First, note that God says the damnation of a lost sinner is illustrated by the stoning of rebels against the Mosaic law in the Old Testament. Those who "sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth" (verse 26) are ready for judgment for rejecting the truth. Notice that the sin mentioned is wilful sin and this involves a certain freedom of the will to sin or not to sin. (I speak not now of the taint in our carnal nature, but in the actual choice of right and wrong, the choice of receiving Christ or rejecting Him.) So a wilful sinner under the Mosaic law, at the mouth of two or three witnesses, was stoned. But then God warns us, "Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?"
Verse 29, here quoted, teaches so clearly that men who turn down Christ do it deliberately and that the punishment is because of the wilfulness of their sin. Notice these sins:
1. They have "trodden under foot the Son of God."
2. Such a man has "counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing."
This may mean either of two things. It may mean that every lost sinner is in some sense sanctified by the death of Christ, that is, potentially set apart for God. Since Jesus is potentially "the Saviour of all men," but "specially of them that believe," as we are expressly told (I Tim. 4:10), then the blood of Jesus, potentially, sets apart every sinner in the world for God. That is saying no more than I Corinthians 15:22: "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Every poor sinner is bought by the blood of Jesus. He is the propitiation "for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2).
Or some will think that "the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified" refers to the blood of animal sacrifices which Jews gave. They think that every Jew was thus sanctified or set apart by a covenant of blood. But if so, that does not change the essential meaning. If every Jew was set apart by bloody sacrifices, then those bloody sacrifices typified the blood of Christ and the blood of Christ surely went as far as the blood of bulls and goats! This Scripture plainly teaches that the blood of Jesus Christ has set apart every sinner for salvation. Some do not accept the salvation that is offered. Jesus is "the Saviour of the world," although not all the world will take Him as Saviour. Jesus is "the propitiation for our sins: and not for our's only, but also for the sins of the whole world" (I John 2:2), although some people do not accept the blessed gift that is given. So here the Scripture is teaching that the blood of Christ has purchased people for salvation who do not take salvation.
But the third thing this Scripture says about such a sinner who rejects Christ is that he "hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace." The blessed Holy Spirit who calls the sinner and whom he resists is insulted and abused by the Christ-rejecting sinner!
Oh, poor lost sinner, when you go to Hell you must remember that you have trodden under foot the Son of God. You must remember that when you go to Hell you counted the blood of Jesus shed for you an unholy thing. In Hell, poor lost sinner, you must remember that you were called and pleaded with and convicted and enlightened by the Holy Spirit, but you insulted that Spirit, you did "despite unto the Spirit of grace."
We are talking here about the grace of God which is so freely offered to sinners by the Holy Spirit. And sinners resist and reject that grace of God and insult the Holy Spirit who pleads with them, so teaches the Word of God.
So every lost sinner could be saved. The death of Christ met the requirements and paid for his sins. The precious blood is a holy thing which would pay the entire debt. The Holy Spirit of God calls in grace but sinners refuse. This Scripture does not teach "irresistible grace," but it teaches the grace of God offered to all men so that all could be saved and all ought to be saved.
Second Peter, chapter 2, is given up to a discussion of false prophets. The whole 22 verses are on this subject and the chapter starts off with this statement: "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction."
These false teachers bring in damnable heresies "denying the Lord that bought them."
Here is the strange statement that even false teachers are bought by the blood of Jesus Christ.
This chapter goes to great detail to show that these false prophets are lost people, certain of the judgment of God. Verse 3 says of them, "Whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not." The rest of the chapter tells us how God who spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to Hell, will not spare these false teachers. Verse 5 tells us that as God destroyed the ungodly in the flood, so He will destroy these false teachers. These false teachers are described in verse 12 "as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed." Verse 17 speaks of these false teachers as "wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever." These false teachers are ungodly men who will go to Hell. They are men "even denying the Lord who bought them."
Nothing could more clearly show that these men are included in the atoning death of Christ, they are included in the grace of God which would save everyone. But they resist the grace of God, they reject the call of the Spirit, they exercise the freedom of their wills to reject Christ and be lost.
Men do resist the will of God and go to Hell, who could be saved. And that shows the folly of this man-made philosophy of hyper-Calvinism. It shows the falsity of this human doctrine of "limited atonement," this human doctrine of "irresistible grace," this doctrine that some are "foreordained to reprobation" as others are "foreordained to be saved."
I do not need to call attention to the fact that those of us who are saved in most cases long resisted the call of God. In Genesis 6:3 we are told that the Holy Spirit strives with men and then sometimes ceases striving. In Acts 24:25 we are told how as Paul "reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled .. " No doubt this blessed Spirit of God convicted Felix and spoke to his heart. He waited for a convenient season and, we suppose, kept on waiting and went to Hell. But he cannot say that he might not have been saved. He can never say that the Spirit of God did not call him, did not convict him, did not show him his need.
The very fact that Christians are warned against the sin of quenching the Spirit (I Thess. 5:19) and are solemnly warned, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4:30), shows that the grace of God is not irresistible. Man has certain moral freedom of choice. Lost men must choose whether or not they will be saved. And saved people must choose whether or not they will more perfectly follow the Lord than they do.
God's grace offers salvation to all men. All could accept it; some do not.