Hebrews 5-7 (The Daily Walk Bible).

Our devotional does a good job of showing us how Jesus is a priest like Melchizadek! But chapter six can be a bit of a conundrum. Can we lose our salvation? What does “it is impossible to bring such people to repentance again” (6:6) really mean? Gleason Archer (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties) comments on Hebrews 6:4-6 and makes the case that the person being discussed is a counterfeit Christian:

“Let us examine point by point the description that is given of this apostate.

  1. He has been enlightened or illuminated by a clear presentation of the gospel and its invitation to repent and believe. Apparently he has made a profession of faith and has reached out to Christ as his Savior.
  2. He has tasted of the heavenly gift (dōrea, which is not the same as charisma, “spiritual gift”); that is, he has had a part in the activity of the church, the joyous fellowship of other Christians in the worship and service of the Lord, and has even seen a response to his testimony and appeal at public meetings.
  3. He has tasted the goodness of the Word of God. That is, he has come to a clear understanding of the message of Scripture and has mentally and intellectually approved it and appreciated the faithful and earnest presentation of it on the part of preachers from the pulpit.
  4. He has even tasted of the powers of the coming age—just as Judas Iscariot did, when he came back with the other eleven, exuberantly exulting that in the course of their two-by-two evangelistic campaigns even the demons were subject to them as they preached the Lord Jesus (Luke 10:17). Evidently Judas was so completely involved with them in this effort that even at the eve of Christ’s betrayal by him in the Garden of Gethsemane, none of his colleagues suspected the treachery he had in mind during their Passover meal. (We know this because they had to ask one another around the table, “Lord, is it I?” [Mark 14:19]. They could not tell even then whom Jesus had in mind as His betrayer.)

For that matter, all of the first three qualities were true of Judas as well. He had been enlightened and had tasted of the heavenly gift and the goodness of the Word of God as he had sat for three years under the personal teaching of the Lord Jesus. Insofar as he had participated in gospel preaching and the expulsion of demons, he also had been a sharer in the Holy Spirit. But this falls short of becoming indwelt by the Holy Spirit, so that his body was actually taken over to be a holy temple of God. Far from it! Christ could read his heart, and He saw the hypocrisy and treachery within it—as He indicated clearly enough at the last Passover meal. In the high priestly prayer of John 17, Jesus spoke of Judas as the “son of perdition” (v.12). By no stretch of the imagination could Judas Iscariot have been at any time considered truly born again, no matter how convincing a performance he may have put on before his fellow disciples. Yet all four of the qualities described as marking the apostate were true of Judas.

It is quite clear that all along Judas had been hoping to gain personal advantage from Jesus; perhaps he expected a post of honor in Christ’s coming kingdom (which he thought of primarily in a political, earthly dimension). He never seriously took Jesus as Lord of his heart; he never laid his body on the altar of sincere devotion to Christ’s will and glory. Judas may have professed such surrender, but he never really meant it. Otherwise, when Jesus made it clear that He had no intention of using His supernatural powers to seize political power, Judas would not have decided to betray Him to the temple authorities for a sum of money. This made it abundantly evident that he had really meant to use Jesus for his own selfish interest rather than giving himself over to be used by Christ for His service and glory.

Eventually a time of testing will come along in the career of every professing believer, who has tried to take Jesus as Savior without also taking Him as Lord—as the one he intends to live for and is willing to die for—and the spuriousness of his “conversion” will become apparent. A truly born-again believer, of the type that will never be plucked out of the Master’s hand, is one who has passed through that inward change of heart that centers him on Christ instead of on himself (cf. 2 Cor. 5:14–17). That type of death to the world and to self, that surrender to Jesus as Lord that opens up to the Holy Spirit and lets Him take over the convert completely, is a kind of regeneration that is both genuine and permanent. Even though he may later backslide for a time and taste once again of his former bondage and shame, he will never be allowed to remain in that state of rebellion and defeat. The Holy Spirit will not leave him alone, but by one means or other He will draw him back to renewed repentance, faith, and surrender.”

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