Can a Christian who has “fallen away” be saved? A new look at Hebrews 6

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Hebrews 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 and who have fallen[c] away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of GodBut land that produces thorns and thistles

Fundamentally we have also used this passage to preach about Christians if they leave the Lord, they can never be saved. There are even believers who believe that if they leave their church they can never be saved. I have looked at this passage with much fear and intimidation before. Please let me lodge a caveat here. I am not encouraging us to sin happily just because I say this passage does not teach that a person can lose his salvation. But the writer is not talking about how insecure your salvation is but rather how secure it is.

The first question we must ask is who is them?

Hebrews 6:1 “therefore” Why is therefore?

Notice Hebrews 6 starts off “with therefore”. Hence to find out we must look at the previous chapters. It is important for us to know in the original bible there are no chapter divisions.

The dangers of chapter divisions

Take a look at these two letters. The words are the same but the divisions are different.

Dear Jack, I want a man who knows what love is. All about you are generous, kind, thoughtful people,

who are not like you.

Admit to being inferior.  You have ruined me.

For other men I yearn! For you I have no feelings whatsoever.

When we’re apart I can be forever happy – will you let me be?

Yours Jill

And  now…

Dear Jack,

I want a man who knows what love is all about. You are generous, kind, thoughtful.

People who are not like you admit to being inferior.

You have ruined me for other men.

I  yearn for you. I have no feelings whatsoever whenwe’re apart.  I can be forever happy – will you let me be yours?

Jill

No chapter divisions

Hence chapter 1-6 here is continuous. Hebrews 5 is about Jesus. As such the people the writer is writing about is the people mentioned in Hebrews 4.

For we also have had the good news proclaimed to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because they did not share the faith of those who obeyed.

Therefore since it still remains for some to enter that rest, and since those who formerly had the good news proclaimed to them did not go in because of their disobedience.

For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken later about another day.  11 Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience.

Notice the use of these words

we also have had the good news proclaimed to us….

they did not share the faith of

those who obeyed… (notice obedience here means faith)

did not go in because of their disobedience

For if Joshua had given them rest…

These are the people who perished in the wilderness because of their unbelief

Therefore Hebrews 6 must be interpreted in accordance to the experience of the people mention in Hebrews 4.

The Hebrews stood at the entrance of God’s physical rest –the Promised Land. This was after they witnessed the column of cloud in the day and bright fire in the night; the brightness of His glory on Mount Sinai; and the fire that consumed the rebels. The Hebrews saw His light –they were “enlightened”. (Exodus 13: 21-22, 2 Samuel 22: 7-13, Numbers 11: 1-3)

They ate the daily bread –the manna– that He provided. The Hebrews tasted the food (“heavenly gift”) given from heaven to know about the word of God (Exodus 16: 11-18, 31, Deuteronomy 8: 1-4).The Holy Spirit that rested on Moses (so that he could fairly judge the disputes of the people) was later partaken (shared) with seventy leaders to help carrying the heavy burden. In this way, the people partook (shared) in the Holy Spirit (Numbers 11: 4-6, 10-17). The Spirit also rested on their kings ad prophets. We do not share the Holy Spirit. We possess the Holy Spirit (John 14:16)

They saw supernatural events occur before their eyes –like the sea parting before them so they could escape from slavery and their enemies be destroyed (Exodus 14: 21-28). Those miracles were physical demonstrations of spiritual power yet to come through Jesus.

But even after all of these, those stubborn people deliberately refused to go into the Land –God’s Promised Land of rest. That is what it means “by falling away” by constantly rejected Jesus as their Messiah. Hence please note it is written towards the unbelieving Jews. The passage is not about Jews or Gentiles who already believed. Rather it is a letter to Jews who were sitting on the fence.

 

What about us, Christians?

Look at verse 9

Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—

the things that have to do with salvation.

 

What are these things about salvation?

Our salvation is base on a oath by God!

 

13 When God made his promise to Abraham, since there was no one greater for him to swear by, he swore by himself, 14 saying, “I will surely bless you and give you many descendants.”[d] 15 And so after waiting patiently, Abraham received what was promised.

16 People swear by someone greater than themselves, and the oath confirms what is said and puts an end to all argument. 17 Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. 

 

There is now a change of law

11 If perfection could have been attained through the Levitical priesthood—and indeed the law given to the people established that iesthood—why was there still need for another priest to come, one in the order of Melchizedek, not in the order of Aaron12 For when the priesthood is changed, the law must be changed also. (notice: the old law is gone?) The levitical priesthood is gone. That means we are not judged by the law but this new High Priest.

16 one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.

 

This High Priest does not die.

What this means is that in the olden days, Israel’s future depended on its High Priest, if the High Priest is good, Israel future is good, if the High Priest is bad, Israel’s future is in doubt. So even though when a High Priest is good, Israel’s salvation is not secure. He (the good High Priest) cannot save you forever. Now we have a High Priest that does not die! He has the power of indestructible life!

23 Now there have been many of those priests, since death prevented them from continuing in office;24 but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood.

25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

26 Such a high priest truly meets our need—one who is holy, blameless, pure, set apart from sinners, exalted above the heavens.

 

This High Priest work is done

27 Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day (as required by the law), first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people.

He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.

 

Hebrews 10

10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins.

So note that Hebrews 6 does not stop at Hebrews 6, it continues to Hebrew 7.

Peace. We are saved. Very saved. God does not lie. He cannot!

Please also read this: https://hischarisisenough.wordpress.com/2012/02/18/i-read-an-artic/

7 Comments

  1. This post is wonderful! I feel refreshed reading this! It is the best explanation I have heard of those verses, and it really makes sense and fits in with the context! This passage had confused me in the past, now I can see what it means and be assured even more that I’m eternally secure in Him! Thank you so much for sharing…isn’t grace so wonderful? 🙂

  2. Salvation is a person. Salvation depends on one’s abiding in Him. As we can see, it is conditional:

    25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

    Notice the “who come to God through Him.”

    1. Michael,

      Abiding in him is not what you think. Abiding in him happens when you believe. He does not depend on you. Those who come to God through him in the context means they believe in him.

      1 John 3:23-24 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

      The command here is belief.

      You see God cannot withdraw his Holy Spirit…

  3. Thank you for your clear explanation. I believe in eternal security and perseverance of the saints, which I believe is thought throughout the bible. I couldnt reconcile this passage with the rest of scripture. Thanks for your explanation.

  4. Man that’s really good! I’ve heard some good preachers preach on this, Joseph Prince, Rob Rufus, but I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard something this explanatory. I never thought he could be referring to the Israelites in Egypt as an example. But that leads me to a second question, “What could it mean then that those people, having rejected Christ cannot be renewed to repentance?” Do you think it means their sacrifices no longer work?

    Thanks so much. I really appreciate it!

  5. This is great! I knew very clearly already that Hebrews 4 referred to the unbelieving Jews not entering rest because of their unbelief, but until now I never saw the “those” and “them” in Hebrews 6 was not referring to “us” (believers) whom Paul is persuaded better things of and that he is persuaded better things of us because of Jesus’ indestructible new covenant! Praise God!

    One thing that really helped me to know your interpretation was true is knowing the whole situation with Israel in the wilderness and the parable of the seed and the ground bearing thorns and how John talks about the axe being at the root of the tree (national Israel).

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