The Damager of Apostasy Arising from Immature Apprehension of Christian Truth
Hebrews 6:4-10
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift…

Continuation of the parenthetical clause on the coil of inability to apprehend the deeper truths about Christ. Whatever this passage means, it contains nothing to discourage the true believer.

1. Because of the plain declarations that the believer cannot perish. This is not a confidence based on isolated texts, though, if any truth may rest on such, it is surely this; but it rests on the most fundamental facts of Scripture, viz. the purpose of the Father that all who believe should be saved; the mediation of the Son for securing the continued faith of his people; the work of the Spirit to the same end; the fact that it is eternal life which is bestowed on faith.

2. Because there are certain considerations here which are often overlooked; e.g. these words were written on purpose to encourage the Hebrews, and therefore to find discouragement in them must be to read them wrong; moreover, whatever evil it points to is with regard to those who "fall away," and not those who fall; and further, whatever impossibility to renew the apostate this speaks of, it is not impossibility on God's part - it is of man's impossibility that he is speaking. It is useless to reiterate these fundamental truths to those who close their ears to them; it is impossible to renew them unto repentance; but God is "not willing that any should perish." "The blood of Jesus Christ cleanseth from all sin;" "Whosoever will, let him come;" "The things which are impossible to man are possible to God."

3. Because what is stated of the persons referred to here is true of non-believers, and the passage therefore may, without difficulty, be applied only to these; e.g. "were once enlightened;" others beside Christians are enlightened, as Balaam, "the man whose eyes were opened." "And have tasted of the heavenly gift," which, as John Owen says, is not eating nor digesting. "And were made partakers of the Holy Ghost;" that may refer, as in Acts 19:2, 6, to the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost which were given to other than regenerate men, as Judas. "And have tasted of the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come;" it is no misuse of language to apply this to those who, by the preaching of the gospel, are led to deep feeling and serious thought. So, however natural it may be to apply all this to the Christian, it does not necessarily apply to him; and when we find the tenor of Scripture is against such application, we accept the latter alternative fearlessly. Subject - The danger of apostasy arising from immature apprehension of Christian truth.


1. These men were in danger of "falling away," or there would be no meaning in the apostle's words. He would not have written the Epistle if he had not feared. He does not say the Christian could fall away, but he implies that these men could. He is not sure of their possession of vital godliness, only continuance is the test of vitality. All outward Christian characteristics may be ours, yet the apostate's guilt and doom may be ours.

2. But this "falling away is in reality the rejection of Christ. They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh;" i.e. reject him, repeat in effect for themselves the old cry," Away with him! crucify him!" Note that to turn the back on Christ is to repeat the guilt of the men of eighteen centuries ago, and the Savior's grief.

3. And this rejection is followed by the final judgment of God. "For the land which bath drunk in the rain," etc., equivalent to "to receive God's good gifts, and bring forth fruit as the result," is to ensure the Divine blessing; but to receive them and only produce thistles is to stand in danger of God's curse. What can be the hope of the rejecter of God's Son? What sin can be greater, or doom more terrible? The rejection of Christ is the great damning sin of all.


1. Self-denying service for God may be an evidence of true Christian life. Religious activity is no proof of Christian life, but it affords reason for hope that the life is there. Where there is no religious activity there is little reason to believe in the existence of vital piety, for it is the genius of Christianity to spread itself.

2. One reward of this service is the bestowment of sustaining and delivering grace. Our works cannot claim anything of God, but he is pleased to reward them; and what if the reward for fidelity in a few things should be grace to be faithful in many things! In heaven, more glory will be the reward of service; on earth, more grace.

III. THE NECESSARY EFFORT, IF APOSTASY IS TO BE AVOIDED. The tenth verse shows that we are only kept from "falling away" by Divine grace; but since God gives grace through human instrumentalities, there is something for us to do if we are to be kept from this fatal evil. That fact is recognized here, for the former part of the parenthesis must be read with this; there we get the antidote to the tendency to apostatize.

1. Growth in the Divine life. You must either grow or decline. Growth is the only safeguard to "falling away." Those whose early vigor is becoming feebler and feebler are on the road to prove they never possessed Divine vitality, and to the crucifixion to themselves of the Son of God.

2. This growth is only possible through the deeper knowledge of Christ. Growth needs solid food. Milk may sustain life; only solid food can build up life. Growth in the knowledge of Christ is the secret of growth in his likeness. - C.N.

Parallel Verses
KJV: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,

WEB: For concerning those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,

The Crucifixion of Christ, an Ever Recurring Crime
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