Crossing The Deadline
(The Unpardonable Sin)
I. Bible Reveals the Unpardonable Sin in All Ages
Some Bible teachers say that no one in this age commits the unpardonable sin. They would say I am wrong in warning sinners that they may commit the sin that has no forgiveness in this world of the world to come; that they may cross the deadline of mercy even before death, if they persistently reject Jesus Christ. But I am thoroughly convinced that there is an unpardonable sin, that men may commit today. I believe that those who think there is no danger that people may now commit the unpardonable sin make that mistake because they do not really understand what the unpardonable sin is.
Now if I can show clearly from the Bible that in every age of the past men have committed the unpardonable sin, and that even at the close of this present age men will commit the unpardonable sin, that will be the strongest kind of evidence that some men even today commit that sin. That is what I will undertake to prove. I will show from the Bible that even before the flood people have committed the unpardonable sin and the Holy Spirit ceased to call them so that they passed redemption point before they died. I will show that after the flood the heathen races of the earth went into heathen darkness because many of them committed the unpardonable sin, and God gave them over to a reprobate mind, and the Spirit of God gave them up. I will show that during the life and personal ministry of Christ some committed the unpardonable sin. I will show that during the ministry of the apostles, some committed the sin that has no forgiveness, and it was impossible to bring them to repentance. I will show that in the tribulation time, yet future, some will take the mark of the Beast and will thereby commit the sin beyond forgiveness, and thus eternally damn themselves, without hope of pardon, while still alive.
If we find that in all ages some men have committed the unpardonable sin, that should not be surprising. God has wanted man to save men. He is no respecter of persons as between one nation and another, or the men in one age or another.
In all ages God has had only one plan for salvation. It was by faith that Abel pleased God and was saved. It was by faith Abraham "believed in the Lord; and he counted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:6). And Abraham is held up in Romans, chapter 4, as the example of saving faith for us in this age.
Some people foolishly believe that in Old Testament times people were saved by animal sacrifices, or by circumcision,
or by keeping ceremonial laws. No, all the sacrifices, all the forms of worship were simply object lessons pointing to Jesus Christ. Every lamb pointed to Jesus, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away sin of the world." In Acts 10:43, Peter, coming for the first time to speak to a Gentile household about Christ, said, "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Peter says that in all ages every prophet of God taught the same plan of salvation; that one who trusted in Jesus Christ had his sins forgiven. Remember that the only Scripture Peter had were Old Testament Scriptures; the prophets he quoted were Old Testament prophets.
God has never had any plan of salvation except that sinners should put their trust in God's Saviour and be counted righteous for His sake. Before Christ came, men did not fully understand His coming, but all depended on God to give salvation free, depended on God to save by the Saviour he would send. Now that Christ has come, men do not understand all about it, but they can be saved by trusting God's Saviour , depending upon Him for salvation. There never has been but one plan of salvation; there never will be another. The sacrifices never did help save. Baptism never did save, never help save. Church membership, morality, works of merit, never did save, and never did help save. God never did have but one salvation.
That means that all ages God's Holy Spirit wooed men and sought men and called men. if by faith Abel was saved and offered the sacrificial lamb as an evidence and a picture of his faith, we may be sure that Cain was called, too, and that God's Spirit convicted Cain of his sin. The murderous rage in Cain's heart was simply his reaction to the pleading, the calling, the warning of the Spirit of God. God's Spirit called people before the flood when Noah preached to them. God's Holy Spirit convicted Agrippa when he was almost persuaded to be a Christian, with Paul, the preacher in chains, standing before him. No one ever came to God in faith except the Spirit of God drew him and called him. You see, God deals with men very much the same about salvation in all ages, and with every race.
In all ages some have trusted in God's provided Lamb, have accepted God's Saviour. All who believed in Him and trusted Him were saved from sin, were forgiven, were made partakers of the divine nature, became children of God. Those who resisted the spirit's calling and would not trust in God's provision for salvation, would not depend upon Him and accept God's mercy, died unsaved. That means that unconverted, unrepentant sinners in all ages came to a point when sin was unforgivable. They died unsaved, and after death there was no forgiveness!
It seems almost inevitable, then, that in every age some should be called and should refuse, that some should face the pleading call of the Holy Spirit but reject that call until, after great enlightenment and much mercy, they would one day say no too long and too loudly. It seems inevitable that some would become hardened in their sin and pass the point of possible repentance. Some would so resist and so insult the blessed Holy Spirit that He would leave them alone. Since God loved people and called people and saved people the same in all ages; and since some in all ages have rejected the Saviour and persistently turned him down with every violent and wicked kind of resistance and rebellion known to the human heart, surely some in every age crossed the deadline, even before death, and drove away the Holy Spirit so they would never again be called, and never again have an opportunity to repent of be forgiven.
And that is just what we will show. In all ages some lost sinners have crossed the deadline, have gone from the realm of mercy to the realm of wrath; some have crossed to the land of no forgiveness. Some in every age have driven away the Spirit of God until they would never again hear His call or be moved to repent and be saved.
1. The Bible Indicates That Millions Committed the Unpardonable Sin before the Flood
A great spiritual crisis came on earth before the flood. "And God saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart. And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast, and creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I made them."
That was the state of affairs; insufferable wickedness on the part of men, and a holy and determined anger on the part of God. Now how would these things affect the work of the Holy Spirit in calling, convicting, and saving sinners?
We read the answer in Genesis 6:3. "And the Lord said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years."
Solemnly God warned, "My spirit shall not always strive with man." God set a period of one hundred and twenty years ahead when His Spirit would no longer strive with the unconverted who lived before the flood. Man must learn that he is only flesh, that he cannot forever trifle with God. God's Spirit would withdraw, would cease to call, would leave men unconverted and forever damned and unforgiven. It seems clear to me that the Scripture here teaches that these wicked sinners before the flood committed the unpardonable sin.
We do not read that there were obvious miracles which these wicked sinners credited Satan. We do not read that they said certain blasphemous things. But they did continue in unspeakable wickedness in the heart, they did strive against the Spirit of God who warned them and convicted them under the preaching of Noah.
2. The Bible Teaches That in Old Testament Times, After the Flood, Some Crossed the Deadline of Mercy and God gave Them Up, So That The Whole Races Fell Into Heathen Darkness
Do you know how the world of heathen and barbarians came about? Did you think that the backward races, the savages of the earth, ascended from apes by evolution? Well, it you thought so, you are utterly wrong. They all descended from Noah and his sons. They once knew as much as others knew God and God's revelation. They once were civilized people. But how came these people to descend into heathen darkness? The first chapter of Romans tells us why:
"Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things." Romans 1:21-23
When they knew God, they did not honor Him. They were not thankful, and so "their foolish heart was darkened." So they began to worship idols and were given over to depravity.
Then God says a startling thing. In the next verse we are told,
"Wherefore God gave them up to uncleaness..."
In verse 26 He says,
"For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections..."
In verse 28, the Scripture says,
"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind,..."
GOD GAVE THEM UP! God gave them to uncleanness. God gave them up to vile affections.
GOD GAVE THEM OVER! God gave them over to a reprobate mind. The uncleanness, the vile affections, the idolatry, the wickedness, the blindness and lusts and poverty of heathendom came to a race of people because God gave them up!
What did the Holy Spirit do to people before the flood? He quit calling. He gave them up! The the same thing happened to men living after the flood. Arrogantly men built a tower of Babel, but God scattered men over the earth with changed languages. They knew God, but they did not glorify Him. They received His blessings, but they were not thankful. So "their foolish heart was darkened." They began to worship idols. They fell into the heathen darkness of idolatry, they lost largely the light of their civilization. So, clearly, many people in Old Testament times deliberately went against the light, resisted, resisted the call of God, until the time came when God gave them up to uncleanness and to vile affections, and God gave them over to a reprobate mind. God's Spirit left them alone. They were lost forever while still alive. They were past redemption point, though they were still on earth. Their sin had no forgiveness. They had crossed the deadline!
3. The Scriptures Show That Some Crossed the Deadline, Committed the Unpardonable sin While Christ Was on Earth
In Matthew 12:22,23 we learn how one possessed with a devil, blind and dumb, was brought to Jesus and He healed him so that the man was miraculously made well. He spoke and saw. The Pharisees rebelliously said, "This fellow doth not cast out devils." Then Jesus knowing their thoughts, gave them solemn warning about that unpardonable sin. In Matthew 12:31, 32 Jesus said:
"Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come."
I believe that any honest interpretation of this Scripture will indicate that Jesus warned the Pharisees of a sin which they might commit; in fact, I believe that these words indicate that they had committed the sin. They had seen miracles. They heard Jesus preach as no other man ever preached. They had been convicted and enlightened by the Holy Spirit. They rejected the Saviour hatefully in their hearts. They particularly and offensively insulted the Holy Spirit who thus convicted them and urged them to trust Christ. So Jesus warned them of this blasphemy and sin that has no forgiveness in this world nor in the world to come. Clearly, some men did cross the deadline during the ministry of Jesus on earth. And very, very possibly these Pharisees themselves were guilty of that sin.
4. The Bible Tells Us That men Crossed the Deadline During the Ministry of the Apostles.
Again in Hebrews 6:4-6 we have a discussion of the unpardonable sin as follows:
"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, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 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 it is clearly stated that some in Paul's time who were once enlightened, had tasted of the heavenly gift, had been convicted of the Holy Spirit, fell away from that enlightenment and conviction, and so could never be renewed to the place of repentance, and would never be saved. So we may properly say that after the death of Christ and in the Apostolic age people still sometimes committed this terrible sin with no forgiveness.
5. In The Great Tribulation, yet Future, Men Will Cross the Deadline, Will Commit the Unpardonable Sin
But the unpardonable sin is mentioned again in Revelation 14:9-11. We should read that moving passage.
"And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb: And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name."
We learn that there will be a Beast, an Antichrist, a terrible dictator who will arise on earth after Christ receives His saints into the air. This Antichrist will claim to be God on earth and will demand to be worshipped as god. Those who worship him will receive his mark. those who do not worship him and do not receive his mark will be hounded, hunted, tormented, and murdered in the bloodiest age this world will ever see.
But what of those who take the mark of the beast and worship him? We are plainly told that they have crossed the deadline. They will never be saved. every one of them is doomed to Hell. "If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand, The same shall be tormented with fire and brimstone" forever.
Yes, every person who comes to the clear, final decision to deny Christ and worship the Antichrist will have committed the unpardonable sin, and will have passed beyond redemption. Every such person will have crossed the deadline and will be already doomed, forever lost, while yet still alive. So we may be sure that the unpardonable sin will occur in the future, as it has in the past. In every age those who are greatly enlightened and convicted and, facing Jesus Christ, turn resolutely away from Him and insult the Holy Spirit who warns them, are on the verge of committing the sin that has no forgiveness.