“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
As there seems to be some uncertainty amongst many of the Lord’s people as to who presently is susceptible to second death, let us examine our text a little closer beginning at Verse 4 to determine just to whom it applies.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlighten…”
First of all what is implied by being “enlighten”, and who are those who possess this “enlightenment”?
The definition of the word “enlighten” as taken from the dictionary means to give (someone) greater knowledge and understanding about a particular subject or situation, in regards to religion it means to give spiritual knowledge or insight, figuratively to illuminate or make clear (a particular problem or area of study).
Strong’s gives the meaning as follows, (nagahh; a primitive root; to glitter; causatively, to illuminate: — (en-) lighten, (cause to) shine. Strong’s # 5050
The scriptures inform us that, “Light (truth) is sown (provided for) for the righteous, and gladness for the upright in heart” (Psa 97:11)
So who are the righteous? Do not the scriptures clearly inform us that “there is none righteous no not one.” (Rom 3:10) Yes they do, but equally so they teach, “as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one many shall be [not were] made (Greek, constituted) righteous.” (Rom 5:19)
If the ransom alone, without our acceptance of it, made us righteous, then it would have read, by the obedience of one many were made righteous. But though the ransom has been given by the Redeemer and has been accepted by Jehovah, only a few during the Gospel age have been, made righteous (justified)”through faith in His blood.” Thus by faith, the true believer personally accepts Jesus as his Savior and is made righteous and holy.
During the Gospel Age God has been selecting a church. The church is not brought to perfection in the sense that they are becoming perfect beings. They are merely reckoned perfect in the beginning; they are merely justified by faith and have peace with God, as the apostle says. This is faith justification; it is not the real justification. There is a difference. The word means, to be made righteous. You are not righteous, and I am not righteous, and nobody is righteous. But you say, ‘Have we not accepted Christ?’ yes that is true, and that means that you have come into harmony with Him, and that you have what the Bible calls faith justification, “justification by faith”. However it is not an actual justification.
You ask, ‘What do you mean by actual justification?” The word means to be made right. God does not make us over, except in the spirit of our minds, but through the merit of Christ our blemishes and imperfections in the flesh are covered in His sight and we come into relationship with God; we are justified by faith.
Let us look at it from another point of view.
Justification is a judicial or (as it is called) forensic word: a word derived from processes of law. When a judge declares a man to be “not guilty,” he does not thereby make him “not guilty.” Though declared not guilty the man may as a matter of fact be guilty. Moreover, some men have been declared guilty who later were proved to be innocent.
No scholar will dispute this forensic use of the word “justification” in the Bible. It expresses the verdict of acquittal and establishes a man’s status in the eyes of the law. Thus God justifies whenever he refuses to condemn—when he ignores whatever may have been our sins. And he declares his willingness to do this simply because a man believes in Jesus Christ. Let a man believe or take God in Jesus Christ at his gracious word and the value of this act of trust or allegiance is such that God reckons it for righteousness and admits a man into his fellowship (as a friend, not a son, not yet), as if he were already fit for such fellowship in his actual habits and conduct.
There is imputation here, but it is the right sort of imputation. It is dealing with us not as we are, nor exactly as we are not, but as we are becoming in virtue of the new attachment under which our life has passed. Faith, then, is reckoned for righteousness because it puts us upon the right basis and in the right relation to God. Therefore, it is a root out of which, provided it continues to subsist, all righteousness can healthily grow, whereas, the most brilliant efforts or works on a wrong basis may have neither sound root nor principle of progress in them. To believe in Jesus is to have the root of the matter in one self. Therefore, when a man first believes, God can ignore all his previous life and deal with him simply on the new basis, in hope.
Thus it should be fully established that only those who have been justified by faith, constituted righteous and holy in the sight of God can receive true enlightenment, knowledge of the truth.
Now someone may still query as to just how much enlightenment or knowledge in God’s word is being referred to in this text, are there not different levels of understanding, i.e. babes, young adults, and those of mature years? Most certainly, the clue however is given in the opening text, “those who were once enlighten” this statement is “pass tense” and implies that the individual had previously been brought to an accurate knowledge of the truth, that is they had clearly seen God’s grace as represented in his Word and plan, and had advanced beyond the elementary principles of Christ, the “milk” and had partaken of the “meat of the word” the only ones capable of this type (or level) of understanding first of all would be those who have been spirit begotten, thus possessing spiritual enlightenment. Now naturally even babes in Christ are spirit begotten, and possess a measure of enlightenment, but it requires time and study, growth both in the graces and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ in order to become of “full age”, a mature Christian.
Remember when you become a Christian you enter into the “School of Christ” you are a student (a disciple), one does not become fully enlighten the first day of their attendance, growth in the graces and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus is a lifetime course.
Now some advance quicker than others because their love for the Lord and the Truth is greater than others, these like the Bereans of Old are what we call “Seekers” and “Provers” of the Word, “Seek and you shall find, knock and it shall be opened unto you”, these have learned through experience and study that the Lord is truly a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him and to such alone he reveals his truth. These are constantly searching the scriptures, to prove (to test) everything which they received no matter the source. To them the Word of God is the final say on any matter.
“To the law and to the testimony if they speak not according to this word it is because there is no light (truth) in them.” Isa 8:20
Many however not being inclined to personal study lacking the necessary drive (love) for the truth, prefer to simply rely upon the knowledge and understanding of others generally those with whom they have confidence or trust. For most this reliance typically comes from their Minister, for others it might be friends, family or a combination of one or more, thus their understanding is limited to the knowledge of those with whom they have to do. Thus in truth their faith (belief) is not actually their own, but rather some one else’s belief someone else’s interpretation of the Scriptures. Such forget that as disciples in the School of Christ we are admonished to “prove all things”, to “study to show thyself approved”, the point being is that it is the responsibility of the individual to study (for himself), that the individual proves all things (for himself), that YOU as an individual personally be established in the truth, that your faith be your own, and not that of another.
As it is written, “Without faith it is impossible to please God”, you cannot be saved through the belief or faith of another, nor does membership in a church organization guarantee this, you yourself must make your calling and election sure.
Many Christians have a great zeal (love) for the Lord, this is very commendable, but for the most part their zeal is “not according to knowledge“. Misguided faith is useless. The fact is there are many who, like the Apostle Paul prior to his conversion, believe in all good conscious that they are serving the Lord when in truth they unknowingly are working against him. Such may hold beliefs which are completely contrary to the teachings of the Scriptures. They have been so busy in what they imagined to be the Lord’s work, that they have never actually taken the time to personally prove all which they believe for themselves, by the Word of God.
In other words in their haste to exemplify love for the brethren (and especially for their Minister) they are much to eager to accept without question many of the teachings they receive, not realizing that many such teachings are not wholly scriptural, but are taught through the doctrines and precepts of men, taught through the church consoles and creeds of men, remember,
“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.” Prov 19:2
In our next post we will examine the next two qualifications which must be met before one is accountable to the second death.