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The Sobering Reality of Apostasy - 22

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
February 25, 2024 6:00 pm

The Sobering Reality of Apostasy - 22

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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February 25, 2024 6:00 pm

This passage in Hebrews explains the sobering reality of fatal apostasy by those who experience many of the blessings of Christ. Pastor Greg Barkman continues his exposition in Hebrews.

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Well, today we come to Hebrews chapter 6, verses 4 through 6, considered by many to be the most difficult passage in all the Word of God. Certainly it is puzzling in many ways, and there are questions that are raised just by reading it. Does it, in fact, teach the possibility that a saved person can lose their salvation?

It seems to, upon the surface. How do we reconcile that, therefore, with other texts in Scripture that make it clear that salvation is eternal? When Jesus said, My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. I give to them eternal life and they shall never perish. Neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, contains me.

I forgot exactly the words now. And no one shall pluck them out of my Father's hand. And other texts like that, that make it very clear that salvation, when it begins, continues forever. It is not interrupted life.

It is eternal life that God gives us. And yet, here we have a passage that on the surface seems to be saying something else. If it does not teach the possibility of a safe person becoming lost, then how are we to understand the language of this text? And indeed, how can we ignore what it says? Because it is a very sobering text indeed. We must not ignore what it says, and we must not force it into a predetermined theology in order to make it fit what we believe it ought to say rather than what it actually says.

But we are bound to give it serious study with a willingness to accept what it truly teaches. And it is our prayer that the Lord will enable us to do that this morning. I read the text again, Hebrews 6, 4 through 6. For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put him to an open shame.

We begin by considering the context before we come back to the text, because the context is very helpful and I think very clarifying. And in the verses that follow, we have two approaches to the same truth. And one of them involves an agricultural illustration in verses 7 and 8, and the other one, an insightful evaluation in verses 9 through 12. And so now let's drop down to verses 7 and 8, which say, For the earth, which drinks in the rain that comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God, but if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. An agricultural illustration that involves, in the first place, a productive field, farmer's field, in verse 7, and secondly, an unproductive field, as described in verse 8. The productive field, in verse 7, receives attentive cultivation.

It says, he, the one by whom, these things, by whom it is cultivated, so this is a cultivated field that someone has taken attention and time to prepare, to plow, to make as fruitful as possible. It has received attentive cultivation, and it enjoys a sufficient nourishing rain. God does not withhold the rain. All the cultivation in the world is not going to produce a crop if God doesn't supply the rain. So on the one hand, the farmer has done his work to prepare the field. On the other hand, God has sent his blessing to nurture this prepared field with sufficient rain. And the result is that it yields an abundant crop, a satisfactory crop. It yields exactly what the farmer intended for that field to produce. I read it again for the earth, which drinks in the rain, verse 7, that often comes upon it and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God. A productive field that, in the end, is blessed by God. But in verse 8, we have an unproductive field.

But if it bears thorns and briars, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. Now please note that this unproductive field receives the same attentive cultivation. It's clear that this is two fields of one farmer.

They go together. What is said about the cultivation in verse 7 also applies to this field in verse 8. And furthermore, they both receive the same amount of plenteous rain, as you might expect if there are two fields that belong to one farmer in the same location. But the result of the farmer's labors and the result of the blessed rain that comes from God is entirely different. In the one field in verse 7, there are good crops. Good fruit is born. And in the other field, verse 8, it produces worthless vegetation that profits the cultivator nothing. It profits the rain that fell upon it nothing. And it is therefore described as rejected and cursed and burned.

The only thing it's good for is to burn up the weeds, the thorns, the thistles that grew up in that field and hopefully the burning of those plants will help nourish the soil for a more fruitful crop next time around. An agricultural illustration. And what is the message of this illustration? Well, it obviously applies to the verses we just read in verses 4 through 6.

The connection is very clear. Verse 6 says, if they fall away, the ones that are described in verses 4 and 5, if they fall away, it's impossible to renew them again to repentance since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put him to an open chain for, here's the connection, goes right on with the connection for the earth which drinks in the rain and so forth. Two categories who both receive many spiritual benefits is the application for this illustration.

It is referring to people described in verses 4, 5 and 6. Two categories of people who both receive basically the same spiritual benefits. The same attentive care of the farmer, the same plenteous rain that comes down from above. But one, and in the beginning they both seem to spring up something, don't they? But one bears a good spiritual harvest and the other produces worthless growth.

One is blessed by God, one is cursed by God. This is similar, I think you can see, to Christ's parable of the four soils. In that parable, which almost everyone is familiar with, Christ talked about a farmer, a sower, who goes out to sow seed, the word of God, and it falls in four different categories of ground. One quarter of the seed falls on hard soil, it does not penetrate, the seed is there but it does not penetrate the earth, and it is soon taken away by the birds of the air.

It has no beneficial results whatsoever. But in three of the four categories, we might say three fields, in this illustration in Hebrews we have two fields, but in the four soils we have the wayside, the road, that's not a field, but we have three fields. And in three fields the seed of God's word is sown, and in every one of them something comes up initially.

In one case something springs up, we're told in one category with joy, much enthusiasm for the word of God that has been sown in hearts, for that's what it's an illustration of. And yet before long it dies out. In one case the soil is not deep enough to bear the strength of the plant, it's a very shallow layer of soil, maybe only, I'm just surmising now, maybe only a quarter of an inch thick, and as soon as the root tries to go down it hits rock and so it doesn't find firm ground, it doesn't continue to grow, the sun comes and beats upon it and it dies. And in the second category it springs up, but it is crowded out by thorns and thistles like this illustration in Hebrews chapter six, and that too dies out. But only in a third category where the ground is well prepared to receive the seed does it grow up and up and up and up. It takes a little while to tell the difference between categories two and three that die out and category four that continues to grow up and bear a crop.

It grows all the way to fruitfulness and a good crop is received. We find something similar here in Hebrews six, not identical but similar. It is telling us therefore that those who are described in Hebrews six, four through six are counterfeit Christians. They have made a counterfeit profession of faith. They have professed to believe, they have professed to have become a Christian.

They give some evidence of that, at least early on. They look good for a while, but in the passing of time they fall away because their profession is not salvation. Their profession is not the new birth. Their profession is not the result of the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in their lives. And in time the fruit of their lives is seen to be only external, not internal.

And sometimes it's very difficult to tell the one from the other for a while. But eventually the true nature of a plant is shown as it grows up and either does or does not produce whatever was sown, does not produce wheat, does not produce corn, does not produce the crop that was intended to be sown in this field, but demonstrates that it is a maverick plant that grew up without coming out of the seed of God's word that was planted. And therefore the fruit of that plant eventually shows the true nature of what it is. That's the agricultural illustration of verses seven and eight, which is followed by an insightful evaluation verses nine through twelve.

And I read that again. But beloved, the writer of Hebrews says to the Hebrew Christians, but beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you. Better than what?

Better than the thorns and thistles that grew up in one of the fields. Better than the falling away that is described in verse six. We are confident of better things concerning you. Yes, things that accompany what? That accompany salvation. Evidently, whatever else is described here could not go into the category of things that accompany salvation.

It accompanies things that look a lot like Christianity externally and superficially, but it is not what accompanies salvation. The writer of Hebrews is very clear about that. We are confident of better things concerning you. Yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.

Even though we declare this warning, it needs to be heard. We tend to think that you fit into a better category than the one described in verses four through six. And he goes on in verses ten, eleven, and twelve to talk a little bit more about that.

But I will skip that for the time being. So this insightful evaluation of verses nine through twelve builds upon the helpful illustration of verses seven and eight. The writer says that better things are expected of those he's writing to. Things that accompany salvation, such as loving ministering to the saints in verse ten and persevering faith to the end of life, verses eleven and twelve. Lord willing, next week we'll get into this passage and deal with it in more detail. But it's interesting, what are the two things that are held up as preeminent evidences of genuine salvation? Number one, loving ministry to the saints. Do I need to insert here that you're going to have to be regularly with the saints to be able to lovingly minister to the saints? Being with them doesn't guarantee loving ministry, but being absent from them guarantees no loving ministry to them, right?

Loving ministry to the saints and persevering faith to the end of life. That's the context, all right? Now with that in mind, we go back and look at the text. I think this text would prove not to be quite so difficult if people would really give as much attention to the context as they sometimes do to the text. Have you heard us say it before? In the interpretation of scripture, context is what?

King. Context rules. Context reigns. Context determines how we interpret scripture.

And that is no more true anywhere else than it is here. This is a prime example of that. Now we go back and consider the text in the light of the context. The text, which seems so puzzling and difficult when we restrict ourselves just to verses 4 through 6, takes on an entirely different hue when we consider what is clearly said in verses 7 through 12 and then take that information back to examine the text again. And now we're doing that because context shapes the choices of various possible meanings of words and interpretations of phrases. Accurate interpretation is a very, what should I say, it's a very arduous task. It requires a lot of work. And as anyone who has worked at it very long knows, knowing the Greek doesn't always settle the issue.

A lot of people think that. If I just could understand the Greek then I'd understand everything that the Bible says or the Hebrew in the case of the Old Testament. Well, those of us who have studied the ancient languages can tell you that isn't always so because Greek words, like English words, have a variety of definitions for the same word, right? When I want to know the meaning of an English word I usually go to my shelf and pull out a Webster's Collegiate dictionary because it's manageable.

Now I know that dates me. I know you Google it, but I generally go to my shelf and pull down the dictionary and look it up. But if I really want to know more about it, I don't use that handy dictionary I can pull off my shelf. I go to the corner of my office where I have a book stand with a huge dictionary that I can hardly pick up.

It's so heavy. And I look it up in there. And what I find is a word that in my Merriam-Webster's Collegiate dictionary may have two, three, possibly four different meanings, different definitions for the same word. In this enlarged Merriam-Webster dictionary it may have 10, 12, 15 meanings for the same word. Now when it comes to translation work, when it comes to the interpretation of Scripture, how do you know out of all, because the Greek is the same and the Hebrew is the same, how do you know out of all of these possibilities which is the correct one?

Do you say eeny, meeny, miny, moe? Maybe it's this one, maybe it's that one, I don't know. Or do you look at the context and see if you can find any clues?

Ah, that's the answer. So now we go back to the text with the context in mind and let me see if I can go through these puzzling phrases. Can the text legitimately support the conclusion which we have drawn from the context? Are we doing the text an injustice? Are we trying to squeeze into the text things that aren't there with what I'm going to tell you about in a moment? Or are we interpreting it properly and soundly in the light of Scripture itself?

And I think we are doing the latter. So the question is in verses 4 and 5, how close can one come to salvation without being saved? And the answer is astonishingly close, amazingly close, astoundingly close.

This is where it should really sober us. Because now look at these five phrases that describe the person who falls away. Verse 4, for it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come. If they fall away or more accurately, having fallen away, it's impossible to renew them again to repentance.

Alright, five phrases to describe these people who fall away. Number one, they were once enlightened. What does that mean? Well, many times enlightened means inward illumination by the work of the Holy Spirit. Something almost synonymous with the word regeneration. But it doesn't always mean that.

This is one of those cases where there are other possibilities. And in some cases it simply indicates information and instruction. Those who formerly were informed about the gospel, informed about Christ, informed about Christianity, maybe to a great degree, maybe even went to seminary.

Yeah. They have been informed. They have been instructed. They were enlightened.

We understand that. If I came to you, I was listening to a program this morning on my way to church. I enjoy listening to NPR early on Sunday morning. Well, now they have a program by Rick Steves, the travel guy. You've probably seen him on television.

And he always has an interesting program. And this morning it was about a guy who had written a book about his experience of being on a cruise ship in Norway in a storm that almost sank the ship. But what was he doing out there primarily on that cruise ship? He wanted to see the Northern Lights. He'd never seen them. He wanted to see, I even know the technical name for that.

It wasn't mentioned in this program, but do you know what that is? The Aurora Borealis. That's what he wanted to see, the Northern Lights. Well, I know that much about them, but frankly I don't know much else about them. If you asked me about the Northern Lights, the Aurora Borealis, which you don't see in North Carolina, what could I tell you about them? Not much because I have not really been instructed. I have not really been informed in that particular category of scientific information. But if I would do some study, maybe take a class, I don't know if I can take a class on the Northern Lights, dive into information that's available to me, I could become very well instructed, very well informed about the Aurora Borealis so that I could explain it to you. But right now I can't because I have not been informed. I have not been instructed, but I could become informed. I could become instructed to the extent that I could even tell you a great deal about it. And it's possible for people to start out not having much information about the Bible and Christianity and Christ, but it is possible for them to become very instructed in these things, even to the extent that they could tell truth to others and yet still never truly be born again.

That should sober us. Those who were once enlightened, no longer ignorant, they certainly can't beg to be excused because of ignorance of these things. They know them very well. Secondly, have tasted the heavenly gift, also in verse 4. What is the heavenly gift?

Well, it could be several things. I think in the final analysis to understand this text, it doesn't really matter exactly what the heavenly gift is. The heavenly gift could refer to salvation. It is the gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast. The heavenly gift could refer to Jesus Christ himself. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son the heavenly gift. There are even references in scripture to the Holy Spirit being the gift of God. That could be the heavenly gift, except the Holy Spirit comes up again in this list.

So probably not because that would perhaps make the next reference redundant. But the point is this. They know a great deal about salvation.

They know a great deal about Christ. So much so that it can be said that they have tasted. Again, if we think this through, we would have to acknowledge that to taste something is not the same as ingesting it, right? You can sample taste things.

Some people do that even professionally. They get a little taste of this, a little taste of that to determine whether it needs something or another. Taste this wine, taste that wine, but not necessarily ingest it. When Jesus speaks about receiving him, he sometimes likens it to taking it in through the mouth, but not tasting, but eating.

Whosoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood. Obviously not literally. That's an analogy, but something more than a surface tasting. You can taste sample something without really making it part of you because you don't swallow it down and digest it.

And I think that helps explain what's going on here. They have tasted the heavenly gift. They've got a little sample of it. They know a little bit about what this tastes like, the potential of it, the joy of it, of salvation, of Christ.

But that's as far as they've gone. They've tasted the heavenly gift. Number three, they have become partakers of the Holy Spirit.

Now that one is even more astonishing. How do you explain that? Sounds like the writers talking about having become possessors of the indwelling Holy Spirit, but that's not what he says. To become partakers of the Holy Spirit indicates that in some way they have experienced the power of the Holy Spirit, but not unnecessarily unto regeneration. We'll see some illustrations of that in a moment.

But I think all of us can agree with that. Don't all of us know people who have testified that they have come under conviction but did not experience a new birth? They said no. They experienced something of the power of the Holy Spirit in their lives, and they hardened their hearts and said no. They, in that sense, became partakers of the Holy Spirit.

And there are other senses too, as we'll see in a moment. It's possible to experience the prophetic power of the Holy Spirit and not be saved. It's possible to experience the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit and not be saved. But number four, they tasted the good word of God, sampled the beauty and attraction of God's promises. When they came to understand the blessings of the promised Messiah, they were amazed. And they saw how Christ fulfills so many Old Testament prophecies. When they realized the beauty of Christ and the beauty of a world when the curse is lifted, and when righteousness prevails, when thy kingdom comes and thy will is done on earth like it is in heaven. What a beautiful thing.

You can appreciate that. You can experience the joy and the potential of that, the good word of God, but not make that the true foundation of your life. And finally, number five, the powers of the age to come, miraculous powers. This could either be referring to the age to come being the new covenant age, because he's writing to Hebrew Christians in the first century who are struggling to get out of the old covenant age into the new covenant age, out of the age that was into the age to come that was promised and filled with all the miracles of that first century time.

Or it could be referring to the coming kingdom. The Bible doesn't say a lot about the miracles that will no doubt be experienced in the eternal kingdom, but it wouldn't surprise us to think that there are good many of them. But you can experience the powers of the age to come. You can experience, not just observe, but experience the powers of the age to come. You can experience the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and not be saved.

How close can one come? He can be enlightened. He can taste the heavenly gift. He can become a partaker of the Holy Spirit. He can taste the good word of God.

He can taste the powers of the age to come and fall away and be lost. If they fall away or having fallen away, it's impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God and put him to an open shame. Here is apostasy described. What is apostasy? Falling away. Falling away from a former position.

Falling away from a former possession. Turning your back upon that which you once identified with and once claimed to believe. And in the case of this apostasy described here, an impossibility is declared. It is impossible to renew them again to repentance.

And the reason is given, and I'll say more about that in a moment, but let me insert this at this point. All of the problems for people who use this as a proof text for falling from grace, losing your salvation, are not solved by what's found in this text, because if that's what this is teaching, then it is possible to lose your salvation once having obtained it, which it doesn't teach that. But if you use it to teach that, it also teaches once fallen, never repent, never salvation. In other words, you can't be saved and lose it and be saved and lose it and be saved and lose it.

If you ever lose it, you'll never have it. Now that's not what it teaches, but you see what I'm saying? It's not really a good proof text for the Arminian position here at all. But now the reason why they can't be renewed to repentance is given, and in short, it is because they have deliberately and knowingly switched sides.

What do you mean by that? They crucify again for themselves the Son of God, put him to an open shame. Who crucified Christ? The enemies of Christ.

What do these people do? They have defected from the friends of Christ, his people, what they claim to be part of, to side with the enemies of Christ who put him to death. What have they done? They have crucified Christ in their own thoughts. They have, in effect, indicated that they agree that Christ ought to be crucified, that he was an imposter.

They switched sides. They betrayed the Son of God. And this text says if they do that knowingly, they will never be brought back to repentance. They can never be saved, no matter how long they live before they die.

That's sobering. Now, let me consider some examples, and I knew in inserting these into my notes that it would be challenging to get through them all in the time that's allotted, so I'll have to really summarize this and condense it, and you need to check it out more carefully. But let me give you five different examples of this very thing that's found in the Word of God, starting with Balaam the prophet. Do you remember him? Balaam, who was hired by Balak, the king of Moab, to curse the people of God before they actually came into the Promised Land in the days of Joshua. There's a lot about him in the Bible.

You'd be surprised. Three whole chapters are given to the account in Numbers 22, 23, and 24, but he's mentioned probably another nearly half a dozen times in the Old Testament, at least twice in the New. This is a real telling story, and what we know about Balaam the prophet is he was a prophet of God in the sense that he received direct revelation from God and was commissioned to preach it, to proclaim it to others. He received divine revelation and proclaimed the true Word of God. In fact, he recognized and told Balak that he would not be able to say anything except what God said to him. He couldn't say anything contrary to the revelation of God that came to him. He had that much fear of God, that much confidence in the Word of God, that much understanding that he was under authority of God and he was controlled by God and he couldn't do what God didn't allow him to do. I can't curse him. I'd like to.

He made it clear, I'd like to. I'd like to curse these people because he'd been offered big money to do it, but he said, I can't do it if God doesn't allow me to do it. And he received messages from God and he declared those beautiful prophecies in Numbers 22, 23, and 24 about the people of God.

They came out of the lips of Balaam when he really wanted to curse the people of God to earn big money, but he wasn't allowed to do it. Instead, he said exactly what God told him to say. He was a prophet of God. But it's clear that he loved money more than truth and righteousness. And he sided with the enemies of Israel in the end and went to hell when he wasn't, that's right, he went to hell.

I think the scripture is clear about that. When he wasn't allowed to prophesy against them to earn his wages, he says, but I can tell you, I can tell you how to defeat them. And he went to Balak and he told Balak, if you'll get them, if you'll get your people to seduce the Israeli men and to marry Moabitesh women and get them to worship our gods, contrary to the law of Israel, the law of God, that they should worship the Lord God and him only serve, then God will curse them.

I can't do it, but I can tell you how to get God to do it. And he did that why? So he could earn his big wages. He loved money more than he loved truth. He loved money more than he loved righteousness. He loved money more than he loved the people of God. He sided against the people of God. He sided with the enemies of God and he went to hell.

Second Peter talks about this. He's talking about false teachers and apostates, but these like natural beasts, made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand and will utterly perish in their own corruption and will receive the wages of unrighteousness as those who cannot pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are spots and blemishes carousing in their own deception while they feast with you, Christians. They sit on church pews and they put up a pretty good show as a Christian when they're around Christians, but at other times they're living in the world, shamefully, having eyes full of adultery that cannot cease from sin, enticing unstable souls. They have a heart trained in covetous practices and are accursed children. They are forsaken the right way and gone astray following the way of Balaam. Balaam went this way first and they're following it. The son of Bor who loved the wages of unrighteousness, covetous and so forth that goes on. Balaam clearly went to hell, but he was a prophet of God who received revelation from God and preached the word of God to others. Wow.

Who else? Have you considered the case of King Saul of Israel, the first king chosen by God to be king? And the Bible tells us he experienced a changed heart, but it was temporary. 1 Samuel 10, 5 and following. Samuel's speaking and he's speaking to Saul after he's anointed him to be king. And after that, you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is and it will happen. When you have come there to the city, you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine and a flute and a harp before them and they will be prophesying. Then the spirit of the Lord will come upon you and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. And it goes on and it says in verse 9, So it was when he had turned his back to go from Samuel that God gave him another heart.

And all these signs came to pass that day. His heart was changed to some in some way, to some degree. He received the spirit of God. He prophesied the word of God with the other prophets of God. And yet nothing could be clearer in the end in that he opposed God and ended up going to hell. If you want to see the contrast, you can see the difference between Saul and his son, Jonathan. Saul opposed the word of God, opposed the will of God, opposed the anointed of God. David tried to destroy him because he was covetous for the kingdom. Jonathan, who was in line to inherit the kingdom, was evidently a true believer, a regenerate man.

And in spite of the fact that David being anointed the next king meant he would never be king. He loved David. He loved the word of God. He he accepted the the appointments of God, the revelation of God. He submitted himself to the sovereignty of God. He demonstrated true spiritual fruit.

And he's the contrast to his father. His father had some remarkable experiences, but went to hell. Jonathan, we don't know that he ever prophesied.

We don't know that he had any of these extraordinary experiences that his father, King Saul, had. But Jonathan shows true spiritual life in his siding with God and with his word and with his people. He clearly was a saved man. Another illustration from the Bible. Do you remember Simon the magician in Acts chapter 8? That's a long story.

I don't think I can give you the whole thing. But revival broke out in Samaria, and the apostles came up to Samaria to check on this to see if this is really true. They'd heard the report. This was before the idea of the gospel going to Gentiles. It clearly registered with all of the people of God. So the apostles went up there to check on things, and sure enough, these people had been saved. And so they laid their hands on them, we're told. And in doing that, they received the Holy Spirit. And clearly they received the Holy Spirit in such a way that the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit were manifested in these new believers.

And Simon had been the big shot in town. He'd been working his magic, whether by the power of Satan or whether just tricks. Do you ever watch some of those magic shows like Penn and Teller? You can see some amazing things, but it's all just clever tricks. It's not really anything magical, but it appears to be.

I don't know which of those describes Simon, but what does describe him is, when he saw the real power of God falling upon people, he recognized that's superior to any power I had. I want that. And he offered to buy it, to purchase it. Why? Evidently, because he thought he could get a pretty good return on his investment.

He could make more money if he could do that than he was before. And what did Peter say to him? What did Peter say to him?

I'm looking through the passage. And when Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles hands, the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money saying, give me this power, that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit. But Peter said to him, your money perish with you. He's going to perish.

Your money perish with you. Because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money. You have neither part nor portion in this matter, this matter of salvation. You don't have any part in it. For your heart is not right in the sight of God.

That's the issue, your heart. Repent, therefore, of this your wickedness and pray, if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see you are in, for you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity. Did Simon at that point, was that describing a saved man? He tells us he believed the word of God and was baptized earlier in the account. Perhaps like some of you here today. Have made a profession of faith and have been baptized.

But you could be unregenerate. That's illustration number three. Illustration number four, maybe the most clear one is Judas Iscariot. Chosen by Christ to be an apostle, one of the twelve. Appointed to high position among the apostles, he was made treasurer.

Bad choice. He was embezzling money. But they trusted him.

They didn't see anything that made them think he was a crook. He preached the gospel and performed miracles right along with the others. Luke 9. Then Jesus called his twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases. And he sent them to preach the kingdom of God and heal the sick.

And they went and they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. Eleven of them. No, twelve of them.

Peter and John. Yes. Judas.

Yes. Preached the word of God and healed people and performed miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit. And he was lost and went to hell. He received the endorsement of eminent Christians leaders in his day. All the other apostles of Christ thought he was a genuine believer and they were mistaken, but he betrayed Christ for money.

That's a big issue, isn't it? Balaam sold out because he was covetous. Sold out for money. Judas sold out for money. He betrayed Christ for money.

He died by suicide and he went to hell. The Bible is clear about that. Jesus calls him son of perdition. John 17. Jesus calls him a devil. John Chapter six. The Bible tells us he went to his own place.

That is hell. He died and went to hell having preached and performed miracles by the power of the Spirit in the name of Christ. And the final example are those unnamed believers, quote, end quote, that Jesus talks about in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew Chapter seven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name?

Cast out demons in your name and done many wonders in your name? Jesus doesn't say you didn't. You're lying. He didn't say that. He doesn't deny what they claim.

They did all of those things. But he says in verse twenty three, and then I will declare to them, I never knew you. Depart from me, you who practice lawlessness. I never knew you in a saving way.

Folks, this is serious business. There are examples scattered throughout the word of God that fit the description of the apostates in Hebrews six, four and five to a T. Who were lost and went to hell. Hebrews six, four through six does not teach the possibility of losing genuine salvation.

What it does teach is the possibility of losing the opportunity for salvation. You can so seal your doom that though you live, you will not be saved. Though you live, you will not repent. Though you live, you will not savingly believe. It's impossible.

If they fall away, it's impossible to renew them again to repent, to repentance. Impossible. You say, well, with God, nothing is impossible.

Right. With God, nothing is impossible. God's the one who says they won't repent. They won't believe. They won't go to heaven. Because they can't without the regenerating power of God in their hearts. And God says they're done. Their day of opportunity is over. They haven't lost their salvation, but they've lost any opportunity for future salvation, no matter how long they live. Which brings me now to quickly consider some applications from this passage sobering passage.

And application number one is the importance of regular heart evaluation. Make your calling and election sure, the Bible says. Examine yourselves writing to professing Christians and to people that for the most part probably were Christians. But examine yourselves to see if you be in the faith. It's possible to make a profession of faith, to be baptized, to be in the company of believers, and yet not to be in the faith.

The importance of regular heart evaluation. And number two, the importance of remaining active among the people of God. With the saints, hearing God's word in person. As believers, of course, to grow.

And to develop good spiritual fruit. But also with the possibility that if you have made a counterfeit profession of faith, you need to be awakened from that. How is that going to happen if you don't stay under the sound of God's word?

We've known people down through the years. Some are in this auditorium today who became members of this church, were baptized. And then later on said, I realized I'd never been born again and I have now come to true saving faith in Christ. They didn't remove themselves from the word of God.

And God brought them to true repentance and faith. You see, people who mistakenly make a profession of faith, when you have never been regenerated, because you don't necessarily know whether you have or haven't, you know, really. Now, when you have been, you know the difference. But if you've made a profession and reformed, you might not be sure. So don't walk away. Don't fall away. Don't leave the people of God. Don't leave the ministry of God's word. Don't be like those who went out from us, says John, because they were not of us. Because if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us, but they went away, that it might be manifest that they were not all of us. To forsake the assembly of the saints, to forsake the people of God, to forsake the preaching of God's word, is pretty close to forsaking Christ himself, falling away.

That's serious. And that brings me to the third application, the importance of humble, sincere study of scripture. Don't assume that you know what it says. None of us know as much as we should. Don't assume that you know enough of God's word to get by.

That's a bad attitude. Study the word of God. Be willing to study passages in context like this one.

You'd never understand this properly if you didn't understand the context. Don't rely upon a handful of mere proof texts for your doctrine. Every cult has a whole bushel basket full of proof texts. And proof texts are texts that are not considered carefully in context. And proof texts often teach as much error as they do truth, because a lot of times they're misapplied.

You need more than that. You need to become enough equipped in your understanding of God's word that you can truly explain your faith to others. That takes us back to where we were a couple, three weeks ago in Hebrews. What's the difference between a mature Christian and a baby Christian? One of the differences is a mature Christian can talk about his faith. He can talk about the Bible. He can talk about the gospel in truth, in understandable terms. Baby Christians aren't able to articulate truth.

You need to understand God's word well enough to talk with others about it. So we learn from this passage that Christian profession of faith is a serious matter. False professions are a sobering reality, and it would be likely that there are some here today who've made a profession of faith but have not been born again. I'm glad you're here today.

That would indicate to me, hopefully, that you have not yet fallen away. And therefore you can be renewed to genuine repentance and faith. But the diligent pursuit of Christ in the word is the only safe course in life. Shall we pray? Father, teach us your ways and show us your paths and show us the truth from your word that is often neglected. And help us to receive it eagerly and humbly and with the convicting power of your spirit. In whose name we pray. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-26 21:41:42 / 2024-02-26 21:59:09 / 17

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