Summary: # 11 in a series on Hebrews. Ask and answers four important questions; Can a Christians Really Know they are saved? How is it possible for anyone to come so close and not be saved? How can anyone crucify Christ again? and Is it possible to truly Be a Chri
A Study of the Book of Hebrews
Jesus is Better
Sermon # 11
“Is It Ever To Late To Repent?”
In our last study the author of Hebrews had told the church that many of their number were “dull of hearing” (5:11) and were in need of someone to again teach them the ABC’s of the faith. He removes the complacency of those who hide behind the doctrine of the security of the believer while continuing to live a lifestyle that is anything but Christian. He calls for Christians to act like Christians, and to move on to maturity. The stark reality of the warning is that you are either pressing on to maturity as a believer or you are in danger of having tasted the gospel yet turning away in callous rejection.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, (5) and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,(6) if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. (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.” (NKJV)
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 college and were shaken to the core by the anti-Christian arguments of unbelieving teachers. 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?
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? This morning 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?
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 (Heb. 6:4,5). Yet those who are described within these verses have received profound spiritual blessings whether saved or not..
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. He is lost forever.
I want to make it crystal clear that I believe we have a secure salvation because Scripture is very emphatic on this point. There are many Scriptures that assure the believer that once he is saved he can never be lost again.
“The Lord Jesus Christ … makes some tremendous statements about our absolute security. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life” (John 10:27–28). What kind of life? Eternal life. If you can lose it, it is not eternal! “And they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29). It is not a question of your ability to hold on to Him; it is His ability to hold on to you.” [J. Vernon McGee. Thru The Bible Commentary. (electronic ed.- 1997.) (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1981)]