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"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)

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  • Rev. David Thommen (URC)
  • John Hendryx
  • Marco Gonzalez

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  • « The Messianic Claims of Jesus Christ by Pastor John Samson | Main | Whitefield on Election »

    Biblical Reflections on Hebrews 6

    There are those who teach that Hebrews chapter six is a clear statement that Christians can fall away from the faith and thereby lose their salvation. The purpose of this short reflection is not only to show this to be a erroneous interpretation, but also that the persons making such assertions are in danger of making the very error which the passage is warning about. Lets take a look at the passage together:

    "....it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned.: - Hebrews 6: 4-8

    Perhaps this is one of the most terrifying passages in Scripture, but, as is usually the case, when a passage is read in isolation and without regard to the context of the surrounding passage, theological error is bound to creep in.

    We all know that Hebrews was written to give witness to the superiority of Jesus Christ to all other means of pleasing God such as temple sacrifice and the Law. In fact He is seen as replacing them all. Jesus Christ is shown to be more excellent than the Prophets (1:1), Angels (1:4-14), Moses (3: 3-6), the Levitical Priesthood and sacrifice (Heb. 5 & 9) and even Abraham (7: 4-14). The new covenant is shown to be better than the old because it fulfills everything the old covenant pointed to (Heb 8). Jesus Himself is revealed as the climax of the covenant of grace. The author of Hebrews says, "Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises." (Heb 8:6) Since this is the case, the text warns that, we must pay more attention and not fall away from believing that Jesus alone is sufficient, and is therefore more excellent, by order of magnitude, than all other means of pleasing God. There is no hope in trusting anything else which can never forgive sins or make you just before God.

    The passage that warns the Hebrews against falling away is warning them against one thing: abandoning trust in Christ alone by going back to now worthless and obsolete things, such as trusting in the temple sacrifice and the Law in order to be justified. The warnings are given to those in the community that they would not be tempted to turn from trusting Jesus alone (who is God over all) for some lesser or meaningless ritual act that supposedly now can curry God's favor. Trusting in anything except Christ alone, who is the light that scatters all shadows, is said to be tantamount to "trampling under foot the Son of God" believing that His once of all sacrifice is insufficient in itself to save. If something in place of, or in addition to, Jesus is trusted in it is no different than a denial of Him. So in context, the persons who go back by trading in Christ for the now-empty ritual of the temple (that itself was meant to point to the fulfillment in Christ), are then re-crucifying the Son to their shame. Hebrews 6:4-8 is often read in isolation apart from this context.

    Tragically, the very next text (which is crucial) is also often left off by those who claim regenerate Christians can fall away ... a text which qualifies the preceding text. The writer of Hebrews in verse 9 says, "Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things--things that belong to salvation." If the author of Hebrews is confident of better things of the persons he is speaking with, things that belong to salvation, then obviously falling away does not belong to it. This is a clear statement that the author was not describing saving faith of those who are in danger of falling away in the preceding passage, because the kind of response that falls away, he says, are not among the "things that belong to salvation." So whatever the things the author just described about falling away in Heb 6:4-8 are not the characteristics of true regenerate persons. People can be enlightened and taste and partake .... They may be externally a part of the church and receive external blessings, yet if they abandon trust in Christ for ritual or something else, there is no hope for their salvation. They were never regenerate to begin with for falling away does not accompany or belong to true salvation, according to the text.

    Ironically, those who teach that this passage speaks of the ability of regenerate Christians to fall away are actually committing the very error the passage itself warns against. How do I figure? The very assertion that a Christian can lose their salvation is tantamount to saying that what Christ accomplished on the cross was insufficient to save completely and so you need to trust in yourself to maintain your own righteousness, and this is not unlike Roman Catholic theology. To say Christ can lose us is the same as believing that what Christ did is not enough for someone... That you MUST MAINTAIN YOUR OWN JUSTIFICATION.

    This is a form of legalistic self-justification to believe that you can either attain or maintain your own righteousness before God and it is itself a denial of Christ, the very error the Hebrews were tempted to make, that the author was speaking of. In fact this is a backdoor to the Galatian heresy where Paul says, "Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?" (Gal 3:3) To believe one can lose salvation, therefore, is trusting in something other than Jesus Christ to keep you righteous in Him. The Hebrews were tempted to go back to temple sacrifice (trusting in something other than Christ) and the doctrine that one can lose salvation is likewise trusting in ones' own moral ability to maintain a just standing before God, since Jesus, according to them, is unable to save completely those who He came to save. Either we are trusting in Christ alone to both attain and maintain our justification or we are trusting in something worthless which the author of Hebrews gives severe warnings about. Quite ironic. That passage is a warning passage for the very error those who teach we can lose salvation are making.

    In the passage turning back to Judaism is a deliberate and final forsaking of Christ and the guilt of His blood. They had been enlightened by the Word, tasted of the sacrament of the Lord's supper, shared as companions in the Holy Spirit i.e. shared the benefits of His supernatural work and manifestations.... ... Perhaps you may recall the passage in the gospels where Jesus describes something similar about those who approach Him on judgment day. "On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.'" These persons shared in the outward benefits of church but trusted in something other than Jesus alone to both attain and maintain their salvation. "I never knew you" spoken to those who did miracles clearly indicates that while such people shared outwardly in covenant benefits, were themselves never at any time saved. Jesus did not say, "I knew you at one time and now I don't know you any longer." No, never means never. Again, the belief that a Christian can fall away, like some Hebrews were tempted to do, is dangerously close to believing that Christ in Himself is not sufficient to maintain our just standing before God: "we must do something in addition to what Jesus did to remain justified." Those who believe such things take heed to the warning and trust in Christ, not self, who is both the author and perfector of our salvation.

    Someone recently challenged this interpretation by asking: "But doesn't that go against the doctrine of efficacious grace? Is it possible for the Spirit to work on someone only partly?"

    Answer: The doctrine of efficacious grace does not mean, nor has it ever meant, that every influence of the Holy Spirit cannot be resisted. In Acts 7:51 Stephen says to the Jewish leaders, "You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit as your fathers did." And Paul speaks of grieving and quenching the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:30; 1 Thessalonians 5:19). It means, rather, that the Holy Spirit can and does overcome all resistance and make his influence irresistible according to His sovereign good pleasure at a time of His choosing. The Spirit does not exercise efficacious grace every time we preach the gospel to someone. When God undertakes to fulfill his eternal purpose to save those he covenanted with the Son to save (John 6:37, 39), no one can successfully resist Him. Notice in the passage in Acts above it says those who resist the Holy Spirit are "uncircumcised in heart and ears" >>> a phrase used for the unregenerate and yet in this passage the Spirit at work is being resisted. The gospel is being preached, the Spirit is at work but men are resisting. WHY? Because, the passage says, their hearts are "uncircumcised"!!!! They are natural men and cannot think spiritual thoughts. Water does not rise above its source. Their ears must first be circumcised by the Spirit or they will continue be hostile to the gospel for that is what they are by nature. Not being willing to repent is the same as resisting the Holy Spirit. So if God gives repentance (John 6:65, 2 Tim 2:25) it is the same as removing that hostile resistance. This is why we call this work of God "irresistible grace".Also see 6:67-39

    So this should be sufficient evidence in itself that the Spirit does often work partly and not savingly toward individuals. This is also what Paul explained in Romans 9:14-18, which caused a similar opponent to say, "Why then does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?" To which Paul answers: "Who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, 'Why have you made me thus?' Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for beauty and another for menial use?" (Romans 9:20f).

    Efficacious grace refers to the sovereign work of God to overcome the rebellion of our heart and bring us to faith in Christ so that we can and will be saved. That is why no one can enter the kingdom unless they are first born again. As for Hebrews 6:9, this text clearly proves that whatever was described in the previous text about falling away was not equal to salvation. So this alone disqualifies this verse from meaning what you may believe it to mean.

    Someone may ask, if perseverance of the saints is true then why do we need to give true Christians warnings?

    Answer: Because the Holy Spirit almost always uses means to accomplish His purposes. Just as the Holy Spirit does not usually save people in a void but through the preaching of the gospel, so likewise He sustains and feeds the saints through the preaching of the word, prayer, fellowship and sacraments. The Word only has value to us if the Holy Spirit applies it to our heart and likewise the Holy Spirit does not work in a void but uses means just as a seed needs water to grow. There may be extraordinary circumstances where a Muslim may be converted to Christianity in some remote region of northeastern China after hearing a radio broadcast, a person who does not have a Bible or a preacher at hand. In such circumstances the Holy Spirit may sustain a true believer by pouring out an extra portion of Himself, but commonly the Spirit only feeds/sustains His people though the appointed means. God both calls us to persevere and promises to preserve us (John 15:16).

    Here are some passages which show that we MUST persevere to the end: Colossians 1:21-23; 1 John 1:5-10; 3:3-6; Hebrews 10:26-3; Hebrews 12:1

    And likewise here are passages which teach that true believers WILL persevere to the end: John 6:38-40; John 10:28-29; Romans 8:28-39; Philippians 1:4-6; Philippians 2:12-13 1 John 2:19

    - J.W. Hendryx

    Posted by John on February 4, 2006 10:13 PM

    Comments

    thanks for this excellent piece. I've searched long and hard for someone saying the same thing with this passage. I had the privilege to preach Heb 5:11-6:12 last year, http://www.davidould.net/you_are_what_you_eat.htm
    , and found that getting the passage right in it's context unlocked it as you have rightly said. Can I point you towards my text where I have developed the issues further? All comments would be welcome.

    What a wonderful explanation of Hebrews 6, and clear refutation of those that teach that a true believer can lose their salvation. It will truly be a gift to those believers struggling with the false notion that they may lose their salvation. I've only heard one other theologian give such a clear, concise, and purely scriptual explanation.
    I just came across your website yesterday and must certainly commend you for your pure Reformed theology and work for our Lord.
    Believe me, I immediately 'bookmarked' this page!
    In Christ,
    David O'Dowd

    So if a fake Christian falls away (thus, proving he was never saved in the first place), he can "never be renewed unto repentance"? Why -- now we are confronted with a problem against Unconditional Election. Some people are too evil to become saved.

    Walter:

    Thanks for your comment. The sin these persons were tempted to commit, according to the text, is they had received all possible external benefits, light and conviction of the Spirit, to bring them to faith yet they chose to finally reject Christ alone as Savior ...going back to Temple sacrifice.

    There is a point, the gospels testify, where sin againt the Holy Spirit results in God giving persons over to their sin to such a degree that there is a point of no return. This is a seared conscience. Obviously, that is not something for us to determine, but for God. We will always continue to proclaim the gospel to the most hardened persons (from our perspectives). Of course someone who rejects Christ cannot take the sacrament for we cannot assure them of salvation.

    Election is unconditional for the elect, but the just condemnation of the non-elect is based on their sin. The ground of discrimination that exists among men is the sovereign will of God and that alone; but the ground of damnation to which the non-elect are consigned is their sin.

    "The greatest judgment which God Himself can, in this present life, inflict upon a man is, to leave him in the hand of his own boasted free-will."
    -AUGUSTUS TOPLADY

    I have been a Christian for 8 years; I was called while in an arminian church (Church of Christ); I am now in the process of looking for a reformed church. One thing I have seen in myself is that if maintaining my salvation is in anyway dependant on my obedience or even my desire to be obedient then I have no hope at all. 8 years of being taught that salvation is totally dependant on man is not easy to shake; I still find myself sometimes questioning my salvation, especially during times of sin and temptation.

    There are no words to describe

    the blessing this site is to me.

    Thank You with all my heart!

    Jerry

    This may be out of place, but this is a response to what "Don" said in his comment above.

    Oh, it thrills my heart to read your brief testimony. I was raised in the Church of Christ (a minister's son) and trained in their schools to become a preacher. God was pleased, in His abundant and wondrous mercy, to reveal the glory of His grace to me after I had been appointed to my first pastorate within the Churches of Christ. There is so much sorrow, so much fear and so little precious light within our circles and it delights me to know that God's Spirit is still moving despite the veil of false doctrine that has been laid across the eyes of that church. May God bless you richly, brother. And may He give you a double portion of His blessed assurance in Jesus Christ. If you'd ever like to talk to someone who may better know what you've been through, email me at [email protected]

    Just one question: If a "christian" falls away, can he never be regenerated? Does God withold His mercy from them specially?

    I am a little confused. For example you may know Gene Cook, Jr. from Unchained Radio(also Fide-O), in his program he regularly talks to atheists and agnostics who were once "christians" even "calvinists", and ofcourse he doesn't talk to them simply for the sake of debate but to proclaim the gospel to them also for their salvation. While they can be very hard, will God have mercy on these former "christians"? or does He withold His mercy?

    San

    Thanks for your inquiry. It is not for us to determine God's secret counsel. We should continue to preach indiscriminately to all. It is quite possible some persons have never actually heard or understood the true gospel in its fullness. Many churches preach a false gospel so you want to make certain it is understood. If they have "fallen away" then they were never regenerate to begin with so their faith was a spurious one. Jesus says to some, "I never knew you". He does not say, "I knew you but now I don't"

    Whether God will ultimately save a person is His Sovereign determination, but it is for us to faithfully proclaim the gospel in gentleness and respect. Who knows God may yet grant them repentance (2 Tim 2:25).

    But if persons don't want to speak with you and harden their hearts against your words, then you may want to move on, there are many whom God has opened their heart and ears to a greater degree. If they are still debating with you, that is a good sign. If they are indifferent or curse you for bringing up the topic, then perhaps its time to move on.


    thanks for taking the time to reply John, that clears up my question. Lord bless you all.

    hey
    the writing has enabled me to understand the verses better. however i still feel i am slipping away from faith in god. i am in a rather difficult position at home. you say that we dont need to do anything in addition to jesus sacrifice however what if we feel we are being pulled from god from external forces

    Lisa, I can understand what you're going through as I've been wrestling with that very issue of late. One thing to remember is that Jesus will search for His sheep and bring them back when they stray (John 10), and Paul's words in Romans 8, that nothing will separate us from the love of God.

    I pray for your situation.

    Thank you for this well written, clearly stated piece.

    I'm speaking with a very arminian friend of mine about this very passage, which is why my search brought me to your article...thanks again...

    After reading this paper, I have a few comments. I read another paper on "essentials and non-essentials". In paper you mention it ok to disagree about certain things as long as they aren't essential. My question for you is this: Would you consider those who teach a christian can "fall away" i.e. lose their salvation; are these people false teachers and therefore not saved? I make mention to this because it this current paper, it seems you are saying those who teach this doctrine (falling away) are trusting in something other than christ? i.e. "another gospel". Any thoughts or comments on this?

    Thanks
    steve
    [email protected]

    Hi Steve

    Thanks for your insightful analysis. Per your question, you and I would probably agree that anyone who denies that salvation is by Christ alone is teaching a false gospel. Those who assert that someone can lose their salvation are essentially saying that what Jesus did for them is insufficient .. that something else needs to be added to His incomplete work. This is exactly the kind of nonsense from Roman Catholicism that was the major cause of the event we call the Reformation. Of course, our theology does not need to be perfect to be saved, and Jesus often saved people in spite of their bad theology, but in this case, it is quite clear that those who teach there is something you must do to maintain your own just standing before God are undermining the gospel at its core. I would be quite concerned about such a person ... that may have never understood the gospel at all.

    JWH

    I have beged God for salvation and feel I was a Christian for 14 years. My wife who was also a Chrisian left me and y faith was haken to the core. Since we had a Christian marriage I began to uestion God and then os my faih. I want to come back but still feel the anger. What do I do? Was I ever Saved. If not then what do I do that I havent done already?

    Hi Jim

    You can have complete assurance today that God has saved you if by the Word of God your self-complacency is shattered and your self-righteousness is renounced. Next, the Holy Spirit convicts you of your woeful, guilty, and lost condition. Third, God opens your eyes to recognize that only the resurrected Christ (who knew no sin) sufficiently meets your hopeless case and by a divinely given faith causes you to lay hold of and rest upon Him as your ONLY hope. In your heart you agree with the statement that you justly deserve the wrath of God save in Christs mercy alone. Next, by the marks of the new nature within you - specifically a love for God; an appetite for spiritual things; a longing for holiness; a seeking after conformity to Christ. If these things are true of you and your faith is is Jesus Christ today then I can assure you by authority of God's word that your sins are forgiven.

    My daughter was 'saved' at a young age- I actually prayed with her. She has been in church her whole life and has heard the true Gospel many times- but she now says she doesn't believe in christianity or in Christ as God and Savior, and doesn't really seem to believe in God- but in 'something more". She has heard the true Gospel several times since then even with no effect whatsoever. What about her?
    I cannot get any answers from anyone I ask. She is not hostile, but apathetic.
    thanks,
    Jodi

    Hi Jodi

    Answers about what specifically? Refer to my previous post. If people do not exhibit the signs there then they can really have no assurance of their salvation. But as you know, praying some prayer in the past has very little significance for the present.

    Hi John,
    Just to be clear- I definitely realize my daughter is not saved and never really was. My question had more to do with the possibility that she can still be saved. Is she without hope, or can she still repent? I guess no one can really answer that- I just struggle with it.
    Thanks,
    Jodi

    I have severely doubting my salvation for a while. I can not gain any assurance at all. I am not sure I was ever saved but now feel it is too late. This article makes me believe it is for me. Any comments? I sometimes feel I stubbornly wanted my way too long and now it's too late. I just want to honor God with all my heart but feel incapable. I don't believe I really ever knew Him (although I have always prayed a lot and read my bible a lot). Can a self-righteous hypocrite ever become genuine or can it be too late?

    Amanda

    thanks for your question. Again, salvation is based ENTIRELY on who Jesus is and what he has done, not on what you have done for Him. As long as you put hope in yourself, you have no hope. Fact is there is no hope save in the mercy of Jesus Christ alone. Trust not in yourself to attain or maintain salvation. The gospel is about what Jesus has done. If your faith is in Him, not in yourself, then you can have assurance that your sins are forgiven. But as long as you retain some hope in your own efforts or morality you will be lost.

    Amanda,

    I'd like to comment on your question if I may. I feel a sort of sympathy for you because I don't know what that feels like to not know if your truly saved. I was saved at the age of 19, truly born again saved. I was literally blind and God himself gave me eyes to see. But before that, I was raised a christian, so I thought I was a christian(now I know that I wasn't). I never doubted it, but was never really challenged with it either. My only encouragement to you would be to pray. Pray that God would reveal to you the truest and deepest depravity of your sin. That he would grant you true salvation, that only comes from Him. Maybe you have been saved, I don't know, but what I do know is that when a Holy God comes into contact with a completley depraved sinner, you will know it and not only that, your only response will be a repentive heart that cries out for His deliverance. I will pray for God's deliverance in your life and to answer your question. NO! It is not too late for you. As long as there is breath in your body, there is the hope of salvation that only comes through Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior!
    Cry out to Him! The very fact that your questioning could be the very seed that's bringing you closer and closer to your salvation!
    Praise be to God our father who draws man unto himself for the purpose of being glorified in him!

    I can sympathize with Amanda, because I'm right where she is (or, God willing, was). I have been involved in some of the vilest kind of sin for a long time, in spite of all the scripture that I know from my younger days and all the blessings that I have received in my life that I know came from God. And yet, for all my lack of faith, God has allowed my conscience to rise up again and convict me. I had come to believe that obedience was crucual to salvation, and that I had gone too far to ever know God's love.

    In spite of everything, he led me to this passage tonight. Imagine my initial terror and confusion when I read this passage in the light of my previous understanding--that obedience begets salvation! I persevered, however, because in spite of my depraved state, God has not let me forget that He is all-powerful and that His words of promise cannot be contradicted. Simple research led me here and some other areas, all of which have assured me that I am not without hope.

    I agree with Christina and offer myself as an example. I prayed tonight, knowing that I cannot save myself, and God has responded. I do not know why God would condescend to show the way of salvation to a sinner like me, but He has. And, knowing the depth of my lost condition, I cannot imagine that he would reject anyone who is stirred to seek him. Remember, it is He who stirs your heart to seek Him!

    On a personal note, can anyone recommend the next step for me? I want to follow up and live for Christ, but, for all my youthful experience in churches (and probably because of it), I'm afraid and don't know where to go and to whom to turn for help on this earth. I know that we must depend wholly on Christ, but I also know that God gave us brethren for a reason. Ideas?

    I have read so many sermons and commentaries on this passage and most reformed (with the exception of Spurgeon) interpret it the way in which you have. However, such an interpretation would then have to conclude that anyone who "went through the motions" of Christianity for years, (i.e. attended worship, prayed, partook of the Lord's supper, was batized, etc. and yet was never actually "saved" and then left the church and fell back into a life of wreckless abandon is without hope, period.

    Again, this interpretation would mean that someone raised in the church who at the age of 25 leaves the church to pursue a life of worldliness might as well never return because this interpretation means it is impossible for them to ever be saved.

    You say, "They may be externally a part of the church and receive external blessings, yet if they abandon trust in Christ for ritual or something else, there is no hope for their salvation. They were never regenerate to begin with for falling away does not accompany or belong to true salvation, according to the text."

    I hope you see the problem with this.

    With one fell swope this interpretation says, "if you were raised baptist and then coverted to Catholicism--don't bother coming back because there is no hope for you." or "If you walked an aisle and said the sinners prayer at the age of 12, attended church for 10 years - thinking you were saved, then at the age of 22 you fell away from what you thought you believed, you need not think you can ever be genuinely saved, even if you live to be 95.

    In fact, this says that if you were wrong or confused or self-decieved regarding the truth, there are no second chances. It is impossible for you to be "saved".

    Spurgeon's interpretation is the only one that does not do violence to the gospel and the rest of scripture.

    I would welcome being "set straight" if I am mis-representing your teaching on this. It seems very dangerous to me to tell people who have left the "visible church" that there is no hope for them.

    Hello, I have heard and read many teachings on this text in Heb.6 (mostly negative) I am preparing a study on this very subject for my next bible study.
    I believe the KEY to understanding is found in the first verse. "Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God," If and when we sin or even "backslide" it is not necessary to be baptized again. To be saved again. 6:4-6 "For it is impossible..."
    "If we confess our sins He is faithful and just to forgive us..."
    There is nothing WE CAN DO to obtain salvation. And once obtained, there is nothing WE CAN DO to lose it.
    Praise His Holy Name!!!

    I have been struggling with assurance for my salvation for three years. I have always felt I have had to perform for God and others approval. I was raised in a charismatic church which really emphasized these things. I have been in a reformed church and I thought I understood grace but came to realize I knew nothing of God's love. Nothing. Now I want to, really want to but feel I squandered my opportunity and it's too late. Is this possible? Could it be too late to repent on earth?

    I have doubted his existence and begged for faith. I've 'given up" and never truly walked away although Hebrews 6 has always haunted me... I only recently came across the reform church and realised I have never truly trusted even though 6 months ago i said a prayer...the prayer left me no comfort and I was always searching saying it seemed to easy to just say a prayer but I have to know what is truly trusting? I've been so confused for so long I wont stop searching even if it is 'too late' and even if I don't feel like it but why can't I left go of myself and just give it all away to Jesus...does that mean I'm lost forever?

    Thank you so much for this site, it is a great blessing and help for me in explaining this passage of scripture.
    May God bless this website.

    In Christ,
    Jerahmeel Suico

    I'm barely a year old in Christ and it has been a hard one for me. I feel that my heart it getting harder and harder all of the time. I will stray, and then be brought back in tears to repentace. Wash, rinse, repeat. The fact that I do come back does give me great hope, but it's hard because I just want to be obedient. I really do.

    I just read this verse for the first time. My world about dropped out from under me. I wanted to throw my bible and I just cried, reading it over and over again. My despair led me to this article and others, and ultimately I was drawn back to the gospel. I was comforted by this and by your words and testimonies. May the Holy Spirit continue to work in all of us, perfecting us until the day of His glorious coming.

    Wow, I read this right and than wrong and now back to right! I so felt gods judgement and thought this meant me! I was a great reed to many who I did not know but where of the church! Great ignorance!
    What about those of us who have not produced good things by the rain but have been reed to others who try to save us in the church not knowing the church in great ignorance? Those who have had a saving faith given them and yet have not found a good church they trusted would teach the truth? I live far from one and have both transportation and disability!
    I use the internet to learn all I can as well as the puritans! That has been my only church! I feared those who I did not know out of pride and ignorance! This verse caused me to think I was in great danger of being cursed! Is that true?

    Thank you

    Bruce and Taryn, simply believe and do what the scriptures teach, which is what the scriptures teach. (See Westminster Shorter Catechism Question 3. It's online. If children can understand this catechism question and answer, we adults can understand it as well. Perhaps we adults make it too complicated for ourselves and others. The confused, modern mind must be transformed to believe like a child and then act like a man, or woman, of God. Another way to say the same thing is test what you believe and what you do by scripture. If your thinking or doing comes up short, repent and prove your repentance by your deeds. (This is how Paul preached the gospel - Acts 26.) Pray simple prayers that are in accord with scripture, which is the only reliable testimony of God's will. If you lack wisdom, ask God to grant it to you - and he will, says the Apostle James. Likewise, pray that God would strengthen you to do what the Apostle Peter commended to us, when he said: "Make every effort to your faith in Christ the following: virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and self-less love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But whoever does not have them is nearsighted and blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their past sins. Therefore, brother make every effort to confirm your calling and election. For if you do these things, you will never stumble, and you will receive a rich welcome into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ." II Peter Chapter 1, verses 5-11. And, if you are struggling with doubt, how in the world do you actually do what Peter commands? Read the verses immediately preceding verses 5-11. These few verses teach what we are to believe (which always must precede our effort to do what God commands). In II Peter 1, verses 1-4, Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, says: "To those who through the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ have received a faith as precious as ours: Grace and peace be yours in abundance through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires. Bruce, and anyone else that might read this post, this is what you must believe about who you are in Christ. Meditate on this, pray for understanding of who you are and what you have been given in Christ, and then for the rest of your life add to your faith virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and selfless love. Possess these qualities in increasing measure (which God by his grace will grant to you as you make every effort). Work out your salvation, with fear and trembling, as the Apostle Paul says elsewhere, remembering all the while (as you make every effort commanded by scripture) that it is God who is working in you.

    I need a lot of prayer. I hope you read this so you can. Some time ago I became angry with God and couldn't completely get rid of that anger. I didn't walk away from God until some time after that. I walked away from God out of weakness, but I did walk away from a relationship with God and not just from living a good life. I still believed that the Bible was true. Something in my spirit stopped me for a long time from returning and I even tried once or twice. I finally said that prayer and I'm going to try to live it this time, even if it means praying the prayer again if I have serious doubts. This passage has caused me depression.
    Please pray.


    Hebrews 6:9-10
    Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB)

    9 Even though we are speaking this way, dear friends, in your case we are confident of the better things connected with salvation. 10 For God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love[a] you showed for His name when you served the saints—and you continue to serve them.

    Assurance of faith can be strengthened or diminshed in a believer's life. Feelings come and go.

    If you are drawn here by a concern for your soul, rest assured that the Holy Spirit is still at work in your life.

    If you have tormenting fear, remember that fear which has torment is not of God. The enemy is an accuser who likes to frighten and drive scrupulous Christians to despair, and make them think they are beyond even the grace of God or that faith is something they must muster on their own.

    The Lord loves us and longs to be gracious to us and is faithful beyond all our mind's ability to comprehend.

    He is Abba, Father. All who come to Him, He will not cast out.

    All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. (John 6:37 NIV)

    Someone who is truly beyond the reach of God, if any are, would not even care one wit if they were.

    Peace and grace be with you.

    This article and the comments are extremely encouraging and I believe an answer to prayer for guidance on this passage as I read it tonight and was despairing.

    I had a radical conversion experience at 18, felt that i had a close walk with Christ till I was about 24 (attending Bible college, went on mission trips, sought to share the gospel with people regularly - including my family who were very hostile to the god news), I had many experiences where I felt God was leading me, speaking to me, filling me with His spirit. And then, after years of sharing with my dad and praying for his salvation, he died of a heart attack when I was 23. My mom had died when I was 19. The thought of my dad dying and spending eternity in hell was too painful to believe, so I slowly started seeking reasons to not have to believe that - I read books discrediting the Bible and eventually the entire gospel message and walked away. I knew I was making my decision based on the desire not to believe because it was too painful - that it might not have been a logical choice based on truth - but I found books to support my choice. So, off I went.

    I missed the fellowship and peace and joy I had experienced greatly but thought there was no way the gospel could be true. I didn't want to believe that people went to hell - that was my main obstacle.

    And the, around age 30, I felt drawn again - I started reaching out to old Christian friends, asking questions, reading Christian books and eventually I picked the Bible up again and started seeking God and attending various churches near my house. I now believe again (and, yes, this includes a belief in hell, painful as it is). I have been experiencing a hunger for His Word and to know and serve Him and have felt great remorse over my many, many sins over the past six years. But when I came to this passage tonight, I felt it was telling me that I had my chance and lost it. That I was beyond hope. I had tasted the goodness of God and His Word and His Spirit and had "fallen away" so I was beyond repentance. I was so upset, I felt I might vomit.

    However, I now feel hope again after reading this article and these comments. Something in my soul felt that my interpretation of it couldn't be right - but I didn't know.

    I thank the Lord for his great mercy and pray He would open our eyes to see our true state and His just as true love and grace.

    And, regarding the comments, I found Wren's especially encouraging (though many were encouraging as well) - thank you, everyone!

    Oh - and one more thing - I want to give all glory to God for what I believe was Him drawing me back to Him and enabling me to repent and seek Him and believe again - I believe it is by grace and that He works in us - that no one can come to Jesus unless the Father who sent Him draws them and I believe (and very much hope) that is what I have experienced.

    As the Scripture at the top of this page states - what do we have that we have not received - and we are who we are by the grace of God - for there is none who seeks God, no not one. This means, we could not seek Him on our own if He did not first shine His light - first draw us and work in our hearts and through the circumstances of our lives.

    I have been studying this passage lately and reached the conclusion that this passage does not teach that a Christian can loose his salvation at all. I feel that problems arise when people mistakenly equate 'falling away' with 'losing one's salvation'. From the context, and also if you do a word-study, it becomes apparent that 'falling away' in this passage means something like: 'not continuing in the path one was once called to', ' becoming sluggish', 'stumbling', ' sinning'. The apostle Paul is warning Christians that have stopped walking in the faith, that have become sluggish, that have become like 'children' again, in need of ' milk', and have put themselves back under the law and are now foolishly thinking that the solution of their predicament lies in a reconversion of some sort. To these Christians, Paul is saying: you are mistaken! Paul explains very clearly: You cannot enter into the gate once more. You cannot be reborn a second time! Instead... you should get up and continue your walk in the SAME FAITH that was ONCE DELIVERED to the saints! Paul rightly states that it is impossible to renew the true believer to his faith again, because it would mean that faith can die and salvation can be lost. And if salvation can be lost, Christ's only sacrifice was somehow inadequate. The cross would be put to an open shame! Paul's message is clear: If, for whatever reason, we have fallen into this state of despair, where we feel we have turned away from God, fallen into sin, and placed ourselves under the Law and condemnation once again... the solution is not to be converted again!! Such ideas and thoughts deny the very Cross by which we were saved in the first place. Instead: realize that the faith once given, can never die! Our salvation cannot be lost! In spite of our unbelieve, our stumbling and sin, it is very much alive! For it is protecting itself against the evils of our foolish unfaithfulness and sin!! Remember what the apostle John wrote in his first epistle: " We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." If you think you have 'fallen away', if you have entered into that state of despair, then maybe it is not so hard to see that the 'evil one' that John writes about, in reality is us, sinners. Yes, if it were up to us, we would loose our faith and salvation. Thank God IT IS NOT SO! All you need to do is to raise your head and look upon the ONE sacrifice in Jesus Christ and WALK anew IN THE SAME FAITH TO THE SAME SALVATION THAT WAS ONCE GIVEN TO US AND CANNOT BE LOST!

    I hope this helps.

    I have been studying this passage lately and reached the conclusion that this passage does not teach that a Christian can loose his salvation at all. I feel that problems arise when people mistakenly equate 'falling away' with 'losing one's salvation'. From the context, and also if you do a word-study, it becomes apparent that 'falling away' in this passage means something like: 'not continuing in the path one was once called to', ' becoming sluggish', 'stumbling', ' sinning'. The apostle Paul is warning Christians that have stopped walking in the faith, that have become sluggish, that have become like 'children' again, in need of ' milk', and have put themselves back under the law and are now foolishly thinking that the solution of their predicament lies in a reconversion of some sort. To these Christians, Paul is saying: you are mistaken! Paul explains very clearly: You cannot enter into the gate once more. You cannot be reborn a second time! Instead... you should get up and continue your walk in the SAME FAITH that was ONCE DELIVERED to the saints! Paul rightly states that it is impossible to renew the true believer to his faith again, because it would mean that faith can die and salvation can be lost. And if salvation can be lost, Christ's only sacrifice was somehow inadequate. The cross would be put to an open shame! Paul's message is clear: If, for whatever reason, we have fallen into this state of despair, where we feel we have turned away from God, fallen into sin, and placed ourselves under the Law and condemnation once again... the solution is not to be converted again!! Such ideas and thoughts deny the very Cross by which we were saved in the first place. Instead: realize that the faith once given, can never die! Our salvation cannot be lost! In spite of our unbelieve, our stumbling and sin, it is very much alive! For it is protecting itself against the evils of our foolish unfaithfulness and sin!! Remember what the apostle John wrote in his first epistle: " We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not." If you think you have 'fallen away', if you have entered into that state of despair, then maybe it is not so hard to see that the 'evil one' that John writes about, in reality is us, sinners. Yes, if it were up to us, we would loose our faith and salvation. Thank God IT IS NOT SO! All you need to do is to raise your head and look upon the ONE sacrifice in Jesus Christ and WALK anew IN THE SAME FAITH TO THE SAME SALVATION THAT WAS ONCE GIVEN TO US AND CANNOT BE LOST!

    I hope this helps.

    I thought I became a Christian when I was a child, but for three years as a teenager I fell into and was addicted to a terrible sin. By God's grace he has delivered me from this addiction and I have repented, but I'm worried that I was never truly converted... could a true Christian fall into sin for so long? I still want to serve Christ but I keep having doubts about my salvation. I read this passage and was scared for a while but this site has been most helpful. If you could shed some light on my situation it would be most appreciated. :)

    @John

    In Christ, God does not treat you as your sins justly deserve. Cling to Christ. Do not look to your own failures but to Christ. No one on earth measures up to God's holy standard save Jesus Christ alone. if you trust in him you can be assured by the word of God that your sins are forgiven.

    john

    Hi. I need some help. Please help me to understand how all of a person's sins (past, present and future) are forgiven but at the same time if a christian somehow denied the faith they would go to hell? If He Christ died for every single sin and forgiveness (past, present and future) is already complete, then even if it were possible foe a christian to fall completely then his falling should still be forgiven. I ask because it seems that if a person could somehow at some point go into a non-forgiven status then that means that the initial forgiveness was not irrevocable. That would mean the sacrifice of Christ is not really once for all sins. Then salvation would really be dependant on the Christians perseverance and not on the cross. So am I saved once and for all by the sacrifice or is it something else on top of the sacrifice? If it is 100% purely and completely through the sacrifice then perseverance shouldn't count for anything. The idea comes to my mind about the certain Corinthians who took of the Lords supper inappropriately and died. They died without perseverance in righteousness so did they fulfill the concept of the perseverance of the saints? Did they go to hell since they didn't really complete their lives as complete Christians? Or were every single one of their sins forgiven and so it didn't matter if God had to kill them for going against the principal of perseverance? How can you not persevere and still be saved? If it based on the cross then it is once and for all and perseverance doesn't matter. If perseverance is essential then the cross is not complete for salvation. Please help me to reconcile these issues! Thank you

    Hi. I need some help. Please help me to understand how all of a person's sins (past, present and future) are forgiven at the same time if a christian somehow denied the faith they would go to hell? If He Christ died for every single sin and forgiveness (past, present and future) is already complete, then even if it were possible foe a christian to fall completely then his falling should still be forgiven. I ask because it seems that if a person could somehow at some point go into a non-forgiven status then that means that the initial forgiveness was not irrevocable. That would mean the sacrifice of Christ is not really once for all sins. Then salvation would really be dependant on the Christians perseverance and not on the cross. So am I saved once and for all by the sacrifice or is it something else on top of the sacrifice? If it is 100% purely and completely through the sacrifice then perseverance shouldn't count for anything. The idea comes to my mind about the certain Corinthians who took of the Lords supper inappropriately and died. They died without perseverance in righteousness so did they fulfill the concept of the perseverance of the saints? Did they go to hell since they didn't really complete their lives as complete Christians? Or were every single one of their sins forgiven and so it didn't matter if God had to kill them for going against the principal of perseverance? How can you not persevere and still be saved? If it based on the cross then it is once and for all and perseverance doesn't matter. If perseverance is essential then the cross is not complete for salvation. Please help me to reconcile these issues! Thank you

    Excellent explanation of Hebrew 6 . The best I ever heard. May God bless you for it.

    Rosemarie

    Wow...the comments on this post span from 2006 to 2014!

    Just want to thank you for this post and all the wonderful comments here. It has been a huge blessing!

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