Can a Christian in this age commit the unpardonable sin?
“Truly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the children of man, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29)
We often hear Matthew 8:12 cut up and only the latter half is shouted
thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
But we must ask, who is the subject of that warning and what is the context?
I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. (Matt 8:11-12)
The sons of the kingdom are the Jews who were to inherit the blessings of Abraham and David. So where are they cast? They are cast out of the kingdom. The comparative is to "recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom" That is what they lose.
In Luke, the same warning is connected with the "narrow gate." Now, does anyone ever have to "strive" for the gift of resurrection Life? No. In fact the gospel of LIfe, John, never uses the word "repent" and states this clearly:
Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (John 20:30-31)
And we're familiar with the other passages in John regarding Life ("has passed from death unto life" etc.) by faith alone. So when we go back to Luke and the narrow gate, for what must they strive? They strive to enter the earthly Kingdom.
Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” (Luke 13:26-30)
Note the Lord states that this judgment involves those who ate and drank with him, and witnessed his teaching among them. Remember, the "Gospel of the Kingdom" the Lord and his diciples preached (Matthew 4, 9, 10) had no mention of his death or resurrection. He didn't even tell his disciples he was going to die until Matthew 16 (and they didn't believe him then).
We note along this line that when he mentions the Gospel of the Kingdom going out prophetically (later) is in Matthew 24. It is again preached to and by Israel and connected to the Tribulation (the time of Jacob's Trouble).
And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matt 24:10-14)
Note again the requirement, "endures to the end." They are not enduring to have resurrection Life, but to enter into the kingdom promised to Israel (cp Acts 1:6-7 and Acts 3:12-26). They endure by resisting the false prophets, the hate, the betrayals, the lawlessness, etc.
With that said, in Mark 3 where the Lord warns of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, the context is those people, in Israel, in that day. The blasphemy was seeing the miracles and attributing them to "Beelzebul" and not to the Holy Spirit. They also said of the Lord, “He has an unclean spirit.” We cannot commit that sin in this age.
We must "rightly divide the Word of Truth." All scripture is for us, but not all scripture is to us (unless you believe you should be building an ark or you believe your descendant will sit on the throne in Jerusalem, etc.). So, not every warning, not every promise, not every blessing, not every practice is TO us.
The warning of blaspheming the Holy Spirit is not possible and you cannot forfeit a free gift.
Forever and Eternal in Scripture
Young's Literal Translation reminds us that we have to understand English words like "for ever" and "eternal" (etc.) in a time context in Greek and Hebrew. Note the wording of the warning.
but whoever may speak evil in regard to the Holy Spirit hath not forgiveness -- to the age, but is in danger of age-during judgment.
First note "is in danger of." And the idea of the punishment enduring for an "age" again points us back to individual Jews who were in danger of missing out on the blessings of the Kingdom age to come. There is no forgiveness "to the age" and it would be an "age-enduring judgment."
When we grasp this concept of obedience and the requirements for entering the Kingdom life, we can start to understand why the Lord places the commandments (to Israel) and the Law (given to Israel alone, Ex 19:5-7), in addition to faith, was given by the Lord. Obedience is never for resurrection Life, it is always the requirement (with faith) for blessings (crowns, rewards, the prize, entrance into the kingdom, the better resurrection, the New Jerusalem, etc.).
Resurrection life (rescue from the curse of sin and death) has always be a free gift by grace through faith. Qualifying for the other things (depending on your hope) has always by faith and obedience.
Again, the warning of Mark 3 has nothing to do with our hope. We cannot commit that sin. Those who did were in danger of great loss, etc. We cannot confuse the gift of Life with the requirements for rewards.
There are many servants in the Lord's family... some are "good and faithful" servants, while others are "wicked and unjust" servants. Some vessels of gold and of silver, some of wood and of earth; and some to honor, and some to dishonor. Some Some build with gold silver and precious stones, others with wood, hay, and stubble, etc. But all are servants.