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Hebrews 6

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

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Verses 1-20

Chapter 6

Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, [that is the primaries, the word at the beginning of the gospel of Christ] let us go on to maturity; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit ( Hebrews 6:1-3 ).

Let's leave these basic principles, doctrines of salvation and redemption. Let's go on into maturity. Let's go on into a mature experience with God. Let's develop in our walk with the Lord. Let's mature. Let's grow up.

For years in my ministry I sought to be a preacher. I was a preacher. And I sought to be an evangelist. Just about every message that I preached was evangelistic, because within the denomination where I was serving, evangelism was the big thing. First thing on my report I had to put how many people were saved, and if you don't have some in that box, then you're not going to look good to the bishop. So I sought to be an evangelist. I preached the gospel. But I came to the realization, after years of frustration, that preaching is for the unconverted. What the converted needs are teaching. God had called me to be a teacher. I was seeking to be a preacher. As I preached, the church never developed. It never matured. The people didn't mature. I kept them in a state of spiritual arrested development. All they knew was the doctrine of salvation. They knew it well. They knew they had to be born again. They knew they had to repent from their sins. They knew they had to be baptized, because that is all they ever heard. And we never took them beyond that state of spiritual infancy until we began to teach the Word of God. Leaving these first principles, the doctrine of Christ, going on into the full maturity, not going back over and over again the foundations of faith, but building on that foundation the whole knowledge of God through the Word.

The author here says something that is difficult to understand.

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if 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 ( Hebrews 6:4-6 ).

I know that this is a passage of scripture that Satan loves to use. Satan loves to use scripture. He came to Eve with scripture, "Hath God said you could eat of any of the trees?" He came to Jesus with scripture. "It is written He will give His angels charge over Thee to carry Thee in all Thy ways lest at any time You dash Your foot against a stone." He came to Jesus with scriptures, but what Jesus then did was balance scripture with scripture. Taking a scripture out of its context, you can make it mean something else. Taking scripture and isolating it, you can make it mean something else. We must compare scriptures with scriptures.

What do we know that the scripture teaches? That a man may fail, that a man may even blaspheme and still find forgiveness. For we remember that Jesus said to Peter, "Before the cock crows, you are going to deny Me three times." Peter said, "If they would kill me, I would never deny You." After the cock crowed twice, Jesus turned over and looked at Peter and Peter realized he had denied Him three times. The last time was blasphemy, saying, "I don't know the man." And he went out and he wept bitterly, but Peter found forgiveness. He found restoration and he became one of the pillars of the early church, an apostle, a leader of men. So it doesn't mean that if I falter or if I fall or if I fail that I'm out, that God puts me out and I have no hope of redemption. It's impossible that I might be renewed unto repentance.

We know that God is gracious. We know that God is merciful. We know that God is long-suffering. We know that He is patient and He has not rewarded us according to our iniquities. But as high as the heaven is above the earth so high is the mercies of God towards those who fear Him. Satan often uses this verse to a person who has backslidden. He says, "Man, you are out. Do you see what it says here in Hebrews? You've had it. That was the unpardonable sin that you committed and there is no way to renew you to repentance. You are out of the game." This is one of those scriptures that we have to deal with often as a pastor as people come and they have . . . you can tell it, you can see it in their eyes, and they say, "I think I've committed the unpardonable sin." We even have them calling on the phone long distance. "I believe I've committed the unpardonable sin." And I always tell them, "I know you haven't." "Well, how do you know?" "Because you called." If you committed the unpardonable sin you wouldn't care. The Holy Spirit wouldn't be dealing with you at all. You'd be so cold, callous and indifferent that you wouldn't even care if you did. The fact that you're concerned and care is the sign that you haven't. God's Spirit is still dealing with you. But Satan loves to use this as a club over people's head and he beats them to death with it.

There are those who suggest that he is writing to Jews who have been enlightened with the knowledge of Jesus Christ but who halted short of a full faith in Christ. And halting short of the full faith in Christ, they went back to the practices of Judaism, and thus, it was impossible to renew them unto repentance as they crucified the Son of God afresh, putting Him to open shame. I cannot accept that position totally. It seems to me where he refers to being "enlightened and tasting of the heavenly gift, made partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good word of God and the powers of the world to come," it sounds to me like they had a pretty good dose.

We do know that Jesus taught that the seed fell on different kinds of soil. Some of the seed fell by the wayside, some of it fell on stony ground, while others fell among the thorns and some fell on good ground. That which was sown by the wayside, immediately Satan came along and plucked it up, the birds came and ate it up. It never took root. It never developed. We have met people that have no response or reaction to the Word of God. It doesn't penetrate. Then that which fell on the stony ground are they who hear the Word with gladness, there's a quick spurt, comes up fast because there is not much dirt there. It's nice and warm because of the rocks, but as soon as the sun is out and all, because there is no root, there is no depth, it withers and dies. I believe this is the class that is being referred to here. You come and you get that shot and you get excited. There is a lot of enthusiasm and zeal over the things of the Lord, but there is no depth, no root, no root system. And so the moment the storm comes, the sun, the little problem, they're gone.

Now, the biggest problem I have with this, because I can understand it, because I have seen that experience and it is confirmed by the words of Jesus. Of course there is that among thorns; it grows up but it is choked and never bears fruit. And I've seen a lot of Christians that don't bear fruit. I mean, there is the growth there. They're there, but there is no fruit coming forth from their lives. The difficulty that I have with the passage is this impossibility of renewing them again unto repentance. And I will frankly confess to you I don't understand what it means. I'm sorry. I cannot give to you some glorious revelation that I have and this is what the text is saying, because I do know that Jesus said, "Whoever will come unto Me I will in no wise cast out." And I know tonight that no matter what your background may be, what exposure you may have had to the gospel in the past or what you have done in the past, I do know that if you will just come to Jesus Christ, He will in no wise cast you out. So this verse would not, then, be applicable to you. But if you say, "Well, I don't want to come and I won't come," then it probably does apply to you. There is no place for repentance. Impossible to renew and you have that hardened heart. And if a person has that kind of a heart, you say, "Hey, I know. I've been there, man. I used to go and sing. And I used to sit there. No way, man. I don't want anything to do with it." Then you may have a case. You may have met one that fits here. But if there is any yearning in your heart for God and the things of God and that desire to come back and get right, then this does not apply to you. So we don't have to worry about it, unless your heart is completely calloused to the things of God. Then you have a real concern.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that comes often upon it, and brings forth the vegetables that are fit for them by whom it is dressed [or for the people who planted the vegetables, the people who took care of the garden], receiveth the blessing from God: But that which bears thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned ( Hebrews 6:7-8 ).

So there is, again, the idea and he goes back to the parable of the sower and the seeds. There are those seeds that bring forth vegetables, bring forth the fruit for those, and it is blessed. They are blessed. The earth is blessed. The good ground that brings forth the vegetables for the person who have dressed the garden or planted the garden. But the thorns and the briers, they're a curse, and they are going to be gathered and burned.

And now, here Paul, or the writer, is saying...obviously I believe that Paul is the writer. The writer is saying,

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you ( Hebrews 6:9 ),

In other words, "This doesn't really apply to you. We're persuaded better things of you." He doesn't seek to make a personal application to them of this particular curse that he is talking about.

and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. [It is important that I give this warning but I am persuaded better things of you.] For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which you have showed toward his name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister ( Hebrews 6:9-10 ).

God won't forget you. You're His child. You may be failing. You may be a babe. You may have arrested spiritual development. You may have slipped and fallen, but God won't forget you. He remembers you and that work of love.

And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end ( Hebrews 6:11 ):

Be diligent in the things of the Lord that you might have the full assurance of the hope. This full assurance is a glorious thing. I have full assurance in my hope of salvation. I have no questions, no qualms, no doubts. I am fully assured that I am eternally secure in the arms of Jesus. I have not even the slightest qualm that I will not be with the Lord in His glorious kingdom. I have the full assurance of that hope of eternal salvation, and how I thank God for it. I did not always have it, and so it means a lot more to me having it now, when I didn't have it for so many years. Because I was depending for many years upon myself and my own works and my own efforts. As long as I was depending upon myself, I never had the full assurance of the hope. You say, "Oh, you mean that you can't be lost?" Of course I can't, because I'm never going to turn away from Jesus Christ. I have no intention. That doesn't even enter my mind. It's the furthest thing from my mind. I'm going to walk with Him and stay with Him until the end. After all, you come this far there is no turning back; the thought isn't even there. The concept isn't even there, and that is why I have that full assurance of the hope unto the end. All right!

So be not slothful ( Hebrews 6:12 ),

Now, this doesn't create a slothfulness in me, but even a greater determination to give of myself completely and fully to the things of the Lord.

Be not slothful, but be followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises ( Hebrews 6:12 ).

God has given to us His word that He will do just about anything for us that we might need or want. How many rich and precious promises! You probably all have a little promise box somewhere around the house. You go and pick out a promise and it's great. I love it. The Spirit can minister to us as we read the promises of God. I think we need to be reminded of the promises of God. We love to put them on the walls of our house. For years in our little daughter's bedroom we had the promise written on the wall "Fear not for I am with thee; be not dismayed for I am thy God. I will help thee, I will strengthen thee. I will uphold thee with the right hand of my power." What a great thing to have on the wall of a little girl who gets sacred at night. There on the wall, "Be not afraid for I am with you." Glorious promise!

Now, there are promises that God has given that we have not entered into. Remember back in chapter 4, "Let us beware, lest a promise having given to us of rest that we should fail from entering into it." There are many promises that God has given to us that we haven't really laid claim to. And so we live in fear. We live in anxiety. Though there is a promise that we can take and we could just accept that promise of God and say, "Well, God, You've promised."

I like it when, talk about a stressful situation. He had left his uncle Laban with the two daughters and all of the cattle and the sheep that he had gathered during his time of service there. Unbeknownst to him, his wife Rachel had taken some of the father's little gods. And so Laban got a bunch of fellows and they came pursuing after Jacob, ready to wipe him out. But the night before he caught up to him, the Lord spoke to Laban and He said, "You don't touch that man or you're in big trouble." So Laban is wanting to wipe him out, but he is fearful of God who said, "Don't you touch him." But he at least is going to get his word in, so he catches up with Jacob and he really tells him off. "You ripped me off." "What do you mean I ripped you off? I labored for seventeen years and you changed my wages ten times. God's blessed me. Don't tell me I ripped you off." Well, he said, "You've not only took my daughters, you didn't even let their kids kiss their grandpa good bye and you've taken off with all the cattle and sheep and everything." And he said, "You've even stole my gods." Tragic to have gods that can be stolen, isn't it?

So there was this big tense scene and, of course, if you've ever been over there and seen the way these people talk when they are excited like this, just tension fills the air. You'd think that at any moment they would pull back the robe and pull out the dagger and go at it, because, oh, they really get into it. So you can picture the scene of Jacob and Laban, tough day. Emotions now drained.

And as Laban takes off, a messenger comes up and says, "Your brother Esau is coming to meet you and he has two hundred men with him." The last time he saw Esau, Esau was saying, "I'm going to kill you. Soon as Dad is dead, you're dead man. I'm going to kill you." So here he is coming back. He just had a big blowout with Laban, and now word is Esau is coming. He's got two hundred men with him, and Jacob's really under stress. And he did the wisest thing you can do when you are under stress. He said, "Oh Lord, You told me to come back and that You would be with me." He reminded God. "I'm in this predicament, Lord, because You told me to come back. But You promised that You would be with me. Now I know I am not worthy the least of Your mercies. I don't deserve anything. I know that, God. But I am here because You told me to be here. And You promised that You would do well by me." So he is reminding God of the promise.

When you're under stress, when the pressure is on, when tomorrow is going to be one rough day, because your brother who is mad enough to kill you is on his way with two hundred men and all looks hopeless, it is good to remind yourself of the promises of God. "Lord, You promised that it would be well with me." The resting in the promises.

Now, the two things: faith and patience, these are the two things necessary in order to receive the promises of God. "He that comes to God must believe that He is and a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him" ( Hebrews 11:6 ). I must have faith in God's Word. Faith in God. Faith in the abilities of God. Faith to know that God is able to do that which He has promised. That which He has promised He is able also to perform.

The second thing I must have is patience, because God doesn't always respond to my prayer the minute I pray. God allows many times the test of my faith and a period of time between my prayer and the answer to that prayer. That patience in which faith is tested. So let us be followers of those who through faith and patience inherit the promise. Believe the promise and then wait patiently for God to keep His word. But in the meantime, you flee into that promise. You hold on to that promise and don't let it go. Now, the promises of God are something that you can trust and rely upon.

For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no [higher or] greater, he swore by himself, saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee ( Hebrews 6:13-14 ).

God made a promise to Abraham and then He confirmed the promise with an oath. "And so, after Abraham patiently endured, he obtained the promise." How long did he patiently endure? Over thirty-five years. "Oh God, I don't have that much time left." We are so impatient, aren't we? We want God to do it right now. We want immediate results. And usually we have a time limit set, at the most a week, for God to work. "But after he waited patiently he obtained the promise." God did give to Sarah a son, as He promised He would, even when the likelihood of having a son became humanly totally impossible.

Impossible is a word that we can use and talk about. Because we face it all the time. With our human limitations, we are always running up against impossible situations. But when you introduce God into the factor, the moment God is introduced into the factor, then you have to eliminate the word impossible. There is nothing impossible with God. In fact, I'll tell you there is nothing hard for God. There is nothing that puts God under pressure or strains Him in the least. So when God is introduced the word impossibility has to be deleted.

Difficulty must always be measured by the capacity of the agent that is doing the work. "Let's get out and build the church of Jesus Christ." Oh, that's difficult. It may even be impossible. Jesus said, "Upon this rock I will build my church." No strain, He is able to do it. So difficulty measured by the capacity of the agent doing the work. Who is doing the work? Is God doing the work? Then you've got to throw away the word difficult. If it is up to me, oh yes, it is difficult. It may even be impossible. That's why I dare not trust in myself or rely upon myself and my own resources or my own talents and capacities. I dare not trust in that. I must trust in the Lord, because then I can eliminate difficult and impossible in these kind of things. God is able . . . able to what? Able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that you ask or think. So Abraham endured patiently, the impossible became the reality. God did what was impossible.

You know there have been so many situations that I have said, "Well, that is impossible," and yet God did it. There have been people that I have said, "Oh, they're impossible. Them saved? No way, man. That's impossible," and God did it. When you have God as the agent doing the work, impossibility disappears, difficulty disappears.

Now men take an oath by something that is greater: and the purpose of an oath is to confirmation what is said and it is intended to end all strife ( Hebrews 6:16 ).

Here I am saying, "Well, I'm going to do it for you." "How do I know you are going to do it?" "Well, I'm going to do it. I promise you I'll do it." "How do I know?" "Well, I'm just telling you I'm going to." And here we are striving about whether or not I'm going to do it. Finally, I say, "Man, I swear on the Bible I'm going to do it." "Well, all right, good." Ends the strife, that's the purpose for taking an oath, to end the strife. In an argument, "No, I didn't." "Yes, you did." "No, I didn't." "Yes, you did." "No, I didn't. Swear on the Bible I didn't do it." "All right. Thought you did." So the taking of the oath, you take the oath by something greater than you. As I said this morning, you don't . . . I swear by my cat that I'm going to be there tonight. That is something lesser. You don't swear by something . . . you swear by something greater.

During the time of Jesus they had a big thing on swearing, taking oaths, and which of the oaths were binding and which were not. Now, if you swear by the altar, that is not binding, but if you swear by the gold that is on the altar, oh, you have to keep it, man. That is binding. They were all into this taking these oaths and, of course, you try and be tricky. "I swear by the altar I'll do it. Oh, I'm free because I didn't say the gold on the altar." And so Jesus addressed the issue of this thing of taking oaths of swearing, and people have carried that too far, too.

People are concerned if I have to go to court and witness, "Do I swear before God I'm going to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?" When Jesus said swear not at all. Can I as a Christian, then, swear by God I'm going to tell the truth? When Jesus said swear not at all, in the context He was saying "Let your yes be a yes and let your no be a no. Be a man of your word so that you don't have to take an oath to prove to a person that what you are saying is true. If you say yes then let it be yes. If you say no then let it be no. Be a person of your word." But the purpose of the oath was to bring an end to the strife. Fighting over this thing, take an oath that ends the strife. All right, that settles it.

Now God, willing more abundantly to assure unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel ( Hebrews 6:17 ),

How God is unchanging. He will not change. He will not say something and then renege on it. He will not make a promise to you and then back down on it. God wants to abundantly assure you of this. Willing more abundantly to assure you of this unchanging character and nature of God, the immutability of God and of His counsels. His counsels are His words, His promises. He confirms with an oath.

And so there are two unchanging things, in which it was impossible for God to lie ( Hebrews 6:18 ),

The two unchanging things: God's Word, it doesn't change. The Word of God is forever established and settled in heaven. "Heaven and earth will pass away but God's Word cannot pass away, will not pass away" ( Matthew 24:35 ).

The oath is the second thing, when God made the oath to confirm the Word and His counsels. Now you have two unchanging things. Having made an oath, you can't change. You've got to go by it. You cannot renege. You swore that you're going to do it. You've taken an oath to do it and you cannot back away. God has declared to you what He will do for you and then He took an oath saying, "I will." Swearing by no greater as He has no greater to swear by, He swears by Himself. Promising to do it, you've got two unchanging things. And we know that it is impossible for God to lie, therefore, the result is that

we have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope that is set before us ( Hebrews 6:18 ):

What great comfort we have. What great confidence we have. What a strong consolation we have when I can just take the Word of God and say, "Here, God has said it, and that settles it. It is going to be. Here is the Word of God and the promise of God and I flee to this refuge." It becomes a place for me to flee when the enemy would come and say, "Well, what are you going to do? You know they are going to be coming around next week when they come for their rent. What are you going to do?" "Hey, my God shall supply all of my needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. It will be here." Strong consolation. I flee to the Word. I flee to the scripture. I read it over and I read it over and I read it over as I find my place of refuge in this promise of God to me that is applicable to this current situation that I am facing.

Whenever you run up against a difficult problem, go to the Word of God. Find a promise of God that is applying to you and to that situation, and then just flee as a refuge to that promise every time the enemy would hassle you. Every time you become upset, flee for refuge to that hope that is set before us.

Which hope we have as an anchor to our soul ( Hebrews 6:19 ),

My soul is anchored in this. I cannot be moved. I cannot be swayed. My soul is anchored in this hope.

that is both sure and steadfast ( Hebrews 6:19 ),

That glorious hymn of the church, "We have an anchor that keeps our soul steadfast and sure though the billows roll. Anchored to the rock that cannot move, founded firm and deep in my Savior's love." Oh, the anchor for our soul. I don't get tossed by the storm. I don't get wrecked by the storm. My soul is anchored in the promises of God.

and which entereth into that within the veil ( Hebrews 6:19 );

I come right into God's presence. Again, back to coming boldly to the throne of grace that we might find mercy and grace in our time of need. Within the veil I can come right into the Father, because Jesus has made the way. My great High Priest has entered into heaven for me. By Him and through Him I can come boldly now right to the Father within the veil and stand upon the Word.

Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made the high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec ( Hebrews 6:20 ).

And next week as we go into chapter 7, we will really get into this order of Melchisedec in comparison with that of Levi and showing the complete superiority of our High Priest and the priesthood of Jesus over that of the Levitical order. That goes on in the next couple of chapters. In fact, it goes on into chapter 10. Next week chapter 7 and 8.

Is your soul anchored in the Word of God tonight and the promises of God to you? Is that your place of refuge? Do you have that strong consolation, comfort, assurance? Hey, God is going to do it. He's promised. He has given His Word. How grateful we are and should be for Jesus Christ who has made us the heirs of the promises. Who has made it possible for us to lay hold upon these glorious promises of God, becoming a child through our faith in Him.

May the Lord bless you and may you just grow and develop into a full maturity in your walk and in your relationship with Him. May there be that work of the Spirit in your life this week. And in the maturing processes as you grow up in all things in Christ into the full assurance of the faith, rooted and grounded in His Word and in His love. May you begin to comprehend the length, the breadth, the depth, the height of God's love and the commitment "

Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Hebrews 6". "Smith's Bible Commentary". 2014.