“LORD, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am” (Psalm 39: 4) . . . . “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths” (Proverbs 3: 5-6) . . . . “To live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Philippians 1: 21) . . . . “For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out” (1 Timothy 6: 7)


State of no-return; 'the Lord shut (the door of the ark) behind him (Noah)' (Gen. 7:16b)The Lord God is not pleased by seeing man, the crown of His creation, perish eternally: “As I live, says the Lord God, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live” (Ezek. 33:11a). God calls man to receive Christ with a penitent heart because He loves him: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (Jn. 3:16). Repeated failure to heed God’s continual calls will ultimately lead to man reaching the state of no-return. The wrath of God will then be poured upon him: “Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Because you have forgotten Me and cast Me behind your back, therefore you shall bear the penalty of your lewdness and your harlotry” (Ezekiel 23: 35; Jeremiah 2: 27; 1 Kings 14: 9); “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18); “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10: 31).

The following verses illustrate clearly the concept of the state of no-return:
After Noah built the ark as God had commanded him, the following took place before the flood began: "Those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in (the ark) as God had commanded him. And the Lord shut (the door) behind him" (Gen. 7:16). In another episode, the men of the city of Sodom gathered outside Lot’s house and demanded to get the two men (God’s messengers) he was hosting in order to gang rape them. Lot tried in vain to reason with them. Then the following took place: "But the men (God’s messengers) reached out their hands and pulled Lot into the house with them, and shut the door" (Gen. 19:10).

The spiritual truth provided in these verses is significant. Both the shutting of the door of Noah’s ark, and the shutting of the door of Lot’s house signify the moment of reaching the decisive irreversible state of no-return both for the wicked that were left on the outside and for God's judgment of those wicked. It is important to observe that in both instances, the wicked were people who were still alive physically, though separated from God spiritually (spiritually dead). Although still alive in the flesh, they reached the point of irreversible terminal separation from fellowship with the Lord God where they were banished from the realm of God’s mercy into the outer darkness (eternal hell). Put differently, their extreme wickedness, and their continual rejection of the urgings of the Holy Spirit to repent and change their evil ways hardened their hearts to the point where they lost the ability to hear these urgings and respond to it: "Today, if you will hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion." (Heb. 3:15). The moment is reached in the life of a person who continues to insist on transgression, and to refuse to receive Christ and repent, despite the fact that he knows where the truth lies, when evil crystallizes in his life. This consummation of evil in his life destroys his conscience, and makes him lose his ability to receive Christ and repent: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6: 23a). He has reached the moment of no-return--the moment, in the time domain, when his irreversible eternal separation from God begins. We learn from the Scriptural examples presented herein that this moment is not necessarily the moment of physical death. It may be a moment in his earthly life, with many years to go on living in the flesh before physical death arrives.

The final permanent state of non-repentance, which results from continually ignoring and shutting off the urgings and work of the Holy Spirit within man, is the unforgivable sin of "blasphemy against the Spirit": "Anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come" (Mt. 12:32b). The Pharisees who committed this unforgivable sin continued to live for years thereafter in eternal separation from God. At the moment of no-return, the Holy Spirit departs from the wicked person. This is similar to what the prophet Ezekiel saw in his vivid visions recorded in Ezek. 10; 11: 22-23, which describe the reluctant departure of the glory of the Lord from Jerusalem’s Temple, which is a type of the human person: “Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (1 Corinthians 6: 19). This departure was the direct consequence of the unfaithfulness, apostasy and inequity of the people of the southern kingdom of Judah prior to the temple’s destruction by the Babylonians in 587 B.C. {The glory of the Lord indwelt Solomon’s temple since its dedication (1 Ki. 8:11)}.

Judges 19: 22-28 provides another example on the state of no-return. The wicked men of the town of Gibeah attempted to gang rape a Levite sojourner who was spending the night in their town. He gave them his concubine and shut the door of the house (Judg. 19: 25,27). This marked the moment of no-return for the corrupt men of that town. They were subsequently annihilated by the Israelites and their town was burnt to the ground in God’s judgment (Judg. 20: 37-40).

We learn from John 13: 21-30 about a man reaching the state of no-return. After Judas Iscariot received the bread in the Last Supper, he left the house at night to betray Jesus (Jn. 13: 30). Of course, the door of the house was shut upon his departure, leaving him in the outer darkness. Judas eventually committed suicide in eternal despair for what he had done (Mt. 27:5).

Another example is Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea from 4 B.C. till 39 A.D. He lived an immoral life, and had bad influence on his subjects (Mark 8: 15). John the Baptist rebuked him for defying the laws of Moses (Leviticus 18: 16) by marrying Herodias, the wife of his half-brother Philip. As a result, he arrested, and ordered the beheading of, John the Baptist (Matthew 14: 1-12). Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Judea, sent Jesus bound to him (Luke 23: 7-12). Jesus, knowing that Herod had reached the state of no-return because of his non-repentant condition, did not answer his many questions with words or miracles. It was useless to talk to him about salvation (Matthew 7: 6). Herod was banished to Lyon, Gaul, where he died in great misery.

Christ lamented over Jerusalem for reaching the point of no-return saying: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate” (Matthew 23: 37-38). This prophecy concerning the destruction of Jerusalem and its Jewish temple was fulfilled when the Roman armies destroyed them in 70 AD.

In addition, those that believe in Christ, but subsequently fall away and leave him deliberately, persistently and emphatically without a second thought of coming back to him, have lost their ability of repentance, and reached the point of no-return. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6: 4-6; Matthew 13: 20-22). This is similar to the multitudes of the Israelites who rebelled against God in the wilderness after he had redeemed them from Egypt, and liberated them from the tyranny of the Pharaoh. God prevented them from entering the Promised Land. They all died out in the wilderness (Numbers 14; 26: 65).

It is important to point out that only Christ knows the heart of man, and his true spiritual state: “. . .You (the Lord) alone know the hearts of all the sons of men. . .” (1 Kings 8: 39); “The Lord weighs the hearts (of men)” (Proverbs 21: 2b). We, humans, do not know for certainty who has reached this irreversible terminal state.

God is not pleased by the eternal condemnation of any one, and invites all to faith in Christ and repentance: “‘For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord GOD. ‘Therefore turn and live!’” (Ezekiel 18: 32). God invited Noah to "Come into the ark" (Gen. 7:1a). This invitation was given at a time of overwhelming judgment and doom. The ark is a type of Christ. A type is a person, event, or institution divinely adapted to represent a spiritual reality, or to prefigure a person or truth to be later revealed. As the ark was the refuge for Noah and his family (community of the believers) and saved them from eternal doom (Heb. 11: 7), Christ is the refuge for his people from judgment. Consistent with that, the people in the ark (Noah and his family) who were saved from the devastating judgment of the flood are a type of the Church (the community of the believers). It follows that the flood is a type of baptism (1 Pet. 3: 20-21). The only means of salvation was entering the ark (Gen. 6: 18), because all those that stayed outside the ark perished in the judgment of the flood. Similarly, the only means of salvation now is to enter into Christ through the new covenant: "Jesus said to him: I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me" (Jn. 14: 6; 10: 9; 3: 16). This gracious loving invitation of the Lord God occurs repeatedly throughout the Scriptures, even down to the last page: “And let him who thirsts come. Whoever desires, let him take the water of life freely” (Rev. 22: 17b). God extends his invitation continually to the person (Isa. 1: 18-20; Mt. 22: 1-14; 28: 19). He urges him to accept the perfect provision He has prepared for his preservation and salvation in Christ the Lord.

God does not deprive the damned of their freedom to choose good or evil. However, all their choices are wicked. The continual misuse of their free will over a long period of time becomes so deeply rooted in them that they cannot change. God has not ceased to love them, and the atoning work of Christ is sufficient to forgive all repented sins. But they have rendered themselves incapable of ever again responding to the divine love positively. They are unable to receive forgiveness by closing themselves to the urges of the Holy Spirit of the living Almighty God.

Those that continue to refuse to receive Christ as their Lord and Savior, and the non-penitent risk reaching the state of no-return as their hearts harden. Do not postpone receiving Christ. Do not postpone repentance. Tonight you may reach the point of no-return? Tomorrow may never come: “Today, if you will hear His voice: do not harden your hearts” (Ps. 95: 7-8). Christ said: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3: 20).

You can support St. Mark Evangelistic Association every time you make an online purchase from over 1,000 merchants—at no cost to you! A percentage of your purchase price is donated back to St. Mark Evangelistic Association.  What could be easier? Get Started Here.