Fallen Away (Part 2)

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 “For it is impossible to renew to repentance those who were once enlightened, who tasted the heavenly gift, became companions with the Holy spirit, tasted God’s good word and the powers of the coming age, and who have fallen away, because, to their own harm, they are recrucifying the Son of God and holding Him up to contempt” (Heb. 6:4-6, HCSB).

            In the last post, we considered Hebrews 6:4-6 and what the writer may have meant by “fallen away.”  We also discussed that this verse unsettles us because of what we imagine “fallen away” means—usually that we might sin past the point of no return.  After surveying the preceding chapters of Hebrews, it turned out this may not have been what the writer meant.

Throughout the book of Hebrews, the writer seems concerned that his readers not lapse into unbelief.  All of the things listed in the last post are avenues that can lead to unbelief.  Some examples: We might prefer the partial words of prophets to God’s full word in His Son.  Perhaps we think purification from sin is accomplished partly by the cross and partly through our religious behavior or rituals.  Or we may believe the way to life is through Christ *and* keeping the commandments (Gal. 3:21).  Like the Israelites that failed to enter the promised land, we may listen to voices that tell us the Christian life is too hard, too full of obstacles; God expects the impossible of us.

The writer of Hebrews presents Christ as the overwhelming and complete answer to the human condition.  Prophets, angels, or keeping the commandments are godly and spiritual but insufficient.  Their true purpose lies in pointing us to Christ.  If we treat them as ends in themselves, they have failed their purpose; they have led us to believe in them instead of Jesus.

Does God expect the impossible of us?  Yes He does.  But He has also made Christ our wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, redemption and everything else (1 Cor. 1:30).  What He has promised He has also performed in Christ (Rom. 4:21).  There is no way to out-fail the grace of God (Rom. 5:20).

            God’s salvation in Christ is so complete, so unchanging, so freely given we can’t fall away—unless we disbelieve Christ’s sufficiency; unless we try to gain God’s favor through pious devices.  If we turn away from such a free and all-encompassing grace, there is no alternative; there is nothing left to which we may repent.

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