"...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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  • « An Advent Prayer | Main | A Few More Thoughts on Hebrews 6 »

    What does Hebrews 6 actually say?

    The Hebrews 6 passage has been addressed on this blog a number of times. Here are some words on this from Vincent Cheung who was responding to someone who said that they still tended to read passages like this as an Arminian:

    Question/Comment: "I have been thinking about Hebrews 6:4-6, and I am still struggling to be more impartial with it…. I recall that you have talked about these verses, but I am still struggling…

    Response: Besides my own remarks, there are a number of commentaries that adequately address Hebrews 6. It is good to read and review them. After that, the struggle is not in attaining exegetical precision with the passage, but it is in the part of you that still tends to read it as an Arminian — as a self-centered rebel — when there is no warrant for it.

    Consider the example of John 3:16. It says that whoever believes will not perish but have eternal life, which both Calvinism and Arminianism affirm, but it does not say who will believe or why they will believe. Thus the verse affirms only salvation by faith, and has no relevance to the disagreement between Calvinism and Arminianism until you bring other biblical passages into the discussion. However, many people want to read it as Arminians, and so they think that Arminianism is what it proves. They take the words "whoever believes" to mean something so different as, "Every man has free will, and anyone can by his free will believe in Christ apart from God's foreordination and direct control." I might as well deduce the entire Alice in Wonderland when someone says "Good morning" or "Have a nice day."

    Likewise, Hebrews 6 says that whoever satisfies the listed conditions and then withdraws from the faith cannot repent again. Since this is what it says, then this is what it means. Now, we can argue about whether these conditions completely define a believer. We could argue from the example of Judas, who exercised the very powers of the world to come, but Jesus knew from the beginning that he was "a devil." He was never truly converted. However, even this discussion is unnecessary, since it is irrelevant to the main point of the passage. Even if it describes a believer, does a believer actually withdraw? Does it ever happen? The passage does not say. The only mention of this topic points toward the other direction: "Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case — things that accompany salvation" (v. 9). The writer was convinced that at least the original readers would not suffer the fate that he describes. What is it then? The passage cannot be used to support Arminianism, since even the relevance is absent.

    I could say, "If God dies, then the earth will also disappear," or something to that effect. The statement is certainly true. But will it ever happen? Is it even possible? It would be pure lunacy to infer from the statement, "Therefore, it is possible for God to die." The statement does not address the topic at all. Now, we could argue that the words "if God dies" contain a categorical error, rendering the phrase meaningless, but other than that, the statement makes an important point, that God is the sustainer of all things, and that all things continuously depend on him. This is what it implies, and one cannot read more into it unless he does so by force.

    Part of the difficulty in confronting Arminianism, then, is to overcome your own Arminianism — whatever of it that remains in your heart."

    Posted by John Samson on December 20, 2006 10:25 AM


    An excellent, though somewhat sobering, commentary. What concerns me is that we're never truly able to trancend "what we are" when we read the Bible, be that as Arminians, Americans, or whatever. We always bring our subjective baggage to the table when we read the Scriptures. Praise the Lord that he sent his Counselor to reveal these truths to us, lest we would have no hope of knowing *anything* about God.

    I have been also struggling with this passage as well with 1Cor 10.
    Now i take into consideration that the there is a new covenant that those who are Christ dwell into, different from the Isreal back then.
    But what truly confuses me is when it stats that they ate of the spiritual meat and drank of the spiritual drink from the rock, and that rock was Christ.

    Now this seems to Imply The flesh and blood of Jesus Christ, but also Jesus tells us whoever eats his flesh and drink his blood abides in him and he in them.

    So the only way i can make sense of it so far is that eating and drink of Christ is that which is continual thing, and if we cease from this we will also be overcome in the wilderness.

    But I am not sure, that is only what i would first be led to understand. But i am unsure about this. And though i would say i am a 5 point believer on the doctrines of Grace i found that these scriptures give strength to my doubt.

    If any one has words of edification that would be great.

    please email me at [email protected]



    Thanks! it's helpful to me!

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