Some people might be wondering about what the Scriptures say about there being no more redemption for those who fall away, because they put Christ to public shame... Actually, it is written:
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Hebrews 6:4-8).
This Scripture troubled me at a low point in my walk with God. It was like a major fork in the road. It was either I turned to the left, believing that there was no more grace and hope for me to be found in Christ, and go and live with only condemnation and worldly pleasures as my comfort...or I turned to the right, which, even though there seemed no more hope, I still believed that IF GOD WAS WILLING, I COULD BE MADE WHOLE. Like the Prodigal son, I had no other hope nor resource, and so, I took the road on the right to God to beg for mercy! And that is where grace found me.
The truth is, if I had gone to the left, and thrown away my last hope, then truly I would have had NO MORE HOPE. My fall wasn't what would have condemned me, but my hopelessness! My faithlessness. My unbelief in the vast mercy and power of God to deliver.
Do you remember that Scripture where the Canaanite woman was begging for healing for her child, and Jesus told her that it is not good to give to the dogs, what was meant for the children...? Have you ever been offended by that teaching? I have. But offensive or not, it is true. Yet, there is grace.
The woman wasn't offended. She rather said: "Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table" (Matt 15:27). And the Lord replied: "O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt" (verse 28). Her daughter was healed that very hour.
She was humble enough to accept that she was unworthy, but bold enough to beg for grace, believing that God was kind enough to heed her appeal...and if not, she had no shame in begging! She had no other hope! However, if she had walked away, offended and insulted, and hopeless...her child would have died. Faith is the key!
"...for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb 11:6).
The Devil wants us to be hopeless. He wants us to be faithless...doubting the mercy of God. When we fall, he plagues us with shame and condemnation so that we cannot rise up and return to the Father. Somehow, a gift we never earned, we come to believe we can and need to earn it to keep it. We cannot earn it. Not with any amount of good works and righteousness. It was and will always be a gracious gift received by faith (Eph 2:8)! But if and when we lose faith, by turning to the left to hopelessness, then what Peter says is indeed true! Our latter end will be worse than if we had never known the grace of God!
"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire" (2 Peter 2:20-22).
Notice Peter's use of the word "overcome". Peter isn't saying we cannot go back, but saying what happens to those who give in to lawlessness (sin), faithlessness (unbelief) and hopelessness (condemnation). This is written as a warning to us that these things do happen...and so, we mustn't be slack about our salvation! For if we are slack, we will fall and stay fallen and not even know that we are in need of deliverance until it is too late.
Jesus gave the example of a person who is delivered of a demon, who leaves himself vacant to be overcome again... He says that the demon would return, and even bring friends, such that the latter end of that person would be worse than when the first demon was cast out (Luke 11:24-26)! And so we are warned:
"Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world"(1 Pet 5:8-9).
But we have this encouragement: "But the God of all grace, who hath called us unto his eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that ye have suffered a while, make you perfect, stablish, strengthen, settle you" (verse 10).
And: "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak" (Heb 6:9).
And again: "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul" (Heb 10:39).
Hang on to His mercy, against reason and hope if you must...for there is nothing but condemnation apart from His grace.
My belief is, as long as you have faith in the grace of God, there is hope. God has dumbfounded everyone, and will not stop dumbfounding us. He says: "[I] will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion" (Rom 9:15). Hang on to His mercy, against reason and hope if you must...for there is nothing but condemnation apart from His grace. And that is not His will for you or anyone.
"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Pet 3:9).
Grace doesn't have to make sense. That is why it is grace! He alone gives or withholds mercy, and no two people's cases are the same. Turn to the right, never to the left. Keep waiting and pleading on His grace.
In the next parts of this series, we will look at the value of grace in our relationship with God, not just as a pardon, but an empowerment, and consider examples of righteous men who relied on this lifeline and sustaining power.