Memphis Belle

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Hebrews 1:1-14
Hebrews 2:1-18
Hebrews 3:1-19 Hebrews 4:1-16
Hebrews 5:1-14
Hebrews 6:1-20 Hebrews 7:1-28 Hebrews 8:1-13
Hebrews 9:1-28 Hebrews 10:1-39 Hebrews 11:1-4 Hebrews 11:5-8
Hebrews 11:9-16 Hebrews 11:17-22 Hebrews 11:23-27 Hebrews 11:28-31
Hebrews 11:32-40 Hebrews 12:4-29 Hebrews 13:1-25 What is Faith ?

 

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Hebrews 6:1-20

 

“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, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this will we do, if God permit.  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, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world 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.  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.  But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.  But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.  And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:  that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.  For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.  And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.  For men verily swear by the greater:  and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.  Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:  that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:  which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”

 

“Let Us Go On To Perfection”

 

Hebrews 6:1-3, “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 faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.  And this will we do, if God permit.”  What is Paul talking about in these first three verses?  Considering there were no chapter breaks in the original Greek text of the New Testament, we need to go back into the last four verses of Hebrews chapter 5, because these first three verses in Hebrews 6 are finishing up the thought Paul was expressing in Hebrews 5:11-12, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.  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…”  Which principles is Paul talking about here, which he labels “milk, and not strong meat”?  Hebrews 6:1-2, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of the laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.”  Paul in Hebrews 6:1-2 is saying we’re supposed to go on from the milk of God’s Word, the beginning doctrines new-believers learn, and go on into the meatier sections and doctrines contained within the Word of God.  So these first three verses in Hebrews 6 should be tacked onto Paul’s thought presented there in Hebrews 5:11-14.  (See the previous expository study on Hebrews 5:1-14.)

 

The Body of Christ Is Divided Over The Proper Interpretation Of Hebrews 6:4-9

 

Hebrews 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, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world 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.  For the earth 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:  but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is to be burned.  But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”  J. Vernon McGee says that there are quite a few interpretations within the various denominations for these six verses in Hebrews 6:4-9.  He basically lists three of them.  He also says that in general, many commentaries avoid these six verses entirely, “to remain clear of the scene of confusion.”  I will briefly quote J. Vernon McGee on his opinion about what he feels is the most unsatisfactory of interpretations.  Then I will again quote from him giving you his favorite interpretation, accompanied by the Scriptures that back it up.  After that I will provide an opposing denominational sermon/Bible study transcript.  In my eyes, because there is such disagreement in the interpretation of these six verses within the overall Body of Christ, it makes it a secondary doctrine, no matter how much some groups will huff and puff about them.  I will not tell you which interpretation I favour or think is correct (frankly, because I am not totally sure myself).  Each of us as believers in Jesus Christ, guided by the Holy Spirit, must stand on our own two feet spiritually and in doctrinal understanding, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, learning to properly divide [interpret] the Word of God.  So I will leave it to you, after I have provided two of the major alternate interpretations.  So here is J. Vernon McGee, to start things off:  “The most unsatisfactory to me of all interpretations is that Christians mentioned here are Christians who have lost their salvation.  There are many folk who hold this position, and for the most part they are real born again Christians themselves.  However, this belief makes them as uncomfortable as I am when I am making a trip by plane.” [J. Vernon McGee. Thru The Bible, Vol. V, p.544, col.1, par.4, lns 1-10.]  J. Vernon McGee again: “I want to make it abundantly clear that I believe we have a sure salvation because Scripture is very emphatic on this point…Romans 8:33, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.”…Paul continues in Romans 8:34-39, “Who is he that condemneth?  It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?  shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?  As it is written, for thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.  Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.  For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The Lord Jesus Christ also makes some tremendous statements about our absolute security.  Listen to Him, trust in Him, and believe in Him.  The Word of God is living and powerful, my friend.  Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:  and I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:27-28).  What kind of life?  Eternal life.  If you can loose it, it is not Eternal!  “And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28-29).  It is not a question of your ability to hold onto Him; it is His ability to hold onto you.  He says here with infinite wisdom, and full of authority of the Godhead that He can hold us and that they who trust Him shall never perish.  The question is:  Is your hope fixed in God who is all-powerful, or in a god who may suffer defeat? [J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible, Vol.5, p.544, col.2, par.1, (Romans 8:33-39), par.2; p. 545, col.1, par.1]

 

J. Vernon McGee’s Favorite Interpretation For Hebrews 6:4-9

 

“Now there is one interpretation that has been a real blessing to my heart, and I trust you will follow me patiently, thoughtfully, and without bias as we look at it.  Because I was dissatisfied with all the interpretations I had heard, I actually felt sad about it.  Then several years ago I picked up a copy of Biblical Sacra, a publication of the Dallas Theological Seminary, and read an article on the Sixth Chapter of Hebrews written by Dr. J. B. Rowell, who was then pastor of the Central Baptist Church in Victoria, British Columbia.  His interpretation was the best I had heard.  I give him full credit for it.  This is not something that I thought of, although I have developed it to fit my understanding, of course.  First of all, let me call to your attention that the writer [of Hebrews] is not discussing the question of salvation at all in this passage.  I believe he is describing saved people---they have been enlightened, they have tasted of the heavenly gift, they have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and they have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come.  The whole tenor of the text reveals that he is speaking of rewards which are the result of salvation.  In verse 6 he says, “If they shall fall away, to renew them to repentance”---not to salvation, but to repentance.  Repentance is something that God has asked believers to do.  For example, read the seven letters to the seven churches in Asia, as recorded in Revelation 2 and 3.  He says to every one of the churches to repent.  That is his message for believers.  So the writer of Hebrews is talking about the fruit if salvation, not about the root of salvation.  Notice verse 9 again:  “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation [he hasn’t been discussing salvation, but the things that accompany salvation], though we thus speak.”  He is talking about the fruit of the Christian’s life and the reward that comes to him as the result.  The whole tenor of this passage is that he is warning them of the possibility of losing their reward.  There is danger, Paul said, of our entire works being burned up so that we have nothing for which we could be rewarded.  “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.  Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; every man’s work shall be made manifest:  for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is.  If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.  If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss:  but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1st Corinthians 3:11-15).  The work of every believer, my friend, is going to be tested by fire, and fire burns!  The work you are doing today for Christ is going to be tested by fire.  For example, when all those reports that some of us preachers have handed in about how many converts we have made are tried by fire, they will make a roaring fire---if our work has been done in the flesh rather than in the power of the Spirit.  We will have nothing but wood, hay, and stubble that will go up in smoke.  Someday every believer is going to stand before the judgment seat of Christ [the Bemis seat of judgment].  I wish I could lay upon the heart of believers that it is not going to be a sweet little experience where the Lord Jesus is going to pat us on the back and say, “You nice little Sunday-school boy, you didn’t miss a Sunday [or Sabbath] for ten years.  You are so wonderful.”  The Lord is going to go deeper than that.  He is going to test you and see if you really had any fruit in your life.  Have you grown in the grace and knowledge of Him?  Have you been a witness for Him?  Has your life counted for Him?  Have you been a blessing to others?  My Christian friend, I am not sure that I am looking forward to the judgment seat of Christ, because He is going to take Vernon McGee apart there.  I will not be judged for salvation, but because I am saved, He is going to find out whether or not I am to receive a reward. 

 

Hebrews 6:4-9 Is Talking About The Fruit Of Salvation

 

Now notice that he is illustrating the fruit of the Christian’s life.  “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, receive blessing from God:  but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:7-8).  If the believers life brings forth fruit, it receives blessing from God; if it brings forth thorns and briers, it is rejected.”  [cf. 1st Corinthians 3:11-15.]  [J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible, Vol.V, p.545, col.2, par.4, p.546, col.1 through col.2, par.2]

 

The Greek Word For “Fell Away”

 

“For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted of the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame” (vv 4-6 ASV).  “and fell away”---fell away is an interesting word in the Greek.  It is parapito and simply means “to stumble, to fall down.”  It would be impossible to give it the meaning of “apostatize.”  It is the same word used of our Lord when He went in the Garden of Gethsemane, fell on His face, and prayed.”  [J. Vernon McGee, Thru The Bible, Vol.V, p.547, col.2, par.2-3]  J. Vernon McGee then goes on to list several people who stumbled (Greek: parapito), but didn’t loose their salvation, the apostle Peter and John Mark being two of them. 

 

Hebrews 6:1-20

 

Verses 1-3, “Let Us Go On To Perfection”

 

Now for one denomination’s interpretation which follows the “Christian’s who’ve lost their salvation” line of reasoning for verses 4-8 of Hebrews 6. “Let’s go on to chapter 6.  In chapter 6 we’re going to see perfection, talks about perfection, maturity and life, he’s going to talk about the unpardonable sin, he’s going to talk about how we have promises that are absolutely immutable, a promise and an oath that God has himself sworn by, and that’s to swear by nothing greater than God, and God swore by himself.  Hebrews chapter 6, verse 1, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” so again, I’ll read verses 1-3 and talk about it, “leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,” and this is talking about the very early elementary principles, “let us go on to perfection,” or maturity “not laying again” you shouldn’t have to go back again and repeat.  You didn’t fail, did you?  Did you fail Kindergarten?  That’s what he’s saying.  Did you have to go back and repeat it?  “not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of the laying on of hands, of the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment” (verses 1-2).  Now what’s he talking about?  When you’re a new Christian, and he says in verse 3, “This we will do, if God permit.”  You know, we can all benefit, we can all grow, we can all be understanding, yet we don’t have to repeat Kindergarten, spiritually.  Paul’s saying, ‘you’re going to have to repeat Kindergarten.  I wish I didn’t have to lay the foundation again.’  Where was that foundation, what was he talking about?  He talked about a foundation that puts you inline for eternal life.  That’s what he’s talking about.  He talked about repentance from dead works, from those works that will lead you to death [cf. Galatians 5:19-21], also from trying to work to gain salvation, which was also a Hebrew custom, that it was how much you worked, how much did, how much action you did, not the grace of God [through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ].  So he’s saying, ‘You know, you had to repent of those dead works, the ceremonies you had to do, the rituals, the ritual cleansing and so on, you had to repent of that as well as the works that you do that will lead to death, in other words, sin.’  Secondly, he says ‘in faith toward God.’  Well why would you repent if you don’t know God, if you don’t believe in God?  So again, it’s important to believe in God.  In fact, it’s impossible to be saved unless you believe in God.  Thirdly, ‘of the doctrine of baptisms.’  We’ll talk about baptisms in a moment.  He talked about, some put it, of washings, again, the original washings helped you understand the meaning of baptism to some extent.  But of the doctrine of baptisms, there are four of them I’ll come back and talk about that.  ‘Of the laying on of hands,’ what follows baptism.  Barclay’s book that I have on The Letter to the Hebrews, by William Barclay, he talks about in times past, of course what follows on the heals of baptism was laying on of hands, for the receiving of the Holy Spirit.  Because God says, “Repent, be baptized, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  Jesus Christ said, ‘Believe and be baptized.’  So you have all four of those components in Hebrews here.  So laying on of hands for the giving of the Holy Spirit, for the passing on of blessings, for the passing on of cursings too.  And then you have ‘resurrection of the dead.’  What is one of the pictures in baptism?  Coming up out of the water, coming up out of the water, to picture the hope of eternal life, that God is going to change your bodies and make them eternal.  And then finally ‘of eternal judgment.’  Everybody will have to stand before the judgment seat of Jesus Christ, and be judged.  So, you have all that information wrapped up in the first three verses, Hebrews chapter 6, verses 1 to 3.  Let’s take a look at that a little more carefully.  We’ll talk about repentance from dead works, as we look at some of these fundamental doctrines, and he said ‘you should be able to move away from here.’  Now let me ask you a question.  When I was in Kindergarten, Grade 1, I didn’t go to Kindergarten, when I went to Grade 1, I learned the alphabet.  Now do I forget the alphabet today?  ‘Oh, I don’t know what that letter means, because I’m beyond that, I don’t need to know the alphabet.’  Do I need to forget how to add or subtract, ‘because that’s very rudimentary math, just forget about that, because we’re beyond that.’  No, I still remember them.  But I don’t spend all my time studying, you know, how to write cursive, how to write in capital letters, I don’t practice that.  But that was basic for me.  What he’s saying is, ‘You shouldn’t have to go back to one of these basics, you should have those down pat in your life.’  So he says, “let us go on to perfection;” and that word “perfection” has to do with moving on in degrees, degrees of perfection, maturity.  If you go bowling, if you bowl a strike, you bowl a strike in the first frame, you’re perfect, so far.  And you might even get three in a row and get a turkey, right, three in a row.  And they would call that perfect, so far.  First time you throw one in the gutter, or leave a pin up, you get a spare, you’re no longer perfect.  Life is about that.  Of course, this is more than just perfection, it has to do with maturity, becoming more mature in your mind, in spirituality, and in life, how you see life in a mature fashion.  So he goes on to say then, “not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works,” Romans 6:23 says the wages of sin is death.  Those sins that lead to death are dead works, the works that lead to death.  They can be those meaningless rituals which have nothing to do with character, or they can be the evil works which lead to death [cf. Galatians 5:19-21].  Either one, I found in my study, that basically they would go either way, could be either one or be both [as applied to verse 1 of Hebrews 6].  So he says ‘You shouldn’t have to lay that again, you shouldn’t have to remind people of what it means to repent, shouldn’t have to remind them of what they did at baptism, shouldn’t have to remind them about what it means to say you’re sorry to God when you slip and stumble and fall and break his commandments, you shouldn’t have to remind people of that.’  Secondly he talks about faith, “of faith toward God,”  Where’s faith, what do you have faith in, you don’t have faith in people, you have faith in God, trust no man, that is, for your salvation.  We have faith toward God, in God.  Hebrews 11:6 tells us it’s impossible to please God without faith, Hebrews 11:6, “Without faith it’s impossible to please him, for he that comes to God must believe that is, that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.”  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/ProofOfTheBible-FulfilledProphecy.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/dinosaurs/dinosaurs.htm for proof that God exists.  You can’t have faith in God if you don’t believe he exists and the Word of God is his written word.  Your faith can’t be a blind faith, it has to be real.  But that’s fundamental, Kindergarten stuff for all but new-believers.]  That’s what Hebrews 11:6 says.  And of course Ephesians 2:8 says, “By grace are ye saved, through faith…”  Whose it faith toward?  It’s saying, ‘God, I know you can give the grace that you promised to give.  I know, as I believe, repent and am baptized, I know you can grant me grace. When I slip and stumble and fall, I know I can come boldly to the throne of grace, to receive that, because I believe.’  Faith toward God is the second one.  You see, you shouldn’t have to remind people of that.  Baptisms, what does he mean by this?  Do you realize what baptism means to you and God?  I wonder sometimes, individuals, who were baptized, and have thrown in the towel, I wonder if they ever think back, of what they said at baptism, I wonder if they ever think back and remember what they were promising God when they were baptized and making that covenant between them and him?---a covenant that you will walk with him for the rest of your life, if he forgives you, and you will let nothing come between him and you, that will separate you, as the apostle Paul said.  There are four types of baptism mentioned in the Scriptures, maybe five.  Number one is water baptism.  After receiving God’s Holy Spirit, prior to baptism in the case of the Gentiles in Acts 10:47, it was said to them by Peter, “Can any man forbid water baptism?”, you need to be baptized, water baptism.  Scriptures in the Gospels talk about Jesus Christ coming up out of the water, talking about in the Book of Acts, about how they baptized [in this certain location] because there was much water there.  That’s one, water baptism.  Two, there’s Spirit baptism.  What’s it mean to be baptized by the Spirit?  Does it mean you speak in tongues?  Does it mean you fall over and have a vision?  What does it mean?  1st Corinthians 12:13, “By one Spirit we’re all baptized into one body.”  Baptism here carrying the connotation of immersion, God’s Spirit is what places people in the Body of Jesus Christ, wherever, however, whoever.  God’s Spirit in that person makes them a Christian, places them into the Body of Jesus Christ.  Third, there’s baptism with fire.  Oooh, a lot of people think that’s good, ‘I can’t wait to get baptized with fire!’  You don’t want the baptism of fire.  Do you want to be immersed in fire?  What happens to people when they’re immersed in fire?  You’ll see Paul carrying that theme through, later on in chapter 6, he says those who do not produce good fruits, they will be burned up, burned.  Not continually punished, burned.  What happens to humans when they are burned?  They die.  And so you don’t want that.  And in Luke 3:16 talks about baptism of the Spirit and fire.  The one is good, and the other is not good.  And finally you have John’s baptism.  In Acts 19:4, where the apostle Paul came upon this group of disciples who were anxious to hear him, and he said to them, ‘Well, have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed?’  And they said, ‘Well we haven’t even heard whether there be such a thing as the Holy Spirit.’  And he said, ‘Well, what baptism were you baptized with?’  They said, ‘John’s baptism.’  John’s baptism merely acknowledged that people were repentant.  John’s baptism was not baptism into Christ, it was baptism acknowledging the person’s repentance.  So they had to be re-baptized.  So I guess you could call that a fifth one, re-baptism.  But the four, certainly, endorsed in the Scripture.  And of course that’s baptism then, realizing the meaning of baptism.  The third one is the laying on of hands.  The laying on of hands was done to transfer blessings from one thing to another.  It was also done to transfer curses from one thing to another, or guilt, setting apart for particular notice.  Also for setting apart for an office or a position.  Let me read to you from Barclay page 55, he makes this comment.  Page 55, he said, “In the early Church” talking about the laying on of hands, “In the early Church, it always accompanied baptism, and was the way in which the Holy Spirit was conveyed to the person newly baptized.”  In the early Church, Acts 8:17, they laid hands on them, and they received God’s Holy Spirit.  [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm]  Then the doctrine of resurrections.  What is a person looking forward to?  Philippians 3:11, the apostle Paul said, ‘If I may just attain to the resurrection,’  That’s what he wanted, he said, ‘I press toward that mark.’  He wanted to have eternal life.  ‘If I could just be in the resurrection.’  But it wasn’t yet.  And we know according the 1st Corinthians 15, it will occur at the last Trump.  [See: http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm]  That trumpet will sound [the 7th Trumpet, cf. Revelation 11:15-18] and the dead will rise.  So it’s the doctrine of resurrections.  Very important, but that’s basic.  That’s what you say “I believe” before you’re baptized.  And finally judgment, judgment, eternal judgment.  Every one of us has to appear before Jesus Christ, somewhere, somehow, down the line.  Romans 14:10, maybe some of us right now.  Romans 14:10 says everyone is going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ.  [How will some of that judgment be brought about and take place?  See:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/E-Mails/June%2014/FallHolyDays-short.htm and http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm]  The other one, 1st Peter 4:17, tells us that judgment is now upon the house of God.  If you’re a Christian, you’re being scrutinized now.  Your judgment is taking place now, what you do, how you live, every day of your life.  So what Paul’s saying, and I believe Paul was the writer of Hebrews, there will be those who argue that, and say, ‘Well, some other writer, it wasn’t Paul.’  But I believe it was Paul who wrote this.  The apostle Paul is saying to them, ‘You need to progress, these are great topics, nothing wrong with these fundamentals.  But you need to progress beyond that,’ just like there’s nothing wrong with the ABC’s, there’s nothing wrong with the 1,2,3s, nothing wrong with addition and subtraction and multiplication and division, nothing wrong with learning your multiplication tables.  But that’s not what you should be majoring in now, you should be beyond that. 

 

The Unpardonable Sin

 

Verses 4-6, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world 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.”  Again, verses 4-6 we see the unpardonable sin.  They’ve seen the light, they understand what’s right and what’s wrong.  They’ve seen the light, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were partakers of the Holy Spirit.  Notice how many qualifiers there are to this.  These are people who have been converted, these are people who have the Holy Spirit of God, partakers means they have had a part with the Holy Spirit, and have tasted of the good Word of God, they understand God’s Word, they understand the promises in it, they understand the wonderful blessings of knowing it and living it, have tasted of the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come.  They may have been healed, they may have had special miracles take place in their lives.  They may have attended the Feast of Tabernacles, picturing the glorious wonderful World Tomorrow.  They may have had pictures painted for them from the Scriptures of what God has in store for them.  He said it is impossible, if they have all of these qualifiers, ‘if they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, put him to an open shame, a public disgrace.’  Think about it.  The person who accepts Jesus Christ, and said “I will walk with you the rest of my life,” accepts his sacrifice in their life, that person better keep on skating, better keep on dancing, keep on walking, keep on running, better keep on being a Christian.  2nd Peter 2, of a lot of Scriptures I could give you on this, of knowing the Truth, being baptized, having God’s Holy Spirit, knowing the Truth and turning away from the Truth.  Peter reminds the brethren of this, he says in 2nd Peter 2:20-22, “For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome,”---they’ve been lassoed, they’ve been roped in to going back, if they’ve become entangled and overcome---“the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.  For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.  But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.”  Whatever holy commandment he’s talking about, some think it’s all the commandments, some think it’s to keep the Sabbath day holy is a holy commandment, or maybe not following Jesus Christ, being willing to go against the Great Commandments, whatever it is, if they turn away from those, he said, if they turn from the holy commandment delivered to them, that it is happened to them according to the true proverb, “The dog is turned to his own vomit; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire”, just going back to doing what is natural, going back to their old ways again.  God says, ‘Don’t do it.’  The unpardonable sin is only unpardonable because when a person has gone so far, they won’t repent.  If a person could repent, God would forgive them.  It’s not that God’s sitting there saying, ‘I’m not forgiving you,’ it’s they don’t want to be forgiven.  They’ve crossed the line where they don’t care anymore.  I’ve seen some people, I hope I’m wrong, I’ve visited some people I think have crossed the line.  I hope not, because I’m not their ultimate judge.  If they’re saved, and I see them in the Kingdom, if I by God’s grace can be there too, I will be happy to see them.  But to see them give up, and say ‘It doesn’t matter anymore, nothing matters anymore, righteousness doesn’t matter anymore, all that matters is fulfilling whatever I want to do, doing my own thing,’  if you cross that line, you won’t want to go back.  I think of Luke 13 and verses 3 and 5 I believe it is, where he says ‘Except you repent, you all likewise shall perish.’   I think of, let’s see if I have it correctly here, I believe I do.  If you can repent, God will forgive you.  The same thing you can read in 1st John 1, verse 9-10, where he talks about if you confess he will forgive.  What happens to people who cross the line?  They don’t want to repent.  They can’t.  They have set themselves to going the way they once looked on as vomit.  They’ve set themselves in going the way that they looked upon once as dirt and filth, and they’ve gone back to it.  It’s interesting in this section, four impossible things mentioned in the Book of Hebrews, I’ll just give them to you quickly, 1) to renew a person to repentance, as we’ve just seen, verse 4, 2) it’s impossible for God to lie, number two, that’s chapter 6, verse 18, 3) another one, that animal blood will remit sins, it’s impossible that the blood of bulls and goats can forgive sin, 4) and number four, it’s impossible to please God without faith, that’s chapter 11, verse 6.  So, four impossible things mentioned in the Book of Hebrews. 

 

Blessings & Cursings

 

Let’s take a look at verses 7 and 8, we’ll be able to go through some of these a little more quickly, verses 7 and 8 he talks about blessings and cursings.  He says, verses 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:  but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”  So if people are doing good and producing, they’re receiving this rain, symbolic of God’s Holy Spirit, they’re receiving this, they’re growing, things are going good, they’re receiving a blessing from God.  Verse 8, “but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”  But those who are not producing, those who are producing briers and thorns, nothing that’s productive, nothing that’s beneficial to humans, they will be burned.  Interesting, they will be burned.  Think about the Scriptures that talk about burning up in Malachi chapter 4, verses 1-2, ‘The wicked will be ashes under your feet,’ they will be burned up. 

 

If We Endure, God’s Promises Are Sure

 

In Hebrews 6, verses 9 and 10, we see that works go hand in hand with faith, he says, “But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”  So, he talks about faith and works go hand in hand.  ‘Brethren, you do well, you’re working, you’re showing your faith by your works.’  And we know Scriptures on that, certainly in James 2:26 where he talks about faith without works is dead.  So he wants us to keep on producing fruit.  [Comment: Good works can be broken down into two categories.  James chapter 2 deals more with the good works of obedience to God’s Law.  But the other kind of good works is what Paul is making reference to here when he talks of “ministering to the saints”, i.e. to others, and this kind of good works, as other Scriptures show us, should be directed to both those within the household of God, and those without, those in the world who are less fortunate than us.  For more on this type of good works, see: http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm]  Verses 11-12, “And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:  that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”  So what is he saying?  Be diligent, follow the good examples that you see before you.  1st Corinthians 11:1, the apostle Paul said, ‘Follow me as I follow Christ.’  Look for those who set good examples of faith and patience, look for those who set good examples of Christian living.  He said emulate them, so that you might receive that promise of hope.  Verses 13-14, we see the promises to Abraham are sure, “For when God made promises to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.”  And usually when they swore an oath, they swore by something greater than themselves.  Usually, they sware by something greater.  There’s no greater one to sware by than God, and of course we’re not supposed to swear.  But God can, because he can bring to pass what he swears, when we can’t.  Verse 14, “saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.”  And you can see those promises back in the Book of Genesis, I’ll just give you the Scriptures, you can check them out, Genesis chapter 12, verse 7; chapter 17, verses 5 and 6; chapter 22, verses 16 to 18; you see the promises he made to Abraham, where he said, ‘I make this promise to you.’  So God had two things by which you can absolutely count that he is going to be absolutely faithful to you, one is a promise, the other is an oath.  So he said in verse 15, “And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise.”  That’s Abraham patiently enduring.  What promise did he obtain?  Isaac, Isaac, remember God said ‘Through your seed all these blessings are going to come.  I promise you’re going to have a child.’  He waited ten years, he had a child [when he and Sarah were well past child-bearing age, ages 90 and 100 respectively].  He said, verse 16, “For men verily swear by the greater:  and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife.”  So if the end of every disagreement, or whatever, there was an oath or a truce, it came with an oath, and again, by one greater than themselves.  So again, we must endure, verse 15, verses 16 and 17, God’s promises are sure, verse 17, “Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it with an oath:”  So Daniel 2:44 and 45 says, God’s plan for you and me is absolutely sure.  Remember when he showed the vision of the end time to Daniel?  And he said, ‘This stone that was cut out of the mountain that broke in pieces all these others, hit the big image on the toes, the ten toes were smashed,’ and he said ‘that these will now be broken in pieces, and he’ll consume them all’?  So that interpretation is certain.  [for more on that subject, log onto these files:  http://www.unityinchrist.com/Daniel/daniel.htm ; http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm  ; http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation13-17.html and http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm.  These promises of God are all sure, and when that Kingdom of God comes to this earth, it will be given over to the saints of the Most High God, as God promised to us in Daniel.  That’s us, folks!]  It’s sure, Daniel 2, verses 44 and 45. 

 

God Has Given Us An Anchor Of Hope

 

Verse 18, “that by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”  God does not lie, Titus 1:2, says “In hope of eternal life, which God, that cannot lie, promised before the world began…”  Two immutable things, what are the immutable things?  The promise, and the oath, the promise and the oath.  “we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:”  God is a God of hope.  Romans 15:13, “Now the God of hope fill you will all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.”  God is a God of hope that we can all have, and apparently an anchor, verses 19-20, “which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”  The word “anchor” in times past was a symbol of hope, a symbol of trust.  A ship had that anchor to keep it moored, to keep it’s foundation, to keep it from moving when it should not be moving.  The anchor was a symbol of hope [especially when you had to drop the anchor in a storm to keep from going up on the rocks, lives depended on anchors].  “both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;” so again, talking about going into the Holy of Holies.  Verse 20, “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”  The word “forerunner” can mean a pioneer, a scout, one who rushes on, one who goes before, and the Greek word is “prodromos,” the Greek word.  And it means “one who goes ahead, one who scouts, one who is a forerunner, one who rushes on.”  Who is that?  even Jesus, made a high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.”  Romans 8:29 calls him “the firstborn among many brethren.”  Romans 8 and verse 29.  And remember, there’s an order in the resurrection, he’s the first of the firstfruits, 1st Corinthians 15:20, who led the way.  He’s the Captain of our salvation, we’ve read that already in Hebrews chapter 2 and verse 10.  He’s the Captain of our salvation. 

 

In Conclusion

 

So Hebrews chapter 6, just to wrap it up, he talks about the need for individuals to move on, beyond the basic doctrines.  He talks about them not turning their backs on God, so much so that they’ll never want to come back.  And he talks about the promises and blessings they can have if they walk with him, because they [these promises of God] are absolutely certain and sure.  Now we come to Melchisedec, and we turn it over to Mr. Styver.  [transcript of a Bible study on Hebrews 6:1-20 given by Pastor Dale Antion, pastor in the Cincinnati congregation of the United Church of God.]

 

Four Scriptures That Add Weight To The United Church of God’s Interpretation

 

I’ll add four more sets of Scriptures which lend weight to this interpretation given by the United Church of God, that one can loose his salvation.  Like I said, this is not a settled issue both within the greater Body of Christ, nor in my own mind as well.  There’s food for thought within both interpretations, that is for sure. 

 

1st Corinthians 6:9-10, “Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God?  Be not deceived:  neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.”  Paul goes on to say ‘and such were some of you’, past tense, and then goes on to warn them about fornication, sleeping with harlots, and how this pollutes the spirit-link we all have with the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Christ.  Then Paul repeats this statement to the Galatians, in Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, and such like:  of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.”  Now by willfully doing such things, what do you suppose this does to us spiritually, essentially going back into the world, not continuing on the path of spiritual overcoming of sin?  Paul warns us in 1st Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.”  If the Holy Spirit dwelling within a believer can be quenched, which Paul distinctly warns us not to do, what condition would that bring a believer back into?  Romans 8:7-9, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God:  for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.  But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you.  Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”  Wouldn’t quenching the Spirit cause a person “to not have the Spirit of Christ,” so that they become again, “none of his”? 

 

Putting It All Together

 

These are all things to consider in viewing these two opposing interpretations for Hebrews 6:4-9.  To me, the real Biblical truth lies somewhere inbetween, encompassing all the Scriptures presented in both interpretations.  Sounds confusing, doesn’t it?  Well the Word of God goes far deeper than most realize.  This as Paul said is the meat of God’s Word, and the proper dividing of God’s Word requires more than a cursory putting together of Scriptures.  Jesus, once you’ve accepted him into your life and have the indwelling Holy Spirit, is not going to let go of you, it’s a promise from him, we’ve seen those passages.  But on the other hand, you can willfully let go of him, through neglect and stepping willfully back into a sinning lifestyle and remaining there too long---your mind becomes seared, and then you stop caring.  Being overcome by a sin, and having to struggle out of it, is not what this is talking about.  And sometimes our struggles to free ourselves from a sin takes years, even decades.  But if you’re struggling, Jesus will never give up on you.  It is a sign that the Holy Spirit is actively in you when you’re struggling.  Hope that helps a little bit.  Next we’ll go into Hebrews chapter 7.  

 

Related links:

 

1. Doctrines which are the milk of God’s Word, for new-believers.

 

Proof of God’s existence, of God’s Word:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/ProofOfTheBible-FulfilledProphecy.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/dinosaurs/dinosaurs.htm

What is Baptism? See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/baptism/What%20is%20Baptism.htm

What is Faith?  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/faith/whatis.htm

The Bible Resurrections.  See:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/corinthians/cor15-16.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/plaintruth/battle.htm

Judgment of the world, seen through prophecy:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/E-Mails/June%2014/FallHolyDays-short.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming.htm

 

2. A study on good works, which we receive the Promises for:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/wwcofg/wearesalt.htm

 

3. The Promises made to us, that we’ll inherit the Kingdom of God:

http://www.unityinchrist.com/Daniel/daniel.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/Pentecost-Revetion1.htm

http://www.unityinchrist.com/revelation/revelation13-17.html

http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm

 

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