Let Us Go On Unto Perfection

Posted by on Aug 26, 2007

By Pastor Mike Withem

First Baptist Church of Ranson, WV

August 26, 2007

Sunday Morning

“Let Us Go On Unto Perfection”

Scripture Text: Hebrews 5:11-6:8

Introduction:

 

A.   When we began our study of Hebrews several weeks ago, I told you that there are at least five “warning passages” in this book.

1. Thus far, we have dealt with two of these passages.

2. The first warning passage is found in Heb. 2:1-4, where we, as believers, were warned about the perils of neglecting our salvation.

3. The second warning passage is found in Heb. 3:7-4:11, where we were warned about the perils of failing to believe God’s promises, and as a result, failing to enter into God’s rest.

4. We now come to the third warning passage, which begins here in Heb. 5:11 and continues through Heb. 6:8, where we are warned about the perils of spiritual immaturity.

 

B.   Now before I say anything else, let me point out that our text, this morning, contains some verses (Heb. 6:4-6) that have been grossly misinterpreted by many today, even some whom we would call fundamentalists.

1. For example, some say that these verses teach it is possible for a person who is saved and on his way to heaven, to fall away (out of God’s favor) and eventually end up losing his salvation and going to hell.

2. This, of course, is utterly absurd (ridiculous).

3. Why do I say that?

4. I say that because the Bible clearly teaches us in other passages that this is an impossibility.

5. For example, Jesus Himself said in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:…And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand….My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”

6. The apostle Paul asked the following question in Rom. 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?”

7. He then answered his own question in Vrs. 37-39 of that same chapter, when he said, “Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us….For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,…Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

8. The apostle Peter put it like this in 1 Pet. 1:3-5, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,…To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,…Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”

9. And so, the Bible clearly teaches us that it is impossible for someone who is genuinely saved to fall out of God’s favor and lose his salvation.

 

C.   Another example of how these verses have been misinterpreted is that there are some who say that these verses did not have believers in view at all, but rather unbelieving Jews who had not yet come to Christ.

1. There are basically two reasons why I reject this interpretation.

2. First of all, I reject it because of how the writer of Hebrews describes these people to whom he is writing.

3. Notice again Heb. 6:4-5, “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,…And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.”

4. For the life of me, I cannot understand how the writer of Hebrews could be describing unbelievers here.

5. Unbelievers have not been “enlightened.”

6. Unbelievers have not “tasted of the heavenly gift.”

7. Unbelievers have not been “made partakers of the Holy Ghost.”

8. Unbelievers have not “tasted the good word of God.”

9. In my opinion, the warning given here is not given to unbelievers, but rather to believers.

10.   Secondly, I reject this interpretation because it just doesn’t fit the context of the passage as a whole.

11.   The context of the passage is clearly spiritual immaturity.

12.   In the latter part of Heb. 5 the writer scolds these Jewish believers for still being spiritual “babes.” (Heb. 5:13)

13.   He then admonishes them in the first part of Heb. 6 to “go on unto perfection.” (Heb. 6:1)

14.   In other words, he admonishes them to grow up spiritually.

15.   And so, clearly the subject (theme) of the passage before us this morning is spiritual immaturity in believers.

16.   This being true, the warning given here is to believers, not unbelievers.

 

D.   Now with this in mind, there are three things in our text to which I want to call your attention.

1. First of all, I want to call your attention to the…

 

I.       Characteristics Of Spiritual Immaturity.

 

A.   Of course, there are many characteristics of spiritual immaturity.

1. However, our text mentions only three.

2. First of all, believers who are spiritually immature are slow to hear, when it comes to spiritual truth.

3. Notice again at Heb. 5:11, “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard to be uttered, seeing ye are dull of hearing.”

4. The word “dull” here means “slow, sluggish, or lazy.”

5. (Illus.- How many of you have young children? Okay, Let me ask you a question. Do your children hear everything you tell them the first time you tell them, or do you usually have to repeat yourself? If your children are like most children, they have to hear something several times before it finally begins to sink into their thick little skulls. It’s not that they are hard of hearing [there’s nothing wrong with their ears], it’s just that they are slow of hearing. In other words, they are lazy listeners. It is a sign of immaturity.)

6. Well, the same thing is true of believers who are spiritually immature, they are lazy listeners.

7. When God speaks to them through His Word, they don’t hear Him the first time, and they may not hear Him the second or the third time either.

8. Spiritually immature believers have to hear the same truth over and over again, before they finally begin to grasp it.

9. Now contrast this with the admonition found in Jam. 1:19, which says, “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”

 

B.   The second characteristic of spiritually immature believers is that they are severely lacking in Bible knowledge.

1. This is partly because they are slow to hear.

2. Notice again Heb. 5:12, “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God.”

3. In other words, “You should be teachers, but you don’t know enough to be teachers. You still need someone to teach you!”

4. (Illus.- Let me illustrate. One of the problems that most churches today have is the problem of finding enough people to fill teaching positions within the church, whether it be in the Sunday school, the youth ministry, the discipleship ministry, or some other ministry. I’ve talked to many pastors about this very thing over the years, and they all tell me basically the same thing. Either they can’t find people who are willing, or the people they do find who are willing, are not qualified. In other words, they are severely lacking in Bible knowledge. The truth is that most believers in most fundamental churches today fall into the same category as these Hebrew believers who should have been teachers, but still needed someone to teach them. This is so sad.)

 

C.   The third characteristic of spiritually immature believers is that they can’t handle the meat of God’s Word.

1. Notice again Heb. 5:13-14, “For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe….But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age.”

2. (Illus.- As you know, you can’t feed solid food to a new born infant. Infants drink milk, either their mother’s milk, or cow’s milk, or what we call formula. You wouldn’t dream of putting a t-bone steak in front of an infant! Now don’t try that with me, unless you don’t want to get your t-bone back.)

3. Well, the same thing is true spiritually.

4. Those who are spiritual babes (spiritually immature believers) can’t handle the “strong meat” of God’s Word, but rather have to be fed the “milk” of the Word.

5. If you try to feed them meat, they will choke on it!

6. (Illus.- This is another frustration that many pastors have to deal with today. Because of the spiritual immaturity of the majority of their members, they are forced to keep serving up “milk” Sunday after Sunday, when what they would really love to do is to take their people deeper into the Word and begin feeding them “meat.” I love milk as much as anyone, but if that’s all your diet consists of, it can get pretty boring after a while.)

 

D.   And so, these are the characteristics of spiritual immaturity.

1. Spiritually immature believers are slow to hear.

2. Spiritually immature believers are severely lacking in Bible knowledge.

3. Spiritually immature believers can’t handle the meat of God’s Word.

 

E,   Now the second thing that I want to call your attention to, this morning, is the…

 

II.      Call To Perfection.

 

A.   Look again at Heb. 6:1-3, “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,…Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment….And this will we do, if God permit.”

1. Notice again the first part of Vrs. 1, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection.”

2. Now what did the writer of Hebrews mean when he admonished these Hebrew believers to “go on unto perfection”?

3. The Greek word from which the word “perfection” is translated, doesn’t mean perfection in the since of being sinless. (It doesn’t mean that at all.)

4. What it does mean is perfection in the sense of being complete.

5. In other words, it talking about maturity.

6. What the writer is saying is, “Let us go on to completion. Let us go on to maturity. Let us grow up spiritually!”

 

B.   Now this raises a question.

1. How does a believer who is spiritually immature “go on to perfection”? (How does he grow up spiritually.)

2. The Bible commands us in 2 Pet. 3:18 to “grow in grace,” but how do we do that?

3. Spiritual growth requires at least two things.

4. First of all, it requires that we feed upon God’s Word.

5. The Bible says in 1 Pet. 2:1-2, “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings,…As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:”

6. Of course, if you are a “newborn babe” in Christ, you must begin with the milk of God’s Word, but after you have fed on milk for a while, you will be able to move up to more solid food.

7. But the point is, if we are to grow spiritually, we must feed on God’s Word.

8. Secondly, spiritual growth requires that we put God’s Word into practice.

9. The Bible says in Jam. 1:21-22, “Wherefore lay apart all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, and receive with meekness the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls….But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.”

10.   And so, the two keys to spiritual growth are feeding on God’s Word and then putting God’s Word into practice.

11.   Any believer who will faithfully do both of these things will definitely grow spiritually.

 

C.   You know, it’s not a sin to spiritually immature, that is if you are a relatively new convert to Christ.

1. However, it is a sin to remain in that condition.

2. Which brings us to our my final point.

3. The third thing that I want to call your attention to this morning is the…

 

III.    Consequences Of Not Heeding The Call.

 

A.   After pointing out their immaturity, and after calling upon them to grow spiritually, the writer of Hebrews then warns them what will happen if they fail to heed to call.

 

B.   Look again at Heb. 6:4-6, “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,…And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,…If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

1. Now let me point out again that this in no way is implying that a believer can lose his salvation.

2. However, there is something that a believer can lose, and that is he can lose his rewards.

3. Look again at Heb. 6:7-8, “For the earth 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:…But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.”

4. Do you see what he is saying here?

5. He is simply saying that believers who grow spiritually and produce fruit (good works) for God will be blessed by God (rewarded at the judgment seat of Christ).

6. However, those believers who refuse to grow spiritually and spend their Christian lives satisfying the desires of their sinful flesh will see their works rejected (burned up) at the judgment seat of Christ.

 

C.   This is exactly what the Bible teaches in 1 Cor. 3:11-15. Turn there with me, it says, “For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ….Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble;…Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is….If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward….If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”

 

D.   Now, there are two ways we can lose rewards.

1. First of all, we can lose rewards not yet earned by letting opportunities to earn those rewards pass by.

2. (Illus.- Let me illustrate. Last week, whether you realized it or not, God gave you a certain number of ministry opportunities, opportunities to share your faith, opportunities to help someone in need, opportunities to encourage a brother in Christ, etc. Now let me tell you something about those opportunities. They will never present themselves again. Because you can’t turn the clock back and relive last week, those opportunities are gone forever. That being true, if you failed to take advantage of those opportunities, you simply lost out on the rewards that could have been yours had you acted.)

3. And so, we can lose rewards not yet earned by letting opportunities to earn those rewards pass by.

4. If the truth were known, we do it every day.

5. Secondly, we can lose rewards that we have already earned by regressing spiritually (by backsliding).

6. Turn with me to 2 John 1:8, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward.”

7. This is what the writer of Hebrews was talking about in Heb. 6:6, when he wrote, “If they shall fall away.”

8. He is talking about spiritual regression (backsliding).

9. Apparently, this is what these Hebrew believers were considering doing, they were considering going back to their Jewish roots.

10.   The writer of Hebrews is warning them not to do this.

 

E.   Now there are two things that a believer needs to know about lost rewards.

1. First of all, lost rewards can never be regained.

2. What does our text say?

3. It says it is “impossible…to renew them again unto repentance.” (Heb. 6:4,6)

4. This reminds me of a Bible character in the Old Testament, his name was Esau.

5. As you probably know, Esau, in a moment of weakness, sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of soup.

6. Later on, Esau had a change of heart, but it too late.

7. The damage had already been done and was irreversible.

8. Listen to Heb. 12:16-17, “Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright….For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

9. And so, first of all, lost rewards can never be regained.

 

F.    Secondly, lost rewards cause our Savior both pain and shame.

1. Notice again the latter part of Heb. 6:6, “…seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

2. Let me ask you a question.

3. How do think our Lord Jesus feels when one of His children says, “I’m not going to…

-read God’s Word,

-put God’s Word into practice,

-grow spiritually and become a mature believer,

-fulfill God’s purpose in saving me by devoting my life to serving Him and doing good works!

4. I’m must going to throw my life away!

5. How do you think our Lord Jesus feels when we do that?

6. (Illus.- This is an easy question to answer, especially if you are a parent. How do parents feel when one of their children throws his or her life away? I’ll tell you how they feel. It causes them great pain and anguish. It’s like thrusting a dagger through their heart.)

7. Well, that’s how our Savior feels when one of His children throws his or her life away.

8. The only difference is, instead of driving nails through His hands and feet, we are thrusting a dagger through His heart.

Conclusion:

 

A.   What have we seen in our text, this morning?

1. First of all, we saw the characteristics of spiritual immaturity.

2. Secondly, we saw the call to perfection.

3. Finally, we saw the consequences of not heeding the call.

 

B.   In closing, let me ask you a question.

1. Where are you, spiritually, this morning?

2. Perhaps you have experienced no spiritual growth since you were saved.

3. Perhaps you did experience some spiritual growth, but after reaching a certain point, you just stopped growing, and that’s where you are today.

4. Perhaps you grew some spiritually, but afterwards you fell away (regressed spiritually), and today you are pretty much back where you started.

5. If any of these scenarios describes your situation, I just have one question for you, “Haven’t Jesus suffered enough? Wasn’t His death on the cross enough pain for Him to bear? Why do you now add to His pain?”

 

C.   Don’t you think it is time for you to “go on unto perfection”?