Sermon #28 Hebrews Notes
Title: “If They Shall Fall Away”
Text: Hebrews 6:4-20
Readings: Larry Criss and Rex Bartley
Subject: The Necessity of Perseverance
Date: Tuesday Evening – September 19,2000
Tape # W-1a
· Salvation is by grace alone.
· The sinner’s only hope before God is the blood and righteousness of Christ.
· That salvation which God gives to and works in his people is eternal salvation.
· But there is a faith which is a satanic delusion.
Here is a terribly sobering fact plainly revealed in Holy Scripture. We will be wise to lay it to heart. It is quite possible for men and women to have an undisturbed peace, unshaken assurance, and unquestioned security with regard to their eternal destiny, and yet have no saving interest in Christ. If that fact is not alarming to you, it should be. The Lord God sounds this blaring warning to us by the words of Obadiah – “Woe unto them that are at ease in Zion!”
Satan is a crafty, subtle foe. He knows that the surest way to keep sinners from the saving knowledge of Christ is to give them some satisfying, conscience soothing substitute, some religious experience, or feelings, or gifts, or knowledge by which they convince themselves that the grace of God is surely theirs. Do not be deceived!
· Many have gifts without grace.
· Multitudes profess faith they do not possess.
· Countless thousands enjoy peace who do not have pardon.
· Hoards of men and women, orthodox to the core, are yet without life before God.
· There is a form of godliness possessed by men who deny the power of it.
· Many have a name that they live who are yet dead in trespasses and in sins.
· Hell is bulging with eternally damned souls who went to that place of torment assured that they were on the road to heaven, with a Bible in their hands, a song in their hearts, and a profession in their lips.
· At the time when Lot’s wife felt most secure, she went to hell!
· When all the other apostles were fearful, saying, “Lord, is it I?”, Judas was perfectly confident.
There is nothing on this earth more fearful than the carnal security of religion without Christ.
Illustration: Jerry Freytag’s letter – “I never doubted my salvation while I continued to live contrary to His Word. I thank God that, some twenty years after my profession, He gave me possession of His Spirit.”
Tonight, I want us to bring our faith to the Word of God and examine it. May it please God to search our hearts and let us see if we have the faith of God’s elect (2 Cor. 13:5; 2 Pet. 1:10; Ps. 139:23-24).
(2 Corinthians 13:5) "Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?"
(2 Peter 1:10) "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall."
(Psalms 139:23-24) "Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: (24) And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."
Our text will be Hebrews 6:4-20. You will find the title of my message in verse 6 – “If They Shall Fall Away.” There are four things in these verses of Holy Scripture to which I will direct your attention.
I. A Warning Against Apostacy
In verse 4-6, the Spirit of God shows us plainly that there are some people who have what appear to be heavenly gifts who have no grace in their hearts.
(Hebrews 6:4-6) "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, (5) And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (6) 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."
These verse speak of people who have experienced much, professed much, and demonstrated much in religion. Yet, they have no saving union with Christ. They have faith; but it is a false faith. They have repentance; but it is a repentance that needs to be repented of. They have experienced religion; but they have not experienced the grace of God.
The warning of these verses is glaring and solemn. – Beware of resting your soul upon experiences, gifts, and outward works of religion. To build your house upon these things is to build upon sand. It is possible to be ranked with the most spiritual, most gifted, most zealous men and women in the world, and yet go to hell in the end (Matt. 7:21-23).
(Matthew 7:21-23) "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. (22) Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? (23) And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity."
Look at what these people have experienced.
A. They were once enlightened to an understanding of Gospel truth.
Our text is not talking about heretics. These are not Arminians, free-willers, papists, or Hindus. These people know the truth, at least mentally. They intellectually perceive and submit to the doctrinal truths of the gospel. To them, the doctrines of the gospel are logical and reasonable. They accept them as facts plainly revealed in the Word of God.
The fact is – The natural man can see and understand any doctrine taught in Holy Scripture. He cannot see the glory of God in the face of Christ; but he can see and glory in doctrine. He cannot love Christ; but he can love doctrine. The unsaved man may be a better theologian than the believer. But the poor, uneducated believer knows and loves what the unregenerate man never can. The believer knows, loves, trusts, and rejoices in Christ.
Illustration: The Actor Reading Psalm 23 – “I know the Psalm. He knows the Shepherd.”
B. Multitudes have tasted the heavenly gifts who have never tasted the Gift of heaven.
During the Apostolic age, miraculous gifts were given to men. Some could heal diseases, speak in tongues, and prophesy. But miraculous gifts, which appear to be gifts of the Spirit, are by no means an evidence of grace, salvation, and eternal life. Gifts of the Spirit can be, and often are, counterfeited by Satan. – (Judas - Demas - Diotriphes)
Tasting the heavenly gifts and powers of the world to come is not salvation. Salvation is eating the Bread of Life. Salvation is not in miraculous gifts, but in immutable grace. Salvation is not in feelings, emotions, and experiences, no matter how great and life-changing they may be. Salvation is in Christ!
1. A man can preach with power and eloquence, and yet not know Christ. – Judas did.
2. A man can perform miracles, and not know God. – Pharaoh’s magicians did.
3. A man can cast out demons, and yet be the messenger of Satan. – We read about some who did so just a few minutes ago (Matt. 7:21-23).
4. A man can speak in tongues, and yet speak by the power of the devil.
5. A man can preach, promote, and defend righteousness, and yet speak by him who transforms his ministers into angels of light and preachers of righteousness.
Spiritual gifts and usefulness must not be looked upon as evidences of grace and salvation.
C. Look at our text again. It speaks of lost men and women who have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost.
Many people look at that statement and say, “Without question, these were once saved people.” But that is not the case at all.
1. We read of wicked King Saul that, “The Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied.”
2. Balaam spoke by the Spirit and prophesied of Christ’s coming.
3. In fact, Balaam’s ass even spoke a word from God by the power of his Spirit. But neither Balaam nor his ass were born of God.
4. Caiaphas, the high priest, spoke by the Spirit of God, declaring the gospel as plainly as any man ever did. But he was a lost man.
It is possible for men to say and do things which, considered by themselves, make it appear that they are partakers of the Holy Spirit, though they are not born of the Spirit. There were many in our Lord’s day, as there are today, who believed; but the Master did not commit himself to them, because he knew what was in them (John 2:23-24).
(John 2:23-24) "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. (24) But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men."
D. We are told in verse 5 that these people have even tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come.
They love good preaching, and were moved by it. You find them at every Bible conference. Their emotions are stirred by the preaching of the Word. But it never reaches their hearts.
This is what these verses tell us. – It is possible for men and women to enjoy rare, unusual gifts and experiences, without experiencing God’s saving grace in Christ. Outward gifts and heartfelt emotions impress and deceive. We must have something more. We must have Christ (1 Cor. 13:1-3).
(1 Corinthians 13:1-3) "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. (2) And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. (3) And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing."
E. Now, look at verse 6. – Here is a fact that must be faced and dealt with, if we would be honest with the Word of God and honest with the souls of men. – Those who fall away are lost forever.
(Hebrews 6:6) "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."
Understand the doctrine of Holy Scripture.
1. God’s elect shall not and cannot fall away and perish.
True believers never cease to be true believers. Those to whom Christ gives eternal life shall never perish. Concerning these matters, the Word of God is crystal clear. If salvation is God’s work alone (and it is), then it is forever (Ecc. 3:14). The gifts and callings of God are without repentance. Eternal life is eternal life.
2. Yet, there are many who do fall away.
Many who were once numbered among God’s elect in the house of God, thought to be true believers, even looked upon as examples of faith and faithfulness, have forsaken Christ and the gospel (John 6:66; 1 John 2:19). – “Remember Lot’s wife!” Those who do fall away are lost forever. They “crucify the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame.”
3. What is this falling away?
What does the Holy Spirit mean by those words -- “If they shall fall away?” This is not talking about sin, or some specific act of sin. David’s adultery did not separate him from the love of God in Christ. It is not even talking about the sin of denying Christ. Peter did that; but he was not lost. This is not even talking about doctrinal error, or even doctrinal error concerning vital issues. All these things may be and are forgiven. Though God’s people do fall into these grievous evils, our God lifts us up and sets us upon the Rock Christ Jesus. So what is this fall which results in the eternal, unrecoverable ruin of men’s souls?
In the Word of God, I see two things described in these terms.
a. To depart from the faith of the gospel is to fall away and perish forever (Gal. 5:1-4).
(Galatians 5:1-4) "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. (2) Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. (3) For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. (4) Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace."
Those who have been enlightened to the truth of the gospel and then turn from it, for whatever reason, blaspheme the Spirit of God and fall away, and shall not be forgiven. “There is a sin unto death. I would not that you should pray for it.”
(Matthew 12:31-32) "Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. (32) And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
b. To forsake the assembly of God’s saints, the fellowship of the gospel, and the ministry of the Word, to abandon the worship of Christ is to fall away and be lost forever (Heb. 10:25-31).
There are many, I fear, who tenaciously hold to and defend the doctrine of Christ, who have fallen away and abandoned Christ altogether. They have no interest in the kingdom of God, no commitment to the cause of God, not fellowship with the people of God, and no concern for the glory of God. They have fallen away.
(Hebrews 10:25-31) "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (26) For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (28) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: (29) Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (30) For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
(2 Peter 2:20-21) "For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (21) For 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."
II. A Distinction Illustrated
In verses 7 and 8, the Holy Spirit illustrates the fact that the preaching of the gospel, like rain falling from heaven, has profoundly different results upon the people who hear it. To some it is a savor of life unto life. To others it is a savor of death unto death.
A. When the gospel is blessed of God to the hearts of chosen, redeemed sinners, by the power of his almighty grace, it springs up unto life everlasting.
(Hebrews 6:7) "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."
B. But those who hear the gospel and reject it as a thing to be despised, are themselves rejected of God, cursed forever, and shall be burned like useless weeds in hell.
(Hebrews 6:8) "But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned."
Let us lay these things to heart and soberly consider them. I pray that these warnings and examples will cause everyone here to run to Christ, lay hold on him with both hands, and hold him with a death grip. But the passage does not end here. Lest any true believer be terrified with the fear that he may, after all perish, the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle to speak in verses 9 and 10 of…
III. A Persuasion of Grace
(Hebrews 6:9-10) "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (10) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."
Though he solemnly warned these men and women, because he cared for their souls, of the danger of apostasy and the necessity of perseverance, he saw in them evident tokens of grace, “and things that accompany salvation.” We do not have to guess what these things are. He names them for us.
A. “Your work” – The work to which he refers is, first and foremost the work of faith (1 Thess. 1:3; 2 Thess. 1:11).
(Hebrews 11:1-2) "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (2) For by it the elders obtained a good report."
B. “Your work of faith and labor of love, which you have shown toward his name” – Believers are a people who labor together in the kingdom of God, for the glory of God, serving Christ, being constrained by the love of God in Christ.
· Because we are loved of God.
· Because we love God.
· Because we love one another.
C. “For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
Faith in Christ and the love that flows from it causes those who are born of God to minister to, to serve, his saints. As our Savior washed his disciples’ feet, those who follow his example wash one another’s feet, willingly and humbly serving one another.
Now, look at verses 11-20. Here the Scriptures describe…
IV. An Assurance of Hope
(Hebrews 6:11-12) "And we desire that every one of you do show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: (12) That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises."
In the light of the things we have seen in this chapter, you might ask, -- “How can anyone have assurance that he will, indeed, endure to the end and be saved?” It seems that that is the very question anticipated by the Holy Spirit in these last verses of chapter 6. I will not attempt to give you a full exposition of these verses tonight; but here are seven specific things by which every sinner who looks to Christ alone for salvation may have what the Holy Spirit calls “the full assurance of hope.”
A. The Promise of God
(Hebrews 6:13-15) "For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, (14) Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. (15) And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise."
B. The Oath of God
(Hebrews 6:16-17) "For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. (17) Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath:"
C. The Immutability of God
(Hebrews 6:17-18) "Wherein God, willing more abundantly to show unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: (18) That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:"
D. The Place of our Refuge
(Hebrews 6:18) "That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:"
E. The Anchor of our Souls
(Hebrews 6:19) "Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil;"
F. The Finished Work of Christ
(Hebrews 6:20) "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."
G. The Priesthood of Christ
(Hebrews 6:20) "Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec."