Apostate Verses Believer

“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” (Heb 6:4-6).

It is essential for us to understand clearly from what these Hebrews might apostatize. Be it observed that there is no mention here of their having been born again, converted, justified, saved, having had the forgiveness of sins or eternal life. Of none who are declared to be in that position is there ever any doubt of their security, or any hint in the Word that after all they might apostatize, or be lost. On the contrary, the thought is carefully guarded against in Scripture. But as to these Hebrews:

They were “enlightened.” And “the true light lighteneth every man which cometh into the world” (Jhn 1:9); but that this is not necessarily saving knowledge is plain. There may be conviction where there is no conversion, as we see daily.

They had “tasted of the heavenly gift,” and “of the good Word of God.” But so had he who received seed upon the stony ground; he “immediately with joy received it.” We see that all too often. The Word is welcomed; it is not understood. Only “he who received seed into the good ground is he that heareth the Word and understandeth it” (Mat 13:23). It is possible thus to have a false peace, and to find joy in the Gospel, which after all has never been apprehended savingly by the soul, and has never brought forth fruit in it at all.

Further, they “were made partakers of the Holy Spirit,” and had tasted of “the powers of the world to come.” This last expression refers to miraculous power, and the “world to come” is literally the “coming age.” Here, as elsewhere, it refers to the millennium, when the signs and wonders which signaled the early days of Christianity will be resumed. The prophet Joel (Acts 2:28, 29) witnesses of this; and his prophecy the apostle Peter could take up at Pentecost, and apply to what God did by His Spirit at that time. Yet the prophecy itself, however much it might take in Pentecost, goes on to the restoration of Israel in the millennial kingdom.

Miracles could therefore fitly be called “powers of the coming age.” But we have the Lord’s assurance that men might thus be “partakers of the Holy Spirit”—and yet after all He might say to them, “I never knew you” (Mat 7:22, 23). It is clear therefore that in this since they might be “partakers of the Holy Spirit” and yet be lost. The Spirit crying “Abba, Father,” in us is another matter. Those who are thus “sealed by the Holy Spirit” until the day of promise” are “sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph 1:13; 4:30). In this case therefore there is no possibility of being lost.

But these Hebrews here described were in danger of stopping short of Christ, and by going back to the ranks of those who crucified Him, they would have “crucified to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to open shame.” It is open apostasy that is in question, going back to Judaism out of which they had come, and what hope could there for such?

- F W Grant