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Hebrews 6:2-4 by Robert Dean
Series:Hebrews (2005)
Duration:58 mins 54 secs

 

Hebrews Lesson 62  August 10, 2006 

 

NKJ Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding; 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

 

Hebrews 6

 

What a great chapter. It is a challenge. Once again the writer of Hebrews is challenging his audience. He has these cycles. There is a didactic section, an explanation of a doctrinal point; then there is this warning. As he began the last didactic section at the beginning of chapter 5, he didn't get very far. He only got down about 10 verses and all of a sudden he had to shift gears and hit them with not only another challenge but a harsh warning related to their own spiritual failure. In the midst of this challenge a warning comes in chapter 6:4-8, which is one of the most contested, debated passages. You always find somebody who comes along and thinks this means you can lose your salvation. It doesn't teach that at all. We can't lose our salvation. Our salvation is not based on who and what we are; it is based on who God is and what Jesus Christ did on the cross. It is greater than our sin. It is greater than our failures. It is greater than anything we can do. Our salvation is based on what God has provided for us. When we understand what happens at salvation, I don't know how anybody can possibly think that it could be lost. Just think about what takes place. 

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

 

We are new creatures! And that gets reversed? Oh yeah, and then you trust Christ again and you get regenerated again and then you sin and you die again and you get saved again. That is just absurd. What this passage says is that once you lose it, you can't get it back (if it is talking about losing salvation because it says it is impossible to renew them again). So, this does not teach anything about losing salvation. What it does teach is something that should bring every one of us up short because it is a very serious and sober warning about the believer who becomes complacent about his spiritual life and begins to reverse course and to regress back into carnality, living like an unbeliever thinking like an unbeliever. When that happens there can be a point when it is for all practical purposes (that is the idea to give you a summation) you reach a point-of-no-return and there won't be recovery. There won't be renewal. There won't be reversal of that carnality. You have reached a point-of-no-return and at that point you usually start going down the path of sin unto death.

 

So let's pick up the context.

 

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,

 

He draws a conclusion based on the challenge that was already made. They have reversed course. They are acting like babies. They have drifted away from the foundational principles of the oracle of God. They need milk and not solid food. 

 

Let me make an observation here that I haven't made. If you go back to the previous section in 5:12-14 the writer says…

 

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.

 

He is not going to do that. Isn't that interesting? You would think that after he says, "You need somebody to teach you the basic ABC's."; then you would think in chapter 6 we would get the ABC's. But he doesn't do that. 

 

In fact when he comes down to 6:1 he says literally, "Therefore by leaving the discussion of the basic ABC's related to Christ."

 

He is going to press on anyway. Even though they are carnal, even though they need milk and some of them have already reached a point-of-no-return he is not going to stop and review the basics for them. He is going to press on to the challenge and continue to teach the meatier doctrines that we find in the rest of the book of Hebrews.

 

I pointed out that this should be translated "Let us press or push on to maturity by leaving the foundational teachings about Christ". We are not going to get anywhere if all we do is study the gospel. It is very important to study the gospel and it is very important to hear the gospel repeated again and again because you never know there may be somebody out there in the audience who has never heard the gospel. It has never been made clear. You never know when someone is going to hear the tape or watch the DVD. All of a sudden the gospel is going to be clear. That is one thing that I try always to do - and I don't always do it - is to make sure that the gospel is there in any given message. You never know who needs that. But, you can't just teach to babies all of the time. You have to present a greater challenge so that people can grow. People can't grow beyond the level of teaching they receive. If all they hear are 1,001 different ways to give the gospel (That is what you get in too many churches, if you get that. The way that things are today we ought to be thankful if they get the gospel straight. That is so rare.), people can't grow. 

 

We are too press on to maturity by leaving the foundational teachings about Christ. 

 

Then we went through the six categories of foundational doctrines.

 

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

 

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

 

In making that statement there is an ominous tone here that God may not permit us to press on by leaving the discussion of elementary principles. There may be something going on in terms of our own negative volition and the way that God has structured the spiritual life that we may get to a point where there is no recovery. This is where he goes immediately in verse 4 where he says...

 

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,

 

Now I am reading from the New King James. There are some translation issues here. There is no conditional clause in verse 6. It is just "fall away". It is the last in a series of 5 statements. Here they are.

 

  1. Once been enlightened  6:4a
  2. Have tasted the heavenly gift  6:4 b
  3. Have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit 6:4c
  4. Tasted good word of God and the power of the age to come 6:5
  5. Have fallen away 6:6a

 

That is the correct translation. It is not "and if they fall away" or "even if they fall away" or anything like that. Those are interpretive statements that are added by the translator. It is a series of aorist participles that are all controlled by an initial article in the Greek. That shows that all 5 of these are related to the same thing. You can't take the last one and flip it out into another kind of clause. You have 5 participles. But at the very beginning of this string of clauses you have an article in the Greek. That article relates to all five participles. So we have to tie these all together. 

 

They have done all of these things. They have been enlightened. They are all aorist tenses. 

 

You see that is really what you have at the beginning. I may put the "who" up with the "those" because you have a definite article that controls these participles. With the definite article it indicates that they are all relative clauses. So they have been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift. They have become partakers or partners with the Holy Spirit. They have tasted the good word of God. Notice that I have put in the syntax of each participle.

 

  1. Enlightened is the aorist passive particle.
  2. The next one is an aorist middle participle.
  3. The next one is an aorist passive participle.
  4. The next one is an aorist middle participle.

 

There are some slight shades of difference between the middle and the passive in this string. The point is that they are all aorist participles. The aorist tense indicates when it is a participle that it is an action that precedes the main verb. The main verb here is the infinitive to renew. The timing of these events, these participles, proceeds the time of the participle renewing. It is talking about the fact that these people have had the experience. They have been enlightened in the past at some point. They have tasted the heavenly gift. They have become in some past time partners with the Holy Spirit. They have tasted the Word of God and the powers of the age to come. And finally they have fallen away. It is not just hypothetical that they have done all of this and they might fall away. But they have. There are those in this group who have reached the stage where they have had the first five things take place. Then the sixth "to have fallen away" is also a reality. They have fallen away.   

 

"For them," the writer says, "it is impossible to renew them to repentance." 

 

Now what in the world does that mean? Well, let's take it apart. 

 

When we look at this, depending on the English translation that you have, the King James translators did the right thing. They took this phrase "impossible" which is in the first verse. It is the first word in the Greek. It is adunatos. It means that it is something that is not possible, or impossible. "A" at the beginning of the word is like the English "un". It negates the word. So, it is not possible. Dunatos comes from the Greek word dunamos for ability or power. It is where we get our word dynamite. 

 

You will always hear some preacher who doesn't know the Greek say, "You see we have power in the Christian life. It is power - dynamite."

 

It is really poor. It is ability. There is no ability for this certain group of people. Now it says that it is impossible. Then all the way down in verse 6, the New King James doesn't handle this correctly. The infinitive is all the way down in verse 6 where it says, "to renew them again". But that is a long way from it is impossible. The reason adunatos is placed there at the beginning (The word impossible is upfront.) is because he is making a very strong case here. This would be boldfaced in modern type. He is emphasizing the impossibility of this. If you get a New American Standard, it leaves the word impossible to verse 6. 

 

NAS Hebrews 6:6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to open shame.

 

It puts "impossible" down in verse 6 so that it makes better sense in English. In the English we have "impossible" and the verb it controls is three verses apart. It is hard to make sense of that in English.   

 

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

 

I would translate if "it is impossible" and move the infinitive up to the first verse. 

 

Literal translation:  It is impossible to renew them again to repentance. 

 

That is what this section is talking about. It is a dire warning that you can reach a point where it is virtually impossible (Notice the adverbs I am using here.), for all practical purposes it is impossible, because what we learn is that it is not impossible for God. The writer is writing from the phenomenal logical perspective. The reality is that 99.99% of the time people are not going to recover. They are mired in their carnality. They are now blinded again by darkness. They are not going to turn back and recover.

 

Now we have this same word "impossible" used in statement made by Jesus in Matthew 19:24-6. The word actually occurs in verse 26 but I thought that I would go back and clear up a little misunderstanding or confusion that we have in verses 24-26.  Jesus is speaking to his disciples. He says…

 

NKJ Matthew 19:24 "And again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

 

NKJ Matthew 19:25 When His disciples heard it, they were greatly astonished, saying, "Who then can be saved?"

 

Now some people have taught that what this describes is an interesting phenomenon in the ancient world. We saw an example of this in an old gateway in Israel. You have a huge gate that the wagons and large groups of people could move through. That would be the large gate.   

Especially during times of war or times when the city was under siege there was a small gate that was large enough for one person to get through that sat inside the large gate. Of course if you were riding a camel or a horse or anything like that you would have to have the whole gate open so that you could get through. But this small doorway is about 4 feet high and 2 feet wide. They called that "they say" the eye of the needle. So you will often hear that some people think that this is what this is talking about. The trouble it is a different word in the Greek text than the word they use in the language to describe that particular gate. Jesus isn't referring to that at all. He is not talking about getting a camel through that little bitty doorway because I guess it is conceivable that it could happen. What Jesus is talking about is the eye of a sewing needle. That is the word used for a needle here. This is a sewing needle, not the word that was used in the idiom to describe the small door in the larger gate. He is talking about the fact that it is absolutely impossible. You are never going to get a big camel through that little bitty hole in a sewing needle. It is never going to happen. It is something that is impossible. Why? Because the issue isn't wealth or personal prestige or power; the issue has to be regeneration.

 

So the disciples hear that and they say, "Who then can be saved? If rich people can't do it – people who have power and prestige and position - if they can't get into heaven then who can?" 

 

Jesus looked at them and said… 

 

NKJ Matthew 19:26 But Jesus looked at them and said to them, "With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."

 

He alludes here in the last sentence to what is called a gnomic principle or a general principle that is true throughout all time. That is related to the omnipotence of God - with God all things are possible. When it comes to a believer that is in carnality and in a state of being mired in his own rebellion, it is not that God can't renew him to repentance but God isn't the subject. God isn't even mentioned there in Hebrews 6:4. What we have is a statement related to "for impossible". The "it is" in the English is in italics. That is added by the translators so the sentence makes a little more sense and reads a little more smoothly in the English.   

 

In the Greek it literally says, "Impossible for those who fit this category to renew them again." 

 

It doesn't say who. It is making a general statement that it is very unlikely – extremely unlikely – for people who have reached this point of spiritual reversal to be renewed and to recover. They reach a point-of-no-return. Now does that mean they have sinned and it is too much for the grace of God? No, it doesn't. God is still able. It is just saying that under most conditions when people reach this point, they don't recover. 

They stayed mired in their sin and depravity. 

 

Now let's look at these verbs and these clauses that are set up here to understand why we must see that these are referring to someone who is a believer. 

 

First of all, the very first characteristic is that they were once enlightened. This is the Greek word photizo which means to give light to, to enlighten or to illuminate. This person has been enlightened to the truth. 

 

"Wait a minute," you might say. "Jesus came into the world to be the light of the world and all men were enlightened by Him according to John 1."

 

It uses the same verb. But the way we study a word like this is we look first and foremost to the author because the concept of being enlightened in the Scripture can apply to one of two categories. It can apply to salvation and it can apply to the spiritual life. For example in Ephesians 1 Paul prays that God would open the eyes of our souls which is a figurative way of talking about to enlightening our thinking. So, it is talking about believers at that point. 

 

In other passages enlightenment has to do with salvation. So we have to look at the context and how an author uses the word because whoever the writer of Hebrews is, he may use words in a slightly different way that John used words. John may use words and phrases in a different way than Paul used those words because in the process of inspiration each author is writing within their own background, their own vocabulary and their own frame of reference. So whenever you do word studies it is important to distinguish how the author uses those phrases. 

 

A classic example is that in Paul's writing he talks about the fact that when you believe Christ died on the cross for your sins, you enter into Christ. There is that famous phrase that we all know – in Christ.

 

NAS 2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.

 

But John uses the phrase "in Him". We are to abide in Him. He uses that phrase in John 15. When Jesus is speaking, He says, "If anyone is in Me." We are not talking about something that is a positional reality. We are talking about something that is an experiential reality. So Paul uses the phrase "in Him" and when Jesus is speaking because it depends on how it goes in the dialogue Jesus will say, "You need to abide in Me." Then John turns it over into a third person statement and says, "we need to abide in Him". So in Him and in Me is relational (fellowship) in John. It is positional in Paul. Now if you don't know that you are going to make some drastic interpretive errors when you get to the analogy of the vine in John 15. A lot of people do that. They automatically assume that every phrase has to be interpreted the same way by every author. That is just a fundamental error. 

 

So let's look at another passage in Hebrews where the writer uses this same phrase. In Hebrews 10:32, just two or three chapters later he says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:32 But recall the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings:

 

Photizo again.

 

What is that talking about? That is talking about the time in which the readers of this, those to whom he is writing were saved. So this enlightenment to the truth is a phrase that the writer of Hebrews uses to refer to the time when they were saved. Paul uses the same enlightenment metaphor (He doesn't use the word but he uses the same metaphor) in II Corinthians 4:3-4.  He says…

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 4:3 But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing,

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 4:4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

 

When we were in Israel this time (I always love it when this happens), I had the opportunity to get to know a young pastor who is really beginning to develop. He pastors Fredricksburg Bible Church. Jeremy Thomas and I have been talking for some time about the whole issue of Calvinism versus Arminianism. 

 

Jeremy said, "You know a great verse to use against election in Calvinism is II Corinthians 4:4 because if unbelievers are elected to damnation and no matter what happens they are going to go to hell, then why does Satan have to blind their minds to the truth? It is already determined whether they are going to be saved or not. It doesn't have anything to do with their volition."

 

I thought that was a good observation on this passage. 

 

It is not their total inability which is what a 5 point Calvinist would argue. They are totally depraved but they take that to a position of total inability that the unbeliever is incapable of seeing the light of the gospel. If he is incapable all by himself of seeing the light of the gospel again the question is why does the devil have to blind him to the truth. So we see this light metaphor coming into the analogy here so that they are blinded.

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord, and ourselves your bondservants for Jesus' sake.

 

NKJ 2 Corinthians 4:6 For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

 

What is that? That is another way of talking about enlightenment,  photizo

 

So Paul uses the same imagery of enlightenment to talk about what happens at salvation, at regeneration when people are saved. That fits generally within the context of what is going on in John. So let's turn for just a minute while we are talking about regeneration to understand what is happening in John. In the Gospel of John you have this tremendous motif all the way through talking about light and darkness. The Logos comes into the world. We are told in John 1:5…

 

NKJ John 1:5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

 

Then it talks about John that John came as a witness, to bear witness of the light.

 

NKJ John 1:7 This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all through him might believe.

 

NKJ John 1:8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.

 

NKJ John 1:9 That was the true Light which gives light to every man coming into the world.

 

It seems like in verse 9 that this is talking about some sort of general revelation or common grace or enlightenment that comes by the very fact that Jesus comes into the world as the result of the incarnation.

 

Then in John 3 we have the story of Nicodemus coming to Jesus at night. We are not sure exactly how that conversation ends. 

 

If you have a red letter Bible (which I do but only by mistake), you know what the problem with the red letter Bible is. The red letter Bible makes it look like only the red letters words are Jesus words. But you see, the whole Bible is the mind of Christ. There is an implication in a red letter Bible that some words are more significant than others. Some words are more inspired than others. So you always have to be careful. 

When I get a computer program, the first thing I do is turn off the red lettering. What is interesting here is when you look at a red letter Bible and look at chapter 3 starting in verse 10, Jesus is speaking. In mine at least Jesus doesn't stop speaking until verse 21. Actually scholars debate this and they are not sure when Jesus stops speaking and when John starts commenting. At the end of this conversation between Jesus and Nicodemus we see something very interesting that happens. Jesus is talking about eternal life in verse 15 and receiving eternal life in verse 16. Then we get down to verse 19 and we read…

 

NKJ John 3:19 "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

 

NKJ John 3:20 "For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.

 

So right in the middle of the light-darkness motif you have this discussion of regeneration. Nicodemus is a ruler of the Jews. By the way, his name was not Nicodemus. That was a title. Nicodemus means literally a ruler of the people. From Jewish sources there is an indication that he was the most renowned Bible teacher of his time. He was the most knowledgeable individual. We don't know what his actual name was. He is a leader of the people. He is a ruler of the Jews. He comes to Jesus at night probably not because he is trying to be covert in is actions, but probably because with his responsibilities he was too busy during the day to come and talk to Jesus. So he comes at night. That is another aspect on this play on light and darkness in John. He comes at night in darkness looking for what? Looking for the light. John is a master at weaving those kinds of nuances into the story. 

 

NKJ John 3:2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, "Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him."

 

He doesn't know what question to ask, but he has questions. Jesus answers. He goes right tot the point. 

 

NKJ John 3:3 Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

 

This term born again is the word 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,

 

We can't do good enough deeds to get saved. 

 

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 automatically ties in. Regeneration connects with justification. That is one of the important things that you see. As you study the dynamics of the different elements that are involved in salvation, regeneration, justification (which means imputation of righteousness), it is not our righteousness that God looks at. It is an imputed or given righteousness that comes from Christ. That is what God looks at when He declares us just. So regeneration is then connected to justification. Justification is connected to imputation. Imputation is connected to the giving of eternal life. So, all of these things fit together. If a person could lose salvation, all of these different facets of our salvation would then be reversed. 

 

I have always thought that anybody who thought you could lose your salvation has an extremely anemic, diluted, simplistic understanding of what God does to the individual at salvation. It is a magnificent thing that God did for us as the instant of our salvation. We cannot possibly go through a reversal of that. It is not that we get eternal life and then it is lost. It is much more profound than that.  

 

We are told in the Scripture that we are composed of three basic components including our physical body. Then we have an immaterial part that is comprised of a soul and self consciousness. We know who we are. You look in the mirror and you know that it is you. A dog looks in the mirror and barks at the other dog that it sees. Animals don't have that self consciousness. You have a mentality. You think. You have a conscious that tells you what you ought or ought not to do. You have volition, a will. I picture this as dynamic. We talk about these components for academic purposes but in the reality of our make-up sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between I think and I feel, especially if you are post modern. All you can do is feel. But you really are thinking. They are always confused. You have volition. You have a conscience. All of these things work together in an interrelated way. But what binds them together is something we call the human spirit. This human spirit is that which enables the self consciousness to think about God, for the mentality to think God's thoughts, for the conscious to have God's values and for volition to choose for God. That is the role of the human spirit. It makes us who we were intended to be when God originally created Adam in the image and likeness of God. But when Adam sinned he died spiritually. He lost that human spirit. He lost something. There are a lot of theologians who don't have this understanding of regeneration. 

 

I remember getting into a conversation with a friend of mine a long time ago. We were discussing this. I made the point that spiritual death meant that Adam lost a component of his nature. 

 

"How do you get that?" 

 

"Because when you are born again there is something that becomes alive that was previously either not there or was dead. There is a component that was added."

 

He said, "How do you get that?"

 

I said, "Well, it is born again. Something comes to life that was previously dead."

 

That indicates something is not there ahead of time. Whatever that is (I call it the human spirit) that which allows man to relate to God. That means that the soul suddenly becomes fully aware and capable of relating to God, knowing God, and understanding God. We can see the emphasis on this played out in the use of the word pneuma in I Corinthians 2:9-15. I am not going to take the time to go through that now but that indicates that we learn and have the capacity to learn doctrine only once we are spiritual. We have that human spirit that enables us to relate to God. That is regeneration. That is enlightenment in another way of talking about it. So the writer of Hebrews says …

 

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,

 

This is a synonym for regeneration, those who have moved from darkness to light. That is what happened at salvation. Paul says that we were transferred from a kingdom of darkness to the kingdom of light. This is enlightenment.

 

Now the second phrase is an even more powerful phrase. These are those who have tasted of the heavenly gift. Here we have the Greek verb geuo which means to taste, to receive or to fully experience. 

 

Now some people have made the mistake of saying, "Well, tasting here is like taking a little taste."

 

It is like when I was in the back and somebody brought some really good cookies. I had been off sugar for awhile but I wanted to taste it. So I broke off a little tiny piece and I tasted it as opposed some people who went back there and took a whole cookie and ate the whole cookie and fully experienced the cookie as it fully entered into them. Okay? 

 

Now what is this passage talking about? Is it talking about somebody who just got a little nibble or a little hint of the heavenly gift or is it someone who fully experienced it? Well, let's look at how the word is used in Scripture. In Hebrews 2:9 the writer of Hebrews uses that same word to describe what happens to Jesus on the cross. In that verse we read….

 

NKJ Hebrews 2:9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.

 

That He might have a little nibble? Is that what that means? No. He fully experienced death - full spiritual death, separation from God. 

 

When he screamed out, "My God, My God why have you forsaken me?"; He fully experienced death for everyone. He didn't get a hint or nibble or little bitty taste. He fully experienced it. That is what this metaphor means. It doesn't mean to go back there and break off a little piece to get a hint of what it is like, but to fully experience death, to fully experience the gift of God – the heavenly gift. 

 

It is very important to understand this because there are people who promote what is called lordship salvation. Lordship salvation teaches at its very core the idea that if you are really, genuinely saved if you have real faith (As soon as somebody starts putting qualifiers on faith you know that they have been influenced by lordship salvation. Whether they have ever heard that term or not is irrelevant), then there are certain things that you are never going to do. You are never going to be deeply and profoundly carnal. You are never going to be able to turn your back on Jesus for the rest of your life. If you were really saved you just wouldn't do that. Their view of regeneration isn't what I just presented, which is the idea of gaining something. For them regeneration is a limitation on the capacity of your sin nature. 

 

I remember some years ago I read an article. I knew the man who wrote the article. He had been a classmate of mine in the doctoral program at Dallas Seminary some years ago. Now he is a professor at a seminary I believe in the Philippines. He wrote an article discussing Louis Sperry Chafer's Doctrine of the Spiritual Life and Benjamin Warfield's critique of it. Warfield was probably the most well-known theologian of his day at the turn of the century. He really blasted Chafer when Chafer's book He That Is Spiritual came out. So this friend of mine was analyzing this. 

 

At the end of the article he said, "Now Dr. Chafer made many valuable points in the book. But I think Dr. Chafer underestimated the power of regeneration to limit the capacity of the sin nature." 

 

In other words if you are truly saved you just can't be as nasty and naughty as you were before you were save. 

 

In fact there is a very well-known radio pastor and expositor of the Word from Southern California who is one of the greatest promoters of lordship salvation today who correctly interprets Hebrews 2:9, but then when he gets to the same verb in Hebrews 6:4 he says it means that they had a false profession. He says that they didn't really believe in Jesus. That is one of the things that lordship salvation comes up with. If you are saved you are going to live a certain life and you are going to persevere to the end. If you don't persevere to the end, then you weren't really saved. So how do you know that you are saved? At the end of your life if you still believe in Jesus then you are saved. But if at the end of your life you turned your back on Jesus or recanted, then you weren't really saved. They are not talking about the fact that you lose your salvation. They say that you never really had it. It was a false profession. This ties up something that goes into our next category, which is understanding what is meant by the gift of God. 

 

This is the Greek word dorea meaning a gift, an unearned present, a free gift with an emphasis on its gracious character. You have a similar word, another form of this noun, used in Ephesians 2:8-9. It is a very well-known verse around here.

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God,

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.

 

What happens in lordship salvation is that they don't believe that faith is non-meritorious. We teach that faith in non-meritorious. There is no merit in faith. Anybody can believe. Everybody who came in here believer and unbeliever exercised faith when they sat in the chair. They looked at the chair. They had a certain amount of evidence. 

 

They said, "Okay.  I believe that chair is going to hold me when I sit in it."

 

So they sat in it. It is just everyday normal faith. 

 

It is the object of faith that saves, not faith itself. But in certain kinds of Calvinism (in 5 point Calvinism and some other forms) in their teaching of the perseverance of the saints what they teach is that you have to have the right kind of faith to be saved. That is why you can have a false profession. Somebody says that they believe in Jesus but their life never shows it so it was a false profession. They didn't really believe in Jesus. They had the wrong kind of faith. They didn't have real faith. They didn't have genuine faith. They didn't have true saving faith.  In lordship salvation and for the Calvinist it is the kind of faith that saves not the object of faith. So in lordship salvation and for the Calvinist, it is the kind of faith that saves not the object of faith. We would say that faith is faith. It is the object of faith (That is the Lord Jesus Christ.) that saves. It is not the kind of faith. The way they get around that and to give you a little hint - back in John (I am still there. Some of you may still be there) you have this incident that occurs after the wedding in Cana when Jesus turns water into wine. He comes to Jerusalem for Passover. 

While He is there He whips up on the money changers in the Temple. He runs them out and turns over their tables. These were big tables. This was a scene that demonstrated Jesus' human power and strength. He bodily picks these guys up and runs them out. He takes the tables and overturns them and throws everything out of the temple. While He is there of course it causes a raucous and draws a lot of attention. While He is there He performs a number of miracles. We are told in John 2:23…

 

NKJ John 2:23 Now when He was in Jerusalem at the Passover, during the feast, many believed in His name when they saw the signs which He did.

 

NKJ John 2:24 But Jesus did not commit Himself to them, because He knew all men,

 

This is a passage that every one of these guys will go to and they will say, "See it wasn't a genuine faith. If they were genuinely saved Jesus would trust them."

 

Then I say, "Does that mean that you are going to trust bubba down the street who runs Shyster Auto Repair business? He has a little fish emblem out in his front window to sucker in all the Christians. He overcharges everybody. You are going to automatically trust him because he says that he is a Christian? If you are a Christian you are automatically trustworthy? Are you automatically good?"

 

That's not true. None of these guys would do that. They wouldn't ever trust somebody just because they were saved. 

 

Jesus doesn't entrust himself to these new believers because they are still operating on a misconception of the role of the Messiah. They are still thinking that the Messiah is going to come and bring in a political kingdom. They haven't learned anything more than Jesus is the Messiah. So they are truly saved. The phrase translated "believe in His name" in verse 23 in the Greek is the verb pisteuo plus the preposition eis which is the same phrase you have all through the Gospel of John to indicate true, genuine, saving faith. What is the requirement of the gospel? To believe in His name. So if everywhere else in John "believing in His name" gets you saved, then these folks are genuinely saved.  

 

But they say, "Well, it wasn't really a quality faith because it was based on miracles. It was based on signs. Their faith was a shallow superficial non-saving faith because it was based on miracles."   

 

My response to that is, "Wait a minute."  

 

It seems to me that if you go to the end of the Gospel of John in John 20: 30-31 when it is talking about the sign of the resurrection John then says that there are many other signs that Jesus did other than the resurrection and these (that is the signs written in the Gospel of John)…

 

NKJ John 20:30 And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book;

 

NKJ John 20:31 but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.

 

John seems to write his whole gospel explicating the signs that Jesus did so that people would believe and be saved. So if faith based on signs is a non-saving faith then why do we have the Gospel of John in the Bible? You just can't understand these people who are so caught up. They are afraid to let Christians fail and sin. 

 

The same thing happens with Ephesians 2:8-9. What happens here is that they take faith as the gift. They translate it – For by grace you have been saved through faith and that. What is the "that"? They say the "that" refers to faith. That faith is not of yourselves. It is not your faith. 

(You didn't know that did you?) It is the gift of God. The faith is the gift. That is how they will argue. God gave you the faith because He elected you. He gave you the kind of faith that you need to be saved. You just had a pseudo faith over here; but you folks over here got the gift. God gave you the right kind of faith so you are saved. That is how they translate that. The problem is that the word grace is a feminine noun. The word faith is a feminine noun. The "that" is a neuter pronoun. Anyone who knows anything about grammar knows that a pronoun has to agree in gender with that to which it refers, the antecedent noun to which it refers. So the neuter "that" can't refer to faith because it is feminine. It can't refer to grace because it is feminine. What is it referring to? Actually in Greek if you have a compound referent then it is referred to with a neuter pronoun. So the "that" is referring to a "by grace salvation through faith." It refers to the whole clause. 

 

It is the salvation package that is the gift of God, not the faith.  If you go back previously in Ephesians you discover that the first use of this phrase is in verse 5 which is in the second half of the main clause.

 

You see the interesting thing about Ephesians 2 (and one of these days I will take time to go through Ephesians 2) is that Ephesians 2:1-7 is one long sentence. You don't get to the subject until verse 4. You start off with a bunch of clauses. 

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:1 And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins,

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:2 in which you once walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit who now works in the sons of disobedience,

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:3 among whom also we all once conducted ourselves in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

 

All of that is simply secondary. The main idea is "but God." That is the subject. Then the verb is given down in verse 5. Actually you have a threefold verb.

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:5 even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),

 

NKJ Ephesians 2:6 and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,

 

That is the main thought in the first seven verses. Everything else modifies it in someway or another. So the first use of this phrase is "by grace you have been saved." "By grace you have been saved" refers to the fact that God made us alive together with Christ even though we were dead in our trespasses and sins. So this is talking about the whole package. When you look at Ephesians 2:8-9 the gift that we have is the gift of salvation. That is what is going on in verse 4 of Hebrews 6.

 

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,

 

Now what is that describing? That is talking about the main verb is ginomai which means to become something you were not before. So what were they before? They were spiritually dead with no relationship to God the Father, God the Son, or God the Holy Spirit. They become partakers. There is our noun metochos referring here to the doctrine of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. 

They become partakers with the Holy Spirit in something. That is what happens immediately at the instant of salvation. First of all you are regenerated by the Holy Spirit. 

 

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,

 

Jesus Christ then uses the Holy Spirit to identify us with His death, burial, and resurrection. We are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. All of these relationships take place with the Holy Spirit at salvation. Relationships take place with the Holy Spirit at the instant of salvation. No one who is an unbeliever is a partaker in the Holy Spirit in any way, shape, or form. So these first three phrases all indicate who is truly, genuinely regenerated and saved. 

 

The word partakers used in Hebrew 3:1where the writer of Hebrews says…

 

NKJ Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus,

 

 It is a word indicating someone who is fully and genuinely saved.

 

Then we come to the next phrase in verse 5. It is the verb geuo again.

 

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

 

That is the message of God related to salvation. 

 

They are still living in the period of canon formation in the first century so they have witnessed miracles, signs and wonders which were just a pre-taste of the ultimate of the kingdom of the Millennial Kingdom. These things will be standard in the coming kingdom of Christ. So they have fully experienced it. They are saved. 

 

"If they fall away" is a bad translation. It should be "and fall away." All of these things happened. They are saved and then they fall away.   

 

The verb there is parapipto which means to fall aside, to fall away, to stray, or to lapse. It is only used in this passage in the New Testament.

 

Para means to the side of. Then you have another form of this word, ekpipto, which means to fall from something. That is the word Paul uses in Galatians 6:4 to fall from grace.

 

NKJ Galatians 5:4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

 

It is not talking about unbelievers here; it is talking about believers. 

 

If you go back to Galatians 3, the "you" that he is talking about are the people who have succumbed to the influence of the Judaizers. They were saved. 

 

If you go back to Galatians 3:3 it says, "You began by the Spirit, but are you now trying to be matured by the flesh." 

 

They are genuine believers. They are saved. They began by the Spirit; but now they are trying to advance in their spiritual lives by means of the law. They picked up the teaching that they could be justified by the law. So Paul says they have fallen.

 

"You no longer understand grace. You are no longer operating on grace." 

 

It is the same thing that happened with the audience of the writer of Hebrews. They have fallen away to the point that they will not be renewed. This is referred to in Hebrews 10:25. 

 

NKJ Hebrews 10:25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.

 

In other words they are away from doctrine. It is not just a matter of getting together with other believers; it was getting together with other believers for the purpose of learning the Word. They have gotten completely away from that so that there is no encouragement for one another. Earlier in Hebrews 3 the writer of Hebrews says to encourage one another continually. They have fallen away so much that they can't be renewed. There is no Christian fellowship. They have rejected the Word. They are not going to be renewed. They have just taken a swan dive into a pool of carnality and they are quite happy.

 

We can't get any further tonight so we will close here. We will come back and review this a little bit and get into the next section of Hebrews 5 where it talks about the judgment that threatens every believer who gets involved in this kind of carnality so that they are not renewed.