"TRIUMPHANT TO THE END"
(A Series in Hebrews)
Westgate Chapel 8/31/97a.m. Hebrews 6:4-12
PROPOSITION: In this passage the Holy Spirit is calling for believers to be responsible to living in truth, to receive the blessing of living in truth, to experience the confidence of living in truth, in order that they may be triumphant in the end.
- THE time has arrived, in our study of the book of Hebrews, that we face one of the most difficult and controversial passages in the book......and possibly even in the New Testament.
- THIS is a very serious passage........so I do not want to flinch away from it or gloss over it. That would be shirking my responsibility as your pastor.
- IT is also a very exciting passage......because as I studied it this Thursday, I discovered that in the heat of the controversy, the most important truth of the passage is overlooked.
- THIS is a passage about triumphant living....It is about living in truth.......About victory over sin.
- TURN with me to Hebrews 6:4-12. READ.
- LET me set the background again for you.
* This epistle was written to new Jewish believers who have been wrenched from their homes, their families, their heritage and culture and thrust into the pagan Roman empire.
* They are strangers in a foreign land......surrounded by loose living, loose morals, the party scene, high living, anti-Christ systems, and a lot of persecution.
* The first few chapters tell us that they were weak on doctrine.
* They were caught up in worshipping angels.
* They were bound by some of the traditions of their past......looking to Moses more than to Jesus.
* Chapter 2 tells us that the pagan lifestyle had started to harden their hearts.....and that they had begun to neglect the gift of salvation they had received.
* Chapters 4&5 lifts up the great High Priest they had, Jesus Christ, to help them make it in times of difficulty.
* Then, in the first verses of chapter 6, we learn that they were suffering from spiritual immaturity....that they needed to move on and grow in Christ.
- AND, at this point in the epistle, the writer confronts a very real danger, faced by his readers, that he can no longer avoid.
- THE sliding conditions, that he sees taking place in these Hebrew believers, could lead to very serious consequences.
- SO he stops, here in chapter 6, to warn them.
- THE warning is very real. It is that if they continued in doctrinal error, if they continued in neglect of the gift of their salvation, if they continued in hardening their hearts in sin, if they continued in unrepentant backsliding.........there was a point at which they could become so hardened that they would be cut off from God.....and that without remedy.
- THERE is not a more serious warning in all of scripture.
- I REALIZE that there are good Christian people, good biblical scholars, who would disagree with me.......and say that once you are saved, you are saved, and no matter what you do you cannot lose that salvation.
- BUT they do not have to stand before God for what was preached to Westgate Chapel..........I do.
- AND no amount of biblical gymnastics can explain away the solemn warning of this and many other passages like it.
- SO, popular or not, I am here to teach you truth this morning. Let's allow the passage and its context to speak for itself.
ii. the responsibility of living in truth
- THE first thing that this passage teaches is the tremendous responsibility of living in truth.
- MOST of you here this morning, have been taught truth.
* You have seen it lived out in your parents, or grandparents.
* You have heard it taught in SS classes for years.....and preached from many a pulpit.
* You have heard on Christian radio or TV.
* You have read it and studied it in God's Word.
- YOU are surrounded by truth.
- WE have more truth available to us here in America, than just about any place in the world.
- BUT there is a responsibility that goes along with the privilege.
- THERE are a lot of things that you run into in this life that you can take or leave..........that will have an affect on your life, but will not change eternity for you.
* Selection of a spouse.
* Where you live.
* The career you chose.
- ALL very important.......but none change eternity.
- ON the other hand, what you do with truth.......what you do with the gospel of Jesus Christ.......will be the only determining factor in your eternity.
- YOU and I have a tremendous responsibility for what we do with living truth.
- VERSES 4-6 say,
"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit,who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 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."
- LOOK at the qualities of these people being described.
* They have been enlightened. Being enlightened means to receive the knowledge of the truth.
* They have tasted the heavenly gift. What does taste mean? Well, in this same book, chapter 2:9, we are told that Jesus "tasted death" for us. Jesus tasted death not in the sense of sampling it, but consuming it for us. These are people who have received the gift of salvation.
* They were partakers of the Holy Spirit.
* They tasted the "good Word". (KJV) Again, here is that word, "tasted". It means received in full the good Word....the Gospel.
* They have experienced the powers of the coming age. When Jesus performed miracles, cast out demons, healed the sick, and forgave sins, He announced, "The kingdom of God is among you." (Mark 1:4)
- NOW, what the writer of Hebrews is clearly saying here, is that if people like this become hardened, unrepentant, reject God, and fall away........crucify the Son of God.......subject Him to public disgrace........it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance.
- NOW if that is not a serious warning, then I don't know what is.
- AND there is no "Yes, but....." as far as I can see.
- AND that is why we have such a tremendous responsibility to truth.
- NOW for the sake of those of you who are very sensitive to your position in Christ, and you easily are made to feel insecure in your salvation, let me take some time to explain "falling away".
- THIS passage is not talking about sin, as it manifests itself in the life of the believer......BUT TO A PARTICULAR ATTITUDE INVOLVING THE TURNING AWAY FROM GRACE, SO SERIOUS, THAT IT PERMANENTLY CUTS THE PERSON OFF FROM GOD.
- DAVID'S sin of adultery, coupled with the murder of Uriah, did not betray this attitude of apostacy.....because when he was confronted with his sin, he broke in genuine repentance.
- HAD David resisted the prophets words, and repeatedly turned away from the call of the Spirit, he might have ended up like he predecessor, Saul, from whom the Spirit forever withdrew.
- WHAT Hebrews is talking about here is a life that once professed Christ, but now blasphemes Him and denies the Gospel.
- THE apostle John, in I John 5:16, says that there is sin that does not lead to death......but then there is sin that leads to death and you might as well not even pray for the individual when they get there.
* It is a hardened hostility to truth......that comes from repeatedly hearing but ignoring the call of the Spirit through the Word.
* It is a repeated resistance to repentance and the voice of God.
* It is turning your back on the grace that saved you.
* It is sin committed, not in ignorance, but repeatedly in the full face of the truth.
- THE writer of Hebrws had seen the danger signs of the slide......and writes this stern warning.
- BUT lets move on.
iii. the blessing of living in truth
- LET'S read verses 7&8.
" 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. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned."
- WE are reminded here that God's rain falls on us all...........and, like a farmers field, the purpose is so that our lived would produce a crop.......useful to feed the needy God sends our way.
- THE truth that we receive so bountifully here in America, is intended to make us fruitful.
- AND the fruitfulness of the life of the believer, brings God's blessing in a never ending cycle of His glory in us.
- HE sends the rain of His truth and presence.......that produces crops as we surrender to Him.......and when He sees fruitfulness in us....He sends more blessing.
- AND that is the economy of the kingdom. (Tell about vision of stock exchange at First Assembly, CR.)
- BUT again, in this passage there is a serious warning.
- IF the rain and sunshine do not produce fruitfulness, but thorns and thistles, it is in danger of being cursed and burned in the end.(He is looking towards eternity.)
- THE truth is given to make us productive......and all through Jesus life and teaching we hear of unproductive fields or vineyards being pruned and cultivated....but eventually being cut off and burned.
iv. the triumph of living in truth
- BUT now we get to the real heart of the Holy Spirit in this passage, in verses 9-12.
"Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. "
- THE concern of the writer is that his hearers live in truth, triumphantly......to the end.
- HE commends them for “things that accompany salvation.”
- HE commends them for their “work and love shown to the Lord.”
- HE commends them for their love for God translated into help and continued help shown to others.”
- HE commends them for their “diligence to the very end..........which makes your hope sure.
- HE challanges them to imitate those who through “faith and patience........inherit what has been promised.”
- GOD'S plan is that you be triumphant.
- THAT'S why HE called you.
- THAT'S why HE saved you.
- THAT'S why He gave you His Holy Spirit and power.
- THAT'S why He has given you His Truth.
- IF you are sliding....it is time to arrest the downward spiral.
- IF you are cold and resistant to Jesus....it is time to ask Him to soften your heart.
- IF you are unrepentant for sin....it is time to repent.
- I BELIEVE that it is the very rare case that someone loses their salvation......but one is too many.
- SO I must echo the warning of the Spirit here in HEBREWS....and call you back to Him, back to maturity, back to fire, back to His presence.
CREATE IN ME A CLEAN HEART