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                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                  The Peril Of Not Progressing (6:1-8)


1. The normal Christian life is to be one of spiritual growth and 
   a. Starting as "babes in Christ", we feed on the "milk" of the Word
   b. As our spiritual senses are exercised to discern good and evil, 
      we are then able to progress to "solid food" (meat)
   -- In this way we are to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our 
      Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." - 2 Pe 3:18

2. But as we saw in a previous lesson ("Marks Of Spiritual
   Immaturity"), not all grow as they should, and some of the 
   indications of immaturity are:
   a. Dullness of hearing
   b. Inability to teach others
   c. Diet of "milk" only
   d. Inability to discern good and evil - cf. He 5:11-14

3. But if we don't grow spiritually as we should, so what?
   a. Is spiritual growth really that essential?
   b. Is there a "danger" involved in not progressing spiritually?

[In the text before us (He 6:1-8), we find that indeed there is "The
Peril Of Not Progressing"; that it is possible for Christians to find
themselves in a very precarious situation.  

As we examine this passage, we note first...]


      1. Maturity in religious knowledge, as a MEANS - 1 Pe 2:2; Ja 
         a. We need the Word of God, that we may grow thereby
         b. By receiving the Word with humility into our hearts, it can
            save our souls
      2. Full development of spiritual life, as an ENDS - 2 Pe 1:5-8
         a. To faith and knowledge, we must add the qualities of godly
         b. As we develop this godly character, we truly come to know
            the Lord

      1. Our text reveals that this involves teaching on such subjects
         a. "Repentance from dead works"
            1) I.e., turning from works which produce spiritual death,
               not life
            2) Paul describes such works in Ep 2:1-3; Ro 6:21
         b. "Faith toward God"
            1) I.e., that trusting conviction in God and His promises
               that is essential to pleasing Him - cf. He 11:6
            2) This faith is produced by the Word of God itself - cf. 
               Ro 10:17; Jn 20:30-31
         c. "The doctrine of baptisms"
            1) In the first century A.D., there were many ritual 
               washings practiced by various sects of the pagans and
               a) Such practices needed to be carefully distinguished 
                  from Christian baptism
               b) Just as John's baptism was distinguished from baptism
                  into Christ - cf. Ac 19:1-5
            2) Today, it is important to understand the different kinds
               of baptisms practiced...
               a) Nearly all "Christian" religions practice some sort 
                  of baptism
               b) But most do not baptize for the reasons stated in the
                  Scriptures - cf. Ac 2:38; 22:16; Ro 6:1-6
         d. "Laying on of hands"
            1) In the early church, this was done for various reasons:
               a) By Jesus, and others with the gift of healing, to 
                  heal the sick - Lk 4:40; Mk 16:18; Ac 28:8
               b) By Jesus, to bestow special blessings upon others 
                  - Mk 10:16; Mt 19:13-15
               c) By the apostles, to impart the Spirit in a miraculous
                  measure - Ac 8:14-25; 19:1-7; 2 Ti 1:6
               d) By church leaders, to appoint different ones for 
                  service - Ac 6:1-6; 13:1-3; 1 Ti 4:14; 5:22
            2) Note that the laying on of hands was often accompanied 
               with prayer; perhaps the imposition of hands being the
               outward symbol of the prayer (Lightfoot)
         e. "Resurrection of the dead"
            1) A central theme of apostolic preaching was the 
               resurrection of Jesus - Ac 2:31-32; 10:40; 13:33
            2) They also preached in Jesus our own resurrection, which
               is our precious hope! - Ac 4:2; 24:15; 1 Co 15:12-23
         f. "Eternal judgment"
            1) Another theme of apostolic preaching - cf. Ac 17:30-31;
            2) Also stressed in their epistles - cf. Ro 2:16; 14:10-12;
               2 Co 5:10
      2. Understanding these concepts serves as the "beginning" of 
         spiritual growth!
         a. Sadly, some who have been Christians for years still "need 
            someone to teach you again the first principles of the 
            oracles of God;"
         b. Such people are still "babes" who "need milk and not solid
            food." - He 5:12

      1. Once we have laid the foundation, we need to build on it
      2. With an understanding of the doctrines previously described,
         we are ready to receive more difficult knowledge
         a. Such as the high priesthood of Christ - cf. He 5:9-11
         b. We might also add the work of Christ as our "King of kings
             and Lord of lords", as depicted in the book of Revelation
      3. By comprehending the "meatier" parts of the Word of God, we 
         are more likely to remain steadfast in our faith
      -- And so we need the attitude of striving toward perfection as
         described by Paul - Ph 3:7-15

[Is this our attitude?  It should be, for as we continue to read in our
text, there is...]


      1. They "were once enlightened"
         a. This likely refers to their conversion - cf. He 10:32
         b. By the second century, the word "enlightenment" was used as
            a synonym for baptism (Justin, Apology, 1.61.65)
         c. The Peshitta Syriac translates the verse, "who have once
            descended to baptism" (Lightfoot)
      2. They "have tasted of the heavenly gift"
         a. The word "taste" suggests a deep personal experience - cf.
            1 Pe 2:3; Ps 34:8
         b. Their tasting the "heavenly gift" refers back to the past
            experience of salvation...
            1) In which they experienced the forgiveness of sins
            2) In which they began to receive the spiritual blessings
               of being in Christ
         c. The clause "describes vividly the reality of personal
            experiences of salvation enjoyed by Christians at
            conversion (baptism)." (Behm, TDNT, I, 676)
      3. They "have become partakers of the Holy Spirit"
         a. This also refers back to their conversion - Ac 2:38; 5:32
         b. The word "partakers" (metochous) is significant...
            1) Christians are "partakers (metochoi) of the heavenly 
               calling" - He 3:1
            2) They are "partakers (metochoi) of Christ" - He 3:14
            -- So they are also partakers in the Holy Spirit! 
      4. They "have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the
         age to come"
         a. Again the word "tasted" suggests personal experience
         b. They had experienced the good things the word of God 
         c. They had experienced "the powers of the age to come"
            1) The "age to come" is likely the Messianic age, ushered
               in with the first coming of Christ, and consummated with
               His second coming (Lightfoot)
            2) The "powers of the age" they had experienced...
               a) Certainly included the "power" experienced by all 
                  Christians - cf. Ep 1:19; 3:20; 6:10
               b) But perhaps even "signs and wonders, with various 
                  miracles, and gifts of the Holy Spirit" - cf. He 2:4
      -- Can these be anyone other than true Christians who had once 
         believed in Jesus?

      1. It was now "impossible...to renew them again to repentance"
         a. It is apparent that Christians can "fall away"
            1) Paul warned that one can become "estranged from Christ" 
               and "fall from grace" - Ga 5:4
            2) Peter described those once saved whose "latter end is 
               worse than the beginning" - 2 Pe 2:20-22
         b. Here we learn that some can fall away to the point they are
            beyond rescue!
            1) We cannot say when a person reaches that point
            2) But there is a point where renewal becomes impossible!
      2. In such a state "they crucify again for themselves the Son of
         God and put Him to an open shame."
         a. This is not a Christian who sins out of weakness or 
         b. This is one who knowingly and openly rejects Christ 
            1) It is one whose heart has been so hardened by sin that 
               in unbelief they have departed from the living God - cf.
               He 3:12-13
            2) It is one who despises Jesus, His blood, and the Spirit
               of grace - cf. He 10:29
         c. It is one thing to "yield" to sin contrary to the new life
            in Christ, it is another thing to "abandon" that new life 
            altogether! (Lightfoot)
         -- But such can happen if we are not careful to "go on to 

      1. Like unproductive branches, they are "rejected...whose end is
         to be burned"
         a. Having received blessings from God, they should have 
            produced good fruit
         b. But instead they are like thorns and briars, taking 
            nourishment but not producing useful fruit in return - He
      2. With a similar illustration, Jesus warned His disciples! - Jn
         a. By abiding in Him, we are able to bear fruit to God's glory
         b. But if we do not bear fruit, we will be cut off and


1. From this stern passage, we learn some sobering truths...
   a. Receiving wonderful blessings from God does not preclude the 
      impossibility of apostasy
   b. For those who fall away to the point of casting off their faith,
      destruction awaits!

2. In view of such truths...
   a. "The Peril Of Not Progressing" is very real!
   b. We need to heed the exhortation:  "let us go on to perfection"
      1) We cannot be content with spiritual immaturity
      2) We must be diligent to "press on" in our spiritual growth

Does this mean we must live our Christian lives with insecurity 
regarding our salvation?  No, for as we will see in our next lesson
("The Basis For Spiritual Security"), there are things upon which we
can base our hope and trust for the future.  But the warnings in this
passage should be heeded!

Brethren, what are you doing with the blessings you have received in 
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