If Only You Knew...You'd Never Let Go
As we’ve studied Hebrews (and you can find the archives by clicking the image above), I’ve tried to find one theme or topic in each chapter to focus on. However, there were three that jumped out at me in chapter 6. I had trouble deciding how I wanted to go about this so I’m just going to pick one today, and might possibly come back later and pick up the other two. We will see what happens. And as always, passages are from The Second Testament unless otherwise noted.
For one is powerless for those
who have once been illumined,
who tasted the heavenly gift,
who have become associates in the Holy Spirit
who tasted God’s beautiful utterance
and the coming Era’s powers,
and who fall off [the path],
to renew them again to conversion
re-crucifying for themselves God’s Son
and making him a public exhibition.
Maybe you have heard the saying, “Once you see, you can’t unsee. Once you taste you can’t untaste.” (I’m not sure if it originated with him, but I heard it from my buddy Daniel who got it from Rob Bell.) The gist of it is, once you have experienced something, it’s near impossible to go back to the way you were before that experience, whatever that may be.
In the case of Christianity, once you experience God - as the NLT says, “once enlightened…have experienced the good things of heaven and shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the power of the age to come” - how can you ever again be the person you were before?
In Psalm 34:8, David says, “Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those who take refuge in him!” (NLT) Peter tells the early Christians in 1 Peter 2:2-3, “…Cry out for this nourishment, now that you have had a taste of the Lord’s kindness.” We read in Romans 12:2 that knowing God will transform us into a new person. Ephesians 4:23 says we should let the Spirit renew us. These passages, and so many more, tell us that once we enter into a relationship with God, we are changed forever. Even if we turn from Him, we aren’t the same as we were before.
But you know what I have a hard time understanding?
How could you turn from Him once you’ve experienced His goodness?
Once you have been in a relationship with God our Father, God our Savior, God our Comforter, how do you leave it? How can you let go of it once you’ve seen it, heard it, known it, felt it? Once you have been immersed in His presence, how could you walk away? How can you reject Him if you have TRULY known Him?
Therein lies a lot of the answer, I think. I think many people who turn their backs on God and walk away have never truly experienced a full relationship with Him. They know of God, they know about God, but they don’t really know God. Because, buddy, once you know God, you don’t ever want to be away from Him.
However, if you have truly known Him, and can somehow go so far as to let go, how can you ever find your way back? If, after seeing how good God is, you can walk away from Him, what could ever make you change your mind, just like we read in our passage above. I think that is part of why Jesus says in Matthew 12:31-32 that blasphemy against the Holy Spirit can’t be forgiven. (I’m jut a self-educated Bible student over here, so bear with me here.) Once we have been joined with His Spirit, and then willfully let go of that, you no longer have Truth. Not only do you not have Truth, but you are knowingly spreading untruth and discord (and we spent a good bit of time talking about that in 1 John).
I want to round out with the story of the woman at the well in John 4. Jesus’s words to her were, “If you only knew the gift God has for you…” Friend, if you only knew the gift God has for YOU! Once she knew, she ran and told everyone else. When they had been around Jesus, they said, “It is no longer through your speaking that we trust, for we ourselves have heard and we know…” They experienced Jesus for themselves, and they knew.
Jesus no longer walks among us as flesh and blood, but He sent the Holy Spirit in His place. Once we experience Him, we can also know. 1 John 4:13 tells us, “God has given us His Spirit as proof that we live in Him and He in us.” Through His Spirit, we experience relationship with God - we receive His love, His power, His grace and mercy, His goodness. Don’t turn away from that. If you’ve fully experienced it, how can you? If you are still at “I know of God but don’t know God”…man, are you missing out.
There’s a chapter in my friend Daniel’s book How a 25-Year-Old Learned He Wasn’t the Only One Going to Heaven (which you can find here or here) where he talks about knowing facts vs. really knowing. He says things like:
“I didn’t know Jesus. I didn’t know God. I didn’t know the Spirit. I just knew facts about them.”
“But my faith has changed. I no longer need to know facts about Jesus; I simply want to know him and to be known by him.”
“I was able to tell you so many facts about him, but I don’t believe I truly knew him. And as Jesus said himself in John 17:3, to know God is to have eternal life. Jesus didn’t say that having facts about God and being able to articulate those facts to an atheist or spiritual opponent is how one has eternal life; he said that to know God (you know, to know in the biblical way) is to have life.”1
My prayer is, if you don’t already, you come to really know God. To know Him in a deep, intimate way. To have a relationship with Him that changes you forever. And to be so close to Him that you never want to let Him go.
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From the last chapter of Daniel’s book linked above. The chapter title is Born Again…Again.