Drink in the Rain
Hebrews 6:3 And God permitting, we will do so. 4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 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. 7Land 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. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned. (NIV)
The writer of the book of Hebrews is unidentified, likely on purpose. I believe that the writer is Paul, with some help from Luke, and that the letter was written to the Hebrew believers in Jerusalem. I will not elaborate on this subject here, since it was covered in detail in a previous commentary entitled “By His Son”. This commentary can be found on the home page of the website.
This passage begins by referring to the previous passage. “God permitting” (v.3) the Hebrew believers will become mature Christians. The 2nd particle used with the conditional particle in this verse gives the meaning of “If, in spite of opposition, God permits” in the Greek. Obviously it is in the will of God for all Christians to mature in their faith. However, opposition in their lives does not always make this possible at times in our lives.
In the Greek text verses 4-6 form one very long sentence, something that Paul often does. Five results are identified, which come from contact with God. These five results are: being “enlightened”; tasting the “heavenly gift”, sharing “in the Holy Spirit”; tasting “the goodness of the word of God”; and tasting “the powers of the coming age” (vv. 4-5). These five results can be experienced by unbelievers.
People experience enlightenment from Christ when they hear the gospel preached. They taste the heavenly gift by receiving a taste of Jesus from hearing the gospel. They share in the Holy Spirit through His work of convicting them of their sin and moving them closer to God. People taste the goodness of the word of God as they receive the gospel with joy. They taste the powers of the coming age by hearing and reading of the miracles of Christ. The fullness of His powers will be revealed in the coming age, the Millennium, the thousand year reign of Christ on earth.
So these people are experiencing, sharing, and tasting. They are getting a taste of Christ, but only a taste of Christ. “It is impossible” (v. 4a) for these people “if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance” (v. 6a). Those who forsake Christ, turning their backs on Him, are referred to as apostates. They have a taste of Him, but have made a deliberate and conscious decision to reject Him, once and for all. They do not even worry about what they have done. Apostates never come back to Christ. They “are crucifying” Him “all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (v. 6b).
There is a difference between apostates and immature, or baby, Christians. Apostates have been exposed to Christ, but have rejected Him, permanently. Baby Christians are up and down in their walk with Christ. They do not know enough yet to be mature, because they have not read and studied the Bible. They have not rejected Christ. They just are not following Him at this time in their lives.
Verse seven describes a mature Christian. He is described as one who “drinks in the rain” and “produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed.” He “drinks in” the word of God and becomes someone who is useful to the kingdom of God.
Verse eight describes the apostate. He “produces thorns and thistles”, is “worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end” he “will be burned”. The apostate is worthless to God and, in the end, will spend eternity in Hell.
Paul is concerned that the Hebrew Christians have not matured in their faith, but he does not believe that they are apostate. In verses seven and eight he is giving them both sides of where they currently stand. They are not mature Christians, but they are also are not apostate. In telling them what they should be, he is giving them a goal. In telling them what they are not, he is encouraging them.
And so, too, we Christians of today should be encouraged. We are in different stages of our maturity as Christians, but we are still faithful to the Lord. We have not turned our backs on Him. It is a mark of one who has been indwelled by the Holy Spirit to stay the course. However, that course is not consistently upwards. We have our ups and downs, our peaks and valleys. We have dry spells. We have times when life derails our walk. But the true Christian always bounces back onto the rails. Perseverance is the mark of a true Christian. If we persevere and “drink in the rain” we will be useful to our Lord.
Online Bible Commentary