Summary: If, in your spiritual immaturity, you go back to your old religion, expect that God will keep you there.
Secured to the Dock
William Hazlitt, 19th century English essayist said, “When a thing ceases to be a subject of controversy, it ceases to be a subject of interest.
If Hazlitt was right, this will be one of the most interesting sermons I will ever preach because it comes from one the most controversial texts in the Bible. I have read 7 commentaries on this passage—no two agree. They fall into 3 major camps of interpretation, all having some merit, but I don’t agree with any of them completely.
Principle: If, in your spiritual immaturity, you go back to your old religion, expect that God will keep you there.
I. God expects us to mature through studying His Word—vs. 10-6:3
A. God wants to teach us deep spiritual truth—vs. 11-13
The writer wants to tell the Hebrews about Christ’s unique priesthood. It is a deep, rich, meaningful and difficult truth to understand.
The writer can’t tell the Hebrews deep truths because they are dull. They were intellectually numb, or thick, like butchering with a dull knife. The Hebrews were apathetic about spiritual growth and disinterested in spiritual truth. The Greek makes it clear that they were not always dull; they became that way. They were once eager and excited to learn the truths of God’s Word. As new Christians, they longed to know the Bible. But something happened. Gradually, indifference set in. Now they are in a spiritual stupor and are unteachable.
God expects all of us to learn His Word well enough to teach it to others. These Hebrews had been saved for a long time, long enough that they should be teaching others. But instead, they need to go back to kindergarten. Literally, they have to re-learn their ABC’s. They could not explain salvation by grace to a seeker, or the inspiration of the Scriptures or the work of the Holy Spirit—let alone the priesthood of Melchizidek. Note the words “all over again”. They had been taught these things, but they did not care to learn it or memorize it. “That’s the pastors’ job to know that stuff.” True. But it is your responsibility to know it, too.
You should be teaching others. It is not natural for an older Christian not to know the ABC’s of the Bible.
You can’t be a teacher if you regress to spiritual infancy. It is cute to see a baby in diapers and drinking a bottle, but not an adult. Age does not make you spiritually mature; knowing God’s Word makes you spiritually mature. Examine your own spiritual growth. If you have been saved a year, you should know enough to teach. The problem with these people is that they are not very accomplished at separating what is good from what is bad, what is right from what is wrong. They are not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness. Literally, they can’t digest these things like babies cannot digest steak.
B. Your ability to understand the Scriptures will be determined by how much it changes your life—v. 14-1a
God does not parcel out deep understanding of the Bible to those Christians who don’t let what they already know change their lives. God wants to give filet mignon-quality understanding to those who do let His Word change their lives. God says, “So grow up!”
C. The biblically dull can become spiritually dumb—vs. 1b-2
These Christians were contemplating abandoning the New Testament and the teachings of, and about, Jesus and returning to Judaism, their old religion. These are basic O.T. truths, like a kids picture book. The Holy Spirit is saying, “Put away the picture book and get out the encyclopedia—v.3 The H. S. does not plan to cater to any Christian’s dullness. To revert to pabulum when you can have steak is stupid.
One of the most important activities we can do as disciples of Christ is to study and practice the Word of God. Ask yourself, “How well do I know the Word of God?” Could you lead someone to Christ? Could you defend that Christ is God; that the Bible is God’s Word? These are the ABC’s. Are you excited about studying God’s Word? Do you? Do you know how? If you answered “No” to any of these questions, are you really willing before God to do something about it?” God expects us to mature through studying His Word. These Jewish Christians were falling into grave danger because they did not know the Word of God. The same thing can happen to us.
II. If you don’t mature and go back to your old religion, God will keep you there—vs. 4-8
A. If you fall away, you can’t be reinstated—vs. 4-6a Who is the audience?
Some say they are not Christians. They are professors, but not possessors. But they were enlightened. It is passive. The Holy Spirit did something to them—He enabled them to know the truth of God’s Word. Eph. 1:18-19. But they tasted the heavenly gift. What is the heavenly gift? Heaven. Eph. 2:8-9 “Tasted” means to enjoy something you have experienced. But they have shared in the Holy Spirit. Again, this is passive. The Holy Spirit shared Himself with them. They were born or created into something that they were not before. To “share in” means to have fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Enlightened; tasted; shared. These words describe a Christian. Verse 9