They were tares. Just weeds. They looked like the same good seed when they were planted with the wheat, but they weren’t wheat. Mixed in, at first, without anyone noticing any difference. But as time passed, and things grew, the difference was clear. In the field there was wheat and, among the wheat, there were weeds. Jesus told the story, He knew it would happen (Mt. 13:24-27). But the audience of the book of Hebrews lived the reality.
In their midst there were people who were “once enlightened” (Heb. 6:4-5). They had tasted something of “the heavenly gift,” had been exposed to the teaching of the sent Savior. They had, to some degree, tried the flavor of the living word. And they had savored a bit of “the power of the ages to come.” All this because they had experienced something of the Spirit’s stirring, as had the others.
And, at first, they seemed to respond with faith. But as time passed, as maturity manifested itself, it was clear that what they demonstrated was not a saving faith. It became evident they were weeds, not wheat.
These opening verses of Hebrews 6 are hard verses, but in light of all that Scripture teaches, I don’t think that those who had “fallen away” could have been true believers. They weren’t the real thing. They may have been similar looking seed, but as time passed, they manifested what they truly were, tares among the wheat–not wheat.
Because, for the true wheat–for those who received the gospel, believed the gospel, and were saved through the gospel–the writer to the Hebrews says, there are better things.
Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things — things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end, so that you may not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.
(Hebrews 6:9-12 ESV)
Better things — things that belong to salvation. That’s what I’m chewing on this morning as I hover over these opening verses in Hebrews 6.
Those better things aren’t the “falling away” spoken of earlier. For real seed, when it is watered and starts to grow, produces a crop useful to those who cultivate it, not thorns and thistles (6:6-8).
But the better things, the things that accompany salvation are; good works; love for the saints; a diligence fueled by hope; a patient endurance enabled by an enduring faith that what God has promised we will inherit. Those, at least in part, are some of the better things.
And, while it’s true that real seed will produce the real thing, it’s also true that real seed is engaged in becoming the real thing. Pursuing the kingdom. Keeping the faith. It’s what we do because we’re the real thing.
While it is God who gives the increase, we are to plant and water (1Cor. 3:6 KJV). We cultivate. And not just ourselves, but our brothers and sisters as well.
And having been cultivated, we respond. We work. We love. We keep on keepin’ on in the full assurance of hope. And that, as He enables.
So that we might realize the things that belong to salvation — the better things.
By His grace. For His glory.