Monday, March 22, 2010

A Considerate Look Into Hebrews

Author's note: I have (until recently) held a different interpretation of the passage in Hebrews I am presently discussing. I have since been soundly convinced that my standing was in error. I still preach eternal security, but I now believe Hebrews 6:4-9 teaches something more than I had noticed. In humility I write this, grateful to God for a little clarity, and for His boundless love with which He loves all of His children! Without further ado, I present to the reader my study on Hebrews 6:4-9; I apologize for the length, but it was necessary for the scope of this study. God bless!

In all fairness, and to thoroughly explore the word of God for His truth, I would like to expound upon a series of verses that are the subject of explosive controversy between believers. These verses (among others) are the ground on which teachers want to preach conditional salvation. Therefore, on the basis of a desire to seek the truth, we should examine the passages, their context, and the words chosen by the men inspired to write them. We will begin with perhaps the most problematic passage in the New Testament. God grant us His wisdom and the leading of the Holy Spirit.

Hebrews 6:4-8
[4] For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, [5] and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, [6] if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify for themselves again the Son of God and put Him to an open shame. [7] For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; [8] but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.

This will be the primary passage from which the rest of the verses we will treat shall derive their meaning, as we labor to honestly understand what the Holy Spirit was attempting to convey when He inspired the writer to pen these lines. There are two camps: one preaches eternal security. Those who advocate eternal security preach and teach that this passage is entirely hypothetical, and the writer is merely making a point about the impossibility of falling away. Then there are those who preach conditional salvation, and they use this passage to support their argument; that it is not hypothetical, but genuinely possible for Christians who do not walk in the Spirit to fall away. I reside firmly in the camp with those who teach eternal security because advocating falling away assumes that we must retain a salvation we did not work to achieve. It was a free gift, given by God through faith in His Son. It is (and we are) retained by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit who abides in us. We cannot upkeep, or fall away from, a gift freely given. Those who teach conditional salvation misunderstand the doctrines of election, foreknowledge, sanctification, and atonement. With a weakened emphasis on God's ability to save and retain us in a perpetual, eternal state of salvation, the vacancy left by its removal leaves room for an increased doctrine on man's need to walk uprightly before God, or else those who are carnal and unfit will be cast out. God's free and condescending grace is sorely misrepresented, and we, as redeemed sinners, are elevated into too high a position to maintain. Again, what we could not earn to begin with, does God now entrust us to keep through our effort? This is illogical and unbiblical. We are told we are, “justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus,” Romans 3:24.

Beginning with Hebrews 5:11, the writer is reprimanding the Hebrew Christians about their spiritual dullness and backsliding. Apparently enough time had elapsed since these Christians first believed the gospel that the writer was expecting that they should have been teachers of gospel truth (verse 12); instead he finds them regressing into fundamental teachings that he refers to as milk, see 1st Peter 2:2-3. These Hebrew Christians were too juvenile to partake of solid food, which is the ability to rightly divide the word of righteousness, 2nd Timothy 2:15.

The Old Testament (and much of the New Testament by this point) would have been in circulation, and they were at fault for not being more astute about giving heed to doctrine and reading. Paul once told Timothy, “from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” 2nd Timothy 3:15. Certainly Timothy, through his faithful mother and grandmother, only had access to the Old Testament in his youth. Yet Paul says that the Old Testament alone was capable of making one wise unto salvation in Christ. Jesus accused the religious leaders of His day for having unrestrained access to the Old Testament, and yet not finding in its pages the portrait that God's word painted of the coming Messiah, John 5:39.

In verse 13 the writer accuses the Hebrew church of regressing into a state of spiritual infancy. He informs them that solid food belongs to the spiritually mature (deeper spiritual truth or understanding); such people have practiced discernment of good and evil from Scripture (verse 14), and have grown so in their thinking that the Spirit of Christ is more noticeable in them. To mature is to be less ruled by men (including our own will) and to be more conformed to the will and leading of God's Spirit, as He is revealed through the Bible.

In 6:1, the word “perfection” is interchangeable with maturity. Paul writes, “Therefore let us, as many as are mature (“perfect” in the KJV), have this mind; and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal even this to you. Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind,” Philippians 3:15-16. Here is the groundwork for spiritual growth. Do you want a greater depth of maturity, and to see the mind of Christ at work in you? Then as much as God has presently revealed to you, walk in it. The truth you understand, act on it in daily life, believing the One who revealed it to you, because He is the truth. Only when we employ that which we have already been given, will God bring more truth. “For whoever has, to him more will be given, and he will have abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him,” Matthew 13:12. So the topics the writer is speaking of in verses 1-2 are what he calls foundational topics, or beginning doctrines. These are necessary to begin one's spiritual walk, but the Holy Spirit wants to lead us into a closer walk with the Lord as we appropriate more spiritual wisdom through reading, prayer, fellowship, and obedience to what we presently know. This is the practical outgrowth of sanctification.

Unlike the Corinthian church, which had failed to begin maturing, the Hebrews had made progress, and then turned back, possibly due to persecution for the sake of the cross. In the words of Isaiah, “They have turned away backward,” Isaiah 1:4. Or as God told Jeremiah, concerning the perpetually vacillating state of Israel's loyalty to God: “Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went away backward and not forward,” Jeremiah 7:24. The picture was that they have turned their backs on God's revelation and withdrew. The writer reminded them of the doctrines which they had already been taught and formerly embraced. The foundation was repentance from dead works, and resting one's faith solely in God for salvation. This was the essential first step, for without faith it is impossible to please God, and without saving faith in Christ, nothing else matters. Next was the doctrine of water baptism, which is a believer's public confession of faith. It was a symbol of the death that one has died when they are associated with Jesus Christ as their Savior. As our Lord died, was buried, and was raised to newness of life; so too is the believer submerged in water (to represent our burial with Him), and raised out of the water to symbolize our new life, having been born again. Note that water baptism is not an essential step for salvation. Salvation is only by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, and then one is baptized to confess their faith publicly. The thief on the cross never had the chance to be baptized, yet Jesus told that repentant thief he would be with Him in Paradise, Luke 23:43. Anyone who declares otherwise is attempting to make a portion of their salvation of works rather than grace, and these two cannot be mingled, Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 11:6; Galatians 2:16.

Laying on of hands was a tradition among the early Christians to impart the sealing of the Holy Spirit, Acts 8:17-18; 19:6. When one believed on Jesus Christ and was baptized, the eldership also laid on hands, which may have been a public form of acceptance into the body of Christ, or an act of being ordained, 1st Timothy 5:22. The teaching of the resurrection of the dead was not only paramount to all Christian thought, it was absolutely required to undergird the church. Without the reality of Jesus' bodily resurrection and ascension, there is no Christianity. Paul explains this succinctly: “If there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty...And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!” 1st Corinthians 15:13-14, 17. Eternal judgment goes hand in hand with the resurrection of the dead. Jesus spoke of the resurrection of the just and the wicked as two separate events. “Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His (Jesus') voice and come forth–those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation,” John 5:28-29. Likewise, “It is appointed (apokeimai; may also be translated “destined”) for men to die once, but after this the judgment,” Hebrews 9:27. A believer must stand before the judgment seat of Christ after death.

“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad,” 2nd Corinthians 5:10.

“For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ...So then each of us shall give account of himself to God,” Romans 14:10, 12.

“For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire,” 1st Corinthians 3:11-15.

(Also see Ephesians 6:8; Colossians 3:24-25; Revelation 22:12 for further examples of a Christian being rewarded for their deeds done in the flesh, good or ill.)

Hebrews 6:3 begins with the writer's earnest desire to press on to maturity. He attributes any potential at progress in this regard to God. “This we will do if God permits.” The Hebrew Christians had backslid, and were apparently being hardened by sin, since the writer was frustrated that it was hard to explain things to them, since they had grown dull of hearing, Hebrews 5:11. The warning goes on in verse 4: “It is impossible for those who were once enlightened...” Now here there are two major camps. One camp states that this passage, beginning with verse 4, is a hypothetical situation which cannot occur. The other camp states that it can indeed occur, and this passage is a proof that salvation can be lost. I humbly contribute my study of the passage to say that it is neither hypothetical (I believed so until very recently), nor does it champion falling away. The writer lists several realities in a believer's life which could only happen upon being genuinely saved. In order:
1. They were once enlightened, verse 4.
2. They tasted the heavenly gift (which must allude to salvation through Jesus Christ).
3. They have become partakers in (they have shared in) the sealing of the Holy Spirit.
4. They have tasted the word of God, verse 5. See Romans 10:17.
5. They have tasted the powers of the age to come.

This is a very somber passage, no matter what way you approach it. Again, in verse 3, the writer states that if God permits they will continue growing in grace, not simply returning to the point where they had regressed, but maturing beyond it. The writer, inspired by the Holy Spirit, issues a serious warning to believers. As I read it, when someone becomes apostate (parapipto; to commit apostasy—the Greek word for “fall away” in verse 6) it is no longer humanly possible to restore them to fellowship and a right relationship with God. They have gone too far, grown too hard by the deceit of sin, and cannot (or will not) turn back. The word used in verse 6 for “repentance” is metanoia, which means:

The state of changing of any or all of the elements composing one's life: attitude, thoughts, and behaviors concerning the demands of God for right living; note that this state can refer to [1] the foundational salvation event in Christ, or to [2] an ongoing repentance in the Christian life.
It is reasonable to consider the use of repentance in Hebrews verse 6 as more adequately described by the latter definition, considering the context. The use of the word “renew” suggests that such believers must be restored, or brought back. It seems to preclude the idea that the audience the writer is addressing has never believed, but has confessed Christ. We read, “He has taken [the handwriting of your sins] out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. Having disarmed principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them in it...Let no one cheat you of your reward, taking delight in false humility and worship of angels...and holding fast to the Head, from which all the body, nourished and knit together by joints and ligaments, grows with the increase that is from God,” Colossians 2:14-15, 18-19. Tragically, the state of the apostate reverses the triumph of Christ so that He is openly shamed, rather than victorious in their life. If one continued on the road the writer describes, it would be the equivalent of crucifying our Savior anew. His own professing children would hold Him up to open (or public) shame. Paul warns that the saints should not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom we have been sealed, Ephesians 4:30. He cannot depart from us in the sense that He would forsake us, but He may withdraw, and the result would be a loss of fellowship with the Lord, and our inability to do anything of genuine spiritual value. In Christ's own words, we could do nothing, John 15:5. There is an alternate reading for verse 6, found in the NAS and the NIV, which reads, “...to renew them again to repentance while they again crucify to themselves the Son of God...” This rendering suggests a perpetual state of apostasy which makes their ability to be renewed to repentance (fellowship and cleansing by the Holy Spirit) effectively impossible, so long as they publicly shame their Lord. Since they regressed from standing by faith, Judaism would have been the alternative for Jewish Christians. That would have involved sacrificing a lamb on the altar for atonement of sin, of which Christ was the substance and fulfillment. To sacrifice animals over again would have been publicly humiliating our Lord, whose perfect sacrifice and atonement apparently would need to be supplemented by killing a sacrificial lamb. This exegesis of verse 6 was inspired by Erwin Lutzer’s, Doctrines that Divide.

Verses 7-8 describe the state of a believer abiding in Christ, as well as one who has fallen out of fellowship with the Holy Spirit and is spiritually barren. We read, “For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned.” Paul writes, “For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, you are God's building,” 1st Corinthians 3:9. Whereas verse 9 sets the stage for building on the foundation of Christ for reward or loss (1st Corinthians 3:11-15), the writer of Hebrews uses the analogy of the field to great effect. Both may be blessed or suffer loss, being burned, but both describe the spiritual state of the believer being tried by God. Salvation is not the issue in either case, but whether or not we will receive reward. In John 15 Jesus speaks a great deal about spiritual fruit bearing:

I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean (katharos; clean, pure, clear of responsibility, innocent) because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast (ballo; see below) out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples, John 15: 1-8.

A contrast between ballo and ekballo: Ballo means, “to throw, pour, put or set.” Ekballo means, “to take out, remove, to drive out, expel, bring out, send out.” It is used in reference to Satan being cast out (John 12:31) or Jesus saying that anyone coming to Him will not be cast out (John 6:37). Had Jesus wanted to give a clear indication that anyone who did not abide in Him was permanently cast away, He could have used the word “ekballo,” which carries a severe connotation to clarify, rather than the more benign, “ballo.”
Anyone hearing and believing the Gospel is saved, John 15:3. Jesus, to explain the passage, asserted that the Apostles were already saved because they had heard the gospel and believed. They were saved by grace through faith, without works. This entire passage hinges on the idea of abiding. Unlike the Holy Spirit, who will always abide in us as our guarantee from God, we do not always abide in Christ. We fall out of fellowship for many reasons. I cite merely one: “Husbands, likewise, dwell with [your wives] with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered,” 1st Peter 3:7.

Though I once believed (until very recently) this passage in John 15 was a contrast between genuine believers and false believers, it seems clear that is not what Jesus is talking about. Both those who abide and those who do not abide are clean through the word. Yet those who abide will bear fruit, and if they bear fruit, God will prune them, so they bear even more fruit—very similar to verse 7 in Hebrews. This is the blessing the writer refers to. “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and clay, some for honor and some for dishonor. Therefore if anyone cleanses himself from the latter, he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified and useful to the Master, prepared for every good work,” 2nd Timothy 2:20-21. Again we find the comparison. There are useful servants, sanctified through obedience that may be used by the Master (to bear fruit, or in this case, perform good works); then there are unclean or dishonorable servants, who the Master cannot use for His glory because they will not allow Him. Verse 8 of Hebrews speaks about the field that only produces thorns and briers, which ends up being burned. This does not imply that the person in question is cast in to Hell; in fact no mention of one's salvation or loss of salvation is in this entire passage at all! To fall away is to turn from the faith. It does not state that Christ casts you out. In fact, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself,” 2nd Timothy 2:13. There is no single passage in the Bible that clearly states, “You will lose your salvation,” or, “God will cast away those whom He foreknew.” In fact, the exact opposite is said numerous times, see Romans 11:1-2.

Back at verse 8, we find the field producing poorly, being near to cursed (not actually cursed), and then burned. If a field is burned, is it destroyed? Or is what grows on the field merely destroyed? Fire tends to accelerate healthy growth, as a matter of fact. So the produce of the field, or the works of that believer, are burned up by God, who disapproves of what that saint has done with their life.

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved (sozo; to save, rescue, deliver, to heal: to be in [a] right relationship to God), yet so as through fire, 1st Corinthians 3:11-15.
This agrees with the teaching of the judgment seat of Christ, Romans 14:10; 2nd Corinthians 5:10. The materials we use to build after we are saved determine the value of the work. Note the parallel to 2nd Timothy 2:20-21. Like the field which yields herbs after receiving rain from Heaven, so too will the Christian who, through the leading of the indwelling Holy Spirit, receive a crown from his Lord. Those who walk in the flesh to do its lusts, and trust in human strength rather than God's Spirit, will have their works burned. Yet the passage in Corinthians is clear that even a barren Christian is saved. Like the vessel in the Master's house unfit for honorable use, so too is the Christian who does not exercise their spiritual life in Christ, and produce the fruit of the Spirit. Both the abiding saint and the carnal saint hold the same position in Christ; but the abiding saint is enjoying the present pleasure of fellowship and fruit-bearing, while the carnal Christian receives none of those things.

Likewise, John 15:6 speaks about the same fate for a believer walking in the flesh. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned.” Note that the believer is cast out only as a branch. He is not simply cast out, but because he lacks the fruit which the Father is seeking, He is removed from fellowship, and without spiritual strength (see Zechariah 4:6) he can do nothing, John 15:5. The result of this removal of abiding in Christ is that the believer’s works are burned up; they are useless. In fact, Paul uses the exact same Greek word for “rejected” in Hebrews 6:8 (adokimos; failing the test, rejected) in a passage found in 1st Corinthians 9:24-27 that sheds much light on the matter. I will quote its entirety so as to better grasp the context.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified (adokimos).
The KJV renders “disqualified” as “castaway.” It would be vulgar Scripture twisting to suggest that Paul is presently referring to salvation. He taught that salvation is a gift, not a prize. Yet he refers to running a race, and receiving a reward for diligence, for endurance. Paul was aware that even he could fail the test of Christ’s judgment seat, and have his works burned up, losing his reward. Verse 24 can mean only that: all run, but there is only one winner. Are there Christians running one against the other for the hope that we will achieve eternal life to the failure of others? This is not what Paul taught. “Let no man seek his own, but another’s [well being],” 1st Corinthians 10:24. Verse 25 tells us that as athletes train to win a perishable crown, Christians should so labor to strive for an imperishable one, a symbol of honor in Heaven when Christ gives rewards, Revelation 22:12. In verse 26 Paul says that he does not evangelize or preach the gospel with no rhyme or reason, but with purpose; in verse 27 he reveals one reason a Christian forfeits their reward: due to carnality (walking by sight/having a mind set on the flesh). Paul keeps his body of sin (the flesh) in subjection so he would not be rejected, disqualified, a castaway.

Finally consider verse 9, which I believe is a hinge on which this passage turns. It reads: “But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.” Notice first how the writer refers to the audience as “beloved.” Christians are beloved because we are accepted in the Beloved, Ephesians 1:6. Clearly this passage is addressed to believers. The writer was confident of better things regarding the Hebrew Christians, though he was inspired by the Holy Spirit to write such a staunch warning to them. Though he chose to speak in such an authoritative manner, he believed things that accompany salvation would attend these Christians. Is the writer intimating then that someone may be saved without having the things that accompany salvation manifest in them? The things that accompany salvation are the rudimentary principles of Christ (Hebrews 6:1-2):
• Repentance and faith toward God
• The doctrine of baptism
• Laying on of hands
• The resurrection of the dead
• Eternal judgment

After faith, there is also, “virtue, to virtue knowledge, to knowledge self-control, to self-control perseverance, to perseverance godliness, to godliness brotherly kindness, to brotherly kindness love. For if these things are yours and abound, you will be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. For he who lacks these things is shortsighted, even to blindness, and has forgotten that he was cleansed from his old sins,” 2nd Peter 1:5-9. There are escalating virtues that a Christian should begin to manifest outwardly to the watching world. But notice that Peter anticipates that there will be believers who do not gain these attributes, and are spiritually barren, or unfruitful. This is the state of the type of men the writer of Hebrews described. They have become apostate, having fallen away from the faith. Their stance has rendered them like a field yielding only displeasing things, which is doomed to be burned. The field will be vacant, bereft of growth.

According to A Reader’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, the phrase “things that accompany salvation,” may be translated, “things that belong to salvation,” verse 9. When one is saved, the virtues Peter described are available through Christ; we are to grow in them through the Holy Spirit who abides in us. The writer was reminding them of this, trying to warn them of the consequences of backsliding, and allowing sin’s deceit to harden their heart. If they continued to regress, it would become humanly impossible to reach them any longer. Only God could reach them, and that likely by an act of stern discipline. James wrote, “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that anyone who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins,” James 5:19-20. Also see Jude 1:22-23; Galatians 6:1. We are to reach out to fellow believers going out of the way, and to reach out to them in love. “Above all things have fervent love for one another, for, ‘love will cover a multitude of sins,’” 1st Peter 4:8. Yet there comes a time when even the Holy Spirit no longer encourages a Christian to intercede on behalf of a straying brother: “If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin which does not lead to death, he will ask (in prayer), and [God] will give him life (will spare his life) for those who commit sin not leading to death. There is sin leading to death. I do not say that he should pray about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is sin not leading to death,” 1st John 5:16-17.

There will be Christians, saved by grace through faith in Christ alone, that enter eternity in shame, rather than in honor. Instead of serving the Lord Christ, they serve only themselves. James says reach for such men while there is time. Peter adds that this must be done in a spirit of love. John contributes, and says that prayer to God is a potent vehicle to cause repentance on the sinner’s behalf, so that God may spare their life. But there will come a time when God may no longer listen to your intercession. John does not forbid prayer on behalf of such a one; he simply lets us know the Holy Spirit does not expressly encourage it. The passage in Hebrews 6:4-9 aligns with these teachings to provide a vivid picture of salvation, growth, and Christ’s faithfulness. It reveals the attainment or loss of reward. The warnings are austere; in fact, some of the most grim to be found in Scripture, but they do not teach conditional salvation. I am finally convinced they are not hypothetical, either.

The New Testament describes the life we presently have through faith in Jesus Christ our Lord as “eternal,” or “everlasting,” more than 40 times. There are likewise scores of similar passages which allude to the same, see John 1:12-13; Acts 13:39; 16:31; Romans 4:4-5; 10:9-11, etc. Consequently, there is no single verse in the Bible that declares in equally plain language that a Christian may lose their eternal salvation and be cast into Hell. There are verses that could be isolated and bent out of context to suit such a doctrine. But if God wanted us to know that we could forfeit eternal life by disobedience, He would have just as plainly said so. The passages which speak of receiving eternal life as a free gift from God the moment one believes in Christ are overwhelming. Here are a score of verses which clearly state that a believer has eternal life the moment they believe:
1. John 3:15, “whoever believes in [Jesus] should not perish but have eternal life.”
2. John 3:16, “whoever believes in [Jesus] should not perish but have everlasting life.”
3. John 3:36, “he who believes in the Son has everlasting life.”
4. John 5:24, “he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life.”
5. John 6:40, “everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and [Jesus] will raise him up at the last day.”
6. John 6:47, “I (Jesus) say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life.”
7. John 10:28, “I (Jesus) give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.”
8. John 17:3, “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.”
9. Romans 6:23, “the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
10. 1st Timothy 1:16, “However I (Paul) obtained mercy…as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”
11. Titus 1:2, “in hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began.”
12. Titus 3:7, “having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
13. 1st John 5:13, “These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.”

Retention of eternal life is addressed as being entirely God’s work. The Son will cast no one out who comes to Him, John 6:37. Jesus prays that none whom the Father gave Him be lost, John 17:11-12. Peter reminds us that it is God’s power that keeps us, 1st Peter 1:5. We are clearly informed that God is able to keep us from falling, Jude 1:24. Jude writes, “To those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ,” (Jude 1:1) to inform the saints that one’s position in Christ is kept by Christ; namely because we are in Christ. When you believe on Jesus Christ for eternal life, you are added to the body of Christ, 1st Corinthians 12:27; Ephesians 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18; 2:19; 1st John 5:20. The Father has, “blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” He has, “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus,” Ephesians 1:3; 2:6. To ignore this body of Scriptural authority in a continued pursuit to teach conditional salvation is tantamount to confessing unbelief; you do not take our Lord’s words at face value, but strive to find someplace to interpose your own works and human merit as some means of retaining your salvation. You are also casting up idols (1st John 5:21) in the respect that you now have faith in your works, as well as faith in Christ. These two cannot mingle (Romans 4:4-5, 11:6; Galatians 2:16; 3:18)!

Hebrews 6:4-8 is not a passage that teaches the reality of conditional salvation. Nor is it some hypothetical situation that no one will ever find themselves in, for many present day Christians of good standing in the public eye have fallen by the way. It is a dire warning to believers to take heed to follow the doctrine and to be led by the Spirit of Christ. Sin’s deceit is subtle like the serpent of Eden, and it will harden those whose eyes aren’t focused on our Lord, and the miraculous salvation and freedom He won for us at the cross. “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you,” 1st Timothy 4:16. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall,” 1st Corinthians 10:12. Can a Christian fall from grace? If by this you mean, “Can a Christian lose sight of their place in Christ and live like the unsaved, forfeiting their reward and suffering the Lord’s discipline?” I would sadly have to say ‘yes’. But if you mean, “Can a saint lose their position in Christ, forfeit salvation, be disinherited, and be thrust instead into Hell?” I have to adamantly respond ‘no’. Do we think so little of our God? “The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms,” Deuteronomy 33:27. I present my exploration of this passage with the utmost sincerity and sobriety. I leave you who are spiritual to judge what I say.

1 comment:

  1. It IS as The Messiah testified, "That they might know YOU The ONLY TRUE G-D".......

    And as Paul re-inforced, "There is but ONE G-D, Father of ALL".......

    And The Messiah ascended unto His G-D and Father(Creator) and testified that His G-D and Father(Creator) was also The G-D and Father of His Brethren".......

    The ONE and ONLY TRUE G-D, Father(Creator) of ALL, HE has no g-d for HE IS G-D, and HE has no Father(Creator) for HE IS Father(Creator) of ALL.......

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world, for "the WHOLE(not just a portion) world is under the control of the evil one"(IJN5:19) indeed and Truth.......

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