THE POINT OF NO RETURN – Disqualified for further service (See 1 Cor. 9:24- 27) – "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."

There are four different interpretations and much controversy over this difficult passage: 1) the danger of a Christian losing his salvation. The rule of interpretation is to always use clear passages versus unclear passages of Scripture like this one to build doctrine. There are many clear passages on the doctrine of eternal security that salvation is a work of God that cannot be reversed  (John 6:39, 10:28-30; Rom. 8:28-39; Phil. 1:6; I John 5:13); 2) that the warning is to mere professors of faith but not true believers. As we will see from the description of these people it seems very clear that they are believers; 3) that hypothetically if a Christian could lose his salvation there is no provision for repentance; as stated above, the loss of salvation appears to be against Scripture;  4) that the warning is to a Christian moving from a position of true faith to the extent of becoming disqualified for further service (1 Cor. 9:27) and thus suffering loss through fire of eternal rewards at the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:10-15). This seems to be the best explanation of this difficult passage as we will see as we study this lesson. (See John Walvoord – The Bible Knowledge Commentary on Hebrews 6:6-8).

Does this passage describe true believers? {"One should not base any doctrine upon these descriptive terms, since none absolutely imply regeneration; yet, they do suggest the salvation experience. The author refers to these persons first as those who were once enlightened (vs. 4). Even though this phrase could refer to something short of regeneration, two facts favor the idea that it is. It is used in the parallel fourth warning (10:32). There the author seems to describe their salvation experience: "But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated (enlightened), ye endured a great fight of afflictions." Second, the use of once (Gr hapax, once-for-all) suggests finality. The second participle describes these people as having tasted of the heavenly gift. The word tasted (Gr geuomai, taste) often carries a broader meaning (to partake of something in its entirety). In Acts 10:10 it refers to partaking of a meal, not merely tasting the food. In Hebrews 2 verse 9, Christ tasted death; He fully partook of it. In the same sense these people have partaken of the heavenly gift and of the Holy Spirit. Further, they have fully experienced the Word of God and powers (miracles Heb. 2:4) of the coming age." [1]Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Heb 6:1-2}

Temporal discipline, premature death and suffer loss of eternal rewards but not the loss of eternal life/salvation – "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." {"An illustration from nature is used to convey two truths: (1) A piece of land that receives rain (a "heavenly gift," v. 4) and is productive, that is, useful to others and blessed by God (v. 7). (2) The same piece of land (v. 8) receives rain (a "heavenly gift," v. 4) but is unproductive, that is, rejected (Gk. adokimos), a word which means "disqualified" and is used of believers being disqualified from receiving rewards (1 Cor. 9:27). The ground is not cursed; it is near to being cursed. The ultimate end is burning, which is not hell but the temporal judgment of God. In the OT God's judgment on His people is likened to the burning of a field (Is. 9:18, 19; 10:17) which was physical death, not eternal death. Perhaps there is also an allusion here to the fire of the judgment seat of Christ (1 Cor. 3:11-15). There was an ancient practice of burning the ground to destroy the weeds and make the field useful again. If such an allusion is intended, then this passage is teaching that while all human attempts to restore apostates are futile (v. 6), there is hope for production again. It is possible for a person to shipwreck his faith and learn from the experience (1 Tim. 1:18-20)." [1]Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Heb 6:1-2

We see the bad examples and sad outcomes of carnal believers in the Old and New Testaments. Lot, Samson, Saul, in the OT; and Hymenaeus, Alexander, Phygellus, Hermogenes and Demas in the NT. (See Genesis 13&19, Judges 16, 1 Samuel 16, 1 Tim. 1:19-20, 4:1-3, 5:8, 6:9-11, 20-21; 2 Tim.1:15, 2:18, 4:10-11) Ongoing unrepentance led to premature death for some (God took them home) or severe temporal discipline/sickness/misery in this life and suffering eternal loss at the judgment seat of Christ. (See Acts 5:1-11, 1 Cor. 3:10-15, 5:1-5 11:29-30, 1 John 5:16).

"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 (sluggish, dull, Gr. northroi) but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised."  In using the term "those" earlier in v.4 ("It is impossible for those") maybe the writer of Hebrews was speaking hypothetically or to a certain group of the Hebrew Christians who were turning back to Judaism and rejecting Christ and is now turning back to address the ones who had not fallen away but were in danger because they were drifting, doubting and getting dull (due to moral laxity, Gr. northroi). He reminds them of how God will reward them for their love and obedience to Him in their service to the saints. He exhorts them to diligence (versus laziness or being sluggish/dull/lazy (5:11; 6:11-12) "so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end (v. 11 NASB). Although God assures us He will keep us to the end (eternal security) believers can lose their assurance of salvation through on-going disobedience and lose the joy and benefit of their salvation in this life and lose eternal rewards in the next. {"This is the reason for the strong warning of Heb. 3:13 to exhort one another to avoid a hardened heart. Continuing immaturity is dangerous. Think of those you have known who were radiant witnesses for Christ who were sidetracked and are now cold as stone." [1]Radmacher, Earl D. ; Allen, Ronald Barclay ; House, H. Wayne: Nelson's New Illustrated Bible Commentary. Nashville : T. Nelson Publishers, 1999, S. Heb 6:1-2}

"Through faith and patience inherit what has been promised" – Salvation ( Gr. sōteria) means so much more than deliverance from hell or getting our ticket to heaven. It has meaning for our past, present and future. When connected to the word inherit (Gr. Kleronomeō see Heb. 1:14) it often refers to our future rewards in heaven to motivate us to obedience. {"In view of the fact that believers can be disqualified from rewards through lack of faithfulness or receive the approval of God because of faithfulness (see 1 Corinthians 9:25-27; Philippians 3:10-14; 2 Timothy 2:12; 4:7-8), it is perilous to live in complacency as though we will avoid a day of reckoning.  Thus, fear of loss and hope of reward are two legitimate biblical motivators, and our Lord stressed their importance on multiple occasions (e.g., Matthew 6:19-20; 19:27-30; Luke 12:42-44; John 12:25-26; Revelation 22:12). Although Scripture frequently encourages us to pursue reward with God, it tells us little about the nature and content of that reward.  I believe the principal reason for this is that in our present state, we are limited in our capacity to grasp the real nature of heavenly rewards (1 Corinthians 2:9).  But we can be well assured that they will be worth any temporal sacrifice to gain." (Ken Boa – Conformed to His Image.}

"Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.  Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize." (1 Cor. 9:24-27)


1) Have you ever been fired from a job? Describe how you felt. How does this relate to the point of no return – Disqualified for further service? (See 1 Cor. 9:24- 27; Also see King Saul in 1 Sam. 16.) How does the thought of being disqualified by God for further service strike you?

2) Someone has likened sin to a thread. If another person wrapped a thread around you once, it would be easy to break it and escape. But what if you stood there until that thread had been wrapped around you 100 times, or 200 times? Eventually, several strands of that little thread would become strong enough to prevent your escape. Sin works in much the same way. If we would choose to obey God when we first have opportunity, and turn away from sin when we first realize we are involved in it, it would be much easier. "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us." (Heb. 12:1) How can the consequences seen in this lesson inspire you to act now on any besetting sin in your life?

3) Why do you think Jesus spoke so much about heavenly rewards? (Matthew 6:19-20; 19:27-30; Luke 12:42-44; John 12:25-26; Revelation 22:12) Does His promise of eternal rewards motivate you to obedience 1) greatly, 2) somewhat, or 3) not at all?  Discuss the reason for your answer. How could this incentive for obedience become more motivating to you?

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