Moving Towards Maturity

Hebrews 5 ended with a challenge to move toward mature discipleship. Chapter 6 continues in the vein of deeper maturity.

How can we best accept the challenge of this letter?

We need to go beyond the basics if we are to experience a more mature Christian lifestyle.

Therefore let us go on toward perfection, leaving behind the basic teaching about Christ and not laying again the foundation:

Repentance from dead works and faith toward God, instruction about baptisms and laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment (Hebrews 6.1-2).

It is unfortunate that many Christians know little more than a salvation experience and going to heaven when you die.

It is obvious that the salvation experience (repentance from dead works and faith toward God) and going to heaven (resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment) is important.

However, there is much more to the Christian life.

The Great Commission that Jesus gave us involves “teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28.20).

If you read the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), you will see that obeying what Jesus has commanded is much more than a focus on salvation and heaven.

Mature Christians will be moved by the power of God to embrace fully what Jesus has done for us. They will pay attention to teaching that leads to full dependence on Jesus.

The author of Hebrews is confident that his readers will respond to the challenge.

He writes, “And we will do this, if God permits” (Hebrews 6.3).

A Serious Challenge

In today’s YouTube video I speak about a friend of mine who worried about whether he had committed the unpardonable sin.

I told my friend, “If you are worried about it, you haven’t done it.”

On the other hand, people who have renounced their faith in Jesus need to seriously consider these challenging words.

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift and have shared in the Holy Spirit

And have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come

And then have fallen away, since they are crucifying again the Son of God to their own harm and are holding him up to contempt (Hebrews 6.4-6).

This passage refers to people who have had a genuine conversion.

— They have once been enlightened.

— They have tasted the heavenly gift.

— They have shared in the Holy Spirit.

— They have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come.

These four phrases are ways of describing the experience of personal salvation.

What does it mean for a person like this to fall away? How is it possible to crucify Jesus again?

As I have already written, this does not refer to sin in general, but to a conscious repudiation of Christ.

Apostasy

Apostasy is the term that describes this situation. People who commit apostasy genuinely experience Jesus and then decide they want nothing to do with him.

How do they attempt to crucify him anew?

Since they have turned from God’s provision in Christ, where can they go for salvation?

The Song of the Vinyard in Isaiah 5 pictures God’s grief over the way his people turned from his grace.

What more was there to do for my vineyard
that I have not done in it?
When I expected it to yield grapes,
why did it yield rotten grapes?
(Isaiah 5.4)

The author of Hebrews draws on Isaiah 5 and challenges his readers to be different from Isaiah’s day.

Ground that drinks up the rain falling on it repeatedly and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is cultivated receives a blessing from God.

But if it produces thorns and thistles, it is worthless and on the verge of being cursed; its end is to be burned over (Hebrews 6.7-8).

The conclusion of this challenge is that those who respond to God’s grace will receive a blessing.

Those who consciously reject their experience of Jesus are in serious trouble.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross and I talk about Hebrews today on YouTube. You can see the video on the Bob Spradling channel.

I am indebted to Gareth Lee Cockerill’s commentary on Hebrews for the information contained in this blog.

Please email your prayer request to bsprad49@gmail.com. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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