October 4, 2007


Every now and again, someone will ask me about Hebrews 6.4-6: ‘Does this passage teach that a believer can lose his salvation?’ Read it:

For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of
the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have
tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have
fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they
again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

What do you think? Do these verses teach that a person may lose his salvation? At first glance, they certainly seem to, don’t they? The author speaks of those who:
  • Have once been enlightened
  • Have tasted of the heavenly gift
  • Have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit
  • Have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come

That certainly sounds like a Christian, doesn’t it? And what follows certainly sounds like some of these very people may have fallen away! So looking at those three verses, it certainly seems as though the author of Hebrews is referring to true believers who have lost their salvation. And that would have to be the only conclusion we could come to…if Hebrews 6.4-6 was the only Scripture we possessed on this matter. But Hebrews 6.4-6 is not all we have. In fact, we have Hebrews 6.9 where this same author, in the same paragraph, says:

But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things
that accompany salvation, though we speak in this way.

In other words, those who truly possess salvation can expect something better than what is described in verses 4-6. They can expect not to fall away! This great Christian hope is taught elsewhere in the Scripture, too:

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to
complete it
(Philppians 1.6)

Those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to
become conformed to the image of His Son…and these whom He predestined He also
called; and these whom He called He also justified; and these whom He justified
He also glorified.
(Romans 8.29-30)

Clearly God promises to finish in glorification what He begins in justification! So what is Hebrews 6.4-6 about? It is a stern warning to pretenders in the church. It is a warning that it is possible to…
  • Understand the gospel
  • Experience some of the emotional relief that the gospel brings
  • Live under the influence of the Spirit on the church
  • Be well taught in the Scriptures

…and yet not be, ultimately, trusting in Jesus. And what is so scary is that those who live under these influences and ultimately reject the Savior are done for—it is impossible to renew them to repentance. So, if you’re trusting Jesus…be assured; but if you’re playing church…be warned.

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