Soteriology 042Hebrews 6:4-6 • Dr. Andy Woods • December 18, 2016 • Soteriology - The Doctrine of Salvation
Soteriology 42, Hebrews 6:4-6
December 18, 2016
Good morning everybody. Let’s open up with a word of prayer if we could. Father, we’re grateful for this time of the year where Your Son entered our world and paid a debt for us that we could never pay for ourselves, so help us Father to, as this next week unfolds, to really keep the real meaning of Christmas safe in our minds. So we ask that You’ll do that; we ask these things in Jesus’ name, and God’s people said amen.
If you could open your Bibles once again to Hebrews 6, and verses 4-6, you should have two things coming around; number 1 the handouts from last week and this week should all be combined into one and you should also have an academic paper that I wrote. Did you guys get both of those? If you need one or the other could you put your hand up. The paper will kind of capture what I’m trying to communicate, hopefully it’ll capture what I’m trying to communicate on Hebrews 6:4-6, which is a very difficult verse, set of verses, to interpret, especially when you get into the subject of eternal security because you read it at first glance and it looks like you can lose your salvation. So the way I’m teaching this is captured in that paper so you can go back and read that paper on your own. And then the handouts are from last week and this week combined since I didn’t get a handout to you last week.
So here’s our passage,  “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,… if they have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance….”
So the view that I’m going over is the last view on that list, it’s called the loss of blessings view and I’m planning on recycling backwards and comparing the other views to what I think is the right view. In other words this passage as I’m trying to explain it is not about a loss of salvation but it’s a loss of blessings; salvation, heaven or hell is not really in view in the passage.
So the way to understand this, as I’ve tried to explain last time is not start with Hebrews 6 but really start with Hebrews 3:7-11, where you’ll have a quote there from Psalm 95 where God says I was angry with this, or actually that generation. [Psalm 85:10-11, “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.”]
So what generation is he talking about? He’s talking about the generation that came out of Egypt, received the Law of God, got to the southern border of the Promised Land and what did they see there? What did they see in the land? Giants and they fell into unbelief. So that generation did not enter Canaan, even Moses himself didn’t enter. So that becomes the paradigm that the author of Hebrews is using to explain the predicament that the Hebrews are in because the Hebrews, like that Kadesh Barnea generation, we call this Kadesh Barnea because that’s the geographical location where they fell into fear.
The Hebrews, in the New Testament, in the same way are capitulating, or on the verge of capitulating to fear of man and they’re thinking about leaving the full revelation of Christ and going back to the institutions of Judaism, going back to the temple, going back to the sacrifices which were still functioning at this time. So the author is essentially saying you, if you do that, are going to lose a blessing which you could have had, just like that Kadesh-barnea generation all went to heaven but they lost a blessing which they could have had which was what? Entrance into the Promised Land.
So the better you understand the Kadesh-barnea scenario the better you understand what’s happening in the book of Hebrews. And because most people don’t connect the dots back to the Exodus generation and what happened at Kadesh-barnea, and they try to interpret Hebrews 6 and all of the other difficult passages in Hebrews without the light of the Old Testament they come up with wrong answers constantly.
So what is really happening in Hebrews 6? You will recall that last time we were together we looked at the Exodus generation since we have to understand that to understand the paradigm that the author of Hebrews is setting forward. And we just made two very simple points about that generation; number 1, that generation was comprised of all believers. Every single member of that generation was a believer in Yeshua, which is the Hebrew word for Jesus. Now maybe they didn’t know the word “Jesus” but they were a believer in Yahweh. So we spent a lot of time going through Old Testament evidence and New Testament evidence explaining that these people were in faith.
In fact, the statement is made of them in Exodus 14:31 that they believed in the Lord, all of them, which is the same Hebrew construction that we find in the famous Genesis 15:6 passage, Abraham believed God and it was credited to him unto righteousness, that Paul uses all of the time in the New Testament to defend the idea that we’re saved by faith alone. [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. Genesis 15:6, “Then he believed in the LORD; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”]
So the Exodus generation was all in faith, they were all saved. So they were saved physically from the pursuing Egyptians and then they were also saved spiritually as well. And it’s not just the Old Testament that teaches that, it’s the New Testament that teaches that because these people are in the hall of faith as we saw last time. So if they’re all saved what did they lose? They didn’t lose salvation, they didn’t lose eternity, they didn’t lose the hope of heaven, what they were cut off from is a temporary blessing which is at their fingertips which they could have had, which was entrance into Canaan. So that scenario becomes the blueprint through which to view Hebrews 6.
So with that foundation laid, hopefully, I want to move from there to the actual Hebrews themselves in the New Testament. And we want to make the same exact two points. Number 1, the Hebrews generation was all saved; everybody in the book of Hebrews that’s addressed is a saved person. And number 2, if they forfeit their full revelation of Christ and capitulate to fear and go back to the temple system it’s not a matter of them losing salvation; it’s a matter of them forfeiting a blessing. And I’ll define what that blessing is in a little bit, it’s essentially loss of maturity, they’re going to be stuck in a permanent level of immaturity.
So the author makes two points about the Exodus generation and he’s making the exact same two points about the Hebrews generation. And if you understand that suddenly the book of Hebrews starts to make sense and you start interpreting these difficult passages (like Hebrews 6:4-6) not as loss of salvation passages but loss of blessing passages. Does that make any sense?
So I’m going to give you what I think is the most important thing to grasp to understand the book of Hebrews and that fact is this: the Hebrews were all believers. Now if you listen to Reformed theologians what they’ll tell you is this warning passage is really not addressed to believers, it’s addressed to the unbelievers in the crowd. That’s how they handle Hebrews 6:4-6, the author is writing to believers, believers, believers, and there’s a few unbelievers in the crowd, Hebrews 6:4-6 is addressed to them. And I want to show you why that view doesn’t work and the reason it doesn’t work is the way the author describes these people is they’re all saved. So he’s not all of a sudden getting off on a sidetrack and addressing a few unbelievers in the crowd saying you’re all on your way to hell if you don’t trust in Christ. That’s not what he’s saying at all. He’s saying you, as believers, are going to forfeit something, not eternity, not heaven, but something temporal, a blessing that God wants to give you, if you capitulate like the Exodus generation did to the thinking of man and go back to the temple system, or the fear of man and go back to the temple system.
So is it really true that the Hebrews are all believers? Just like the Exodus generation was all believers? And I believe it is true when you look at four things: the extended context, the context that comes immediately before Hebrews 6:4-6, that difficult passage we’re debating. The Hebrews 6:4-6 passage itself, that would be the immediate context, and then the subsequent context, what follows Hebrews 6:4-6. I’m just making a simple point that everybody addressed is regenerated and a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ; no unbelievers in the crowd.
So let’s start with the extended context, looking at the book as a whole. I’m going to give you several verses, you might want to keep your Bible open to Hebrews but notice Hebrews 1:2, “in these last days has spoken to us” see that, Hebrews 1:2, in other words the author must have been a believer, right? So when he says “us” he’s saying that the audience is also what? Believers, because he’s identifying with the spiritual status of his audience.
Look at Hebrews 1:3, it says, “…When He had made purification of sins” so these are people that had already had their sins forgiven. Look at Hebrews 2:3, “how will we escape if we” what? “neglect so great a salvation?” Now you can’t neglect a salvation unless you already have what? Salvation! It’s like someone saying well you’re neglecting your wife; that means I have to have a wife to neglect. Right? I mean, you’re neglecting your wife doesn’t apply to an unmarried person.
Notice Hebrews 3:1, “Therefore,” what? “holy brethren,” they kind of look saved to me; and then it goes on and it says “…the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;” see how the author identifies with the audience spiritually? He says “our.” So if the author was saved, (he must have been because he wrote a New Testament book) then the audience must have been saved.
If you go down to Hebrews 4:3 it says, “For we who have believed…” so the writer says I believed and you have believed as well.
Hebrews 4:14, “Therefore, since we have a great high priest….” Does an unbeliever have a high priest named Jesus? No. But “we” I have it, the writer says and you have it, already have a high priest named Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 4:16, “Therefore let” what? “us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” So us and we again, indicating that the writer is saved and so are the readers.
Hebrews 10:36-39, there’s a long passage there but what he says there is these people need endurance, they don’t need to get saved, they need endurance, they need to draw upon their resources already in Christ. So their primary need is not salvation, but it’s endurance. [Hebrews 10:36-39, “For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”]
Hebrews 10:22 talks about how “our”, see how he’s identifying with the audience, “our hearts are sprinkled clean from an evil conscience.” [Hebrews 10:22, “let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.”] So their hearts have been cleansed just like the writer’s heart had been cleansed.
Hebrews 9:14 talks about how their consciences have been cleansed to serve the living God. [Hebrews 9:14, “how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”] That’s a scripture that only would fit to a saved person.
Hebrews 10:10 indicates that they already have the Holy Spirit and they’ve been sanctified, past tense, by the Holy Spirit. [Hebrews 10:10, “By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”]
Hebrews 10:15 talks about how the Holy Spirit testifies to us. [Hebrews 10:15, “And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us;…”] So again both groups, the writer and the audience have the Holy Spirit and he uses this word “us” to identify with their status.
Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” [Hebrews 12:2, “fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”]
So Jesus is our “perfecter of faith.”
Hebrews 12:7 he calls them sons, if a son then a what? Then an heir. So that’s why they’re under the disciplinary hand of God, because they’re already God’s children. [Hebrews 12:7, “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”
Hebrews 12:28, “Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken,….” So the writer says I’m receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, you’re receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken. An unbeliever doesn’t have that benefit.
Now what’s the one condition necessary for a person to get saved? Believe! Now isn’t it interesting that this book has in it 38 exhortations and never once does the writer tell these people to believe in Christ to be saved, the way John’s Gospel does which was written to unbelievers. So John’s Gospel is evangelistic, it tells people to believe in Jesus to be saved, so John must be writing to unbelievers but the book of Hebrews never does that.
If there’s any doubt about the spiritual status of these Hebrews, whether they’re saved or unsaved you would think there would be some kind of exhortation somewhere in here towards evangelism but you don’t discover it. You discover 38 other exhortations. So if you were just kind of stuck on a desert island and you knew nothing about the debate about Hebrews 6:4-6, and you just had the book of Hebrews to read, you would never get the impression that these people are unsaved. All of them are saved and this is where the Reformed view really starts to fall apart because what they want you to believe is Hebrews 6, yeah, the book of Hebrews is written to saved people but not Hebrews 6, that’s written to unsaved people, and that just doesn’t pass the smell test.
So that was the extended context, now let’s go to the preceding context. These are the verses that come immediately before Hebrews 6:4-6, the difficult passage we’re looking at. Look at Hebrews 5:11-14 and notice what it says there in Hebrews 5. It says, “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.  For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.  or everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant.  But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.”
So these are the verses that come right before Hebrews 6:4-6 and the question becomes are these people saved or unsaved? Just look at the evidence here. The need of these people is to grow because he uses the word mature, “solid food is for the mature.” He doesn’t say you need to get saved; what he says is you need to grow in your salvation. And beyond that he calls them infants. What is an infant? An infant is a babe, a newborn babe in Christ; he calls them infants there in verses 13.
Now the clincher is verse 12 of Hebrews 5, “For though by this time you ought to be teachers,” now would you ever say that to an unbeliever? Would you ever want an unbeliever to teach a believer? That makes no sense at all. And it’s astounding to me that the John MacArthur commentary on Hebrews actually takes these people as unsaved people, which makes zero sense to me how these people could be unsaved because I can’t think of any circumstance where the author of Hebrews would want unsaved people to teach saved people.
And then he goes on, I think that’s there in verse 12, he says you’re thriving on milk but rejecting the meat so the capacity to even take in milk, that’s got to be something that a believer experiences. 1 Peter 2:2, of new Christians, says, “like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow” thereby. They’re taking in milk, they’re just not able to absorb meat yet, so their capacity to take in milk indicates you’re dealing with saved people.
And then he talks here in verse 11 about how they’re slow to learn, it’s hard to explain this to you “since you have become dull of hearing.” [Hebrews 5:11, “Concerning him we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing.”] Now an unbeliever is not slow to learn; an unbeliever doesn’t have any ability to learn spiritual things because they don’t even have the Holy Spirit inside of them yet at all.
And then you go down to the end of verse 14 and they have the ability to have their senses trained to discern good and evil, again that couldn’t be an unbeliever because an unbeliever who’s mind has been darkened by Satan, 2 Corinthians 4:4, has no capacity to discern good and evil. These people have at least the rudimentary skill to do it, they just need to grow in it. [Hebrews 5:14, “But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” 2 Corinthians 4:4, “in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.”]
So I would ask you a question, you read that and you didn’t know anything about the debates about Hebrews 6, you didn’t know anything about Calvinism or Arminianism, would you think these people are saved or unsaved? You’d obviously think they are saved wouldn’t you?
Let’s go to the next verse that immediately comes before Hebrews 6:4-6, that difficult passage we’re looking at. Look at Hebrews 6:1-3, he says, “Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,  of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment.  And this we will do, if God permits.”
First of all notice there at the beginning of Hebrews 6:1 the word “Therefore,” which connects that paragraph to the paragraph that we just studied that came before. So whatever your conclusion is about the end of chapter 5 you have to reach that same conclusion at the beginning of chapter 6 because those two paragraphs are grammatically connected. By the way, did you all know that the chapter divisions the Holy Spirit didn’t put in there? That was a guy named Stephen Langton who put those in on a long bumpy carriage ride in the 1600’s and I understand what he was doing, he was trying to group material together and a lot of times he’s helpful in what he does but sometimes they create an artificial buffer that divests one chapter from another when the original text doesn’t do that.
He says, “let us press on to maturity,” people didn’t need to believe in Christ to get saved, they needed to grow up. And did you catch the “us” and the “we,” “let us press on to maturity”? Verse 3, “we will do this is God permits” so the author once again is identifying with the spiritual status of his audience. The dead giveaway is they’ve already laid a foundation which is a good foundation but they need to grow beyond that foundation, not get rid of the foundation but build on it and they already have faith towards God. So the author presupposes that these people have faith towards God.
And then he goes on and he says in verse 1, “let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying a foundation of repentance” and other things. So you see here that they already had the elementary teachings, they had the foundation, they had the basics, they knew the alphabet, they just needed to learn how to write words because you can’t write words unless you know the alphabet. And you can’t write a sentence unless you know how to write words, and you can’t write a paragraph unless you know how to write a sentence and you can’t write a paper or a book unless you know how to write a paragraph.
So he’s saying look, you’ve got a few basics down but you need to graduate beyond those and move on to greater things. So very clearly you’re dealing with saved people. Now these are the verses that come right before the ones that are so debated and contested, probably the most debated and contested verses in the whole Bible. That’s why I’m going through this slowly.
So the extended context favors a saved audience; the preceding context favors a saved audience. Okay, let’s go into the belly of the beast itself and let’s look at Hebrews 6:4-6. These are the verses now everyone is arguing about. The writer 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,  and then have fallen away, 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.”
The Reformed camp wants you to believe that these verses are people that came under the conviction of the Spirit but they never trusted Christ. They were what you call professors but not possessor, kind of like Judas who was near Christ and saw His miracles and that kind of thing but never actually trusted in Christ and went to hell. So that’s how the Reformed camp understands all these warning passages. The writer is talking to believers and all of a sudden he finds a few unbelievers in the crowd and he zeroes in on them, he gives them a warning and then when he’s finished with the warning he goes right back to talking about believers.
However, when you actually look at this paragraph what you’ll discover is these are saved people. I think I can demonstrate that to you. First of all notice the word “for” which connects verse 4 back to verse 3, so whatever you’re concluding about the end of Hebrews 5 and the beginning of Hebrews 6 you can’t just switch audiences right in the middle because all of these paragraphs are grammatically connected to each other. Now there are five descriptive phrases here which I think are almost unassailable in terms of the fact that they are talking about saved people. And here is the mistake that people are making with the book of Hebrews. The way to figure out what a writer means when he uses a word is you ask yourself how does that writer, same writer, use that same word in the same book? Are you with me on that? So when you do a word study you start off with not running everywhere in the Bible to find out what a word means, how does the writer himself use the same word in the same book?
And you see, that’s not what’s happening as people are analyzing Hebrews 6. They are sending you to every passage in the Bible that is generally connected and they’re not doing good work by showing you what the same writer means in the same book through the same word. You guys with me on that? See, that’s a huge issue that I just said because when you read Reformed commentaries, like the MacArthur Study Bible for example, and I’m not bashing totally the MacArthur Study Bible, he’s got some good things in there, but his analysis of Hebrews 6 is very, very lacking, because he doesn’t even reference how the same writer uses the same word. He sends you into 1 John, he sends you into the Gospels, and you read his notes and he doesn’t even… he gives you the impression that the writer himself has never defined the words he’s using in the same book.
So let’s look at some of these words here, I think there’s five. Number 1, “for in the case of those who have been once” notice that word once, “enlightened.” When you go to Hebrews 10:32-35 you will find the word “enlightened,” phōtizō, kind of like photograph, it’s a participle here but it says, “remember the former days,” having been what? “enlightened.” Now you go down to verse 34, at the end of verse 34 and it says these people that had been enlightened had lasting possessions. Sounds like saved people, doesn’t it? And therefore they’re going onto a reward, verse 35.
[Hebrews 10:32-35, “But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,  partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.  For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.  Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.  For you have need of endurance, so that when you have done the will of God, you may receive what was promised.”]
I mean, nobody challenges that “enlightened” means saved people in Hebrews 10, but they challenge that “enlightened” means saved people in Hebrews 6, which I think is sort of inconsistent. Now notice this expression here, backing up for a minute, who have once been enlightened. The word for “once” there is hapax which is communicating a onetime event which cannot be repeated. For example, in Hebrews 9:7 it says, “but into the second, only the high priest enters once a year,” hapax, a once a year event. [Hebrews 9:7, “But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance.”]
Over in Hebrews 9:26-28 it says otherwise He would have need often to suffer from the foundation of the world but now once” hapax, “at the consummation of the ages he has manifested to put away sin by the practice of Himself, verse 27 of Hebrews 9, “in as much as it is appointed for man to die once,” hapax, and after this comes judgment. Verse 28, “So Christ having been offered once,” hapax.
[Hebrews 9:26-28, “Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.  Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment,  so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.”]
So when the writer uses the word hapax he’s talking about an enlightenment that has come upon these people immediately and permanently. So you put together the word “enlightened” and the word “once” and you study out how those same words are used in the same book and I think you’re dealing with saved people, not people that got “close but no cigar,” but people that were enlightened one time.
And then going back to Hebrews 6:4-6, Hebrews 6 verse 4, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have” what? “tasted of the heavenly gift” now here’s how the Reformed camp wants you to understand “tasted.” [Hebrews 6:4-6, “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have” what? “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,  and then have fallen away, 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”]
It’s like licking a lollypop, you just took a little taste into your mouth but you never swallow the whole thing, like that owl that they used to have on Saturday morning cartoons that would say three licks to the bottom of the tootsie pop, because he took a bite out of it at the end. Was it three licks? Yeah, see, everybody knows that. So that’s how the Reformed camp wants you understand “tasted,” they didn’t follow the example of the owl, just took a little lick of the lollypop but never absorbed.
Now question: now you can find other verses in the Bible that teach that, but that doesn’t matter, that’s irrelevant. How does the writer of this same book use the word “tasted,” it’s the Greek verb geuomai, and notice Hebrews 2:9, “But we do see Him who was made for a little while lower than the angels, namely, Jesus, because of the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, so that by the grace of God He might” what? what does it say, “taste death for everyone.” Now it’s the same word, geuomai, let me ask you, when Jesus died on the cross did He get “close but no cigar,” or was it a full experience? It was a full experience. So when the writer of Hebrews says they “tasted of the heavenly gift” he’s not talking about people that got close and took a little lick of it, he’s talking about people that have had a full experience with the Holy Spirit because of their salvation.
Now notice that here in Hebrews 6:4 these people have “tasted of the heavenly gift.” Now we might ask ourselves, well then what is “the heavenly gift”? The Hebrew word for gift is dōrea, and it has ten usages in the New Testament (in the paper I show you where all those ten usages are) and every single time it’s used it is referring to either regenerated people that have been gifted by God or regenerated people themselves. Now I’m not sure “gift” is used elsewhere in the book of Hebrews. So if it’s not used elsewhere in the book of Hebrews we’ve got to go outside the book of Hebrews to try to figure out what does the word mean. And I have the quote therein the paper; “dōrea and all of its other ten uses in the New Testament either refers to regenerated person receiving a gift from God or the gift of regeneration itself, starting with John 4:10 and other passages.” [John 4:10, “Jesus answered and said to her, ‘If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.’”]
It says they “tasted of the heavenly gift,” it couldn’t be clearer that you’re dealing with people that have the Holy Spirit and they don’t just have it a little bit, they have a full experience with the Holy Spirit and it’s something that has been one time delivered to them.
Another phrase, these people, the end of verse 4, have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. [Hebrews 6:4, “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,”] Now the word “partaker” is metochoi which means partnership. For example, it’s used of our partnership with Jesus, Hebrews 1:9. Hebrews 3:1 it’s talking there about “holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, that’s metochoi. Hebrews 3:14, we have become “partakers of Christ,” Hebrews 12:8, we are partakers in divine discipline as sons.
So “partakers” is somebody that has entered into a full partnership with the Spirit of God. So it’s clearly talking about saved people. And notice that it says there that they have the Holy Spirit, they have been made “partakers of the Holy Spirit.”
And when you study what the writer says about the Holy Spirit, Hebrews 10, really beginning at verse 29 and going down to verse 35, you see that it’s something that can be experienced only by a saved person.
[Hebrews 10:29-35, “How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?  For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’  It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.  But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings,  partly by being made a public spectacle through reproaches and tribulations, and partly by becoming sharers with those who were so treated.  For you showed sympathy to the prisoners and accepted joyfully the seizure of your property, knowing that you have for yourselves a better possession and a lasting one.  Therefore, do not throw away your confidence, which has a great reward.”]
So these people had full partnership with the Spirit of God; there’s no way this could be talking about an unsaved person at all. And then he goes on and what does he say? “They have tasted,” see how the word “tasted” is used a second time, “tasted of the good word of God.
[Hebrews 6:5, “and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,] Now again “tasted” doesn’t just mean licking a lollypop, licking a frosty freeze, licking a snow cone. The way the writer uses the word, going back to Hebrews 2:9, is a full experience. And “tasting” of the Word of God” is used throughout the Bible to describe saved people. 1 Peter 2:3 says, “if you have tasted the kindness of the Lord.” Psalm 34:8 says, “O taste, and see that the LORD is good.” So when you actually study “taste” this idea that you just kind of get close but never swallow, that’s not how the rest of the Scripture…, it’s certainly not how the author of Hebrews describes this concept of tasting. This is a full experience in the Word of God that this audience has already received. So they “have tasted of the word of God.”
They have also tasted, same verb, of the powers of the age to come. So these are people that had received what I would call the first fruits of the millennial kingdom because at this time miracles were happening in their midst, and there’s a reference to that, Hebrews 2:3-4, as the message was being handed off from the apostles to the next generation God testified to it by signs and miracles. [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.”] And you know what? These are the same kind of miracles that are going to go all over the planet when the millennial kingdom comes. So these are people that had tasted the firstfruits, if you will, of the millennial kingdom.
So you take these five phrases and you put them together, “who have once been enlightened,” “who have tasted of the heavenly gift,” “who have been made partakers with the Holy Spirit,” partners,” “who have tasted of the good word of God,” “who have tasted of the age to come” and you study how the writer uses that same terminology in the same book, that’s your starting place. And you don’t run off to every other verse in the Bible that’s [can’t understand word] related. I think the conclusion is almost inescapable, that you’re dealing with regenerated, saved people.
Now the Reform camp admits this. This guy, Dr. Roger McCall is very Reformed, he doesn’t think these verses are talking about saved people but every once in a while you have these moments of candor in these guys. So he says the most immediate impulse would be to interpret this cluster of statements as describing regenerate persons. I wish he had stopped writing right there; if he’d just put a period, end of article, that would be great. Then he goes on and on to give all of these pages of detail why these aren’t saved people, but he admits here, gosh, if you just looked at this at face value they look like saved people to me.
Now a lot of people will look at Hebrews 4:4-6 and they’ll say there’s no way this could be saved people because the author tells these people to repent, and we all know that only unsaved people repent. You guys look saved to me anyway; you guys ever had to repent as Christians? Of course we repent as Christians; we step out of God’s will all of the time and we need to ask God to restore broken fellowship. Would you say David was a saved person when he committed murder and adultery, first adultery and then murder? He had to repent before God. So don’t let this word “repentance” make you believe that these are unsaved people.
Now the one that bothers everybody is this one here, it says, the audience is running the risk of crucifying to themselves the son of God and putting Him to an open shame. [Hebrews 6:6, “and then have fallen away, 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.”] They say how could a believer recrucify the Son of God? How could a believer put Jesus Christ to open shame? And so they say this is only a sin that could be committed by an unbeliever; never could a believer do such a thing. And I’m here to tell you that a believer has the capacity to recrucify the Son of God; the believer has the capacity to put Christ to open shame. The audience, by leaving the full revelation of Christ and slipping back into the institutions of Judaism, in fact, was on the precipice of doing that very thing. Now why is that? Because they would be aligning with the unbelieving nation that crucified Christ.
Remember what Peter said on the day of Pentecost, in Acts 2:22, “‘Men of Israel,” speaking to the Jewish nation. Down in Acts 2:23 he says of Christ, he says “you nailed to a cross.” [Acts 2:22, “Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know— ” Acts 2:23, “this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death.”]
What he’s saying to his Jewish audience as they’re in an unbelieving state, this nation killed Jesus. Now think about this for a minute; if you’re a Hebrew that’s saved and you’re being pressured to reject the full revelation of Christ and go back to the institutions of Judaism, the temple which was still functioning up until A.D. 70, to get persecutors off your back which is the temptation that this audience was under, the author of Hebrews is saying if you do that you are re-crucifying Jesus Christ because you are publicly identifying with the nation that rejected Christ. If you reject your confession, which I think is their baptism, what is a baptism? It’s an outward confession of an inward reality. That’s what the unbelieving Jews hated when they saw a Jew get saved and baptized. If you reject that baptism and you may not even think you’re doing this but if you go back to Judaism and just pretend like nothing happened, that you were never saved to begin with, you are identifying with the nation that killed Jesus. That’s how it’s completely possible for this audience to recrucify Christ.
Stephen, in his speech there in Acts 7 says virtually the same thing. He talks about the righteousness… this is what got Stephen killed by the way, by the unbelieving Jews, righteous one who’s betrayers and murderers you have become. He points the finger right at the Jewish nation and says you guys, the first century Israel, rejected Christ, the leadership rejected Christ. Now if the Hebrews renounce the full revelation of Christ and go back into the institutions of Judaism they are crucifying Jesus Christ all over again. You’re putting Him to open shame. [Hebrews 6:4, “and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, 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.”]
Is it possible for a believer to do this? Yes it is possible, just like it’s possible for the Kadesh-barnea generation to manufacture a golden calf and still be saved. Just like it’s possible for you and I in the age of the church to grieve the Holy Spirit, Ephesians 4:30. [Ephesians 4:30, “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”] So this expression, re-crucifixion of Christ can easily apply to a believer. See that?
Now there’s another expression that bothers people, it says “they have fallen away.” [Hebrews 6:6, “and then have fallen away, 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.”] And people look at that and say well, they’ve fallen away from salvation. Arminianism says they had salvation and lost it. The Reformed camp comes along and says well, they fell away from salvation because they never had it. And the bottom line is you can fall away from all kinds of things as a Christian without jeopardizing your eternal security. You can fall away from fellowship, you can fall away from maturity.
Let’s say you just decide to quit coming to church for three months. What have you just short-circuited yourself from? Three months of teaching, three months of growth that God wants to give you. So if these guys reject the full revelation of Christ and wander back into the institutions of Judaism it’s not necessarily saying they’ve lost their salvation but they’ve fallen away from growth, maturity, they now become candidates for divine discipline and so forth. So when you look at the immediate context I’m convinced that you’re dealing with a saved audience; therefore this warning is not talking about hell.
And let’s look at the subsequent context, let’s look at the verses right after Hebrews 6:4-6, and notice what it says here. [Hebrews 4:7] “For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God;  but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.  But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way.  For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,  so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
Now these are the verses that go right after Hebrews 6:4-6. See that word “For,” see how all these paragraphs are connected? So whatever you’re going to do with Hebrews 6, verse 7 and following is going to impact your view of Hebrews 6:4-6, just like your view of Hebrews 5 and the beginning of Hebrews 6 is going to impact your view of Hebrews 6:4-6. You have to look at the total context.
Now notice this word “drink, “For the ground drinks the rain,” the verb there is pinō and when you study that word what you’ll discover is that refers to people receiving salvation. It’s not used in Hebrews so we can find it elsewhere, in places like John 4:13, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again.” John 6:54, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life.” John 7:37, “If anyone is thirsty let him come to me and” what? “drink.” So these people have drunken, drank, drunk, however you say that, in initial salvation, I believe, that’s the significance of that word “drink.”
And consequently they’ve been blessed, there’s vegetation, there’s blessings from God but oh-oh, there’s not just blessings from God in their lives there’s what? thorns and thistles, and those thorns and thistles are cursed. Now people look at that and they say how could that be a saved person? Look at the audience, they had received initial salvation, blessing, vegetation, but they are thinking about (to escape persecution) renouncing the full revelation of Christ and going back to the institutions of Judaism. That’s the “thorns and thistles”. Can you think of any biblical characters that don’t have both in their lives? Practically every biblical character I can think of, David, Solomon, Samson, they had blessings, vegetation, but they also had what? Some “thorns and thistles.” Look at your life, would you say both are in your life? There’s some great things God is doing but then… you know, there’s this thing over here I try to keep secret from everybody, it’s kind of a thorn and thistle growing up in my life. See, the concept of thorns and thistles alongside vegetation can easily apply to a saved person.
Now what about “cursed”? The Kadesh-barnea generation was saved, as I tried to explain, they believed in the Lord, they were brought to Mount Sinai as saved people and what did they receive at Sinai? The Law. The Law was never designed to redeem a people but rather it was given to a redeemed people. So when they received the Law of God they were already in faith. Have you studied that Law of God lately? It’s got blessings and curses in it; you go this direction and obey the Law you’re going to be blessed; you go the other direction and disobey the Law you’re going to be cursed. So the concept of cursings can apply to a what? Saved person. Just like the concept of cursings was applicable to the nation of Israel that had already been regenerated, redeemed. See that?
Now the writer of this book, the book is written to the Hebrews; sounds kind of Jewish doesn’t it? So the Jewish mind clearly understands how cursings are applicable to a saved nation. So don’t let the word “cursing” make you feel like there’s no way these people could be saved.
He goes on in verse 9 and he calls them “beloved.” Now the word “beloved” is used 60 times in the New Testament; 9 of the 60 times it’s used to describe the relationship between the Father and the Son. The rest of the 51 times, as you study it out, it always refers to believers. So when he calls them “beloved” he’s calling them believers.
And then he says “your work and the love which you have shown towards His name in having ministered and still ministering to the saints,” and then he goes on and exhorts his audience to show the same diligence. These are people with good works in their lives, and they’re called upon to continue to be diligent in the things of God. [Hebrews 6:10, “For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”]
So you look at three things here, actually four things, drink, blessings in vegetation along with cursings, the expression “beloved” and the good works that these people are doing and I think the subsequent context demonstrates you’ve got saved people.
I don’t have time to cover it but there are four words, we’ll start these the next time we are together, four words in verses 7-12 that make it look, at first glance, that these are unsaved people: “thorns and thistles,” which we’ve already talked a little bit about today, “worthless,” “cursed,” oh here’s the killer, “burned!” That’s got to be hell, right? Not necessarily, as I’ll be showing you.
So I didn’t quite get as far as I wanted to do today but what I’m trying to show you is the same two points made about the Kadesh-barnea generation, saved and loss of a blessing, is the identical points that the writer of Hebrews is making to his audience, saved and they hadn’t crossed the point of no return yet but they’re on the precipice, if you will, of forfeiting a divine blessing which they could have had, which is unrelated to salvation, because they already have salvation.
So I’m sorry to kind of stop it right here in the middle but we’ll continue this next time. And we won’t be here next week or the week after because church will be starting at 10:00 a.m. and we’re just having our regular church service because next Sunday is what? Christmas. And the following Sunday is what? New Year’s so that’s kind of how the calendar works this time.