Christianity --Youth Issues/Apostasy
Hope all is well. My name is Dan. I wanted to first thank you for your helpful article.
Initially, I joined a baptist church, and believed to accept Jesus in 7th grade and was baptized. For a couple years I was really involved. But then I fell away. I prayed at times and felt I could live in a Worldly fashion, money, lust, etc, and ask for forgiveness and be safe. I grew in anger and hostility to religion. I really fell away.
I am now 29. Recently, all of a sudden I have had this burning and overwhelming desire to read the Bible and search for meaning. I have become hardened over time, and I do struggle with temptations and wrongful thoughts. But now the Gospel is hitting me and I know I have erred.
I am deeply troubled however by Hebrews 6 4-6 and 2 Peter 2:20-22, Hebrews 10:26. Is it not possible for someone to return to repentance after having denied God earlier? Can a person who goes through the motions, then goes his own way, come to repentance? Or have I crossed a point of no return, that is impossible as these verses seem to indicate by saying fall away. Or is falling away a consistent state that can be broken? 1 Timothy 1:13 is troubling as well. What if one willfully sins after having knowledge? I am really struggling with these sorts of chapters dealing with apostasy. I just feel like i am lost. Please help!
Thank you for your e-mail. Let me start by saying that you cannot lose your salvation. The mere fact that the Holy Spirit is still working on your heart shows me that you are saved and that God is working to bring you back to him. You should not feel scared but on the contrary you should be happy with knowing how far God will let you go and still show his love to you.
Let me also say that everyone from the devout church attendee to the Pastors themselves all struggle with sinful thoughts. Every day is a struggle for me and I learn that the more I surround myself in God's word, the worse I look as I gaze into the mirror. Do not let this discourage you. Think of it it this way. If you were not saved would you be feeling conviction for wrong-doing at all?
Look at John 10
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.
So lets look at the passages that you referenced in Hebrews.
4 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,
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
6 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.
Repentance as referred to above is considered a "change of mind." Many interpreters err here because they assume that the author is saying that such a person is eternally condemned. Actually the text doesn't say anything even approaching that. All it is saying is that it is humanly impossible to change the thinking of a believer who falls away from the faith. This passage in no way questions eternal security. Once a person is saved he forever remains saved. However, a saved person may have a fiery experience here and now! Meaning that God will not change our minds for us he has to see us doing so ourselves. This is why when we are in the wrong we feel guilty and are punished from time to time. We do not lose our Salvation.
In the passage in 2nd Peter we are looking at the punishment for those who have been given the salvation message and refused it. It is not dealing with believers who have turned away.
Looking at Hebrews 10 you need to think of a few different things. First of all once we are saved we are clean forever. There is no need to get "re-saved" over and over or sacrifice for our sins as they did in the Old Testament. Jesus was the one spotless lamb and paid the price for all our sins. From that point on in a believer's life we cannot technically commit a sin that has not been paid for. But that doesn't mean we are to keep sinning as Paul told us.
Basically to answer your question; there is not a point of no return. God will follow you and rebuke you for your sinful actions to bring him back to you. I would recommend reading the story of Hosea and the Prodigal Son. Look at how far they got away from God before returning. It is very encouraging. Please let me know if you have any other questions!