Does Hebrews 6:4-6 Teach that a Believer can Lose their Salvation?
Introduction: Often those who believe that a saved child of God can lose their salvation make reference to Hebrews 6:4-6 as one of their proof texts. However, this interpretation of the verse ignores the context, grammar, and true meaning of the passage. The problem is that most read who verses 4-6 assume that these three verses are presenting a situation in which salvation could be lost. They fail to read the whole chapter which establishes the context and subject of the passage. A simple examination of the passages reveals that the passage is actually teaching that salvation is eternal and cannot be lost.
Let us first consider the context of the Chapter 6. Hebrews 5 sets the subject and the context of Chapter 6. The writer of Hebrews in Chapter 5 is saying these Jewish believers had instead of maturing and growing in Christ had actually regressed. Because Christ had not returned and set up the promised kingdom for Israel, they were waning in their faith and wondering if their faith in Christ was justified. They were considering abandoning their faith in Jesus Christ and returning to following the Old Testament faith. The Book of Hebrews was written to assure Jewish believers that their faith in Christ was valid and that God's promises were absolute. God would do what He promised. He proceeds to explains the superiority of Jesus Christ over the Old Testament human priesthood being after the Melchisedic priesthood who was both king and priest. (See verses 6, 10) Verse 9 says of Jesus Christ that “And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” (Hebrews 5:9) Salvation is said to be eternal to all them that obey him. Christ only saves those that believe the Gospel and by faith accept His forgiveness and receive His grace and who subsequently obey Him. (See Eph. 2:10)
The writer admonishes these Jews, who were waning in their faith, saying they should be teachers, but because of their immaturity and lack of commitment to growing in Christ, have to be taught the “first principles” of God’s word. He says all that use milk (as babies) are unskilled in the word of righteousness...simply meaning in what is right. (See Heb. 5:12)
He is saying the doctrines of baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment are soundly established. (Heb. 6:2) He urges them to go on to perfection not trying to lay again the foundational doctrine of repentance from dead works and faith toward God. These basic teachings of the Gospel of Christ were firmly established, yet these Jews were obviously debating the first principles which they should have known. The Hebrew believers were strongly urged and encouraged to go on to maturity doctrine in Christ.
Then the writer of Hebrews 6:4- 6, uses an impractical situation as an illustration to show them the impossibility of a true believer losing their salvation. He then clearly teaches that IF were possible to be saved and then to be lost, it would be impossible to be restored. Thus, he uses a impossible scenario to show the absurdity of the idea that God could give His grace and forgive one all their sins and then revoke His mercy and condemn them to the Lake of Fire because they committed sin. Note that verse six says it would be impossible to restore this person who falls from grace because Christ would have to be crucified again and put to shame in order that they could be saved.
Why did God say Christ would have to be put to shame? Obviously, it would mean that Christ’s suffering on the cross did not fully accomplish what He intended and that it was deficient in "saving to the uttermost." (Heb. 7:10) It could only save the sinner in certain circumstances. It would mean that when Jesus said He offered everlasting life... that was not the whole story, because in some situations, eternal life could be lost. Further, the Lord used falsely used the words, "everlasting and eternal" and exaggerated the scope of salvation. It was meant that Christ was not fully forthcoming with us and was holding an element of salvation back. Of course that is a foolish idea. John explains that “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) If a believer is forgiven of all sin, then what sin could a believer commit that would not be included that would not be under the blood of Jesus Christ?
Verses 4-6 teaches that "IF" it were possible to lost one's salvation, then the principle revealed and established is that "ONCE SAVED AND LOST, ALWAYS LOST!" He uses this to make the point is that it is impossible to lose what God freely gave and can be correctly stated, "ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED." God elected that salvation would be His free gift; a gift that could not be earned, but was paid for in full by Jesus Christ. God will not take back His freely given gift of grace that was not based on a man's good works, but on the shed blood of Jesus Christ.
Let us jump ahead to Hebrews 6:11-12 to see the reason why God says, "We desire that every one you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of the "hope unto the end." The purpose of writer of the Book of Hebrews gives is that he is writing to encourage believers, that he desires to show them, with diligence, the hope of the full assurance the believer has in his salvation. Note word assurance is modified and given a greater meaning by adding adjective "full" or “entire.” Verse 11 establishes the reason for verses 1-10. You cannot presume to understand verses 4-6 and ignore the rest of the Chapter.
In verses 12, God uses another illustration of His faithfulness in keeping His promises to the Old Testament saints. These saints from the past believed God and accepted His promises, and they inherited His promise. In time, Abraham obtained God’s promises to him. He then states that when a man makes an oath, it ends the strife and conjecture about some issue. He then reminds the Hebrews in verses 17-18 that God made an immutable (unchanging) oath concerning the promises that He would perform. He reminds us that God cannot lie and assures the believer that:
"That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us: Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedic." (Hebrews 6:18-20)
Let me reiterate. How much clearer could the Lord make it, that the believer can be assured that he will not be lost and that he has eternal life. Therefore, God is not saying that it is possible for a person to be saved and lose their salvation, but saying that "IF” it were possible, then Christ would have to be crucified all over again. The passage is not saying it is possible to be saved and then lost, but assuring believers why it would be impossible to lose salvation.
The passage is establishing the fact that it is impossible to be lost once Christ has saved us, because that would mean that Christ would have to be crucified again in order for a person to be saved again, if they could be lost. Christ was crucified once for all as Hebrews 10:10 says, "By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all."
Again, note that Verses 17-18 state that God has made an oath concerning our salvation and a "made a solemn promise." This is God solemn oath is that all that trust in Jesus Christ are eternally saved. He uplifts us with the full assurance that, "We might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the "hope" set before us..."
Note way verses 19-20 say,
"Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedic."
Clearly these two verses absolutely assure the Christian, who has truly put his faith in Jesus Christ, that he is eternally saved.
Interestingly, all those that teach that you can lose your salvation also teach you can be saved again. They teach that by repentance and good works one can get it back again. This directly contradicts God's word, because this passage emphatically states that if one could lose their salvation, it would be impossible to restore them again.
There are false teachers and churches who teach one can lose their salvation. However, they never address how much sin or what sins one would have to commit to lose eternal life. Thus, their members flounder in a sea of doubt never being sure if they are accepted by God or not.
What is the basis of Gods accepting a person and forgiving a sinner? Clearly, the scripture says it is based upon what Jesus Christ did on the cross. If a person by faith believes and receives Christ as their Savior...they have eternal life and salvation being eternal it cannot be lost.
A person is not saved by any work or works they do and salvation is purely an act of God's grace in giving the "gift" of salvation to those who will believe and accept it. No one can merit salvation nor can they keep themselves saved by their good works.
Ephesians 2:1-10 establishes God work of salvation in one who believes in Jesus Christ:
Note verse 5 says “. . .Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)” To “quicken” means “to be made alive.” It was God who gave the gift of salvation in which a person is given eternally life. The person who denies salvation cannot be loss, then must conclude that if they commit some sin then God removes their life and they are not dead again.
Those who put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ can be assured “That in the ages to come, he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:7)
Romans 5:17-19 states the basis, "For if by one man's offense death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ. Therefore as by the offense of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
Hebrews 9:14, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”
1 John 1:7, "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."
Ephesians 2:16 "And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby."
1 Peter 1:3-5 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.”
God's offer of salvation is total, complete and final. It was promised on the basis of the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross as he suffered and shed His blood for man. Man's salvation is not merit or based on his good works.
How could a man think that by good works, he could keep a salvation that he was not able to work for or earn for himself in the first place? Further, how could a man so misunderstand the Gospel, and saving grace? How could anyone conclude that our gracious Savior forgives a person of their sins, and then later condemns that same person for the sins for which he was forgiven.
If a child of God turns from the Lord the Lord will chasten him? The Bible plainly explains that God chastens unrepentant believers as Hebrews 12:6-11 teaches. Hebrews 12:6 "For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth." This passage does not say that God chastens the unsaved, as they are not His children. But He will certainly chasten Christians who go into sin and refuse to repent.
God's may chasten in several ways. In 1 Corinthians 11:30, Paul said that in the church at Corinth some were living in sin and in doing so not "discerning the Lord's body." This meant they were calloused towards the fact that Jesus had to suffer for all a person's sins, both before and after they were saved. It did not concern to these believers that Jesus had to suffered for their sin they committed daily. These "undiscerning" believers were not fighting sin, but enjoying sin's pleasures. They were sinning without any regard for how Christ had to suffer for them on the cross. Thus, Paul said, "For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep." God had taken the life of some of these unrepentant sinners and others were being chastened with sickness. The Lord was seeking to show them the seriousness of their blatant sin so they might turn from it. However, if chastening such as sickness was ignored, God took their lives to stop them from sinning and to end their destroying their testimony and that of the local church. A church that has members who are publicly sinning will have a poor testimony in the community for the Lord. Thus, the sin that brings on chastening seems to be one that is public and effects not only the Christian's testimony, but the testimony of the local church.
John instructs a congregation not to pray for a member who is callously sinning and refuses to repent. "If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it." (1 John 5:16)
John makes a distinction between the believer's occasional failures that cause sin and habitual sin that is unconfessed. 1 John 1:8-10 is instruction for the believer to deal with sin in his life.
"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us." (1 John 1:8-10)
Believers are to activity fight sin and resist the temptation to sin. When sin is confessed, which means is admitted, God gives strength for the sin to be overcome. 1 Corinthians 10:13 says that "There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." A Christian can overcome sin by accepting God's provision that is offered each time one is tempted. A believer is to "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." (Ephesians 5:18) God has made able provision for His children to overcome sin.
1 John 5:17 states, "All unrighteousness is sin: and there is a sin not unto death." This is a chilling statement.
Although 1 John 5:16 uses the indefinite article "a" sin, meaning this is referring not a single particular sin, but is certain serious sins that person may commit and not confess. There is "sin" (singular) that can lead to death. This is not the "unpardonable sin" of the Old Testament which is mentioned in the Gospels in Matthew 12:31-32, Luke 12:10, and Mark 3:28-29. The unpardonable sin is in context was a part of the dispensation of the Law of the Old Testament. It is a specific sin of blasphemy, in which a person would credit the devil for the work of the Holy Spirit as the Jewish religious leaders did referring to Christ's miracles. The special circumstances involved in blasphemy cannot be duplicated today. The Scribes and Pharisees committed this sin in attributing the work of Jesus to the Beelzebub who is Satan. (See Matthew 12:24, Mark 3:22, Luke 11:15)
One conclusion a Christian should make is that a person who "professes" to be a Christian and who lives continually in sin without repentance and there is no chastening in his life, it shows he is not saved. God does not chasten the unsaved who are not His children. However, if a genuine Christian continually sins, God will chasten him and that is evidence he is saved.
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