Welcome back. I want to encourage you to hang with me. One reader commented last week that the material we studied was over her head. I’m sorry. I don’t want anyone to feel that way. My goal in breaking down the book of Hebrews is to help you understand it better….not confuse you. Without question, chapter 6 is the most difficult to understand of all the chapters in Hebrews. Flitter, it is one of the most difficult chapters to understand in all the Bible. So, press on!! If you don’t understand something, email me and ask me to explain.
Ok, let’s move on into Hebrews 6. In these twelve verses we find more discussion about elementary teachings.
The first set of verses we will consider is Hebrews 6: 1-6, but we will do this over the course of two Mondays. Read all six verses below.
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so. 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
There are two key issues in this set of verses. The first being what the writer meant when he talked of elementary teachings and said, “not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.” The second issue is that of falling away referenced in verse 6, which we will look at next week. Let’s consider some opinions on this most difficult of passages.
The six truths referenced in verses 1 and 2 are what the writer is referencing when he talks of elementary teachings. Warren Wiersbe believes these to be basic teachings of both the Old and New Covenants, i.e. Judaism and Christianity. He says that the first two (repentance and faith) are directed toward God and signal the beginning of the spiritual life, the second two (baptisms and laying on of hands) have to do with the believer’s relationship with the body of Christ, while the final two (resurrection and judgment) pertain to the future. Wiersbe says that the lesson of these first three verses is “You have laid the foundation. You know your ABCs. Now move forward! Let God carry you along to maturity!” (Be Confident! P. 63) Word Biblical Commentary opines much the same as Wiersbe on these verses.
John MacArthur’s opinion, once again, is different from both Wiersbe and Word Biblical Commentary. He states that while the six truths are elementary or central to the Old Covenant or Judaism, they are not central to New Covenant Christianity. They point to Christ and the gospel but are not part of the gospel.
Consider MacArthur’s synopsis of these verses: “The point of Hebrews 6:1-2 is simply that the unbelieving Jews should let go completely of the immature, elementary shadows and symbols of the Old Covenant and take hold of the mature and perfect reality of the New. The Holy Spirit is calling for them to leave the ABCs of repentance from dead works for the New Testament teaching of repentance toward God and new life in Christ. Leave the ABCs of faith toward God for faith in the Person of Jesus Christ. Leave the ABCs of ceremonial washings for the cleansing of the soul by the Word. Leave the ABCs of laying hands on the sacrifice for laying hold of the Lamb of God by faith. Leave the ABCs of the resurrection of the dead for the full and glorious resurrection unto life. Leave the ABCs of eternal judgment for the full truth of judgment and rewards as revealed in the New Covenant.” (MacArthur p. 141)
Again, we have differing points of view about a few verses. Personally, I lean more toward Wiersbe’s line of thinking, but I could be be persuaded by MacArthur. It is ok not to know the answer. If we knew everything there is to know about God’s Word…..well, we would be God and that sure isn’t the case. So, let’s talk.
MEDITATION MOMENT: What do you think about these verses? Do you agree more with Wiersbe or with MacArthur? Perhaps you don’t agree with either of them.