Lesson 16


The Epistle to the Hebrews

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

6:1 Therefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on to perfection -- not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, of faith toward God, 6:2 of the teaching of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 6:3 This will we do, if God permits. 6:4 For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 6:5 and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, 6:6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance; seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame. 6:7 For the land which has drunk the rain that comes often on it, and brings forth a crop suitable for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receives blessing from God; 6:8 but if it bears thorns and thistles, it is rejected and near being cursed, whose end is to be burned.


Today's Lesson  

Jesus is the Great High Priest of God's people and He had been appointed as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek. The author intends to remind them who Melchizedek was and how he was similar to Jesus, but before he goes on the author admonished these Christians. They had not moved on to maturity. By this time they should have been teachers. Instead, they were still immature, only babes.

 

We might think then that he might continue to feed them the milk of the immature. But this author and this epistle are not for the faint of heart. He tells them that they are immature and need to grow up spiritually. They had been drinking the milk of spiritual babies and needed to move forward to the solid food of adults. So he tells them he will leave behind the "first principles of Christ." He will move on to more significant matters because these people need to be pressed ahead.

 

He gives them a list of all the "first principles" that he wants to pass over and leave behind. There is no reason to cover again the need for repentance from dead works or the fact that one must have faith in God. Likewise he does not feel compelled to cover the ground of baptism, the laying on of hands, the resurrection and eternal judgment. These matters should have been well established in their hearts.

 

He wants them to move forward because there is a fear. He fears that some of them might fall away from their faith and return to Judaism. He tells them that if someone falls away after "tasting the good word of God" that it is impossible to renew them to repentance. He compares a person such as this to land that is tilled and blessed and yields nothing but thorns and thistles. Such land would eventually be rejected and burned.

 

Today's passage is perhaps the most controversial passage of the epistle. This text has become a battleground between those who believe in the security of the believer (what some would call "Once saved, always saved") and those that believe that a Christian can loose their salvation through apostasy. No one would deny that this passage is significant and that the author's intent is to startle and challenge his readers. Both camps of this theological argument have attempted to explain their beliefs in light of this passage. No doubt there will be more than one person who will come to this lesson wanting to know on which side of this issue we will fall.

 

Like most disagreements that humans find themselves involved in, the problem comes when we look at theological problems from the wrong perspective. The reason that people argue about the security of the believer and whether a Christian can loose their salvation is because God never does come out and answer the question we argue about. There are many passages that imply one answer or another, but no passage that in and of itself definitively answers the question.

 

What God stresses throughout Scripture is that those that will be saved are in Christ. All that are in Christ will be saved. All that endure in faith until the end will be saved. There is no discrepancy between these groups. All who are in Christ will endure in faith until the end. Will some that thought that they were saved be lost? Certainly. Jesus repeatedly taught that many would call upon His name and they would be told to depart because He never knew them.

 

Do believers need to worry about falling away? Such concerns are misguided. Our only concern should be the quality of our relationship with Christ. We must set our thoughts and our hearts on Christ and what He is doing in our lives. Anytime we are concerned with ourselves and what we are doing, we are taking our eyes off of Christ. We must cling to Christ as though our lives and our future depended on it. It does.

Are you still preoccupied with what you do or with what Christ is doing in you? And if Christ is in you, donít you believe that He will be with you until the very end?

 

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