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common thing". So in Phil. 3: we have many walking as the enemies of the cross of
Returning for a moment to Numb. 14:, we must remember that although that great
multitude perished in the wilderness, they were a pardoned people. Moses had prayed:
"Pardon, I beseech Thee, the iniquity of this people . . . . . and the LORD said, I have
pardoned" (verses 19, 20).
Yet it was not possible to renew again unto repentance that people, pardoned though
they were. If this had been remembered when dealing with Heb. 6: many would have
been spared the awful error that some have taught from this chapter, namely, the
possibility of a child of God losing his salvation. This epistle, as we have said again and
again, and this chapter particularly, deals with things that accompany salvation, things
that belong to the perfect or full-grown and the overcomer. These things may be lost or
forfeited, but salvation is by grace, and works or reward have no place in it.
"If God permit" therefore reveals that sometimes God may not permit. To attempt to
ascend the mountain and enter the land of Canaan without the assurance of His presence
was madness and destined to fail. Our first and greatest concern must be to walk with
Him. If for any failure on our part the permission to go on unto perfection should be
withdrawn, let us humbly bow to the will of God, and in lowliness of mind seek the
presence of the Lord. While we feel the crown and the prize will but add to His glory,
and therefore we should run with patience the race set before us, the prize is valueless,
the crown a bauble if it does not glorify Him.
It is impossible to be too keenly sensitive to the serious nature of the failure dealt with
in this chapter. To be "dull of hearing", to remain "a babe", to be satisfied with the
"milk" of the word, and to make no advance may seem bad but not serious. The inspired
Apostle takes another view. To remain a babe is really to go back, and this may be the
beginning of apostasy. Let us see how the Scriptures speak of those who failed to go on
"It is impossible to renew them again unto repentance if they should fall away,
having crucified again to themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame"
(Heb. 6: 6).
"If we should voluntarily sin after having received the full knowledge of the truth,
there remaineth no more a sacrifice for sins . . . . . having trampled under foot the Son of
God" (Heb. 10: 26-29 not AV JP).
We must distinguish between the fact that many, if not all saints after conversion,
lapse into sin of one sort or another, and the falling away intended here. It is the teaching
of the Scriptures that if a man be overtaken in a fault, the spiritual ones of the church
must restore him in a spirit of meekness, considering themselves lest they also should be
tempted (Gal. 6: 1). The exhortations to the seven churches of Rev. 2: and 3: are
further illustrations of the same truth. It is evident that here in the epistle to the Hebrews
something more serious is involved.