Hebrews 6:1-8 (Read from your own Bible)
Everywhere about us in the realm of nature we see God’s law of growth and maturity. It is a phenomenon in all the living creature as well as in the plant world. We see this in seed-time and in harvest-time. It was none less than our Lord Jesus Christ Himself Who brings forth this truth in the parable on the sower. Not all the seed that was sown came to full growth and to maturity. Some fell in stony ground, some fell by the way side and some fell among the thorns. Only that which fell in good ground came to full maturity, the fruits of patience—a hundredfold, sixty-fold and thirty-fold to the glory of God.
The writer to the Hebrew Christians speaks also of two kinds of earth in this awesome passage. It is true, this, is only used by way of illustration. However, it really is an implied parable. He speaks of the earth which receives the rain from heaven and the sunshine and brings forth thorns and thistles and which is nigh to destruction, and the end is that it is burned. On the other hand, he also speaks of good earth which brings forth fruits and receives the blessing. Two kinds of earth: that which is cursed and that which is blessed.
These are tremendous realities. They are written for our warning and admonition. No one can really read this passage and not be moved to fear and awe. This is written for our benefit as the church of Christ. God works grace through admonitions. (Canons of Dordt III, IV, 17) Well may we take the warning and admonition here expressed to heart: Repeatedly the writer to the Hebrews intersperses his writings with such warnings. In Hebrews 4:13 he had written, “For all things are naked and opened before him with whom we have to do.” Later, in Hebrews 10:26-31, we will hear him say, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
Thus also in this passage from Scripture here in IHebrews 6:4-8: “For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and tasted the good word of God, and powers of the age to come, and (then) fell away, it is impossible to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. . . .”
Thus speaks our text.
It is well to bear in mind that the text here does not speak so much from the viewpoint of what the confessing believer really is, as to what heprofesses to be. The viewpoint is that ofprofession! We have this repeatedly in this book of Hebrews. We are to consider the High Priest of our profession, Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 3:1) Again inHebrews 4:14 we read, “Having then a great High Priest, who hath passed through the heavens; Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast ourconfession.” And, once more, we read in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope that it waver not: for he is faithful that promised. . .” In all these passages we are dealing with what the readers “profess” concerning Jesus. The same may also be said for such a letter as First John. There too we read repeatedly, “If we say. . . . ,” and, “If we confess. . . . ” (I John 1:6, 8, 9, 10; I John 4:19, 20) Hence, the viewpoint is not that of the elect as they are all written in the Lamb’s book of life, but rather as the Christian here lives under the preaching of the Word, walks by faith in the battle, where there is a twofold manifestation of coming to perfection of faith and of a falling away in unbelief, crucifying the Son of God afresh to themselves.
THE PERFECTION TOWARD WHICH WE PRESS FORWARD (Hebrews 6:1)
The book of Hebrews is replete with the idea of pressing on to and arriving at “perfection.” The term in the Greek is teleioosis. This term does not mean the same thing as holiness, ethical perfection, although these two cannot be separated in the Christian. Yet, they are rather markedly distinguished. Perfection looks at the end of the process. It is the end of a matter in the same sense that the harvest time and the full harvest is the end of spring and seed time. It is the fully developed fruit. It means that what was potential has become real and actual.
According to the context, “perfection” here is the full-orbed understanding of the truth of the Gospel in Jesus; the full understanding and confession of all that God has spoken in His Son in these last days. It brings to mind the beautiful Question and Answer 19 of the Heidelberg Catechism, where we have the key-words:Revealed—proclaimed—portrayed—fulfilled! And the last of these we must see as the fulfillment of the former. And when the full implication of this “fulfillment” in Christ is seen and apprehended by a living faith, then we have arrived at perfection. God will make a perfect work. He will have our works perfect before God. (Revelation 3:2) It is interesting to notice how the term to perfectteleiow is applied to Christ in the highest and supreme sense as the Son of God in the flesh. Thus we read in Hebrews 2:10, “to make the captain of our salvation perfect, through suffering.” This must refer to his exaltation at the right hand of God, far above the angels, to have Name above every name, that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God. In this sense Christ is made perfect, and thus He became the author of eternal salvation. Thus we understand too that the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did through which we draw nigh to God; (Hebrews 5:9, 7:19) The sacrifices in the Old Testament cannot, as touching the conscience, make the worshipper perfect. (Hebrews 9:9) However, Christ through one offering hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. (Hebrews 10:14) The perfection which Christ has brought about cannot be changed, added to, nor detracted from. To do this is to crucify the Christ, the Son of God, afresh to ourselves.
This “perfection” brought about by Christ is the hope which is set before us!
When Christ was upon earth he was very conscious that He would perfect all things through his death and resurrection. Wherefore He says to the Jews in John 5:46, “. . . For if ye believed Moses, ye would believe me; for he wrote of (peri) me.” I am most emphatically the subject of Moses’ writings. Take Me out of Moses writings, and there is none concerning whom he writes. He did not write concerning Adam, Henoch, Noah, Abraham, or any other of the saints. He wrote of Me as the “Seed” which was to come; I am the Mediator into whose hand the fiery oracles were entrusted till the time to come. (Galatians 3:19) Wherefore Christ can begin with Moses and all the prophets and interpret to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. (Luke 24:27) Small wonder that the hearts of these two travelers to Emmaus were burning in them while he opened to them the Scriptures.
When we come to this “perfection” we are then understanding more than the mere a-b-c, the first principles of the oracles of God. We must see and understand more than a child of the Old Testament dispensation could see under the shadows and types. This was all the type and pattern of the things heavenly. However, we must also see more than the mere first words of Christ which we learn in the Catechism Class. We must see and understand the deeper implications of the Old Testament types and shadows as fulfilled in Christ. We must, too, come to the full realization of the “perfection” wherewith Christ was perfected, so that He could bring many sons to glory.
Not only is Christ perfected!
We too must be perfected with the perfection wherewith Christ is perfected, and must grow and come to the perfect man. (Ephesians 4:13.) The church must become the full-grown man; unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ she must come. Then she shall not be cast to and fro with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, in craftiness after the wiles of error! However, what is true of the entire church must also be true of each individual member.
PRESSING FORWARD (Hebrews 6:1-3)
The text here really is in the form of an exhortation. Let us press forward. The verb in the Greek is pheroometha. A better translation is really, “let us be borne forward.” Dr. Westcott writes concerning this as follows: “The form of the positive charge is remarkable. The thought is not primarily of personal effort ‘let us go on,’ ‘let us press’ (Old Lat.tendamus: Aug. respiciamus), but of personal surrender to an. active influence. The power is working (Comp. 1:3 pheroon ta panta); we have only to yield ourselves to it (camp. Acts XXVII, 15, 17). At the same time the influence and the surrender are continuous (pheroo-metha), and not (under this aspect) concentrated in one momentary crisis.” Hence, this work, at bottom, is the work of the Holy Spirit in our hearts as this manifests itself in our act. Being borne along by the Spirit of grace we press on to perfection!
Here is deep spiritual pedagogy.
Here is not an appeal to sinful motivation in the least. Here is an appeal to the new man in Christ in these professing Christians. True, they had become dull of hearing. They did not have their senses exercised by the constant use. However, the hope is that they must yield to the Spirit of grace and knowledge who leads into all the truth. (John 14:26, 16:13) Here is an appeal to the inward impulses of the Holy Spirit in their hearts. In the Heidelberg Catechism, Question 103, we read in part “. . . . . Secondly, that all the days of my life I cease from my evil works, and yield myself to the Lord, to work by his Holy Spirit in me: and thus begin in this life the eternal sabbath.” (italics added)
In every teaching situation there are three factors: the teacher, the student and the subject matter. However, there is also the matter of proper motivation. Now, such motivation can be simply worldly motivation in learning. What a tremendous motivation in learning and science was brought about in the United States when Russia launched their first satellite around the world. It was the motivation to excel as a nation, or even the motivation of survival in the race for power and supremacy. Now here too the writer would insert motivation for these sluggish and dull hearers to press forward. It is the motivation of attaining to the “perfection” in Christ, and to know that unless we will press on in learning in what we know concerning the first principles we shall forget what we have learned, or what is worse lose it through indifference.
Now we will attempt to follow the instruction of the writer.
This we shall do if God permit.