Brother Al McEwan is recovering from a hip op and may not be up to venturing into Faithful Daily Read land today, so please allow me to make a few quick comments on the Hebrews passage.
The writer of the Hebrews gives the strongest encouragements to persevere and the gravest warnings not to fall away. Today’s passage holds out a chilling thought—that for those who fall away it is impossible to come back to faith!
And yet we all know of Christians who have made detours from following Jesus and come back to faith. (I was celebrating this truth with just such a person this week). So what of the passage? It certainly is among the more difficult in the NT to understand.
Think about these possible interpretations,
1. Drifting as evidence of never having been truely saved. The person who ‘drifts’ quietly and further away from Christ by pursuing the world, proves their earlier profession of faith was not genuine (see the 4 soils parable).
2. The true Christian who makes a hostile rejection of Jesus . The person who doesn’t so much ‘drift’ but verbally, completely and thoroughly recants their faith in Christ. The writer could be exploring the implication that rejection was so emphatic that atonement would have to take place a second time, which is not a category entertained in the NT.
3. The Risk of the Hardening of Heart. That to follow the heart after other gods away from Jesus is to risk the heart becoming hardened by God (like Pharoah’s in Exodus). That God may just give us what our hearts desire—to be away forever! Note in v8 the allegory of the farm the writer says ‘it is in danger of it being cursed’ i.e., not automatically but possibility.
It is not our business to judge when a backslider has finally reached the point of apostate, only God can declare that. However two things are clear: Drifting away is too dangerous to even think about; secondly John says that “if we confess our sins God is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 jn 1:9.
Stay with Christ in all circumstances. Hold your line.