Apostacy - The Scary Passages (Part II)

Last episode we stepped into the book of Hebrews to look at some of the warning passages there.

Anytime you have a conversation about salvation, and whether you are eternally saved, the book of Hebrews will come up.

If you do any bible teaching or you serve in some capacity as a pastor you will have people who ask you about certain verses in Hebrews and they will have a very nervous or scared look on their face.

Finally, often when you hear a person explain what these passages mean, you walk away with the thought in your mind that they really didn’t know what they were saying.  Usually the explanation is vague at best.

We want to address that in these two episodes, and we hope you found the last one helpful.

Apostasy is not a light matter. Nor is it something to debate (or have a mere conversation over). It is a heart-breaking thing to watch. However, it is also a reality that is not to be ignored, nor is it something on which to be untaught. Our goal here is not to fill our minds with knowledge, but to move our hearts to care for our brothers and sisters in Christ.

It is a very neglected doctrine, and to be negligent on this topic (and therefore, not heed the warnings) will only be to the harm of the church.

So with that, we don’t have a lot to say by way of introduction, so we will simply jump right into what are likely the two scariest passages on apostasy.

The Two Scariest Passages on Apostasy in The New Testament:

Hebrews 6:4-8

Now he speaks of the real threat of apostasy again.

What is the main point in vss 4-6?

If you fall away it is impossible to be brought back to repentance.

This is key to grasp for anyone who will determine that a Christian, a true Christian, can lose their salvation.

If true, then there is no second opportunity.  Which is completely contrary to what most positions hold to, who believe in the loss of salvation and appeal to this passage and chapter 10.

Understand that this is all written in the context of 5:11-6:3, but this will also help us deal easily with chapter 10, so it is worth your time.

There the writer wants to instruct them on many wonderful things, but they are not ready for them.  They should be teachers by now, but they are not. Instead they need to be taught the “elementary principles” of God, and that phrase is very interesting and important to understand.

You may think he is saying that they need to go back to the basics of the Christian faith.  Sort of like starting back in chapter 1 in the book of theology.

Actually he is saying that they need to go back to the ABCs, and learn them first.  They are not ready for even the basics of the Christian faith; rather they need to learn about the preparatory doctrines first.

Already that tells us a lot about these people as we seek to understand the warning passage.  These people are not merely stalled in their spiritual growth, but are actually regressing. That is very important to understand.

They are described (starting in v. 11) as dull, unskilled, infants, and unable to discern good and evil. These are not people who did something wrong and foolish once or twice.  Rather, these are people who are in a seriously bad place, even though they are professing to be followers of Jesus Christ.

Thus, the writer, now, joins these weak people by using the word “us” in 6:1. So he is not sitting in harsh judgment. Rather, he climbs down into their weakness and basically says to them, “Let’s do this together.” It is very pastoral.

He tells them that they need to leave those elementary teachings. The point, there, is not to say that they should now abandon those teachings. In fact, you can’t do that any more than you can abandon the alphabet as you grow in reading.

Rather, he is saying build off of them, and now move upward. They are not a place to stop; but rather they are a doorway to go through, or a foundation upon which to now build.

Vss 1-2 are important to understand:

“Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” (Heb. 6:1-2)

There is no need to go backward is the point.  Those works that are dead are the things that were elementary. They were the foundational instructions regarding what is to come. It is literally rendered as “the word/teaching of the beginning of Christ.”

What is meant here?

He gives three sets of two ideas or couplets: repentance/faith; cleanse/laying on of hands; resurrection/judgment.

These are foundational teachings that the Jews had that were out of the Old Testament.

But they were all pointing to something bigger and greater than themselves–they were pointing to their fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

We would argue that these are the pre-gospel teachings all of these Jews were raised on rather than central, basic Christian doctrines.  They are the ABC’s.

These are what they are beginning to want to go back to rather than leave behind because Jesus is better and greater.

So now that they have heard and learned of the Christ/Messiah then these things should be left behind for their purpose no longer exists.  

Then he gives six realities of one who has made a profession of faith, but for whom it is impossible to be restored to repentance.

What will stand out in this list is how much this gives the appearance of a true believer. As he does that, you can then begin to realize why these become so scary to read.

Professed repentance (6).

Everything the author says in verses 4-5 lead to this point where a person cannot be renewed again to repentance.  And that means that at some point in the past they claimed to repent, and become a follower of Jesus.

But also, that they have now turned away from the faith and have gone into a life of rebellion and no repentance.

2 Corinthians 7:10 “true repentance does not have regret.” In other words, it is impossible to turn from a true repentance. The writer says it is impossible to do.  There is this point of no return.

“Have once  been enlightened” (4)

Used in John 1:9 of Jesus enlightening mankind.

"There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man." (Jn. 1:9)

We see this as those who have been taught the gospel message, have given evidence that they have repented and understand it.  They are not in the “dark” regarding who Christ is and what the gospel is.

“Tasted of the heavenly gift.”

Some see this as the same as the Holy Spirit, but if you diagram it, it is a separate phrase. We see it as a taste of what a converted life and a forgiven life feels and looks like. They have participated in the community of believers and how redeemed people live and act.

“Been made partakers of the Holy Spirit.”

Here is the key one for anyone looking at this text. In some way or another these people have shared in the Holy Spirit.

So we have to ask questions to get a sense of what is meant.  And this is where so many of our other episodes come into play.

Born again?  If so, no other place does a regenerate person become unregenerate.

Baptism with the Holy Spirit?  Then this would be one who is truly saved who loses salvation because this speaks of being placed into the Church.

Filled with the Holy Spirit?  Then this would fit.

“Tasted of the good word of God.”

“[Tasted] of the powers of the age to come.”

This could be things such as miracles and wonders (2:4), but should also include a different way of living (Romans 14:17).