Questions for Littles: What had once happened to these people (v4)? What had they tasted? Of what have they become partakers (partners)? What good thing have they tasted (v5)? What powers have they tasted? It is impossible to renew them again to repentance if they do what (v6)? Why—what two things do they do to Christ? What earth receives blessing from God (v7)? What earth is about to receive curse and burning (v8)?In the Scripture for the sermon this week, we hear about a frightful situation: those whom it is impossible to renew again to repentance.
Other Scriptures (1Cor 5:5) tell us of those who are put out of the church, handed over to Satan for the destruction of their flesh but the salvation of their souls. So a man can fall far without falling entirely away in the sense referred to here in v6.
So that is pretty frightening by itself: when it comes to living as those in whose lives Christ has had little effect, there is a point of no return at which hardening becomes permanent… but this point is difficult to identify.
There is a second reason that this falling away is frightening: to whom it can happen:
- Those who were once enlightened, which is to say, those who have genuinely understood the Scriptures and the gospel. They are not still in the dark. They have been given some light
- Those who have tasted the heavenly gift. Gift. Singular. In light of this ultra-intensely-Christ-centered-and-glorifying book, that can only be one thing. These are people who have not just some doctrine right, but a good sense of how wonderful Jesus is
- Those who have become partakers of (literally, “partners with” the Holy Spirit). They are in a genuine church, with the genuine gospel, and genuine Christian love and service.
- Those who have tasted the good word of God. This reminds us that the “tasting” language goes back to chapter 5. They know about Justification in Christ for righteous standing, Sanctification from Christ for righteous living, and Glorification with Christ for a righteous vindication.
- Those who have tasted of the powers of the age to come. They can see real sanctification all around them. They have enjoyed what it’s like to be in relationship with people who are being made more and more loving to God and neighbor, because those people belong to the age to come.
There is a sense in which this is even more frightening than Matt 7:21-23. There, the people going to Hell had a Reformed (biblical) theology of justification. Here, they have a biblical theology of the whole of salvation, and they are seeing Christ’s grace worked out by the ministry of the Holy Spirit, and enjoying the benefits of belonging to such a church
Finally, a third reason that this falling away is so frightening: not just that it is permanent (which we referred to, somewhat, in the first reason), but the reason that this falling away is permanent. These people build up an immunity to the grace and glory of Jesus. O, may God in heaven protect you and protect me from such an end!
That we could become so accustomed to hearing about Christ crucified for sinners that it comes to mean little to us, and we would crucify Him again for ourselves?
That we could become so unimpressed by the glory of Christ that it comes to mean almost nothing to us to bring open shame to His name, which He has placed upon us as members of His church? God forbid it! God forbid it!
What parts of obeying Christ are we giving ourselves a pass for not following? If we find that we are being hard-hearted toward Him in one area or another, what should we do immediately?Suggested Songs: ARP32A “What Blessedness” or HB281 “How Blest Is He Whose Trespass”