Hebrews 6:1-8, Shuva Israel July 2024

Hebrews 6:1-8, Shuva Israel July 2024

Listen what different Bible scholars have to say about this passage of Scripture.  Ray Stedman…”The knottiest problem passage in Hebrews, if not the whole Bible; a passage which has been a battleground…for ages”

“The difficulty of interpretation…cannot be exaggerated” (Hewett)

“The number and variety of explanations…are bewildering” Vincent

“This is known to be one of the most difficult chapters all of Scripture.  It has suffered in interpretation more at the hands of its “friends” than at the hands of its “enemies”. Ainslie

The fact of the matter is that excellent, careful, accurate, and highly competent Bible teachers stand at opposite ends of interpretation regarding this portion of Scripture. 

One camp believes it teaches you can lose your salvation and others that it speaks of the consequences of not bearing fruit in our lives.  

But let’s bear in mind the context; this letter was written to Jewish Believers who were wavering in their faith, because of persecution from Roman governs and pressure from their own families and friends because of their faith in Yeshua.

They were scorned by the Sadducees who ran the Temple and the Rabbinical leaders in their community synagogues who intimidated them with Excommunication from the Temple services in Jerusalem.

In this passage v 1 the writer is challenging God’s children to grow beyond the basics of their faith by “Leaving the elementary teachings about the Messiah”.  He then goes on to list three categories of what he says are the basics of the New covenant.

  1. Conversion this is what is being referred to; “Repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God.” What’s most important about this basic truth is that when we repent, we need to leave one way of walking and turn to another. 

Learning to abide in Yeshua and walking in His Spirit and Word.

  • Ordinances; This is what is being referred to as the “Instructions of washings, and the laying on of hands”. 

The washings referred to the importance of Mikvah or Baptism in serving as priests to the Jew first and also to the Gentile.

The laying of hands relates to the procedure of the Cohanim or priests instructing repentant sinners in the laying of hands on a sacrifice in the Temple for Atonement.  

It speaks of these Jewish Believers in their role of instructing others concerning the substitutionary death of God’s Lamb. The exchange of life through the shedding of blood. The Lambs life in exchange for the sinners.

  • Prophecy “The resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” Theologians call this eschatology, the study of Things to come. as important as all these things are, they are considered elementary.

The church today is sadly being described here.  As mature believers we should be knowledgeable of these basic truths.

As Messianic Believers we need to have as a major goal our growing in maturity knowledge and faith. If we do not then a major problem we face is, falling away. Any businessman will tell you that if you are not growing your business will slowly die.

The writer in Hebrews 5, explained that if we are going to mature as Believers, we must be involved in making disciples; a basic truth and command from our God and king. 

V. 3 is a transition. “And this we shall do if God permits”. “This refers to v. 1 in the call of “pressing on to maturity.”

The “if God permits” means maybe He won’t.  What is suggested here is that there are times when God doesn’t permit maturity.  V.3 is a transition to the things that can prevent God’s allowing us to mature, and it has to do with Falling away.

V 4-6 describes the Danger of falling away 

Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, {5} who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, {6} if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

There are Two major positions of interpretation.

  1. Believers who lose their salvation. This view suggests that believers repeatedly enter into and then lose their salvation.

That a person’s standing in eternal life depends on what they’re doing with God’s truth at any given moment.  The problem with this position is that in V. 6 we’re told that it’s impossible to bring them back again to repentance.

So, if v 6 is true – if you lose your salvation and atonement because you are not doing the right thing at any given moment you can never be brought back to a position of righteousness and eternal life.  

You are lost forever. If that were true then none of us will be in heaven, not one.

The 2nd position that avoids that problem holds:

  • That This refers to unsaved people. Enlightened Yes, but not burning through with the truth.

These are People who have tasted the Heavenly Gift but have not received it for themselves through repentance and the baptism of the Spirit of God.

The word gift here refers to a “free gift” in the original language.  It is a reference to the Freedom that comes from faith in the Messiah.  

Deliverance from bondage and slavery to sin – to the freedom and joy that comes through serving God. Read Gal. 5:13-18

Galatians 5:13-18   You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. {14} The entire law is summed up in a single command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” {15} If you keep on biting and devouring each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other. {16} So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. {17} For the sinful nature desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the sinful nature. They are in conflict with each other, so that you do not do what you want. {18} But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under law. 

Those who believe that Heb 6: is a reference to the unsaved suggest that these are people who have tasted or shared these truths but have never come to possess it.

That these people were never baptized in the Holy Spirit.

But the Greek word translated “partaken” or “shared” is used 4 different times in the book of Hebrews and clearly refers to genuine believers.

The argument is that these people have Tasted/shared the Good Word but the Good word is not alive in their lives. The trouble with those who hold this position and teach that these words refer to unbelievers, ignore that all these terms are utilized to describe blessings for believers not unbelievers.

Again, the context of Hebrews is important to keep in mind.  All along the writer has been addressing believers primarily Jewish Believer, hence the books name Hebrews; these believers who are truly born again and possessors of eternal life.

Unbelievers are never urged to press on to maturity, never described as having been enlightened, having tasted of the heavenly gift, or having partaken of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Because they are dead in trespasses and sins. 

This passage doesn’t speak about salvation, but about true repentance by believers.  To illustrate this truth, Paul uses an analogy likening repentance in v. 6 and vegetation in v. 7.

Hebrews 6:6-7   if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. {7} Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 

This passage of Scripture is not referring to corrupt or dead vegetation but plants that are fruitless!

When a believer falls away beyond a certain point, he’s no longer able to be brought to repentance.  Just as land that does not produce fruit is useless for growing. Think of the dustbowl days in America’s past.

A believer may go far enough away from God that he can come to the place where God will not permit repentance, and his life becomes fruitless – not producing fruit in keeping with their repentance.

In v. 8 there are 3 references to dead vegetation, not to a person’s life.

Hebrews 6:8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned

The fallen away persons eternal life is not burned up, but the fruit that should have come from his life is burned.  This is reference to the judgment seat of the Messiah. Here are three examples in Scripture:

The parable of the soils from Luke 8:14-15 The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature. {15} But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop. 

John 15:5-6   “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. {6} If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 

1 Corinthians 3:10-15   By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. {11} For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus the Messiah. {12} If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, {13} his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. {14} If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. {15} If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames. 

1 Cor 11:27-32 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. But a man must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For he who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not judge the body rightly. For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number sleep. But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged, we are disciplined by the Lord so that we will not be condemned along with the world.

Heb. 6:8 is an overview of a believer who has fallen away and the results of a life lived in continued rebellion to God and His Word. but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.

The only we can bear fruit is by abiding in our Messiah. Believers, more than any other group of people, should make every effort to win the crown that is set before us. To bear the fruit God has created us for. 

Eph 2:8-10 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

If we walk in God’s Spirit we will bear fruit. Where do you stand?  We need to regularly ask ourselves these questions:

Am I flirting with the danger of drifting? Have I begun to drift dangerously to a point of no return? What do I need to do to keep myself near and abiding in Jesus?

Are there more thorns than fruit being produced in me? Am I willing right now to the heed the warning? If we judge ourselves, we can avoid the judgment that is going to come in the future.

This passage, in my opinion, has to do with a fruitful life for a believer not the loss of salvation. That There are consequences for not growing in the Lord and bearing fruit It is a call to return and abide in the Lord and His Word. 

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