Passages From the Book of Hebrews Considered

Hebrews 6:1-12: “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. 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, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 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. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”

Hebrews 12:14-17: “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears.”

Hebrews 10:23-39: “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance. Cast not away therefore your confidence, which hath great recompense of reward. For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back [turn away from believing and obeying], my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition [destruction and eternal damnation]; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul. [Believe faithfully and steadfastly and follow on to the end.]”

Take notice of how the writer of Hebrews speaks of it being a matter of fact that there are those who believe and obey for a while yet do “draw back unto perdition.” If such a thing were impossible, why would he speak thus? Those who hold the idea that speaking in tongues is the evidence of possessing the Holy Ghost, or that water baptism is the thing that washes away their sins and secures their salvation, have some degree of legitimacy for their views due to the fact that there are certain scriptures that would seem to support these notions when isolated from the entire scope of New Testament doctrine.

But the idea that it is impossible for one to ever lose their salvation is uniquely different in that there is not a single text in the New Testament that would even seem to indicate such a thing without grossly misinterpreting it out of its context and giving it an unnatural twist. Any person reading the New Testament with an open and unbiased mind is highly unlikely to ever conceive or grasp such an idea without first being influenced from a human source.

I have often listened to those who teach the so-called “eternal security” doctrine give their proof texts which they think supports their stance, and it leaves me scratching my head, so to speak, and wondering, “How could anyone possibly get the idea that this scripture proves it’s impossible for one who is saved to ever become unsaved?” For example, some of them will even site scriptures like Heb. 6:4-6 (in one of the quotations above) as “proof” that it’s impossible for one to lose their salvation! But when I examine the text with its context and all that relates to it, the evidence shows it clearly teaches just the opposite! IT IS POSSIBLE TO LOSE ONE’S SALVATION TO THE EXTENT IT CAN NEVER BE RECOVERED!!!

Obviously, there are portions of the above scriptures that are referring to sinning against the Holy Spirit, a sin that Jesus Himself declared to be unforgivable. Notice the wording of Hebrews 10:29: “hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace.” The very wording of this text makes it unmistakably clear that one can transfer from a state of being purified by the blood of Christ to a state of defilement. One can also do despite unto the Spirit of grace who applied the blood. This is the unpardonable offense! This also stands distinct from just merely being a “prodigal son” (Luke 15:11-32) who left Father’s house because of the world’s enchantment. The prodigal who yet has a yearning for Father’s house can repent and return, can be translated from death back to life again [Luke 15:32], but one who has blasphemed the Holy Spirit cannot.

Let me also say here, that this is where the devil has taken advantage of some backsliders by trying to convince them that they have sinned against the Holy Spirit, and thereby discourage them from ever making any effort to repent and return to God. There is, however, one sure way to know the difference: The Spirit, in fact, abandons those who do sin against Him. He never visits them again or convicts them of their sins. They can sin freely and feel no remorse about it. They have no desire to repent. They no longer have a tenderness of heart toward the Lord or a respect for His Word. Their conscience becomes “seared with a hot iron” (1 Tim. 4:2) and God sends them “strong delusion, that they should believe a lie” and “be damned” “because they received not the love of the truth,” “but had pleasure in unrighteousness” (see 2 Thes. 2:10-12). He gives them up, lets them go their way, and never sends His Spirit again to check their course, draw them, or inspire in them any concern about returning to Him. But the backslider who still feels a tenderness of heart toward God, has a respect for His Word, and feels the Spirit wooing and tugging at his or her heart to return and come back to God can be sure they have not sinned against the Spirit. If they had, the Spirit would no longer appeal to their conscience, deal with them, or draw them.

To feel the drawing of the Spirit means there is still hope!

But those who want to think it’s impossible to ever lose salvation once a person has come to Christ and been saved, will quote such scriptures as Heb. 5:9, “And being made perfect, he [Christ] became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him.” Their focal point in this scripture is “eternal salvation.” Since salvation is eternal, they contend, it is impossible for one who is saved to ever lose their salvation. But what about the last part of this scripture: “unto all them that obey him?” Obviously, the text is not a promise of unconditional, irrevocable salvation, but rather shows that eternal salvation is contingent upon perpetual obedience. This is the natural stance of the scripture. There is not even a hint in it that one can be saved and at the same time be in a state of disobedience to the Word!

But, one says, if a person really gets saved and becomes one of Christ’s sheep, He will never allow one of His sheep to be lost. That is true so long as the sheep remains in the Shepherd’s fold, obeys His voice and follows Him. But remember, the sheep that wanders from the fold IS LOST, until found and rescued. A lost and wandering sheep runs the risk of being “devoured” by the enemy unless brought back to the Shepherd’s fold of security. There is no foundation in the Word of God for the idea that salvation takes away a sheep’s freedom to choose. And choices can have life or death consequences. In straying, the sheep enters the enemy’s territory. It is true that, if and when His sheep go astray, the good Shepherd seeks them and calls to them. In His mercy, He gives the erring ones a reasonable amount of “space to repent,” to return to His fold, and recover from their error. He doesn’t want any to be permanently lost and cut off from eternal life. Christ does everything He can to seek and save a lost and wayward sheep. John says, “My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:1-2. But we find in Revelation 2:18-23, that for the erring ones who “repented not,” the only alternative was death. “The Son of God, who hath his eyes like unto a flame of fire,” promised then, and still promises now, “I will give unto every one of you according to your works.” Anyone who persists in unrepentant sin will certainly receive the wages of sin, regardless what his status at one time was.

If you, as a believer, have strayed from the strait and narrow way of the cross and entered into some by-path of sin, dare not console yourself in believing you remain secure in spite of your sin. God’s Word declares it is not so! Instead of believing the devil’s lie, acknowledge the truth of God’s Word – you have “fallen from grace,” transferred from life to death, become “twice dead,” and need to lay “again the foundation of repentance from dead works.” You must “repent and do the first works” again – the works of “repentance unto life” (Acts 11:18). Yes, God requires WORKS of repentance (see Jonah 3:10). If you will come back to “the cross,” where you first saw the light, and the burden of your sin rolled away, and there surrender yourself again and renew your commitment to follow, love, and obey Christ, you can once again feel His blood applied to your sin-tarnished soul and get all sin purged out of your life. You can again be freed from the law of sin and death. You can again enter back into life and into security by being grafted back into Christ, the vine, and partaking once more of His life and holiness “at the cross.” God is able to graft you in again (Rom. 11:23).

But alas, it seems that too many would rather believe the false doctrine promoted by heretics of Origen’s time: that they can never be saved from their fallen nature in this life anyway; therefore they suppose that Christ has accepted them as they are, and has saved them in a way that they can never be lost, regardless what choices they make. “After all, salvation is not by works,” they say. “And it is impossible for any man to ever cease from sin in the flesh. So the blood of Christ must be covering and atoning for our sins as we go along, since we believe He shed His blood for our sins and have accepted Him as our personal Savior.” Thus they imagine that amazing grace is saving them in spite of their sins and fail to grasp the fact that the true grace of God, in real experience, saves His people from their sins (Matt. 1:21).