Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 3 * BOOK 49
Here we are in chapter 6 of Hebrews.
Now, I realize that sometimes this is kind of scary. But if you’re a believer, this doesn’t have to scare you one bit, because as we pointed out in our last program, there’s a big difference between backsliding or failing as a believer, and being an apostate. We’re going to look at that word more in depth this next half-hour. Maybe it would be better if we start up there again at verse 4.
Hebrews 6:4a & 6a
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened,… 6. If they shall fall away, to renew them again to repentance.”
But now remember, we’ve been looking at everything in between in the last couple of lessons. These folks can have this kind of knowledge. They can have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit and they certainly understood a lot of Old Testament truths. Remember we’re talking about Jews who are hanging on to Judaism. And so let’s just start at verse 4 again.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, (remember watch the language. They didn’t ingest it they merely tasted) they were made partakers of the Holy Ghost. (they didn’t actually have the Holy Spirit they merely brought Him along side) 5. And have tasted the good word of God, (oh they knew about Christ’s earthly ministry, and they knew all the Old Testament promises) and the powers of the world to come,”
We covered that in the closing moments of our last program, how that they understood this coming Kingdom and all the glories of it.
“If (scary word isn’t it?) they (these people who had this much understanding) shall fall away…”
We’re going to stop right there. This word that is translated “fall away” and I put it on the board ahead of time, in the Greek is ‘parapipto.’ Now I’m not a Greek scholar and you don’t have to be, but here’s one instance where it pays to see the difference. This word is the only time it’s used in the whole New Testament. Where it’s translated in verse 6 that “if they shall fall away,” it is a “parapipto,” whereas the other word that we’re most familiar with like in II Thessalonians chapter 2 that “unless there is a falling away first” – that term is “apostasia” and it, too, is translated “falling away.” But it does not have the connotation that this one does.
And I’m going to show you why, because since it’s the only time it’s used in the Greek in our whole New Testament, even the Greek scholars have a hard time really nailing it down. But, I went through enough and found that one great linguist of days gone by said, “The only way you can understand this term – parapipto – is to realize what it means in the Hebrew.” And so the Hebrew word is “mahal.” M-A-H-A-L. We’re going to look and see what that word “mahal” really is talking about.
Let’s come all the way back to Numbers chapter 5, and let’s just drop down to verse 12. Remember what we’re showing – that this Hebrew word “mahal” is the best parallel with the Greek word “parapipto” which is only used in Hebrews chapter 6.
And I’m taking the time to show the difference because I want you to see that this falling away in Hebrews chapter 6 is far worse than the normal term to fall away or to be apostasia. Let’s start with verse 11.
“And the LORD spake unto Moses saying, 12. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man’s wife go aside, and commit a (what’s the word?) trespass (that’s the Hebrew word “mahal”) against him,” (her husband)
And what does she do? She commits adultery with another man. Now of course, we know that adultery was common in Israel just like it is today, but this is a unique situation from the word “mahal.” It is when this woman literally “turns her back with scorn” on her husband. She doesn’t just get caught in a moment of temptation and weakness but she, of her own volition, with a scornful turning her back to her husband goes and commits adultery, now that’s the word mahal translated ‘trespass.’ Alright, the next one is in Ezekiel chapter 14, and we’ll start with verse 14. This is the same Hebrew word.
“The word of the LORD came again to me, saying, 13. Son of man, when the land sinneth against me by trespassing (mahal) grievously, then will I stretch out my hand upon it, and will break the staff of the bread thereof, and will send famine upon it and will cut off man and beast from it:”
Is that the term that was used with backsliding that we looked at in the last program? No. Backsliding would bring in God’s mercy and grace but this “scornfully turning the back” is an apostasy or a “parapipto” that is so scornful in it’s act that God has nothing left but judgment. He can’t deal with it in mercy and grace. Now see, that’s what makes the difference then.
Alright, flip all the way back to Hebrews chapter 6 and this is what makes the difference, I think, in these verses in Hebrews that so many people have got all confused and are shook up about. This is not the common ordinary believer who has suddenly fallen into sin and he’s not lost. He hasn’t scornfully rejected the things of God, but rather he’s just simply been human and he’s been caught in a moment of weakness and he falls, like we saw in our last program. The man in Corinth that was restored, and forgiven. Can you see that?
But these people made a scornful turning of the back on these things that God had revealed to them. Now then, since this is a much different situation of an apostatizing, look what the result will be.
“If they shall fall away, (or if they shall turn their backs scornfully on these things that are now revealed to them, it is impossible) to renew them again unto repentance; (it’s impossible) seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”
What are we dealing with? We’re dealing with people who have claimed to be believers. Now, I’m going to keep it in the Hebrew element first. And then we’ll jump up to where we are today. Even these Hebrews to whom Paul is now writing, have made a semblance of believing. They have gone along with all these things, but then when they really were pressed to make a decision to move on forward, what did they scornfully do? They went back under the Law and there was no more of God dealing with them.
Now I know I have taught, and I will continue to teach, that God never gives up on a lost person. But, it would seem to indicate that someone who has made a profession of faith without really becoming a believer and then at one point in time, they scornfully, like the ones we’ve looked at in King Saul, what did he do? He just scornfully went his own way. What was his end? Suicide.
Judas. Three years he trafficked along with Jesus and the eleven, playing the perfect hypocrite. But in the final analysis, when it was time to really show his colors, what did he do? He scorned the Lord and went and sold Him for thirty pieces of silver. And ends up committing suicide.
We probably have the same thing with Demas that Paul dealt with. He went along with Paul – worked with him. But yet, as Paul said later on in Timothy, “For Demas has forsaken me.”He forsook Paul’s Gospel because he loved the things of this world. Now we don’t know that Demas ended up committing suicide, but it wouldn’t surprise me. Because this is the end of these people who “scornfully” reject the enlightenment that they have received. Now in verse 6, not only do “they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, they put him to an open shame.”
Stop and think. Does the man of the world, well let’s just use the Mafia for example. He lives a life of crime. He lives a life that is anything but Godly and Christian. Can he bring any reproach to the name of Christ? No. Nobody associates him with Christ. He’d be the last one that someone would say, “Well boy, I just don’t know what to think. That guy is supposed to be like Christ.” No, that’s never the idea.
But, you take these people who have taken on a semblance of being like Christ, now what does the world say. “Hey, he claims to be a Christian and look!” You remember the one I gave you, the lady called and said, “What about my preacher, he ran off with his secretary and left his wife and kids?” Well what is that man doing? He is throwing reproach on the name of Christ because at one time he claimed to know Him. Now that’s the difference.
But you take the ungodly person out there who has never had any concern about spiritual things, they don’t bring a bad reflection. They’ve never had anything to do with Christ. And that’s exactly what this verse is saying. But these people who have claimed to have tasted and they were enlightened and they had a knowledge of Scripture and then they scornfully turn and go back to where they come from. They bring nothing but reproach upon the name of Christ and that’s why I think God has to deal with it so drastically and they “put the name of Christ to an open shame.”
Alright, let’s just move on. I think I’ve covered that sufficiently. Always remember that this word falling away (mahal) in Hebrews 6:6 is a far stronger act on the person’s behalf than the word apostasia that we see in II Thessalonians 2 where it says that unless there is a falling away before the anti-Christ would come. Okay, I think we’ve belabored that enough. Let’s go to verse 7.
“For the earth….” Now we’re still talking about these same kind of people. These same people who have been enlightened. They have a knowledge of Scripture, but they have turned their back and they have put Christ to an open shame. Alright now, the analogy is in verse 7:
“For the earth (an everyday experience in nature now) which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God.”
Now there’s just another earthly illustration again of the believer. The believer is just like tilled land, and that tilled land is kept free of weeds so that it can produce. Now I think you’re all close enough to agriculture, out here in the Midwest. What if our wheat farmers out here North and West of Oklahoma City would just let their land go, and just let the weeds take over? Why they could plant wheat until kingdom come, but would they get a crop? No. Why? Because the weeds are going to choke it out and the wheat would never survive.
But, instead, you can always tell a good farmer or a good husbandman. When you drive by his crops in the summer time as to how much weeds it has in it. And if it’s loaded with weeds well you can just rest assured, he’s not exactly the best farmer in the community. Because you go down the road a little ways and you’ll see a crop that is just pure, gold and beautiful.
You know, as I was thinking since we left crop farming up in Iowa some 26 years ago, a lot of technology has come over agriculture and now Iris and I are just aghast as we drive up through the Midwest and on our way out to Ohio and Indiana at these beautiful soybean fields. Now when Iris and I were farming it was a constant battle. We, by hand, would go out and hoe out the large weeds that would come up in our soybeans. The sunflower and so forth. I’ll never forget she said, “Is this going to increase our production or is this all cosmetic?” Well, it was mostly cosmetic and I remember one hot day, she just threw down her hoe and went home. (Laughter) “If it’s not going to increase production and it’s cosmetic, why should I be doing it?”
But you see this is what the Bible is teaching us. That the farmer who is a good husbandman is going to control those weeds. Well, getting back to what I was going to say, these soybean fields now are just totally weed free. Mile after mile. I know some of you people watching me out on the East Coast, you go through the Midwest, and you think what’s more boring than going by all those miles of corn and soybeans? Listen, there’s nothing more beautiful! Not a weed to be seen. Those soybean fields are just like velvet for miles on end.
Well, you know what has happened? The technology has now come that they can actually maneuver the genes so that these soybeans are not killed with Roundup. Amazing! Now this is what they tell me. They put in Roundup ready soybean seed and they just let the soybeans come up and they may get pretty weedy and then about the middle of June they come in with Roundup and Roundup kills everything but the soybeans! And so here you now have these beautiful weed free fields.
You see, that’s what the Scripture says. “That if you take care of your crop and you keep the weeds out, the rain is going to bring you a crop.” A hundred-fold Jesus spoke of in John’s Gospel. Alright, so it’s the “blessing of God.” What’s the first word of verse 8? “But,” There’s always a flipside. And what’s the flipside? If you don’t have a field that’s been taken care of with good husbandry and you let the weeds come in, now look what happens:
“But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected,…” Who wants a field full of briers? Who wants a field full of cockleburs and thistles?
Well, you see, the analogy is the same way in the spiritual. Now, the true believer is going to keep the weeds out. He’s going to keep his life a testimony that the world can look at and say, “I see Christ in that person.” And that’s what God expects of every one of us. Now that doesn’t mean, and I’ve used the expression over and over, throughout the years. “God doesn’t expect us to be so heavenly minded that we’re no earthly good.” That’s not what God expects. But God does expect that every moment of our life, our priorities are centered first and foremost upon Him and His Word.
Now there again, that doesn’t mean that every time you talk to somebody you preach at them. I don’t take that approach. But you know what it does mean? That every time somebody gives you an opening. Somebody asks you a question. What should you be ready to do? Show them from the Scripture. Don’t get a denominational paper. That may not always be right, so show them from the Scripture.
See, that’s what he was talking about up there in chapter 5. He said, “you should be ready to teach others also, but you’re not. You’re still on the milk bottle.” And so this is why I teach. Oh, that we can get people to get such an understanding of Scripture. I gave a couple of illustrations in our last taping of men that had called. How that people came into their office just with a question. And they just took out a piece of paper and drew the timeline. And get people to understand how all these things have unfolded, bringing us to this Age of Grace. And this tremendous Gospel that was given the Apostle Paul, how that Christ died and rose from the dead and by believing it, God will move in and transform us. Now continue on in verse 8.
“But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing;…” Why? Because those briers and weeds are so awful. Have you ever gotten caught in a brier patch? I mean you get halfway in and you don’t know whether to go back out the way you’ve come or keep going. It’s no fun. And you hate them. I’ll never forget the first time I got to Oklahoma and went out on the ranch to fix fence or something that’s what happened to me. I got caught in one of those green briers. And I didn’t like Oklahoma. But, I’ve learned to live with it.
But, alright the Bible is telling us the same thing. A person’s life who is filled with briers and weeds almost brings people to the place of cursing.
“…whose end is to be (what?) burned.” Well now that’s always the indication in Scripture. Let me show you in I Corinthians chapter 3, and this is coming back into Paul dealing with us Gentiles but it’s the same God and the same God that inspired Paul to write to the Hebrews and to write all his other epistles. Here Paul is dealing with believers in their working for reward during their Christian life. Now we’re not dealing with any but believers and, remember, Corinthians had a lot of carnal believers, they were not spiritual. And so here’s the illustration.
I Corinthians 3:12
“Now if any man build upon this foundation (which is Jesus Christ. He is the foundation of our faith and from that we build. And remember He gives us 6 materials which we can use for our rewards) gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble;” Three materials that fire cannot touch, and three materials that fire will put away in a puff. Verse 13:
I Corinthians 3:13
“Every man’s work shall be made manifest: (one day our works are going to come up before the Bema Seat. Not for salvation – that’s done. But for reward) for the day (the Bema Seat Judgment day) shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by (what?) fire.; and the fire shall try (or test) every man’s work of what sort it is.”
Now remember what we’re looking at. Gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay and stubble. The first three, fire will do nothing but purify. The next three, it’s going to disappear. And so, “the fire will test every man’s work of what sort it is.” Look at verse 14,
I Corinthians 3:14
“If any man’s work abide (it’s gold, silver and precious stones) which he hath built thereupon he shall receive a reward.”
Now verse 15, the carnal believer who has never really gotten into any service for the Lord. Oh he’s a believer; he’ll be in Glory.
I Corinthians 3:15
“If any man’s work shall be burned, (it’s wood, hay and stubble) he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved.” (he’s going to make it. But he’s not going to have any reward. See that? He’s going to be saved) yet so as by fire.”
Alright now then, come back to Hebrews and we’ve got the same analogy. In fact, the Lord uses the same thing in John’s Gospel, that branches that don’t produce are going to be cast off and burned. They are useless. But here in Hebrews we’re talking about people who are not just carnal believers, they are apostates. They have scornfully turned their back on the truth of what God has offered.
So, “it is rejected nigh unto cursing, whose end is to be burned.” Or cast aside as worthless. That’s strong language. Now, let’s also look at the eternal state. It too is fire. Come back to Revelation chapter 20.
“And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; (now this is the Great White Throne Judgment for the lost.) and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14. And death and hell were cast into (what?) the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”