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Thread: Hebrews 6:4-6

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    Senior Member Smitty's Avatar
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    Hebrews 6:4-6

    Most Christians know individuals who for one reason or another have left the faith.
    They may have not actually denied the faith, but they are certainly not practicing the faith.
    For such people this is a very troubling passage.
    Is there anyone who cannot be brought to repentance?
    Can a person have shared the Holy Spirit and then be lost?
    And are these people really eternally lost.
    Is this really a description of a Christian?

    Here's the passage.

    For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of
    the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit,
    and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,
    and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance,
    since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God,
    and put Him to open shame. Hebrews 6:4-6

    I'm reminded of a couple of other passages concerning people who cannot be forgiven or brought to repentance.
    Mark 3:28-29 refers to blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, which will never be forgiven.
    And in 1 John 5:16 the author speaks of a "sin unto death" (KJV) about which, the apostle implies, prayer is useless.

    But the above verse in Hebrews refers to a class of people who cannot "be brought back to repentance."
    The issue is not whether God would forgive them if they repented, but whether there is any way to bring them to repent at all?
    If you put God First, you have Him at Last.

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    A message of warning to true believers (as if there was another kind).
    Last edited by FireBrand; 03-03-2019 at 08:26 AM.

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    Senior Member Smitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty View Post
    The issue is not whether God would forgive them if they repented, but whether there is any way to bring them to repent at all?
    I believe the answer is no. These were once saved Christians. The believers were enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gift, have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age. These are people with a full Christian experience and is a clear description of New Testament salvation.

    What is the author's concern in Hebrews (my personal opinion it is Paul) about these people?

    These early (1st century) Christian converts who have come out of Judaism (law) are on the verge of apostacy but have not made the decision and crossed the line (Gal 3:1-5; 5:2-4).
    The author is warning them not to apostatize because the consequence of such an action would result in eternal damnation.
    It is clear he is talking about full-blown apostacy, for he (Paul, which I believe is the writer) uses the phrase "they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace" (Heb 6:6). That is, they once confessed that Jesus was Lord and Messiah, which means they repented and received Him as Savior. Now in rejecting the faith and returning to the former legalistic law, they are declaring and agreeing that the ritualistic Synagogue Pharisee's were correct after all, that Jesus was a blasphemer and not Messiah. Such a public recantation exposes Jesus to public disgrace. In turning their backs on Christ and returning to Judaism, they have harden themselves to the point that nothing anyone can do will bring them back to repentance. Their end result will be eternal separation from Christ (damnation).

    What about today's Christian? There is a concern that a believer could turn back to his former (sinful lifestyle) in the world, reject the rule of Christ in his life and abandon the word of God.
    The modern day believer could also apostatize and lose what they already have, eternal life (salvation).
    This is sobering and is seen in Paul's other letters.

    "...but I buffet my body and make it my slave, lest possibly, after I have preached to others, I myself should be disqualified (1 Cor 9:27).

    You were running well; who hindered you from obeying the truth? (Gal 5:7).

    Not that I have already obtained it, or have already become perfect, but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Jesus Christ (Phil 3:12).

    I have fought the good fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith (2 Tim 4:7).

    The purpose of James 5:20 being to "save a sinner, meaning a believer who has turned to the world to save his "soul from death," (Jude 23) and (1 Jn 5:16-17) the emphasis being on praying for people before they commit the "sin unto death." The call to the modern Christian NT reader is to pay attention to the warning and "to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" (Heb 6:12).
    If you put God First, you have Him at Last.

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    Senior Member Colonel's Avatar
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    Another question is if the passage is referring to all apostates or only to a certain kind of apostate.

    "they again crucify to themselves the Son of God,
    and put Him to open shame"

    Seems to denote a specific act that goes beyond merely abandoning the faith.

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    Senior Member Smitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colonel View Post
    Another question is if the passage is referring to all apostates or only to a certain kind of apostate.

    "they again crucify to themselves the Son of God,
    and put Him to open shame"

    Seems to denote a specific act that goes beyond merely abandoning the faith.
    Yes, I tend to agree with you colonel that there are other ways to commit apostacy. If a Christian made the decision to reject his/her faith and embrace or convert to Mormonism, Jehovah's Witnesses, Scientology, Hinduism, or Buddhism etc. they would commit apostacy and go to hell upon their death.
    If you put God First, you have Him at Last.

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    Senior Member Colonel's Avatar
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    I'm thinking that the description is literal rather than metaphorical and the audience of the letter is Jewish Christians. The author seems concerned that they might return to Judaism throughout the letter.

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    Senior Member Smitty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Colonel View Post
    I'm thinking that the description is literal rather than metaphorical and the audience of the letter is Jewish Christians. The author seems concerned that they might return to Judaism throughout the letter.
    Could it be possible that the author of Hebrews is simply writing about a hypothetical situation? If so, there are two possible ways to understand it. The first is that both the author and his readers know that this cannot happen, so it is hypothetical for all of them. In that case one wonders why the author wasted his ink. His purpose is clearly to exhort them not to return to Judaism. If his warnings are only hypothetical, how would they keep people from apostatizing?

    The second possibility is the author knows this is hypothetical, but he believes his readers will take it seriously. In that case it would serve as a warning, but it would be deceptive. Is the author of Hebrews likely to defend the truth with deception? Would he scare his readers with a situation he knows could never happen?

    What, then, is the author of Hebrews saying? He is refusing to return to basics (Heb 6:1-2) on the grounds that there is no use to do so for people who have been initiated into the Christian faith. His arguments to keep them in the faith must come from deeper truth, not from a clarification of the foundational truth. He then points out by way of warning that if fully initiated Christians turn their backs on Christ, they could become so hardened that repentance would be an impossibility. Their end result will be eternal damnation. But, he concludes, while this is a real possibility for some, "we are confident of better things in your case" (Heb 6:9). If he were not, at least for some of them, there would have been no use in writing the letter at all. The temptation to commit apostacy was genuine, but they had not made such a decision to risk crossing that line.

    I to believe the description is literal and eternal consequence's would be the result if such action was put into play. The primary audience who are reading this letter are Jewish Christians as you correctly stated colonel. It is not hard to understand what the author penned in Hebrews 3: 12-14, for today's Christian, or those in Paul's day, that salvation is conditional and can be forfeited.

    Take care, brethren, least there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.
    But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," least any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
    For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. (Heb 3: 12-14)
    If you put God First, you have Him at Last.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Colonel View Post
    I'm thinking that the description is literal rather than metaphorical and the audience of the letter is Jewish Christians. The author seems concerned that they might return to Judaism throughout the letter.
    That is actually the context of the remark. So going from being a mature believer back to a religious system that denies Jesus as the Messiah. A pretty big step backwards.

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    Quote Originally Posted by fuego View Post
    That is actually the context of the remark. So going from being a mature believer back to a religious system that denies Jesus as the Messiah. A pretty big step backwards.
    Now if we take the statement literally rather than metaphorically then it describes something more than someone abandoning the Christian faith and returning to Judaism. Or is there some reason why we should interpret the statement as a metaphor ? People have come up with all kinds of things that it allegedly is a metaphor for, including "living in sin".

    "they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame".

    Same with Heb 10:29.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty View Post
    Could it be possible that the author of Hebrews is simply writing about a hypothetical situation? If so, there are two possible ways to understand it. The first is that both the author and his readers know that this cannot happen, so it is hypothetical for all of them. In that case one wonders why the author wasted his ink. His purpose is clearly to exhort them not to return to Judaism. If his warnings are only hypothetical, how would they keep people from apostatizing?

    The second possibility is the author knows this is hypothetical, but he believes his readers will take it seriously. In that case it would serve as a warning, but it would be deceptive. Is the author of Hebrews likely to defend the truth with deception? Would he scare his readers with a situation he knows could never happen?

    What, then, is the author of Hebrews saying? He is refusing to return to basics (Heb 6:1-2) on the grounds that there is no use to do so for people who have been initiated into the Christian faith. His arguments to keep them in the faith must come from deeper truth, not from a clarification of the foundational truth. He then points out by way of warning that if fully initiated Christians turn their backs on Christ, they could become so hardened that repentance would be an impossibility. Their end result will be eternal damnation. But, he concludes, while this is a real possibility for some, "we are confident of better things in your case" (Heb 6:9). If he were not, at least for some of them, there would have been no use in writing the letter at all. The temptation to commit apostacy was genuine, but they had not made such a decision to risk crossing that line.

    I to believe the description is literal and eternal consequence's would be the result if such action was put into play. The primary audience who are reading this letter are Jewish Christians as you correctly stated colonel. It is not hard to understand what the author penned in Hebrews 3: 12-14, for today's Christian, or those in Paul's day, that salvation is conditional and can be forfeited.

    Take care, brethren, least there should be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart, in falling away from the living God.
    But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called "Today," least any of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
    For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end. (Heb 3: 12-14)
    What if the author is describing a practice where they literally re-crucified Jesus (as the Greek says) and put him to open shame ? Not his literal person but through a ritual ("to themselves"). Rituals of all kinds were the order of that day, including in the pagan religions.

    This verse from 4 chapters later could be a description of more of the same :

    10:29 Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?

    Like with the content of 1 Cor 11 his audience would know what he's referring to but we are left guessing. Or digging for it.

    The result of a mature Christian (as Heb 6:4-5 describes) doing that would be Spirit blasphemy and being incapable of being brought to repentance.

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