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Hebrews 6:1-3

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How to Come Back to God after Falling Away

Before you read: This article is part of a larger series that builds on itself from the foundation up, with each study building on the last. If something in this article does not make sense to you or if you believe it to be incorrect please be sure you have read over the entire course before passing your final judgment. Also be sure to visit this page’s FAQ And Objections Page

It is indeed possible for a Christian to lose salvation. So there may be fear in the hearts of people who have been Christians, but who are fallen from grace. These are not people who simply sinned (because that isn’t what causes a fall from grace). These are people who have at one time been a Christian who have now rejected Christ.

Yes, there are those who were REALLY Christians that left the faith. There are a number of reasons they will give for their falling from grace. Some claim that God left them or somehow broke His word. The attack of Satan has caused them to harden their hearts towards God.

But once they come to a place where their heart can be softened again is there any hope of salvation? These people have tasted and seen that God is good and yet walked away from Him. No doubt, there are many asking how to come back to God after falling away.

The answer is yes! There is hope for those who have once been in the faith and yet left it. Some may think that is untrue because of certain scriptures such as Hebrews 6, which we will be talking about in this unit. But the truth is that even those who have known God but renounced the faith have a chance to return.

What Happens When a Christian Departs from the Faith

We spoke of what it means to be born again in unit 3:4b. It means the soul of a person, which was dead in sins and distant from God, has new life breathed into it. This new life comes from the Holy Spirit, which takes up residence within a person. At that point, a person has their own soul brought to life because the Spirit of God, which is the breath of life, is abiding with us.

Job 33:4

The spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.

John 11:25

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 14:6

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

Spirit Departs

So if a person’s soul has been “born again” (had life breathed into it) what happens if that life breathing Spirit of God departs? Obviously, without the Spirit of God, which gives life, there is only death.

Now, I know I just hit a nerve with some people by using the words “Spirit of God departs.“ After all, Jesus said He would never leave us nor forsake us. This is the truth. Jesus did say that and His word is sure. It will not fail. If He said it then He meant it!

But what happens if WE are the ones doing the forsaking? That would mean the statement Jesus made has not been broken, and yet there is still a separation. God remains who He is, and where He is, but we are the ones who moved. We are the ones who rejected Him.

So even though the Spirit of God Himself will not leave you it doesn’t mean that you can not depart from Him. Of course, there is still another objection about this that someone may try to raise, which I would like to answer now as well.

John 10:27-30

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and my Father are one.

Romans 8:35 And 38-39

35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Many believe these passages are great scriptures to prove that once a person is saved they can not lose salvation. They also believe these verses show that we can not walk away from God through our own will. They say there is no escape from the hand of God.

hand of God

This does seem logical, in a certain way. Since God is all powerful there is no way that ANYTHING could escape His grasp. But does that mean He will not allow us to walk away? No, He WILL allow us to do that.

In earlier units, we already spoke of the difference between the promise and the reality of salvation. We also gave verses which show without a question that even a Christian can become lost. That is obviously a direct contradiction to the thought that we can not walk away from God if we so chose.

So let’s examine the scriptures above and see if they really do say what some people believe them to say.

John 10:27-39

27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

“And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish,” Jesus is speaking of the sheep that follow Him. Thus, those who FOLLOW Him are given eternal life and they will never perish. Remember, we have the promise of eternal life when we follow Jesus, but the reality has not yet come to pass until we are actually raised from the dead.

“Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” This is not saying a person can not leave on their own freewill. It says no man can pluck them out of my hand. In other words, it is saying no outside force can snatch you away (plucked out). This does not, however, say that no one on the INSIDE can remove THEMSELVES from God’s hand.

not a prisoner

Verse 29 follows the same thought. No outside force can remove you from the hands of God. But, it does not say that God will deny a person the right to leave, on their own freewill.

Romans 8:35 And 38-39 also speak of an outside force. It does not speak of someone on the inside being held as a prisoner. The hands of God are protection, not prison. Another thing to note is that you can love someone even if they are lost. The love of the Father, which is also in Christ Jesus (as they are one), is not dependent on a person being righteous or not.

You can love what you hate. The two are not incompatible. A person may love food, but hate it at the same time, because even though they enjoy it they do not enjoy what it does to them. A parent can love their child and yet still hate them at the same time because of their actions. You can love and hate at the same time. Hate is not the opposite of love.

So now that we have addressed that issue we can move on.

When a Person Falls from Grace

When a person chooses to deny the faith that they once had they depart from God, and fall from grace. This causes their soul to, once again, take on death since they have left the source of life. The Holy Ghost is no longer in communion with their soul.

There are many verses which speak of the Holy Spirit as being a seal that preserves us. It is called the earnest of our inheritance. This means as long as the Holy Spirit is within us, breathing life into our souls, we are protected from death.

Again, God will not forsake us. But, He will not imprison us either. If we forsake Him then He will not force us to remain with Him. He will let us walk away.

Judges 10:13

Yet ye have forsaken me, and served other gods: wherefore I will deliver you no more.

2 Chronicles 15:2

And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you.

So again, WE forsake Him and He LETS us walk away. This is why the Bible says that IF WE forsake Him HE WILL ALSO forsake us. Not because He chose to do so, but because we forced Him to no longer be with us by walking away. He will let us go (forsake us) if we chose.

How to Come Back to God after Falling Away

There are some verses that may seem to imply that a person who has left the faith can not return to God.

Hebrews 6:4-6

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 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 10:17-18 and 26-31

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27 But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

These are some very powerful verses. They really do seem to imply that if a Christian departs from the faith then there is no way to return to God. But this is not actually what they say. We will examine them closer (as we did above with John 10:27-39) to see if what we THINK they say is REALLY what they say or not. Because often we read more into things than is there.

But first, let me provide some other verses which would seem to contradict this thought if it is correct.

Revelation 2:4-5

4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. 5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

first love

Jesus Himself was speaking to a people who had left their first love, and who had fallen from grace.

Some believe the first love it speaks of here is evangelism rather than Jesus Himself. This belief doesn’t hold up under examination though since you must love Jesus FIRST before you can love evangelism. This is the reason the greatest of the commandments begins with loving God first, and others second.

Also, in Luke 15 we find the story of the prodigal son. This was not a servant or someone unknown to the father. This was a son. The SON left his FATHER. But when he remembered from where he was fallen he repented and came to his father, now humbled. His father accepted him back as one who was dead and now alive.

This story told by Jesus does not begin with the son already out in the world. It begins with him being in his father’s household. This is one way we can know that Jesus is not speaking of someone who never knew their father.

The wonderful thing about it is that the son who had left his father came to his senses later on. His hard heart was turned back to his father and he repented. His father did not reject him when he returned but instead took him back as his son. It was as though he had never left. It was as though his son had simply died, and was now alive again.

So if these things speak of returning to God AFTER FALLING FROM GRACE then how can it be saying a person can not do so in the book of Hebrews? The simple answer is that it DOESN’T say that in Hebrews. We just read something into it that isn’t there.

Hebrews 6:4-6

4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 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.

Here we see it say in verses 4-6 that those who have known God and been Christians can not be renewed UNTO repentance. The word “renewed” means to “begin again, or start over from the beginning.” The word “unto” is like saying you are “going unto the end“. It simply means “to cover a distance until you reach a destination.”

you can not start over

So these verses say that a person who once knew of God and became a Christian can not go all the way to the beginning. They can not begin again as though they never knew God.

Like the prodigal son. He could not go back to his father and become a servant because it was impossible for him to be less than the son of his father. He could never say he did not know what it was to be a son.

This is why verse 6 also says that doing so would “crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Because it would be like saying they never knew Jesus, even though they once were Christians. It would be a denial of everything they once knew of their Father. Thus, it would be an open shame.

So these verses do not show that a person can not repent. They only show that a person can not become as if they never knew God in the first place. They can not simply have their memory wiped clear. So they don’t start over. They just return again as though they had never left.

They can not have Jesus purchase them again by His blood since He already paid the price. He doesn’t have to pay again for what is His in the first place. He can revive his “dead son” but he can not pretend the person was never His son in the first place.

Hebrews 10:17-18

17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. 18 Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.

In 17 we see God say that He will no longer remember their sins. This is because they are forgiven and “swept under the rug” so to speak. This is also known as “remission of sins.” So in verse 18, when we see it say that there is no more offering for sin, we have to ask, “Why would we need another?” Our sins are forgiven through Jesus, and if our sins are forgiven we no longer need a sacrifice to forgive us of something already taken care of.

Take note in these verses that it does not say a person can not be forgiven if they walk away, nor does it say that another sacrifice would be needed if they did. It simply says that since our sins are forgiven we do not need another sacrifice.

Hebrews 10:26

26 For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,

Again, we see here that there is no more sacrifice for sins even if we walk away. What does this mean? We can take this to mean that the blood of Jesus is no longer able to cover us, or we can take it to mean that there is no OTHER sacrifice that can cover us.

Hebrews 10:28-29

28 He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?

First, let’s look at verse 28. What was Moses’ law in relation to sacrifice? It was that if you sinned you would need a sacrifice to be forgiven of that sin. So, how could someone despise this? Simply by sinning without offering a sacrifice. Thus, they would be in disobedience by not only committing sin but also by not believing (or caring) that God would forgive them through a sacrifice.

Going on into verse 29 we will remember the context of verse 28. What does it mean for someone to “trod underfoot the Son of God?” It means that person counts it to be of little value (or beneath them). Going on from there we read the rest of the verse.

“And hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing,” Again, this person counts the blood of Jesus as having little value and unable to save them.

From there we read “and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” Despite means “without being affected by; in spite of or contempt; disdain.” In short, a person who has done despite unto the Spirit of grace has treated the grace (goodwill) of God with contempt and counts it as ineffective.

power in the blood

In all of those verses, there is NOWHERE that we find the Bible say that the blood of Jesus is not enough to cover someone who has left the faith. We find NOWHERE that it says a person can not return to Jesus, as the prodigal son who was alive, then dead, and now alive again.

In fact, it says the opposite! It says that if you count the blood of Jesus as not being enough to cover ALL sins, even of someone who once walked away, then you have done despite unto the Spirit of grace.

These are not verses which say you can not be saved from hell. These are verses that say only those who count God as unable to save them from hell can not be saved from it!

It is blasphemy to say God cannot, or will not, save the repentant soul!

So to sum this all up, we have discovered that even a Christian who has left the faith can indeed return to Jesus through repentance. They can not begin as though they never knew Him to begin with, though. They simply come to their father and ask for forgiveness. Once again, the Holy Spirit abides in them as the son of the Father and breathes life into them.

THERE IS HOPE!

In the next unit, we will be talking about one more thing that affects the topic of forgiveness and salvation. We are going to address what Jesus was talking about when He spoke of someone never having forgiveness if they blaspheme the Holy Ghost.

Continue To Unit 3:4f – What Is the Unforgivable Sin OR

Return To Christianity 101 Unit 3 – Repentance and Salvation

June 23, 2016 at 6:51 pm | | 3 comments

3 responses to “How to Come Back to God after Falling Away”

  1. CPS says:

    I’m a 18-year-old girl who willingly decided to leave God’s hands after several episodes where any church I has tried to join and feel like home had disapointed me. Everytime I saw or heard someone using God’s name to hurt or hate on others I felt sick. I blamed it all on God. And eventually walked away from him.
    About 5 years later I felt God’s call again. I resisted it at first because I was ashamed of admiting I had been wrong, until last night it became too much and, with my mother beside me, I prayed for the first time un a long time. We both cried. My mom because she couldn’t believe I was finally trying to correct my mistakes and me because I was finally doing what it felt right again. I physically felt God’s power welcoming me, a sinner, again. It felt warm and so, so powerful. Loving, protective. I was no longer afraid, but I felt at home instead.
    I don’t want go make the same mistakes again, so I’m researching on how to make this right. How to build my faith in a way that even those disgusting acts that once led me away from God will not do it again. Your article helped me a lot and I’m planning on to read all the parts, even if now I’m scared that I might find my sins have no forgiveness. I hope they can be forgiven, because I don’t want to go back to where I was these past years.
    Thank you.

  2. John says:

    Admiring the dedication you put into your blog and detailed information you offer.

    It’s great to come across a blog every once in a while that isn’t the same outdated
    rehashed material. Great read! I’ve bookmarked
    your site and I’m including your RSS feeds to my Google account.

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