Losing Your Salvation, Is it Possible? Understanding Hebrews 6
The main purpose of the epistle to the Hebrews was to encourage the Jewish Christians to press on to perfection by remaining faithful to the Lord without having to return to the “shadows” contained in the Levitical laws. Under duress of the false apostles who enticed them to rely on external rites, such as circumcision, the Jewish Christians began to believe they needed to do those things to retain God’s favor and mercies, much like today’s believers who assert that steadfast perseverance is needed to retain one’s salvation and if they fail that the loss of salvation is imminent. Unfortunately, the notion that perseverance secures a believer’s salvation turns the spiritual eyes inward to “self” and a reliance on human effort to retain and maintain salvation instead of on Christ Jesus Who is the Author (Source) and Finisher of our faith. Those who do not believe in eternal security accuse those who do believe in it of “cheap grace.” This is what Dave Hunt says of their accusation:
Those who believe in “falling away” accuse those who believe in “eternal security” of promoting “cheap grace.” The latter in itself is an unbiblical expression. To call it “cheap” is really a denial of grace, since it implies that too small a price has been paid. Grace, however, must be absolutely free and without any price at all on man’s part ; while on God’s part the price He paid was infinite. Thus for man to think that his works can play any part in either earning or keeping his salvation is what cheapens grace, devaluing this infinite gift to the level of human effort.
To speak of “falling from grace” involves the same error. Since our works had nothing to do with meriting grace in the first place, there is nothing we could do that would cause us to no longer merit it and thus “fall” from it. Works determine reward or punishment—not one’s salvation, which comes by God’s grace. The crux of the problem is a confusion about grace and works.
In the Greek, Christ’s cry from the cross, “It is finished!” is an accounting term, meaning that the debt had been paid in full. Justice had been satisfied by full payment of its penalty, and thus God could “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom:3:26). On that basis, God offers pardon and eternal life as a free gift. He cannot force it upon anyone or it would not be a gift. Nor would it be just to pardon a person who rejects the righteous basis for pardon and offers a hopelessly inadequate payment instead—or offers his works even as “partial payment.” (Read the full article here).
Salvation is not the subject of Hebrews 6 but repentance. We have grown accustomed to associate the word “repentance” only with salvation without taking into account that it also has much to do with sanctification (“growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” as Peter 3: 18 says). In this regard “repentance” involves the believer’s attitude to God’s Word and his/her response to it in obedience or disobedience. In fact, it is Hebrews that makes it very clear the God’s Word is sharper than “a two-edged Sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4: 12). Here it is made quite clear that the Word pierces (penetrates) the mind (or conscience) to impress on a wayward sheep the incumbency to repent and the imperativeness to discern between the carnal and the spiritual so as to walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh (the dividing asunder of soul and spirit).
It is in this sense that the author of Hebrews wants to convey the truth that it is impossible to bring to repentance those who have been enlightened by His Word and who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift of salvation and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit (in other words, genuinely saved saints of God), and have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come if they deviate from their faith and turn away from their allegiance to Christ.
In other words the Word of God (Sword of the Spirit) cannot bring God’s children to repentance (changing their fixed mind sets) if they do not respond in obedience to the penetration of the Spirit’s two-edged sword. To get a better understanding of the meaning of the phrase “renewing them to repentance” we need to turn to Galatians 3: 3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh. Have ye suffered so many things in vain?”
As long as believers rely on the flesh or their own efforts to be made perfect (reach the runner’s finishing line and win the prize); if they remain adamant and persist in reaching the goal in their own efforts, even the Word of God cannot bring them to repentance (change their minds for the better). It does not mean that they cannot repent of their sin of obstinacy. It simply means that the Word cannot bring them to repentance as long as they rely on their own fleshly efforts to reach the goal of their salvation.
Apostasy (falling away) and losing your salvation
Note very carefully that verse 6 in this chapter does not say, “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance” and therefore they have lost their faith (salvation). It says “if they fall away” which simply means “if they deviate from the faith.” Faith in Christ is to trust Him completely for and with everything in our lives. I’m sure we all agree with that! Yet, even the slightest deviation from this faith into a faith in one’s own efforts (even to the extent of persevering to the end so as to retain one’s salvation) cannot please God. Wierbse says:-
“Fall away” is not the Gk. word apostasia , from which we get the English word “apostasy.” It is “parapipto,” which means “to fall beside, to turn aside, to wander.” It is similar to the word for “trespass,” as found in Gal. 6:1 (“if a man be overtaken in a fault [trespass]”). So, v. 6 describes believers who have experienced the spiritual blessings of God but who fall by the side or trespass because of unbelief. Having done this, they are in danger of divine chastening (see Heb. 12:5:13 ) and of becoming castaways ( 1 Cor. 9:24”27 ), which results in loss of reward and divine disapproval, but not loss of salvation. The phrase “seeing they crucify” (v. 6 ) should be translated “while they are crucifying.” In other words, Heb. 6:4:6 does not teach that sinning saints cannot be brought to repentance, but that they cannot be brought to repentance while they continue to sin and put Christ to shame.
Consider carefully that not the field but the fruit in verse 7 is burnt. God is glorified when we bear much fruit unto His glory and honour, and this can only come about if we abide in Christ (His death and resurrection life), for He Himself said, “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 1 and further) Any kind of self-effort, even unto the maintenance of our salvation, are but the fruit of the flesh (thorns and thistles) and will be burnt in the end by God who is a consuming fire (1 Corinthians 3: 10-15). “But if any person’s work (even his own perseverance activated by the flesh) is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss (of it all, losing his reward), though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire.”
Does the security of our eternal salvation give us a license to sin? God forbid! As Paul said, “What shall we say [to all this].” Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace may multiply and overflow? Certainly not? How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? (Romans 6: 1-2).
What lies at the root of the fruit of conditional salvation (security)? ie. losing your salvation
There is only one thing that drives those who believe that saints can lose their salvation – DISTRUST
- They distrust Christ Jesus who said: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)
- They also distrust his empathic promise: “My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. (John 10:29)
Here we see that the believer and his salvation is securely fixed in the hands of both the Father and the Son.
- They distrust his words in Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you WILL perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
- They distrust his promise in Hebrews 12: 2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
- They distrust his words in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”
The tragedy is that they are not even ashamed of their distrust of Him and to distrust Him is to displease Him
“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]” (Hebrews 11:6)