Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[a] = summary lessons
[b] = exegetical analysis
[c] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Scripture References

Scripture references on this site can be viewed by hovering your mouse cursor over the reference to see a pop-up window with the verse displayed. If you wish to use a different version of the Bible, you can make that selection below.


Bible Options


If you have Logos Bible Study Software installed, you can check Libronix to bring the scripture reference up in Logos.

Hebrews 6:2-7 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:54 mins 41 secs



Hebrews Lesson 61   August 3, 2006 


NKJ Psalm 119:11 Your word I have hidden in my heart, That I might not sin against You!


We are in Hebrews 6. The last 3 or 4 weeks, which often seems longer because somewhere along in there that got interrupted by a trip to Israel and trip to Preston City and a few other things, we spent some time discussing the doctrine of baptism which is crucial and important and part of the teaching for the New Testament church. We are going to press on beyond that phrase in Hebrews 6:2 and go into the next part of the opening section in Hebrews 6. Remember the context here. This is a warning passage. A warning passage by nature is serious. The author of Hebrews is getting the attention of his hearers because they have as it were stepped over the line. Their spiritual lives are in danger because they have failed to take it seriously. They have gotten involved in carnality. They have turned back to Judaism or they have taken the Word of God lightly. They have become complacent not only about learning the Word, but also applying the Word. As a result they have reversed course. This is the emphasis in the warning that began in 5:11.


In verse 12 he writes…


NKJ Hebrews 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.


That is not just academic learning. I am sure they still understood some of the basic doctrines academically. It is a matter of putting those doctrines into practice in their spiritual lives. This is where they broke down.


NKJ Hebrews 5:13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe.


There is a lack of skill. We studied that. Skill is application of the Word. It goes back to the Old Testament concept of wisdom. Wisdom in the Hebrew mindset wasn't the same thing as Greek wisdom. In Greek wisdom it had to do with philosophy. It had to do with being able to think through abstract concepts. But in the Jewish mindset wisdom was something that was very practical. It was being able take abstract principles and doctrines and apply them to life in such a way that you produce something that was valuable, something that was beautiful, something that honored and glorified God. 


He goes on to say…


NKJ Hebrews 5:14 But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.


Again it is application. It is not just academic understanding of what the Bible teaches or theology or doctrine. It is taking those principles and consistently putting them into practice on a day-by-day basis. Then he draws a conclusion. This is where we have the warning. Actually the warning doesn't begin per say until about verse 4. He draws a conclusion. The exhortation section began in 11. Out of that exhortation comes the warning. So we looked at verse 1. I am going to review the exegesis of Hebrews 6:1 so we understand the flow of thought as we go from verse one to verse two and on down through three and the beginning part of 4.   


So he draws a conclusion.


NKJ Hebrews 6:1 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,


This is the New King James translation, but it lacks some specificity. The main command here is to press on to maturity. The verb is a present passive subjunctive. The idea in a present passive subjunctive in a first person plural is where the author is including the audience in his exhortation. We all need to do this. He is not looking down his nose at these rebellious believers. He is saying that we all need to press on because any of us at any moment can enter into complacency, negative volition and begin to regress in our spiritual lives. 


The word is the Greek teleiotes indicating that the goal of the Christian life is spiritual maturity. The goal of everything related to the ministry of the local church is to take spiritual babies and provide what is necessary through spiritual food, the teaching of the Word that which is needed to press on to spiritual growth. That's the core. 


Therefore he is saying, "Let us press on to maturity." 


In the English that is preceded by this participial phrase which should be understood as an adverbial participle of means. 


Literal translation:  Therefore by leaving behind the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ we go on to perfection.


The participle which is translated "leaving" is an aorist participle. The aorist participle because it is a past tense participle precedes the action of a present tense verb. So that means you have to leave behind basic doctrine before you can press on to maturity. You have to be willing to go forward. It is a stepping out. It is a forward momentum thing. You have to be able to move beyond basic doctrine and basic application in order to press on to maturity. 


The basic doctrine there is indicated by the phrase in the Greek arche which is the basis of the foundational doctrines related to Christ. It is an objective genitive - the related doctrines, the related teachings about Christ. So it should be translated "let us press on to maturity by leaving the foundational teachings about Christ". 


Then he gives an example of what those foundational teachings are. The first is not laying again the foundation of repentance. This is the Greek verb kataballo which has the idea of that which is foundational. All of these words indicate the beginning stages of the arche (the elementary principles) and kataballo relates to laying a foundation. Then we have the word repentance.


Literal translation:  Not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.


You have a negative and a positive here. They need to change their minds about the ritual in Judaism. In Judaism it was surface. It wasn't an internal reality. This is why Jesus accused the Pharisees of being whitewashed sepulchers or whitewashed tombstones. They looked great on the outside - a lot of ritual, a lot of religious activity, prayer, going to the temple. They did all of the right things. They were in Bible class two or three times a week. They looked good. They had doctrinal notebooks lining their shelves. They could regurgitate the vocabulary, but there was no internal relationship that was the result of walking by the Holy Spirit, abiding in Christ, taking the doctrine and internalizing it so that their thinking was transformed into the thinking of Christ. So there is repentance from dead works and positive faith toward God, trusting in God, and trusting in the Word of God, the foundation of which is always grace. The Christian life is always based on grace.


Then it moves on to the next set of basics – the doctrine of baptism. We looked at that last time because in some of your translations that word baptizmos is translated "washings". There is a lot of debate among commentators. I had some professors at Dallas (usually the more reformed ones) who took this to refer to ceremonial washing that were part of Judaism. But you see this is why I made such an emphasis back in verse 1 that if these are elementary principles about Christ and related to Christianity, then this can't be focusing on Jewish ceremonial washings exclusively. We are not talking about the basics of Judaism; we are talking about the basics of Christianity. So, Jewish washings wouldn't fit. But there is a problem in that the normal Greek word that is used for baptism whether it is talking about the believer's baptism or John the Baptist's baptism or the baptism of Christ is the word baptisma with a ma ending. The mos ending refers to the ceremonial washings of the Jews. The ma ending indicated the baptism related to the different Christian baptisms or the baptism of Jews or the baptism of Christ. So you had these two different words. The word used here is baptismos which normally indicates washings, but it is in the plural which is really odd. So the reason he uses the plural there is because they have to understand the distinction between the Jewish washings and the legitimate baptisms. Among those we have studied 8 baptisms. They have to understand the difference between John the Baptist's baptism, the baptism of Jesus and specifically believer's baptism. 


Last time we went through the use of baptism in the book of Acts showing how the apostles and the early church understood Jesus command to the disciples in Matthew 28:19-20. When he said to go and make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you, those two elements – baptism and teaching – were part of the apostolic mission. If you start in Acts 2 when Peter first preached the gospel of grace and it is the birthday of the church and Holy Spirit descended and you had the first baptism by means of the Holy Spirit, he had 3,000 converts. Immediately they baptized all 3,000 converts. We walked our way through Acts. We looked at Philip the evangelist both in Samaria and down in the Negev as he witnesses and explains the gospel to the Ethiopian eunuch. 


As soon as the Ethiopian eunuch understands the gospel and trusts in Christ he says, "Let's find some water and get baptized."


There is this immediacy there. It shows how they understood that commandment. Then you get to Acts 19 where Paul is in Ephesus. He runs into these disciples from John the Baptist and he asks them by what baptism they were baptized.


They said, "John's."


He says, "Well, don't you know about the Holy Spirit?"


They said, "No, we don't know about the Holy Spirit."


They didn't know about Jesus so he explained the gospel to them and immediately took them down and baptized them in the name of Jesus. So all through this we see number one the immediacy of baptism. But we have to understand that all of these people that we are talking about so far in Acts were those who already had a pretty good understanding of Old Testament doctrine and theology. They weren't brand new untaught pagans. But we also saw that when Paul was in Corinth he baptized several families. He didn't do most of the baptism work. He left that to his assistants. 


When he wrote the epistle to the Corinthians, he said, "Well I thank God that I didn't baptize most of you."   


It wasn't that he was upset that he did baptize any of them.


He said, "I am glad that I didn't baptize many of you" because they were creating this division based who got baptized by whom.


Then I pointed out that when Paul wrote I Corinthians, he wrote it at approximately the same time that the events in Acts 19 took place when he baptizes those disciples of John the Baptist. 


What do we learn from that? We learn that when Paul later on in I Corinthians when he says, "I was sent not to baptize but to teach and proclaim the gospel", some people have taken that to mean that Paul wasn't supposed to baptize. That is not why he was sent. He was sent to teach. Let's think about that a minute. If he wasn't sent to baptize - if what he is saying, "I wasn't sent to baptize at all. I was just sent to teach"; then he wouldn't have baptized at all. But he did. He baptized at least three families specifically mentioned in the Scriptures. 


Secondly, if he wasn't sent to baptize at all why does he make such an issue out of believer's baptism with the disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19, the same time he is writing to the Corinthians dealing with the issue there? In other words the evidence shows that for the Apostle Paul baptism was important but it wasn't his primary mission. That is what he is talking about in I Corinthians 1. 


"It is not my primary mission."


He is not rejecting it as a secondary or unimportant objective, but it wasn't his primary mission. He delegated that responsibility to his disciples. So the conclusion was that there is no basis anywhere in the New Testament to indicate that believer's baptism was a transitory, temporary, or transitional ordinance. It is still in effect for today. 


So the phrase that we see here in Hebrews 6:2 related to the doctrine of baptisms is that this delineation needed to be made. This distinction between the Old Testament ritual washing of the Jews which pictured cleansing and New Testament believer's baptism which is a picture of what God the Holy Spirit does to the believer in identifying him with the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ in cleansing him in the process of regeneration.


NKJ Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,


How? By the washing of regeneration and renewal by means of the Holy Spirit.


So the whole imagery that Paul uses in Titus 3:5 when he is talking about regeneration brings in the imagery of baptism. So these things are connected. The whole concept of baptism by the Holy Spirit, identification with Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection, and positional truth – these are real easy to understand doctrines, aren't the? They are real concrete. We move right through them, right? No, they are really difficult. That is why God gave us the ritual of water baptism. It is because it encapsulates this whole process so that every time we see it (if it is properly done and properly taught) we are reminded of the reality that took place in our own lives when we trusted Jesus Christ as Savior and where God the Holy Spirit was used to cleanse us and enter us into union with Jesus Christ.


But this is just basic stuff according to the writer of Hebrews.


The next thing is the laying on of hands. Now what is meant by the laying on of hands? This is really interesting. When you look at the Scripture the laying on of hands has several different uses. It was done when healing was the issue in Mark 5:22 and Acts 28:8. When someone was being healed, then the person who was healing them would lay hands on them. It was a picture of identification. That is the ultimate picture there. Just as baptism is identification, what you have when one person laid hands on another person was that he was identified with that person. 


You have the same thing happen in the Old Testament when somebody was coming to the Temple. They were bringing a sacrifice. They would do what? They would lay their hands on the lamb or the goat. This was a sign that they were identifying their sins with that sacrificial animal. 

So once again laying on of hands like baptism indicated identification. 


But, since we have here in Hebrews 6:2 the association of the doctrine of baptisms and then the next statement is the laying on of hands; we can see that the writer is pairing these together. In the book of Acts there is a connection between baptism and the laying on of hands. When the apostles would baptize someone, that's what they did. They laid hands on them in the sense that there was this identification indicating that the apostle understood that this person was to have trusted in Christ as their Savior. Now they were identified together in the body of Christ. Again it reinforced this whole idea that every single believer at the instant of faith alone in Christ alone is entered into the body of Christ. We are now one in the body of Christ. There is a constitutional unity among all believers whether you are an American believer, or whether you are British or whether you are Iranian.


Incidentally I am hearing a lot of reports recently about a tremendous underground movement in Iran where hundreds of Iranians are coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. In the last week I have gotten three or four different reports. Doug was telling me about an Iranian believer at his work. He goes to a church where there is a whole group of Iranian believers who go back to Iran a couple of times a year and are involved in witnessing and involved in evangelism. Then I was talking with Charlie Clough last week. We have been doing some work for the pastor's conference for next year which is going to have a heavy emphasis on Islamic evangelism. He was telling me about an elder that he has mentioned several times who is Iranian. This elder at his church who is Iranian keeps up with family and friends still in Iran. He was telling Charlie last week that this is biggest news item in the world today. The news media is oblivious to it. There are hundreds if not thousands of Iranians who are trusting in Jesus Christ as their Savior. In the midst of all of that, I received this month's or this quarter's newsletter from the publication Voice of the Martyrs which is a publication put out dealing with Christians in areas where there is a lot of suffering and persecution for Christians. In this edition all of the articles were focusing on what is going on today in Iran. So this is something to pray about.


Now I know I got your curiosity up. We have got a couple of speakers nailed down for the pastor's conference next year. A couple of nights we are going to have Pat Cate speak. Some of you know who Pat Cate is. He is originally from Houston. He married the daughter of Dick Summy. Dr. Summy was the chaplain of Dallas Seminary when I was there. Dr. Summy was the third pastor of Berachah Church. Pat Cate has been supported as a missionary by Berachah, by Bethel, by Spring Branch, and several other churches here. He is probably in his late 60's or early 70's now. He was in Iran for at least 15 or 20 years. He and his family had to evacuate from Tehran in 1979. He has been operating out of Pennsylvania the last 15 or 20 years as the Executive President of a world-wide mission to Muslims. He will be speaking. 


Then I also have secured Ergen Cantor who is the President of Liberty Seminary. He and his brother are well-known. They both have their PhD's in systematic theology. They were raised Muslim. They have written a number of books dealing with Islam and Christianity. Right now they are writing a commentary on the Koran from an evangelical Christian perspective. It will be quite a useful tool for believers who are trying to witness to Muslims. So we have that to look forward to. That gives us a little insight into some things that are coming up.


There are a lot of things going on around the world that we need to pray for – that people are learning the gospel and hearing the gospel. One day I had a bunch of conversations and afterwards I couldn't remember who told me this. In Afghanistan right now they are having the highest number of conversions at the first hearing of the gospel of any country in the world. What that means is that they are responding. The first time they hear the gospel they trust in Christ as their Savior. Those who study these things say that most people respond after they have heard the gospel explained four or five times. They need the repetition. But in Afghanistan there is a big movement. Why is that? I think it is because (and the thing that most people who study these things say) there is such an environment of hate, hostility and repression that people are getting sick of it and are responding to the love of the gospel and the love of God as opposed to this hateful, tyrannical, fatalistic Allah of Islam.


Back to our passage. The laying on of hands indicates the identification of the individual with the person who is laying on hands. It was associated with baptism by the apostles in many of the passages - for example in Acts 8:17-19 when Phillip is in Samaria, Acts  9:12 after Paul's salvation, and Acts 9:12 and 17.  In Acts 19:6 Paul lays hands on those disciples of John the Baptists who represent Old Testament saints. 


Also laying on of hands would take place when an officer of the church, a pastor or a deacon was ordained. It indicates identification. There is a unity between the person laying on hands and the person who is having hands laid on. That is the point I was bringing out earlier. The unity of the body of Christ—the world-wide body of Christ is still being put together by God the Holy Spirit. You have passages in the pastorals such as I Timothy 4:14, 5:22, and II Timothy 1:6 that all speak about the laying on of hands. But what we have here in Hebrews is the mention of laying on of hands in such close proximity to baptism that it would indicate this identification that is very similar to what happens in baptism. 

What baptism is is a picture of this identification with Christ and the identification of the new convert with the body of Christ. This is all basic, basic, basic doctrine.


NKJ Hebrews 6:2 of the doctrine of baptisms, of laying on of hands, of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.


Then we come to the next phrase in verse 2, the resurrection of the dead. This is an interesting phrase. I did a little work on it today because what you have in the Greek is a plural noun for the word dead. Some have been tempted to translate that "resurrection from the dead ones". 

Actually the reason it is plural in the Greek was that this is just the idiom. In English the noun dead is a collective noun sort of like the word crowd. You have a singular crowd, but a crowd is made up of a multiplicity of people. You don't talk about crowds unless you are talking about this crowd over here or a crowd over there. So in the English you have collective nouns. Every language has collective nouns. In Greek the idiom was to talk about all of the dead with a plural noun. But in English we would translate it with a singular noun because by translating it "the dead" we understand it is a collective noun referring to all of the dead. In this mention of the resurrection of the dead is a reference to the future resurrection of everyone. Notice we move from the foundational doctrines related to salvation, repentance from dead works and faith toward God. Then the second pair is the doctrine of baptisms and the laying on of hands. Those connect together. Then the last two focus toward the future - the resurrection of the dead and of eternal judgment. There is a resurrection and then there is judgment. I Corinthians 15:42ff is the central passage in the New Testament dealing with the doctrine of resurrection.


There we read…


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. The body is sown in corruption, it is raised in incorruption.


We have almost the same phraseology there – resurrection plus the plural of the word dead. 


What we have in verse 42ff is the general principle of resurrection. The body (referring to the physical body) is sown in corruption. We are all born fallen. We are in Adam. Our bodies are subject to the physical consequences of sin. Our body is sown in corruption. It must be raised in incorruption. The corrupt mortal human body cannot go into heaven. It is sown in corruption; but it is raised in incorruption. We will receive an incorruptible resurrection body at the rapture.


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:43 It is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory. It is sown in weakness, it is raised in power.


Our physical body is sown in dishonor because of sin.   


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:44 It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.


Then Paul makes the statement that there is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. What does he mean by that?  He means the natural body in context is related to the body of dishonor. It is related to the body of weakness. It is related to the body of corruption. He builds these parallels all the way through. You have corruption for the natural body and incorruption for the resurrected body, dishonor for the natural body and glory for the resurrection body, weakness for the natural body and power for the resurrection body. Natural body – spiritual body fits that pattern. So he is not talking about a natural body in the sense of a physical mortal body and the spiritual body is some ephemeral ghost mist floating through the air like Casper the Ghost. It is a spiritual body in that it is related to the dimension of heaven.


Then we read verse 45.


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:45 And so it is written, "The first man Adam became a living being." The last Adam became a life-giving spirit.


So there is a distinction between the present body and the future body. 


Paul concludes.


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:46 However, the spiritual is not first, but the natural, and afterward the spiritual.


There is a necessary progression. 


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:47 The first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven


So the resurrection body is going to have certain features similar to our present corporeal body, but it will have other features and characteristics that are quite a bit different that will allow us to live in the heavenly dimension.


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:48 As was the man of dust, so also are those who are made of dust; and as is the heavenly Man, so also are those who are heavenly.


That continues the contrast between the mortal corporeal fallen body that we are born with and the heavenly. 


NKJ 1 Corinthians 15:49 And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man.


So I Corinthians 15:42-49 emphasizes the reality of resurrection. When we come to the last phrase (I want to tie these two together), it relates to eternal judgment. When we talk about what the Bible teaches about eternal judgment, we have to recognize first of all that every human being is born under condemnation. This is seen in John 3:18 


NKJ John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


At the instant of birth every single human being is born with the imputation of Adam's original sin and guilty of Adam's original sin and under condemnation. The only thing that moves a person from condemnation to acceptance is belief in Jesus Christ according to this passage. 


So every human being is born under condemnation and would remain under condemnation until they believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If they die physically before they put their faith in Christ, they are still in a status of condemnation. This is what the writer of Hebrews refers to in Hebrews 9:27-28. This is a great verse to use against the whole doctrine of reincarnation, which is no more that pagan recycling.


NKJ Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,


You are not going to die and come back as a lizard and then die and come back as a mouse and then die and come back as a horse. In the Japanese scheme of things the very worst thing that can happen is that you die and come back as a woman. That is worse than coming back as a lizard, mouse or anything else. They haven't quite made it into the 20th century when it comes to understanding the equality of the sexes I guess. 


Speaking of reincarnation you have to realize that the whole doctrine of Hindu reincarnation has been sanitized for the American public. Most Americans think that if they get reincarnated they come back as another human being. They might not have all of the benefits that they have now. They might have to come back as somebody who lives down in the ghetto somewhere. They might have to come back as somebody in a third world country. But that is not the real doctrine of reincarnation. In the real doctrine of reincarnation you come back as lower life forms. You come back as lizards, snakes mice, cows and all these other things. That is why some animals can't be eaten – you might be eating your grandfather. 


The Scripture teaches that it is appointed for men to die once and after this the judgment. Now if you died physically and then you are going to be judged, what has to happen in between? Well you have to come back to life somehow so you can stand before the judge and be evaluated. 

That is why the writer of Hebrews in verse 2 connects the resurrection of the dead. It isn't talking about just believers. It is talking about all are going to be resurrected in the different resurrections, but all will be resurrected and face eternal judgment – eternal evaluation. Believers will face the Judgment Seat of Christ. Unbelievers will face the Great White Throne Judgment. Every unbeliever remains in the grave until the end of the Millennial Kingdom when they are resurrected.


NKJ Hebrews 9:27 And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,


NKJ Hebrews 9:28 so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.


That is the resurrection of believers. For Church Age believers that occurs at the rapture which is what we have been studying on Sunday morning. Every Church Age believer alive or dead is taken to be with the Lord in the clouds at the end of the Church Age at the event known as the rapture. Old Testament saints and tribulation martyrs are resurrected at the end of the tribulation period. That is the second stage in the first resurrection. But unbelievers get resurrected only once and that is at the end of the Millennial Kingdom.


Revelation 20:12-15 gives us the description of what happens at the Great White Throne Judgment. John says…


NKJ Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.


Now this judgment does not include at least in the context any believers.


Somebody asked me the other morning, "When do millennial saints get their resurrection bodies?" 


By inference they get it at this time. The Scripture doesn't say. When are they evaluated for rewards or blessings? It would probably be at this time, but that is just an inference. The Scripture never addresses that particular issue. It never states when that occurs. So we just have to infer that. What we do have described in Revelation 20:12-15 is the judgment of unbelievers. 


These are the books that list all of the works, all of the production of these individuals. Now when we look at the end of this what we see is that they are evaluated according to their works. The term works isn't a technical theological term. We have good works; we have bad works. As believers we have works that are done by the Holy Spirit and we have works that are done in the flesh. But, works is just a generic term for production. So what happens at the Great White Throne Judgment is that every individual that is there is evaluated according to their production. In other words, how good is your production?


You have to have three things in order to get into heaven. 


  1. Number one you have to have your sin paid for. The penalty of sin has to be paid for.
  2. The second thing that has to happen is you have to possess the righteousness of God. You can't get into heaven without it. God's perfect righteousness can't have fellowship with relative or negative righteousness. 
  3. The third thing that a person has to have is eternal life. 


Now when Jesus Christ died on the cross for the sins of the world, He paid the penalty for every single sin in history in actuality. This always gets into a little bit of discussion about the extent of the atonement – whether Jesus died for everybody without distinction, without exception or whether He died only those who are going to be saved.  Follow me on this.


One of the first questions that comes up is what kind of substitution is it? Is it a real substitution? Did Jesus really die for the sins of the unbeliever who is always an unbeliever? If he always remains an unbeliever and never trusts Christ as Savior and if Jesus died for his sins, why isn't he in heaven? That is what I am going to answer. He doesn't get to heaven just because his sins are paid for. Remember, three things have to happen – his sins have to be paid for, he has to have perfect righteousness, and he has to have eternal life. 


When Christ died for the sins for the world, some theologians came along in the context of the Reformation and said, "Well, we can't accept the fact that Christ died only for elect because there are too many passages that say that Christ died for everybody." 


So there was a Calvinist theologian at the seminary in Sal moor, France by the name of Moses Amyraut. His theological position is known as Amyrauldianism. The Amyrauldian position is nothing more than a hypothetical atonement. That means Jesus died for you if you believe. If you don't believe He didn't die for you and you go to hell for your sin. There is a problem with that. Classic Amyrauldianism is usually the position that people take who are called four-point Calvinists. They will usually express it this way. Jesus Christ's death was sufficient for everybody, but it was effective only for the elect. Now I have heard people on both sides of the argument use that definition which makes it confusing. 


Let's say that I go all the way through life and I don't trust Christ as my savior.   


Before I die someone explains the gospel to me and says, "Christ died for your sins." 


I say, "Well, I don't believe that."


Then I go to hell. I am in the Lake of Fire. This is after the Great White Throne Judgment. 


Somebody days, "Why are you here?"


"Well, Christ didn't die for my sins. I am here paying the penalty for my sins." 


That would mean that Christ didn't die for them. If I had accepted the payment before I died, then it would have been applied to me and He would have died for my sins. But if I don't accept it and if I go to the Lake of Fire to pay the penalty for sin, then that means that Christ didn't die for my sins. This is sort of a backdoor limited atonement.   


I will resolve the problem by the way I am explaining this. When we breakdown salvation into those three issues (the first is the penalty of sin, the second is possession of righteousness, and the third is eternal life) what happens is that Christ truly and actually substitutes for everybody. 

He pays their penalty so that the unbeliever has his sin penalty paid for him; but because he doesn't believe in Christ, he doesn't receive the imputation of righteousness and he doesn't have eternal life. Without perfect righteousness he can't get into heaven. Without eternal life (which is not only a never ending life but also quality of life), he doesn't have the capacity to enjoy heaven. What happens at the Great White Throne Judgment substantiates this. The dead are judged according to their works by the things that are written in the books. 


What are written in these books are all the things that they do. It's not their sin. Sin is paid for. Christ paid the penalty of sin in all actuality. It is a real substitution. It's not this phony hypothetical substitution that Amyraut came up with. It is a real substitution. Their sin is truly and actually paid for. But now because they didn't trust Christ and they don't possess His righteousness, God is going to show that they don't have enough righteousness to meet His absolute perfect standard. 


So, all of their good deeds are piled up. Some people's piles won't go very far. Other people's piles are going to go pretty far depending on how good and moral they were as unbelievers. They are going to have good works. But when they are all piled up, they won't even come close to the first tick on the ruler because man can't produce the perfect righteousness of God.


NKJ Isaiah 64:6 But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, Have taken us away.


It's not our works of unrighteousness, but our works of righteousness. So the dead are going to be judged according to their works. Their works aren't good enough to receive perfect righteousness, to measure up to perfect righteousness, God's absolute standard; so they can't get into heaven. And they don't have eternal life so they are condemned. Why? Because they didn't believe in Christ. Believing in Christ is the only way to get the imputation of perfect righteousness. That is why John 3:18 says….


NKJ John 3:18 "He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.


Belief in Christ is the only way that you get perfect righteousness and eternal life.


NKJ Revelation 20:13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works.


Not according to sin, but according to works. 


NKJ Revelation 20:14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.


Death and Hades refer to the holding place where all the unbelievers went between physical death and judgment.


NKJ Revelation 20:15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.


The Book of Life refers to those who have perfect righteousness and those who have eternal life. So they are condemned because they did not possess perfect righteousness and did not have eternal life. So that resolves the issue of how Christ can truly substitute for the unbeliever, fully pay his penalty and why he still goes to the Lake of Fire - not to pay the penalty for his sins but because he failed to do what God said to do in trusting Christ as his savior. And because he is not qualified to go into heaven, he remains condemned and goes into eternal condemnation. 


Then we come to Hebrews 6:3


NKJ Hebrews 6:3 And this we will do if God permits.


Wait a minute. What will we do if God permits? Remember the command? Let us carry on to maturity. What is the problem? The problem is that the writer of Hebrews is dealing with a readership that is at best in doubt about whether they are going to continue to grow spirituality. At worst they have already hit the slippery slope and they have slid down into a reverse of their spiritual growth. They are backslidden and they are in complete and total carnality and rebellion against God. They are in the worst case scenario.  


So when we come to verse 3, it is a future tense of poieo


That is, we will press on. He qualifies it and says, "if God permits". In other words there is a real warning and danger here that we can reach a point-of-no-return in terms of our rebelliousness where God finally allows us to sink into the pit of our own rebellion and carnality, die the sin unto death, and lose rewards and what ever position responsibility we might have otherwise had. That is the seriousness of the warning here. 


He indicates this by saying, "This we will do if God permits."


The word translated here "if" is not the normal word that we expect which would be the Greek particle ean. It has a suffix per added to it.   

Eanper intensifies the condition. What he is saying is that we can do this only if God permits. Maybe He will; maybe He won't. It is a third class condition. God may not allow us to reverse course and to start pursuing spiritual growth again. And now he is going to explain that.   


A lot of people say, "Wait a minute. You mean God may finally get fed up with our rebellion and let us slide on to self destruction?"


Yes, that is true. He lays down a principle and an explanation in verse 4.


NKJ Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,


NKJ Hebrews 6:5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,


NKJ Hebrews 6:6 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.


That is what he has been warning about all along. Don't fall away. Instead press on to maturity. 


Then there are 5 categories listed.


  1. once been enlightened, 
  2. have tested the heavenly gift
  3. made partakers  of the Holy Spirit
  4. tasted the good Word of God and tasted the power of the age to come
  5. having fallen away


In other words there is a serious warning here that the believer can reach a point-of-no-return in his decline into rebellion carnality. It appears that it will not be possible for them to reverse course at least by any human means. 


This is a complicated passage of exegesis. There are a lot of people who go to this section to try to argue that you can lose your salvation. 

That's not what it is talking about at all. Salvation isn't the issue here. The issue here is - are you going to press on to spiritual maturity or regress in spiritual rebellion to the point where aside from a special work of God renewal is impossible? That's the thrust. 


We are going need to take some time to break each phrase down so that you understand what is being discussed here and where we can understand very clearly that he is talking about the fact that these are believers, not unbelievers. These are believers and it is talking about the danger of spiritual regression. So we will come back and look at that. Verses 7 and 8 talk about the judgment that comes to those in spiritual regression through the imagery of dry earth, drinking in the rain, producing fruit and also producing thorns and briars. So we will have to get to that next time. 


Let us close in prayer.