“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened . . . 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.” (Hebrews 6:4–6, KJV 1900)
It should be no surprise that one might be enlightened but unchanged. I am certain that you have been told something and paid no attention to it. The parent tells the child, eat your vegetables it will be good for you. Even though the child trusts the parents, he or she refuses to eat vegetables. We drive down the street and see a sign that says speed limit 55, and yet we do 69.9 MPH. We know what the speed limit is, we have been enlightened. Yet, we break the speed limit anyway. Enlightenment in and of itself changes nothing. By the time the officer pulls you over, it is too late.
This is the way it is with many people regarding the hope of the gospel. They know the facts, but they do not respond by true saving faith. This is the group to whom the writer of Hebrews is addressing. They have been enlightened but have not responded.
He goes on to describe them even more by saying they have tasted the heavenly gift and they have tasted the goodness of God’s Word and the powers of the age to come. Tasting things is not the same as eating them. I remember when I first tasted canned spinach. Popeye ate it. It must be good. Nope, I considered it one of the vilest things you could eat. I would not eat it. No, we can taste things but still not digest them. Those to whom the writer addressed, tasted the blessing of the gospel but still did not respond to what they heard by faith.
They even shared in the Holy Spirit. One might say, “How could they have shared in the Holy Spirit without being saved?” Well, they were in a community where they saw many believing Jews who had evidenced the manifestation of the Spirit. They would have seen signs and wonders. They were enlightened as to the truth of the gospel, a work of the Spirit. The Spirit convicted them of their sin. Most probably had lived during Jesus’ earthly ministry and seen or heard in some way of His works wrought by the Spirit. Yes, you can be amidst a mighty movement of God and still not respond by faith.
There were apparently many of this Jewish community who ran the risk of understanding the truth of the gospel, tasting how good it is, and seeing the power of the Holy Spirit at work, and still falling away from all of this. How would they fall? They would fall by not responding to that which they knew by saving faith.
We have many in our churches today with the same predicament. I have seen them with my own eyes as I preached the gospel. I could see and sense their conviction of sin. I have spoken with some who truly understood the gospel. I witnessed to a girl one time who told me she already knew all of that. However, she was not a believer. This warning is to all of those who understand they are sinners, comprehend the coming judgment, and the righteousness offered by faith in Jesus Christ, and yet have not responded by faith. The problem is that these who constantly resist salvation run the risk of falling, never to believe. Rather than their hearts softening, they become hardened to the truth.
If you have been resisting God’s great salvation offered by faith in Jesus Christ alone, do not miss the moment. Today is the day for your salvation. Trust in Jesus before it is too late.
(Tomorrow more on verse 6)