"THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"
The Peril Of Not Progressing (He 6:1-8)
1. The normal Christian life is to be one of spiritual growth and
a. Starting as "babes in Christ", we feed on the "milk" of the Word
b. As our spiritual senses are exercised to discern good and evil,
we are then able to progress to "solid food" (meat)
— In this way we are to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our
Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." – 2 Pe 3:18
2. But as we saw in a previous lesson ("Marks Of Spiritual
Immaturity"), not all grow as they should, and some of the
indications of immaturity are
a. Dullness of hearing
b. Inability to teach others
c. Diet of "milk" only
d. Inability to discern good and evil – cf. He 5:11-14
3. But if we don’t grow spiritually as we should, so what?
a. Is spiritual growth really that essential?
b. Is there a danger involved in not progressing spiritually?
[In the text before us (He 6:1-8 ), we find that indeed there is "The
Peril Of Not Progressing"; that it is possible for Christians to find
themselves in a very precarious situation.
As we examine this passage, we note first…]
I. THE DUTY OF PRESSING ON TO PERFECTION (Vs 1-3)
A. THE PERFECTION WE SEEK IS TWO-FOLD…
1. Maturity in religious knowledge, as a MEANS – 1 Pe 2:2; Ja 1:21
a. We need the Word of God, that we may grow thereby
b. Receiving the Word into our hearts with humility, can
save our souls
2. Full development of spiritual life, as an ENDS – 2 Pe 1:5-8
a. To faith and knowledge, we must add the qualities of godly
b. As we develop this godly character, we truly come to know
B. FOR THIS, WE NEED "THE ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF CHRIST"
1. Our text reveals that this involves teaching on such subjects
a. "Repentance from dead works"
1) I.e., turning from works which produce spiritual death,
2) Paul describes such works in Ep 2:1-3; Ro 6:21
b. "Faith toward God"
1) I.e., Having a firm conviction in God and His promises
is essential to pleasing Him – cf. He 11:6
2) This faith is produced by the Word of God itself –
cf. Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
c. "The doctrine of baptisms"
1) In the first century A.D., there were many ritual
washings practiced by various sects of the pagans and
a) Such practices needed to be carefully distinguished
from Christian baptism
b) Just as John’s baptism was distinguished from baptism
into Christ – cf. Ac 19:1-5
2) Today, it is important to understand the different kinds
of baptisms practiced…
a) Nearly all "Christian" religions practice some sort
b) But most do not baptize for the reasons stated in the
Scriptures – cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:1-6
d. "Laying on of hands"
1) In the early church, this was done for various reasons
a) By Jesus, and others with the gift of healing, to
heal the sick – Lk 4:40 ; Mk 16:18; Ac 28:8
b) By Jesus, to bestow special blessings upon others
– Mk 10:16; Mt 19:13-15
c) By the apostles, to impart the Spirit in a miraculous
measure – Ac 8:14-25; He 19:1-7; 2 Ti 1:6
d) By church leaders, to appoint different ones for
service – Ac 6:1-6; He 13:1-3; 1 Ti 4:14; 1 Ti 5:22
2) Note that the laying on of hands was often accompanied
with prayer; perhaps the imposition of hands being the
outward symbol of the prayer (Lightfoot)
e. "Resurrection of the dead"
1) A central theme of apostolic preaching was the
resurrection of Jesus – Ac 2:31-32; He 10:40; He 13:33
2) They also preached in Jesus our own resurrection, which
is our precious hope! – Ac 4:2; 24:15; 1 Co 15:12-23
f. "Eternal judgment"
1) Another theme of apostolic preaching – cf. Ac 17:30-31; Ac 24:24-25
2) Also stressed in their epistles – cf. Ro 2:16; 14:10-12;
2 Co 5:10
2. Understanding these concepts serves as the "beginning" of
a. Sadly, some who have been Christians for years still "need
someone to teach you again the first principles of the
oracles of God"
b. Such people are still "babes" who "need milk and not solid
food." – He 5:12
C. BUT WE ALSO NEED TO "GO ON TO PERFECTION"…
1. Once we have laid the foundation, we need to build on it
2. With an understanding of the doctrines previously described,
we are ready to receive more difficult knowledge
a. Such as the high priesthood of Christ – cf. He 5:9-11
b. We might also add the work of Christ as our "King of kings
and Lord of lords", as depicted in the book of Revelation
3. By comprehending the "meatier" parts of the Word of God, we
are more likely to remain steadfast in our faith
— And so we need the attitude of striving toward perfection as
described by Paul – Ph 3:7-15
[Is this our attitude? It should be, for as we continue to read in our
text, there is…]
II. THE DANGER OF IRREVERSIBLE APOSTASY (Vs 4-8)
A. NOTE THE PRIVILEGES SOME APOSTATES HAD ENJOYED…
1. They "were once enlightened"
a. This likely refers to their conversion – cf. He 10:32
b. By the second century, the word "enlightenment" was used as
a synonym for baptism (Justin, Apology, 1.61.65)
c. The Peshitta Syriac translates the verse, "who have once
descended to baptism" (Lightfoot)
2. They "have tasted of the heavenly gift"
a. The word "taste" suggests a deep personal experience –
cf. 1 Pe 2:3; Ps 34:8
b. Their tasting the "heavenly gift" refers back to the past
experience of salvation…
1) In which they experienced the forgiveness of sins
2) In which they began to receive the spiritual blessings
of being in Christ
c. The clause "describes vividly the reality of personal
experiences of salvation enjoyed by Christians at
conversion (baptism)." (Behm, TDNT, I, 676)
3. They "have become partakers of the Holy Spirit"
a. This also refers back to their conversion – Ac 2:38; Ac 5:32
b. The word "partakers" (metochous) is significant…
1) Christians are "partakers (metochoi) of the heavenly
calling" – He 3:1
2) They are "partakers (metochoi) of Christ" – He 3:14
— So they are also partakers in the Holy Spirit
4. They "have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the
age to come"
a. Again the word "tasted" suggests personal experience
b. They had experienced the good things the word of God
c. They had experienced "the powers of the age to come"
1) The "age to come" is likely the Messianic age, ushered
in with the first coming of Christ, and consummated with
His second coming (Lightfoot)
2) The "powers of the age" they had experienced…
a) Certainly included the "power" experienced by all
Christians – cf. Ep 1:19; He 3:20; He 6:10
b) But perhaps even "signs and wonders, with various
miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit" – cf. He 2:4
— Can these be anyone other than true Christians who had once
believed in Jesus?
B. NOTE HOW FAR THEY HAD FALLEN…
1. It was now "impossible…to renew them again to repentance"
a. It is apparent that Christians can "fall away"
1) Paul warned that one can become "estranged from Christ"
and "fall from grace" – Ga 5:4
2) Peter described those once saved whose "latter end is
worse than the beginning" – 2 Pe 2:20-22
b. Here we learn that some can fall away to the point they are
1) We cannot say when a person reaches that point
2) But there is a point where renewal becomes impossible
2. In such a state "they crucify again for themselves the Son of
God and put Him to an open shame." He 6:6
a. This is not a Christian who sins out of weakness or
b. This is one who knowingly and openly rejects Christ
1) It is one whose heart has been so hardened by sin that
in unbelief they have departed from the living God –
cf. He 3:12-13
2) It is one who despises Jesus, His blood, and the Spirit
of grace – cf. He 10:29
c. It is one thing to "yield" to sin contrary to the new life
in Christ, it is another thing to "abandon" that new life
— But such can happen if we are not careful to "go on to
C. NOTE THE FEARFUL DESTRUCTION RESERVED FOR THEM…
1. Like unproductive branches, they are "rejected…whose end is
to be burned"
a. Having received blessings from God, they should have
produced good fruit
b. But instead they are like thorns and briars, taking
nourishment but not producing useful fruit in return – He 6:7-8
2. With a similar illustration, Jesus warned His disciples! – Jn 15:1-8
a. By abiding in Him, we are able to bear fruit to God’s glory
b. But if we do not bear fruit, we will be cut off and
1. From this stern passage, we learn some sobering truths…
a. Receiving wonderful blessings from God does not preclude the
impossibility of apostasy
b. For those who fall away to the point of casting off their faith,
2. In view of such truths…
a. "The Peril Of Not Progressing" is very real!
b. We need to heed the exhortation: "let us go on to perfection"
1) We cannot be content with spiritual immaturity
2) We must be diligent to "press on" in our spiritual growth
Does this mean we must live our Christian lives with insecurity
regarding our salvation? No, for as we will see in our next lesson
("The Basis For Spiritual Security"), there are things upon which we
can base our hope and trust for the future. But the warnings in this
passage should be heeded!
Brethren, what are you doing with the blessings you have received in