Chapter 6:1-8 (ESV) - 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.
Question to consider: What are the elementary doctrines the author is telling them to leave and go on to maturity?
The author is exhorting the reader to leave behind the dead works that have made them dull of hearing and kept them from maturing in the faith. Essentially, he is telling them to leave behind the works of the law and come to faith in Christ. The rituals of different washings or instructions in the traditions or keeping of feast days were not making them more holy or mature in their faith. It was actually hindering them as they were clinging to types and shadows when the substance had already come.
It would seem the author was addressing Jewish Christians who were trying to placate both sides in order to keep from being persecuted. We see it in our culture today as well. People in the church try to water down the message of the gospel and win over the culture thinking that if they can get them into the church, they will win over crowds of people. Unfortunately, they end up with a group of people who fail to grow in their faith because their faith is not based on anything real.
The author then gives them a stern warning that if they take their actions to their logical conclusion and fall back into performing animal sacrifices for their sin, it would be like crucifying Christ all over again, and for that there is no restoration to the faith. This statement has been used by some to say that if someone walks away from the faith after receiving the gospel and being baptized, they can’t come back to it. There is no case in which someone who honestly repents and clings to Christ for their salvation will be refused by Him.
With this warning though, if a reader in full knowledge of what they are doing rejects Jesus and His salvation to return to empty rituals, it makes you wonder what would it take to bring them back to the faith? If someone walks away because they misunderstood the gospel or bought into some lie of the world, there is a path back once they’ve been enlightened to their error. But what if they were enlightened to the truth and knew God in all His fullness but rejected Him anyway? What possible path would there be back from this? So the author is right to give this warning to keep anyone in his care from being thrown into the fire.
Heavenly father, please give us the desire to grow in our faith and encourage one another in our relationship with you. For those we know who have once proclaimed to be Christians but now have walked away from the faith, please soften their hearts to be able to hear the truth and break through whatever lies to which they have tried to cling. Amen.