There is much confusion for many, over a few passages in the Bible, in the book of Hebrews concerning being brought back to repentance, falling away from God, and crucifying Jesus repeatedly. Let's take a look at the book of Hebrews in the proper context.
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Hebrews 6, verses 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8
But before we look at those specific passages in the book of Hebrews, it is wise to keep the following verse of scripture from the book of Romans at the forefront of our minds.
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39
The book of Hebrews was written to the Jewish Christian Church around 70 A.D. Some scholars have placed the writing after 70 A.D., between 85 A.D. to 95 A.D. However, given the fact that there is so much talk about the Jewish sacrificial system, the Jewish Levitical Priesthood, and the Jewish Temple, my inclination is it was written sometime before the destruction of the Jewish Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D. However, it isn't necessary to be dogmatic on the actual date the book of Hebrews was written.
The human author that penned the book of Hebrews is equally not written in stone. I trust God wanted it that way. Some folks think it was written by Paul because of certain writing styles, and others theorize it could have been written by someone else around the same time. Others have made the case for someone close by to Paul, or even one of the other Apostles. Once again, I don't believe it is an absolute requirement that we establish who the human writer that penned the book of Hebrews down on parchment, but it is much more important to focus on the subject at hand. Besides, there have been numerous theologians down through the centuries that have written volumes in regards to "Who is the author of Hebrews?" that we don't need to rehash that subject here. Feel free to do some research yourself; do a Google Search on Who Wrote Hebrews if you wish. I'll place my vote on Paul, but I can ask God that in the future.
From a historical standpoint, the early church was made up of mainly Christian Jewish believers. Yes, I know that might be an oxymoron statement of "Christian Jewish believers" to some Jews today, because they would say, "that you can't be both a Christian and a Jew at the same time," but in the interest of clarity and brevity, the early church was mostly a group of Jewish people that were believers in Jesus Christ. These Jewish believers, believed in Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah, believers in the New Covenant, and had come out of centuries of their families being steeped in the traditions of going to the Jewish Temple to get their sins forgiven on the Holy Day of Atonement and offering other ongoing sacrifices.
The Jewish people down through the centuries, before and after Jesus' birth, death, burial, and resurrection, had been involved in a sacrificial system of various and diverse types of offerings being brought forth at the Temple Alter of God in order to gain forgiveness of sins by God. The Temple sacrificial system by the Jews had ceased for the most part after the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, after fire was set to the temple, and subsequently tearing the temple down by the Roman soldiers, stone by stone, to get to all the melted gold that had run down in the cracks of stone. There probably were still pockets of animal sacrifices being performed by Jews after this time, but without the prescribed method for sacrifices no longer present with the Temple having been destroyed, the days of animal sacrifices by the Jews had all but ceased. See references in regards to: Qorbanot: Sacrifices and Offerings.
So, when reading the bible, Christian Old Testament [Tanakh (Hebrew Bible)] or Christian New Testament, it is important to always understand the context of the various books in the bible when reading the words of God. That is extremely important when it comes to understanding the historical settings and understanding within regards to the book of Hebrews from the target audience's perspective.
The book of Hebrews is one of comparisons. It is comparing the new to that of the old. It compares Jesus Christ being superior to the prophets, superior to the angels, superior to Moses, superior to Joshua, and superior to the Levitical Priesthood in which the priests offered sacrifices day in and day out in the Temple. The book goes into great depths of explaining the new promise in detail for Israel and the New Covenant, which was promised long ago by the Prophet Jeremiah. It really is a foundational book for Christianity and understanding early Judaism, that Jews today would do well to read it from gaining a better insight into their own Jewish world beliefs, and the world of their forefathers before them.
"The time is coming," declares the LORD, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD. "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
The following hypothetical question was brought forth about a passage in chapter 6 of the book of Hebrews.
I am still confused about Hebrews 6:4-8. I become a Christian when I was younger, but then recently I have fallen away the Lord. Can I come back? I think so.
The person asking this question is confused on falling away from the Lord; as though there is something they can do to cause God to separate one's self from the Lord. There have been numerous pastors, teachers, and professors at Christian Bible colleges, universities, and even seminaries that are teaching people and seminary students that they can fall away from salvation. Once again, this shows that they have a strong misunderstanding of what salvation and forgiveness are in the first place. These folks equate getting your sins forgiven as salvation. Salvation is new life from the death. Salvation is receiving Jesus' life inside you the moment you believe in him. This is the true meaning of being "Born Again". A person goes from spiritual death to receiving the Holy Spirit of God for life. I will add, it is for eternal and permanent "life." It is not temporary life. You can not repent of your unbelief one day, because repentance in the New Testament is always a one way street, and receive Jesus to begin with that day, and then somewhere down the line, in your life, do something bad where he is going to leave you. This teaching that you can do something to get rid of Jesus is bunk. For ... he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. Hebrews 13:5
Let's take a look at the passages together in detail from the beginning of the 6th chapter of Hebrews. Let's grow up. Let us all become mature in Christ is the theme.
1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The writer of Hebrews was trying to take these early Christian believers, and bring them up in maturity. But, the writer had to keep going back to the basics for many of them. They were so caught up in their traditions, that they were finding it impossible to move forward. The writer was talking to two groups of people. Those that were babes, and those that were mature in Christ. However, the babes were constantly going back to their traditions of thinking that they had to offer sacrifices at the alter, even though they were saying that they believed in Christ Jesus and the total sin offering he provided for all. In my opinion, the writer of Hebrews had the patience of Job, but wrote this as a warning and exhortation for the baby group.
It is important to note that only God and the individual person of God are themselves the only ones that can truly know whether they are a Christian or not. However, the writer of Hebrews writes in such a way that it causes a person to think.
Not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death.
What is the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death? First off, it bears repeating here, that repentance is always a one way street in the New Testament. That means that you can not repent one day of your unbelief in Jesus Christ, and then then turn around the next day and say, "I don't believe in Jesus Christ," because that would mean that you never repented in the first place. I will also say that no one has ever repented of all of their sins. I know, you have heard it said many times, "that a person has to repent of all of their sins in order to be saved." That saying is a bunch of baloney. Think about it, let's say you say, I am going to repent of saying lies, and then tomorrow, you lie again. You never repented with the true meaning of repentance in the first place. Repentance has been so watered down, both in Christianity and in Judaism, that most people don't even look at the true meaning of the word repentance. You are speaking double talk and are double minded in your thinking. You are confused in your understanding of forgiveness by God.
You must repent of your unbelief, or you will remain spiritually dead.
The King James Version might be a bit clearer in the true meaning of verses one and two in chapter 6 of Hebrews.
1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
This is baby stuff. This is immature thinking. This is the early church trying to go back to the Mosaic sacrificial system of bringing the sacrifices to the alter, and also at the same time saying Jesus did it all. These were dead works that never brought life. They never repented of them. The organized church of today is no different in their teaching when it comes to error in thinking about repentance, faith toward God, baptisms, laying on of hands, and eternal judgment.
Catholic churches teach that you must go to the confession booth to get your sins forgiven, while at the same time saying that Christ forgave you of your sins. Which is it? Did he forgive you or do you need more forgiveness in the confession booth?
Protestant denominations teach that you need to 1 John 1:9 yourself before Christ will forgive you, while at the same time teaching that all of your sins; past, present, and future have been forgiven. Which is it? Do you need more forgiveness of sins if all your sins are forgiven? The bible teaches that forgiveness of sins and atonement is in the blood, both in the Old Testament and New Testament, there is no forgiveness of sins without the shedding of blood. So, either Jesus did it all or you need more forgiveness.
Judaism teaches today, since the destruction of the Temple, that forgiveness is obtained through repentance, prayer and good deeds. The fundamental question of Judaism comes into play is how many prayers and how many good deeds will earn enough forgiveness from God? Think about it, how much is required by God? Furthermore, Yom Kippur is one of the most important holidays in the Jewish religion. 'The name "Yom Kippur" means "Day of Atonement," and that pretty much explains what the holiday is. It is a day set aside to "afflict the soul," to atone for the sins of the past year.' In the Old Testament Days gone by, the "Day of Atonement" was the day that the High Priest "Kohen Gadol" was required to make a blood sin offering in the Temple "Holy of Holies and call upon the Name of YHVH to offer blood sacrifice for the sins of the people." References: Yom Kippur - Day of Atonement and also with a second reference below.
The role of the Kohen Gadol (High Priest) in the Yom Kippur Avodah (Temple Service) is quite intriguing. Halachah mandates that the Kohen Gadol sacrifice a bull as a Korban Chatas (Sin Offering) and confess (1) the sins of himself and his household, and (2) the sins of the Kohanim, prior to slaughter. This bull must also be the personal properly of the Kohen Gadol; it is not purchased with public funds. The Kohen Gadol then offers a goat as a Chatas on behalf of the entire nation. After sacrifice, both animals are intertwined and burned together.Yom Kippur 5764 - Rabbi Avrohom Gordimer - OU.OR
Shemot - Exodus 30:10
And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.
So, we see that the main religious systems are all about what you are doing, instead of what Jesus Christ The Messiah has already done. The focus with religion today, is always on self.
True Christianity is always focused on God, and what he has done for us, by providing the perfect sacrifice for all of our sins, through Jesus Christ The Messiah.
The hypothetical question above shows the deep inward misunderstanding of the Gospel message, and the thought process of the person asking the question in the first place. It shows the focus of self, instead of the focus on God and salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.
When a person "falls away" today, they are falling away from the true Gospel. They are going back to their own sacrificial systems of playing religion, thinking double minded thoughts, going to the confession booth, trying to make or keep themselves clean with a Christian bar of soap (confessionism 1 John 1:9), and never having repented in the first place. Remember, repentance is always a one way move. A person can not repent one day and then repent another day of the same thing, because they did not repent in the first place. Again, read more about the true meaning of repentance and understand why this is impossible to be brought back to repentance. In verses 4 through 6 of Hebrews chapter six we read, "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."
These people were sampling with a taste at the table of God. They never wholly swallowed what they were tasting; which is to say, they never truly repented. They were spitting it right back in the face of God. They were around people enlightened, sharing the Holy Spirit, going through the motions as though they accepted what Jesus had done for them, but they continued to fall away from the true teachings of Jesus. They kept wanting to go back to the "Day of Atonement." They kept sacrificing to God. They wanted to earn their own forgiveness in things that they were doing. This was a public disgrace, because to their loss, they were crucifying the Son of God over and over again. Here they were saying that Jesus did it all for them, and then the next day rolled around, and they wanted to sacrifice for their sins again. How could anyone be brought back to repentance, if they never repented in the first place? This shows that they never repented in the first place. You can not go back from where you have never been. It is impossible.
This is exactly the same as the Catholic saying to their people that God forgave them, and then the next day going to the confessional booth and the Mass, and thinking that somehow God is being sacrificed all over again. This is exactly the same as the Protestant saying that all his sins are forgiven, and then the next day asking for more forgiveness through a misunderstanding of 1 John 1:9. These folks are spitting in the face of God, publicly disgracing Jesus Christ in front of everyone.
Then the writer of Hebrews issues a very stern warning for those folks with a comparison with land that has good soil, and land that has poor soil.
Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Now, the writer of Hebrews turns the coin, and starts talking to the other group of people. He has confidence in the following group.
Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
The writer is talking to another group and encouraging them not to become lazy in their understanding. Not to give in to error in teaching. Be diligent to the very end. If that means going against the tide of religion, then so be it. If that means focusing on God, and not yourself, which is the things that accompany salvation, then so be it. If that means standing up for what is right, and good, and honorable, even when it goes against the tide, then so be it. If that means loosing a friend because of your true belief in the truth of Jesus Christ, then so be it. If that means being thrown out of your church or synagogue when you share the truth, then so be it. Allow God to lead you in all ways. Remember, the work of God is this, to believe in the one God has sent. Imitate those that through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.
Then they asked him, "What must we do to do the works God requires?"
Jesus answered, "The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent."
Believe in Jesus, and receive eternal life today. I beseech you, God has reconciled you to himself through Christ Jesus, now be reconciled.
Please read the Welcome message.