Throughout God’s Word, we find natural examples to help us understand spiritual principles. One such example is found in Hebrews, Chapter Six. The Bible says if the earth drinks in the rain and then produces a good crop or healthy plants or trees, then it is blessed. But if the earth drinks in the rain and produces weeds, thorns, and thistles, it is useless and cursed by the landowner (Hebrews 6:7-8).
We can understand this principle. A teacher, for example, pours herself into her students and expects good results. If she has a student who continually fails, she is frustrated, although possibly compassionate, but nonetheless her student will fail and not pass the class based on his or her actions, not the teacher’s. And this same principle can be applied to the workplace, the home, and God’s kingdom.
With this understanding, let’s carefully read how it applies in a spiritual context: “For it is impossible to bring back to repentance those who were once enlightened–those who have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the Word of God and the power of the age to come–and who then turn away from God. It is impossible to bring such people back to repentance; by rejecting the Son of God, they themselves are nailing him to the cross again and holding him up to public shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
It breaks my heart to read, much less think about, the seriousness of this passage. But we can’t ignore it.
Because the Bible says “All things are possible with God” (Matthew 19:26), it is surprising to read anything in God’s Word that indicates something is impossible. But this is the warning given to us–that a person who once followed God wholeheartedly and then turns from Him, putting Jesus to an open shame, cannot receive forgiveness through another–they must have a heart change and repent on their own. In other words, although they “drank in” God’s Word, but later allowed themselves to only produce weeds and thistles, “it is impossible [for you or I] to bring such people back to repentance” (my paraphrase) –they must do that all on their own.
This behavior scares me but I don’t believe it happens overnight. A person in this condition fell there slowly, which is why I am telling you these things. As we see friends or family fall away, we need to earnestly pray for them. The consequences of letting them fall away are too great.
Ultimately, we cannot choose for another. But we mustn’t ignore passages in scripture that are hard simply because we don’t like to think about it.
The writer of Hebrews went on to say: “Dear friends, even though we are talking this way, we really don’t believe it applies to you. We are confident that you are meant for better things, things that come with salvation” (Hebrews 6:9). And this is how I choose to feel about most people. I always prefer to give the benefit of the doubt. God is the judge of hearts. I am not.
However, I understand the responsibility we have been given to make a difference through prayer, example, and speaking the truth in love. In other words, when I see or hear of questionable choices and lifestyles, I can’t simply ignore it. Instead, I understand the seriousness of this hour and I pray, holding on to God’s Word: “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent” (2 Peter 3:9, NLT).