Hope from Hebrews #11 - Warning & Encouragement
Text: Hebrews 6:4-12
Thesis: To emphasize the necessity of being diligent.
(1) After rebuking the original readers for failing to mature spiritually, the author proceeds to describe the possible fate for those who persist in not maturing.
(2) Let us listen to the author’s warning:
I. A Christian can fall away and be eternally lost.
A. Basically, there are 3 views regarding this passage’s discussion of apostasy:
1. First, some allege that this is merely a hypothetical situation.
- However, “if the sin cannot be committed, it is absurd to offer it as an argument against falling to it” (R. K. Hughes 1:156).
2. Second, some believe that this is only an apparent situation.
- N. Lightfoot well observes: “Why say impossible to renew again to those who have not been renewed in the first place?” (123).
3. Third, others accept that this is truly an actual situation.
- F. F. Bruce correctly states: “The warning of this passage was a real warning against a real danger” (123).
B. Why is this an actual situation?
1. First, the context clearly conveys such an idea.
a. ‘Enlightened’ – came to be synonymous with baptism
b. ‘Tasted’ – “implies experience of it” (D. Guthrie 141)
(1) ‘Heavenly gift’ – “the blessings of God surrounding salvation” (G. Guthrie 218)
(2) ‘Holy Spirit’ – cf. Acts 2:38; 5:32
(3) ‘Goodness of the word of God’
(4) ‘The powers of the coming age’
2. Second, the rest of the Scriptures confirm such an idea.
a. Cf. Gal. 5:4
b. Cf. 2 Pet. 2:20-22
C. What is the impossibility being discussed?
1. Note: ‘Impossible’ (Gr. adunatos) means “incapable of happening or being done” (BDAG) [Cf. Heb. 6:18 – impossible for God to lie; Heb. 10:4 – impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin; Heb. 11:6 – impossible to please God without faith].
2. Verse 6 clearly indicates that the impossibility is of renewing the fallen one back to repentance.
a. Does this mean that one who sins after becoming a Christian cannot be forgiven?
(1) No, because life after conversion would be more severe than before conversion.
(2) No, because 1 John 1:9 clearly teaches than God will forgive Christians.
b. “It is neither their forgiveness or salvation which is said to be impossible but their own decision, in their present condition to repent … in other words, we could read the text as saying, ‘so long as they are crucifying and subjecting,’ which would admit the ultimate possibility of restoration should such a person ever decide to stop these activities and repent” (Girdwood and Verkruyse 205).
(1) “Repentance has been (and is) ruled out because the fallen ones are rejecting Christ” (G. Guthrie 220).
(2) Cf. Sin against the Holy Spirit; sin unto death
II. However, a Christian can avoid falling away.
A. Make proper use of God’s blessings (vv. 7-8).
1. The author uses an illustration from agriculture to stress that “neglect of proper cultivation of the land leads to worthless results, in a similar way that refusal to adhere to the provisions of God’s grace leads to spiritual bankruptcy” (D. Guthrie 145).
2. Note: Verse 8 is in the present tense; thus, indicating “a continual yielding of thorns and thistles” (Reese 92).
B. Treat others as you would treat God (v. 10).
1. Verse 10 explains the confidence in verse 9.
2. Cf. Matt. 25
3. God is aware of all these good acts.
C. Be diligent in your Christian walk (vv. 11-12).
1. ‘Show … diligence’ = present tense; therefore, keep on showing
2. ‘Sluggish’ (Gr. nothroi) – Cf. Heb. 5:11; thus, “such dullness, if not checked, will develop into an inability to make any progress at all” (D. Guthrie 149).
3. Cf. 2 Pet. 1:10
(1) Apostasy is a fact for some.
(2) Don’t allow it to be a reality for you.