Hebrews 5:11 – 6:12 – A Challenge

Hebrews 6 has the opportunity to become a trap of sorts for us, to tangle us in a theological issue that remains a bone of contention among brothers and sisters to this day: can a person, once saved, loose their salvation? Let me give you what I feel is the definitive answer: yes and no. Scripture clearly says both, any of you could find proof texts on point. Just like the bible says that God foreknows who will be saved and who will not and, at the same time says we have a choice in the matter. These are concepts that seem somehow to exist simultaneously, to both be true at the same time. And if we have the freedom to choose to follow Christ (or not) and yet have our salvation be entirely a matter of God’s sovereignty not our own actions, then, once saved, our salvation rests securely with God and with the whims of our own hearts at the same time.

Hebrews 6 is not really about this theological issue, in fact the author is moving away from theological issues because he says his audience’s hearts are not in the right place and they wouldn’t understand them anyway. He wants to talk about Melchizedek, but in 5:11 he begins to scold his audience. He tells them he has much to say on the deeper things of the faith, but they don’t even try to understand. He says they should be teachers, but they are just infants who can only be fed, who can’t feed others and need milk. In pertinent part he says “solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.”

Note here that the distinction he makes between the mature and the immature is not based on how they interpret the fine points of theology, but how they live their lives, how they “distinguish good from evil”.

The writer urges his readers to move forward from (different from leaving behind) the foundation of repentance, faith in God and even matters like the resurrection of the dead, and move on to mature issues. Here is the central issue: we can’t move forward in these matters if we are “crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”

How might we do that? I can think of plenty of specific ways in my own life, but in general I think it’s any way we act that makes people think “if that’s the kind of person who belongs to Christ, I don’t want to be in that club.” Perhaps it’s a Holier-than-thou attitude. Perhaps an unwillingness to accept and love people where they are. Perhaps it’s being intellectually overbearing. Perhaps an inflated sense of our own worth. Is it the laziness the writer refers to?

This is consistent with what Paul says in Philippians 3

I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,
and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me. Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. Only let us live up to what we have already attained.

Paul did not claim to understand this same truth. But he knew what he wanted and he knew what he was going to do: press forward, straining toward what he knew was ahead.

Whatever it is in our lives, how have we crucified Christ this week? How has it kept us from feeding others instead of grabbing the bottle for ourselves? How have we forgotten what lies before us and what the true goal is? And, more to the point, what are we going to do about it?