Please turn to Hebrews 6:4-12. In this passage, the author of Hebrews is addressing the issue of renouncing one’s confession of Christ as Savior and Lord, whether actually or functionally. In relation, this passage is a hard passage because it says some things that are hard to understand and some things that are hard to swallow. Thus, this passage forces us to do the hard work of doing personal, spiritual inventory. First, in verses 4-6, the author gives a warning against falling away from faith in Christ. Then, in verses 7-8, he gives an illustration of fruitfulness and fruitlessness. His point is simply this — you cannot have faith in Christ and not have fruit and you cannot be faithless towards Christ and have fruit. In other words, trusting in Christ bears fruit and not trusting in Christ always has signs of fruitlessness. Finally, in verses 9-12, he offers a word of encouragement that he wants them “to have the full assurance of hope until the end.”

I. Warning Against Falling Away from Faith in Jesus. 

In Hebrews 6:4-8, the author provides both a warning and an illustration to his hearers. All the way up to chapter 5 verse 10, he has been saying, “Jesus is better than Moses, Aaron, and the Old Testament sacrificial system. Jesus is the best and only Savior that we could possibly have.” Now, in this section, he is saying, “If that is who Jesus is and you turn your back on Him, the consequence is a curse. If you turn your back on Jesus who is the better Savior, no sacrifice for your sin remains and no hope of your salvation remains.” And so his warning here is for us not to turn our backs on Jesus because there is no other hope of salvation apart from Him. Specifically, in verse 4 he says, “It is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted of the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit…” This is profoundly Christian language that provides a picture of God pouring out the gift of His Spirit. Then, in verse 5, he says, “and have tasted of the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come...” Is the author of this letter saying that real Christians, inhabited by the regenerating Holy Spirit, can fall away? No, that is not what he is saying in these verses. In fact, it is clear that the fulcrum of his argument, the thing on which it turns, is found in the next verses. In verse 6, the author says, “since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” He is saying, “If you reject Jesus and stop believing in Him, you have positioned yourself in the crowd mocking Jesus, holding Him in contempt.” In other words, these people had come to a point where they thought that they could have God but reject Jesus. In a sense, they were saying, “I can have God, I can have the blessings of God, but I can reject Jesus.” Therefore, the author of Hebrews warns them, “If you think that you can have God and reject Jesus, you are sitting in the seat of damnation. If you are confident of your communion with God and you have rejected Jesus, you are deceived and you will be judged.” That is the warning that is being given here. It all turns on their attitude towards Jesus.  

The author’s warning in this passage also reminds us that it is possible for people to sit in the midst of the blessings of the Christian community and not really have faith in Christ. It is possible for someone to sit under the faithful preaching of the Word, and yet, not put his or her trust in Him. Thus, the author is saying that some important self-reflection has to be done and important questions have to be asked such as, “Who do you trust? Where are you putting your faith? What do you really believe?” In a very pastoral manner, he is dealing with the people who are wavering in their faith in Jesus. And he is saying, “Do not turn your back on Jesus. Do not walk away from Him. Keep believing in Jesus.” He is reminding this congregation and us that the whole of your faith turns on Jesus. Your relation to Him, your attitude towards Him, your belief in Him, and your trust in Him — that is what is at the very heart of the Christian faith. 

II. Encouragement to Experience Assurance in Jesus. 

In Hebrews 6:9-12, the author of Hebrews addresses the assurance of true believers. Particularly, in verse 11 he says, “we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end...” This pastor is saying, “I want everybody in this congregation to have a full assurance of hope.” He is writing this letter so that people who do not believe in Jesus will recognize the danger of not believing in Jesus but would instead have faith in Him. But for sensitive sinners struggling with sin in this congregation, he wants them to have assurance by God's grace. So after this stern warning in verses 4-6, he turns quickly and emphatically to a word of encouragement for the congregation. In relation, he addresses the outward fruits or evidences of changed hearts in verse 10. Specifically, he says that those who have placed genuine faith in Jesus are those that labor for the Lord, love one another, and serve one another. Thus, he is saying, “These are all, to me, evidences of a heart that has been changed, of a heart that trusts in Jesus, and therefore I want you to have a full assurance for your hope.” 

This whole message, both the warning and the encouragement, turns on your faith in Jesus. Do you have faith in Jesus? Do you believe that He is the Son of God and Savior of sinners? Do you believe that His words are the words of life? Do you believe that He died in your place, bearing your sin, so that you might not be condemned for that sin? Do you believe that there is no name under heaven whereby you could be saved except His name? Do you believe that He is the way and the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except by Him? Do you have faith in Jesus? If you do, there is no condemnation for you in Christ Jesus. But if you do not have faith in Jesus, you have every reason to worry, because apart from Him there is no forgiveness of sins. That is what the author of Hebrews is emphasizing here. He is saying, “Do not stop believing in Jesus! Do not turn your back on Jesus because He is your only hope of salvation.”