A WARNING AGAINST APOSTASY

(Heb. 5:11 – 6:12)
WARNING AGAINST APOSTASY – In this section, the writer of the epistle diverts from his previous discussion of Christ our High Priest because of a predicament that he observes in the group of believers to whom he is writing. He sees their failure to progress in their faith, and proceeds to give some reasons for this, warning that this lack of progress could lead to apostasy.

CHRISTIANITY IS A PROGRESSION [1] Christianity, like life in general, progresses from birth to maturity. In physical life there can be no ‘”stand-still” or return to birth status. Such is the case in our spiritual life – one cannot stand still or be spiritually born “again”, one must continually move forward – there must be growth or progression to maturity. “..you are slow to learn”; “you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. “; “you need milk, not solid food!”; “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant,”; All these phrases speak of someone who shows no growth, and sad to say, is the condition of many believers. Believers that have progressed in their faith ought to be able to instruct others [2]. Their knowledge of the faith is minimal when it ought to have been advanced. “The elementary truths” depict an expression that is equivalent to our “ABC.” and points to the real beginnings. There can be no doubt as to the elementary nature of the teaching in question. The result is that these believers have “gone back” and become beginners all over again – they had not advanced! [3]. A Christian occupied with elementary truths is spiritually “still an infant – unskilled in the word of righteousness”, and must be treated as such. Mature people need solid food and train themselves to distinguish between good and evil. It is the quality that results from training, not the training itself that is being stressed; the writer is clearly saying that the mature Christian, the eater of solid food, constantly exercises himself in spiritual perception, and the result is evident.

“Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings and go on to maturity” [4]. The writer prefers to go on to discuss the mature things instead of the elementary concepts of the faith. Repentance was the first thing required in the preaching of John the Baptist, Jesus, and the apostles; and it remains basic; and the thought here is repentance “from acts that lead to death,” a phrase that has been understood to mean genuinely evil actions [5]. Linked with this is the positive attitude of “faith in God”; which means more than a conviction that there is a God. It means trusting in God in a personal relationship and the writer determines that instruction on subjects of importance to Christian growth is what is necessary, and that with God’s help he would do so. “Instruction” is in opposition to “foundation” and introduces a fresh group of subjects; baptism, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment.

THE SERIOUSNESS OF APOSTASY [6] – A failure to progress in our Christian faith could lead to this serious sin of apostasy! Slipping back or falling away from Christ to our former way of life means cutting oneself off from God’s blessings. The writer is not questioning the perseverance of the saints; he is insisting that only those who continue in the Christian way are the saints. “..those who have once been enlightened.” Those admitted to the Christian faith are brought to the light, that is “the light of the world” [7], and to abandon the gospel would be to sin against the light they had received. “…the heavenly gift…shared in the Holy Spirit” – the writer does not define this but it is clear that some activity of the Holy Spirit is in mind­: “.tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age.”; in general terms this would suggest those who have heard the good and soul-saving declaration of God through the gospel: the powers would refer to the spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit to all believers that we would not normally have, enabling us to fight a spiritual warfare. “if they fall away.. “to fall away from, or worse than that, to wilfully depart from their Christian faith in God, referring to those who were numbered among the followers of Christ but have now left that company of believers [8]. “It is impossible to be brought back to repentance…” Such cannot be brought back to repentance; notice the writer does not say “cannot be forgiven” or “cannot be restored to salvation”. It is repentance that is under consideration, and the writer says that it is impossible for such people to repent for a second time since repentance from sin and a turning to God is a one-time act for all eternity; once truly saved one cannot be lost again, this is the teaching of all New Testament writers, in accordance with the words of our Lord Jesus Himself [9]. Repentance therefore cannot be repeated, the clock of our spiritual life cannot be turned back. Thus, if one “falls away”, such a person cannot bring themselves back to repentance, that person has to move forward and provision has been made for such [10]. “because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” The writer is saying that those who deny Christ in this way are really taking their stand among those who crucified Jesus, in heart and mind they make themselves one with those who put Him to death on the cross at Calvary, and “to their loss” points to their inward attitude of regret.

The writer now shows a comparison between good land and bad land by what is produced [11]. The good land “drinks in the rain often falling on it” and such are mature believers who not only taste of the word of God, but they drink it in, producing fruit in response to the cost laid out, for the honour of Christ and the encouragement of his faithful teachers, who under Christ, are the cultivators of the ground. God declares fruitful Christians blessed with an increase of grace, and future glory. The bad land, however, is not only barren of good fruit, but fruitful in that which is bad, thistles and thorns; fruitful in sin and wickedness, such people are offensive and unkind to others in the fellowship and such ground is rejected, and divine influences shall be restrained. So far is it from receiving the blessing that a dreadful curse hangs over it but due to the patience of God the curse is not fully executed; its end is to be burned [12]. Apostasy will be punished; the sad end to which apostasy leads, therefore Christians should persevere and grow in grace [13].

Apostasy:
» Renunciation or abandonment of one’s religious faith
» The focus of one’s previous loyalty
» A withdrawal from one’s religious faith
» To slip back or full away from one’s religious faith
» An outright denial of their Christian faith
» “Apostasy is generally defined as the determined, wilful rejection of Christ and His teachings, by a Christian believer . This is different from false belief, or error, which is the result of ignorance.” (from Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary) (Copyright (C) 1986, Thomas Nelson Publishers)


“…we are confident of better things in your case – things that accompany salvation.”[14]. The writer closes the section by assuring them he is not accusing them of apostasy, he speaks of better things – things that accompany salvation and he is encouraged as a cultivator or farmer of good ground: “each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.”; he does not want them to be lazy in their Christian conduct, he wants them to be diligent to the very end which will ensure their hope and reward for their faithfulness.
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Scripture References: [1] Heb. 5:11-14; [2] 1 Pet. 3:15; Rom. 2:21; [3] 1 Cor. 3:1-2; [4] Heb. 6:1-3; [5] 1 Cor. 11:30; [6] Heb. 6:4-6; [7] Jn.8:12; 2 Cor.4:6; 2 Pet. 1:19; [8] 2 Pet.2:20-21; [9] Jn. 10:28-29; [10] 1Jn. 1:9; [11] Heb. 6:7-8; [12] 1 Cor. 3:13-15; [13] Jn. 15:22; [14] Heb. 6:9-12.
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51 thoughts on “A WARNING AGAINST APOSTASY

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