“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
In verses 4-6 we are given the hindrance to reversion recovery. These three verses are actually one long sentence in Greek.
To renew them again means to restore from reversionism (the context of our passage). So these verses are not referring to salvation, but recovery from reversionism. It is impossible to recover from reversionism under certain qualifying circumstances or under certain conditions. A believer can have a lifestyle that makes it impossible to ever recover from reversionism if that lifestyle does not include the discipline to consistently study and learn the Word of God. You can use Rebound and temporarily restore fellowship with God, but Rebound alone isn’t going to advance you. You get back on track under the filling of the Holy Spirit by the study and application of Bible doctrine and by no other means.
Who have once been enlightened refers to the hearing of the Gospel and the ministry of God the Holy Spirit in illuminating that Gospel message in the soul of an unbeliever. The Gospel is spiritual phenomena, “the natural man cannot understand the things of the Spirit of God, they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them because they are discerned by the Spirit.” One of the ministries of the Holy Spirit is to clarify the Gospel. These believers once received illumination of the Gospel message as unbelievers and responded to it by faith.
And have tasted of the heavenly gift is the result of faith after they were illuminated by the Holy Spirit.
Therefore, tasting is faith in Jesus Christ. The heavenly gift actually means the free gift of salvation. The Greek word for gift is “dorea,” which means a gift given without strings, a free gift or a gracious gift from Heaven.
Have become partakers of the Holy Spirit means partnership or partners (having become partners with the Holy Spirit). It is important that we understand the role of God the Holy Spirit in our lives. The Christian life is a supernatural way of life. Victory depends on the filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine in the believer’s soul. There has been much confusion and misrepresentation of the Holy Spirit and His ministries, some due to incorrect translation and some due to inaccurate interpretation. The ministries of the Holy Spirit are not seen or felt. They are facts stated in God’s Word for us to believe. Only by examining God’s Word can a believer truly understand the Holy Spirit and His role in our lives.
The sealing ministry of the Holy Spirit is the believer’s guarantee of eternal life. It is through this ministry that believers are secure forever. The Holy Spirit Himself is the seal or down payment of a future inheritance - the time when the believer receives his glorified body. It means that we are permanently identified as God’s own possession. (II Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13; 4:30)
Regeneration is the act of God the Holy Spirit in imparting spiritual life to a person at the time of faith in Christ as his Savior. This person is said to be born-again, alive from the dead and a new creature. (Titus 3:5-6) Being born-again is better translated, born from above or born of God. This new birth results in a person’s receiving eternal life and many other spiritual assets. (John 3:3-8) Being made alive indicates that the person was dead. This, of course, is not referring to physical death, but to spiritual death or separation from God. Regeneration by the Holy Spirit solves this problem by imputing spiritual life into the person who believes in Christ as Savior. (Ephesians 2:5-6; Colossians 2:13) Prior to salvation a person has no spiritual life; they are spiritually dead. It is the work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration that creates a human spirit or a new creation. This new creation is something that never existed before and it is the means whereby a person can have fellowship with God. (II Corinthians 5:17)
The indwelling of the Holy Spirit begins immediately upon faith in Christ and is permanent. This ministry is unique to the Church Age in which we live. It is this ministry that assures our royal status, since all believers, regardless of their spiritual health, are equally indwelt by the Holy Spirit. This ministry also creates a temple in the body of each believer for the indwelling of Christ, the Shekinah Glory. “Shekinah” literally means “dwelling”. It is the indwelling Holy Spirit Who enables the believer to understand spiritual truth, to glorify Christ and to witness for Christ. (Galatians 3:2-3; 4:6; Acts 1:8; I Corinthians 2:12; 3:16-17; 6:19-20; John 14:16-20; Colossians 1:27)
Upon faith in Christ, the believer is placed in permanent union with Christ by means of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This union guarantees us a share of Christ’s inheritance. Believers are not only heirs of God; they are joint heirs with Christ and Royal Family of God. This relationship of being “in Christ” is unique to this dispensation of the Church Age. (Romans 8:14-17; I Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:3-11)
At the moment of salvation, the Holy Spirit, in sovereignty, gives every believer at least one spiritual gift. These gifts are given so that the local church can properly function. Some of these gifts were temporary or foundational, as the early church was being formed. The church has been formed and we have the completed canon of Scripture as our guide and authority. Therefore, the temporary gifts are no longer necessary. Permanent gifts are essential for the function of the local church. (I Corinthians 12:11; Ephesians 4:11)
The filling of the Holy Spirit is another of His ministries. Holy Spirit is another of His minstries “Filling” in Greek means to fill up a deficiency, to be fully possessed, to be fully influenced and to be filled with a certain quality. Without the Holy Spirit we are deficient to learn and apply doctrine or resist the influence of Satan. The Holy Spirit possesses or controls the soul of the believer who is in fellowship with God. When the believer is being controlled by the Holy Spirit, every area of his life is being influenced. The quality that the believer is filled with is the character of Jesus Christ, which leads to spiritual maturity. The filling is temporary, depending on the believer’s fellowship with God. Fellowship with God means that there is no unconfessed sin in the life. Fellowship with God is achieved by naming or admitting known sins directly to God. This means keeping “short accounts” (naming your sin immediately when sin is realized). It is this control of the Holy Spirit that provides the power to execute the Christian Way of Life, which includes both your relationship with God (your spiritual life) and with people (your Christian life). A believer is glorifying Christ when he produces the fruit of the Spirit and exhibits the character of Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18; Galatians 4:19; 5:22-23)
God the Holy Spirit is the believer’s teacher and guide. It is His ministry to guide the believer to and teach the believer truth. He uses pastor-teachers in this age to teach Bible doctrine, but it is the Holy Spirit Who makes that information understandable. Believers learn Bible doctrine when they expose themselves to it under the control of the Holy Spirit. The result is storage of doctrinal information that can be used by the Holy Spirit to guide you into a victorious Christian life. (John 7:17; 14:26; 16:13-14; Romans 8:14; I Corinthians 2:10-16; II Timothy 2:15; 3:16)
The ministry of intercession is the Holy Spirit mediating on behalf of the believer. This is a normal function of a priest. The believer is a royal priest, Jesus Christ is our Great High Priest, but the Holy Spirit is never said to be a priest (strictly a human function). However, we are told that the Holy Spirit makes intercession for believers. The reason this is possible is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Since He is indwelling a priest, He is able to “make groaning which cannot be uttered” for us. His intercession is for us in times in which we are unable to pray due to intense suffering, distress or when we simply don’t know how or what to pray. (Romans 8:26-27)
The ministry of glorification of Christ is accomplished in the life of the believer under the filling of the Holy Spirit as he executes the Christian Way of Life. If the believer chooses to allow the Holy Spirit to control his life, and learns, believes and applies Bible doctrine, the character of Christ can be formed in him. It is this formation of the character of Christ that glorifies Him. We cannot live a sinless life like Christ lived, but we can develop virtue and integrity. We can acquire the wisdom and understanding of His Word. Virtue (strength of character), integrity (loyalty to the truth), wisdom (application of doctrine) and understanding (faith applied to knowledge of God’s Word) are found in only one source, God’s Word. The character of Christ is expressed in the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. By following Christ’s example we can become “winner believers” and advance to spiritual maturity and glorify God to the maximum. (John 16:14; Galatians 4:19; 5:22-23)
The Holy Spirit sustains the believer. “Sustain” is defined as supplying the needs of a person. Some believers, who are not advancing in their spiritual lives, are sustained with only the daily necessities of life, such as food, shelter and clothing. For the advancing believer whose needs are greater, God the Holy Spirit sees to it that all of that believer’s needs are met. The needs may be physical, spiritual, emotional or material. God in His wisdom knows our needs and has promised to meet them. This is a part of the sustaining ministry of God the Holy Spirit. (John 14:16-18,26,27)
And have tasted the good Word of God means studying and learning Bible doctrine. These believers in Jerusalem had been taught the Word of God over some period of time and, as the writer stated previously, should have been able to teach others, but instead needed to be taught again.
And the powers of the age to come refers to the Millennium. In the Millennium, God will provide perfect environment on the earth after having sent Satan to the abyss. Therefore the Millennium is the time of unrestrained doctrine and unrestrained blessing accompanying doctrine. Remember that the Millennium is characterized by the fact that the earth will be covered with doctrine as the waters cover the seas. (Habakkuk 2:14; Isaiah 11:9) And with that you have accompanying prosperity and blessing in every area of life. These believers had been taught these truths and should have been motivated to continue in grace and doctrine by a personal sense of destiny, but they did not. They had fallen away into reversionism. Fallen away includes negative volition toward doctrine, demon influence through the opening of a vacuum (Greek: mataiotes), the blackout of the soul and/or the hardness of heart, self-induced misery and the discipline that accompanies reversionism.
It is impossible to renew again to repentance means a change of mind away from the dead works of reversionism. As long as these believers in Jerusalem remained in a state of reversionism without a desire to change their lifestyle of rejection of Bible doctrine, they could not be restored or renewed to executing their Christian lives. By remaining in a state of reversionism they were in effect crucifying Christ again. In this case the reversionistic lifestyle was legalism, religiosity. Here were members of the royal priesthood submitting themselves to a priesthood that no longer existed. This practice represents a frantic search for happiness in religion tantamount to legalistic reversionism. These believers were offering animal sacrifices in the Temple which would be like crucifying Christ afresh. Each animal sacrifice represented some aspect of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, historically the death of Christ was completed some years before. The death of Christ on the Cross was the reality which eliminated the need for animal sacrifices.
And put him to open shame means to hold in contempt, to expose to contempt, to publicly embarrass someone and therefore to make a public example of contempt. It describes what occurs when these believers entered the Temple to offer sacrifices. Every time they did this they again and again expose Jesus Christ to public shame and contempt by saying that His sacrifice was not sufficient. Any form of legalism or works carries this same message. As a result of offering animal sacrifices they were engaging as royal priests in blasphemy instead of honor to the Lord Jesus Christ. So this activity would hinder every effort to recover from reversionism since this function sponsored and encouraged negative volition toward doctrine and grace. There was a conflict between learning doctrine and in going to the Temple. As long as that conflict existed they could never recover from reversionism and they would die the sin unto death. These Jews who were believers could not publicly shame Jesus Christ and at the same time recover from their reversionism. Their action is incompatible with the function of spiritual growth. Any activity which is incompatible with the function of spiritual growth hinders reversion recovery.