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 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace. 7 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 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.
Let me begin by saying that this is an important text, because we can all think of those we have known who, were once radiant witnesses for Christ…who were sidetracked and are now no longer a part of the church.
First, it is important because we can all think of someone who made a profession of faith in Christ and seemed to go on energetically for a while, but then something happened in their life. Perhaps they experienced some difficulty or tragedy. Perhaps they fell into immorality. Or perhaps they went off to pursue a career, college, a new job. Yet with a knowledge of the truth, they deliberately turn away from it. They completely turn their back on Christ and seem set on trampling on everything they once held sacred.
We have all struggled with the pain and confusion of seeing those who have come into the church suddenly turn and walk away as if their profession of faith in Christ were meaningless. What happened? Were they ever really saved? Did Christ fail in saving them?
They professed to be Christians, they were baptized, they were active in church activities. So, what happened?
Secondly, today’s text is important because it has caused untold agony to many sensitive Christians. It’s as if Satan uses scriptures such as these to create hopelessness and despair. So, what do these passages teach? Today, we are going to examine this passage in a little different manner, by asking and seeking to answer four important questions.
The First Important Question Is, Can A Christian Really Know They Are Saved Forever?
There are strong differences of opinion that swirl around about how to interpret verses four through six. In fact, this passage is one of the great theological battlefields of Scripture. The difficulty lies in determining whether the “enlightened” ones (v. 4) who “fell away” (v. 6) were believers or unbelievers?
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 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace.
The first interpretation of this passage is that it is used to support those who believe that you can lose your salvation. The four verbal actions of verses four and five - “enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, become partakers of the Holy Spirit, tasted the good word of God” - do seem to express authentic Christian conversion experience. Correct!
Interestingly enough, those who teach that we can lose our salvation also teach that such a person can be “saved again.” But this passage teaches just the opposite, that in fact it is “impossible.” (v.4) So if this passage teaches that a person can lose his salvation, it also must teach that he can never be saved a second or third time. In other words if this refers to apostasy, once a saved person turns his back on Christ, he cannot be restored to salvation again. He is lost forever.
I want to make it crystal clear that I believe we have a secure salvation because Scripture is very clear on this point. There are many Scriptures that assure the believer that once one is saved he/she can never be lost again.
The Lord Jesus Christ … makes some tremendous statements about our absolute security. For example…
27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.
What kind of life? “eternal life”, If you can lose it, it is not eternal! Which will make our Lord Jesus a liar. But of course, we all know that Jesus does not lie. He is “the Way, The Truth, and The Life”.
“and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand”. It is not a question of anyone’s ability to hold on to Him, it is His ability to hold on to you.
How is it possible for anyone to experience all that described in verse 4 and 5 and still not be saved, we ask? Lets, let scripture give us the answer…
9 But there was a certain man called Simon, who previously practiced sorcery in the city and astonished the people of Samaria, claiming that he was someone great, 10 to whom they all gave heed, from the least to the greatest, saying, “This man is the great power of God.” 11 And they heeded him because he had astonished them with his sorceries for a long time. 12 But when they believed Philip as he preached the things concerning the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, both men and women were baptized. 13 Then Simon himself also believed; and when he was baptized he continued with Philip, and was amazed, seeing the miracles and signs which were done.
So… it is clear, that Simon, believed, followed the disciples, and was baptized! But something clear was revealed about Simon. Did he really believe in Jesus? Or did he just believe for some other reason?
18 And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” 20 But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! 21 You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God.
“You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God”. Which means that, being saved, receiving the Holy Spirit, is all by God’s power. No one has any part in this matter. ITS ALL GOD!!!
“for your heart is not right in the sight of God” Anyone can carry the name Christian, a believer. But it is God who knows the heart. if you have been born again, then your heart has been changed. You will truly follow, obey God’s commands. Because your new heart, has the same heart as Christ, which is truly in love with God.
Perhaps the best example is Judas. Judas as one of the Lord’s disciples, walked and talked daily with the Lord, heard his preaching, witnessed his miracles and was one those sent out to preach the “good news.” Yet Jesus called him the “son of perdition” and a “devil”
Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?”
Judas did not lose his salvation, he never had it. In spite of all the advantages he possessed and his enormous exposure to the truth, it is plain that he resisted and ultimately rejected Christ and turned away to a sad death and eternal judgment.
We must remember there is a great difference between “falling” and “falling away.” Falling, means simply to stumble or to fall down. Falling away… isn’t just falling into some sin, it is actually departing from Jesus Himself.
For a righteous man may fall seven times
And rise again, But the wicked shall fall by calamity.
The righteous man…those who have been truly saved, will persevere. There is no failure in Christ’s redemption.
We need to make something very clear. Does God ever reject anyone who comes in genuine repentance? The answer of course is, No! He is always ready to save the sinner who turns to Him for grace. “God has pledged Himself to pardon all who truly repent, but Scripture and experience alike suggest that it is possible for human beings to arrive at a state of heart and life where they can no longer repent. They just really love to sin more than they love God.
Another good example of this would be the Biblical character named Esau…
16 lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright. 17 For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.
“fornicator or profane”, in the NIV… “sexually immoral, or is godless” Don’t make the mistake of thinking that Esau genuinely repented and was rejected by God. God does not reject genuine repentance, the text plainly says “he found no place for repentance.” In other words, he could not repent. He was so hardened, that he cried out for things to go better in his life, but inside he would not submit to God’s terms. He really did not want to repent. His heart was not right with God.
Now… we get to a very important question, a self-examination if you will. IS THIS TRUE OF ME?
Is my heart right with God? Satan uses these verses to unsettle believers who are having physical, mental, or emotional difficulties. They fear that they have fallen away from Christ and that there is no hope for restoration. They worry that they have drifted beyond redemption’s point. Yet…it is possible to get just enough of the gospel to make you immune, but will not allow it to work deeply enough to save you!
You see… the big difference between the times that we stumble & fall, and falling away completely is this… When we do stumble and fall, we get right back up again, and that is by Gods power. We see the fault of our sin, our weakness, and God restores us back to fight the battle, and persevere. Completely falling away, is just like, Simon the sorcerer, Judas, Esau, and so many more. They were never really truly converted. Again, they held on to sin… sin deliberately, and was not at all in any area of their lives to repent.
Going back to our opening verse. Can anyone really crucify Christ again?
6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace.
What this verse reveals is that one who has come this close to the gospel and turned away is actually worse off than someone who never heard in the first place. We see it in the world around us. Many of the harshest critics of Christianity, like Ted Turner, are those who were once professing Christians! Christians who turns into atheists. They mock Jesus, they do their best, profess their best that at one time I was Christian, but not anymore. And they give their story as to why they don’t believe…follow anymore.
When anyone has heard the gospel and then turns away, he has done exactly as those Jews who condemned Jesus to the Cross.
Another important question, Is It Possible To Truly Be A Christian And Have No Fruit? Lets see what scripture will say…
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.
An easier translation…
Hebrews 6:7-8 (NIV)
7 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 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.
Now the writer turns to the world of nature to find a counterpart to the true believer (v. 7) and to the unbeliever (v. 8). In both cases the person is likened to the land.
The true believer is like the land “which drinks in the rain,” brings forth useful vegetation, and is blessed by God. In verse eight the one who refuses to believe is like land that also is well watered but it “bears” nothing but “thorns and briers,” the fruit of sin. It receives the same rain, but never produces useful fruit. Such land is worthless. It is condemned already. Its destiny “is to be burned.”
There was an ancient practice of burning the ground to destroy the weeds and make the field useful again. Land that produced nothing, but weeds faced nothing but fire! Sometimes you will see that in the mountains, they would close one lane or redirect you because they are clearing the land. (You would see signs, controlled fire.)
The author of Hebrews does not believe one can lose his salvation, or that his readers had, but he speaks to demonstrate the folly some might have in imagining that they can turn back to the old ways without suffering loss. THEY WERE NEVER SAVED. BECAUSE GOD DOES NOT FAIL!
Failure to heed a warning can have disastrous effects. A tragic illustration of this occurred on January 16, 2005 on the ski slopes of Park City, Utah. Officials carefully monitor the mountain for danger of avalanches. Signs are erected clearly marking certain dangerous areas “out of bounds.” The signs read, “You Are Leaving The Ski Resort, YOU COULD DIE!” Yet in spite of the warning, one skier, Shane Maxiner skied out of bounds and was crushed to death by a massive avalanche.
True Christians pay attention to spiritual warnings. Don’t leave God’s clearly marked path for you, to do so is to invite disaster.
I do hope and pray that the message today is both encouraging and scary. Encouraging in a way that we can rely on Gods promise of salvation simply because He did say… “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand”. That alone should make one persevere to the very end.
“Scary” in a way that, we cannot play around with God. It comes with an eternal judgement. God will not allow anyone to shame His name, or the Name of His Son. You know, I really hate it when I hear someone say, “give Jesus a try, what do you have to loose?” “Give Jesus a try?” so, if it doesn’t work, I didn’t get what I want, ill just go back to the world! You either belong to Jesus, or you belong to satan. No middle ground.
16 You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.
Pastor Richard Santos
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