“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 of 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 [Jesus] to public disgrace. 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 blessings 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.” (Hebrews 6:4-8)
The word “tasted” (from the Greek, “geuomai,” meaning to taste, eat, or experience) is used in this passage to denote those who have “tasted the heavenly gifts, … who have tasted of the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age.”
It would be nice for us to get a handle on what this word “geuomai” really means in order to understand our passage properly. Does it mean, simply, “to taste a little bit,” as when a person picks up the honey spoon, and puts it on the end of his tongue, in order to taste it? Is this what the author is getting at? Have these people not really fully embraced the Christian faith. Are these the people that the author is addressing? I think not! And here is why.
Have these people (whom the author is referring) just “dabbled” in the Word of God a little bit (etc.)? As it turns out, our same author used this same word (“geuomai”) a little bit earlier on, in Hebrews 2:9. And what does this passage say? “… that by the grace of God He [Jesus] might taste [“geuomai”] death for everyone.” This should make us think a little bit. Did Jesus just taste death a little bit, or did He taste it “all the way”? Friends, it was “all the way”! So there you have it — one good example of the way the word “geuomai” can be used in Scripture.
Let us not discount the possibility — nay, the vast probability — that this word “geuomai” is being used in much the same way here. In other words, once again, those who have “tasted” the heavenly gift … and who have “tasted” of the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age … are truly those who got “right into it,” in the same way that Jesus Himself was said to have “tasted” death for everyone (Hebrews 2:9). They are Christian believers, in every sense of the Word.
The Holy Spirit
In verse 4(b) we read that these people have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit. I believe that, once again, this is a further reference to them being Christians, according to passages such as Ephesians 1:13(b), which says that those who believe are “marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit”. Again, in Romans 8:9 we read that “if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him.” Those, then, that have “partaken of the Holy Spirit” can be none other than true, genuine, Christian believers!
What then about the end of this passage, which says “land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned”? I think this is a warning, much the same as can be found in 1 Corinthians 3:15, which says, that at the final judgment, “If any man’s work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire.” Remember, land that is burned in “real life” destroys the bad fruit that was growing on that land — it did not destroy the land itself! So, too, as we read in 1 Corinthians 3:15 (just quoted), will we suffer “loss” in those things which were not truly “good fruit,” except “he himself shall be saved,” as it also says in this passage.
What is the purpose of this passage? How should we conclude this part of our series? I think that if we hold the Word of God in proper balance (rightly dividing it, as we are supposed to), then we can conclude that this passage in Hebrews 6 is not teaching that Christians can lose their salvation — no, far from it, so don’t be scared that you could somehow “lose” God’s favor in this respect! What it is doing, however, is giving us a stiff warning against complacency in our Christian walk. An example of this is those Christians who suffered loss (sickness and even death, in some instances) as described in 1 Corinthians 11:29-30 (you are encouraged to read that passage for yourselves).
In conclusion, then, we are to be bold, and courageous, and strong, in our walk with the Lord. Let us carry on … with the task! Once again, this passage should motivate us! (That is what it is intended to do.)