Pastor Aaron Surgery
Students Still Traveling
Text – Hebrews 5:10-6:9
This will be our last major lesson on the theme of the importance of being a priest and evangelist of God. Last week we talked about what happens to a nation if the priesthood fails, and that God’s contention is with the priest who has forgotten knowledge. The passage we are going to look at today talks about this, but more so from the angle of how to fix it.
We’ve stepped out of Peter’s Epistle again, but the topic is totally keeping with 1 Peter 2:2-11, even using many of the same words. I’m fairly certain Peter was a co-author with Paul of Hebrews, so we’re still in one of Peter’s Epistles. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised to learn in Heaven that Hebrews and First Peter were written on the same desk with the same pen, since their themes are so close to one another. Both were written about AD65 in Rome, Paul was detained, but in a house,
Acts 28:16,30-31 And when we came into Rome, Paul was allowed to stay by himself, with the soldier that guarded him. He lived there two whole years at his own expense, and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
The “we” there is Luke with Paul among others.
The reason I chose today’s passage to look at is because it starts off talking about Melchizedek, then the authors realize that this topic is over the heads of their readers, and I think they actually get mad that their readers don’t even understand the basics of their faith, so they stop talking about Melchizedek momentarily to give an exhortation against light preaching, to tell the congregation to dig deep into the Bible and not settle for basic doctrines.
Real quick, who remembers why Melchizedek is important?
Hebrews 5:5-6 So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him, "You are my Son, today I have begotten you"; as he says also in another place, "You are a priest forever, after the order of Melchizedek."
The way this will relate to us is both as hearers and as teachers, and so we need to pay attention to it from both directions. Pretend, on one hand, you’re standing there with Paul and Peter as they dictate while Luke writes, and on the other hand, actually be the audience who is receiving this letter.
Hebrews 5:10-6:9 [Jesus] being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek. About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.
Part of this passage has been used to say that Christians can lose their salvation, this is absolutely ridiculous, you didn’t earn your salvation, you can’t lose your salvation.
Romans 11:29 The gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.
We’ll look at why a passage which seemingly says you can lose your salvation is in the Bible, and why it doesn’t teach that you can lose your salvation, but rather something much more glorious and useful.
So, the author starts out by saying he has much to say about Melchizedek, but that the readers don’t have the foggiest idea of the basics and so going into such a deep subject as Melchizedek is going to be over their heads. Then he yells at them, saying “You’re still students! You ought to be teachers by now! You’re still on milk, on baby food, when you should be eating steak by now!”
v. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
The church that is being written to had grown lazy, they weren’t reading their Bibles, they weren’t constantly testing doctrines to see if they were from God or not, they were basically sitting around listening to the same old thing all the time. Chapter 6:1-3 is going to tell what those things were, telling us to get them right, then to move on.
v.1 Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity,
The doctrine of Christ is who he is, that he is one Person of the Trinity, greater than angels, eternal, the Creator, he put on flesh and died for sins, then defeated death and reigns forevermore. It is great to know who he is, but once we understand who he is, then we move onto other things.
v.1 not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
By which we receive salvation, turning from our sins and selves, and turning towards righteousness and God.
v.2 and of instruction about washings,
Washings, or baptisms here, is definitely the spiritual one by which you are washed of your sins, and maybe also the symbolic one of being immersed in water representing you having died with Christ and being raised to walk in newness of life. It relates directly to the laying on of hands onto the scapegoat, as the person who did this would have to wash their hands to symbolize that the goat had taken all of their sins.
v.2 the laying on of hands,
Here some will think this is when we pray and lay our hands on someone, which is a viable doctrine, but the doctrine being spoken here of is the imputation of sins by laying on of hands, such as the scapegoat would have the sins of people laid on him, then he would be sent out of the camp.
Leviticus 16:21-22 And Aaron shall lay both his hands on the head of the live goat, and confess over it all the iniquities of the people of Israel, and all their transgressions, all their sins. And he shall put them on the head of the goat and send it away into the wilderness by the hand of a man who is in readiness. The goat shall bear all their iniquities on itself to a remote area, and he shall let the goat go free in the wilderness.
v.2 the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment.
The idea a resurrection, in which those who are righteous will go on to eternal life, and those who are wicked will go on to eternal death. The end of this life is not the end of life, but rather for the Christian, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
These are the foundations of our faith, we have to know these seven things, they are vitally important. But if we only know these seven things and no other things, then we are not going to be effective Christians.
Take the thief on the cross for example, a sinner to beat all sinners, thoroughly wicked and condemned to die for his crimes. He did these seven things, he looked to Christ recognizing that he was the Son of God, the thief repented of blaspheming Christ’s name, he put his faith in Jesus, he was washed of his sins as they were imputed to Christ’s sake, and Jesus told him, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” He was assured of resurrection and that he would be judged as Jesus Christ, perfect sinless and undefiled.
What would you think if on the cross Jesus started to give him a lesson on evangelism, or stewardship, or the Lord’s Supper, or the phenomenology of prayer? It is superfluous to salvation; what the thief needed right there was forgiveness. That leads into verse 3.
v.3 this we will do if God permits.
If we have time, if we’re not dying on a Roman cross, if we’re not going to stand in eternity before the sun goes down, then we ought to leave the foundation to teach on bigger things. What would you think if everytime you came to class, I gave you a lesson on John 3:16 and it said exactly the same thing everytime, that God loved the world in this way: he sent his Son so that whosoever should believe in him will not perish but have ever lasting life.
Every week I told you to repent and be saved and be baptized and that you would see Heaven, and that is all I would ever tell you. How deep would your faith be? You’d know about John 3:16, but then what happens when something bad happens and you don’t know why God allows evil, or you don’t know about prophecy, or you don’t know that at the end God wins, or you don’t know how to evangelize or how to pray, then all I have done is laid a foundation and have continued to relay the same foundation without ever building on it.
Can you build a house without a foundation? You can, but it will fall over soon enough. Can you live on a foundation without a house? As long as the weather is nice, but the first time it rains or snows or gets cold or hot, the foundation is going to fail to be sufficient for you. So this is why we look at doctrine, we lay that foundation of Christ and what he’s done, then we build a house on top of that foundation teaching on prayer and suffering and evangelism and ordinances and angels and all manner of things, so now when it rains, when say something bad happens to you, you know that we suffer with Jesus, just as he went out of the gate bearing our reproach, we go to him knowing that the current afflictions we are facing are nothing in comparison to the eternal weight of glory waiting for us in Heaven.
Here, beloved, we have no lasting city, we are ambassadors, aliens, sojourners, pilgrims, and missionaries, and we seek the city that is to come.
But the church that Hebrews is written to was all about John 3:16 and nothing else, every week you would show up and the preacher would try to get you saved, no matter that you’ve been saved already. So here is our great admonition, that we need to move on,
v.4-6 For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.
The paraphrase of this verse so that it is put more into our language is, “It is impossible for someone to get unsaved, so since you last met together and preached, not a single person in your congregation got unsaved, and even if they did get unsaved, it would be impossible for your preaching to get them resaved, because a person can only get saved once because Christ only died once, and he’s not going to die again, so quit trying to get your saved congregation saved!” In a bit he is going to tell us to preach on something else, starting with hope. But first he drives the point home.
v.7-8 For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.
If a person were to get saved, then lose their salvation, God would not want them back, nor would he be able to bring them back, he would rather curse them and cast them into eternal fire. The author is making a hugely hyperbolic statement from both sides to say that there is no reason to try to get a saved person resaved, both because they cannot lose their salvation, and second if they did lose their salvation, they could not be resaved, so therefore the last thing we want to do is try to get saved people saved, because it’s totally impossible. Make sense?
Deuteronomy 31:8 It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.
Part of that verse is quoted in Hebrews 13, but I like the whole verse so that’s why we read Deuteronomy. God sought us and bought us, he keeps us, he will never leave us nor forsake us, we cannot lose our salvation. Now, if you do walk away from Christ, then it’s not backsliding, it’s that you’ve never slid forward in the first place, and John tells us the reason that people walk away is so that it can be apparent to us that they were never with us.
v.9 Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation.
So, the author of Hebrews is saying that this congregation he is writing to is saved, they haven’t lost their salvation, and so now they need to start looking at things that belong to salvation. From here the author picks back up on the Melchizedek story and really makes a masterful exposition of it, writing dozens of verses on a story that in the Old Testament takes up all of three verses.
Your application, don’t just hang around the spiritual milk, don’t just lay down on an open foundation, because there is meat available in the Bible, and on the foundation of Christ and salvation we can build mansions of doctrine, so that we hold fast to the hope we have in Christ through every trial and storm.
We need to know who Christ is, what he did, how to be forgiven, and that Heaven awaits, but beloved, if that is all you know, you will not be an effective Christian. You must look into the deep things of God, learning how to minister for Christ, not always being students, but moving on to be teachers, feasting on the beautiful doctrines that attend to salvation, and bringing multitudes into covenant with the Living Christ, who died once for sins, but rose from the dead, and lives forevermore making intercession and equipping his saints.
And how do we come to know these things? Through reading our Bibles, to conclude, let’s check out what David says about this subject,
Psalm 19:7-11 The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the LORD are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.