Does Hebrews 6:4-7 refer to it being impossible for fall aways to repent
due to their state of heart and mind, and not that God is preventing them
from being restored to the faith? Also, in Matthew 24:12, who is referred
to as “most?”

If you just read Hebrews 6:4-6 in isolation, I can imagine two possible
interpretations. It could mean that for a person who falls away, their
heart must be so hard that it becomes impossible for them to repent
again. Another possible interpretation is that once a person falls away,
God will not accept them once again to renew their salvation. In order to
decide which interpretation is the correct one, I would go elsewhere in
Hebrews and then look throughout the New Testament. The first passage
which comes to mind which helps me to decide which interpretation is
correct is Hebrews 10:26-30. This passage says, “If we deliberately keep
on sinning… no sacrifice for sins is left…Anyone who rejected Moses
died without mercy…. How much more…who has trampled the Son of God
under foot…who has insulted the Spirit of grace…It is a dreadful thing
to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Based on this passage, it is convincing to me that when a person falls
away, the Holy Spirit (the deposit guaranteeing our salvation Eph 1:14) is
taken away from us. We become liable to death again. Hebrews 6 clearly
declares that this position is impossible to escape. As it says in 2 Pet
2:19,20, we are worse off than we were at first. Falling away is
irreversible. Once we insult the Spirit and God removes the Holy Spirit
from us, we are lost for eternity.

This conclusion has important implications about the doctrine of falling
away. Many refer to people who no longer attend their church as a
fall-away. I believe we should be very reticent to make such a
judgement. Many have talked about trying to bring a fall-away back to
repentance, when this is not possible. Instead, I believe we should say
something like, this brother or sister is not being faithful right now.
Who am I to judge someone as fallen away? Only God can decide such a
thing, and it is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living

So, to answer your question, it is God who makes it impossible for us to
be saved once we have committed the unforgiveable sin, have insulted the
spirit, have trampled on the blood of Jesus, have committed blasphemy
against teh Holy Spirit. I suppose you could argue that such a person
would be unable to repent anyway, but I do not want to speculate on such a
thing. If we reject the grace of God in such a blatant way that he takes
away the Holy Spirit, then this is a final judgment of God. This is a
hard teaching but I believe it is the best way to interpret passages on
this subject.

On Matthew 24:12, the “most” is us. Just like the Hebrews in the
wilderness (Hebrews 3:14-4:7), most of whom did not make it, the sad fact
is that many of those who are saved will not not prove faithful. I
believe that Matthew 24:12 is referring to a particular situation at the
end times; perhaps the destruction of Jerusalem, or more likely at the
very end of days. At this time, most will not prove faithful, but the
gospel will be preached to all nations, then the end will come. However,
Matthew 24:12 has a general application to all followers of Jesus as a
warning that we must stand firm. Matthew 24 is a fairly difficule passage
to interpret because Jesus bounced back and forth between talking about
the destruction of Jerusalem (ex 24:15-21) and about his return at the end
of time (ex 24:30-31). For this reason, I would not want to make super
confident statements about which 24:12 refers to, but I believe it is
about the end of days. But, like I said, it has general application to
all followers of Jesus, which is why he said these things.

John Oakes

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