CAN SALVATION BE LOST? (PART IV)
By Akin Ojumu
Just as in modern-day Churches, the early Christian congregations were a mixed bag of all sorts of people who were at various stages of spiritual commitment. Back then, you’d find in any typical Christian assembly those who were truly converted and had genuinely surrendered their lives to Christ. Within the same congregation were also unconverted folks whose hearts were far from God.
The Christian congregation to which the Book of Hebrews was written was no different. They had genuine believers among them; true converts committed to Christ. It was to these people the epistle was primarily written. It was written to encourage them as they were passing through a period of severe persecution and great suffering at the time.
Within the congregation also were those who hadn’t yet been converted. This group of people still very much continued in their sinful lives even as they attended the Church gatherings. This category of unbelievers were of two kinds, depending on the level of their conviction.
The first were those who were convinced the Gospel must be basically true. They had witnessed the manifestations of the gifts of the Holy Spirit and had seen the demonstration of the power of God shown by great signs and miraculous wonders. Intellectually, they were persuaded and couldn’t deny what they saw. They were convinced that the claims of the Gospel must be true because they hadn’t seen anything like what they witnessed before. Many of them personally experienced one form of miracle or the other. They tasted the goodness of the Word and the heavenly gift.
Despite all of these, however, they still wouldn’t commit to Christ or accept Him as their Lord and Savior. They ventured as far as the gates of God’s kingdom, peeped inside, and saw the majesty & wondrous works of God. Instead of taking a step forward to enter, they turned back and walked away. They were intellectually convinced of the Gospel but were spiritually unconverted.
It was to these spiritually unconverted folks the following passages in the Book of Hebrews were specifically addressed:
“Therefore, we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it.” (Hebrews 2:1).
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace?” (Hebrews 10:26-27).
And it was also to these intellectual convinced but spiritually unconverted unbelievers that Hebrews 6:4-6 was written:
“For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
The next category of unbelievers in the congregation to which the Book of Hebrews was written were the intellectually unconvinced and spiritually unconverted unbelievers. Like the previous group of unbelievers who were intellectually convinced but spiritually unconverted, this particular set of unbelievers had also heard the message of the Gospel preached every time the Church gathered, they had witnessed the mighty deeds of God, and had seen the move of the Holy Spirit. Unlike the believers and the intellectual convinced unbelievers, this category of unbelievers was not persuaded at all by everything they had witnessed.
We’ll take it from here next time.