The Letter to the Hebrews Part 10 :: By Dr. Donald Whitchard

An Exposition

Hebrews 6:1-8: “The Peril of Not Progressing”

“Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away to renew them to repentance since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put Him to an open shame.

For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessings from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to be cursed whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:1-8, NKJV).

The normal Christian life does not start with a new believer suddenly transformed into a mature, serious, scholarly, and solid individual who is ready to go out and slay the forces of evil in the name of Jesus Christ. Just as a recruit into the armed forces must go through a period of “basic training” — where they learn to obey their commanders, undergo physical development, learn new skills and procedures, how to work as a team, and to support one another and be certain that no one is left behind on the fields of conflict — so does the true child of God. As serious and committed followers of Christ, they are not content with just being “saved” with a type of “fire insurance” and a dunk in the baptistry.

They take the command of Jesus to obey Him and share the Gospel to heart. There are times where it is more difficult to adhere to the standards of what it means to be an authentic child of God in Christ. The best of us will slip and fall on occasion, but that is no excuse to just sit in the dirt or on the sides and let others carry your load. We seek forgiveness, repent, get help where needed, put our uniform back on, prepare our weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18) and get back in the fight.

As the days draw nearer to Jesus’ return, the sad fact is that there will be those whom we thought were solid in their faith who will throw down their arms and walk away from everything, and the remnant number of true believers will be much lower than we expected. The world, flesh, and the devil pick off the half-hearted, the compromised, the ones who gave the LORD “lip service” to impress the pastor, youth group, or congregation in general, and the spiritually apathetic constantly, leaving the army of the LORD in a losing area of influence and strength.

The forces of the devil have done a decent job of letting the reprobate world think that Christianity is unnecessary as a part of a nation’s history or foundation, or that it lacks real influence in the affairs of a more “sophisticated” mindset that has thrown out all thoughts of the afterlife, accountability of life, the supernatural, and the need for a deity at all. The Lord Jesus has turned into a source of ridicule, scorn, rage, disbelief, and rank hatred more than ever as a result, but ironically it is what He said would happen in the final days of this present evil world system.

Verses 4-6 of Chapter 6 seem to imply that a Christian can decide one day that everything he or she has believed concerning the Lord Jesus and following Him is just so much nonsense and will walk away from the faith, never to return. Some brethren will say that we can “lose our salvation” because of it. I want to spend some time discussing this topic because we have seen such examples recently.

Many “Christian” notables have declared that they no longer believe in God or have openly rejected the concepts of the faith; they confess atheism or go to another religion altogether. People whom we once thought were solid and reliable turn out to demean and denounce before the world that the Jesus in whom they once believed in and served either does not exist or is irrelevant to their lives and careers. Events like this do seem to show that children of God can just as quickly turn to the devil and ask for him to sign their spiritual adoption papers. Scripture describes them as having never been truly saved in the first place, and it is the Lord Jesus Himself who says so.

The parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9; Mark 4:1-9, 13-20; Luke 8:4-8) lays the foundation for the case of false conversion rather than loss of salvation. Jesus told this story where a Sower distributes his seed upon the ground, and some seed does and does not yield the expected outcome. Mark 4:5-6 says, “Some fell on stony ground where it did not have much earth, and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up it was scorched and because it had no root, it ended up withering away.”

Later when He and the disciples were alone, they asked Him to explain the parable to them. He said, “These likewise are the ones sown on stony ground who, when they hear the word, receive it with gladness and they have no root in themselves, and so endure only for a time. So, when tribulation or persecution arises for the word’s sake, immediately they stumble” (4:16-17)

Jesus taught that there will be people who receive the message of the Gospel with joy and gladness, only to walk away when the first sign of trouble comes their way. You have seen it before. Someone comes to the altar after the pastor calls for another verse of a song and pleads with the congregation to “ask Jesus into your heart.” Or they will hear some slick Bible hustler on TV promise that if they “accept Jesus,” their lives will be filled with blessings, wealth, health, and freedom from the world’s troubles. Well, that sounds like a good deal to someone desperate or looking for an answer to their problems.

So, they embrace the “message of salvation,” sign a “decision” card, or whatever your church practices. They get baptized, and for a while, all is well; that is until their friends start giving them a hard time for being a “Christian.” Their co-workers ridicule them, or a tragedy hits, and no one told them that adversity is part of the Christian life (2 Timothy 3:12). Or worse, they go to a college where a professor tells them that everything about the Bible is incorrect or untrustworthy, or some such twisting of fact. And the next thing one knows is that this “new convert” walks away from the faith he confessed.

This person has tasted the heavenly gift and has rejected it, and the truth is that he was never saved in the first place but played a good role, just like Judas Iscariot, the disciple who sold out Jesus for a few coins. He and others like him are what are known as apostates (2 Tim. 4:9-10; 1 John 2:18-19).

Men who were at one time pastors, elders, deacons, Sunday school teachers who now blaspheme and deride God and His Word are not “former Christians” as they would like to tell all who seem to revel in this type of story. They were not Christians at all, no matter how well they played the game. Jesus told us that this type of wickedness would abound as the days draw nearer to His return (Matt. 7:21-23; Mark 7:6; Luke 6:46; Titus 1:16; James 3:14). Paul gave this warning to Timothy as well as he awaited his death in a Roman prison (2 Tim.3:1-8, 4:1-5).

There are a lot of fraudulent “men of God” in the media, in pulpits, and in seminary classrooms who are out to destroy the faith and minds of the next generation, and have done so in the past. Deceitful men and women have twisted Scripture to say what it does not, or they will add works or other schemes as well as tell their audience that they need Jesus, too (Galatians 1:8-9). This is how cults and other false religions take root in individuals and countries as well, a useful tool of the devil to draw people away from the true Gospel altogether.

When anyone truly repents and surrenders their life to Jesus Christ, remember that salvation is of the LORD, and we play no part except to ask and receive it by faith (Isaiah 45:22; John 3:16, 6:40, 44; 10:28-30, 14:6; Acts 4:12; Romans 5:6-11, 6:23, 8:31-39, 10:9-10).

It is the power of God that keeps you saved and secure in His hands.

Remember that when we do sin, He is our advocate and will forgive us when we come to Him with a repentant heart (1 John 1:6-10, 2:1-2). If we believe that we could somehow lose our salvation, that is telling God that He cannot keep us redeemed and does not have the power or means to do so. Are our sins and failures more powerful to take away the gift of salvation in Christ and that God is somehow helpless to rescue us when we do sin? Do you honestly believe that? If you are truly in Christ, you are His, but that does not give you an excuse to walk on His grace either. We are to imitate Him and obey Him so that temptations and sin do not hinder us when they show up.

I pray that your confession of Jesus as Lord and Savior is solid and certain that we cannot lose what He has freely bestowed upon us. I pray that this has been a source of both comfort and insight.