The marks of spiritual immaturity — Hebrews 5:11-14
The following comes through the notes of Mark Ramsey and the comments of the class.
- A point of no return
The writer is addressing Jews who had heard the gospel and had not accepted Jesus as the promised Messiah. However, the warning here applies to anyone, whether Jew or Gentile. All who know the truth of God’s saving grace in Jesus Christ or who have heard it or even seen the change of lives of those who accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and walked away from the full acceptance of Jesus as Lord and Savior are given a severe warning. Persistent rejection of Christ may result in that person’s passing the point of no return spiritually or forever losing the opportunity of salvation. Such a person eventually follows their evil heart of unbelief and turns their back forever on the living God. What do you think about this comment? if this summary is accurate, does it cause you concern for those who appear to be indifferent to the Lord Jesus Christ?
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:21-23 NASB)
Mark Ramsey noted that this was the fourth of five admonitions presented in Hebrews. One class member noted that, while the reactions of Bud Light and Target to the people’s rejection of being force-fed transgender ideology, it did run a parallel course. Bud Light and Target would rather align themselves with child-destroying evil than stand up against evil.
Another class member noted the many pew-fillers and tolerant non-believers who embrace the lies of the world while thinking that they will go to heaven for their good works. With the consistent radio and television broadcasts of the real gospel, Americans do not have an excuse. They have likely repeatedly heard the true gospel. Nonetheless, they persist in believing in their own works rather than the sacrifice of Christ.
- Leaving the elementary teachings — Hebrews 6:1a
Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, Hebrews 6:1a NASB)
The Greek word for “leaving” (ἀφέντες pronounced “aphentes’) is to forsake, disregard or put off. It refers to total detachment or total separation. The teachings the Jews were to leave was the Old Testament principles of Judaism-the sacrifices, the types, the pictures and come to the reality of the New Covenant in Jesus Christ. A paraphrase could be, “Leave the pictures of the Messiah and go to the Messiah Himself” or “Drop the Old Covenant and accept the New.”
- Six features of the foundation, the Old Covenant — Hebrews 6:1b-2
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. (Hebrews 6:1b-2 NASB)
- Repentance from dead works
Repentance from dead works is simply turning from evil, which is an important truth of the Old Testament However, it is not complete. It is fulfilled and made effective through a relationship with Jesus in faith. An incomplete dealing with sin must be abandoned for a complete one through Christ. How do you respond to someone who says they are a good person and do not believe they will go to hell?
- Faith in God
There is no acceptable repentance apart from faith in Christ. The only faith towards God that is now acceptable is faith in God the Son. There is no way to the Father except through the Son.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NASB)
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6 NASB)
What do you say to someone who says “I believe in God but I don’t believe Jesus is God”?
One class member noted that there was more proof of the miraculous acts of Christ than there was of the existence of Alexander the Great.
Another class member said that this was likely centered on an issue with a Christian. She would drill down to the problem with the previous Christian. Further, she would point to how all sin. Finally, she would point to our common need to forgive and be forgiven.
- Instruction about baptism or washings
The actual translation of the Greek word is washings Every Jewish home had a basin for ceremonial cleansings, which were many. It is these washings that the readers are- told to abandon. The old washings were physical, symbolic and temporary while the new washing is spiritual, real and permanent.
He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit, (Titus 3:5 NASB)
- The laying on of handsThis has nothing to do with the laying on of hands of the apostles. Under the Old Testament, the person who brought a sacrifice had to put their hands on it, which symbolized their identification with it. Our identification with Christ does not come by our putting our hands on Him; it comes by the Spirit’s baptizing us into union with Jesus by faith. “Forget the teachings about laying hands on the Temple sacrifices and put your trust in Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice.”
- The resurrection of the deadThe Old Testament doctrine of resurrection is not clear or complete. We know from Job that the resurrection will be bodily and spiritual and that there is life after death and rewards for the good and punishment for the wicked but not much more. Of course, in the NT, resurrection is a major doctrine.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, (John 11:25 NASB)
Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. (1 John 3:2 NASB)
But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ’s at His coming, (1 Corinthians 15:20-23 NASB)
- Eternal judgement
We learn very little about the final judgment except in Ecclesiastes 12:14, in the New Testament we are told a great deal about eternal judgment.
For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil. (Ecclesiastes 12:14 NASB)
Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (Romans 8:1 NASB)
Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire. (1 Corinthians 3:12-15 NASB)
The judgment of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25); the judgment of the great white throne (Rev. 20). We know all judgment has been committed to Jesus Christ. (John 5)
The point of these verses is that the unbelieving Jews should let go of the elementary shadows and symbols of the Old Testament and take hold of the perfect reality of the New. The Old Testament is partial revelation and incomplete and Jesus is the fulfillment of the promises and symbols.
- Repentance from dead works
- The Power — Hebrews 6:3
And this we will do, if God permits. (Hebrews 6:3 NASB)
Most likely, this means the author’s continuing to teach and salvation by the audience maturing in Christ must be energized by the Holy Spirit. Everything revolves around the permission of God. Need for divine enablement is the point. God’s sovereignty is recognized.
Not that we are adequate in ourselves to consider anything as coming from ourselves, but our adequacy is from God, (2 Corinthians 3:5 NASB)
No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day. (John 6:44 NASB)
- Five great advantages for these Hebrews — Hebrews 6:4-5
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, (Hebrews 6:4-5 NASB)
- They had to be enlightened
This is not speaking of salvation but to intellectual perception of spiritual, biblical truth. It carries no requirement of a response-acceptance or rejection. This group heard the truth but did not embrace it.
- They had tasted the heavenly gift
The greatest heavenly gift is Jesus.
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (2 Corinthians 9:15 NASB)
This greatest gift was only tasted and sampled but not received.
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” (John 4:13-14 NASB
Those who drink the living water, not just taste it or sip It, are saved.
I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (John 6:51 NASB)
Eternal life comes from eating, not just tasting.
- They shared in the Holy Spirit
The Greek word for “shared” (μετόχους, pronounced “metochous”) has to do with association, not possession. These Jews had never been possessed by the Holy Spirit. They were simply around when He was around. The Bible speaks of believers being indwelt or possessed by the Holy Spirit not being associated with Him.
- They tasted the Word of God
Again, these unbelievers heard God’s word and sampled it, but did eat or digest it. The Greek term for “word” is not Λόγος (pronounced “logos”) but ῥῆμα (pronounced “rhema”) which emphasizes parts and not the whole. King Herod was like this-he enjoyed listening to John the Baptist teach but he forsook God’s message. There is nothing wrong with tasting God’s word. The problem is stopping with tasting.
- They tasted the powers of the coming age
The age to come is the future kingdom of God. They saw the apostles do signs and wonders and heard of the miracles of Jesus which will be reproduced in the millennial kingdom. But, they only tasted them and, then, left the table. These unbelieving Jews experienced all these advantages yet still did not believe. Do you know anyone who has these advantages yet still reject the Way, the Truth and the Life? Does this motivate you to share the truth with them before it is too late?
- They had to be enlightened
- The fourth warning — Hebrews 6:4-6
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. (Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB)
- The illustration of the abundant life — Hebrews 6:7-8
The writer is saying to these unbelievers who have this knowledge that the opportunity for salvation can be lost. The believer can never lose their salvation.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (John 10:27-29 NASB)
Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35, 38-39 NASB)
to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1 Peter 1:4-5 NASB
It is the unbelievers who are in danger of losing the opportunity of receiving salvation. The longer one resists the Gospel, the more they become immune to it. They become more and more unresponsive and insensitive. Their only hope is to reject what they are holding on to and receive Christ without delay as they will most likely become so hard, often, without knowing it, that their opportunity is forever gone. If someone rejects Christ when they experience knowledge and conviction, it is doubtful they will truly accept Him at a lower level.
They could not return because they have crucified to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
This implies that those who reject Christ are aligned with the crucifiers, that He deserved to be crucified and that He is not the true Messiah. Shame or disgrace connotes guilt.
How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot 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? (Hebrews 10:29 NASB)
It is a dangerously self-deceptive position to think it is safe to stay on the sidelines and thinking that you are tolerant to the Gospel as opposed to outwardly rejecting it.
- The illustration of the abundant life — Hebrews 6:7-8
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. (Hebrews 6:7-8 NASB)
The gospel seed which is planted grows and matures as it is rooted and nourished in God while the other seed is unproductive and worthless as it rejected the life, offered to it and is only good for burning. Sounds like the parable of the Sower and seeds, doesn’t it? How is your soil/ground as the rain falls from heaven where the seed is planted?
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