Soteriology 041Hebrews 6:4-6 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 11, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 41, Hebrews 6:4-6
December 11, 2016
Let’s take our Bibles and open them to Hebrews 6:4-6. I went to the pre-trib conference this week so we did order some videos for the church; they should be accessible probably in a month I guess, something like that, but there’s a lot of good things that were spoken of. My favorite speaker was David Farnell of Master’s Seminary who did an exposé of all of the compromises on inerrancy. Inerrancy, of course, is the belief that the Bible doesn’t have any errors in it. Right… inerrancy. So he did an exposé of all of the compromises on the doctrine of inerrancy within our own circles. So most people don’t know this but our seminaries are basically started to get away from liberalism and lo and behold a few generations have passed and the very things we broke away from start to percolate in our own schools. So I really appreciated what he had to say.
And Paul Wilkinson and Thomas Ice did a response to a four hour video that was unleashed on the internet, and in this day and age if people see something on the internet they believe it’s true. So it was a hit piece on the pre-trib rapture and they try to say… and first of all, it’s not really good marketing to make a video over four hours, so I’m glad these guys aren’t marketers, but it’s basically trying to link the pre-trib rapture back to John Nelson Darby and then they say all these terrible things about John Nelson Darby and they try to develop this link that the pre-trib rapture is really a demonic doctrine. So they take a lot of historical license when they do this and so for two hours Thomas Ice and Paul Wilkinson just did a point by point rebuttal, and they are going to put that up on their website, the pre-trib website, so that’s available. And you have to do that this day and age because if a critique goes unchallenged people will believe it’s true.
So there’s people out there that it’s almost like their whole life revolves around debunking the pre-trib rapture. And the guys that put this together, Joe Schimmel, he’s a pre-wrath rapturist, he believes the church will be here for most of the tribulation period. Interestingly his church is called Blessed Hope Chapel; I don’t know how he named it that, I would call it Coming Wrath Chapel or something. So Joe Schimmel, another guy named Jacob Prasch, if you get on the internet you’ll see this thing floating around. And so I was happy that we had some people with historical credentials… you know, Paul Wilkinson did his doctoral dissertation at Manchester, I believe, on the subject of John Nelson Darby. So I’m always happy when we’ve got some good scholars doing a refutation or rebuttal. So that will be available on their website.
So those are two things that really stand out in my mind, the David Farnell talk, which I’ll make available to you and then the refutation to the Joe Schimmel video. There were a lot of other really good papers as well. So I’ve philibustered as long as I can do it I guess.
Let’s open our Bibles to Hebrews 6:4-6 and we don’t have a handout today because I was gone this week but I’ll have all of this stuff available for you next week as a handout. As you know we’re doing this study on eternal security and we’re trying to argue that once you’re saved you’re permanently saved, end of story; the grace of God that saved you is the grace of God that keeps you. And we’re kind of moving through problem passages that seem to deny that doctrine and I’m trying to give you a response to each passage. And what we come to today and probably next week as well… and by the way, did you all know that on Christmas morning we’re not meeting. We’re having our regular church service at 10:00 a.m. so there won’t be any Sunday School on Christmas morning. We do the regular thing, we just start at 10:00 instead of 11:00 with no Sunday School, except for the kids, I think we’re doing Jr. church for the kids. Just a word to the wise.
But we come to this passage which is probably the most debated passage in the book of Hebrews and I would say this: this is probably the most debated passage in the whole Bible. And anybody that wrestles with eternal security eventually hits this one in Hebrews 6:4-6. So notice what it says. It says, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,  and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,” so it kind of looks they’re saved, doesn’t it?  “and then have fallen away,” oh my gosh, what does that mean, “fallen away”? Then it says, “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
There are four major views on this passage and I’m not going to give you all of the major views first; I’m going to give you what I think is the correct view, which is number 4. This is speaking of not a loss of salvation but a loss of blessings. And it’s going to take me a couple of sessions to develop the loss of blessing view and once we’re rooted and grounded in what I think is the right way to understand Hebrews 6 (and the whole book of Hebrews for that matter) I’m going to cycle back around and give you the other views that people espouse and why they’re, I believe, inaccurate in comparison to what I think is the correct view.
What is the key to the book of Hebrews? The key to the book of Hebrews is not Hebrews 6 but it’s Hebrews 3. If you understand Hebrews 3:7-11 and you understand the historical circumstance that the author, we don’t know who wrote this book, is dialing back to suddenly the book of Hebrews will make sense to you. And we’re kind of living in this age of time where people are trying to interpret the New Testament without the light of the Old Testament. In fact, Jim McGowan and myself, we do a live feed on Fridays typically and the last one we did, which you can find on our Facebook page if you’re interested, the last one we did is a response to a very well-known pastor who is telling other pastors not to teach the Old Testament. He’s saying what’s in the New Testament is the message of God and everything the New Testament wants you to know about the Old Testament is repeated in the New Testament. So he just shrunk the canon from 66 books to 27 books. And the only word I have for that is tragedy, tragedy, because there are passages in the New Testament which will remain an inexplicable mystery to you your whole life if you don’t analyze those passages through the light of the Old Testament.
So Hebrews 3:7-11 is taking us back into the Old Testament. And to be honest with you, for years and years I did not understand the book of Hebrews because I’d heard one view on the book of Hebrews; I had drilled into my head the Reformed view or the Calvinistic view, and that’s the only view that I really knew. And God did a God-thing (as only God can do) in my life; I was sitting in a classroom and the professor, this is during my doctoral studies at Dallas Seminary, the professor was Dr. Ronald Allen, and he was doing an analysis of the Kadesh-barnea generation and he was making some points out of Exodus 14:30-31, which I’ll show you today. And at the same time, that was in the morning, at the same time I was taking an afternoon class with Dr. Pentecost and I needed two units to graduate, and I asked him if I could take his class. And it was not a doctoral class, it was a master’s class. He said yeah, you can take it but you have to write a bigger paper. So I took it and I was sitting there listening to him speak and he began to say… and I said what do you want me to write my paper on, he said I want you to write your paper on why the Kadesh-barnea incident unpacks the meaning of Hebrews, or unfolds it. And when he said that I had no idea what he was talking about; I just, like a good student, said okay, no problem, pretending like I understood. But I really didn’t understand.
And so I was sitting there listening to his lecture and he started to explain how the Kadesh-barnea incident explains the book of Hebrews. So I had Dr. Allen explaining the Kadesh-barnea incident and some related incidents in the morning and I had Dr. Pentecost explaining how Kadesh-barnea (which I’ll share with you what that means in just a second) explains Hebrews. And it was a class I wasn’t supposed to take and it was one of those things that God did in my life that was a paradigm shift. I believe it was God that was guiding these two people and they weren’t even talking to each other but they were both, I believe, under the Spirit’s guidance teaching on things I needed to understand and God sovereignly, (as God is my witness, had me in those two classes, which I didn’t even plan on being in, I just wanted to graduate and get out of there, quite frankly) to alter the way I thought. It was a God moment!. It was a paradigm shift moment! And as I look back on it the only way I can explain it is God set the whole thing up. And so as I sat under that that shifted me, that semester, more than any other thing in my life I could think of, shifted met away from a Reformed view, not just on Hebrews but really the whole Bible.
So you’ll notice that when I teach I’m not Arminian or I’m not Calvinist, I’m somewhere in the middle because I don’t think Calvinism answers the question; I don’t really think Arminianism answers the questions. I think this loss of rewards view, which I teach over and over again in this class and I’m sure it comes out in the sermons, which I think the loss of rewards view really explains the Bible better than anything else. And as God is my witness, had God not orchestrated my steps… you know, the Bible says even the steps of the godly are ordained by God, right? So if you’re open to what God wants He’ll guide your life in a way where He can show you things that you never thought you could learn, and you probably couldn’t learn any other way. And if God had not orchestrated that I would be here today, standing in this pulpit, expounding Reformed theology; that’s all I knew.
So the paradigm shift that I went through I actually wrote into a paper, which Dr. Pentecost made me write, and it got published in the year 2006 (I think it is) in the Chafer Theological Seminary Journal which you can find that paper online if you’re interested. It’s called The Kadesh-Barnea Incident as the Paradigm for understanding Hebrews 6. So here we go!
I don’t think Hebrews 6 is talking about a loss of salvation, Arminianism. And I don’t think it’s talking about people that never had salvation, Calvinism. I think it’s talking about people that are on the precipice of losing something from God that’s temporal; in other words, it’s not a heaven or hell issue.
So we’ve read Hebrews 6, now notice Hebrews 3:7-11. You’ll notice that this is a quotation and this is what it says: “Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, ‘TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,  DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS,  WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS.  THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’;  AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’”
So the author of Hebrews, at the very beginning of the book, quotes Psalm 95, that’s a citation from Psalm 95. [Psalm 95:6, Come, let us worship and bow down, Let us kneel before the LORD our Maker.  For He is our God, And we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice,  Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah, As in the day of Massah in the wilderness,  When your fathers tested Me, They tried Me, though they had seen My work.  For forty years I loathed that generation, And said they are a people who err in their heart, And they do not know My ways.  Therefore I swore in My anger, Truly they shall not enter into My rest.”]
Psalm 95 says I was angry with that generation or this generation. Now what generation is he talking about? Psalm 95 in turn is going back to the book of Numbers, chapters 13 and 14. Numbers, chapters 13 and 14 is a pivotal time in Israel’s history. If you look at the map I have on the screen the nation had come out of Egypt, probably close to two and a half million if we take the numbers in the book of Numbers literally… people are debating that today, are the numbers in the book of Numbers really literal? Why call the book the Book of Numbers; numbers means numbers, right? Amen! You guys with me on that? Do you agree with that thinking? Okay.
So they were coming out of Egypt, two and a half million people, and they went to Sinai, they received the Law of God. Now according to Deuteronomy 1:2 they only have to travel eleven days; think about that. [Deuteronomy 1:2, “It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir to Kadesh-barnea.”] They’ve been in bondage for 400 years, you just have to trust God for eleven days and you’re in the Promised Land. And that’s the distance from Sinai, sometimes called Horeb, up to Canaan, and the place of geography there is the southern border of the land of Canaan or Israel, where they’re headed, a place called Kadesh-barnea.
And you know the story, it’s all recorded in Numbers 13 and 14; they got to the border of Canaan, they got to Kadesh-barnea, they looked into the land and what did they see in the land? Giants, and they went into fear. And God, who had been so faithful with the ten plagues (which brought them out of Egypt), the parting of the Red Sea, the sustaining them with miraculous provisions, like manna and water, the revelation of the Mosaic Law, I mean God had done everything He could do to get these people to trust Him. And all they’ve got to do is to trust Him for eleven days; that’s it, you’re in.
And they got to the border of Canaan, they looked in, they saw the giants in the land and they went into fear. It says in the book of Numbers, chapter 13, they became like grasshoppers in their own eyes; they quit trusting God. [Numbers 13:33, “There also we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak are part of the Nephilim); and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”] And so God said you’re done, I’m finished with this generation. And He shut the door and He told them you cannot enter Canaan, and all you guys are just going to wander around out here in the wilderness for forty years, until you’re dead. And I’m going to start working with your children because they’re going to believe Me.
So God cut off a whole generation of Israelites. And He worked through the children and two people from the first generation that trusted God, Joshua and Caleb, and they entered the land with the forty year olds, Joshua and Caleb did when they were eighty, because they trusted God, they kept believing God. So God allowed only two people from that prior generation to enter; the rest of them were shut off. This is why the author of Hebrews is quoting Psalm 95; he’s using the Kadesh-Barnea incident as a paradigm for what these New Testament believers in the book of Hebrews are about to do. And that is the key to understanding Hebrews. If you don’t understand what I just said you will spend your whole life scratching your head as to what is going on here in the book of Hebrews.
And this is why New Testament scholars who specialize in the New Testament, I mean, they can parse all of these Greek words and do all this stuff, and they’re totally focused on the New Testament and they’re trying to analyze this from the point of view of the New Testament. And beloved, this is just a situation where you cannot… I don’t care how much Greek you know, most of these people have forgotten more Greek than I’ll ever know, but little old me understands this and they don’t. Why is that? Because I’m paying attention to the road map; the road map is if you want to understand these warning passages you have to go back to the Kadesh-barnea incident.
So this chart here is something that I created that maybe will help you understand the parallel that the writer of Hebrews is using to explain something to the audience of the book of Hebrews. ———————————————————————————————————————- Kadesh-Barnea Hebrews Source of fear: Giants Unbelieving Jews
Disobedience: Occupy Canaan Do not lapse back into Judaism
Consequence: Loss of Canaan Loss of maturity; divine discipline
First of all, in both generations, the Kadesh-Barnea generation and the Hebrews generation in the New Testament there’s a source of fear. For the Kadesh-Barnea crowd it was the giants; that’s what caused them to fear. For the New Testament Hebrews generation the source of fear was the unbelieving Jews. Hebrews, does that sound kind of Jewish to you? It’s a Jewish book. Who are the Hebrews? The Hebrews are Jews, Hebrews that got saved. Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and 3,000 people got saved. Every single believer in Acts 2 is Jewish. In fact, the whole early church is Jewish; in fact, you don’t even have a Gentile convert into Christendom, the age of the church, until Cornelius in Acts 10.
And the church really doesn’t start to become predominantly Gentile until Paul’s first missionary journey in Acts 13 and 14 when he goes outside the borders of Israel into southern Galatia and the Gentiles start getting saved like crazy. But prior to that point in time the early church is Jewish and they are what we call Hebrew Christians. The unbelieving, non-Christian Jews hated the conversion of Hebrews, just like today, if a Jew comes to Christ the biggest flack they get usually is from their own community, sometimes from their own family, sometimes they’re shut off from their family, sometimes they’re looked at by their own family as if they’d never been born. I mean, a Jew coming to Christ pays a huge price. And that is the pressure that the audience is under in the book of Hebrews. These are all saved people but they’re being persecuted. And you go through the book of Acts and what you’ll see is the villains are always, not always but almost in every case unbelieving Jews persecuting Hebrew Christians, trying to get them to renounce their faith and come back to the institutions of Judaism.
Now the Hebrews were, and I think you can understand this if you just jot down Hebrews 2:3-4. [Hebrews 2:3, “how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? After it was at the first spoken through the Lord, it was confirmed to us by those who heard,  God also testifying with them, both by signs and wonders and by various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit according to His own will.”]
They are not the first generation, they are second generation in the church and the second generation is not the apostolic generation so they’re a little bit weaker in the things of God and they’re being pressured, pressured, pressured, and the temple, by the way, is still standing; the temple was not destroyed until which year? A.D. 70. So the unbelieving Jews are pressuring the Hebrew Christians to go back to the temple. Now you have to put yourself in their shoes; what would you be tempted to do? Well, okay, if that’s what’s going to get you all off my back I’ll just go back to the temple. I’m still a believer in Jesus or Yeshua, but I’ll celebrate a few feast days, I’ll participate in a few of the sacrifices if that’s what you want if that’s what it takes to get you off my case. And you think of a Jew that gets saved today and their family gives them grief all the time, what would you be tempted to do? Okay, I’ll go back into the family, I’ll go back into the traditions of Judaism, I know what I believe but just to keep peace in the household I’ll capitulate.
So the source of fear for Kadesh-Barnea was giants; the source of fear for the Hebrews in the New Testament was these unbelieving Jews. The disobedience for the Kadesh-Barnea generation is they did not do what God said; they did not occupy Canaan when God told them to. They capitulated to fear. The disobedience that the Hebrews are contemplating is lapsing backward into Judaism. The consequence for the Kadesh-Barnea generation was a loss of Canaan. The consequence for the Hebrews is a loss of maturity and also becoming a prospect for divine discipline, because every second of your life you stand under false teaching or incomplete teaching is a moment that you cannot grow as a Christian. So if you go back to the temple, you go back into Judaism, you go back into the legal system you’re going back into a shadow, is what you’re going back into, which was designed to prefigure the coming reality which you now possess. So if you shut yourself off, in the New Testament, if you shut yourself off from the writings of Paul, for example, you have no knowledge of New Testament grace, you have no knowledge of New Testament riches, and every second you divorce yourself from that and go back to an incomplete revelation you can’t grow.
So in both cases there is a very real consequence that both audiences are facing. So to explain their predicament what does the author of Hebrews do? By the way, we don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews. A lot of people say it was Paul but the fact of the matter is we don’t know. I’ve seen all the debates on this, what I know is I don’t know and no one knows. And it doesn’t matter; what matters is the message. The author, for whatever reason, wanted to be anonymous so I respect the author’s anonymity, and who wrote it, whether it was Barnabas or Paul, or Apollos, you get into all these debates, it doesn’t have any bearing on how the book is interpreted. So rather than trying to figure out who wrote the book a much better use of your time is try to figure out who was the book written to? Believers or unbelievers? And I’ll be showing you that this book was written to very clear believers because what you believe on that controls your interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6. But anyway I’m getting ahead of myself here.
The point is, the author of Hebrews is using Kadesh-Barnea as a paradigm to explain the consequences of unbelief and these are very real consequences they knew Hebrews were going to experience if you disobey God the way the Kadesh-Barnea generation went into unbelief and disobeyed God and capitulated to the fear of man over the fear of God.
Now if you go to Hebrews 6:9 it becomes apparent that the audience had not crossed the point of no return yet. The folks in the Kadesh-barnea generation went so far in their unbelief that they crossed the point of no return. The author sees the Hebrews in the New Testament reaching that point but they haven’t crossed the line yet; they haven’t crossed the line yet where they’re going to experience something irreversible. And you see that in verse 9 when it says “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you,” in other words, I warned you, I warned you about the consequences of unbelief but unlike the Kadesh-Barnea generation you haven’t yet crossed the line. But the fact that you’re even thinking about crossing the line merits a very strong warning from me as the author and I’m using the history of the Kadesh-Barnea generation as a basis for that warning.
So that was all introduction. So here is the outline and I’m just going to make three major points, I won’t be getting through all these today but for the first two bullet points, Roman numeral I and Roman numeral II there’s just two points under each and it’s the same two points: Number 1, both the Kadesh-barnea generation and the Hebrews were believers. There is not a non-regenerate unbeliever in the crowd; all of them are saved. That’s point 1, and that’s the point that’s been missed.
Number 2, just as the Kadesh-barnea generation, or the Exodus generation went into unbelief and lost something, the Hebrews if they capitulate to unbelief are in the process of losing something. The loss that they are going to experience is not a loss of heaven but it is a loss of a blessing which they could have had but didn’t get a chance to experience. So for both generations there’s just two simple points: believing status, loss of a blessing.
So if you believe that the Kadesh-barnea generation had a believing status and they lost a blessing it starts to make sense why the author would use that historical circumstance as a paradigm for warning the Hebrews concerning what they were about to experience if they went into unbelief. So the better you understand what the Exodus generation had in terms of their believing status and forfeited, if you understand that then all of a sudden the book of Hebrews starts making sense to you. But because most people are not connecting the dots back into the Old Testament they’re at a loss as to what was happening and these very difficult passages in the book of Hebrews, like Hebrews 6:4-6, remain a mystery to them.
So let’s start off here and let’s just put out of our minds the book of Hebrews for a minute and let’s go back and let’s study the Exodus generation and what they lost. Now we have basically two simple points to make, the first of which is the Exodus generation consists all of believers. Why would I say that? We have two lines of evidence, Old Testament evidence, what the Old Testament itself says and number 2, New Testament evidence.
So let’s look at some Old Testament evidence; you might want to just travel with me back into the book of Exodus, chapter 4, verses 22 and 23. The first thing that God says about Israel while they are in captivity in Egypt is He says there in verse 22, Israel is My firstborn son. [Exodus 4:22, “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Israel is My son, My firstborn.”] So obviously the nation of Israel is very special to God, He even looks at the nation of Israel as His firstborn son.
Now go, if you could, to Exodus 12:27, this is right after Passover, and look at what it says there at the end of verse 27, “…And the people bowed low and worshiped.” “the people” meaning all of them, bowed low and worshiped,” I think that would be sort of difficult, wouldn’t it, for an unbeliever to do that?
And then take a look, if you could, this is probably the key piece of evidence, Exodus 14:30-31. Now what happened is they were in Egypt for 400 years, God parted the Red Sea, they walked through two walls of water, they got to the opposite side of the Red Sea and the Egyptians were pursuing and then what happened? God closed the walls of water drowning the Egyptians. And after seeing all of this this is the response of the generation that had just experienced the Exodus, it’s right there in Exodus 14:30-31, this is the response after God drowned the Egyptians. It says, “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore.  When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD,” look at this underlined part, “and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.”
Now this was what Ron Allen pointed out to me in the morning, which was the seed that the Lord planted in my mind to help make sense of the lecture that was coming in the afternoon, and he just made a simple point in class. Ron Allen is what you would call an expert in languages, in Hebrew, and he made this simple point and it was like a light bulb went on. He said the Hebrew construction here “they believed in the LORD” is identical except for the switch between singular and plural nouns. It’s identical to Genesis 15:6. Have you read Genesis 15:6 lately; It says Abraham or “Then Abram believed God and it was” what? “credited to him for righteousness.” And that’s the verse Paul uses all of the time to defend the idea of justification by faith alone. That’s probably Paul’s favorite verse; he used it in Romans 4, he used it in Galatians 3, he used it in a number of places to defend the idea that we’re saved completely on the basis of personal faith in Christ. And he’s saying that it was no different than Abraham; this is an old plan and program of God.
Now Ron Allen points out that that’s the same construction that you have related to the Hebrews when they passed through the Red Sea; they believed in the Lord. So if that verse doesn’t say “they” all of the nation was saved at that point then no verse could ever say that; this is as strong as it gets. And Ron Allen also wrote in the New Illustrated Bible Commentary put out by Thomas Nelson, and he made a comment about Exodus 14:31, [Exodus 14:31, “When Israel saw the great power which the LORD had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in His servant Moses.”] It says, “When we read so the people feared the Lord and the words that follow, we are meant to understand that the community had come to saving faith and so were a reborn people. They believed the Lord,” and then notice what he says, “(the same wording is used of Abraham’s saving faith in Genesis 15:6; read Paul’s comments in Romans 7) “…The people were transformed spiritually even as they were delivered physically.” [Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Commentary, 113] God saved Israel that day, not just from the pursuing Egyptians; He saved them spiritually because that’s the identical Hebrew construction used as Abraham’s saving faith, Genesis 15:6. [Genesis 15:6, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”]
So what did the people do when they got to the other side of the water and looked back and saw all of their pursuers were dead? They worshiped God. And Exodus 15 is a record of their worship. If you’re into music and worship and have to lead worship Exodus 15 becomes a really key chapter for a music leader/worship leader. Unbelievers don’t worship God; unbelievers deny God. That’s their basic core makeup. Paul says that in Romans 3:11,none seek God, concerning the unbeliever. [Romans 3:11, “THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS, THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;”]
And they didn’t just worship the Lord once, over in Exodus 33:10, just a little bit later, this is following the events surrounding the giving of the Mosaic Law, it says, “When all the people saw the pillar of cloud standing at the entrance of the tent, all the people” notice how it keeps saying all, “all the people would arise and worship, each at the entrance of his tent.” Once again it’s only a believer that has the desire and even the capacity to worship God. It’s hard to fake worship.
And even beyond that these people, as they received the law of God promised to submit to God. Now they didn’t get too far in that but the heart was right. And over in Exodus 19:8 it says this: “All the people answered together and said, ‘All that the LORD has spoken we will do!’” And over in Exodus 24:3 it says the same thing, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” [Exodus 24:3, “Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the LORD and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!’”]
Would an unsaved person even think that? Would an unsaved person even say that? No, because Paul in Romans 8:7-8 says because the mind set on the flesh is hostile to God, it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so,  and those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” An unbeliever wouldn’t believe God to begin with; an unbeliever wouldn’t praise God. An unbeliever wouldn’t even have the desire to submit to God so what is being demonstrated here is all of these signs are signs of a saved nation, not just physically but spiritually.
Now you say well, wait a minute, isn’t this the crowd that build the golden calf? How could a saved person build the golden calf? Remember what Aaron said. You know, Aaron was supposed to be the high priest and he’s leading the charge; everybody, grab your metal and let’s melt it and let’s make ourselves a calf and this is what… behold Israel, here is what actually brought you out of Egypt, not Yahweh but this golden calf. And it’s kind of funny that when Aaron is confronted on this, I think by Moses later, Aaron says well you know, we just threw our metal in the fire and this calf jumped out. He did basically what Adam and Eve did, you know, Adam, when he sinned who did he blame? First of all God because God gave him Eve, and Eve blamed the serpent, remember this, Genesis 3, and as the saying goes the serpent “didn’t have a leg to stand on” so he couldn’t blame anybody. But that’s part of human nature, we don’t take responsibility for our actions.
So people say are you telling me that these people are saved? These are the people that built the golden calf. Well, I would challenge you to read the book of 1 Corinthians sometime, and don’t stop with 1 Corinthians, read 2 Corinthians. Do the Corinthians look saved to you? 1 Corinthians 1:2 says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, … sanctified in Christ Jesus,” don’t they looked saved? Called to be what, “saints” together with all of those who in every place call on the name of the Lord, “our Lord” not their Lord, Paul says, “our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:” [1 Corinthians 1:2, “To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, saints by calling, with all who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, their Lord and ours:”]
2 Corinthians says, “To the church of God which is at Corinth with all the saints who are throughout Achaia.” Don’t the Corinthians look saved to you? But are they acting saved? Chapters 1-4 they’re divided in 1 Corinthians over their favorite teacher. Chapter 5 they’re involved in incest that’s so bad that Paul says the pagans don’t even act like this. Chapter 6 they’re involved in lawsuits, suing each other and discrediting the gospel in front of unbelieving judges. Chapter 6 they’re sneaking out at night and getting their sexual needs met through temple prostitution. Chapter 7,… how would you like to be the pastor of this group? Chapter 7 you’ve got rampant divorce and remarriage. Chapters 8-10, the believers that understand their freedom in Christ are flaunting their freedoms to the detriment of the weaker brother. Chapter 11 they’re showing up at the Lord’s Table in a state of inebriation. Can you imagine showing up to communion wasted? That’s what you’ve got going on there in Corinth. Chapters 12-14 they are taking people that speak in tongues and putting them on some kind of pedestal without any interpretation. So Paul says you’re just babbling about something that has no edification value whatsoever. And then chapter 15 they’re denying a doctrine, just a little doctrine, the doctrine of resurrection.
And I challenge anybody to find me one statement ever in this book where Paul reverses what he just said in verse 1. “To the church” … “sanctified in Jesus Christ,” “saints,” they have called “on the name of our Lord Jesus, their Lord and our Lord.” Paul establishes at the beginning of the book that positionally they’re saints but they’re not acting very saintly. So what they need is not to get saved, they already had salvation. They needed their practice to catch up with their position. And so the book of 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians is tremendous evidence that a believer can sin up a storm… in fact, this group was even outdoing the unbelievers. Paul says the pagans don’t even act this way. It’s astonishing what an out of fellowship Christian can do in terms of sin.
And so since the Bible doesn’t say this is good but it opens it up as a possibility I have no problem with a saved group manufacturing a golden calf. So the fact that they manufactured a golden calf does not in and of itself prove that they were unsaved. In fact, to the Corinthians Paul says, when they’re visiting temple prostitutes, he says in chapter 6 verse 19, “Or do you not know that your body is” the what? “a temple of the Holy Spirit” he never says you all don’t have the Holy Spirit or if you had the Holy Spirit you wouldn’t act this way. I’ve got to contain myself, I’m going to start preaching here… I’m supposed to do that next hour, right? He says when you commit sexual sin you’re dragging the Holy Spirit with you into that. They obviously had the Holy Spirit. [1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”]
And I don’t have time to go through all these verses but if you look at all these verses in 1 Corinthians and 2 Corinthians you’ll see Paul is reaffirming their regenerated status all the way through the book. [1 Corinthians 1:2; 3:1, 5, 6:11, 19-20; 2 Corinthians 1:1, 21-22, 24; 3:2-3; 6:14-16; 8:9; 10:15] What he’s condemning is not their status but their conduct. Their conduct is unbefitting of a child of God. That’s what Paul’s doing.
So when you look at all of the Old Testament evidence, including the manufacturing of the golden calf what you see very clearly is the Exodus generation was regenerated, they were saved.
Now it’s not just the Old Testament that makes commentary on this, it’s the New Testament. For example, notice if you will, 1 Corinthians, now we are going into the New Testament, chapter 10:4-6, I don’t know if I’ll read all of those verses but here Paul analogizes the Exodus generation to members of the New Testament church. In fact in this passage Paul even says that the water from the rock that the Exodus generation drank from typified spiritual drink offered by the spiritual rock, Jesus Christ. [1 Corinthians 10:4-6, “and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.  Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”]
For Paul to make such an analogy it’s obvious that that Exodus generation is regenerated. Take a look, if you could, at Hebrews 11:29, “By faith they” who’s “they”? The Kadesh Barnea generation. “By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.” What is the author of Hebrews quoting here, whoever that was? He’s talking about the hall of what? The hall of faith. Did you know that the entire Kadesh Barnea generation that built the golden calf, that never entered Canaan, is in the hall of faith along with all the other saved people in the hall of faith? Is that not very powerful New Testament evidence that the Kadesh Barnea generation was clearly in faith and regenerated.
This is the crowd that trusted God as they went through the Red Sea. By the way, this is the crowd that… what did they do with Passover? They took the blood of the Passover lamb while they were still in Egypt and did what with it? Applied it to their doorposts and if they didn’t do that all of their firstborn would have died. Doesn’t that require faith for that generation to do that. So you start looking at all these facts and there’s almost no doubt in my mind that these people were all saved and regenerated and we’re going to see them all 2.5 million of them in heaven one day, when the Lord brings everything together.
Now people say well, hold the phone here, Moses didn’t enter Canaan. If you’re going to argue that those that didn’t enter Canaan were unsaved then who else was unsaved? Moses himself. Do we realize that Moses died on Mount Nebo, having only seen Canaan from a distance? Moses, because he stepped out of the will of God which to me looks almost like a minor incident, to God it was a major incident, God shut off Moses from entering Canaan. So if you’re going to argue that these two and a half million people, 2.5 million people were unsaved you’ve got to argue Moses was unsaved. That’s a hard argument to make because when the Lord appears on the Mount of Transfiguration, Matthew 17:3, who is right there with Him. Moses and Elijah. [Matthew 17:3, “And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”]
Obviously Moses was saved. In fact Moses is also, along with that generation, mentioned in the hall of faith, Hebrews 11:23-28. [Hebrews 11:23, “By faith Moses, when he was born, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful child; and they were not afraid of the king’s edict.  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,  choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin,  considering the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king; for he endured, as seeing Him who is unseen.  By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood, so that he who destroyed the firstborn would not touch them.  By faith they passed through the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; and the Egyptians, when they attempted it, were drowned.”]
In the book of Revelation there’s two witnesses, one of them shuts up the sky so it doesn’t rain for three and a half years, that kind of sounds like Elijah to me. The other one strikes the water so that they become blood, that kind of sounds like Moses to me. So in the providence of God what I believe, and it’s too long of a subject to develop but what I believe is God is going to allow Moses to come back in the Tribulation period to complete what he left incomplete in the Old Testament, because God is a God of what? Second chances. Some of my favorite words in the whole Bible is right at the beginning of Jonah 3, where it says “The word of the Lord came to Jonah the” what? “second time….” The first two chapters the man is a total screw up, and God is so gracious that He actually… now he had to go through a little discipline if you know the story, he had to be put in a fish and barfed out on dry land, that’s a pretty good attitude adjustment, isn’t it? But God allowed Jonah to complete his ministry. God is going to allow Moses to complete his ministry because Moses is saved; Moses is regenerated.
To argue that these people were unsaved means that God sent two and a half million of them to hell. I don’t think God did that. I think what they lost was a blessing of Canaan but they did not lose salvation; they did not lose heaven. Now notice, if you will, Numbers 32 and verse 12. Why did God allow Joshua and Caleb to enter. It says, Numbers 32:12, everybody is going to be cut off, and then it says in verse 12 except Caleb, the son of” and I can’t even pronounce that name, “and Joshua the son of Nun, for they followed the LORD fully.” [Numbers 32:12, “except Caleb the son of Jephunneh the Kenizzite and Joshua the son of Nun, for they have followed the LORD fully.’”] Why did God allow Joshua and Caleb to enter Canaan as older men and the rest of the generation to be cut off? Not because Joshua and Caleb were believers and the rest were unbelievers. It’s not that they were believers but they were followers of God. There’s a big difference between being unbelieving and being just an unbeliever. Joshua and Caleb were both believing and believers. They were believers when they got saved just like everybody else, but they kept trusting God through problems. They kept trusting God through crises. They kept trusting God through emergencies. They kept trusting God through exigencies. And they looked at the giants and unlike the rest of the regenerated folks said well, if God brought us this far what’s a few giants. The rest of them didn’t do that. And so God removed from that generation, not heaven but a blessing they could have had which was entrance into Canaan. See the difference.
And so it’s very important to understand that according to Numbers 32:12 Joshua and Caleb entered Canaan, not because they were saved and everyone else was unsaved. They entered Canaan because unlike the rest of the crowd they kept trusting life through life’s problems; the rest of them wouldn’t do that even though they were regenerated.
So what I’ve hopefully tried to establish is the believing status of the Exodus generation, now the second point, I can make this quickly and then we’ll stop, is what did that Exodus generation lose. They lost the promised land, they didn’t lose heaven or else you have to say Moses didn’t go to heaven, we know he did. They lost a blessing which they could have had flowing from their justification. Notice Numbers 14:22-23, God said, “Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice,  shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it.”
And what you have to understand is once the land was removed from that generation, that was a blessing that they could not get back. At that point it became what we call in law irrevocable; it’s where an offer is made, the other party responds to it, and I can’t withdraw my offer legally, it’s irrevocable, it cannot be revoked. And so this forfeiture of the land could not be corrected. All of these people went to heaven but they permanently lost a blessing which was in their grasp. That’s what’s being said here.
Now how do I know that this was permanent? Because the next day they all got brave, remember? In Numbers 14:40-45 they all of a sudden got brave and God said you’re not going to enter the land so what did these people say? Well, we’re going to enter it anyway. I mean, where was your courage 24 hours ago.
[Numbers 14:39-45, “When Moses spoke these words to all the sons of Israel, the people mourned greatly.  In the morning, however, they rose up early and went up to the ridge of the hill country, saying, “Here we are; we have indeed sinned, but we will go up to the place which the LORD has promised.”  But Moses said, “Why then are you transgressing the commandment of the LORD, when it will not succeed?  “Do not go up, or you will be struck down before your enemies, for the LORD is not among you.  “For the Amalekites and the Canaanites will be there in front of you, and you will fall by the sword, inasmuch as you have turned back from following the LORD. And the LORD will not be with you.”  But they went up heedlessly to the ridge of the hill country; neither the ark of the covenant of the LORD nor Moses left the camp.  Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who lived in that hill country came down, and struck them and beat them down as far as Hormah.”]
Now it’s like God says enter the land, they don’t do it, then God says you’re not going to enter the land, all of a sudden they want to do it. And how did that go for them? It was a total catastrophe and they were beat back by the giants as far as Hormah, which wouldn’t have happened if they had trusted God 24 hours earlier. So what they lost in terms of a blessing could not be restored. See what’s going on here? All these people went to heaven, just like Moses went to heaven. But they lost an additional blessing that God wanted to give them. Do you see the history here of the Kadesh-Barnea generation?
Now the author of Hebrews skillfully reaches back into history, takes that identical circumstance and applies it to the Hebrews and he says to the Hebrews two things: number 1, you all are saved, but number 2, you’re being pressured by the fear of man to leave the full revelation of Christ and go back to the institutions of Judaism. And if you do that you all will go to heaven but your growth and maturity in Christ is shut down, in fact, it’s going to be shut down so severely that you’re going to be stuck in a permanent place of infancy and just as your maturity cannot be regained that is in the same way that the Exodus generation could not get Canaan.
Now had the Hebrews generation crossed the point of no return, like the Kadesh-Barnea generation? The answer is no; that’s why he says in chapter 6, verse 9, we have better things to believe concerning you. [Hebrews 6:9, “But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.”] But you’re getting awfully close and I’m going to reach back into history and use something from your Jewish history that you can relate to and understand to explain to you the predicament that you’re in.
So next week I’m going to make those identical two points, believing status, loss of a blessing, that the Kadesh-barnea generation experienced and I’m going to show you the exact same thing is happening in the book of Hebrews. And this is a different interpretation of Hebrews than what you’re getting from Reformed circles because what they’ll say is problem passages like Hebrews 6, oh that just applies to the unbelievers in the group. Yeah, most of them are believers but there’s a few unbelievers and let’s just apply the warning passages to the unbelievers.
Look at this from a pastoral ministry point of view. If I stand up here and say these warning passages don’t apply to you, they only apply to unbelievers in the midst what are you going to do as I’m teaching? You’re going to mentally check out, this doesn’t apply to me, I’m a Christian. But if I start applying it the way I’m applying it now, that you as a Christian are on your way to heaven but there’s additional blessings God wants to give you now, that you’re going to cut yourself off from, I’ve got everybody’s attention, don’t I?
So when you start applying these warning passages to believers suddenly the believer starts to understand that there is something in this life they can lose. And from a pastoral ministries point of view that’s a great way to get the attention of the church, isn’t it? Including Yours Truly. I’m a believer too and I could stop trusting God through the emergencies of life and miss heaven. So anyway, are you all comfortable with what I’m doing here with this? It’s past time, my verbosity has allowed me to escape interrogation. Just a quick question, anybody have one? I’ll try to leave room for more questions next week.