Posted, 10/11/15

Grow Up

Hebrews 6:1-8.

Vv. 7 & 8 (“For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”) is a clear reference to our Lord’s words in Matthew 13:

“1 The same day went Jesus out of the house, and sat by the sea side. 2 And great multitudes were gathered together unto him, so that he went into a ship, and sat; and the whole multitude stood on the shore. 3 And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; 4 And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: 5 Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: 6 And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. 7 And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: 8 But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. 9 Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.”

The Lord defines four types of seed that is sown upon all kinds of ground. The seed is identified as the Word of God as it is preached to every creature.
First, that which falls upon the wayside is quickly eaten by birds.
Second, that which falls upon stony ground without much earth springs up while the ground is wet, and then is killed when sunshine and hot weather arrive.
Third, that which falls among thorns is soon choked out.
Forth, that which falls upon the good ground, and its fruit identifies it as good seed.

Hebrews 6:7 “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

The context of Hebrews 6:7, 8 is vv. 1-6.

The purpose of Hebrews was to warn those who were considering returning to the Jewish religion as practiced in the Jewish synagogues and Temple. They are warned of the serious consequences of such a departure from their profession of faith and return to the old way of approaching God.

The decision to return revealed that their “decision” for Christ was an intellectual decision, for they were unable to accept Christ as the only and true Mediator. The author tells them that their desire to return shows a “carnal” rather than a “spiritual” profession. They are apostate. It was a moral failure on their part.

1 John 2:19 "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

John Gill:

(V. 1.) repentance from dead works, does not intend evangelical repentance, the doctrine of which is to be ministerially laid, and the grace itself to be exercised over and over again; but a repentance which arose from, and was signified by the sacrifices of slain beasts; for by them the Jews were taught the doctrine of repentance, as well as remission of sin; and in and over them did they confess their iniquities; yea, every beast that was slain for sacrifice carried in it a conviction of sin, an acknowledgment of guilt; and it was tacitly owning, that they, for whom the creature was slain, deserved to be treated as that was, and die as that did. So the Jews {f} say,

“a man sacrifices a beast, he thinks in his own heart, I am rather a beast than this; for I am he that hath sinned, and for the sin which I have committed I bring this; and it is more fitting that the man should be sacrificed rather than the beast; and so it appears that, …, " by the means of his offering he repents".''

But now, under the Gospel dispensation, believing Jews, as these were to whom the apostle writes, were not to learn the doctrine of repentance from slain beasts, or to signify it in this way; since repentance and remission of sins were preached most clearly to them in the name of Christ: nor were they to lay again another part of this foundation, or a second article of the Jewish creed,… (End)

Their desire to depart from their profession of faith in Christ as their Mediator and return to the sacrifice of an animal in the Temple brought them very close to severe judgment: “whose end is to be burned.”

The author lists six foundational truths upon which the Christian life is to be built. These truths are to be well-established, and most not to be forgotten. If the Christian desires to grow to maturity, he must move past these basic Christian doctrines.
Thegrowing Christian must move past them.

Matthew Henry:

First, repentance from dead works, or conversion and regeneration.

Second, faith toward God, or firm belief in the existence of God: of his nature, attributes, perfection the unity of his essence, &c.

Third, the doctrine of baptism; that is, baptism by a minister of Christ with water in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. It could be the doctrine of baptism of the sprinkling of the purifying blood of Christ by the Spirit of God upon the soul.

Fourth, laying on of hands on a person, signifying complete church membership. Or it could mean the ordination of a person to the ministerial office, which is done only one time.

Fifth, the resurrection of the dead; that is, of dead bodies; and their re-union with their souls, to be eternal companions together in weal or woe, according as their state was towards God when they died, and the course of life they led in this world.

Sixth, eternal judgment; that is, the eternal state of one soul.

These are the great foundation-principles which ministers should clearly and convincingly unfold, and closely apply. In these the people should be well instructed and established, and from these they must never depart; without these, the other parts of religion have no foundation to support them.

The message of Hebrews is clear: The Christian duty is progress; the great danger of not going forward is going backwards.

“Apostasy will be punished with everlasting burnings, the fire that shall never be quenched. This is the sad end to which apostasy leads, and therefore Christians should go on and grow in grace, lest, if they do not go forward, they should go backward, till they bring matters to this woeful extremity of sin and misery.” (End)

Hebrews warns the church against seeing salvation as a stagnant fact. “Carnal” professions see salvation as a permanent possession which one cannot loose, which is both true and false. Salvation is so much more: Salvation is victory over sin in the Christian’s life, i.e., self-control, victory over death, a new life, and a life to be lived in and for Christ according to his law-word in every thought and action.

Life means growth, not stagnation.

Hebrews 6:1, 2, urges one to move ahead to perfection, or more literally, maturity. As with many words, meanings have changed dramatically. The word perfection once meant maturity, and that was its use in the preamble to the Constitution: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union.” But as the word perfection is used today, it means nothing can be more perfect than perfect.

“let us go on unto perfection”

“PERFEC'TION, noun [Latin perfectio.] The state of being perfect or complete, so that nothing requisite is wanting; as perfection in an art or science; perfection in a system of morals.” (Webster, 1829)

That is, move on toward Christian maturity, to obtain the characteristics missing in our Christian life.

Just as a baby or young child who is in need of milk is worthless as a soldier, so too are those of the Army of God who need to be continually fed milk. They need endless care as does a baby, and endless teaching of the basic doctrines of Christ: repentance from dead works, faith toward God, Baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.

In my very limited experience, I have met extremely few pastors who have taken their people past the six basic doctrines defined here in Hebrews 6. Generally, pastors seem not to even realize that Old Testament laws exist which tell how the law-word of God is to work out in society.

Moreover, Christians generally do not want to go past these basic points of Christian doctrine. Maybe they do not want the responsibility that goes with the applications of the law of God. Even grown men who endlessly study too "mature" in their chosen occupation do not want to grow up and mature in their Christian faith. We have heard many excuses for their lack of self-control and maturity.

The natural man wants to be able to "say yes to Jesus", and then sit back mark time, and simply wait to go to heaven.

I know "professed Christians" who see their Christianity as maybe attending church services, turning on a religious program, and putting bumper stickers on their car.

As we have been attending various churches here in Ohio, we have noticed that the old songs of a victorious Christianity are no longer song in church services. Songs such as "Onward Christian Soldiers" or Sound the Battle Cry". The "Trinity” songbook is unheard of by the majority of Christians.

The songs are overwhelmingly songs to make the people feel good about themselves and about God. People consider a "worshipful experience" as rehearsing how much God has done for them rather than rehearsing how much we are to do for him in the present and future.

Hebrews tells us that though we need to know and understand the basic doctrines very early in the Christian life, if we do not go on to a more mature understanding of the whole word of God, we are in danger of slipping into apostasy: "whose end is to be burned".

My sad experience has been that Christians generally do not want to hear about maturity and self-responsibility, so they will find religious assemblies that will emphasize only the basic doctrines of the faith.

They emphasize “John 3:16,” which reduces the gospel to man's salvation, but they ignore Christ’s command to conquer all things for the glory of God, and apply his righteousness or justice in society.

What should be the training ground for God's people to exercise dominion and take control of the earth for the glory of God has been turned into an adult day care center. But the author says here that we must go on to perfection or Christian maturity, which can only be accomplished by teaching and applying the entire law-word of God.

Those who do not want to mature as adult Christians who can be fed the serious meat of God's word are in serious sin before God. All they want from the church is a ticket to heaven. “Don’t make me learn anything more.” It is sad and sickening that many Christians who are outstanding mature individuals in the various gifts God has given them would rather remain inmature in their Christian profession.

The foundational aspect of Christianity which are cited in verse 1 and 2, must not be the sum total of what a Christian knows about his faith. The strong emphasis here is that there is a great deal more required of those who profess Christ.

I think a major problem is that their profession of Christ was an intellectual profession rather than a genuine spiritual profession and conversion. Holy Spirit conversion brings with it a desire to know and obey the entire law-word of God.

I have been surprised at the supposed mature Christians who resist any teaching other than the "sincere milk of the word", and sadly then watch them leave because the preacher attempted to feed them “meat.”

Vv. 4-6 is addressed to those Hebrews who desired to go back to the Temple mediation sacrifices and ordinances. The author warns that there is no second chance for them if they reject Jesus Christ who is the High Priest, Messiah, King and Prophet. They may see themselves as believers in Jesus, but when they deny any of his offices, they have denied the Jesus Christ of Scripture. They become part of the crucifying mob if they will not have him as he is presented in his Word and on His terms.

The same condemnation is for those who have professed Christ in our day, yet reject him as the King who commands his people to subdue his creation for his glory. ("We will not have this man, King Jesus, reign over us, and tell us that we must obey his every Command-Word.") They have chosen to serve a god made after their own vain imagination:

Titus 3:10 “A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject; 11 Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.”

Titus 3:10, heresy – a choice or an opinion that does not line up with the word of God.

10. heretic—Greek "heresy," originally meant a division resulting from individual self-will; the individual doing and teaching what he chose, independent of the teaching and practice of the Church. In course of time it came to mean definitely "heresy" in the modern sense; and in the later Epistles it has almost assumed this meaning. The heretics of Crete, when Titus was there, were in doctrine followers of their own self-willed "questions" reprobated in #Tit 3:9, and immoral in practice.

reject—decline, avoid; not formal excommunication, but, "have nothing more to do with him," either in admonition or intercourse. (JFB)

(1 Cor 11:19, 2 Pe 2:1)

The heretic follows and teaches traditions of men over the word of God. Those traditions may appear sound, but they are not Scriptural. In this context of Titus, Paul may well be warning against those who draw out followers after their vain and unscriptural ideas — that is, the Jewish fables, and commandments of men, Titus 1:14. (Cf. Gal. 1:13, 14.)

Jewish fables (literally, myths) are no new thing. Paul has plainly warned the household of faith [primarily Hebrew at the time] not to give heed thereto. He has not given us a list of those grievous heresies; but it is well known that the one that was most fondly cherished, and that constituted the gravest menace to the truth of the gospel, was the notion that the leading purpose of the mission of the coming Messiah would be the reconstitution of the Jewish nation and its elevation to the highest pinnacle of earthly dominion and glory; for that fatuous doctrine was the cornerstone of orthodox Judaism in Paul's day; and because of his sturdy opposition to it he was persecuted, his enemies plotted to take his life, and he was sent a prisoner to Rome. No wonder that, during the term of his imprisonment there, he wrote to Titus his plain-spoken warning against "Jewish fables." (The Hope of Israel: What is it? By Philip Mauro. See Online Bible, ME 1.01. It is a good study, showing the utter fallacy of the modern Jewish hope of the church.)

The New Testament authors worked at keeping the Jewish fables out of the church; every New Testament book dealt with the fallacy of the Jews religion. (I have gone into this fact elsewhere, so no need to here.)

However, there are many other heresies prevalent in the church, e.g., denial of the trinity, denial of the Dominion mandate, denial of sovereignty and divine providence, election, works that prove salvation, proper authority, &c.

Paul tells Titus to exercise his God-given authority and keep the heresies, particularly the Jewish fables, out of the church. If the men promoting the heresies will not keep quiet, then they are to be removed from the church.

However, the problem is that when the fables are dealt with and the heretics are removed, their messages are so appealing that they draw a great number of people after them. And thus they start a new "church" based upon the fables and false teachings, e.g., Edward Irving was cast out of the Presbyterian church because of the tongues heresy, so he went down the street and started his own group with 800 people, the Catholic Apostolic Church, which is still going strong today. And other churches sprang off that group, which was built on heresy, and thus have a heretical foundation.

The early church denounced as heretics those were "professors of Christ", yet denied parts of Christ, the Word of God, which did not seem reasonable to them. They falsified the word of God because they denied fullness of Christ.

Vv. 4, 5. (Remember, Hebrews 6 is speaking in the context of our Lord’s words in Matthew 13:1-9. Read it again.)

First, they have been enlightened. They are ones to whom the truth was proclaimed.

Second, “they have tasted of the heavenly gift”, the gift of new life in Christ who came from heaven, yet turned their backs on it.

Third they have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost, because they have been in the church where the Spirit works.

Fourth, they have tasted the good word of God. That is, the truth has been made known unto them.

Fifth, they have tasted the powers of the world to come; that is, they experienced the world of men under their new orders to enter into the fullness of Christ’s work.

Departing from Christ after all the above is evidence of their reprobate character. They have put Christ to open shame; in effect, they have re-crucified him, and they are too hardened even to be renewed by repentance. Their “end is to be burned”.

What about "eternal security"? According to Matthew 13:1-9, eternal security is not being discussed here. (1 Jo 2:19)

Rather, Hebrews here is telling the readers how to identify the reprobate. It is raising the question — are they themselves reprobate? (2 Cor 13:5) We are to question ourselves. Are we reprobate? Is there a desire to return to the our vomit or to the mire from which we were washed by the blood of Christ? Do we want to return to the pit from which we were diged?

In the overall context of Scripture, this passage cannot be dealing with "eternal security".

Vv. 7 & 8. The Hebrew believers who desire to return to the mediation laws of the Temple are being asked if they are the good seed or are they the thorns and briars.

Verses 7 and 8 echo the parable of the sower and the seed also. In fact, these verses go further. What they imply is that the reader may not be good seed in bad ground, but rather they may be the thorns and briars which are sown in the master’s field. (Mat 13:30)

What Hebrews is telling the " believers" who read this: “Are you sure you are not the thorns and briars?” That was a harsh question.

Those who sit in judgement over Jesus, the Word of God, shall be judged. That is, they judge for themselves what is and what is not the Command-Word of God: “There end is to be burned.”

These verses cannot be used to deny "eternal life" to those who might deny the faith in the face of persecution or even death. In those cases, fear, not a departure from faith, was responsible for such apostasy.

This passage is speaking of a self-conscious and willful decision to depart from the Biblical faith in Christ Jesus. It is speaking of a willful departure from the totality of Jesus Christ. Such a departure is not weakness, but is a deliberate rejection of Christ's total claim over all things in heaven and earth. Hebrews did not try to convince those who willfully departed to come back into the church. Rather, it warned those who are not working to mature themselves in the faith of the danger of falling away.

Hebrews requires moving towards maturity. Growing up is a religious responsibility as well as a necessity. “Grow up", he tells the Hebrews. "You feel you are way ahead of the Gentile believers, and in some sense you are. But in an understanding of Christ and the meaning of His priesthood, you are way behind the Gentiles. Grow up.”

Our day is a day of satisfaction with the most immature and childish kind of Christian commitment. The result is the church losing its power to influence society for Christ. It has been reduced to the blind leading the blind and both falling in the ditch. An army of blind men is useless; in fact, it is a danger to the cause of Christ.

Job 5:7 “Yet man is born unto trouble, as the sparks fly upward.”

How sad it is when the genuinely converted man goes to church, and all he here is about and cares about is conversion. He gets soothing words of assurance of his salvation, yet he gets no word from God to teach him how to handle his continual problems and tribulations in his everyday life, and how to seek God's kingdom first.

The pastor/teacher is to carry his people past the basic doctrines of the Christian religion, so he can see, understand and implement the practical implications of God law-word into every area of life and thought.

The "Christian West" is quickly disappearing because His people are not being taught the applications of his law into everything they say and do.

Hebrews is one long summons to grow up. It recognizes that the Christian life is a continual battle against sin and death; that is, death in the family and in society because Christians have remained inmature babes in Christ.