A Systematic Expository Study on the book of Hebrews
STUDY 15: APOSTASY - FALLING AWAY FROM THE FAITH
Hebrews 6: 4 - 8
Hebrews 6:4-8, presents such an important truth that many Christians fail to understand. Some Christian teachers so misinterpret it as to convince themselves and maintain that the passage is hypothetical and cannot happen in reality. These attempts to distort the passage are made so as to keep their false hope of the eternal security of sinning, backslidden, rebellious church go-ers. Whatever misinterpretation anyone tries to impose on such a passage like this, God will forever abide faithful to the whole Truth He has revealed.
We are warned of the possibility of apostasy and the fearful perdition and punishment of apostates. The difference between backsliding and apostasy is the difference between “falling” and “falling away”. Those who backslide or fall into sin can be forgiven and restored to God’s grace if they fully repent and truly believe in Christ. David, Peter and others who repented and returned to God were forgiven and accepted by God. Those who fell away became apostates like Balaam, Korah, Judas Iscariot and others, “found no place of repentance” but were lost forever and perished.
The proper understanding of such a passage like this is very important. It gives us much-needed warning. This passage and others of the same import should be studied with the help and illumination of the Holy Spirit.
DANGER OF APOSTASY
Hebrews 6:4,6; Jeremiah 8:4,5; Luke 8:13,14; 2 Peter 2:1-3; Jude 4,5; Matthew 12:31,32; Hebrews 12:15-17.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened... if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance...” (Hebrews 6:4,6). These verses speak clearly of the impossibility of the restoration and salvation of apostates. Backsliders who fall have hope of restoration; apostates who fall away have no hope of restoration and final salvation. The danger of apostasy, falling away from the faith is frightening. Apostasy is equivalent to committing the unpardonable sin. Such people who fall away, who commit the unpardonable sin, cannot be forgiven or be renewed again to repentance.
These apostates “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame”. They join hands with Judas Iscariot and the Jews who crucified the Lord. They cast their votes with those who condemned Christ to death. They crucify Him afresh. They betray and condemn Him. Those who crucified Christ classified Him with criminals and brought Him to open shame. These apostates also bring Christ to open shame. They have “trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant .. an unholy thing...” They have “done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29).
The backslider, especially the perpetual backslider is in danger of sliding down the slippery road to apostasy. If the backslider does not return to Christ, he is in danger of falling away. Apostates “blaspheme against the Holy Ghost”, “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh”, “put Him to an open shame”, “hath trodden under foot the Son of God”, “hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing”, “hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace”, “and overthrow the faith of some” (Matthew 12:31,32; Hebrews 6:6; 10:29; 2 Timothy 2:17,18). “It shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come” (Matthew 12:32).
DESCRIPTION OF APOSTATES
Hebrews 6:4-6; Jeremiah 2:13; 1 Timothy 4:1,2; 2 Timothy 2:17,18; 4:10; 2 Peter 2:20-22; Luke 11:24-26.
The people described in Hebrews 6:4-6, (1) were “once enlightened” (Hebrews 10:32; Numbers 24:3-5), (2) “tasted of the heavenly gift” (John 4:10; Acts 11:17), (3) “were made partakers of the Holy Ghost” (Acts 15:8; 2 Peter 1:4), (4) “tasted the good word of God” (1 Peter 2:2,3; Psalm 119:103), (5) “tasted the powers of the world to come” (Acts 1:8; Philippians 3:10), before they fell away from the faith - falling away from grace and the Giver of all grace. Apostates once knew the Lord, but later fell away and became rebellious and blasphemous.
These who once knew the Lord, later backslide to the point of sinning habitually, defending sin, actively promoting, encouraging sin, denying Christ, causing backsliding of others. Apostates do not take a single leap into apostasy but many steps that eventually lead to that state. First, backsliding and repeated backsliding (Jeremiah 5:6c; 8:4-6). Secondly, there is a deliberate rejection of God’s Word and mercy (Jeremiah 44:16; Proverbs 1:24-26). Thirdly, they have love for deceit and false doctrine (Isaiah 30:9,10; Jeremiah 5:31). Fourth, they deny Christ and His atoning sacrifice (2 Peter 2:1; Hebrews 10:29). Fifth, they preach error and doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1,2; Isaiah 5:20,21). Finally, they attempt to corrupt God’s people and cause others to backslide (Malachi 2:6-8; Ezekiel 44:12; 2 Peter 2:17,18). In their apostasy, they close the door of eternal life against themselves and seal their doom.
DAMNATION OF APOSTATES
Hebrews 6:7,8; Matthew 7:19; John 15:6; Jeremiah 5:6; Isaiah 1:28; Hebrews 10:28-31; Matthew 25:41; Revelation 20:15.
Rejection, cursing and burning are the words used to describe the doom and damnation of apostates. Backsliders and apostates are warned and reminded that “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the Living God” (Hebrews 10:31). Rebels should tremble and repent before it is too late, “for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29). Severe and stern judgement of God is awaiting impenitent sinners and apostates. Their punishment is vivid and terrifying. Apostates will suffer in hell fire. Hell fire or the lake of fire is described as “outer darkness where there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:12). It is referred to as “the furnace of fire” (Matthew 13:40-42). Suffering in hell fire will be eternal, for “the fire never shall be quenched” (Mark 9:45,46). “The devil and his angels” with sinners and apostates will spend eternity in “everlasting fire” (Matthew 25:41). Those who fall away from the faith will finally “go away into everlasting punishment” (Matthew 25:46).
“Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God” (Hebrews 3:12)
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