There are many reasons, and very many good reasons for Christians attending Church on a regular basis and being accountable to someone else, in their walk with God. We easily delude ourselves, thinking that we are in the right, that we can do that which others of less faith and ability just cannot do. We look into the mirror and believe the lies that we are told, that we can do better than the others, just because, because, “we can”.
I believe all church goers know of the analogy of a Christian in the body of the Church, to that of a hot coal, in a blacksmith’s furnace. As the smith fans the coals, they glow white hot, hot enough to soften iron and steel. But if the smith takes one coal out and lays it even just one hand’s breath from all the other coals, that coal begins to cool and die; it can no longer produce inner heat. It no longer contributes to the fire. Sitting outside the fire, just one hand’s breath from it, is just the same as sitting one hundred miles from the fire; a position of death and of lack of purpose. But return that coal back to the body and it begins to glow and produce its inner heat once more; it is not longer worthless, but is contributing 100% again. Unfortunately, the analogy begins to break down here.
Yes, the lukewarm, the backsliders, the half-hearted and the half-committed who sit just ‘outside’ the body of the Church, are doing no favours to themselves, or to the Church. They claim to be Christians and call themselves Christians, but the Bible has another position for them. Let us first look at Second Peter 2:20-21 which says:
“For if they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the full knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and are again entangled, they have been overcome by these, their last things are worse than the first.
For it would have been better for them not to have fully known the way of righteousness, than fully knowing it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.”
First of all then, backsliders, according to Second Peter 2:20-21 will find things worse than if they had never accepted Christ in the first place. But Hebrews 6:4-6 add substantially and chillingly to their plight saying:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the world to come, and who have fallen away; it is impossible, I say, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify the Son of God afresh to themselves and put Him to an open shame.”
Unlike a coal being brought back into the fire and regaining its original position, Hebrews 6:4-6 takes a different view of a Christian who has fallen into apostasy and turned his back on the Body of Christ. Hebrews 6:4-6 simply says it is “impossible” for that person to be renewed again to repentance. Now let me be plain here, these are not my words, but the words of Hebrews 6:4-6.
To be sure, these words are not preached often in Churches. I am guessing now, but I seriously doubt if ever these words from Hebrews 6:4-6 are spoken in public in a “seeker friendly” Church. Heaven forbid they offend a ‘pre-believer’ for an ex-believer!
The word ‘backslider’ or ‘סוּג’ only appears once in the Bible, in Proverbs 14:14 “The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways, but a good man from himself.” How well this describes not only the backslider, but also the lukewarm, the half-hearted and the half-committed who sit just ‘outside’ the body of the Church. “To be filled with one’s own ways” is to be in rebellion to God, and God simply does not take kindly to that. As Job 34:37 says “For he adds rebellion to his sins; he claps his hands among us, and multiplies his words against God.” Again, an apt description of the backslider, the lukewarm, the half-hearted and the half-committed.
The Prophets of God are declaring that the times of Grace are over – are about to be over. Time is running very short for the backslider, the lukewarm, the half-hearted and the half-committed. Their time to repent and change is now, else it will be too late and they will face their fate as the King says to them “Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels “ (Matthew 25:41).