There are those who think you can lose your salvation by sinning too much. Some think you can lose it by committing certain sins. Others think you can become saved and then at some time in the future, you can just walk away from the faith, losing your relationship with God. Still others will say that if you walk away, you were never saved to begin with. The sixth chapter of the book of Hebrews is one of those passages theologians use to make these claims. Are their interpretations accurate?
One of the Main Problem Passages
Hebrews 6:2-4 is not an easy passage to understand. “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6if 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.”
It’s not wise to make a doctrine from a difficult passage. The best way to go about it is to try to understand the Biblical context.
Context – Context – Context!
One of the most important things in Bible interpretation is context. How does it fit into the entire Scriptures? Secondly, how dose it fit into the book [Hebrews]? And thirdly, how does it fit into the surrounding verses?
Do other verses teach that you can lose your salvation?
There are only a few that can be taken that way. But there are many that confirm that once a person believes the gospel, he or she is secure forever! For example:
- You become a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ. (Gal. 3:26)
- You are born again once. Just like physical birth you can’t be unborn and then reborn. (John 3:3, 4) There is nothing in the Bible about being born again over and over.
- At the moment of faith you receive everlasting life. How long is everlasting life? Forever! If it could be taken away it wouldn’t be everlasting. (John 1:12; 3:15, 16, 36; 5:24; 6:27, 40, 47; 9:38; 11:25, 26)
- Everlasting life is a gift. A gift is given with no strings attached. If there is something you must do to keep it, then it’s not a gift. (Rom. 6:23)
- At the moment of faith in Christ, you are sealed by the Holy Spirit until the day of redemption. (Eph. 1:13, 4:30)
- No one can snatch out of God’s hand. No one would even include you! (John 10:28)
- At the moment of faith Christ’s perfect righteousness is imputed [credited] to your account. (II Cor. 5:21)
- At the moment of faith you are positionally sanctified and glorified. (I Cor. 6:11; Rom. 8:30)
- Even the most carnal believers are referred to as saints. (I Cor. 1:2)
Context #1 The Bible
As shown above, the Bible overwhelmingly teaches that when a person understands the gospel and places their faith in Christ, he or she has everlasting life that can never be lost. You are justified by faith. It is a one-time act of hearing (understanding the gospel) and believing it, which causes an irreversible change in your final destiny. If salvation is permanent, then Hebrews 6:2-4 can’t mean that you can lose salvation. The Bible does not contradict itself.
Context #2 The Book of Hebrews
To support they were of the faith, the writer refers to them as brethren or holy brethren at least four different times. (Heb. 3:1, 12; 10:19, 13:22) Chapter ten gives a little more insight into their situation. It implies they were experiencing another significant trial, a tribulation. They were to remember how they successfully endured past struggles and apply that same faith to this new one.(Heb. 10:32-35)
Then in chapter 13 there is a little nugget that suggests the trouble they were experiencing. They were exhorted to “go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing his reproach”. (Heb. 13:13) Being in the camp is a reference to Judaism. If they return to Judaism, they eliminate a lot of grief [persecution] from the religious Jews. If they go outside the camp [of Judaism] they face trouble from their fellow countrymen. They were believers being influenced to return to Judaism as a way to avoid persecution. Going back would result in “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God.” (Heb. 3:12) Minimally, it would result in a loss of reward at the judgment seat of Christ (Heb. 10:35, 11:6; II Cor. 5:7-10).
Context #3 The Surrounding Verses
The narrow context of Hebrews 6:2-4 begins in chapter 5. They had become dull of hearing, which helped to influence them to go back to Judaism. In other words, they had retrogressed in their faith and needed to be taught again the basic truths of the faith. Spiritually, they needed milk (Baby stage of the faith) not solid food (Maturing stage of the faith). It left them unskilled and kept them from growing in the faith. (Heb. 5:11-14) Their lack of maturity hindered their endurance to persevere difficulty.
Conclusion of Context 1, 2, and 3
Since they could not lose their salvation, these Hebrews were believers. They had retrogressed in their faith. Due to their lack of spiritual maturity, they were tempted to return to Judaism when pressured by the religious Jews. They weren’t about to lose their salvation. They were endangering their intimacy with God by leaving the faith which ultimately would affect their reward and testimony for the Lord.
More on Hebrews 6 in the next blog.
Assurance of Heaven; be sure that heaven is your final destination.
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