Fallen Away From God…
How do we bring someone back to faith if they have fallen away from God:
And we shall do this, if only God permits. For it is impossible in the case of those who have once been enlightened and tasted the heavenly gift and shared in the holy Spirit and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to bring them to repentance again, since they are recrucifying the Son of God for themselves and holding him up to contempt. -Hebrews 6:3-6, NAB
This verse is challenging, and I had to do an extra bit of research to make sure that I got it right, but based on some other sources, I will do my best to explain this verse accurately.
As we share the faith with the world around us, we introduce other people to the love of Christ. From there, they can make the choice whether or not to accept Christ into their hearts, and if they do, they will be given the gift of the Holy Spirit through the sacraments.
At Baptism, we join the Church, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, and Confirmation serves to seal that union. Most people will continue to live a Christian life from that point forward (even if they are not the most devout of souls), but some will fall away from the faith and reject God.
Here, the author is speaking specifically of those who have fallen away from God after entering the Church. He states that it is impossible to bring them back again. Yes, impossible. Does this mean that we cannot come back to the faith if we have fallen away from God?
This could be seen in a couple of ways, both of which may be accurate. First, the author may be speaking figuratively, where impossible means extremely difficult or nearly impossible. The author may also mean that it is impossible for us to bring them back – that only by the grace of God can they return. I think that a combination of these two makes the most sense.
In Matthew 19:26, Jesus tells us, “For human beings this is impossible, but for God all things are possible.” I believe that this verse fits perfectly with today’s. Only by God’s grace can we be saved, especially if we have accepted Him and fallen away again. We can try to bring others back to the Church, but in the end, God will need to make it possible.
Despite our best evangelistic efforts, it is impossible for us to save souls – especially those who knew Christ but have fallen away from God. Thankfully, with God, all things are possible, so our job, then, is to introduce (or re-introduce) people to Christ and let God do the rest. May God welcome home all of His prodigal sons and daughters.