March 5, 2009

A Most Difficult Passage

Dear Reader,

There are certain passages in scripture that leave us all perplexed. The beauty of these passages, is that the Lord uses them to drive us deeper into His Word, and thus, deeper into a realization that there are some things that we will not fully understand on this side of glory.

Hebrews 6:4-6 is one of those passages.

"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; and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 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".

What a frightful warning!

For very personal reasons, I have been led to study this passage with the desire to gain a more clear understanding. What I discovered is that this is one of those passages that has caused a great deal of division among those who wear Christ's name.

Very devout, learned men of God have come to different conclusions. I have been blessed by the insight of all I have read, and encourage anyone who might desire a deeper study of this passage to read as many sermons and commentaries as they can get there hands on. John Owen's Exposition of Hebrews Volume 5 was helpful; but I also discovered that many early church fathers differed from him; and, even Spurgeon came away with a different understanding of this passage than many of the great divines that he highly respected as gifted teachers and expositors. Contemporaries, who have also prayerfully studied this passage, come away with a different understanding.

I found Spurgeon's sermon on this passage extremely helpful and yet, not necessarily the true understanding and intent of God in this passage. I am not hoping for an answer. In fact, I do not need an answer. I trust that God included this passage for His own purposes. With every sermon and commentary I have read, they all leave one with more questions than with answers.

Let us never become so proud to think that we have it all figured out. This passage should simply bring us to our knees in reverent fear and deep love for Christ our Lord and Savior and compel us (if we profess His name) to live in such a way that our lives bring glory and honor to Him and, in so doing, we should find our greatest peace and pleasure.

I think we must all ask ourselves, "Why do I call myself a Christian?" "Who is the Christ that I say I follow?"

An excerpt from A.W. Pink.

An acknowledgement of the doctrine of the Gospel, where it is not accompanied by regeneration of heart, may indeed be suitably compared to the leaves of a tree which shelter and protect the fruit. Thus they are serviceable, though not valuable in God’s account. The leaf of the vine does more good to the grapes against a scorching sun, than the leaf of any other fruit tree—how much we may learn from God’s creatures if only we have eyes to see! So God’s elect have been outwardly shaded by the multitude of nominal Christians around them. For this we may well thank the kind providence of our Lord.

Moreover, God has rewarded the doctrinal faith of the great crowd of unregenerate professors by preserving our public liberties, which the little handful of the regenerate could never, humanly speaking, have enjoyed, without the others.

Again; the operations of the Spirit upon the reprobate have shamed the wicked, increased sobriety, promoted morality, and caused nominal professors to support externally the preaching of the Gospel, the carrying on of the ministry, and thus providing for the benefit of common hearers. This is all useful in its season, but will reap no reward in eternity. The writer most seriously doubts if there be a single church on earth today, having in it sufficient of God’s elect to support a preacher, were all the unregenerate in it excluded. Yea, most probably, most of God’s own sent-servants, would be so completely dismayed if they could but see into the hearts of those who have a name to live and are dead, that they would be in despair. Yet though we cannot see into the hearts of professors, we can form an accurate idea of what is in them, for "out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh". And the worldliness and emptiness of the ordinary speech of the majority shows plainly Who is not in their hearts.

We sincerely trust and earnestly pray that it may please our God to strike terror into the souls of many who read this article, that their false peace may be disturbed, and their worthless profession be exposed. Should some of the more thoughtful exclaim with the apostles, "Who then can be saved"? we answer in the words of our Lord, "With men this is impossible" (Matthew 19:26).

Conclusive proof is this, my reader, that no sinner can be saved by any act of his own; and faithfulness requires us to tell you frankly that if your hope of Heaven is resting upon your act of "accepting Christ", then your house is built upon the sand. But blessed be His name, the Redeemer went on to say, "But with God all things are possible". "Salvation is of the Lord" (Jon. 2:9), not of the creature (Rom. 9:16). Then marvel not that Christ said, "Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3).

1 comment:

Mel said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you for posting this!! I have pondered, chewed on, prayed about and fretted over this portion of scripture more than any other. Bless you for finding this nugget and sharing it here.