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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Derek Prince » Derek Prince - A Warning Against Apostasy

Derek Prince - A Warning Against Apostasy

Derek Prince - A Warning Against Apostasy
TOPICS: Bible Study, Apostasy

We are now, God helping us, and with the necessary permit, we're going to move on. We come to Hebrews 6:4–8. The third passage of warning. This is primarily against apostasy or falling away. I prefer the word apostasy because falling away suggests it's happened by accident. Apostasy indicates it happened by a decision. I think it's the latter that the writer has in mind. I'll read the passage and then we'll look into it. Let me just check on you, myself included. We've had two other passages of solemn warning, what was the first one a warning against? Very significant. It's at the beginning of chapter 2. How shall we escape if we neglect, first; unbelief second; third, apostasy; fourth; why should you know? But it is willful continuing in sin. And fifth, falling short of the grace of God.

I believe that order is very significant. I think neglect will lead to unbelief and unbelief will lead to apostasy. If you really believe the truth of the Bible you couldn't apostatize. So this is the warning against apostasy, beginning in verse 4: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened [or illuminated] and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted of the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, to renew them again to repentance, crucifying as they do to themselves the Son of God afresh, and putting him to open shame. I don't think there are any questions about the translation of this point.

This is one of the most discussed and argued about passages of New Testament doctrine. All I can say is, I believe it means what it says. Let's find out what it says. It speaks about people who have had five spiritual experiences. Let's look there in the text. The first one in verse 4 is they have been enlightened. The second one, still in verse 4, they have tasted of the heavenly gifts. The third one, still in verse 4, they have become partakers or sharers in the Holy Spirit. The fourth one, now in verse 5, they have tasted the good word of God. And number five, they have tasted also the powers of the age to come, or an age to come. Let's briefly consider what's implied by each of those statements, what kind of experience it indicates.

First of all, being enlightened which is an act of God, the Holy Spirit. He enables us to see the truth about Jesus Christ, about the Bible, about ourselves. It's not something that we could ever achieve by pure intellectual study or reasoning. There has to be an illumination. This was very clear to me when I was confronted with the claims of Jesus Christ in a personal way because I could not understand the gospel. I was trained to analyze and reason and explain. I absolutely could not understand the gospel. It didn't make any sense to me whatever. Nor could I believe it. I wanted to and I couldn't. I don't know whether you can accept that fact but I really wanted to believe and I couldn't. Then I was enlightened supernaturally. From that moment onwards I have never doubted that Jesus Christ is alive and that he is the Son of God. It was not a process of reasoning. It was enlightenment.

You may not know it but there are truths in the Bible you cannot apprehend merely by your reasoning. Once you are enlightened you have a responsibility you didn't have before. We could look in Hebrews 10:32 for another example of this phrase. Hebrews 10:32: But remember the former days, when, after being enlightened, you endured a great conflict of sufferings. So this is the first experience we're talking about, it's a supernatural revelation of truth. Many of you have had it. Maybe all of you have had it, I don't know. But I know in my own experience from that moment onwards I could never go back and pretend I didn't know. It was utterly a closed door. Thank God I never wanted to go back. That's the other side of the story. Tasted the heavenly gifts. That's the second experience.

What heavenly gifts? Well, I'll give you two Scriptures. Romans 6:23, every good Baptist knows this. It's good to know it, let me add that. For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. So that's a gift. Now the Greek word that's used there is charisma which gives us incidentally the word Charismatic, etc., etc. The first time charisma is used in the New Testament it's used in Romans 5, you don't need to turn there. The gift there is righteousness. It's very interesting. Charismatics have gotten far away from these two initial basic meanings of the word charisma. Righteousness and eternal life. Bear in mind you cannot have eternal life till you have righteousness because God cannot give it to a sinner. It's very interesting. There's a whole area of truth here most Charismatics have never even peeked into. However, the word that's used in Hebrews 6:4 is not charisma. It won't mean much to you but in Greek it's dorea.

I have a theory which I have propounded in New Zealand; I don't know whether I have ever propounded it anywhere else. My theory is the word dorea in the New Testament Greek normally means a gift which is a divine person. Not an experience, not a thing, not an it. Now that word is used that way in 2 Corinthians 9:15. At the end of two chapters on money, Paul says: Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift. In other words, when we've done all our giving let's remember that God started the giving. He gave things we can't match. The word there is dorea. What do you think the indescribable gift of God is? I'll tell you what I believe it is. The Lord Jesus Christ. And I believe in Hebrews 6:4 the gift is the Jesus. Mind you, if you have Jesus, in him you have the charisma of eternal life. So it's talking about people who have Jesus, and in him, eternal life. The next is they became partakers of the Holy Spirit. The word means to have a share or part in. They had a share or a part in the Holy Spirit.

Now, let's turn to Acts 2:38. Peter said to them, Repent and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ into remission [or forgiveness] of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Guess what Greek word it is? Dorea. That's right. It's not talking about receiving spiritual gifts, it's talking about the gift which is a divine person. Who's the person? The Holy Spirit. First you receive Jesus, then you receive the Holy Spirit, himself the gift. So we're talking in Hebrews 6:4 of people who have received the Holy Spirit. Going on to verse 5, they've tasted the good word of God. There are many, many Scriptures there.

Let's note that it is not logos but rhema. It's not just theology, it's God has spoken to them through His word. I'm sure most of you are familiar with that. It would be interesting, but I don't want to do it, but it nevertheless would be interesting if I went down this list to see who would raise his or her hand at any given point and say, 'Yes, that's happened to me, that's happened to me, that's happened to me.' They have tasted the good word of God. There are so many Scriptures about the word of God that I think we'll just not spend time looking at any of them. And the powers of a coming age. That's exciting, isn't it? I wonder how many of you believe you have tasted the powers of the coming age? I'll give you some Scriptures that to me explain it and see if you agree.

2 Corinthians 1:21-22. Paul has been talking about all his trials and tribulations and about the need of prayer. Then he says: Now he who confirms us with you in Christ [or strengthens us] and who anointed us is God, who also sealed us and gave the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts as a pledge. A much better word is down payment. It's not so spiritual but it brings out the meaning. Before we speak about that, let's turn to the other passage in Ephesians 1:13-14. Ephesians 1:13-14: Among whom also are you, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, in whom, after believing, you were sealed with the Spirit of promise [the Holy Spirit], who is the pledge [down payment] of our inheritance, until the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory. You'll notice in both those passages when it speaks about an experience with the Holy Spirit it says first you were sealed and then you received the down payment.

That's one of the most interesting words in the Bible. In Hebrew it's aravon. In Arabic it's arbone. In Greek it's arabone. And in Swahili, the language of East Africa, it's araboonee. So you got the same word there in four languages. That's what the Holy Spirit is. He's Jesus' down payment in us. He says once I've made that down payment you're not for sale. It's my guarantee I'm coming back with the rest of the money. Okay? But you've got $20 of heaven's money in you right now. The other 80, you've got to wait. So, when it says tasted the powers of the coming age, I understand that to mean the experience of the Holy Spirit which lets you know what life in heaven is like. I mean, there are times when you can do things you absolutely couldn't do at other times. Sometimes when the Holy Spirit comes on me I start dancing, I can do things I absolutely could not do in the natural. Some people are surprised. They were surprised when David danced.

Let me give you a very clear example of that kind of thing. It's Samson. People picture Samson with bulging muscles and tremendous chest development. Not necessary at all. His strength was supernatural. He killed 1000 Philistines with a jawbone of an ass. I mean, if they lined up and waited to be hit on the head that would be a tremendous job! Really. He didn't do that in natural, he tasted the powers of the coming age. I heard the testimony of a missionary once who was in an earthquake in Japan. His wife was buried under some masonry. He lifted that masonry up. It was far heavier than he could lift but he said I knew then where Samson got his strength. We're talking about something that really thrills me, the supernatural power that we'll be living in in the next age. But we get a little arbone, a little down payment here and now.

Now, these people have had the down payment. Some of you understand what I'm talking about. Perhaps maybe all of you. Let's just go over it. It's a very solemn thought. They have been enlightened, they had a revelation of truth that you can't grasp just by natural reasoning. They've tasted the heavenly gift: Jesus, eternal life. They've become sharers in the Holy Spirit. They've tasted the good word of God, they know what it is for God's word to speak to them. And they've tasted the supernatural power of an age that has not yet come on earth. Now it says it is impossible for people who have had those experiences, if after that they fall away, and that is the word, fall away, fall beside, fall off the platform. If I were standing on the platform and I took one step too far and fell off, that would be exactly what it says. They've fallen off. It is impossible to renew them again to repentance because they are crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh and putting him to an open shame.

Now, let's be careful about this. First of all, it does not talk about some weak, struggling, Christian babe who is trying hard and keeps being tripped up. That's not the kind of person it's directed at. If you should be in that category and you have 15 more falls before midnight, don't be condemned. It's not you it's talking about. God is on your side. It's talking about people who had it all, known it all and for some quirk turned their backs on it. See, it's somebody who has actually put Jesus to shame, denied him. They say, 'I don't believe in Jesus Christ, he isn't the son of God, he never really saved me.' I don't know whether you can believe people like that. I had a young man whose name was Bill Steeby. He had one of the most tremendous experiences of salvation I can remember.

I got him, as I used to get my converts, at a street meeting. He came in on a Sunday, he was baptized in the Holy Spirit about the middle of the week which was exceptional in those days, that was the early 1950s. By the end of the week he was singing in the Spirit and having visions. I remember, as a matter of fact, when he got the baptism, in a vision he was washing the Lord's feet with his hair. It was the most beautiful thing. But you know, within a year he didn't even remember if he had ever been saved. He told me he was into Buddhism and finding it very fulfilling. I don't think he even recalled what had happened to him a year earlier. I don't believe there's any way back for a person like that. I don't want to put anybody under condemnation, that's not the preacher's job, that's the devil's job, he's smart enough at it, we don't have to help him. But I would like to say to you that I don't believe there's any way you will make it to heaven if you don't will to make it there.

I find that when every new movement comes along, whether it's shepherding or whatever it may be, some people join it because they think something is going to do something for them automatically even if they're not really willing it themselves. There isn't such a thing. I'll also tell you out of experience there's only one way to know a man that is living right. It isn't that he performs miracles, because he can be performing miracles and living in adultery at the same time. It isn't that he prophesies. It isn't that he preaches tremendous sermons. There's only one way to know that a man is living right and you know what that is? That he's living right. There's no substitute. You can combine sin with almost anything. The Holy Spirit is given to do the will of God. If it's the will of God that he heals 500 people in a meeting, that man has that gift. The Holy Spirit will work through that man to heal 500 people. And he can then go out and live with somebody else's wife.

I'm not theorizing, I'm talking about situations that I've been very close to. There is no substitute for willing right. God is never ultimately going to override your will, grab you by the hair and say come on to heaven anyway. Because, if he did, heaven would be misery for you. You'd wish you were anywhere but in heaven, unless your will is set to will the will of God. You can have lots of problems and lots of struggles. You're looking at somebody who has had plenty. But I never have unwilled my faith in Jesus. I would not dare to. I wouldn't even think of it. I wouldn't let it cross my mind. I've dealt with quite a large number of young people, and most young people go through times of testing. I've seen all the girls that Lydia and I brought up, nine girls, all were baptized in the Holy Spirit before they were seven years old without exception. And really lived their lives close to the Lord.

But by the time they got to be 15 or 16, invariably there was a personal reassessment, Am I going to go on with God or was that just something for my childhood years? And I've known some who, they weren't very impressive Christians for awhile. And I said this to Ruth as a matter of fact, about somebody else who is not one of my children. Ruth was pointing out that there was a lot lacking in her commitment. I said never suggest to her she isn't committed to be a Christian. Assume that she is. Keep her talking that way. Never let her go back on her confession. That's the most dangerous. You remember when Peter was about to be tested to the utmost Jesus said, 'I've prayed for you. Not that you won't do the wrong thing but that your faith won't fail.' This is something that really, I don't know whether God has given me special insight into. I feel so much of our Christian activity is superficial. That people are trying to find a way to get to heaven and enjoy; I don't want to use the word enjoy because sin really isn't that enjoyable. But to get to heaven without a real commitment to God.

There isn't any way. It's dangerous to play around with spiritual things. Israel, at the foot of the mountain, sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play and ended up in gross idolatry and immorality. Playing with spiritual things is as dangerous a game as you could ever find. I'm cautious about people that play with spiritual gifts. I'm not saying it's a deadly sin but it's a risky thing to do. I can enjoy humor and I'm not a very sad person I don't believe. But there are some areas of humor and jesting and likeness which are off limits to me. I will not treat sacred things lightly because if I do I'll get burned. I would like to move on from this but we just have a few minutes left and it seems to me the Holy Spirit is really almost riveting our attention on this fact. You have to be in earnest. I've often wondered why God put up with Jacob. What was there in Jacob that made him so patient? I would never have picked Jacob to start with. I'll tell you that frankly. And with God's insight it's amazing. But what was there in Jacob?

I think it was this: He took God seriously. He knew there was something to get from God and he was going to get it anyway. Cheat or not, but get it. It seems that that attitude was much more favored by God than the attitude of Esau who was a good kind of man and didn't do anybody harm. Never cheated but just wasn't the least bit concerned about spiritual things. If you have to choose, and I'm not saying you do, be a Jacob but never be an Esau. We're not going to get there in this session but but Esau is held up as an example of a profane, Godless man. What did he do? Just indulged his appetite for soup. and threw away his birthright, the promises of God. I think perhaps if I've got anywhere in the Lord it's because whatever the Lord has for me is precious to me. I want it. I am not prepared to sell my birthright.

Well, I think we're going to have to close. I still have a feeling that maybe the Lord wants to speak and I'm going to wait for a moment. If my brothers on the platform have got something that God has given them, I have a feeling that there's somebody here that's looking for an answer. I want to tell you, I don't know who you are, God has got an answer for you. You don't need to go away tonight without an answer. I'm just telling you that in faith. I don't know. Well, we're going to wait a moment before we go. I've never done this in these meetings. I seem to get the impression that there's somebody here tonight who's in danger of throwing away something very precious and that God wants you to enjoy and to have.

And the devil has kind of fooled you into believing that it really isn't worth it. The truth of the matter is, it's worth a lot and God has taken a lot of trouble to get you to the place where this thing is now available to you. I would say to you tonight, reach out and grasp whatever it is that God has for you. Grasp it firmly, don't let it go. God has got a future for you. He's got something far greater than you could imagine. You tend to think about yourself as somewhat an unworthy person with not much ability or talent or claim on God's interest. But the Lord wants you to know tonight that he is very interested in you personally. He has your welfare at heart and he's brought you here tonight just that you might know he's planning the very best for you. May God bless you, Amen.
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