17/09/16 Hebrews 5:12-6:8 “Christians have to grow up, or else ……

We finished on Hebrews 5:11 last time, noting that the writer was openly accusing the listeners (readers) to be lacking understanding of something that they had great need to understand. Many things could be said but it was difficult to teach them seeing as the listeners were so dull of understanding.

Hebrews 5:11Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.

Now the writer enlarges on what he has perceived to be a serious problem indeed.


Hebrews 5:12For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which [be] the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.


Those to whom this epistle is addressed should (according to the writer) have learned sufficient to be able to teach others what they have learned, yet they are stuck in Prep class! Instead of learning and progressing through the classes, they are unable to pass the requirements necessary to progress to Year 1. By now they should be training others in the faith, but cannot because they are still incompetent.

2 Timothy 2:2And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

They are still new-born babies, still on the milk (the easy stuff!) of the Word, and far from being able to handle a solid bit of teaching, let alone try to teach it to others. For how can you teach solid teaching to others unless you have already learned it yourself. Remember that there are two questions everyone should ask before taking medicine: have you tried it, and does it work? If you cannot answer yes to both of these questions (or at least know that the answer should be yes to each), then you cannot advise someone else to take it.


When people are saved, it is often termed “being born again”, thus a “born-again Christian”. But how does a normal physical baby grow so that it can cope with the big bad world in just hopefully 20 years (or less)? It needs to learn survival; this includes language, essential concepts such as safety, who it can trust, and, very importantly, how to find out information that can tell it what is right and what is wrong. This last skill is essential in determining the things that will work, and those things also which have to be avoided. In Christian doctrine, this would amount to an understanding of what dangers there might be in following certain lines of thinking, such as calvinism or Pentecostalism, or even the dangers of certain cult doctrines such as SDAs, Mormons and JWs.


But these people being discussed in Hebrews 5:12 above don’t have much of a clue when it comes to any of this. They’re clueless, like babies who have to be spoon-fed (or even bottle-fed!), having to be cared for in just about every way. In some primitive societies babies were brought up rough in order to be tough. If they survived the first few years they would survive anything! But today’s Christians are brought up to be wimpy weaklings who have to have everything just right, including the “temperature of their milk bottles” (that is, they want everything to be so nice and easy)! None of this testing all things for them! ((1 Thessalonians 5:21) nor any bother in rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15). Today’s Christians are so gullible, they’d believe anything their pastors (or leaders) told them. All they want to do is to enjoy life and not let any deeper problem of Christianity spoil their day! And these are the ones that the writer to the Hebrews is focussing on right now. They just won’t learn; they have to be told over and over all the basics all the time!


Hebrews 5:13For every one that useth milk [is] unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.


For these babes in Christ (who still need the milk of the Word) are totally lacking in skills to deal with understanding of the Word of righteousness.

1 Peter 2:2As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

But if the milk doesn’t cause growth as a Christian, then something’s wrong. Growth is normal; staying a baby and never growing is not normal. Not growing means constant and ongoing supervision and care.


Hebrews 5:14But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, [even] those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


Strong meat (the tough and solid doctrines of the Word) are for those who can chew and digest such; that is, for those who are mature Christians. Their teeth are strong enough to get stuck into hard chewing, especially when it comes to discernment of both good and evil. Far too many Christians cannot tell the difference between good doctrine (or teachings) and false (evil) doctrine (or teachings). A sign of the mature Christian is that they have significant discernment concerning right and wrong; they can tell the difference. Unfortunately, “significant discernment” doesn’t describe most “Christians” in Australia today.

Note, though, that exercising their senses is so important here. You just cannot learn about right and wrong from a study guide. Knowing the answers is one thing; the ability to put them into practice is another thing entirely. There is no substitute for learning on the job here. You will never become a good Christian by just reading the Bible and thinking about what you might do about it. You have to put it into action in your life, learn by doing it! As James says, we must not be just hearers of the Word but doers also, and faith without the works to back it up is clearly dead.

James 1:22But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 2:17Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.


Hebrews 6:1Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,


So what’s the answer for those who are still new-born Christian babies? You have to leave the behaviour and learnings of the baby as the writer has defined above, and progress to the next stage, and the next, and so on, that is, on toward perfection. But it appears that some of these new-born Christians were continually staying at the new-born stage, probably sinning because that’s what they had always done, and then repenting because they knew now that it was wrong. They were caught on a treadmill that they couldn’t get off, going around in circles and never going anywhere. They’d been saved, yet they didn’t know how to offload their sin, which would then drag them back down again, thus requiring repentance to get back on track again, then falling again because they just didn’t know how to get off this vicious cycle.


They needed to break this cycle somehow, to go on past that stage of laying again the foundation of repentance from their dead works of sin, that stage which required faith in their justification, that gift of God offered to them in order to become new-born Christians. They had already laid the foundation stones of their repentance and faith; now they needed to build upon them.

Barnes describes the repentance from dead works as the first element of the Christian religion, with faith toward God being the second element of religion.


Hebrews 6:2Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.


The list of foundational beliefs is continued here. Barnes continues to describe these further four foundation stones (underlined above) as the third, fourth, fifth and sixth elements of the Christian religion. These six elements concern the basics of Christian religion (as the Hebrews would have understood them).


Once they have established these six foundational stones, they should have been going on to build upon them, progressing toward perfection (a goal which, in practice, is impossible for the Christian, but should still be the goal of all Christians nevertheless). These are all doctrines which the writer considers as foundational, such that new-born Christians should learn in their Prep classes before progressing on to Year 1, 2 3 and so on.


Hebrews 6:3And this will we do, if God permit.


if – ἐάν ean περ per (if per) That is, if per God’s permission. This is the only conditional word used in this passage today. Note that the word translated as “if” in Vs 6 should not have been translated as such – see further down.


This we will do, says the writer, if you haven’t already fallen away. For it is impossible for those having been enlightened, tasted, been partakers, and then falling away, to be renewed again unto repentance (verses 4 & 6). What is it in the Bible that we can only do once, and never have a second opportunity ever again? Death? Being born again in Christ? Face judgment? Is there anything else at all? For if there isn’t anything else that can be done only once (absolutely), then we have to consider what can actually fit in here.


And the condition exists on whether God will permit these “babies” to go on from here, or whether He may have already determined that they had lost so much of their way that they had literally fallen away (or died again). (This is an interpretation that this passage cannot dismiss.)


Hebrews 6:4For [it is] impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,


impossible – without strength; impotent; powerless; weakly; disabled; unable to be done; impossible. While some commentaries may try to weaken this word to “very difficult (yet not impossible)”, it is a grasping at the wind to try to push away the implications of the word “impossible”. It might be suggested that this impossibility exists only on man’s behalf, yet this is actually something that God may not permit, thus God declares it impossible.


So, it is impossible to renew again unto repentance if the following are made part of a person’s life, then removed again through the process of the falling away of that person:


who were once enlightened – I cannot see it possible to be enlightened without also having made that step of faith to call upon the name of the Lord and be saved.  Similarly, the word “knowledge” as used in 2 Peter 2:20 (and its verbal equivalent in 2 Peter 2:21) also strongly implies a definite step of salvation. (Noting that 2 Peter 2:20-21 appears to have many similarities to today’s passage.)

2 Peter 2:20-2120 For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21 For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known [it], to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.

knowledgeepignosis (precise and correct knowledge)

knownepignosko (to become thoroughly acquainted with, to know thoroughly)

Peter uses epignosis (knowledge) 3 more times in 2 Peter (4 in all):

2 Peter 1:2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,

2 Peter 1:3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

2 Peter 1:8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make [you that ye shall] neither [be] barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.


Faith is necessary in salvation: that is, to trust in the promises of God concerning salvation before actually experiencing them. Thus, once that faith is exercised, the person is enlightened concerning his decision; he knows now that salvation is real and true, because he has just taken a step of faith into the unknown in order to “prove” God’s faithfulness to His promises. That is, he required faith to first believe that which he now knows to be true. Faith is only necessary when logic cannot demonstrate the correctness of a particular course of action. I seriously question whether a non-Christian can be thus enlightened. Thayer’s lexicon says of “enlightened” (in the spiritual sense as here) – “to enlighten, spiritually, imbue with saving knowledge”. It appears clear here that enlightenment involves saving knowledge.


have tasted of the heavenly gift – (“tasted” is same word used in Vs 6:5, also in Hebrews 2:9bthat he (Jesus) by the grace of God should taste death for every man.) Some might say that this is only a tasting, and not a solid eating, yet it can be translated as “eaten” as well. (Although MacArthur takes another angle again, that Jesus did taste death for everyone, “Everyone who believes, that is.” – MacArthur Study Bible) Also, is it possible to even taste of the heavenly gift without being a Christian? Does God save some people only partially? (And I’m not talking of the temporary faith that Calvin taught was an inferior operation of the Holy Spirit). Can a simple profession of faith in Christ without real basis for such be described as a mere tasting of the heavenly gift?


made partakers of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) – (partakers = a sharing; a partner) It appears impossible to be a partaker in this sense without actually being a Christian!

Can the Holy Spirit become a part of a person’s life without that person calling upon the name of the Lord to be saved?


Hebrews 6:5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,


have tasted the good word of God – Perhaps a case might be made to show that a non-Christian person (non-regenerate to the calvinist) might be able to taste the good word of God. After all, much of our legal system is based upon the righteous justice of God (Eg no murder, no stealing etc). However, taken in context with the rest of this verse, that interpretation then clearly falls apart.


and (have tasted) the powers of the world to come – What is “the world to come”? If it means the world after the end of this world (age) (Eg Matthew 28:20) then it clearly indicates the authority of the Christian once he has left this world behind. And Christians even now while still under bondage to the flesh (see Romans 7) may yet have authority over the world around them (we are more than conquerors – Romans 8:37). It is impossible to see how any non-Christian may have any perception at all concerning the power and authority available to the genuine Christian who has tasted of the powers of the world to come.

Another point of interest is that calvinists claim that “see’ in John 3:3 actually means “believe in” or “have faith in”, thus “proving” that we must be born again before we can believe! However, is seeing the kingdom of God intrinsically different to tasting the powers of the world to come? Thus, calvinists have to accept that tasting the powers of the world to come must apply to what they would term the elect.


Of course, Calvin’s way out of this predicament was to teach that a person could appear to be saved, yet not actually be one of the elect, because God only gave him a temporary faith, which Calvin described as an inferior operation of the Holy Spirit! (Institutes Bk 2, Ch 2, Section 41 – Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them. ….. But in this there is nothing to prevent an inferior operation of the Spirit from taking its course in the reprobate.)



to come – to be on the point of doing or suffering something; to intend; have in mind. It does however have an idea of expectation when it is used; that is, a future event.


Hebrews 6:6If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put [him] to an open shame.


If – καί kai (and; also; even; indeed; but) kai is used 9251 times in the N.T. – “and” 8173 times; “also” 514 times.

Most genuine teachers here (including most reliable commentaries) accept this as meaning “and (then)” or similar. Gill says it is “if” but being a strict calvinist he must somehow try to persuade us that it is most likely a hypothetical issue or the person was never a Christian in the first place. Both of these interpretations. however, have some problems, especially the hypothetical one. I cannot see why something that is hypothetical and thus never going to happen in reality would actually be in the Bible when all scripture is profitable for our use (2 Timothy 3:16). That is, while it is taught that you might lose your salvation, they also teach that it can never happen because it is all an imaginary exercise! I cannot accept this as logical nor consistent with the rest of Scripture.


Take the meaning of “hypothetical”. A hypothetical situation is something that may be proposed to students to test their ability to assess and control dangerous situations without the risk. It might be an imaginary situation, but it has to be representative of reality. That is, if it cannot ever happen, then it is not a hypothetical situation at all. In order to be hypothetical, it must be possible!


Note further that even if not one of those to whom the epistle is addressed actually falls away as per Hebrews 6:6, it still doesn’t prove that it cannot happen! A warning that is strictly obeyed doesn’t prove the warning to be irrelevant. So, we will dismiss hypothetical as a possible interpretation of this passage.


It is clear, also, that eternal security is a basic doctrine of the Bible. However, all the promises of such relate to God not leaving us nor forsaking us (Hebrews 13:5), and to God not allowing anyone to pluck us out of His hand (John 10:28), nor anything (absolutely anything!) being permitted to separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). Not one promise, though, relates to us not being able to have a free will choice to remove ourselves from the salvation provided by God. We have a free will to accept or reject salvation in Christ, and scripture consistently teaches us to hold on, hold fast, etc our confession / confidence / hope etc to the end (Hebrews 3:6 & 14; Ch. 4:14). Of course, who would desire to lose what is ours in Christ? Only one who didn’t realise the value of such great salvation (see Hebrews 2:3) or was allured by false promises of greater freedom in the world as per 2 Peter 2:18-19. When a person becomes a Christian, do they always hand over control of their lives to God, or do they wish to maintain some ability to decide concerning particular joys of the world, such that they may have to make a decision one day between the world and their soul? (Note: we must take up our crosses daily, denying self, forsaking all, in order to be disciples of Jesus, according to His words.)


It does appear that if we were to keep control of our lives in our hands, we could still lose what we have. On the other hand, handing over control to God (much like an enduring power of attorney) gives God the control of our destiny that assures us of eternal security. Can we then assume eternal security if God is in charge? I would think that if we have given over our option of self-determination, then I do not see how we could possibly lose what is no longer ours to control. See Romans 12:1-2.


It also says clearly that they crucify afresh the Son of God, something that a non-Christian cannot be guilty of. For if it be maintained that all have crucified the Son of God by their sin, then how might anyone ever repent if that repentance were to crucify Him afresh? And thus, no-one could ever be saved! So, it cannot mean someone who is merely a sinner who is indicated here. And it cannot mean those who have rejected a call to repentance (in order to be saved) either, for that would mean that mankind only has but one opportunity for repentance ever. Yet how many times may a person reject the gospel before accepting it? Just once, or, as so often is the case, many times over!


Thus it can logically only mean those who have appropriated that free gift of salvation, only to reject it later on in favour of the world and all its pleasures, putting Jesus Christ to an open shame.

Luke 9:26For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and [in his] Father’s, and of the holy angels.


I’ll just mention the final two verses of today’s passage to round off our lesson today; however, I’ll look at these two verses in more detail next time.

Hebrews 6:7For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:

Hebrews 6:8But that which beareth thorns and briers [is] rejected, and [is] nigh unto cursing; whose end [is] to be burned.


Note the vine and the branches in John 15:1-8. How does this passage add to the meaning of today’s passage?

Note 2 Peter 2:18-21 – another passage that appears to discuss the losing of one’s salvation.


I also note that there doesn’t appear to be one passage anywhere that actually disallows anyone the right to choose to lose their salvation. I don’t believe that a Christian would knowingly give up his salvation, but could deception and the allures of this world cause some to let slip what they are holding onto, because they just didn’t realise how important it really was. Note the connection between “let them slip” and “neglect” (Vs 1 & 3 below). Note that neglect usually applies to something we are responsible for, Eg. neglecting our duty, neglecting our family,… or neglecting our gift – 1 Timothy 4:14.

Hebrews 2:1-31 Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let [them] slip. 2 For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; 3 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him];


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