mic. 5:4).

(2) Whose ministry will be accompanied by Miracles of Healing (Isa. 35:5-6, Matt. 11:5)

6:6, "... If ... they shall fall away,"

A. These are Not Empty Threats or "Scare-Tactics," --- they are Real Warnings of the Serious Consequences for failure to progress in the Christian life --- given to real believers facing real challenges.

1. The writers purpose is to Move Christians on To Maturity And Obedience --- not bringing shame upon Christ.

2. Hebrews speaks of the work of Sanctification, not the work of Justification.

B. If to "fall away" meant the Lost of Salvation, it would be Inconsistent With The Clear Teaching of Other Scriptures.

1. Besides, this is a Deliberate Act --- something They Do, not something that is Done Unto Them As Punishment for sin.

2. It would be as Impossible For An Unbeliever To Fall Away From A Faith They Never Possessed as it would be impossible for Esau to trade away a birthright he did not own (Heb. 12:16-17)

C. "To Sin" ….. "To Stray From The Truth or The Right Path" ….. "To Fall Away From The Truth …"

D. Ezekiel uses the word to depict Israel's Unfaithfulness And Rejection of God For Other gods. (Ezek. 14:13, 15:8, 18:24).

Many Christians Have Idols In Their Life.

E. This is an Act of Deliberate Rebellion against God.

1. A Willful Rejection of His Blessings --- and His Presence.

2. They not only had Withdrawn From The Influence of The Truth (Preaching of The Gospel), they had Rejected The Truth Itself.

3. They had turned aside in order to Avoid Hardship And Persecution.

4. This made void (to the public) Christ power to transform the lives of Christians --- His power to grant them victory in their daily lives …

F. These had ceased to make Progress In The Christian Life.

2 Peter 1:5-9, "And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; 7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. 8 For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins."

G. They could Expect Judgment to really happen and Not Merely A Hypothetical Possibility.

6:6, "… impossible … to renew them again unto repentance; …"

A. "Impossible" as some have taught, does Not mean "Very Difficult" --- It Means Impossible.

Just as Esau could Not Regain His Birthright "though he sought it with tears," these will be unable to find repentance because God Will Not Permit It.

B. To "Renew" means to "Restore" something to a former state or condition --- does Not mean --- as some have assumed --- "Regeneration" or "Salvation".

C. It was Impossible for them to experience repentance and once again Enjoy A Vital Walk With --- and Interact With Christ

1. They have reached a point where, Even If They might possibly Want To "Go On To Maturity" (6:1), God Will Not "Permit" It (6:3)

2. Heb. 6:1, "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection: not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God." --- V. 3, "And this will we do, if God permit."

D. Christ prayed for those who crucified him at Golgotha, "Father, forgive them, for they Know Not What They Do" (Luke 23:34). But Now There Is A Knowledge of the truth and therefore a Greater Responsibility.

E. Now, Why Would God Not Permit It?

6:6, "… seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."

A. While their "Crucifixion" of Christ was Figurative ("to themselves"), it was Not a Private act --- it involved Public Denial and Renunciation of the Saviour.

1. This is clear from the statement, "Put Him To Open Shame".

2. This shows the Shame and Contempt which these Christians Publicly Expressed For Christ.

a. O. T. --- Psa. 73:12-13, "Behold, these are the ungodly, who prosper in the world; they increase in riches. 13 Verily I have cleansed my heart in vain, and washed my hands in innocency."

Mal. 3:14, "Ye have said, It is vain to serve God: and what profit is it that we have kept his ordinance, and that we have walked mournfully before the LORD of hosts?"

b. N. T. --- Mark 8:38, "Whosoever therefore shall be ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation: of him also shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he cometh in the glory of his Father with the holy angels."

B. It is one thing for Christ to be Mocked By Unbelievers, but the Real Insult is that His mocking should come From His Own Children.

1. Although unbelievers have undertaken to mock, ridicule and scorn Christ, Only Believers Are Truly Capable of Shaming Him Through Renunciation.

2. We wave a White Flag before the world --- "Christ Cannot Provide For or Satisfy Me!"

6:7-8, "For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."

A. Just as God Expects Fruit From The Land which has received His rain, so He Expects Spiritual Fruit And Growth form those who have received His blessings.

1. In V. 7, the Rain-Soaked Ground represents Christians.

2. In V. 8, that Same Ground receives the Same Blessings but yields Thorns And Thistles and is said to be "Worthless," "Disqualified," or "Cumbereth The Ground"

B. "Burning" conjures up the image of a fiery hell --- but instead, He is speaking of fire which Purges and Refines.

C. But, if that doesn't work:

Luke 13:6-9, "He spake also this parable; A certain man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came and sought fruit thereon, and found none. 7 Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground? 8 And he answering said unto him, Lord, let it alone this year also, till I shall dig about it, and dung it: 9 And if it bear fruit, well: and if not, then after that thou shalt cut it down."

D. Hebrews was addressing Jewish Christians who were facing Persecution from a Hostile Roman Empire and also Angry Jewish Peers.

Paul had this same fear, that he would not be "Disqualified."

1 Cor. 9:27, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."

John 15:1-6, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.

E. There was a Strong Temptation to reject Christianity (and Christ) for an easier, familiar lifestyle.

F. The sins that lead to --- "Impossible to renew them again to repentance" --- is the Last Step before the "Sin Unto Death".

1 John 5:16, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it."

Heb. 10:28-30, "He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people."

6:9, "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."

A. There are Five Warning In Hebrews --- all of which seek to move believers on to Maturity In Christ --- which God Expects of All Christians.

1. The Danger of Drifting (Heb. 1:1-2:4)

2. The Danger of Doubting (Heb. 3-4)

3. The Danger of Deformity (Heb. 4:14-6:20)

4. The Danger of Despising (Heb. 10:26-31)

5. The Danger of Denying (Heb. 12:12-29)

B. "Better Things" Can Only Come As We Heed God's Warning And Turn Unto Him.

Conclusion:

A. What about the word "IF"?

1. Greek (parapipto) --- "If they shall fall away"

a. "If they shall fall away" is all translated from the one greek word, "parapipto".

b. J. H. Thayer, defines it as "In the Scriptures, to fall away (from the true faith): fom Christianity, Heb. vi.6"

c. Spiros Zodhiates says, "To fall aside or away, err, stray, lapse. Used only in Heb. 6:6, denoting a falling away, an abandonment. Some have suggested that this word and its noun "paraptoma" (a lapse, error, wrong doing) indicate errors of weakness, faults or accidents and do not represent deliberate, blameworthy or willful sin, contending that this would be expressed by "parabaino", to willfully transgress. However, the usus loquendi of the words (verb and noun) yield no such meaning but in every case signify deliberate acts of sin."

2. The New American Standard Bible, "and then have fallen away,"

3. 1901 American Standard Version, "and then fell away,"

4. The New American Bible, "and then have fallen away,"

5. It is hard today to find Christians Who Are Consistent in what what they believe and teach:

What if you told your son/daughter that "IF" they disobeyed you that they would be grounded for the next two weeks. They later disobey you and when you ground them because of their disobedience, they answer and say: "But, Dad, you didn't say "WHEN" I disobeyed, you said "IF" and that made it a Hypothetical Situation that could not happen. I thought that you were merely trying to get your point across to me without any actual punishment. Isn't that what you explained to me that Heb. 6:6 actually meant?"

B. What About:

1. 2 Chron. 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."

2. 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."

a. Remember, 2 Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation."

b. All Scripture must be Interpreted In Light of Other Scriptures.

3. The Same God Who made the promises in 2 Chron. 7:14 and 1 John 1:9, also said:

Isa. 59:1-2, "Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear."

1 John 5:16, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."




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