FALLING BACK INTO SIN

(Trumpet Ministries, Inc. / Word of Righteousness)

FALLING BACK INTO SIN Copyright 2006 Trumpet Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved

The Book of Hebrews is a stern warning to experienced Christians against the danger of falling back into sin. The goal of our salvation is that we may be changed into the moral image of Jesus Christ and arrive at untroubled rest in the Father through Christ. We are never to cease pressing forward in Christ until we attain the goal, the rest of God.

FALLING BACK INTO SIN 

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. (Hebrews 6:4-6)

I feel this morning like King Josiah when Shaphan the scribe read the Book of the Law to him, the copy that had been discovered when the Temple was being repaired. Oy oy oy!

I have been reading the Book of Hebrews, trying to get the main themes from it. The primary theme of the Book of Hebrews is a warning to experienced Christians concerning the dangers of backsliding, of growing cold and being hardened by sin. A second important theme, springing from the primary theme, is the exhortation to the Jewish Christians to recognize the superiority of Christ and the atonement made by Him to the Law of Moses and the animal sacrifices.

The second theme springs from the primary theme in that the second theme emphasizes the fact that the atonement made by Christ includes not only the forgiveness of sin but the removal of the sin itself.

Since the primary theme of the Book of Hebrews is a warning against falling back into sin it is important for the writer to show that the true Christian discipleship is a journey toward the rest of God, that is, toward the place where sin has been overcome in the personality. The overcoming of sin was not possible under the old covenant because the old covenant was limited to the forgiveness of sin.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (above) has been difficult for Christians to accept at face value. I have not seen a commentary that accepts the passage as it is written. Today's teachers and scholars simply will not accept the severity of God but rush to assure us that no matter how we behave there is nothing to fear.

"Thou shalt not surely die."

I have read two suggestions as to why Hebrews 6:4-6 cannot possibly mean what it states.

The first suggestion is that no true Christian would ever fall away. Therefore the passage cannot be referring to someone who truly has been saved.

The second suggestion is that the writer of Hebrews has suddenly left his train of thought and is presenting a hypothetical situation. It is not that anyone would actually fall away after having received Christ, for if he did he would be crucifying Christ all over again. Therefore it would be impossible for a true Christian to fall away.

However, the passage does not state that it is impossible for a Christian to fall away but that if he does fall away it is impossible to renew him or her to repentance.

I have not read any editor who maintains that if a Christian should fall away it is impossible for the person to be renewed to repentance, which of course is what the passage states.

This issue is clear in my mind at this time. May God help me to present it clearly to you. 

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; (Hebrews 3:4)

Remember, the two views that destroy the force of Hebrews 6:4-6 are (1) that true Christians are not being referred to, only those who had made a light profession of faith; and (2) the situation is hypothetical because were a believer to fall away he would be crucifying Christ again.

I would like to counter these viewpoints by stating as follows:

True Christians indeed are being referred to in Hebrews 6:4-6 and are being warned against falling away from Christ.

The situation by no means is hypothetical. The writer is warning his readers that to fall away from Christ is inviting destruction.

From beginning to end the writer of Hebrews is exhorting the Jewish believers to press into the rest of God, warning them of the dire results of stopping in their pursuit of Christ. With your permission I would like to take you through some of the verses to show you the continuity of the argument.

There is no question in my mind but that the Christians in America have been grossly misled and if repentance and a turning to God does not follow we are in trouble.

The warning begins as follows: 

Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him; (Hebrews 2:1-3)

How often have we spoken to the unsaved about neglecting so great salvation? This expression is not addressed to the unsaved but to Christians. It is not speaking of ignoring salvation but of neglecting the salvation one already possesses.

There ought to be a law against preaching such verses as Romans 6:23 and Hebrews 2:3 to the unsaved when the contexts reveal clearly they are addressed to the believers!

So the stage has been set. The writer is warning believers against drifting away from the things they have heard. This exhortation and warning continues throughout the Book of Hebrews until it concludes with: 

And I beseech you, brethren, suffer the word of exhortation: for I have written a letter unto you in few words. (Hebrews 13:22)

Obviously the letter is written to the "holy brethren" (3:1).

Now let's look at a few verses in between Hebrews 2:3 and 13:22 to establish our thesis that:

True Christians indeed are being referred to in Hebrews 6:4-6 and are being warned against falling away from Christ.

The situation by no means is hypothetical. The writer is warning his readers that to fall away from Christ is inviting destruction.

Here we go!

The following passage from the third chapter of the Book of Hebrews has this in common with the sixth chapter of the Book of Romans: both chapters reveal conclusively that the current Christian position, we are saved by an unconditional sovereign grace activated by our "making a decision for Christ," is incorrect and destructive of the true salvation provided for us by the Lord Jesus Christ. 

But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end. Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. (Hebrews 3:6-19)

Remember, we are discussing the statement in Chapter Six of Hebrews that if a Christian falls away he cannot be renewed to repentance because he crucifies Christ afresh, as opposed to the commentaries that claim no true Christian would ever be guilty of falling away and therefore the passage is not really applicable to believers.

Let us look at a few statements from the above selection to see if they support our view, which is that Hebrews 6:4-6 is a warning to believers about falling away from the steadfast pursuit of Christ, or if they support the contemporary view that the passage is not applicable to believers in Christ. 

Whose house are we, if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.

This makes salvation conditional, doesn't it? 

Harden not your hearts.

Doesn't this go along with Hebrews 4:4-6? This certainly is not hypothetical and obviously is addressing true Christians. 

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.

This is not hypothetical and it is exhorting and warning the holy brothers. Are you beginning to get a sense of the context of Hebrews 4:4-6? 

But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Does this support a straightforward interpretation of Hebrews 4:4-6?

The primary theme of Hebrews is a warning to true Christians against the danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. The secondary theme, that of the superiority of the new covenant to the old, is a reflection of this primary theme.

Let us explain once more how the second theme of the Book of Hebrews is a reflection of the primary theme. The argument the writer uses in comparing the two covenants is that the new covenant actually takes away sin. Therefore the believer under the new covenant is not to continue to sin but to enter the rest of God; that is, the place where he or she is living in the perfect center of God's will.

Lesser themes, such as the true nature of faith, the place of chastisement, and the need to assemble on a consistent basis, also are related to the primary theme, which is the warning against being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin and not pressing into the rest of God. 

For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end.

Again it is clear that salvation is conditional and salvation is not secured until we follow the Lord obediently and cheerfully to the end of the course. Yet today's teaching is that salvation is unconditional and eternal after it is first activated—clearly an error.

What sense would it make for the writer of Hebrews to speak of the first generation of Jews dying in the wilderness if he wasn't implying that Christian believers will die in the wilderness, so to speak, if they do not press into the rest of God?

Can you find any indication in the passages we have mentioned that the writer is not addressing genuine Christians or is speaking hypothetically? Does not what we have read thus far support our position?

True Christians indeed are being referred to in Hebrews 6:4-6 and are being warned against falling away from Christ.

The situation by no means is hypothetical. The writer is warning his readers that to fall away from Christ is inviting destruction.

To continue with Hebrews: 

Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. (Hebrews 4:1)

Of what should the true Christian be afraid? He should be afraid of growing cold in his pursuit of Christ. The verse above completely destroys the present Christian stance that salvation is a ticket to Heaven that operates independently of our behavior. You can accept Christ and then come short of the goal. Is this what is being said? 

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, (Hebrews 6:4,5)

Can you see the connection between what we are leading into now and what has gone before?

You know, it is amazing. I read in the footnotes of a popular edition of the Bible that the believers being addressed in Hebrews 6:4-6 were not genuine Christians but mere professors of belief in Christ. The idea is, no true Christian could ever fall away.

But look at the experience of these "mere professors."

Were once enlightened.

Have tasted of the heavenly gift.

Were made partakers of the Holy Spirit.

Have tasted the good word of God.

Have tasted the powers of the world to come.

These were not genuine Christians? How then do you define a genuine Christian? By his works? If so, our thesis that the Christian salvation always is demonstrated in works of righteousness is established.

These obviously were genuine Christians by every yardstick we would employ.

What is true of these experienced believers? 

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. (Hebrews 6:6)

Now, we have shown by previous passages that the Jewish Christians were being warned concerning the danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. They were being compared with the Jews in the wilderness who fell through unbelief. They were advised to fear lest a promise left them of entering the rest of God they should come short of it.

These who:

Were once enlightened.

Have tasted of the heavenly gift.

Were made partakers of the Holy Spirit.

Have tasted the good word of God.

Have tasted the powers of the world to come.

were being warned against falling away. Can you see this warning is not a departure from the primary theme of Hebrews but an integral part of it?

In no way is it addressing mere professors, as one edition has it.

In no way is it a hypothetical situation. It obviously is part of the warning against falling away found throughout the Book of Hebrews. 

Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. (Hebrews 3:12)

If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance. (Hebrews 6:6)

We are addressing the holy brothers who have had all the experiences we of today have had, if not more.

We are telling the holy brothers to beware of having an evil heart of unbelief.

We are warning them concerning departing from the living God.

Then a little bit later we warn them about falling away. How is this different? Why are we suddenly being hypothetical when the actual danger exists? How can we say we are not addressing true Christians but have suddenly changed to "mere professors"?

Is it not rather true that a spirit of error is blanketing Christian scholars until they are willing to wrench and distort the clear text in order to support the current teaching that once we get our "ticket to Heaven" our destiny can never be placed in jeopardy?

Where did this people-pleasing, soft, compromising concept come from?

"Thou shalt not surely die."

The Lord is warning me clearly that if the Christians in America do not repent and turn to God, keeping all the commandments given by Christ and His Apostles, heavy judgment is going to fall on our nation and we all are going to suffer.

If you don't believe me, how about asking Jesus to see if we are speaking the truth? 

Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses. (I Timothy 6:12)

It is obvious, to me at least, that the Scriptures are being distorted in order to prove that Christianity is adherence to a set of mental beliefs and that an outworking in actual righteousness and holiness of behavior, while certainly desirable, is not essential to salvation. Once we have subscribed to the correct position mentally and confess this position with our mouth we are forever eligible for eternal residence in the Paradise of God and no behavior of ours can jeopardize our security.

It is because of this fallacy that Hebrews 6:4-6 cannot be accepted as the inspired Word of God but must be wrenched and distorted until it does not apply in a straightforward manner to the believers of today. 

It is impossible to renew them again to repentance.

Does this mean if you have failed God at some point you are doomed? You never again can repent?

No, it does not mean that.

It means if you are a well-established Christian of several years experience, rooted and grounded in the Lord and His Word, and then turn around and go back into sin, you may or may not be able to find the gift of repentance. The ability to repent is a gift from God. Don't play around with it. You may lose it.

I have seen a sobering example of what can happen to a Christian who goes back into sin. I was waiting to go into a service to preach and was accosted in the hallway by a man possibly forty years of age. He was very feeble. I did not recognize him. He who once had been a vibrant Christian was now appearing as a street bum wearing an old coat.

He said, "Don't you recognize me?"

I said, "No, I don't."

And then he gave me his name.

A few years ago he had been active in the ministry, bouncing around and praising the Lord like we all do.

Then he fell into sin and apparently was in sin for some years.

Now he was terrified. He felt he had sinned past the point of forgiveness.

Please don't give me all this stuff about how you just ask for forgiveness and bingo you're perfect again. I am talking about a real person having a real experience. He could not find the joy of the Lord!

He kept saying, "I can't sweat. If I could only sweat but I can't sweat."

I don't know what kind of medical problem he was having. But he was one sick individual, not only physically but spiritually.

I tried to encourage him but he kept trembling and talking about sweating. He was asking me if I thought he had sinned beyond the point of no return.

I saw that no glib answer was going to suffice.

I said, "Come into the meeting tonight. Every time the doors open come to church. Sit in the back if you want to but come. Maybe at some point the Lord will meet you." 

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. (Philippians 2:12)

Christ loves you and gives you the good oil and joy of His Presence when you are first saved. There is honey in the rock for you. If you then go off into sin, kissing the demons on the mouth, you may or may not find when you try to come back that you never again can find the same sweetness that you once knew. You are gambling with the most important aspect of your life when you play with sin.

I heard about a Christian in another country who told the Lord to wait for him while he went into a dwelling to visit a prostitute. When he came out of the house the Lord wasn't there. It took him five years to get back the joy of the Lord's Presence. He might never have regained it!

"Restore to me the joy of your salvation," David cried.

This is what Hebrews 6:6 is talking about. I wonder sometimes if those who write the commentaries have ever really known the Lord or is it all in their heads? Have they never seen a backslider in agony at the altar, trying to get back into the Presence of the Lord?

When you are dancing with Christ, and turn away and dance with the demons, and then seek to come back to the Lord, you are crucifying Him all over again and bringing Him into public shame.

What I have just written is not to scare some weak Christian to death. The Lord is full of tender mercy toward all who look to Him. No, you haven't blasphemed the Holy Spirit.

But this is not what we have in America—weak little lambs who are afraid they have displeased the Lord because they aren't perfect. What we have are arrogant believers who are taking the position that no matter how they behave the Lord couldn't possibly rebuke them. Let me warn you that God is angry with the conduct of the Christians in America. If we do not repent we will be punished severely.

Let's move ahead in the Book of Hebrews and see if the following verses support our thesis:

True Christians indeed are being referred to in Hebrews 6:4-6 and are being warned against falling away from Christ.

The situation by no means is hypothetical. The writer is warning his readers that to fall away from Christ is inviting destruction. 

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: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. (Hebrews 6:7,8)

I think the above passage is saying if Christian people press forward into the rest of God, into the center of God's will for their life so that the righteous Nature of Christ is being revealed in their personality, they will receive blessing from the Lord. Would you agree with this interpretation?

But if after having received the rain, the blessing from God, bad fruit appears, then the Christian is near to being cursed and his end will be the fire of Divine judgment.

If we have rightly divided the Word of truth, then our interpretation of Hebrews 4:4-6 is supported. Hebrews 4:4-6 is warning the believers to be careful not to fall away from Christ. 

But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. (Hebrews 6:9)

By the use of the term "beloved" we know that the sixth chapter of Hebrews is speaking to the Jewish Christians. The expression "better things of you, and things that accompany salvation," reveals beyond all doubt that the falling away and the thorns and thistles mentioned previously refer to the "beloved." The writer is (hopefully) persuaded the beloved will not fall away and will not bear thorns and thistles but the good fruit of Christ.

We understand, therefore, that Hebrews 6:4-6 is not a special hypothetical case removed from the surrounding context but a warning to those to whom the Book of Hebrews is addressed. 

That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. (Hebrews 6:12)

The above verse is totally in keeping with our position. Also we are presented with the concept that inheriting the promises of God requires faith and patience. Indeed the Christian salvation is not an unconditional guarantee that we will be admitted to Heaven when we die but depends on our faith and patience.

Now comes a passage that usually is rejected as applying to Christians. It does not fit the Christian model. But it certainly is in correspondence with our understanding of the primary thesis of the Book of Hebrews, which is that Hebrews is an exhortation to press into the will of God and a warning that not to do so is inviting destruction. 

For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (Hebrews 10:26,27)

We preached this once years ago. A young Christian man in our church at that time had a hard time with the idea that God would judge those who sin willfully. He toyed with the concept, refusing to accept it, left the church, and went into sin.

Do you know there is no provision in the old covenant or the new covenant for willful sin?

What is willful sin?

I will give you an example.

On one occasion a young lady said to me, "I am going out tonight with a boy. We are going to do things in his car we shouldn't do. But tomorrow I am going to ask the Lord to forgive me and He will."

This is willful sin.

I remember reading in a Christian book a true account in which a lady said, as she was about to fornicate, "Lord, forgive us for this that we are about to do."

This is willful sin.

There is no provision for willful sin under either covenant, only for sin that you practice unknowingly or when you are deceived or when you are battling some lust you can't control. When you can't control your passions you are to go to the elders of the assembly and get help!

To choose to sin when you have the power to walk away from it, knowing it is sin, brings you under the curse of God.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews is warning the Jewish Christians that if they, after understanding the wonderful provisions God has made for us through Christ, having tasted the Holy Spirit, the good Word of God, and the powers of the age to come, then go out and sin willfully, they have left the covering of the blood of Christ. God has no more to offer them. Their future is one of fear of the Divine indignation.

Isn't this the same idea found in Hebrews 6:4-6?

Remember, we are still addressing the beloved, the holy brothers. We have not suddenly jumped to the unsaved. 

Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? (Hebrews 10:29)

I will not become angry. I simply refuse to get mad.

You see, I have had trouble in my ministry because Christians refuse to accept such verses as the above, claiming they apply to the unsaved. I get mad!

Now I am old and should not get angry. Also, I have no business getting mad at people just because they do not understand what God has said. Right!

Dearly beloved, we understand that the context precludes a sudden jump to an unsaved audience.

However, let us look at what it is saying.

"Hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing."

Now I ask you. Are we speaking of an individual who at one time had been holy because he had been covered by the blood of the covenant? Does the tense of "was sanctified" suggest that at one point he or she had been a believer?

I think so. Grrrrrr.

What will happen to this former Christian? He will experience "sorer punishment." Right? Right! Yea for our side. Sorer than what? Sorer than the individual who despised Moses' Law and died without mercy under two or three witnesses. He was, in fact, stoned to death. But our sinning Christian will experience a sorer punishment than that of being stoned to death. After all, he has insulted the very Spirit of grace! 

For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. (Hebrews 10:30)

The Lord shall judge who? "His people." Not "mere professors," or the recipients of hypothetical situations, but His people! 

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:31)

It is a fearful thing for who to fall into the hands of the living God? You got it? His people! The Lord shall judge His people!

Oy!

The next few verses reveal that these Jewish Christians were seasoned veterans of the faith. This is why their falling away from Christ was such a serious matter. 

For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. (Hebrews 10:34)

They were not spiritual babies. 

Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompence of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. (Hebrews 10:35,36)

Can you see how the above verse follows our primary theme—that the Book of Hebrews was written to seasoned Christians, exhorting them to pursue Christ and warning them against falling away?

The expression "the just shall live by faith," the cry of the Reformation, originated in the Old Testament and is repeated three times in the New Testament. It is not peculiar to the new covenant, it was written while the Prophet was under the Law of Moses.

It appears that "the just shall live by faith" has come to mean if one accepts a certain theological position he can forget about his behavior. He is saved by "faith alone" in spite of James' statement to the contrary.

However, the fact that the eleventh chapter of the Book of Hebrews, the "faith chapter" of the New Testament, describes actions rather than a theological position, leads us to believe we are not understanding what the expression means. 

Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:38,39)

The expression "draw back" in the above passage is identical with "fall away" in Hebrews 6:6. God has no pleasure in such.

The interesting fact here is that "the just shall live by faith" is not referring to holding a set of beliefs but to pressing forward in God.

The writer of the Book of Hebrews obviously is referring to our behavior, not to the maintaining of a belief system. The chapter following, Chapter Eleven of Hebrews, which is a definition of "the just shall live by faith," reveals clearly that true Bible faith is not a set of beliefs but obedience to the revealed will of God.

It is especially significant that God uses Old Testament people to teach New Testament people what faith is all about. This fact alone destroys the concept of a special "dispensation of grace" (one of the great errors of our time).

We are not of those who draw back to destruction but of those who believe to the saving of the soul. The belief mentioned here is the belief that keeps us cheerfully pressing forward in God's will, accepting with a good and faithful heart the chastening of the Lord as He makes us a partaker of His holiness. It is not, as the eleventh chapter demonstrates beyond question, a belief system in which we assume a particular theological position concerning Christ, His atonement and His resurrection. This would be comparable to the Jews sitting in Egypt and declaring they were in the land of promise because of what God had said concerning them.

The third, fourth, and eleventh chapters of Hebrews announce clearly that belief and obedience to God go hand in hand, not as in our day where belief is abstract, unrelated to stern obedience to God.

The problem with the generation of Israelites who died in the wilderness was not that they did not believe there was a God or did not believe they were on their way somewhere. Their problem was they grumbled because of their irritations and pains to the point that God turned them back into the wilderness until they died, never reaching Canaan. This illustration was included in the Book of Hebrews because it applies to us.

I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not. (Jude 1:5)

The problem is the deceitfulness of sin, not the forsaking of a theological position. These Christian Jews were drifting back into sin! They were neglecting to press into the rest of God. 

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, (Hebrews 12:1)

Notice the emphasis on behavior—let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us. Again we are referring to the deceitfulness of sin. Sin is the issue. Should the Jewish believers go back into sin, falling away from Christ, or should they press forward to the promise? 

Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin. (Hebrews 12:4)

Place the above verse against the pap we are hearing today. The true Christian life is one of striving against sin. It is one long fight of faith in which we press forward through the wilderness to the land of promise. The Holy Spirit assists and guides us every step of the way.

It seems to me this goes along with the idea that if the believer turns back to Egypt, so to speak, there is a danger he or she will never be able to turn around and start again toward the land of promise.

Notice the following: 

For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them. (II Peter 2:21)

Notice that it is the "way of righteousness." It is not the way of belief but the way of righteous behavior. To turn back into sin is to turn away from the "holy commandment."

The preceding verse, in II Peter, makes it clear he is not referring to a belief system but to entanglement in the sins of the world. 

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (II Peter 2:20)

Second Peter 2:20 seems to me to come close to Hebrews 6:6. How do you feel about this?

Continuing in Hebrews. 

Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? (Hebrews 12:9)

I would say from the above verse that the Jewish believers were drawing back because of troubles they were having as Christians. The writer is pointing out that these troubles are the chastening of the Lord, administered to us that we might be holy sons of God. 

Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (Hebrews 12:15)

Notice the expression "fail of the grace of God." Isn't that unusual? To fail of or come short of the grace of God is referring back to Hebrews 4:1, "any of you should seem to come short of it." So the primary theme of the Book of Hebrews continues throughout. 

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, (Philippians 3:13)

Once you have started in the way of righteousness, pressing toward the inheritance, do not draw back. To do so is to "fail of the grace of God." 

See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: (Hebrews 12:25)

The Christian, having come to the heavenly Zion, is exhorted to keep listening to the voice of God.

Here we have the true concept of salvation. Notice the following: 

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. (John 5:24)

John 5:24 is one of the axioms used by Christian teachers to prove that salvation is a ticket to Heaven. Once you make a decision for Christ you can never be condemned no matter what you do.

The problem of interpretation here is the idea of static versus dynamic. Jesus is not speaking of a static episode in which you assume a correct theological posture and never again can be troubled by the Lord's demands.

John 5:24 is not a static ticket. It is a dynamic that begins to operate once the individual receives Christ. Every moment of every day we are to be hearing Him who speaks from Heaven.

Every moment of every day we are to be believing in God and seeking His will.

Every moment of every day we are to be living in the Life of God.

Under these circumstances we are free from condemnation.

Under these circumstances we have passed from death unto life.

This is the true grace of God and eternal life.

But the moment we begin to fall away, to leave the way of righteousness, to cease hearing Him who continually is speaking from Heaven, to draw back, to come short of the grace of God—in that moment we are in danger of Divine judgment and possible destruction.

It is my burden that American Christians come to understand that God's grace in Jesus Christ is not a ticket to Heaven they buy when they "make a decision for Christ." God's grace is a journey through the wilderness in which we are tested continually. There always is the danger we will lose our confidence in the Lord and turn back toward the world.

If this were not the case the writer would not draw the analogy with the Jews who died in the wilderness.

The Book of Hebrews is a stern warning to Christians and is very much needed in America in 1997. God has begun to shake all things in the heavens and upon the earth. All that is not founded in Christ will be removed from God's Kingdom. Make sure your life is hidden with Christ in God. 

Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (Hebrews 12:28)

Grace is defined by Christians as "unconditional forgiveness." If we apply that definition to the above passage we have as follows:

"Let us have unconditional forgiveness whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear."

I would suggest we define grace as God's Presence in Christ enabling us to do all God has commanded.

Let's try inserting that to see if we come out any better.

"Let us have God's Presence in Christ enabling us to do all God has commanded whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.

Come any closer? 

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: (Matthew 7:24)

For so long the words of Christ in the Gospels have been ignored because of the destructive manner in which Divine grace has been presented. Let us hope in our day God will raise an army of young people who will remove this error from the face of the earth. May the young warriors be as arrows driven into the heart of the enemy, the enemy who has taken the words of Paul and distorted them until Paul is presented as teaching we no longer are required to keep the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. 

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20,21)

Although our purpose is to explain Hebrews 6:4-6, we occasionally have branched off into the concept that the Christian salvation is not merely a set of beliefs but always results in righteous behavior. The fact is, the bulk of the New Testament writings have to do with righteous behavior. Nowhere is this more true than in the Book of Hebrews.

When a believer falls away he falls away from righteous behavior and returns to sinful behavior, the behavior he engaged in prior to his conversion.

The reason I have branched off in this manner is that the current distortion of Hebrews 6:4-6 results from an attempt to force the New Testament to support the current idea that salvation is a set of beliefs that operates independently of our behavior.

When we understand that salvation is dynamic and not static, that it begins in a specific manner, continues in a specific manner, and will conclude in a specific manner, we have no problem with Hebrews 6:4-6. The passage says what it means and means what it says.

If a believer, having had considerable experience in Christ, then turns away from the path and returns to sin, it may prove to be impossible to renew him or her to repentance from sin. He has known the way of righteousness and now has turned away from it. He is as a dog returning to its vomit. It would be better had he never known the way of righteousness (from II Peter).

These are stern words and not characteristic of contemporary Christian doctrine. The truth is, contemporary Christian doctrine is in error concerning the requirements placed on the believer after having begun the way of salvation. We have thousands of carnal, sinful churches to show for our departure from God's Word.

Hopefully our brief treatment of the Book of Hebrews will start some people thinking. If the current teaching is incorrect then we need to turn and teach and do what is right. It won't be the first time in history the churches have gotten off course.

The book of the law has been found, so to speak. What do we do about it? What is the Lord saying?

If I am hearing the Lord, He is saying that the Christians in America need to repent and start keeping the commandments of Christ and His Apostles. God does not want to hear any excuses about a dispensation of grace or eternal security or how we are not under the law but under grace or any other form of reasoning. God wants His commandments kept! He wants righteous, godly, obedient behavior on the part of those who profess faith in Christ! God wants His churches to be a moral light in America, not silly groups of people who are jumping up and down next to their pews waiting for an unscriptural "pre-tribulation rapture" to remove them from the problems of the world!

You ask the Lord about it. This is too serious a business to take lightly. You are a Christian. Ask God in Jesus' name if I am telling you the truth.

Reread what we have taught from the Book of Hebrews. See if we have cut a straight course in the Word of Truth.

Then join with us and pray with us that God may grant repentance to the Christian churches of America before it is too late!