One of the most terrible passages in Scripture...

Okay, we can do this! Even though William Barclay said, “This is one of the most terrible passages in scripture,” it comes with hope (hope is the absolute expectation of coming good). Just like we chatted about last week, we’re all students of the Word. I don’t know everything about the Bible, but we were given the Holy Spirit to help, comfort, advocate, intercede, strengthen, counsel, and standby us (John 14:26, Amplified). I love how it’s said in Hosea 6:3, “Oh, that we might know the LORD! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring." Press on, friends. He’s going to respond to you and teach you. He loves you too much to leave you where you are today.  

“4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. 7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.”

-          That word impossible flickers like a neon sign in a dark alley. Impossible? Like, never able to occur or exist? Harsh. We are three words in and already stubbing our toe. And, you know what? That’s okay. When Scripture is presented to us and we’re unsure of its meaning or how to unpack it—don’t sell yourself the lie that you can’t do this. Many students of the Word try to find a way around this word impossible. It’s important we accept the Word as it is and spend time exploring the meaning.

-          First, let’s understand the historical context of Hebrews. This was during a time of incredible persecution of Christians. Choosing Christ meant choosing death, and denying Him was a body-blow to the church. Additionally, the receivers of the letter were Jewish Christians—well-accustomed to rituals and practices of Judaism. All their religious “repentance” in the world does them no good. David Guzik talks about it like this: Think about the Pharisees—they evangelized (Matthew 7:21-23), prayed quite impressively (Matthew 23:14), made religious commitments (Matthew 23:16), tithed without question (Matthew 23:23), honored traditions (Matthew 23:29-31), and fasted (Luke 18:12). Yet, they didn’t know the Lord (Matthew 7:21-23), and Jesus came to point that out clearly to them and others.

-          So how does reading about the historical context and the explanation of the Pharisee help us understand this? First, know that your salvation is secure. John 10:28 says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Should you choose to go back into the worldly scene, no religious action or ritual will bring you back to repentance. Now, it does say in Romans 2:4 that God’s kindness leads you to repentance. It’s impossible for those who have tasted God’s Truth to be “saved again” through works of the flesh because, like the author tells us in Hebrews 6:7, it would only produce a land with thorns and thistles. His love for you is not based on your performance. So, if you’ve walked away from God and haven’t genuinely repented, going to church on Sundays or throwing a few bucks in the offering plate isn’t going to restore you. Your salvation is secure, but chapter 6 is talking about being “brought back to repentance.” The soil of your heart will become hard and you’ll be “in danger of being cursed” as it says in the latter half of verse 7. However, if you allow the rain of God’s Word to fall on your heart and soak it in, God will produce in you a life worthy of the calling. You will be blessed. We must continually revisit the condition of our heart and allow God to test it and see what is good.   

-          Don’t deny the work of Christ in your life! There’s no need to strive to make yourself holy—it was taken care of already. You don’t need to crucify Christ all over again through your own performance and effort. He was enough and He’s ready to water your heart and bless you. Amen.