Two Kinds of Land
“Land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.”- Hebrews 6:7–8
We have considered the warning passage in Hebrews 6:4–6, concluding that the text does not teach us that those with true faith in Christ can commit final apostasy. That is, it is impossible for those who have savingly trusted in Jesus to abandon their profession of faith and then never come back. God’s true children, of course, can fall far and hard. Much like the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11–32, they can reject the Father for a time. But like the son in the parable, they will also finally come back to the family—and our Father will receive them with open arms. Thus, all those who have been saved will persevere to the end, and only those who persevere to the end were ever saved to begin with (see Matt. 24:13; 1 John 2:18–19).
Hebrews 6:7–8 offers some confirmation for this position in its contrast between two different kinds of vegetation, or in reality, two different kinds of land. The author distinguishes between land that produces a useful crop and land that “bears thorns and thistles.” Note that in both cases, the land receives the same rain, which in context must refer to the blessings of the Lord. Yet only one kind of land actually bears true and lasting spiritual fruit. It is not that one bears good fruit and then stops doing so, producing useless thorns and thistles instead; rather, one produces true and lasting fruit from the beginning, but the other does not. One is good soil that has received good seed and is able to sustain healthy food. The other is poor soil where only bad seed can grow.
As we know, land cannot make itself good or poor. Instead it must be worked by an outside force—typically a gardener or farmer—to make it able to grow food. It must be tilled, fertilized, irrigated, and so forth, or it cannot do anything useful. Similarly, the hearts of men and women, boys and girls cannot make themselves good. Apart from grace, our hearts are poor soil for the seed of the gospel. God must change our hearts, giving us the gift of faith in our regeneration so that we will believe and bear fruit for His glory (John 3:1–8).
Other passages of Scripture tell us that people cannot come to faith apart from divine election and that all those who do exercise saving faith and are justified will be glorified; they will never finally fall away (Rom. 8:29–30). Hebrews 6 does not deny this. Salvation from start to finish is the work of God alone. He brings people to true faith, sustains them in true faith, and gives them eternal life.
Only God can make the soil of our hearts fit to receive the word of the gospel so that it will take root. We need the Lord to do this not only at conversion but continually throughout our Christian lives as we come to Him over and over again in faith and repentance. Ask the Lord this day to give you a soft heart that will receive His Word and respond with faith and repentance to His grace.
Passages for Further Study