Lesson 14: "We Are Persuaded Better Things of You. . .Though We Thus Speak." (Hebrews 6:9)
The Book of Hebrews. Welcome to lesson #14. We won't take the time to review as we sometime do; although, I would like to invite you to look again at the last four verses (in ch. 5). "For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again...the first principles." Then, in our last lesson we covered v.1-3 (in ch. 6). Where the writer said, we must leave first principles and get on with this business of Christianity. A foundation is a very necessary thing; but, you can't spend for ever on the foundation. "Everyone that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a baby," i.e. spiritually speaking (5:13). There are certain Christian basics you must learn; believe and understand just to become a Christian, repentance, baptism, there's going to be a resurrection and a judgment. Your alien sins are forgiven and you are added to the church by the Saviour, himself (Acts 2:47). Christianity doesn't even make good sense without these fundamental understandings. We must never forget these things. First principles are basic and applicable to every aspect of Christianity. Yet, these things are only the infant stage, so-to-speak. You cannot become a mature adult without first being an infant. God set it up that way, you cannot skip the infant stage. Now, it's possible to never get beyond that; but, you can't skip it. Yet, for one to be an infant for years and years is a one of the most pathetic of all circumstances. Perhaps you have known of this situation. Two or three times in my life, I have had rather intimate contact with parents whose baby remained in the infant stage. I remember one case of a boy that live until his teenage years, wearing diapers. He had to be changed and he could not feed himself. My heart went out to that mother. This boy that should have been riding a bicycle and the center on a basketball team still had to be cared for like a little baby. He was still an infant in reality. There is nothing more heartbreaking than to see this situation. Yet, in Christianity, it happens so frequently. Members of the church 30 or 40 years can't honestly, accurately and effectively teach first principles. They can't even quote Acts 2:38 and keep it in context. How it must break the heart of our heavenly Father to see this condition. What about Jesus, after having gone to that cruel cross to make it possible that we might have opportunity to life eternal. And then, His instructions to go and teach every nation is so ignored, so neglected and so disregarded. We don't even teach the people across the street and down the alley, let alone being concerned about those across the ocean. I remember some years ago, about a preacher that went to a certain place to preach in a gospel meeting. He said he got a little stern with them one night and after his lesson one sister shook hands and said brother you ought to be more gentle and more tactful with us babes in Christ. He asked this sister how long she had been a Christian. She said: 34 years. He said I became just a little impatient and I told that lady, sister that's a little long to be a baby and I asked when are you going to grow up? Everybody wants to be molly coddled and fed spiritual baby food. Brethren, when are we going to get beyond this? It was happening in and around Jerusalem in the AD 60's, and you know it is happening where you are. Christians for years and years don't study, don't even attend the worship services with regularly. It would be a literal embarrassment to analyze their giving on Sunday morning. No wonder, what they give is so secretive. Now, if you really want to be a hit as a preacher, if you want to be popular, just preach on baptism every Sunday morning. That's what they want. Tell it to them brother! I've been baptized. Put those sinners down and compliment me! Year after year! On one occasion there was a brother who filled in for me in preaching when I was out of town a few times. And when I would come back, every one would tell me what a terrific lesson he had last Sunday morning and last Sunday night. He was the best they ever heard. Well, somebody has to be the best. So, I asked what he preached? They said: baptism...Sunday morning and Sunday night, I discovered every time, the subject was baptism. Those 20-30-40 year Christians are like that. Now, there's a place for teaching baptism; but, it should not be one's subject every time. First principles should not occupy the total agenda. We need to grow-up, start thinking about teaching others. Start teaching others! Start serving others instead of being served all of our life. When are we going to do that? When we start doing that, the church will grow. Christianity will spread. Souls will be saved and this will be a better place to live... to say nothing of heaven. When are we going to do it brethren? It starts with you! It doesn't start with the elders and the deacons and the preacher. Oh, it would nice if we had great leadership. It will happen, when we all become preachers and teachers and start living our Christianity. It's just that simple. The HEBREWS writer was not just tooting his horn. And, we better stop tooting ours and start doing some teaching. Are you ready? What about today?
Now, too many times, when someone starts talking like I'm talking this morning; we push the button. Turn it off! We don't want to hear it. Now, you can't do it all today. But, you can start today. Will you? What most people do is quit. That's right. As long as they are being served and molly coddled and fed spiritual baby food they will occupy a pew. When something is expected of them, they say "adios" and start looking for another congregation where they can sneak in on back row and be treated as a visitor. No wonder congregations never grow. Do you think it only happens where you are? Adjust your glasses my friend and let's read just a minute, (re-read Heb. ch. 5-ch. 6)! The dropout rate was not exactly zero back then. Let's read it! Please read with me! Beginning in Heb. 6:4 and we will read v.4-5-6. Are you ready? Are you listening? Let's read. Beginning in v.4. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
I trust you noticed: these three verses are just one big long sentence AND that HEBREWS writer said it all. If we are taught and led through the first principles, learn what it's all about, get a taste of Christianity and then park it we're going to be lost. Just as lost as if we had never obeyed first principles. As a matter of fact, Peter said it's a worse state (II-Pet. 2:21). He said, "it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them." Why, Peter? Well, I think the answer is this, realizing what a mess they made out of it, it depresses them to even think about it any more. Their conscience becomes seared with a hot iron, so-to-speak. Now, if you'll re-read that big long sentence (v.4-6) again, beginning in v.4, we find: "For it is impossible..." O.K. what's impossible? Skip down into v.6, "It is impossible...if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance..." IMPOSSIBLE? Why? What have they done? Read the rest of it! "They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh," i.e. they have put Jesus to a public and open shame. It is just as if they were there and drove the nails into Jesus' hands and feet on that dark day back on Calvary. The same calloused attitude. The final outcome will be the same, lost is lost. You can't be any more lost than lost. Notice those words, "If they shall fall away..." (beginning of v.6). Now, in spite of the wording here in the KJV, I do not believe this means there is no opportunity to repent for those who fall away and almost none of the commentators take that point of view. Another translation says here, "to make them repent as they did at first." In other words, it becomes more and more difficult to deal with one's own stubborn will the second time, the third time, etc. As a result, it almost never happens. Thus, Peter says their state of affairs is worse. It is not that God will not accept us back, it's just that it's not our nature to do it. What happens to most people is that after they start driving 50 miles to find a congregation compatible with them (as they put it) and they slip in on the back row a few times here and few times there and move on two or three more times; they usually either just quit or some denomination swallows them up and they find a poor man's country club where they adjust and feel at home and they are lost for ever. In the case of those Jerusalem brethren, they were falling away and going back to the Jews religion, that desolate and godless temple where God no longer dwelt (Matt.23:38). Then, let's read v.7, 8, and 9. It starts off "For" F-O-R. The word "for" means, this is the explanation, this is the reason. What's the reason? The writer gives the explanation by way of example. Let's read it! V.7-8-9, two sentences. Let's read.
"For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: but that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
At this point in our text the writer softens up a bit, realizing he has stated his case in the extreme and that he was coming down hard upon those brethren; he does not want to over tax them in any way. You see, he's concerned about their souls. He's not concerned about their money or their country club comforts. He goes back to the thought up in v.3, "this we will do." What is it we will do? "Let us go on unto perfection" (v.1). Here in v.9, he expresses confidence that those to whom he was writing would actually do it, i.e. leave first principles and go on unto perfection (now that it has been call to our attention). Let's go back to the writer's example, just a minute (i.e. v.7-8). Now, the subject of that big long sentence is "the earth" (v.7). As an old country boy, I would probably say farming land. There are all kinds of farming lands: bottom land, hillsides, flats (up on top of the hills). I'm talking about eastern Kentucky. Some is craw-fishy, some is gravely, some land is solid clay, some has a little humus and some doesn't. Some barely covers a bedrock and some has a decent root zone even enough for a tree. None of them will grow anything without that blessing of rain from God "that cometh oft upon it..." (v.7), see that? One patch with a little humus will produce vegetables, roasting ears, green beans, potatoes and cucumbers like they are going out of style. A quarter of an acres will feed a family. You can drop a seed in an other plot a few yards away, no humus and no root zone, and that little feeble plant will come up and just sit there and look at you. It never produces anything. Do you remember Jesus' parable of the sower (Matt. ch. 13, Mark ch. 4, Luke ch. 8)? Jesus said it better than I could ever say it. People are like soils. Some are fruitful. Others are as barren as one of those plots that won't produce vegetable one. Oh, both enjoy God's blessings, showered upon us every day. Now, those soils that won't produce vegetables will sometimes produce sand briers, green briers, Canadian thistles and all kinds of other junky stuff that you can't even walk through without getting pricked and scratched and clawed. Our writer said: "and is nigh unto cursing" (see that?)...makes me think he might have spent a little time up one of these hollers in eastern Kentucky. He's been there, wherever he lived. And don't miss the end of v.8, "whose end is to be burned." As a boy, I helped burn off a few of those plots of brambles, green briers and sawgrass. Now, spiritually speaking, there's a lot of difference in a green brier and a green bean in God's service. One is useful and one is to be burned. Don't forget! Our writer is talking about people, not vegetation or soils. People are like that! Jesus broke them into four categories, if you'll go back to the parable of the soils. I
Now, let me back up just a minute. You must keep the writer's illustration within the context of his writing. Don't try to skew it. You can make a monkey out of any illustration, if you'll do that. Try to get the point that the writer is conveying, don't try to monkey-fy his illustration. In some way, people are like soils! Now, there are ways that people are not like soils. Soils don't have red blood surging through them, nerves and living cells. But, soils are different just like people are different. However, lest someone get the idea... that's just the way I am, I'm just that kind and I was born that way and I can't change. That was never intended to be part<of the writer's illustration. Because, he says in v.9, "beloved, we are persuaded better things of you..." They CAN change and they needed to change, that's what the writer was intimating and encouraging those brethren in and around Jerusalem to do. And there's a lesson here for us, if we'll listen. Soils can change! It may take lime, fertilizer, organic matter or something else. But, a soil that will produce green briers and prickly pear will produce onions, radishes, lettuce or green beans if that soil is managed right. Anybody with sense enough to select the best poor man's country club has sense enough to read the Bible and obey what it says if they will only put a little effort into it and channel their energy in the right direction. And, you know what I'm saying is true. People who spend 20 or 30 or 40 years on first principles could just as well go on unto perfection (v.1), if they were motivated to do it. God's going to give you credit for what you have done, "things that accompany salvation" (v.9). Just get it in gear and move on from here.
I think we've got just about time enough to read v.10-11-12 and we'll call it a lesson. Please put your eyes on it. I'm gong to leave it with you. You CAN understand this. It doesn't take a Greek scholar. Let's read! V.10, here we go. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that everyone of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: that ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises." O.K., God will give you credit for what you do. But, He can't give you credit for what you don't do. What's the writer concerned about? Tune-in on that big word "slothful" (in v.12). The contrast comes in that big word "diligence" (middle of v.11). "We desire that every one of you do show...diligence." Do you see that? Read it again! I'll be with in lesson # 15...Have a good day!