But what about people who turn away after they have already seen the light and have received the gift from heaven and have shared in the Holy Spirit? What about those who turn away after they have received the good message of God and the powers of the future world? There is no way to bring them back. What they are doing is the same as nailing the Son of God to a cross and insulting him in public!
After people have left the way of Christ, can you make them change their lives again? I am talking about people who once learned the truth, received God’s gift, and shared in the Holy Spirit. They were blessed to hear God’s good message and see the great power of his new world. But then they left it all behind, and it is not possible to make them change again. That’s because those who leave Christ are nailing him to the cross again, shaming him before everyone.
For it is impossible to ·bring back again to a changed life [L renew again to repentance] those who were once ·in God’s light [enlightened], and ·enjoyed [experienced; L tasted] ·heaven’s gift [or the heavenly gift; C perhaps the gift of salvation], and ·shared in [partook of] the Holy Spirit.
When you find men who have been enlightened, who have experienced salvation and received the Holy Spirit, who have known the wholesome nourishment of the Word of God and touched the spiritual resources of the eternal world and who then fall away, it proves impossible to make them repent as they did at first. For they are re-crucifying the Son of God in their own souls, and by their conduct exposing him to shame and contempt. Ground which absorbs the rain that is constantly falling upon it and produces plants which are useful to those who cultivate it, is ground which has the blessing of God. But ground which produces nothing but thorns and thistles is of no value and is bound sooner or later to be condemned—the only thing to do is to burn it clean.
Once people have seen the light, gotten a taste of heaven and been part of the work of the Holy Spirit, once they’ve personally experienced the sheer goodness of God’s Word and the powers breaking in on us—if then they turn their backs on it, washing their hands of the whole thing, well, they can’t start over as if nothing happened. That’s impossible. Why, they’ve re-crucified Jesus! They’ve repudiated him in public! Parched ground that soaks up the rain and then produces an abundance of carrots and corn for its gardener gets God’s “Well done!” But if it produces weeds and thistles, it’s more likely to get cussed out. Fields like that are burned, not harvested.
What if some people fall away from the faith? It won’t be possible to bring them back. It is true that they have seen the light. They have tasted the heavenly gift. They have shared in the Holy Spirit.
It is impossible to restore the changed heart of the one who has fallen from faith—who has already been enlightened, has tasted the gift of new life from God, has shared in the power of the Holy Spirit, and has known the goodness of God’s revelation and the powers of the coming age. If such a person falls away, it’s as though that one were crucifying the Son of God all over again and holding Him up to ridicule.
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