An Exposition of Hebrews 6:4-6
Hebrews 6:4-6 (KJV) "4 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, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 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."
This passage has been used by many false teachers to tell us that we can lose our salvation. There are many things wrong with this teaching, not the least of which being that most who teach that you can lose your salvation, also teach that you can be saved again! This is clearly false, if they are using this passage to teach that you can lose it. It is clearly stated that if they could lose it, they would never be able to be renewed. So, what is the author trying to tell us in this passage.
There are several key thoughts to determining the meaning of this passage. First, remember this rule of interpretation, that you should always consult the clear teachings of the Bible when determining the meaning of the obscure passages. We do this because the Word of God cannot and will not contradict itself. If It did, part of It would not be true, rendering the Bible untrustworthy. So, does the Bible teach that you can lose your salvation? The Bible teaches that the gift of salvation is eternal/everlasting life. If the gift is eternal and you lost it, would that be an eternal gift? The blessing in the Scripture is that we find that we are not the one responsible for securing the gift. We cannot lose what we are not keeping safe!
Look with me at John 10. Our Lord is speaking to the Pharisees and brings up this matter of eternal security. Notice the clear statement in verse twenty-eight, "I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish," signifying that those who are His sheep will never perish. If Hebrews is saying that we can lose our salvation to the point of never getting it back again, then this statement alone would be false. See also the phrase in verse twenty-nine "no man is able to pluck them out" in reference to His sheep's location in His Father's hand. I have said many times that if any man was stronger than God, we should worship that man instead of God. If no man is able to pluck me out of God's hand, then that has to include myself, else I would be stronger than God. Finally, looking at this passage in John, I want to draw your attention to the word "my." Jesus said "My sheep" in reference to all those who are saved. It is important for us to remember that we are God's possession. No matter what we decide to do in this life, we belong to God.
The next thing that I want you to see is that salvation is a gift that brings us into the family of God through the new birth. John's third chapter and first letter will be used to illustrate this clear teaching of Scripture. Jesus said in John 3:3 "...Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." How is it that we are born again? The ever popular verse sixteen says to simply believe. When we believe on Him, verse eighteen says that we "are not condemned." Comforting words indeed. When we look at 1 John chapter five, we find this convincing passage about eternal security in verses 11-13: "11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; [and] he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God." Truly we can know that we have eternal life. I mentioned this being in a new family due to our new birth. It is helpful to remember that just as we cannot change our DNA to remove ourselves from our physical parents, neither can we remove ourselves from the family of God. A proper look at the Prodigal in Luke 15 helps us to see that God is always watching for His returning wayward children. He loves us no matter what we have done after our salvation.
The last passage of Scripture that I will draw your attention to is in Ephesians. Ephesians 4:29-30 (KJV) "29 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." The argument against eternal security from the opposition is that we use this as a license to sin. This may be the case with some immature believers, however it ought not to be. You see, this passage reminds us that the Holy Spirit has been given the task of sealing us until the day of redemption! He is keeping our eternal destination secure until we are called home to heaven. In this very passage, we are reminded to live a certain way so that we do not grieve Him. Our sin does grieve the Holy Spirit, Who then convicts us of that sin. At the point of conviction, we choose either to repent and live right or ignore/refuse and face the punishment that our loving Father has promised for all those who stray from the path of holiness. At no point in Scripture will you find the Holy Spirit loosing His seal on the life of the believer.
To me, these are all pretty clear teachings that support the doctrine of eternal security. There are many others, however, I do want to get back to Hebrews 6. If the Bible is clear that we cannot lose our salvation, then what is the writer of Hebrews saying in this passage? It cannot be that a saved person can lose his salvation, because that would make God a liar. This simply cannot be so. In keeping with another rule of interpretation, let us look closely at the passage and the context of the passage as well. In the context of the passage itself, the writer is speaking in verses 1-3 of the spiritual growth of the believer. He states clearly that it is the will of God for growth and maturity to happen. It is a natural thing for the child of God to grow, if they are continually fed the Word and apply their life to the exercising of their faith. In this thought, he yields an impossibility for the believer. Notice the word "those" in verse four and the words "they," "them," "they," and "themselves" in verse six. No longer is the writer talking directly to his audience about their own Christian life. He is making a reference to others. There is ample argument about who he is talking about, whether those people are saved or lost. My personal belief is that they are saved. The verbiage of the words "tasted," "enlightened," and "partakers" is too strong for someone who simply heard about salvation and refused to believe. So what the writer is saying here is that the maturing believer, if he could fall away, would be unable to repent again for salvation. Notice that the passage does not say that they actually can fall away, just that "if they shall" then they cannot be renewed again. We have already seen from clear passages of Scripture that it is impossible or anyone to lose their salvation. What is amazing to me here is the reason that it would be impossible to renew them again. It is stated here that Christ would have to be crucified again. We know from Hebrews 10:10 (KJV) "...we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all." His death was a one time event to pardon the sins of the whole world. He died once, so that we could be born-again once to life eternal. This term "fall away" is an important one to consider as well. This term is not the same as being apostate. It is simply referring to a setback of sin, not the sin unto death that it is commonly confused with. The difference is in the Greek word that is used, being the same word that the translators called "fault" in Galatians 6:1. So allow me to sum it up the following way. The writer is telling us that if it were possible for a minor set back to cause us to lose our eternal salvation, then it would be impossible for us to ever regain the salvation that was lost. Why is he saying this to them? They were being tempted to return to their works based religion, adding that to their faith in Christ. The foundation had been laid for their new life, rendering the old as unnecessary. The works that they would further do would be born out of their growing in their new life, not out of necessity for their possession of that life. So, when they sin, they need not worry about their eternal salvation. Simply remember that Christ's eternal salvation is sufficient for their everyday slip ups. Simply confess and forsake that sin and go on in their everlasting life. This is true for us today. We cannot sin away our gift of eternal salvation, else it would be impossible for us to be saved. God is a merciful, loving Father Who simply will chastise those whom He loves. There is no possibility of being kicked out of the family, He already promised us that we are secure in Him. Let us rest surely in this promise and continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Loving God & Serving Others,
Pastor Tim is working to build this resource for our community.