Hebrews and the Unforgivable Sin

The Book of Hebrews is a most detailed look at sanctification and why Christ is superior to the Old Testament system of sacrifice. It was written to a Jewish audience in an attempt to explain to all who read it, believer and unbeliever, why Christ’s sacrifice took the place of the blood of animals and how it enables us to progress in the Christian life.

In the course of explaining this subject, the Apostle Paul wrote some controversial passages of Scripture. We must remember that Paul was speaking to an audience of both believers and nonbelievers. I will deal with the second of those passages here.

26 If we deliberately keep on sinningg after we have received the knowledge of the truth,h no sacrifice for sins is left, 27 but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging firei that will consume the enemies of God. 28 Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.j 29 How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of Godk underfoot,l who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenantm that sanctified them,n and who has insulted the Spirito of grace?p 30 For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,”d q and again, “The Lord will judge his people.”e r 31 It is a dreadful things to fall into the handst of the living God.u (NIV).

No other passage of Scripture is perhaps more somber than this one in its warning. And also it is one of the more controversial. Many who read this will fear that they have willfully sinned “too much” and have thus trampled the blood of Christ and have nothing to expect except fiery judgment. And it is easy to see how one would think that given a simple reading of the passage. God takes sin very seriously, even in the life of a true Christian.

But what does “keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth” mean in this passage” mean? Answering this question will unlock the meaning of the entire passage.
We must note that it mentions sinning after receiving the knowledge. So it means hearing the truth (receiving it) and then afterwards keep on with sin. The KJV renders it as “if we sin wilfully”. This I think is a bit better.

Clearly this passage speaks of someone receiving an angry and fiery judgment. No doubt it is talking about Hell as it mentions no sacrifice for sin is left. Notice it says no sacrifice is left! Throughout this book Paul has been telling them why Jesus was superior to the sacrifice of animals. It is like he is saying to them that to turn from Christ is to reject the sacrifice. In fact this is exactly what he is saying. He is telling them if you turn from Christ, no sacrifice can save you!. These people had received the Gospel (heard it) and were in danger of rejecting it. The sin talked about here is to remain in unbelief. Those who rejected it were like the sow that was washed and then returned to the mire. They were “sanctified” in an outward sense and had sinned against the Holy Spirit (v.29). This is mentioned previously in the Gospels as being the only unforgivable sin, remember? The Pharisees had seen enough of Jesus to know the truth but yet rejected Him out of hard hearts.

It does also mention believers though. The Lord says He will judge His people. We as Christians are accountable for our actions as ambassadors for Christ. The world sees what we do as does God. He will judge us for the good and the bad.

When you interpret this passage from this angle, you see that it lines up with what the Word says about the rejection of Christ being the only unforgivable sin. People can appear to be Christians but in reality they have not accepted Christ.

There are times when we become fearful because of sin we have committed. And that is a good sign that our conscience is in working order! However guilt can also weigh you down. Remember that Christ died to take your guilt away from you. He placed that on His own shoulders, that burden you could never deal with!

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No Taboos: Living Water

How many times in life have we run across someone who we did not think we would want to talk to? How many times have we maybe even looked down on someone and not even realized it? The fact is that we all as Christians have failed to act like Christ in dealing with the world around us. We say that when the time comes we would talk to anyone, witness to anyone. But there are times when we fail to uphold our promise. We choke!

The scenario of the woman at the well is like this. Jesus’s followers, his 12 apostles, I am sure no doubt had said they would follow Him wherever. Here is where Jesus had an excellent opportunity to show His love for all people. This woman was a Samaritan. In Jesus’s time, the Jews and the Samaritans did not socialize with each other and would go out of their way to avoid traveling into each others territory.
This attitude arose because of religious and cultural differences. The Samaritans believed that Jehovah should be worshiped on Mt. Gerizim instead of Jerusalem. The Samaritans were the product of Jewish unions with pagans and were considered to be unworthy of association with any self respecting Jew.

Yet here in this story we find the Lord not only in Samaritan territory, but also breaking another taboo: He was speaking to a woman! The custom of the day was that Jewish men did not publicly speak to women. Jewish society over the years had developed a less than ideal attitude towards women, and this extended all the way from the religious leaders down to the laymen.

And not only was Christ talking to a Samaritan who was also a woman, He was talking to a Samaritan woman who had a reputation for going from man to man. This woman was an adultress!
The narrative explicitly brings out these details of the Lord’s activity here. This was a person who no Jew would have associated with. Indeed, the Apostles all stood back while Jesus talked with her. They did not want to talk with her!

Jesus looked at this woman as He did all the other people He had associated with, and that was someone who He was going to die for. His objective was not only to minister to this woman, but to make a point of showing the Apostles that they were to let no barrier stand between them and the people He loved. In other words, they were to minister to all!

Jesus today, just as He did then, expects us to break barriers. No soul is worth losing because of something that we let stand in the way. As Christians, we have the living water which Christ spoke of. We are to tell everyone who will listen what we have and how they can drink it.

Hebrews 6: Sanctification and Fellowship

 

I do not think I have seen a passage of the Bible that is more controversial. This passage is frequently quoted by many as being something that has scared them about their eternal destiny.

This is a passage I myself struggled with for many years, fearing the same. But the Lord has given me some insight as to what Paul is talking about here.
If you turn to the Book of Hebrew, in the 6th chapter, you will find this passage. The passage reads from the KJV:

1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance fromdead works, and of faith toward God,
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment.
3 And this will we do, if God permit.
4 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,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 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.
7 For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God:
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.

Sounds scary at first glance right? I know it did to me when I first read it many years ago.
I spent years trying to determine the true meaning of this passage.
Several interpretations are common.
One is that the people in question are in fact true Christians and that they could lose their salvation and go to Hell. The term “fall away” is key in this scenario. But this is where the interpretation fails. The phrase “fall away” here does not mean apostasy. From my understanding in that case “apostasion” would be more appropriate.
A second interpretation is that they are people who were almost Christians. They had received all of the knowledge necessary to be saved yet turned away from the truth. This view is much better than the first but also fails. At the end of the previous chapter we can see that they are in fact REAL Christians as Paul says they are needing milk when they should be eating meat. Dead folks don’t need food, they need LIFE!
Another view seems to say that if you do not go on to maturity the Lord will not let you progress. This chapter of Hebrews does mention that they would leave the elementary principles of the faith….if the Lord permits. This is where the view comes from. However I do not believe the rest of the text supports this.
There are two fields mentioned in this passage, the one that bears thorns and the one that bears fruit. These both receive the same rain from God. The field that has thistles is nigh unto cursing. Please note that this passage does not say is cursed, but rather is nigh unto cursing. This is one of the keys to interpreting this passage. Paul then mentions the things “which accompany salvation”. Salvation itself is not the subject here, but rather sanctification! These Christians were letting sin be a stumbling block to their growth, towards greater sanctification.

In conclusion we can then reasonably say that this passage has no bearing on salvation at all. It is a statement that while a Christian is letting sin hinder his walk with God, his fellowship will suffer.
Their lives are not the example of Christ that they should be.

Hardness of Heart: Divorce

Far too often we see in Christian marriages that the “other person” is to blame for the downfall of a marriage. In some cases the other person might share the majority of the blame.

Matthew 19:8 has the Lord telling us,  “Moses permitted you to divorce your wives because your hearts were hard. But it was not this way from the beginning.” We see here that God’s ideal for marriage does not include divorce, but rather he granted it due the fact that our human hearts get hard sometimes. Let me make it clear here that my belief is that if your heart gets hard, then that is no one’s fault but your own. It might sound judgmental, but it is not intended to be.

As a non-biblically divorced Christian, I can tell you that divorce is not God’s will for the Christian couple. I do believe that pride can play a role in the downfall of a marriage, and it can do so by you refusing to let some of your “needs” go when your spouse does not respond the way you feel they should.

Proverbs speaks of this when it mentions that pride goeth before a fall. In other words it is better to be humble than to seek your own desires to the point that you wind up arguing or getting upset with each other. I do not think that anyone especially Christians go into a marriage really thinking they will divorce. But unfortunately because of the aforementioned reason it does happen.

Since this hardness of heart causes one spouse to say, “I QUIT!”, the other is left with feelings of loneliness, anger, and resentment at being betrayed. I know this for myself! You are left with the feeling that the who pledged their lives to you turned their back on you. IT HURTS! And unfortunately the marriage is irretrievably broken. But it is broken because the person who left is not willing to repent. Or it can also be a combination of both.

There is of course a centuries-old argument within the Church as to whether or not a person who has divorced and remarried unbiblically can go to Heaven. This is also an important issue here. One thing I have learned is that it is best not to worry about finding someone else, but rather to focus on doing the best where you are at. How can you serve God in your current condition? Focus on that and hand your marital situation over to the Lord. His ministry is all about reconciliation. So let Him attempt to work on not just your spouse, but also YOU. It may well be that you can reconcile with your spouse. Or it might not happen. But your responsibility is to honor God in whatever situation you find yourself in.

But what if you have remarried? This is where the controversy comes. A lot has been said about adultery being the only valid grounds for divorce. Some folks see NO valid grounds for divorce. And there will be some who disagree with me when I say that adultery, whether it be physical or romantic, is in fact a legitimate ground for a divorce. In that case you are free. But even if you have the option of divorcing, it is just that: an option! God would love to see reconciliation happen, and this is because what He does with us! He gave His Son Christ to die for us so that we could be reconciled to Him!

Whether you agree with me or not, if you have taken the time to read this, I hope you have been blessed and have had your mind stretched a bit!