Warning Against Falling Away
Comments for Study 4
Memory Verse 6:11
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In the last study, which consisted of 4:14-5:10, we learned the Jesus is our Great High Priest, who offered his blood for our sins. Therefore, we were told to approach the throne of grace with confidence in our time of need. In today's passage the author stops this train of thought.
The situation for the Hebrew Christians were that they were falling away from Christ Jesus because they did not study the Bible enough in time and quality. Instead, they were content and satisfied with were they were at. They thought this was O.K.; but the author warns them that there is no stagnation in Jesus. Basically the Hebrew Christians were spiritually lazy. The verses in this study teaches that either a believer is growing in the image of God and going to heaven, or one is growing into the world's pattern and is in danger of being burned. Let's kindle and rekindle our diligence for the Lord.
I. Spiritual Food (5:11-14)
>1. Why was it hard to explain things to the receivers of this letter? Why do you think they were like this? Where were they at spiritually because of this? By this time what should they have been? What did they need to be taught all over again? (12)
Hebrews 5:11-12 "We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk not solid food."
* The start of a life in Jesus is when a person accepts Jesus call to let him into their heart. They do this by believing he died for their sins on the cross and that he rose again on the third day, repenting from the former ways of sin. After one accepts Jesus he will either grow into the image of Jesus or fall away and grow back into the image of the world. He will either go up or down. Of course a person may have many ups and downs in his day to day life. But in general a person is either growing or falling away.
* "slow to learn" -The Hebrew believers in Jesus were not growing in faith and understanding. In fact they were falling away. They had been "Christians" for a long time, perhaps 1, 5, 10, or even 30 years. They had learned about the elementary truths of God's word. 6:1-2 says they had laid "the foundation of repentance for acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instructions about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment."
* "elementary truths of God" -For a Jew, accepting basic concepts of Jesus' teachings were not that hard because they were taught about much of them from youth. Repentance was a common message given by the prophets and often heard on the Israel's city streets. Faith in God was taught when they studied the life of faith of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and King David. Baptism and the laying of hands were very similar to anointing a king, prophet or priest with oil. And most Jews believed in the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment. Of course at that time they did not believe in nor accept Jesus Christ.
At sometime these Hebrews accepted the elementary truths of Jesus. They could have been one of the three thousand that was converted on the day of Pentecost. Perhaps, they were witnessed to by a Christian who knew Jesus. Some way they were "enlightened," and "tasted the heavenly gift," and "shared in the Holy Spirit." (6:4) Then they began Bible study, and "tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age." (6:5) They were "born again". They were spiritual infants. But they must have started to grow. They made some decisions of faith and even recieve persecution for being a Christian. They reached the point were they should have been teachers of the word of God. At that point they had grown to be spiritual adolescents, who are suppose to teach the word of God. But they didn't. (5:12) They became content with were they were. So instead of continuing to grow up into the image of Jesus they began falling away back into the world's ways.
These Hebrews believers in Jesus were very similar to the cultural Christians of our day. For my generation, many children in the world were raised in a Christian home or near one. Many have heard the elementary truths of the word of God and even accepted them. They may even say they are "born again." (This is not true of the generations after me.) People like this say, "Yes, I'm a Christian. I accepted that Jesus died for my sins and rose from the dead." But the problem is that they do not act like Christians. Either they aren't true Christians, or they never grew up in Christ, or they fell away from Christ. This is plainly seen in their lives. What than is the problem with these kind of Christians? How do Christians come to be like this?
* "You need milk not solid food" -The work of God, his teachings through first and foremost his son; then the apostles and prophets is every persons spiritual food. Without it our spirit shrinks, we become immature. "He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on ever word that comes from the mouth of the Lord." (Deut. 8:3) "When your words came, I ate them; they were my joy and my heart's delight, for I bear your name." (Jer. 15:16)
* "milk" -food for infants. It is easy to swallow and digest. It is easy to understand and to accept. It is basic food. It has one taste.
* "solid food" -food for adults. It is harder to swallow and digest. It is harder to understand and takes time, training, and thinking to understand. It is many times complicated. It may have many tastes.
* Jesus said to Nicodemus, "I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?" (John 3:12)
>2. What is spiritual food? What two different kinds of food is mentioned here? What does this tell us about the differences of each?
>3. What aren't spiritual infants, who can eat only spiritual milk, acquainted with? What does this mean?
>4. What are the mature, who can eat spiritual solid food, able to do? How do they and us grow to be like this? What does this tell us about the quality of Bible study we should strive for if we want to grow to be spiritually mature?
Hebrews 5:13-14 "Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who be constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil."
* "not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness" -The problem with perpetual spiritual infants is that they did not study the word of God enough and practice what they learned. They did not eat their spiritual food. Our mothers say, "Eat your vegetables and you'll grow up to be a strong young boy." This is true in the life of believers in Christ. Without enough quality word of God in our hearts and minds, which is our spiritual vegetables we will never grow up in Christ. Without applying what we learn from Jesus we will remain infants in Christ.
* "solid food is for the mature" -What a Christian must do to grow into a mature man or woman of God. First, he must "constantly use" the word of God. This means we should study the word of God diligently. We must meditate it and accept it. We must constantly upgrade our personal Bible study time. We must eat our daily bread every morning. We must apply it in our whole being and life. The word of God must dwell in us.
* "train themselves to distinguish good from evil" -Secondly, one must not become dull in thinking. Instead we must learn the true meaning of the passage and apply it in our lives. Without constantly digging out the word of God and applying it our minds become dull. Not only does this effect our growth in Christ but it effects our witness to and Bible study with others. Then instead of teaching the word of God we need to be taught ourselves. Without feeding ourselves we need someone else to feed us like a little baby is feed by his mother.
* "constant use" -If we do constantly used the word of God and trained to distinguish good and evil we will grow to became mature men and woman of God.
II. Go on to Maturity (6:1-8)
>5. What are the elementary teachings, spiritual milk, about Christ? (1,2) What do they mean? What does the author decide to do?
Hebrews 6:1-3 "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And God permitting, we will do so."
* No excuses for not studying the Bible once a person has gone through these life changing events.
* "elementary" -The basics of faith in Jesus is listed. These are the beginnings for new life. This is where the relationship with Jesus begins.
* "foundation" -God expects us to build on a foundation. No one lays a foundation unless he plans to build something on it. Jesus taught count the cost of building this foundations. He also taught the rewards of being a building of God.
* If you are not clear about any of these points listed please email me. Pray that God may give me the right words to say to help you understand.
>6. Who do "those" refer to in verse 4 and what did they receive? When do these things come to a person? What is impossible for them to do if they fall away? What does this mean? Why is this impossible? What does this mean and why does the author say this to the Hebrews?
Hebrews 6:4-6 "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."
* See note on verse 8 below.
>7. What does "land" and "rain" symbolize in verses 7 and 8? What does "a crop" and "thorns and thistles" symbolize? What kind of land receives the blessing from God? What kind of people is this?
Hebrews 6:7 "Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God."
* "land" -a believer in Jesus as Messiah and Lord.
* "rain" -the word of God and the gifts of God.
* "crop useful" -maturity and newly raised up people of God.
* "useful to those for whom it is farmed" -Useful to God. I have seen and been in churches that have leaders who use believers for their own gain and purpose.
* When a person digs out the word of God often he will produce fruit for God. "He delights is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by steams of water, which yields its fruit in season." (Psalm 1:2,3) He "hears the word, accepts it, and produces a crop-thirty, sixty and even a hundred times what was sown." (Mark 4:20)
>8. What kind of land is in danger of receiving a curse? What kind of people is this? What will happen to this kind of people if they remain like this to the end? How do these people relate to those in verses 4-6? How does this parable shed light on the meaning of verse 4-6?
Hebrews 6:8 "But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of becoming cursed. In the end it will be burned."
* "in danger" -If a person does not study the word of God deeply nor accept it or apply practically to their lives they will be in danger of being burned. Salvation does not depend on acts. Salvation is God's election. The elect produce good things for God. How? It's all explained in this study.
* "thorns and thistles" -unfruitful things in life. Without the word of God in our hearts we can not plant it in others hearts. Therefore we do not produce good fruit. We can not raise up spiritual men and women of God. We do not grow in Christ. Rather they begin to fall away.
* There in no stagnation in Christ. Either he is going up or down. When a person is going down spiritually all his life will produce is thorns and thistles. He is worthless to God and is in danger. In fact, "It is impossible...if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their lost they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." (4-6)
* I knew men who use to produce a lot of thorns and thistles in their lives because they didn't have the word of God in their hearts. In fact one often said, "Who can understand this book. I wish I could understand it." But he began to study, understand, accept, and apply the word of God to his life. Then he began to produce much fruit. Not only did his life change, but he studied and shared the Bible with many people.
III. Things that Accompany Salvation (6:9-12)
>9. What is the author confident about concerning the Hebrews who received this letter? Why does he say that God is not unjust? What will God not forget? Why does he mentions this?
>10. What does he want them to show and why? How long should they show it?
Hebrews 6:9-10 "Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case--things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them."
* Here we see that the author did not lose hope for the Hebrews. They still had much chance to change their habits and begin to grow. There is always a room for change.
>11. What does he not want them to do and why? What kind of people does he point out for them to imitate? (12) Why should they and us imitate them?
Hebrews 6:11-12 "We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
* Here the author again tells them how to overcome their laziness to be diligent. They needed to follow the example of those who thru faith and patience continually study the Bible even though it didn't seem to do much right away. It always takes time for land to produce fruit. But when we do produce fruit we will be sure to "inherit what has been promised."