Thursday, October 16, 2014

What does Hebrews 6:4-5 Mean?

4 For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy Spirit, 5 tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, 6 and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt.

In the above passage the author of Hebrews is giving us what is commonly referred to as a “warning” passage.  Other examples of warning passages are found in Hebrews (2:1-4; 5:11-6:12; 10:19-39, 12:1-29) Revelation 2 and 3, James and Galatians 4:8-11.  For many years pastors and scholars have spilled a lot of ink in a struggle to understand how the “warning” passages work with the “assurance” passages (like John 10:28-30, Romans 8:28-39, and Philippians 1:6).  I think the key to understanding the meaning to this question arises from two questions about this passage:

1. Who does it address?

2. What is the function of this warning?

When one reads this text, the simplest explanation of who it is written to would be a believer.  If you were to put this passage before a child, they would say it is written to a believer.  The language that is used here of tasted the heavenly gift, become companions with the Holy Spirit, tasted God’s word and the powers of this coming age,”  all point to the fact that we are dealing with some who have a knowledge and experience of the things of the living God of the universe.  It is also important to note that the author of Hebrews never says anyone has fallen away or in verse six the comma does not follow with the clause, “as some have done” or “since some have fallen away”.  But if that is true, and none have fallen away, what is the function of this passage?

I believe there is a weightiness involved in Hebrews 6 that is often overlooked and slighted in an effort to defend the eternal security of a believer.  I would submit to you that this passages is more than a hypothetical situation, but that this is a warning passage that is used as a means of preservation for God’s people.  For example,   if you were driving up towards Butler Bridge and you saw a sign in the middle of the road that says, “Bridge Out Ahead!”  Those of us who are able to read, would turn our cars around and take another route to preserve out life, avoiding the eighty foot plus drop into Watauga Lake.  Or if you were on a tour of the Biltmore in Ashville, North Carolina, and the guide said, please do not go down into the cellar there is poison gas down there that will surely kill you.  You would heed the warning of the guide, and be very careful not to go near that cellar!  The warning is more than a hypothetical, the warning is a means that the guide used to save your life.  It is important to remember that only those who belong to God will be able to heed the warning passages God gives.  It is impossible to warn those who don’t know the power of God to be preserved (1 Peter 1:5).  There is a call from Hebrews six to be careful and take heed!

Click HERE for futher study on this passage and other warning passages!

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