In Hebrews 6:1-6; Is this passage talking about possibly losing your salvation? How do you explain and interpret this passage in light of eternal security?
Let us first read the concerned text:
Heb 6:4-6 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” NIV
Who is Paul talking about?
He is talking about those who:
a. “have once been enlightened” (They used to know the light, but are not any longer.)
b. “have tasted the heavenly gift” (What “heavenly gift”? Rom 6:23 “The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” NIV The gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.)
c. “have shared in the Holy Spirit” (There is no doubt here that the writer is talking about Christians, as the Holy Spirit is only giving to those who believe the gospel message (see Gal 3: 2-5)
d. “have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age” (They have tasted the power of God’s Word, the Bible. They know God is alive and cares!)
There is no doubt that the writer of Hebrews is referring to Bible believing, Spirit-filled Christians here. What does he warn these Christians of?
“If they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
Wow! Again the text is clear. If they fall away, they forsake their salvation. Wow! In other words, we can’t fool God by pretending to be saved and continue with our habitual sins, as if Jesus died for nothing. We will face judgment! Why? Not because we have not done our part in works, but because we didn’t let Jesus reign in our heart! We didn’t let Him transform us in “newness of life” (see Romans 6).
Is this mentioned elsewhere in the New Testament?
Absolutely. Here are several other similar texts, giving the same warning. Please read them prayerfully:
Heb 10:26-27 “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” NIV
1 Thess 4:3-8 “It is God’s will that you should be sanctified: that you should avoid sexual immorality; that each of you should learn to control his own body in a way that is holy and honorable, not in passionate lust like the heathen, who do not know God; and that in this matter no one should wrong his brother or take advantage of him. The Lord will punish men for all such sins, as we have already told you and warned you. For God did not call us to be impure, but to live a holy life. Therefore, he who rejects this instruction does not reject man but God, who gives you his Holy Spirit.” NIV
1 John 2:15-17 “Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world-the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does-comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.” NIV
Eph 5:3-7 “But among you there must not be even a hint of sexual immorality, or of any kind of impurity, or of greed, because these are improper for God’s holy people. Nor should there be obscenity, foolish talk or coarse joking, which are out of place, but rather thanksgiving. For of this you can be sure: No immoral, impure or greedy person-such a man is an idolater-has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of such things God’s wrath comes on those who are disobedient. Therefore do not be partners with them.” NIV
Gal 5:19-21 9 “The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.” NIV
Does this mean that we, as Christians, won’t occasionally sin? No way! 1 John 1:8-9 “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” NIV
We do not become super humans. We still sin. The difference is that we do not habitually sin. It isn’t our habitual lifestyle any longer. However, when we do sin, we can come to Jesus and He will forgive us. His promises are true!
(P.S. The apostle John also advocates a life free of habitual sin in the same book we have quoted:
1 John 3:8-10 “He who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work. 9 No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he cannot go on sinning, because he has been born of God. 10 This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother.” NIV
1 John 5:18-19 “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him.” NIV)
However, if you pretend to be a Christian, and turn away from Christ’s warnings, and live deliberately in sin, you are not saved, my friend. You cannot serve both God and Mammon. Your sins make a mockery out of Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice.
3 John 11 “Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God.” NIV
You know what the Bible calls those who proclaim we can sin freely after we are saved? Jude 4 “For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.” NIV
(For more on this subject please read also the following articles:
Can one freely sin after one has accepted Jesus into one’s life? Check out this link for What Does the Bible Say About … Sinning Freely !
Can one lose one’s salvation? If yes how and if not why?
Are you tired of living a sinful lifestyle my friend? Don’t pretend to be a Christian and live out your life as an atheist. God cannot be mocked. You can only be saved if you accept Jesus in your life and let Him give you victory over your sins. On your own you are lost. You cannot save yourself by any of your works! Why don’t you come to Jesus who has set you free? John 8:36 “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” NIV He wants to set you free. Why won’t you let Him? If you have wandered away from Jesus, come back to Him before it is too late! Come to Him and accept Him into your life. Answer the Saviou’rs Call.
Actually I think the student Bible has the best explanation for this passage from the Bible. Many great interpreters have had difficulty with it! People who don’t believe in “eternal security” think the passage refers to Christians who fall away from the faith. Others, insist that the author of Hebrews must be referring to people who never fully became Christians, because other verses seem to teach the eternal security of those in Christ (see John 5:24, 6:37; Romans 8:1; Hebrews 8:12). Regardless, the author is writing about a hypothetical situation. He is not describing what really happened, but only what could happen. If such a falling away ever did occur, it would be impossible to rescue such people again. A somewhat similar argument is at the end of chapter 10 as well.
____________________________________________________A. First of all, I would like to state that I believe the doctrine of eternal security to be a “conditional eternal security” as taught in Scriptures and we are secure as long as we keep covenant with the Lord Jesus Christ. Covenants are seen throughout the Bible, and God does not break His covenant with us, it is man who breaks covenant with the Lord by rejecting his will and New Testament which begins with love for Him and our fellow man. Hebrews 6 starts out by the Apostle Paul giving the Christians an eight fold command not to apostatize, and the end results of apostasy. He tells these not to destroy or lay aside the foundation of repentance and the doctrines of the faith but to leave the first principles and go on into maturity as the Spirit moves them along in the faith. Leaving the first principles means to cease to remain in the state of “babes” but to go on to a state of being teachers, as mature in Christ, and being able to take the strong meat of God’s Word to grow in grace and faith. He tells us the former blessings of apostates in these Scriptures and therefore we know these being discussed had been saved, but went into apostasy. If Christians backslide, they can be forgiven, rebuild the foundation of repentance and do their first works of communion with the Lord as shown in Rev. 2: 5. If they do not repent and do so, their lampstand can be removed as shown about the Church here. They had “left their first love”….He did not leave them, but required them to repent, come back to Him, and restore their first works of communion and fellowship or else they were in danger of being in darkness. (Without the Lord who is our light and live). Light is truth, and without this light, they would not be joined to the Lord. One who backslides can repent and come back to the Lord but if they reject and refuse Him, they can go into a state of apostasy as explained by the great Apostle Paul and also Timothy. (1 Timothy 4: 1-5) Timothy speaks of men “departing” from the faith (they once knew) in the last days.
Their conscience will become “seared or hardened“, as with a hot iron; to where they will no longer discern the voice of the Lord and Holy Spirit.
If one goes back into sin and ungodliness without repentance, we see God’s attitude toward them in Romans 1: 18. There are also many other Scriptures which show we have a “conditional eternal security” and are exhorted to keep the faith and make sure Jesus is Lord of our life and we walk in His ways. No man can pluck us out of the Lord’s hand, but we can willingly go back into sin and walk away from God’s grip of grace. If one backslides and does not repent and turn back to the Lord, they can sin to the point of rejecting the call of the Holy Spirit to where they do not hear the voice of the Lord any longer or follow Him. We are to come out from the world and be separate to be his children and He will be our Father. Our choice must be “Jesus” and we must endure until the end by faith, following the Lord, to be eternally secure in Him. ***Note the Scripture, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And, I give unto them (those that follow me) eternal life, and they shall never perish (who hear my voice and follow me), neither shall any man pluck them (those who hear His voice and follow Him) from my hand” in John 10: 26-27. (Emphasis mine) This Scripture explains itself when we rightfully divide the Word and listen to what the Lord is saying here.
Eternal life is given unto only those that “follow Him” and that “hear His voice“. If one is not following the Lord and hearing His voice, they walk away from the Lord can be easily plucked from His hand by the enemy who is out to “kill, steal, and destroy.” No man can pluck one who is following the Lord and hearing His voice out of His hand, as they love the Lord and are obeying His commands. Jesus did not call those His sheep who are not following or hearing Him.
Sin enters through the mind and heart by listening to another voice which is not one which tells us to “keep the commands of the Lord.” It is the voice of the enemy with temptation and we have been given spiritual armor, weapons of warfare, and God’s Spirit to resist the devil and he will flee from us. If we do not resist, he does not flee from us and we can become entangled again with the world as those shown who apostatize. God tells us “if we love Him, keep His commandments.” God is love and if we do not keep his commands, we do not love Him as he requires and are not joined in unity with Him as our God of love. James 1: 12 tells us a “crown of life” is only promised to those “who love” Him, (those who keep his commandments), as this is his test of our love. Everything centers around “love for the Lord” and others. If we have this love, we will obey and walk in His will for our lives. The Bible tells us names can be “blotted out of the book of life” which shows us a saved man can be lost again as the example of the prodigal son who returned to the Father’s house. The Father said, “my son which was dead is alive”, he was lost but is found.” (Luke 15: 24) Although he was alive, the father called him “dead”….To be dead spiritually is to be separated from the Lord and cut off from the covenant blessings promised for obedience and faith in Him. Moses was willing to have his name blotted out of the book also if God did not forgive and restore those who sinned. (Exo. 32: 32) This is an example of a great Intercessor and Prayer Warrior for God. Adam and Eve died spiritually when they sinned as being “cut off” and separated from the benefits, blessings, and favor of the Lord which they had in the garden paradise. The wages of sin was death then and is also death today. The soul of man will never die, but will be separated from the Lord eternally if they reject the call of the Lord to righteousness. The Scriptures in Hebrews 6: 1-6 shows us that a Christian can backslide and even sin to the point of denying the Lord or apostasy.
If one completely rejects the Lord by choosing to go back into the ways of the world, they can harden their hearts to where they will believe a lie and suffer damnation according to Scriptures. (2 Thess. 2: 11) (These are those who take pleasure in unrighteousness and believe not the truth). Paul taught that after one had taught others and preached the gospel, one could make shipwreck of their faith. These Scriptures in Hebrews speak of those who were once enlightened but no longer be enlightened, had tasted (experienced) the heavenly gift of salvation and been partakers of the Holy Ghost. If they fall away from these things (this means they had been saved) but apostatized.
This is the final act of backsliding, or going into apostasy. These who go into apostasy no longer believe by faith Jesus is Lord of all and accept his blood as in the atonement and since faith is the only thing that can save, they cannot be renewed again to repentance. Apostates are rejected because of their lack of saving faith or belief in the atonement of the Lord by choosing the ways of the world over God. Those who have once been enlightened but “fall away” and do not repent but apostatize are no longer connected to the Vine (Christ Jesus) and are therefore, unfruitful.
These are the branches which will be cast in the fire and as verse 8 of Heb. 6. They are that which bear thorns and briers and is rejected, whose end is to be burned. But, the good news in this chapter in Hebrews was that Paul was persuaded better things of these Hebrews than of some of their brethren who went back into the world. He expected things that accompany salvation, although he spoke and illustrated Christians apostates and their end. God also expects better things of us as His children and we can do all things through Christ Jesus who strengthens us. To sum up the state of those who escape the pollution and sin of the world by their knowledge in the Lord Jesus and then again become entangled, the Lord says through Peter that the latter end is worse than the beginning. It happens according to the proverb, they return as the sow that was washed to wallowing in the “mire or sin” of this world.” Many walk away from the Lord and are as those Paul was grieved over and wept in Phil. 3: 18. Our good news is we can overcome through the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Jesus is the word of our testimony which is living and greater is “He” that is in us, than the evil one who is in the world.” The Lord will forgive sinners 70 x7,or indefinitely, but there is a possibility of one sinning to the point their hearts are hardened and they totally reject the call of the Holy Spirit. Rejection and denying the call of the Lord to repentance repeatedly has a danger of one sinning away their time of grace, as no man comes to the Lord unless the spirit draws or convicts them. We must overcome the world, flesh, and devil and follow the Lord. Only those who overcome are promised they shall be clothed in “white raiment; and will not have their name blotted out of the Book of Life but will have their name confessed before the Father and His angels by the Lord.” (Revelation 3: 5)
On the other hand, those who do not overcome the world, flesh, and devil will be blotted out of the Lamb’s Book of Life.
We know God has given us his Spirit to make us overcomers in His earthly army. May He be glorified as we press on in faith and know the best is yet to come for a child of God! Blessings in Christ,
Jo Ann Kelly
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, (Hebrews 6:4, KJV)
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, (Hebrews 6:5, KJV)
If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:6, KJV)
Yes, it is talking about losing salvation. Eternal security is available to the extent you still want it. However, one thing God has never done and will never do is take away our freedom of choice. If, after salvation, we contemplate a sin, the Holy Spirit will convict us of the wrongness. If we do the sin we will feel bad and be moved by the Spirit to repentance. We will certainly endure the chastening of the Lord for our misdeed; but if we harden our hearts, refuse to repent and continue in sin, knowing it is sin, the above will apply to us. God will not force us to go to heaven against our will. If salvation could not be lost there would be no point in the Spirit inspiring Paul to write the above verses.
See also the following which pertain to the same topic.
For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. (IIPeter 2:20, KJV)
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. (IIPeter 2:21, KJV)
But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire. (IIPeter 2:22, KJV)
When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. (Matthew 12:43, KJV)
Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. (Matthew 12:44, KJV)
Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation. (Matthew 12:45, KJV)
Heb 10:26 For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
Ezekiel 18:21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
Ezekiel 18:22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
Ezekiel 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live ?
Ezekiel 18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live ? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
Yes we can lose our salvation but we have to work at it. The Holy Spirit will try and prevent that from happening and He has the power to keep us. No one can pluck us from His hand. The only way is deliberate determination on our part to continue in sin despite the warnings of conscience, the chastening of the Lord and the ministrations of both the Holy Spirit and those He sends to us. Unless we take this course we do have eternal security.
So do not worry that you might somehow lose your salvation. You cannot do it by accident. If you play up you will either feel bad and repent or will get a kick in the pants from God to bring you back to the right track. These kicks can hurt quite a bit. Many have only repented on their death bed. The Lord went to a lot of trouble to make salvation possible and will not let you go without a struggle.
While salvation is earned through grace by acknowledging Jesus as Lord and Saviour, one has to chose to do that. If one can chose to obey or disobey, the consequences will follow depending on ones choice. If today I choose to be of Christ, tomorrow I say I have nothing to do with Christ, will God still force me into His kingdom? Have I not made my choice? Hebrews 10:26-29. Here they are talking about somebody who had already accepted the truth and has deliberately chosen to go back to his/her old ways. Salvation must be nursed everyday that is why the bible says we must be alert for we know not when Jesus is coming.