Return to Study Guide for Hebrews – by Debbie Parnakian
Why don’t you just GROW UP; Hebrews 5:11-6:8
Overview of Hebrews
Study by Debbie Parnakian
5:11-14 Don’t be a baby
6:1-3 Don’t stop growing
6:4-8 Don’t be scared, but…
I knew I was in trouble when one of the commentaries I read said that this was one of the hardest scriptures in the New Testament to understand. So…..I’ll do my best. If you still have questions, especially concerning Chapter 6, verses 4-8, you can ask your pastor, you can read commentaries, and then you can get on your knees and ask the God of All Understanding and Wisdom what He wants YOU to receive from these passages! He will have something specific for YOU to learn–because that’s the kind of God He is. But no matter what, this morning we will get to the practical application because what good is knowing what the Word means if it isn’t put into your life??
I have been a Christian for 36 years. I am somewhat of an intellectual–good grades in school and all that. Sometimes I think that if I never learned one more thing that God says in His Word, I could spend the rest of my life working on obeying what I know and I’d be in great shape! But that isn’t what God wants me to do–He wants me to learn more and grow more. His truths are all here in the Bible. The Holy Spirit teaches us and as we dig deeper and deeper into God’s truths, He will show more of Himself to us. Praise God!
There is nothing wrong with feeding a baby milk. In fact, that’s all you should feed a baby for quite a while! And what happens? A baby will grow. You can’t stop that baby from growing if you are feeding it and meeting its other physical and emotional needs. But after a few months or a year or so, you must start feeding your baby solid food for it to continue to grow and be healthy.
This is such a good illustration for growing spiritually!! We have to have spiritual milk first–we have to know the basics, to lay a foundation to our faith, but there are so many deeper truths to learn that we must seek after God on a deeper level than just the basics all the time. That doesn’t mean you need to write a thesis on Dispensationalism verses Covenant Theology. It just means getting to know God better and better and walking closer and closer to Him. It actually isn’t what you know but what you do with what you know. How do you accept something God is teaching you? Do you humbly ask the Lord to continue to reveal His will in your life or do you go down kicking and screaming??? Do you look at your circumstances instead of God (you remember my illustration from last week–are you looking at the bone or the Master?).
The writer of Hebrews is telling them that he wants to share some deeper truths about Jesus to them, but they just aren’t ready!! In fact, they’ve had plenty of opportunity to grow to the point where they could be teaching others at least the basics of their faith, but they’ve stayed in that very safe place and have become fat babies instead of healthy adults who can care for themselves and start caring for others.
Now, there is no time frame for going from spiritual milk to solid food. Many who are new in their faith can understand and apply deeper truths about God because they are looking to grow. They’ve laid the foundation and are ready to build!! Their hearts are open to God’s teaching through the Holy Spirit. They want to grow, mature and obey God. Is that your desire? Do you want to continue to grow up as a Christian? Are you training yourself to tell the difference between good and evil? It isn’t always easy but as we grow up spiritually, we do better and better at making the right choices in life.
Chapter 6 verses 1-3 continue on with that theme. The Jewish Christians the writer is speaking to were stuck in the basic ABC’s of Christianity. The problem with being stuck in the basics and not growing is that if you are not growing, you are not healthy and will be sick and eventually die. The writer uses a foundation as an example. A foundation with nothing built upon it is useless. A foundation of a house will not keep you dry in the rain or protect you from the wind or sun. It needs to be solid to build a house on it, but it isn’t even close to protecting you from the elements by itself.
The writer talks about 6 points concerning the basic, or foundational, truths that all Christians need to know: 1) repentance from acts that lead to death–turning away from our old life and turning to God 2) faith in God – we need to put our faith in God that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross for our sins and raised Him from the dead so that we might have eternal life. 3) instruction about baptisms 4) the laying on of hands – literally means putting our hands on someone while praying for them or encouraging them, but could have a general meaning of fellowship with other believers in the church 5) the resurrection of the dead–we will be raised from the dead to live with Jesus forever in our new, sinless bodies and 6) eternal judgment – as true Christians stand before the judgment throne of the Most Holy God, we escape condemnation because of the blood of Jesus, who gave His life for us.
So those are the elementary truths that even baby Christians should know. But the writer wants the readers to leave these truths – not forget them, but go on to maturity. The foundation is there–start building the house! Don’t stop growing spiritually!! As you build the house on the solid foundation, you will start being protected from the elements. As you grow spiritually, you will not be buffeted by the wind and the rain. James 1:5-6 says But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.
Verse 3 And God permitting, we will do so refers back to verse 1–therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity. Only God can bring us along to maturity. As we seek Him, He is willing to be found. As I just read in James 1:5, if any of us lacks wisdom, ask God for it because He gives to all generously and without reproach.
As we want to grow up as a Christian, God will feed us the spiritual food that we need at the time–milk at first and then solid food so that we can be strong and healthy.
Chapter 6, verses 4-8. Ahhh, the five verses with so many different opinions of what they mean and why. We cannot interpret God’s Word any way we like so that our life looks more spiritual than someone else’s or that it’s easier for us to follow God. We don’t pick our doctrine, then fit every part of scripture into that doctrine. Every part of scripture is absolute truth. So we always need to look at verses in context, etc. Good Biblical scholars differ as to the meaning of these verses, but do not differ in their attitudes concerning salvation and God’s truth. Ever written an e-mail or letter and have it mis-interpreted by the one who reads it? Happens to me all the time! I usually have to explain myself more than once to get my point across and to reassure the person on the other end of my missive that I didn’t mean what they originally thought I meant. There’s usually an apology from my end in there somewhere, too! God’s word is truth–it’s just sometimes we have to work to understand it correctly and apply it to our lives. The point is: what are you doing with the truth of these or any verses? Are you growing up or staying a fat baby?
Dave Guzik says in his commentary on Hebrews 6:4-8: One of the most heated debates over any New Testament passage is focused on this text. The question is simple: Are these people who have had these impressive spiritual experiences in fact Christians? Are they God’s elect, chosen before the foundation of the world? Commentators divide on this issue, each deciding on the issue with great certainty but with no agreement.”
I do not count myself in the group of Good Biblical Scholars that I just mentioned. I don’t have the years of study and experience they all do. I do count myself a child of God who is working hard at becoming mature. And my desire for you today is that you leave with a heart that wants to “grow up” in Christ.
And let’s define apostasy before we go on so we all know what it means. I certainly didn’t know the actual meaning until someone sent me the definition. I just knew it wasn’t a good thing. Anyway, apostasy is the total rejection of Christianity by a baptized person who, having at one time professed the faith, publicly rejects it.
That said, I am giving you two differing viewpoints on these verses. They are either talking about Christians who stumble and fall into sin but do not lose their salvation or the verses are talking about people who go through the motions of becoming a believer and being involved in Christian society but who did not really give their heart to God. I will tell you up front that I do not believe these verses refer to true, believing Christians who walk away from their faith and therefore lose their salvation.
I also want to make clear that the Bible clearly states in many verses that a true Christian (emphasis on the word “true”) cannot lose their salvation. Phil. 1:6 says being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. Eph. 4:30 says that we are sealed for the day of redemption. Jesus said in John 10:27-28–My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. I’ve heard the quote “No one can snatch you out of God’s hand but you can climb out on your own”. I personally don’t believe that is true. If that were true, it would mean that you would have been sealed with the Holy Spirit and then decided you didn’t want the Christian life. Does that mean the Holy Spirit unseals you and leaves? Does He say, “Hey, you’ve messed up enough–I’m outta here?” Don’t think so. I will tell you that there are many who act like Christians, but within their hearts they know that they did not make a true decision to follow Christ. It’s not a small thing to make a decision for Christ–it is life-changing. Repeating the prayer of faith does not get you into God’s hand. Taking the gift of God’s grace through faith in Him does put you into God’s hand and no one, including yourself, can snatch you out.
With all that being said…First, let’s go with the viewpoint that the writer is talking about Christians who fall away from the Lord. Warren Wiersbe says that the Greek word for “fall away” in verse 6 is not the word for apostasy, but is the word “parapipto” which literally means “to fall beside a person or thing” or “to deviate from the right path or to wander away”. Ever wandered away a little? A lot? These people were enlightened by God’s truth and tasted the heavenly gift. “Tasted” here is the same word as in Hebrews 2:9 where it talks about Jesus tasting death for every man. Jesus didn’t just taste a little bit of death, but he fully experienced it. To taste the heavenly gift and the goodness of the word of God is not a little bite, but a full experience. If one has shared in the Holy Spirit, then one is a true believer because the Holy Spirit is in that person. So these are Christians who are openly sinning. Warren Wiersbe goes on to say that the verbs used in verse 6 are present participles. Anyone remember what that means? That means that the literal translation means while they are crucifying and while they are putting Him to an open shame. So that verse would mean that it would be impossible for them to be brought to repentance while they were treating Jesus in such a shameful way. They can renew their fellowship with God by repenting when they stop shaming Him in public. An example? Jim Bakker. Remember Jim and Tammy Faye? They were televangelists who took people’s money under false pretenses and used it for themselves. Remember the air-conditioned dog house? People gave millions to what they thought was the work of God. And Jesus was subjected to public shame as a result of it. Not only was Jim Bakker’s reputation shot, he lost his ministry, his wealth, his wife and oh, but the way, the reputation of Christianity, and therefore Christ, took a BIG HIT in the media, didn’t it? But Jim Bakker repented while he was in jail. He wrote a book entitled I Was Wrong. That says a lot, doesn’t it? He now works with the homeless and says his relationship with Christ is deep. He could not repent while he was a televangelist, but he could in jail. Jim Bakker grew up spiritually the hard way. Let’s chew some of that solid food and avoid subjecting Jesus to public shame!
And of course, if verses 4-6 are talking about Christians, then Verses 7 and 8 are talking about our lives as Christians. The land is considered our salvation or our eternal life and is not destroyed. But our “good works” can either produce blessings if they are of God or they can be burned up and worthless – our choice. First Corinthians 3:12-15 says If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Do we want our good works to be burned up because we were immature and not seeking God’s will for our lives? How do we build on the foundation God has given us? By continuing to grow in the knowledge and wisdom of the Lord by the teaching and power of the Holy Spirit. In other words, stop being a big fat baby and grow up in the Christian faith. It takes time to grow up and spiritually, it takes work. Satan wants us to be immature and ineffective our whole life. But God wants us to grow up healthy, so He will teach us as we seek His truth and guidance. Be encouraged!
And the second viewpoint? It is that verses 4-8 are talking about people in the church who have heard the truth, tasted some of what the Lord has to offer, seen the Holy Spirit work in people’s lives, seen how God works in people’s lives and maybe even seen God work in their own life. But they didn’t give their heart to the Lord. Remember the illustration of the check for one million dollars? They took that check and pocketed it and never cashed it. They didn’t take that step of faith for themselves, therefore they did not receive the Holy Spirit into their lives. Matthew 25:31-32, then down to 41 says: When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the angels with Him, He will sit on His throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats….Then He will say to those on His left (which happen to be the goats),” Depart from Me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” There are going to be some very surprised goats at the judgment because they thought that they didn’t have to commit their lives to Christ–that they could just “play” Christian and look good to others and do some good works here and there. They will not be able to repent because during their life, they didn’t acknowledge their sin and their need for Jesus. And of course, once they have died, it’s too late. Well, it isn’t our place to judge someone else’s heart–only the Lord can do that. We can judge our own heart, though. If you made a decision to follow Jesus, if you are trusting God, learning His word, growing spiritually (even though there will always be times of stumbling) then these verses don’t apply to you. Don’t be scared, but do seek to grow spiritually so that you can chew on solid food. Staying a baby just isn’t what it’s cut out to be–we all want to grow up to be healthy Christians.
Verses 4-8 are not the only verses in scripture to talk about these issues. You must keep them in context, keep them in perspective and glean from them the truths God wants you to learn. As we continue to study, grow up in Jesus, learn more, obey more, continue to mature as Christians, God will show us what we need to know from these verses. Don’t get hung up on them. Learn and grow.
If this isn’t chewing solid food, I don’t know what is!! So be encouraged. God is growing you up!!
On Amy Grant’s album Age to Age, she has a song called “Fat Baby”. Here are the words:
I know a man, maybe you know him, too.
You never can tell; he might even be you.
He knelt at the altar, and that was the end.
He’s saved, and that’s all that matters to him.
His spiritual tummy, it can’t take too much.
One day a week, he gets a spiritual lunch.
On Sunday, he puts on his spiritual best,
And gives his language a spiritual rest.
He’s just a faaa…
He’s just a fat little baby!
Wa, wa, waaaaa….
He wants his bottle, and he don’t mean maybe.
He sampled solid foods once or twice,
But he says doctrine leaves him cold as ice.
He’s been baptized, sanctified, redeemed by the blood,
But his daily devotions are stuck in the mud.
He knows the books of the Bible and John 3:16.
He’s got the biggest King James you’ve ever seen
I’ve always wondered if he’ll grow up someday.
He’s momma’s boy, and he likes it that way.
If you happen to see him, tell him I said,
“He’ll never grow, if he never gets fed.”
He’s just a fat, fat, fat, fat, fat, fa‑at, fat…
Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fat, Fa‑at, Fat…
FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT, FAT, FAAAAAT…
Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?
Return to Study Guide for Hebrews – by Debbie Parnakian