Bible Baptist Church

" Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." ...... John 3:3

What Does it Mean to Fall Away?

Hebrews 6:1-8


·         The writer to the Hebrews was certain of the necessity of progress in the Christian life.

·         The writer to the Hebrews says that his people must be going on to what he calls teleiotes (Greek #5051). The King James Version translates this word perfection. But teleios (Greek #5046), the adjective has a technical meaning. Pythagoras (philosopher, mathmetician , started a school which developed the Pythagorean theorem) divided his students into the learners, and hoi (Greek #3588) teleioi (Greek #5046), the mature. Teleiotes (Greek #5047) does not imply complete knowledge but a certain maturity in the Christian faith.

·         This maturity comes with time, and exercising discernment and obedience (see Ch. 5)

·         There can be no standing still in the Christian life. It is told that on his pocket Bible Cromwell had a motto written in Latin--qui cessat esse melior cessat esse bonus--he who ceases to be better ceases to be good. (Barclay)


I.                    Going beyond the basics

a.      The writer wants to continue moving on about his discussion on the doctrine of Christ, and he challenges them to go on to perfection- Christian maturity

b.      Perfection does not mean sinlessness- but a stage of advancement in you Christian walk

c.       To do this, the Hebrew Christians must move on from the foundation- the basics of their faith

d.      Many people regard this as a Biblical list of important “foundations” for the Christian life, but that is not the writer’s intention here

e.      “When we consider the ‘rudiments’ one by one, it is remarkable how little in the list is distinctive of Christianity, for practically every item could have its place in a fairly orthodox Jewish community... Each of them, indeed, acquires a new significance in a Christian context; but the impression we get is that existing Jewish beliefs and practices were used as a foundation on which to build Christian truth.” (Bruce)

                                                              i.      So, we should understand this to mean the foundations of Christianity as found in O.T. Judaism which prepared the way for Christianity

                                                            ii.      Repentance from dead works has always been preached- by prophets and by Christ.

                                                          iii.      Faith in God- the NT emphasizes faith in Christ. Anything short of that is an inadequate faith.

                                                           iv.      Baptisms- plural- Baptism- here used in the idea of Jewish ceremonial washings. Baptism is a church ordinance, and is only by immersiona for believers.

                                                             v.      Laying of hands- Was done as an act of identification. Pictured substitutionary atoning sacrifice of a spotless lamb

                                                           vi.      Resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment- was seen in the OT and brightly revealed in the NT

f.        In this case, the elementary principles to move beyond are all items in the common ground between Christianity and Judaism. This was a safe common ground for these discouraged Jewish Christians to retreat back to.

g.      Because Christianity did grow out of Judaism, it was a subtle temptation for a Jewish Christian to slip back into Judaism

h.      A Jew and a Christian together could say, “Let’s repent, let’s have faith, let’s perform ceremonial washings,” and so forth. But this was a subtle denial of Jesus.

i.        Even today, there are many who want religion, but don’t want to be genuine followers of Jesus! Too fanatical, and inconvenient to do that!

II.                  The danger of falling away

a.      This is a warning against apostasy

b.      For it is impossible: The word impossible is put in a position of emphasis. The writer to the Hebrews does not say this is merely difficult, but that it is without possibility.

c.       Note the other uses of impossible in Hebrews:

                                                              i.      · It is impossible for God to lie (Hebrews 6:18).

                                                            ii.      · It is impossible that the blood of bulls and goats can take away sin (Hebrews 10:4).

                                                          iii.      · It is impossible to please God without faith (Hebrews 11:6).

d.      This is a class of people for whom it is impossible to restore again to repentance. They had seemed to repent before, but no mention is made of their faith in Christ.

e.      The writer to the Hebrews speaks of people with an impressive spiritual resume. This person would seem qualified to be a SS teacher, deacon, or leader in a church.

f.        The big debate is whether this is the experience of salvation or the experience of something short of salvation

                                                              i.      Enlightened- they have been illumined- but in a measure Jesus does that for everyone the Bible says- John 1:9

                                                            ii.      Tasted: The idea of “tasting” may mean to “test” something. Jesus tasted death- temporarily. We are not told to taste Christ but to drink (Jonh 4), and eat (John 6:54, Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.”)

                                                          iii.      Partakers of the Holy Spirit- The Holy Spirit works on unbelievers- conviction

                                                           iv.      Tasted the good word of God: This means they experienced the goodness of God’s Word,

                                                             v.      The powers of the age of come: This is a way to describe God’s supernatural power which will be displayed when Christ returns. The writer to the Hebrews describes those who experienced miracles. Remember, Jesus even rebuked those who ate the loaves and fish for stopping short of faith in Him.

g.      If they fall away, to renew them again unto repentance: One of the most heated debates over any New Testament passage is focused on this text. The question is simple: Are these people with these impressive spiritual experiences in fact Christians?

                                                              i.      Lose your salvation vs. professors of faith but not possessors

                                                            ii.      Someone can have great spiritual experiences and still not be saved (Matthew 7:21-23)

                                                          iii.      What this passage cannot mean- The Bible teaches eternal security- John 10:28-29. Also most preachers who doubt this never preach that it is impossible to get saved again once you lose it!

                                                           iv.      The writer to the Hebrews means that if they retreat back to Judaism, all the religious “repentance” in the world will do them no good. Retreating from distinctive Christianity into the “safe” ideas and customs of their former religious experience is to forsake Jesus, and to essentially crucify Him again. This is especially true for these ancient Christians from a Jewish background, since the religious customs they took up again likely included animal sacrifice for atonement, denying the total work of Jesus for them on the cross.

                                                             v.      being renewed to repentance referred to the old Hebrew sacrifices. In those days some people still turned to the yearly sacrifices for forgiveness, and turned from Christ

                                                           vi.      illustr- many who grow up in good churches but turn away after college, or some other experience.

                                                         vii.      There are tares among the wheat!

                                                       viii.      Some Christians are troubled when they read this- if you are convicted you have not apostasized!

                                                           ix.      There is a difference between backsliding, and falling away!

                                                             x.      There are other smaller views: only Jews can commit this, this is the sin unto death, this is only dealing with a hypothetical situation.

                                                           xi.      However, I believe this is one of several genuine warnings in the Bible about apostasy. We know that towards the end before Christ returns there will be a great “falling away!”

h.      If someone falls away we must understand why he or she can’t repent – it is because they don’t want to. It is not as if God prohibits their repentance. Since repentance itself is a work of God (Romans 2:4), the desire to repent is evidence that he or she has not truly fallen away.

i.        The idea is not that “if you fall away, you can’t ever come back to Jesus.” Instead, the idea is “if you turn your back on Jesus, don’t expect to find salvation anywhere else, especially in the practice of religion apart from the fullness of Jesus.”

III.                An illustration of the serious consequences of falling away

a.      When the earth receives rain and bears useful plants, it fulfills its purpose and justifies the blessing of rain sent upon it. The writer to the Hebrews applies the point: “You’ve been blessed. But where is the fruit?” God looks for what grows in us after He blesses us, especially looking for what grows in terms of maturity.

b.      But if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected: If ground is blessed by rain but refuses to bear fruit, no one blames the farmer for burning it. The idea shows that growth and bearing fruit are important to keep from falling away. When we really bear fruit, we abide in Jesus (John 15:5) and are in no danger of falling away.



·         The writer to the Hebrews says that when we fall away we make a mocking show of Christ. How is that? When we sin the world will say: "So that is all that Christianity is worth. So that is all this Christ can do. So that is all the Cross achieved." It is bad enough that when a Church member falls into sin he brings shame to himself and discredit on his Church; but what is worse is that he draws men's taunts and jeers on Christ.

·         In heaven there will be surprises- those who we thought would be there won’t, and those who we thought wouldn’t be there are!

·         Growth and progress in the Christian life are not just good, they are essential! They prove we are genuine believers

·         May this warning convict us that we continue to advance in our walk with the Lord