Each warning given in Hebrews is progressively worse. As we’ve seen there is the danger of drifting away from the truth; the danger of hardening our hearts and not entering into His rest; and the danger of not going on to maturity. All of these dangers are only for the child of God, not for the child of the world. The danger of the unsaved is not to be saved and thus go to the lake of fire.
Is it possible for a believer today to be guilty of this same sin? It most certainly is. We are saved by the blood of Christ and the eternal guilt of sin is removed forever, but it is possible to neglect this so great salvation and to carelessly drift from it through indifference.
It is possible to stop short of a life of rest and peace which the Lord has planned for us as His child, simply because we never go on living a life of faith and therefore never come to experience the best that God has for us.
It is possible to never mature in the Lord and never grow up, but to be infants in spiritual things all of our lives. Such a person has years of wasted service where all that is produced is “good-for-nothing” but burning.
The writer of Hebrews is not writing to his people, Israel, who are unbelievers. Matthew has done that. He is writing to those who are believers, who have accepted the Lord Jesus Christ and His sacrifice for their sins. They made a good confession and, even in the midst of suffering, were faithful to the Lord. But persecution has continued and intensified. They had suffered the loss of all their material wealth.
What was their problem? They needed to patiently endure. They needed to hold fast and not give up thinking that it is not worthwhile. One of the key words of the book in Hebrews, therefore, is “patience” or “patient endurance.” “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
So the author, after reprimanding his hearers for not being teachers of the Word even though they had been saved long enough to be teaching, and still needing to be taught the milk, urges them along with himself to “go on to maturity.” The reason “for” doing this is because it is impossible for “anyone” who is saved if they should defect from the faith to renew them again to an initial repentance. No one can be saved but once. No one can have his past forgiven but once. After coming to Christ, everything we do will come before the judgment seat of Christ and it will be rewarded if it is good, or burnt if it is good-for-nothing.
This is why there is the need to go on and a warning against going back. You can never regain wasted years. Thus the illustration of Hebrews 6:7-8 fits perfectly. All we produce is either for blessing or burning. It is not the believer that will be burned, but what he has produced.Often we take the blessings of the rain and sunshine and yet only produce thorns and briers.
It is not enough to know. Knowledge brings responsibility. Because of the superiority of the Son and of His work, we have a superior walk and far superior privileges in this age. But never, never forget that hand in hand with superior privileges come superior responsibilities (Hebrews 10:19-25).
This brings us to the fourth warning. “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge his people’. It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (10:26-31)
It is also possible to sin willfully or deliberately with full understanding of the sin and the consequences of our action, and have the hand of God discipline us in time in life even to the point of physical death. We are saved by grace, but grace does not mean that we can do anything we want (Hebrews 10:22-25).
Believers are judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10-12). Every believer will give an account of himself, and the Lord will judge the decisions he made—including those concerning issues of conscience. This judgment does not determine salvation, which is by faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), but rather is the time when believers must give an account of their lives in service to Christ. Our position in Christ is the “foundation” spoken of in 1 Corinthians 3:11-15. That which we build upon the foundation can be the “gold, silver, and precious stones” of good works in Christ’s name, obedience and fruitfulness—dedicated spiritual service to glorify God and build the church. Or what we build on the foundation may be the “wood, hay and stubble” of worthless, frivolous, shallow activity with no spiritual value. The Judgment Seat of Christ will reveal this.
The gold, silver and precious stones in the lives of believers will survive God’s refining fire (v. 13), and believers will be rewarded based on those good works—how faithfully we served Christ (1 Corinthians 9:4-27), how well we obeyed the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20), how victorious we were over sin (Romans 6:1-4), how well we controlled our tongues (James 3:1-9), etc. We will have to give an account for our actions, whether they were truly indicative of our position in Christ. The fire of God’s judgment will completely burn up the “wood, hay and stubble” of the words we spoke and things we did which had no eternal value. “So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12).
“You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised…But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (Heb. 10:36, 39)