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 Works versus Faith (Part 10) — Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27

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PostSubject: Works versus Faith (Part 10) — Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27   Wed Oct 21, 2015 10:42 pm

Works versus Faith (Part 10) — Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27

We are continuing our series concerning passages that are typically misinterpreted and used to prove that a Christian can lose his or her salvation and therefore conclude that salvation is based on works.  There are 3 passages in Hebrews I’d like to cover, but only 2 today.  Hebrews 6:4-6 reads, “It is impossible for those who have been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”  It’s a very long sentence.  Let’s try to follow it.  It mentions that this hypothetical person has been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age—that sounds like a Christian to me.  So I agree with people who misinterpret this verse in the point that this is talking about a Christian.  It goes on to say that if they fall away that it is impossible for them to be brought back to repentance and it gives the reason: because they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him to public disgrace.  That sounds terrible.  What does it mean?  

We pointed out in an earlier post that the bible says that once you have the Holy Spirit, you are sealed with it until the Day of Redemption.  That means you can’t lose Him.  It also says in Romans 8:9 that only Christians have the Holy Spirit, and if you do not have Him that means only that you are not a Christian.  Romans 8:9 is saying that all Christians have the Holy Spirit.  We also know that the bible does not contradict itself (though it may appear at times to do so).  

One important thing to note in this passage in Hebrews is that this theoretical Christian is accused of subjecting Christ to public disgrace.  If a Christian falls away privately this passage does not pertain to such a person.  It is talking about Christians who defame Christ among others (Christians and non-Christians).  It is talking about someone who is known to be a Christian by all, and known to be spiritual and holy-like and everyone witnesses their fall and rebellious turn of lifestyle.  Also, if a person is a Christian and nobody else knows they are one because they live life as a secret agent Christian who resembles the rest of the world, this passage is not talking about such as a person as that as well.  It says that the reason why it is impossible for them to be brought back is because they are crucifying the Son of God all over again AND subjecting Him to public disgrace.  So this passage has something to do with the community of the believer it is describing.  When Jesus was crucified it was a public display.  All around witnessed what the Romans and Jews did to Him.

So the only questions we need to answer in order to understand this verse are: “Impossible for who?”  and “Who is the one or ones doing the bringing back? [brought back]”.  To answer this, let me ask the reader another question: Is there anything impossible for God?  The bible declares that there is nothing impossible for God. To be clear, the only thing impossible for God is for Him to lie or sin.  Luke 1:37 says, “For nothing is impossible with God.”  Luke 18:27 says, “What is impossible for men is possible with God.”  And who is the one or ones doing the bringing back?  Remember, this passage is concerning the community of the believer.   So it is a combination of the Christian believers trying to bring back their Christian friend to repentance and it is the Christian himself who fell away: that is, it is impossible for him to bring himself back to repentance; and, it is impossible for his Christian friends to bring him back.  

But this raises another question: Are we to conclude that a Christian can fall away and then once fallen that they cannot later repent and become saved again?  No one believes this, not even those who use incorrectly use this passage to prove that a Christian can lose his or her salvation.  They argue that, but still understand that the door of salvation is always open to the person as long as he or she has breath and is able to repent of their sins and accept Christ.  This passage is not saying that it is impossible for such a person to be brought back to repentance.  What this passage is saying is that it is impossible for such a person to be brought back to repentance by human effort. When a person falls so far after being so close then only God is able to bring this person back to repentance by His acts of discipline.  Not even the person himself can turn within his own capacity.  It would take God’s discipline and workings to lift this person back up who has fallen so low.  And that is all this passage is saying. It is not saying that a Christian can lose his or her salvation.  This hypothetical Christian it speaks of never lost his or her salvation.  He or she lost only their close fellowship with God and are not under the judgement of God.  Such a person is now so attached to the world that only God can bring them back to true fellowship.  

The other passage in Hebrews that I would like to cover is Hebrews 10:26-27, which reads, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” This is similar to the last passage we just looked at, except it looks like the person is now getting thrown into Hell.  So people incorrectly interpret this passage to be saying: “The Christian person who rebels and rebels after being saved and understanding the Word has lost his or her salvation and is now destined to Hell because the Cross no longer covers their sins.”  But does the Cross ever stop working on our behalf?  Is such a rebellion against God possible to make this happen?  Well, if this were to ever happen, then God would have to go back on His Word for it to occur.  We have already looked at several passages that state that the Cross never stops working on our behalf.  Paul raises the question in Romans 8:35, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?”  He is talking about Christians.  He goes on to say, “I am convinced that neither death [death includes physical and spiritual death] nor life [life means anything you do while alive whether good or bad], neither angels nor demons [Satan cannot do it], neither the present nor the future [this covers both your present and future sins.  It says it includes anything that could possibly happen in the future for you.], nor any powers, neither height nor depth [you can’t out run Him], [and in case he missed anything he says:] nor anything else in all creation [and remember, you are part of that creation, so not even you can separate you from the love of God by your actions], will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus.

There is an interesting point made in Hebrews 9:24-26.  For reference, I’ll quote it in entirety as follows: “For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence.  Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own.  Then Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world.  But now he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself.”  He is saying that Jesus presented His sacrifice in the Most Holy Place in Heaven as a one-time deal, unlike the earthly priests who had to keep making sacrifices for the continual sins of the people.  Jesus does not have to keep dying on the Cross for sins we will do in the future.  He covered all sins past, present and future on the Cross as a one-time atonement.   Romans 6:9-10 makes a similar point.  It states, “For we know that since Christ was raised from the dead, he cannot die again; death no longer has mastery over him.  The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God.”

Let’s talk about this “fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.”  First of all, who are these enemies?  The writer of Hebrews is clearly talking to Christians and his topic is concerns believers.  This verse is calling Christian believers “enemies of God” when they “deliberately keep on sinning.”  They are going against the will of God and His direction, and hence become an enemy of God while at the same time still being His son or daughter in Christ.  This is not the first time God calls His own saved people an “enemy.”  An example of this is in Matthew 16:23.  Jesus says in verse 21 that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.  Peter rebukes Jesus in the next verse, saying, “Never, Lord! This shall never happen to you!”  Jesus rebukes Peter back by calling him an enemy: He calls him Satan himself.  Verse 23 says, “Jesus turned and said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to me; you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.”  Whenever we have in mind the things of men over the things of God we naturally become an enemy of God even though we have not lost our salvation.  

Isaiah 63:10 is another example of God calling His own people His enemy.  It reads, “Yet they [the house of Israel] rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit.  So he turned and became their enemy and he himself fought against them.”  He calls the people of Israel His enemies also in Isaiah 1:24.  You might protest, “But that’s Old Testament.”  I’ll go back to the New Testament to quote 1 John 3:8 which reads, “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning.”  This supports why Jesus called Peter “Satan”.  Jesus said in Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.”  Just because we are God’s children by Covenant in Christ Jesus, does not mean that we are always God’s children-like by our actions, and He will call you and I His enemy whenever we act against His program.  If you think about what salvation is really about: it is about all of mankind being God’s enemies because of sin, and Jesus making atonement for our sins so that we will no longer be His enemy and be in His fellowship.  Ephesians 2:3 says that we were all by nature objects of wrath.  The only thing that makes anyone not God’s enemy is the blood of Christ, but even when we believe and become God’s friend by Covenant, He wants us to live up to this new relationship with righteousness or He will turn His back on us when we turn ours on Him.  To be clear, God turning His back on us, making us His enemy, is His loving way of disciplining us to make us turn back to Him.  In Jeremiah 18:17, God says of His disobedient children, “I will show them my back and not my face in the day of their disaster.”

Let’s now examine the punishment in Hebrews 10:27.  It says to expect “a fearful expectation of judgement and of raging fire.”  Those who use this passage to say that a Christian can lose his or her salvation assume that the “raging fire” is referring to Hell.  “Fire” does not always mean “Hell” in the bible, and that is not the meaning in this passage.  “Fire” refers to God’s judgement.  Mark 9:49, for example, Jesus says, “Everyone will be salted with fire.”  Note it says, “everyone.”  Is that saying everyone will go to Hell?  Of course not.  No one is exempt from God’s fire.  When Christians are thrown into the fire, they are being thrown into God’s loving discipline.  There is a fire being reserved for non-Christians, but sometimes God unleashes His fire of Wrath on unbelievers today.  Isaiah 30:27 says, “See, the Name of the LORD comes from afar, with burning anger and dense clouds of smoke; his lips are full of wrath, and his tongue is a consuming fire.”  My point is that “fire” in the bible does not always refer to Hell, but it does always refer to God’s judgement.  

So to wrap up this passage with a summary statement: To Christians, if you continue to rebel in sin and ignore God’s many warnings to repent, don’t rely on the Cross to free you from the fire of judgement that God is going to inflict on you.  The Cross won’t help you until either God finishes His punishment or God brings the offender to truly repents.  There is no middle ground where you can appeal to the Cross to escape the plight God has planned for you.  His punishment will be like Hell-on-Earth because it will be like a raging fire.  But always know that God always loves you and His punishment, like all things, is for the good; for God always works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.  His punishment is always designed to bring you to repentance.  He promised that we are sealed by the Holy Spirit for Heaven and have escaped the Wrath to come.  But we are still prone to His ongoing Hell-like judgments on His disobedient children.
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Works versus Faith (Part 10) — Hebrews 6:4-6; 10:26-27
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