"So," they say, "nobody's perfect!"
But the Vinedresser won't buy that.
Given the opportunity, He will trim the unproductive suckers and shape the branches so each one will bask in Sonlight.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Terminal Backsliding

Hebrews 6:4-6 (LITV)  For it is impossible for those once having been enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of the Holy Spirit,  (5)  and tasting the good Word of God, and the works of power of a coming age,  (6)  and having fallen away, it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame. 

Impossible is a strong word. This passage harmonizes with Hebrews 10:18, and is the source of teachings that stress the possibility of being lopped off the vine that is Christ and thrown into the fire, without the possibility of re-repenting. What follows is the list of characteristics of those for whom this teaching applies:

  1. They have once been enlightened.
  2. They have tasted the heavenly gift, perhaps referring to the Bread of Life.
  3. They have shared in(partakers having became of) the Holy Spirit.
  4. They have tasted the goodness of the Word of God.
  5. They have tasted the powers(miracles--[Thayer]) of the (Messianic--[Strong]) age to come.
  6. They have fallen away(apostatize--[Strong]).

Their sin? Vs. 6: and having fallen away, it is impossible for them again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting Him to open shame.

Jesus' statement in Mark 3:28-29 and Matthew 12:31-32 gives rise to considerable controversy within the church, as it states that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is unforgivable. In context, however, we see that Jesus was referring to the Jews who accused him of performing miracles through Satan's power.

While these passages’ context obviously restrict their application to that situation, one must more closely compare them with Hebrews 6:6 due to the similar judgment associated with them. Jesus said a man may be forgiven any blasphemy, even against the Son of Man, but not against the Holy Spirit, while the Letter to the Hebrews' author specifies the sin as, "crucifying again for themselves the Son of God and putting Him to an open shame." So, what is the significance of crucifixion, that the penalty for crucifying again the Son of God should be irreversible?

Galatians 3:13 quotes Deuteronomy 21:23, ... "Cursed is everyone having been hung on a tree."

A Christ-follower who turns again to rebellion against God, returning to his unregenerate state as a dog returns to its vomit, in effect, crucifies, or curses, Jesus again by adding new sin to that for which the Savior’s blood already paid. And of course it follows that such contradiction of ones former Christian profession casts a reproach on Jesus' name and everything He did and stands for.

Though the apostate deserves his condemnation, unlike human religions, Christians leave the judgment to God alone. In fact, the most obvious distinction between Christians and Brand X religion is Christ’s love flowing through us, even for the “Infidel.”


1 comment:

Harold Key said...

Obviously, the English word order in any version is considerably different from the Greek manuscripts. Would it make some difference in theology if the words were re-arranged so as to read: "it is impossible again for them to renew to repentance"?
Not that they want to repent but God will not allow them to repent; but that they will not have even the desire to repent.