Hebrews 6:1–12 (NKJV)
The writer of Hebrews addresses the need for spiritual growth and maturity in this passage. He calls the reader to move on from the discussion of basic thoughts regarding faith. He addresses desired results of growth and the undesirable punishment for those who refuse to mature in the faith.
1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do if God permits.Hebrews 6:1-8
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
The author here reiterates the need to move from milk to meat, or from elementary principles to what he calls “perfection.” He names a list of basic beliefs and teachings which should already be in the arsenal of knowledge for a mature Christian, such as repentance, good works, faith in God, baptism, laying on of hands for prayer, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. The writer says that a repetition of the teaching of these things will only be conducted if God permits. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the Christian to learn the basics of the faith in quick order so that he or she may mature in the faith and become a winner of souls and a teacher in her or his own right.
He then makes a bold statement that has been interpreted many ways. Verses 4 – 6 have been interpreted as a statement supporting either 1) eternal security (not reasonable), 2) a statement concerning the finality of apostasy (possible, but not probable), and 3) a statement describing the utterly illogical nature of apostasy. Those who propose eternal security as an interpretation say that someone cannot be saved twice, and that this statement supports the idea. While the passage does speak of that fact that you cannot reinvent the wheel of salvation when it comes to new way to accept Christ in salvation, this does not support the idea that one cannot lose salvation, only that one cannot go back and be saved the again in another way. Those who see this as irreversible apostasy are more fatalistic in their interpretation, saying that no one can come back to God at all once they backslide, which flies in the face of the amazing grace of God. The final idea of interpretation, the thought that apostasy is irrational and hints at the utter depravity into which someone had to fall in order to reject Christ for salvation, is the most plausible understanding of the passage in my humble opinion.
If someone rejects Christ, there is no other way to forgiveness and salvation. The individual must come back by the way of the cross and Christ in order to reestablish a relationship with Him and be saved. The idea that someone could have a true relationship with Christ and turn away, like a plant that has been watered by the rain and then bears thorns while cursing the rain, is a vivid picture of the apostate soul, an illogical and foolish result.
9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. 10 For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.Hebrews 6:9-12
The Epistle to the Hebrews is full of encouragements to Christians to carry on the maturation of their faith. The writer here again encourages the Christians who would read this letter to better things, or a better pursuit of the life Christ would have them live. He acknowledges that, for many of them, this writing will have no direct bearing, for they live a life of piety toward Christ. However, to warn them and to address others who may be slipping, he offers the solemn, somber message of the dangers of apostasy. God will not forget the work of those who sacrifice and serve Him. He will celebrate the great labor of love performed by the Christians who have ministered and do minister. He drives them to continue to serve, to remain diligent, and not to be sluggish or lazy. The end is near, and we must press on to that final goal of heaven. Imitate the Godly who stand to inherit the promises of God through faith and patience. If you are diligent, you shall receive. If you are weak, you will fail. The end is closer than ever, so let’s get serious!