Question: Does Hebrews 6:4-6 teach that it is possible for us to lose our salvation?
Here is the passage in question:
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.
If we were to reduce these three verses to the very essence of the sentence, it would read this way: “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened… if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance…” All the rest describes either what is meant by being “enlightened,” or else why “repentance” is no longer possible. But the statement of fact in this passage is that a person who “falls away” cannot be brought back to a place of repentance.
As dire and hopeless as this sounds, it is important to remember that the test as to whether someone has “fallen away” or not is whether the person is capable of repentance. Here is another way of stating the same truth: a person who can no longer repent has fallen away.
Christians fail, sin, backslide and commit all manner of un-Christ-like behavior. But God in His mercy and grace has covered our sins by the blood of His son, Jesus, on the cross.
Eph. 1:7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace…
That forgiveness is made a reality in our personal experience when we confess our sins and repent:
1 John 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Hebrews 6:4-6 describes a person who has “fallen away” to the point where he or she is no longer capable of being repentant.
But there is more. The author of Hebrews is writing as a pastor to his congregation, not as a professor explaining the fine points of theology. He says in verses 9-12 that he is “confident of better things in your case” (9), that God “will not forget your work and the love” (10), that “We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end” (11), and “do not want you to become lazy” (12).
The chapter then concludes by pointing out that God Himself has sworn an oath (17-18)—and God cannot lie—that our salvation is secured by God’s sworn promise and purpose, not by our record of success or failure:
Heb. 6:19-20 We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain, where Jesus, who went before us, has entered on our behalf.
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