The men of whom our Lord spoke refused the truth, knowing that it was true; not carried away by passion, but by cold self-love, and envy, avarice, and ambition. Not merely doing wrong knowingly, but setting their whole natures knowingly against the light. Of this nature must the sin against the Holy Ghost surely be. “This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” Was not their condition unpardonable? How, through all this mass of falsehood, could the pardon of God reach the essential humanity within them? Forgiveness while they were such was impossible. Out of this they must come, else there was no word of God for them. But the very word that told them of the unpardonable state in which they were, was just the one form the voice of mercy could take in calling on them to repent.
If the Spirit of God is shut out from a man’s heart, how is he to become better? God who has made us can never be far from any man who draws the breath of life. May not then one day some terrible convulsion from the center of his being shake such a man so that through all the deafness of his death, the voice of the Spirit may be faintly heard, the still small voice that comes after the tempest and the earthquake? May there not be a fire that even such can feel? Who shall set bounds to the consuming of the fire of our God, and the purifying that dwells therein?
Pardoning the Unpardonable
by Stephen Carney
“The men of whom our Lord spoke refused the truth, knowing that it was true...”
No greater depths of darkness may men traverse than that of knowing the true way and rejecting it willingly. This is truly man against God, as well as man against himself. How many children have done this in their small ways of fighting against a parent's good will in order to get their own way? Deep down they know the parent is right, but still insist on getting their own way. How will the unpardonable be pardoned?
“Hell, in the end,” someone once said, “may be insisting on your own way and actually getting it.” Men left to their own ways may well discover the misery of selfishness, of the destructiveness of self-will. What lies within remains unpardonable and miserable, until they repent, turn around and change their minds. They must leave their stubbornness and hatred for God, and, as MacDonald writes, “Out of this they must come.”
One's own misery, like the prodigal's, may cause a man to come to himself and lay the foundation for change. Paul tells us in Acts 17 that God has determined the boundaries of mankind, that they should seek God. MacDonald sees hell as one of those boundaries from which God calls us to repent. It is perhaps the ultimate boundary, as if God is saying, “this is as far as you can go, this outer darkness is the end of the line.” Sin has more misery than pleasure in it, and in the end leads us to a dead end. There is no place now to run, no place to hide, one is left utterly to the misery of one's own way--with this exception, says MacDonald: “God who has made us can never be far from any man who draws the breath of life.” One moment of realization, one coming to one's self, and one step toward home, and the Father is there to run out to meet you. He is infinitely wiser that our poor minds can comprehend and he knows how to lead his dear children home.
There is an Gospel song that has a chorus that goes:
Some through the waters, some through the flood,
Some through the fire, but all through the blood;
Some through great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.
And so it is that all of us must find our way back to the Father, some of us “in shady green pastures,” and others through the floods, while still others come because of sorrow; and then there are some of us, stubborn, “hell-bent,” determined to have our own way, who can only be saved by fire. “May there not be a fire that even such can feel? Who shall set bounds to the consuming fire of our God, and the purifying that dwells therein?”