[a] A few days ago, I was asked about what is acknowledged to be one of the most difficult passages in Scripture.
[b] It appears to state categorically, that a backslider, has no hope of returning to the Lord and being reinstated in their Christian experience!
Heb. 6:4-9, "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. 7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God. 8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. 9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
1 John 5:16, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it."
[c] The Sunday School teacher, was telling his class the story of the Prodigal Son. Wishing to emphasise the resentful attitude of the elder brother, he laid stress on this part of the parable.
After describing the rejoicing of the household over the return of the wayward son, the teacher spoke of one who, in the midst of the festivities, failed to share in the jubilant spirit of the occasion. "Can anybody in the class," he asked, "tell me who this was?"
Nine year old Olivia had been listening sympathetically to the story. She waved her hand in the air. "I know!" she said beamingly. "It was the fatted calf."
[d] We all know the story of the Prodigal Son so well, and the welcome back by the father, to the wayward son, who'd gone away into sin! Can any of us doubt, that Jesus was teaching, that there is forgiveness for the backslider?
[a] So where does that leave us with our reading? Does the Bible, as some dare to suggest contradict itself? Can the Prodigal still return, or is there no way back for those who stray into sin?
[b] It is interesting to note, that the Apostle Paul had this same fear, that there was the danger he would be "Disqualified."
1 Cor. 9:27, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway."
[c] What motive could Paul have in saying this - if it wasn't possible - if it wasn't a genuine fear?
[d] You see, the writer to the Hebrews, actually puts it very strongly indeed. Listen to it in a modern rendering -
Hebrews 6:4-6 (The Message)
Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit,  once they've personally experienced the sheer goodness of God's Word and the powers breaking in on us—  if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can't start over as if nothing happened. That's impossible. Why, they've re-crucified Jesus! They've repudiated him in public!
[e] I think we can see the progression. It is not speaking of the 'here today, gone tomorrow type of Christian - you know the ones who only put on a pretence of being saved - as if it fools anyone!
No it is speaking of those who have truly 'seen the light', and found Christ! They have tasted of the powers of the world to come (of Heaven) - perhaps referring to the Holy Spirit and His gifts in their lives.
[f] We find this same thought in Ephesians. 1:13 - 14
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Now you say, "Stop speaking in tongues - what does it mean?"
'The Message' paraphrase puts it like this, Ephesians. 1:14
This signet from God is the first instalment on what's coming, a reminder that we'll get everything God has planned for us, a praising and glorious life.
I once heard someone preach on this verse, and he said, that when he put down the deposit on his house, he was literally saying, "There's a lot more of like kind coming in the future!"
I remember him saying something that has stayed with me down through the years, "It's a little bit of Heaven, to go to Heaven in!"
What a glorious picture of what our Christian life should be like - not endured - but enjoyed!
When you look at many Christians, is it any wonder people don't want to be saved??
[a] It also speaks about experiencing "the good Word of God." Those of us who are saved, know that "Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God." Nothing or no-one can substitute the 'God-breathed' word of Holy Scripture to the soul, and the work of Salvation it can accomplish!
[b] Apart from that, subsequent to Salvation, if we are not fed on a diet of Scriptural food, we will remain spiritual dwarfs - so the Word of God is of ultimate importance.
[c] Another thing about this, is that the Word of God brings knowledge!
[d] The unsaved person starts off from a position of ignorance! The Word of God enlightens them!
Not so the backslider! They start off from a position of knowledge - they know the truth, and have chosen to disobey it!
[a] Unsaved people in their ignorance mock, ridicule and scorn Christ! You remember the words of Jesus on the Cross, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!"
Only Christians Are Truly Capable of Shaming Him Through Renouncing Him in public!
[b] Although they are crucifying Jesus afresh "to themselves", it is a public act! It is saying to all in sundry, “I’ve tried it, it doesn’t work! It is a public vote of no confidence in Jesus!.
[c] It says very clearly, "Put Him To Open Shame".
[d] It is treating the Saviour with Contempt!
"… seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame."
[a] The question is, is there a point of no return, which once passed, means a person can never come to God again in repentance, and be spiritually restored? Certainly the Scripture we’re looking at seems to suggest it!
[b] There are other warnings in Scripture in a similar vein.
Heb. 10:28-30, "He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified , an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people."
1 John 5:16, "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death; I do not say that he shall pray for it.
[c] In verse 3 of Hebrews 6, it states categorically, “IF GOD PERMIT!” and then goes on to explain under what circumstances His permission would be withheld.
[d] We sometimes forget that Jesus says, John 6:44 “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day.”
There can be no response from any of us to the Lord, without the voice of the Spirit in our hearts.
[e] The Scripture warns, in Ephesians 4:30, “Grieve not the Spirit.”
A modern rendering (The Message) puts it like this,
Don't grieve God. Don't break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don't take such a gift for granted.
It also says, in 1 Tim. 4:2 about those,
“Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron.”
[f] I remember a certain man, and a medical condition had made him lose and awareness of pain in his hands.
He would be smoking a cigarette, and it could burn right down to his fingers, and give him quite a bad burn, and he wouldn’t even be aware!
The Bible is saying, that some people have that sort of insensivity to God’s Holy Spirit!
[g] We’ve noticed already, we cannot come to God, unless we are aware of the Holy Spirit’s conviction of sin, righteousness and judgement to come.
[h] If over a long period of time, we have desensitised ourselves to His voice, then it is impossible for there to be a response, because we are aware of nothing to respond to!
We would have induced in ourselves a form of spiritual blindness which is permanent!
[i] However, if there is that still small voice of the Spirit in our hearts, telling us to make things right with God, then we know we have still the opportunity! If there is still conviction; if there is still concern; if there is still conscience; then we know it is not too late!!
Isa. 59:1-2, "Behold, the LORD'S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: 2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear
2 Chron. 7:14, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land."
2. 1 John 1:9, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
MAJESTY - 45 IN H & H
MOVE HOLY SPIRIT - 47 IN H & H
COME ALIVE IN CHRIST - 10 IN H & H
Overhead Projector - ‘The Voice of the Spirit’
THE VOICE OF THE SPIRIT
(Tune - South Shields )
Jesus calls to thee Oh sinner,
Do not turn from Him away;
Come and now accept His mercy,
Now is the accepted day;
God the Spirit has now spoken,
Of your misery and sin,
And of Jesus death on Calvary,
That you might have peace within.
But a warning must be given,
For the Spirit can be grieved,
By the soul with whom He's pleaded,
Who will not on Christ believe:
God has warned, His Holy Spirit
Will not always strive with man;
Oh accept His free Salvation,
Find forgiveness, while you can.
Now to those who heed His pleading,
Of Salvation while they may,
They will find a sweet companion,
To be with them every day;
Power to live and work for Jesus,
Winning other souls to Him,
Shining brightly in the darkness,
With the Light that will not dim.