Translations: Chinese GB Big5

HEBREWS 4:14-6:12 (web)

Christ Superior to Aaron I

4:14 Having then a great high priest, who has passed through the heavens,
Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold tightly to our confession.
 
4:15 For we don't have a high priest who can't be touched with the feeling of our infirmities,
but one who has been in all points tempted like we are, yet without sin.
4:16 Let us therefore draw near with boldness to the throne of grace,
that we may receive mercy, and may find grace for help in time of need.
The Priesthood

The Appointment to the Aaronic Priest

5:1 For every high priest, being taken from among men,
is appointed for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins.

The Empathy of the Aaronic Priest

5:2 The high priest can deal gently with those who are ignorant and going astray,
because he himself is also surrounded with weakness.
5:3 Because of this, he must offer sacrifices for sins for the people, as well as for himself.
5:4 Nobody takes this honor on himself, but he is called by God, just like Aaron was.

The Appointment to the Melchizedekian Priesthood

5:5 So also Christ didn't glorify himself to be made a high priest, but it was he who said to him,
"You are my Son. Today I have become your father."
5:6 As he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, After the order of Melchizedek."

The Empathy of the Melchizedekian Priest

5:7 He, in the days of his flesh,  having offered up prayers and petitions
with strong crying and tears to him who was able to save him from death,
and having been heard for his godly fear,
5:8 though he was a Son, yet learned obedience by the things which he suffered.
5:9 Having been made perfect, he became to all of those who obey him the author of eternal salvation,
5:10 named by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.


MATURITY

Ignorance Indicative of Immaturity

5:11 About him we have many words to say, and hard to interpret,
seeing you have become dull of hearing.
5:12 For when by reason of the time you ought to be teachers,
you again need to have someone teach you the rudiments of the first principles of the oracles of God.
You have come to need milk, and not solid food.
5:13 For everyone who lives on milk is not experienced in the word of righteousness,for he is a baby.
5:14 But solid food is for those who are full grown,
who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern good and evil.
6:1 Therefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ,
let us press on to perfection--not laying again a foundation


6:3 This will we do, if God permits.

Immaturity Indicative of Nominalism
6:4 For concerning those


6:6 and then fell away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance;
seeing they crucify the Son of God for themselves again, and put him to open shame.
 

6:7 For the land which has drunk the rain that comes often on it,
and brings forth a crop suitable for them for whose sake it is also tilled,
receives blessing from God;
6:8 but if it bears thorns and thistles,
it is rejected and near being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
Ministry Indicative of Salvific Faith
6:9 But, beloved, we are persuaded of better things for you,
and things that accompany salvation, even though we speak like this.
 
6:10 For God is not unrighteous, so as to forget your work and the labor of love
which you showed toward his name, in that you served the saints, and still do serve them.
6:11 We desire that each one of you may show the same diligence
to the fullness of hope even to the end,
6:12 that you won't be sluggish,
but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherited the promises.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

vs 4:14 So what is the faith that you profess that you should hold firmly to?
What does it mean to you to "hold firmly" to it?
vs 4:16 Do you feel confident when you approach God in prayer, or uncertain?
(Xref Heb 10:35 "Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward.")
vs 5:1-10 What is the purpose of Jesus' priesthood?
How is Jesus' priesthood similar to Aaron's?
vs 5:11-14 What are some indications that a person is immature in his faith?
vs 5:14 What are examples of things that you distinguish now as good or evil, that you didn't in the past?
vs 6:1,2 How might you summarize each of these elementary teachings?
vs 6:4-6 Does this section mean that you could lose you salvation?
If so, what would constitute "falling away"?
In what way are they crucifying the Son of God all over again?
vs 6:7,8 Xref  "Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." Matt 7:19-21
vs 6:9,10 What kinds of things accompany salvation?
vs 6:11 (Xref 2Pe 1:10 "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:")
What's the difference between trying to obtain salvation by your performance, and attempting to make your hope certain by laboring diligently in the Lord?
vs 6:12 Since faith and patience seem contrary to working for your salvation (Rom 4:4,5), what would constitute laziness in the Christian life?
Could a person be a diligent worker in a secular sense, but lazy as a Christian?

COMMENTS

Jesus, Our Sympathetic High Priest

Heb 4:14,15
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are— yet was without sin.

"He who descended is the very one who ascended higher than all the heavens, in order to fill the whole universe." Eph 4:10 for  "after he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." Heb 1:3

"By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain." 1Cor 15:2 Not only so, but he says, "the faith we profess". The faith that saves is the faith that professes. Those who are saved make public profession of their faith. Water baptism is a start, followed by a life of professing the faith. Private Christians - those who keep their faith private - are not professing Christians. Which are you? Have you believed in vain?

Now the role of high priest is one of a mediator - much like a lawyer. You want such a person  to sympathize with you. Here we learn that Jesus does sympathize with our weaknesses. And by "weaknesses" it's not simply talking about physical weaknesses, poverty or the like, for what does that have to do with his priestly role? No, it's referring to our being weak to sin. For we live in a shell of flesh which is prone to sin, having inherited a sinful nature which is a source of temptation. And we live a world which tempts us to sin through its influence. And behind it all is the devil orchestrating our falling into sin.

Jesus was tempted in all ways as we are. But he didn't give into it. Jesus Christ came in the flesh, the same kind of flesh we have. "Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world." 2John 1:7a The word "flesh" is the greek word "sarx" which the scriptures so closely associate with the sinful nature that the NIV translates "sarx" as "sinful nature" 22 times in the New Testament. If Jesus did not have the same kind of flesh we have, then it cannot be said that he was tempted in all ways as we are. The verse here implies that Jesus would not even have the ability to sympathize with us had he not experienced temptations as we have. Likewise living in a shell of "sarx" he was tempted by the world and by the devil in a similar manner in which we also are tempted.

So the next time you experience temptation realize that Jesus went through the same kind of thing. And therefore he can sympathize with you.

Boldly Requisition Grace

Heb 4:16 Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

Much of this letter speaks of confidence. Previously he said, "We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first." Heb 3:14 Confidence is characteristic of saving faith. People often have a misconception about confidence. There are those who teach a false dichotomy that confidence is associated with pride and lack of confidence with humility. Actually a person who is humble in a Biblical sense puts his confidence in God. A person who does not have confidence in God does not believe in God.

Heb 13:6 So we say with confidence, "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?"

A person who is confident is God does not fear people. So if you meet a person who is afraid of what others think of them or what others may do to them, you've met someone who has some lack of confidence in God. If your display of courage were a measure of your faith in God, how would you measure up?

Heb 10:19-23 Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.

And what constitutes approaching the throne of Grace but praying. When needs arise we pray for grace.


Dealing with the Ignorant and Misguided

Heb 5:1-3 Every high priest is selected from among men and is appointed to represent them in matters related to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness. This is why he has to offer sacrifices for his own sins, as well as for the sins of the people.

Understanding the role of a priest is relevant to the Christian life, and not just to clarify Jesus' role as high priest. For as Christians, "you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." 1Peter 2:5 As priests we intercede for others and sympathize with them with regards to sin because "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man." 1Cor 10:13a

Here those the priest is interceding for are described as ignorant and going astray. The lexicon indicates "ignorant" here to be "to err or sin through mistake, to be wrong, spoken mildly of those who are not high handed or wilful transgressors". Realize that he is speaking of priests operating under the Law of Moses. Under the Law of Moses only unintentional sins could be forgiven. Unintentional sins are broadly spoken of in the Law. For example, Lev 4:13 "If the whole Israelite community sins unintentionally and does what is forbidden in any of the LORD’s commands, even though the community is unaware of the matter, they are guilty." Another "Anyone who strikes a man and kills him shall surely be put to death. However, if he does not do it intentionally, but God lets it happen, he is to flee to a place I will designate." Ex 21:12,13 Jesus, being the "Par Excellent" High Priest covers all sin, unintentional or otherwise. "Through him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses." Acts 13:39

The deficiency of the Mosaic priesthood is also revealed in the fact that the priests themselves sinned and consequently he himself needs a mediator.

A Priestly Appointment

Heb 5:4-6
No one takes this honor upon himself; he must be called by God, just as Aaron was. So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, "You are my Son; today I have become your Father." (Ps 2:7)  And he says in another place, "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek." (Ps 110:4)

Aaron, Moses' brother was assigned the position of high priest by God. And only Aaron's descendants were allowed to be priests under the Mosaic Law. God says, "Appoint Aaron and his sons to serve as priests; anyone else who approaches the sanctuary must be put to death." Nu 3:10  Only God can assign the priesthood. For a priest is a mediator, and a mediator can only be a mediator if both parties agree for such a person to be their mediator. God assigned Jesus to the position of "Par Excellent" High Priest.

First God says that Jesus is his Son. At his baptism, a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Mt 3:17 Likewise at the transfiguration, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!" Mt 17:5 The transfiguration was particularly significant in this sense. For Moses and Elijah also appeared. But it was Jesus that God affirmed and "When they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus." Mt 17:8 Likewise the author is going to show that Jesus' priesthood is not n extension of the Levitical priesthood, but rather is of a different order, an order which overshadows that of the Levitical priesthood.

Ps 110 from which the author is quoting is a Messianic psalm. The first verse says, The LORD says to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet." which itself was quoted in Heb 1:13 applying it to Jesus as Peter also quoted in his first sermon in Acts 2:34, and goes on to say, "Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." Acts 2:35

Hebrews chapter 7 will have a great deal to say about Melchizadek, so I won't elaborate here.

Jesus' Training for the Priesthood

Heb 5:7 During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission.

While Jesus prayed throughout his ministry, and indeed was saved from death on many an occasion, the only time in which we see him praying with cries and tears are in gethsamane and perhaps on the cross, which is a case in which he wasn't saved from death - or was he? Indeed could the phrase "save him from death" refer to the resurrection? For in Acts 2, Peter's first Sermon, he quotes from Ps 16, a Messianic psalm - which implies it's something Jesus prayed saying, "my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices; my body also will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." Ps 16:9,10 which Peter says refers to Jesus' resurrection. Acts 2:31

Notice also that in Gethsemane Jesus requested not to be crucified. But significantly he added, "Not My will, but Yours, be done". Lk 22:42 Jesus was heard, but his specific request denied. Nonetheless he was open to this and God did send an angel to strengthen him to prepare him for what was to come.

Much can be drawn from these facts, but in particular concerning his role as our advocate, Jesus has experience in personally approaching the Father with daring requests, but who nonetheless defers to the Father. In a sense you want a lawyer who stays inside the law, but who empathizes with you and is willing to take all steps possible to petition those in charge on your behalf. Jesus doesn't simply care. His love is intense.


Jesus Learn Obedience

Heb 5:8  Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered

When you're commanded to do something that you already intended to do, obedience is not involved. Such was the case for Jesus prior to his incarnation. But as we can see from his prayer in Gethsemane, "Not My will, but Yours, be done", Jesus became experienced in obedience. John 6:38 "For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me." As a human Jesus' desires were not always in line with the Father's desires. And that's the case with all of us. It's a part of human nature. Now poor teachers are those with natural abilities. For they cannot empathize with the struggling student. Some view Jesus this way. But in fact part of the point of his incarnation was to experience human weakness so to become the perfect mediator.

"Christ Jesus who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death— even death on a cross!" Php 2:6-8


A Perfect Savior for the Obedient

Heb 5:9,10  and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him, and was designated by God to be high priest in the order of Melchizedek.

Jesus didn't start off perfect. He had to be made perfect. "For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings." Heb 2:10 And if Jesus had to be trained to be the perfect mediator, what about us? "Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?" Heb 12:7

Now it doesn't say that Jesus causes those who are saved to obey, but rather Jesus causes to be saved those who obey him. "Obey" is again "hupakouo" which means to listen with the intent to obey. The faith that saves is the faith that obeys. Paul writes, "Through him and for his name’s sake, we received grace and apostleship to call people from among all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith." Rom 1:5 There's an obedience that comes from faith.

This could not be said of those who claim to be willing to obey but don't seek to listen, who don't study the Bible with the intention of doing what it says. For there are those who avoid hearing God's word, lest they run into commands of which they are not prepared to obey. And there are those who claim to "study" the Bible but only study bits and pieces involving non-application oriented issues so as to avoid spending time considering the divine imperatives. Bible study for mere curiosity, Bible study which is not application oriented is not Bible study.

2Cor 5:15 he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

But of Melchizedek the author will elaborate upon later.


Slow to Learn?

Heb 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn.

"slow to learn" is more literally "slow to hear". Jas 1:19My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen" Ever try to teach someone and they're just not hearing what you're saying. They're just not listening. They're not paying attention. It's largely because they're not taking it seriously. They don't necessarily intend to apply it to their lives. This is the attitude of those to whom the author of Hebrews is writing. So no surprised that Hebrews is filled with warnings. Remember the parable of the sower, "The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature." Luke 8:14 And those who stay immature, being unfruitful will be cut off. "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Mt 7:19-21

Likewise he says, "The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. Whoever has will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken from him. This is why I speak to them in parables: "Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.  In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: "’You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving. For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them." Mt 13:11-15

If we don't apply what we already know, then not only will God not give us further understanding, He will also take away what little understanding we have. We see this in Jesus' ministry where periodically, such as in John 6, he will purge marginal disciples from his ranks by saying hard things.


Have you Graduated Yet?

Heb 5:12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!

Much as James warns Christians not to take positions of teaching lightly as he says, "Not many of you should presume to be teachers, my brothers, because you know that we who teach will be judged more strictly." Jam 3:1, yet it is expected that as Christians mature they take on a teaching role. After all when people grow up and become parents they are expected to teach their children. Likewise in the Christian life.

When he says "by this time" one wonders what kind of time frame he was referring to. It may be instructive to consider Jesus' expectation which he expresses in Luke 13 "‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’ ... If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’" Luke 13:7,9 After all, Jesus' trained his disciples for 3 years. Though granted they had years of prior experience with the Bible. In any case I think that if an adult becomes a Christian and devotes himself to it, he should be ready to be a Bible teacher in three to four years.

Notice here they had to be taught all over again, just as I mentioned previously concerning what Mt 13:12 says concerning those who don't apply what they know, "even what he has will be taken from him." Use it or lose it!

Training for Maturity

Heb 5:13,14 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

By "righteousness" the context would indicate that he is speaking of a righteous lifestyle. That as opposed to merely positional righteousness - namely the forgiveness of sins. Babies bask in the grace shown to them by their parents but give little thought to living a responsible life. Likewise many Christians or alleged Christians will bask in the grace of Christ, but give little thought to living the Christian life - submitting to the Lordship of Christ, doing what is right, taking on the responsibilities indicated in the Word of God regarding the Christian lifestyle. Like infants they will speak of going to church "to get fed" or looking for a church "that will feed them", while giving little thought to feeding others, remaining in a diaper stage sometimes for decades.

A person's maturity is revealed by their applying the Bible to life. Indeed the mature don't need someone to train them. They have graduated from that and now train themselves. They train themselves to apply the Bible constantly.

And like infants, the immature Christian is gullible to false doctrines, lacking proper discernment. For "it was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers,  to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up  until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming." Eph 4:11-14 Such Christians fail to discern between good and evil. But such discernment is attained not simply by study, but by constant practice. Some education simply cannot be learned by reading books.


Elementary Teachings

Heb 6:1,2 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.

It's called "Elementary School" for a reason. When we're young we are to learn to the elementary teachings, and only later more advanced teachings.

Elementary Teaching 1

REPENTANCE

In Christian doctrine repentance from sin is an elementary teaching. Repentance from sin involves the intention to change one's behavior, and is indicative of the kind of faith that qualifies one to be saved. Paul describes his ministry saying, "First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds." Acts 26:20 When Jesus visited Zacchaeus, the tax collector, he repented and said, "Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount."  Jesus said to him, "Today salvation has come to this house" Luke 19:8,9  Notice that Zacchaeus simply expressed his INTENTION to change and that was sufficient for salvation.

In contrast there are those who view the grace of God as a license to sin, as Jude said, "certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality" Jude 1:4a And Peter prophecied saying, "there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies" 2Peter 2:1b and "Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute." 2Peter 2:2 and "they mouth empty, boastful words and, by appealing to the lustful desires of sinful human nature, they entice people who are just escaping from those who live in error." 2Peter 2:18

So when preaching the gospel, be clear that the intent to change ones sinful behavior is a condition for salvation inherent in saving faith.


Elementary Teaching 2

FAITH IN GOD

Salvation is contingent upon faith in Christ, but many haven't actually studied the fundamental doctrine as to what constitutes saving faith. Why is that? There are many different kinds of "faith" and there are many aspects of faith, and not all faith saves.  Saving faith is application oriented. Saving faith is also persevering, obedient and fruitful. Jesus said, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Mt 7:19-21

Saving faith involves pledging allegiance to Jesus as Lord with the intention of doing what he said. "he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again." 2Cor 5:15 Yet there are false teaches who "deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord." Jude 1:4b They teach that saving faith does not involve submission to Christ's Lordship.


Elementary Teaching 3

BAPTISM


1. Water Baptism

If a person comes to faith in Christ, then they are to be water  baptized. Jesus said, "Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you." Mt 28:19.20 Having been saved by faith, the believer then gets baptized as a public pledge to have a good conscience before God, and a sign of submission to the Lordship of Christ that he may be welcomed into the Christian community having identified himself as a Christian through baptism.  Consider the Ethiopian who after hearing the gospel said, "See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?" Then Philip said, "If you believe with all your heart, you may." And he answered and said, "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God." Acts 8:36,37

However throughout history there have been whole denominations which have tinkered with the gospel and made water baptism out to be something it's not. For example there are denominations which believe in infant baptism. There are Protestant sects which hold that infants of believing parents are automatically covered by the New Covenant, apart from their own personal faith, which is contrary to the gospel. Catholicism views infant baptism as a removal of the guilt of original sin (as if God unjustly reckoned babies guilty of crimes the didn't actually commit, on the basis of Guilt by Association - which is a form of prejudice and contrary to God's very nature being just) And there are those among Protestant sects that don't believe in infant baptism, but believe that the ceremony of water baptism is necessary for salvation.

These are among what I refer to as the Neo-Circumcision. In the first Century there was a sect of Christians, originating from the church at Jerusalem who taught, "Unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses, you cannot be saved." Acts 15:1 The Apostle Paul characterized them as false brothers. "This matter arose because some false brothers had infiltrated our ranks to spy on the freedom we have in Christ Jesus and to make us slaves." Gal 2:4 Yet these type of sects have existed among the Christian community since the beginning, Catholicism being one of them. Those sects that view salvation as contingent upon a religious ceremony are among today's Neo-Circumcision.

But there are those who allege to believe in Christ but refuse or neglect to get baptized. If you've come to faith in Christ, then get water baptized. I myself, raised as a Catholic, got baptized as infant. But that's not believer's baptism. Thus when I came to faith in college I found a church that would baptized me as a believer.

2. Baptism in the Spirit

After a person comes to faith, God gives him the Holy Spirit. "And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ." Rom 8:9 This is distinct from water baptism as can clearly be seen in the case in Acts 10 with Cornelius. Peter describes the event. "As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit came on them as he had come on us at the beginning. Then I remembered what the Lord had said: ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’" Acts 11:15,16 After they had been baptized with the Holy Spirit it is written. "Then Peter said, 'Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.'" Acts 10:47

The Holy Spirit causes the believe to be born-again, becoming a new creature (2Cor 5:17), such that it becomes natural to understand (1Cor 2:14-16) and to do God's will. (1John 3:9,10)

Elementary Teaching 4

THE LAYING ON OF HANDS

This is not spoken of much in the New Testament. But we see it's application in Acts 6:5,6 and its implication in 1Tim 5:22 as a commissioning of ministers, and for the purpose of such ministry the Holy Spirit may impart gifts (as he wills) for the purpose of effective service (1Tim 5:22)


Elementary Teaching 5

THE RESURRECTION

Whenever the gospel is preached in Acts and the New Testament letters, the resurrection of Christ included as an essential element, the forensic evidence validating his claims. But the "Resurrection" also is about  the fact, as Paul said, "that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked." Acts 24:15 Of the righteous Paul elaborates upon in 1Corinthians 15. The resurrection from the dead is fundamental to the Christian faith. For "If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.  And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith." 1Cor 15:13,14 If you want an epitaph written on your tombstone, try this, "I'LL BE BACK!" Would make quite an impression upon anyone wandering around the graveyard.

Now there are some alleged Christians who I have heard believe in reincarnation. Reincarnation is incompatible with the Biblical teaching of the Resurrection. "Everyone must die once, and after that comes judgment" Heb 9:27 If you believe in reincarnation, then don't claim that you're a Christian.

There's a first and second resurrection. The first resurrection is that of the righteous and includes the Rapture. (1Th 4:16,17; 1Cor 15:51,52; Mt 24:31) "Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years." Rev 20:6 The resurrection of the wicked occurs after the Millenial Kingdom. (The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended.) Rev 20:5


Elementary Teaching 6

ETERNAL JUDGMENT

Jesus taught a lot about this. There will be a Judgment day in which God will pronounce one's destiny - whether eternal life or eternal death. Jesus spoke much on hell. He describes a place of torment in Luke 16 of his story of Lazarus and the Rich Man. In his parable of the ungracious servant of Matt 18 he ends saying, "In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Mt 18:34,35 Of the unrighteous he says, "They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Mt 13:42 Of the man who showed up to the wedding feast, but not wearing wedding clothes he says, "Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Mt 22:13 He teaches that many will be caught by surprise. He also teaches in his parable of the ten virgins that the clock is ticking and there are no second chances. (Again contrary to the heresy of reincarnation)

On the upside, there are rewards promised for those who serve Christ. And of the righteous, "He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Rev 21:4 Even in the Old Testament it teaches resurrection saying, "Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake: some to everlasting life, others to shame and everlasting contempt. Those who are wise will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars for ever and ever." Dan 12:2,3

As for dealing with sins of believers, the New Covenant promise is, "I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more." Heb 8:12 The memory of one's sins are somewhat literally "burned up" and forgotten. What is left over, God rewards. We see this described in 1Cor 3:11-15


If it be the will of God

Heb 6:3  And God permitting, we will do so.

The author is saying that he's not going to revisit these issues, the fundamentals of the faith, having already taught them, but with the contingency that God may call him to do so at some point in the future. Paul wrote of a mature perspective concerning the Christian life in Philippians following with, "Let us, as many as are mature, have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you." Php 3:15  Teachers don't have to wait for the immature to catch up to go on to more advance issues. But the teacher must be open to that possibility.

How exactly the author would know whether God gives his permission? The fact he says literally in the greek "If God permits", indicating some uncertainty in the matter. This is interesting because what follows teaches us about what to do if we don't know God's specific will in a circumstance. And that's a very common experience in the Christian life. The word that follows the verse is "For". Despite being uncertain about God's specific will here, he nonetheless takes action, and the verses that follow give his explanation as to why he's taking action. Those verses will show that he's applying a principle. When we don't know God's specific will, then we should defer to the principles of scripture.


Impossible Repentance

Heb 6:4-6 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 again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Try as you might you can never bring this kind of person to repentance. That's why the author of Hebrews is leaving such people behind. (1John 5:16) Such people are unteachable. He's not saying that this is the case for all of the audience to whom he is writing. For if that were the case why would he bother writing at all? But no doubt he suspects among them are these kind of people. What kind of people?

They were people who had been enlightened to the gospel at some point. They had a taste of the Christian life. But were like those Jesus described is his parable of the sower. "The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away." Mt 13:20,21 Their faith was not rooted.

They had a partnership with the Holy Spirit. This is not to say that they had been possessors of the Holy Spirit. The greek word for "shared in" (metochos) is literally "became partners with". It is first used in the New Testament in Luke 5:7 "And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink." This is the type of relationship that the Holy Spirit has with those He is helping to come to Christ. See also Kenneth Wuest's comment on this point.

They had heard the word and witnessed the validating evidence of miracles. Yet Jesus even said of those who performed miracles, "Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’  "And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Mt 7:22,23

If such people fall away they are like those Peter spoke of saying, "If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing (about)  our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known (about) the way of righteousness, than to have known (about) it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. Of them the proverbs are true: 'A dog returns to its vomit,' and, 'A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.'" 2Peter 2:20-22 I say "knowing about" because the work is not "gnosis", which is relational knowledge, but "epi-gnosis" - surface knowledge, knowing facts about the person but not necessarily knowing him personally. Notice that regeneration hadn't taken place as they are characterized as the same kind of creature they were prior to knowing. As such these are merely posers.

And concerning their recrucifying Christ, likewise the author will later say, "If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?" Heb 10:26-29

These are the Judas's of the Christian community. The apostates of the faith. Who having identified with the believers, having alleged to have put their faith in Christ, reject him like the crowds who once followed Jesus as a celebrity only later to shout "Crucify him!".


Worthless Soil

Heb 6:7,8  Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.

The author may have had in mind the parable of the wheat and the tares. and the principle that "by their fruit you will recognize them." Mt 7:20 Takes time and maturity till what was planted produces fruit. This is not talking about immature Christians. When one matures in their convictions, such will be evident by their ideas and actions. The apostate is one who has evaluated the faith and intentionally deviates from it by word and actions and teaches such.

Jesus said, "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Mt 7:19  And likewise here, "I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit" John 15:1-2a

But he also says, "the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15


Things that Accompany Salvation

Heb 6:9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case— things that accompany salvation.

The Bible speaks in a number of place of things that accompany salvation - indeed things which are indicative of salvation,. Among these are love for other Christian and doing what is right. "This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother." 1John3:10 There are also doctrinal issues, "We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us." 1John 4:6a And Jesus said, "He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit" John 15:5b

Why was John confident of their salvation status? Because these kinds of things were indicative of their lives. Assurance of salvation is to be proportional to the degree to which we behave as a child of God should.
To the Thessalonians Paul writers, "We know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction. You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering, you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit. And so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia. The Lord’s message rang out from you not only in Macedonia and Achaia— your faith in God has become known everywhere. Therefore we do not need to say anything about it, for they themselves report what kind of reception you gave us. They tell how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead— Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath." 1Thess 1:4-10

Works of Faith

Heb 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.

Likewise Paul notes of the Thessalonians, "We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not simply with words, but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction." 1Th 1:2-5a And he goes on to note particular evidences of things that accompany salvation, things are also noted in a number of verses in this chapter of Hebrews.

"You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering" 1Th 1:6a

"you became a model to all the believers" 1Th 1:7a

"you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead— Jesus, who rescues us from the coming wrath" 1Th 1:9b-10

But in particular we note in John and 1John that love for other Christians is the primary mark of the elect. John 13:35 "By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."


Assurance based on Diligent Perseverance

Heb 6:11,12  We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Diligence and perseverance accompany salvation. "the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." Luke 8:15

In contrast laziness may be an indication that such a person is not saved. Of the man who hid his talent and did nothing with his faith, Jesus said, "You wicked, lazy servant!" Mt 25:26a Lazy faith is a non-application oriented faith. It is not indicative of saving faith. It is a disobedient faith. Jesus said,   "Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." Followed by, "Therefore by their fruits you will know them. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven." Mt 7:19-21 Obedience, diligence, fruitfulness, these all accompany salvation.

Of imitation Paul notes that of the Thessalonians as I noted previously. And likewise Hebrews later says, "Remember your leaders, who spoke the word of God to you. Consider the outcome of their way of life and imitate their faith." Heb 13:7

"Therefore, my brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall" 2Peter 1:10


NOTES

Heb 6:4-6 Falling Away

Many Christians ask themselves the question as to whether they have at some time in the past fallen away in the sense of which Hebrews speaks of in this section. But if they are presently believers in Christ and are walking in a repentant lifestyle, then according to this section they never had fallen away. For if they had fallen away it would have been impossible to have renewed them to repentance. But since they repented they could not have fallen away in the sense spoken of here.

What does it mean by "falling away" here? It means to recrucify Christ after having followed Christ, having been enlightened and given sufficient evidence of the truth of His Word. It is a rejection of Christ himself, as the Jews had rejected him at calvary.

Does this section mean a Christian could lose his salvation? Although that is a possible interpretation if one reads just this section alone, it seems inconsistent with overs verses. 1John 2:19, for example, indicates that true believers do not even "fall away". However, there are also many verses that indicate that not everyone who calls themselves a "Christian" actually is a believer (Matt 7:21). And if one is a real believer, then there should be some inevitable "fruit" as external evidence of their belief (Matt 7:19-20). Heb 6:7,8 indicates that this person is not such a believer, but merely a nominal Christian.

The situation described in this section may be likened to the time when Israel came out of Egypt, through the desert to the Jordan River, and despite all that they experienced of God's power, they refused to enter the promise land. So God sent them back into the desert to die.

This section describes a person who has been enlightened to understand the gospel. But understanding it doesn't make one saved. They have had a taste of the heavenly gift, possibly referring to the Holy Spirit which Peter calls a gift in Acts 2:38. In which case, "tasted" and "shared in" both refer to their experience with the Holy Spirit. The Greek word for "shared in" (metochos) is literally "became partners with". It is first used in the New Testament in Lu 5:7 "And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink." This is the type of relationship that the Holy Spirit has with those He is helping to come to Christ. Such people do have an experience with the Holy Spirit even though they don't have the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit promises to believers as in Eph 1:13,14 "In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."

They also experienced how good the Word of God is, although had yet to really put their faith in it. They also experience miracles, which made them even more accountable in God's sight just as Jesus had said: "Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you." Matt 11:21,22

A person who has such knowledge and experience, and rejects Christ will be permanently lost. Having reject what the Holy Spirit had been revealing to him, he has sinned against the Holy Spirit, and as Jesus says, "But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation." Mr 3:29 Having led the person to the point of salvation, having given him sufficient evidence to make a decision, and having been rejected, the Holy Spirit breaks His partnership with the unbeliever and never returns. For "But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."Heb 6:8

Kenneth Wuest 
(A Translator of the NASB)
on Heb 6:4

Heb 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, (NIV)

Heb 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (AV)

"Partakers of the Holy Ghost"

We must be careful to note that the Greek word translated "partakers" does not mean "possessors," in the sense that these Hebrews possessed the Holy Spirit as an indwelling Person who had come to take up His permanent abode in their hearts. The word is a compound of the Greek verb "to have or hold", and a preposition meaning "with" thus "to hold with." It is used in Luke 5:7 where it is translated "partners," signifying one who co-operates with another in a common task or undertaking. It is used in Hebrews 1:9 where the angels are "fellows" of our Lord, partners or associates with Him in the work of salvation. It is used in Hebrews 3:1 where the recipients of this letter are called participators in the heavenly calling. That is, they participated together in the heavenly calling. These Hebrews had left the earthly calling of the nation Israel, and had identified themselves with the Church which has a heavenly calling. It is used in Hebrews 3:14, where it speaks of those who participate together in the Lord Jesus.

The word (metochos) was so used in secular Greek. Moulton and Milligan give examples of its usage in the following phrases: "We, Dionysius son of Socrates and the associate collectors;" Pikos son of Pamonthes and his colleagues," "the Joint-owner of a holding," "I am unable to take part in the cultivation," "Some do so because they are partners in their misdeeds." Thus the word signifies one who participates with another in a common activity or possession. It is so used here. These Hebrews became participators in the Holy Spirit insofar as an unsaved person can do so, namely, in the sense that they willingly co-operated with Him in receiving His pre-salvation ministry, that of leading them on step by step toward the act of faith. He had led them into the act of repentance. The next step would be that of faith. Here they were in danger of turning their backs upon the Spirit and returning to the sacrifices. Peter in his first epistle (1:2) in the words, "through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience," speaks of this work of the Holy Spirit on the unsaved, setting them apart from unbelief to faith. This word in its context does not at all imply that these Hebrews had been born of the Spirit, sealed with the Spirit, indwelt by the Spirit, anointed with the Spirit, baptized by the Spirit into the Body of Christ, or filled with the Spirit. This work of the Holy Spirit in leading them on towards faith was a once-for-all work, so thoroughly done that it needed never to be repeated. However, there was nothing permanent of itself in this work, for the work was only a means to an end. This is shown by the aorist participle used, referring to the mere fact, not a perfect, speaking of a finished act having present results. The fact that the writer did not use the perfect tense here, which is a specialized tense, but rather the aorist, which is the maid of all work, points to the incompleteness of the work of the Spirit in the case of these Hebrews. So far as the work had been done, it was perfect, thorough. But it would not be complete until the Hebrews accepted the proffered faith from the Spirit. The incompleteness of the work would be due, therefore, not to the Spirit, but to their willingness to go on as a partner or cooperator with the Spirit.

See also More Discussion over the Interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-8.


The Berean Christian Bible Study Resources


Aug 14,2016