The Most Misunderstood Verses In The Bible (Updated) – Hebrews 6:4-6 – Once Saved.org
 

The Most Misunderstood Verses In The Bible (Updated) – Hebrews 6:4-6

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Today, I’m providing an update to a video I did a couple years ago, providing a little more detail and perspective. It’s a look at THE MOST MISUNDERSTOOD verses in the entire Bible, the infamous Hebrews 6:4-6. These three verses have terrified many a Christian into thinking that they’ve lost their salvation with no hope of ever getting it back. But is that what these verses are saying? Nope. Not at all. Let’s look into it.

Here are the verses:

Hebrews 6:4-6, KJV

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6

On the surface, these verses can sound like they are talking about a Christian who falls away and loses salvation. If you are one of those who thinks that, then you had better go all the way with it, for this verse says that if you do lose it, it is not just difficult or unlikely to get it back, but IMPOSSIBLE to repent and get it back, which right from the start contradicts other Scripture, like 1 John 1:9.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 KJV)

There are many other verses I could list that would conflict with this verse if this verse is talking about a Christian losing salvation. That should be an immediate red flag that loss of salvation is not what these verses are talking about.

So what are these verses actually saying?

Let’s look at these verses in context, where we’ll see that, far from being a scary chapter about losing salvation, chapter 6 is actually one of the strongest chapters in the Bible about how you can NEVER lose salvation, even referring to Jesus as the “anchor of our souls.” If your soul is anchored, it’s not going anywhere.

So let’s start with the central problem that the writer is addressing and the theme of this chapter.

The Central Problem

The central problem being addressed, not only in this chapter, but in the entire book of Hebrews, is that some of the Jewish people in the church were still on the fence about Jesus, not yet trusting in Him for salvation, and were starting to leave the church to go back to the synagogues and Temple worship. They had heard the Gospel, seen the power of God, but still had doubts about whether Jesus could save them. That was causing saved believers in the church who had trusted in Christ for their salvation to start questioning their own faith.

This Jewish church was a mixed congregation made up of three groups:

  1. Those Who Were Not Saved – those who were attending church, hearing the Word of God, taking part in the service, but who have not yet made a commitment to trust in Christ for their salvation. They were still on the fence. And many of them were now starting to leave the church and go back to the old system of Temple worship and the sacrificing of animals as the means to pay for their sins.
  2. Immature Christians – those who were saved but hadn’t matured in their faith. They were still struggling with sin, basic issues of faith and learning to trust God. Because they were immature in their faith, they were being influenced by the first group of unsaved people in the church who were starting to go back to Temple Worship.
  3. Mature Christians – those who had moved beyond the basics of salvation to establish a deeper walk of discipleship with Christ, walking in His strength and holiness daily.

These were the three groups of people that existed in that first century church. These same three groups exist in all churches. In every church today, there will be some who are not yet saved, many who are saved but immature in their faith, and then a core group of mature believers. 

Theme: Faith and Spiritual Maturity

The theme of chapter 6, and really the purpose of the entire book of Hebrews, is faith and spiritual maturity, trying to push people along the path, moving them from unbelief, if they are not yet saved, to saving faith and then on to spiritual maturity. So the theme of chapter 6 is that of encouraging everyone to move on toward faith and spiritual maturity.

With this central problem and theme, let’s now look at these verses in context, understand exactly what they mean and what the author is saying. And we’ll also prove that these verses DO NOT say that you can lose your salvation.

Chapter 6 In Context

Chapter 6 begins with the word, “Therefore.”

“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,” (Hebrews 6:1 KJV)

As others have pointed out, you first need to ask the question: What is the word, “therefore,” there for? It’s there to connect this chapter to what was just said in the previous chapter. In the original Greek letter to the Hebrews, there were no chapter divisions. So we have to go back to Chapter 5, starting in verse 12, to see what topic the author is addressing. Hebrews chapter 5: 

For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe. But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” (Hebrews 5:12-14 KJV)

In these verses, the author is introducing the topic of spiritual maturity, telling these saved Jewish believers that they should at this point be teachers of the Word of God, but instead they are still immature and, in fact, need to be taught again the “first principles” or basics about God’s Word. He’s introducing the topic of spiritual maturity.

It is with this introduction in Chapter 5 that Chapter 6 takes place. The central theme or topic is moving on toward faith and spiritual maturity to where one can bear fruit for God.

So with this introduction, chapter 6 then begins with an imperative to move forward into spiritual maturity in Christ.

“Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection (MATURITY); not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit.” (Hebrews 6:1-3 KJV)

The author is urging these Jewish believers to move on to perfection. This word “perfection” is the Greek word, “teleiotēs,” which means moral and spiritual completeness. He’s urging them to move on toward spiritual maturity, to move beyond the basic elementary teachings of the faith, and certainly not to go backwards, back to the prior Jewish traditions of Temple worship that merely pointed toward Christ. All of those traditions of Temple worship and the Law were there to expose mankind’s sinfulness before a perfectly holy God and our need for a Savior. They pointed the people to Christ. 

But now that Christ has come, the author is telling the people to not go back to that former tradition that merely pointed to Christ. They now had the real Christ. But some weren’t believing that and were going backwards, back to the Law and Temple Worship. They weren’t yet believing that Jesus was the Christ Who is the fulfillment of all the traditions of the Law and the Temple. 

The author uses an interesting phrase here: He says that were to not lay again the foundation of “repentance from dead works.” What are the dead works?

He lists two in particular that sound familiar but are not what a modern-day Christian would think: baptisms and the laying on of hands.

As modern-day Christians, it’s easy to confuse these two terms with Christian church terminology: As used here, the word “baptisms” does not refer to being baptized after trusting in Jesus. To a Hebrew, the people to whom this letter is addressed, the word baptisms refers to the ceremonial washings that were done during Temple worship for the cleansing of sin. The Greek word baptismos also means “washings” and notice that it’s plural, not referring to a single baptism of faith that a Christian would make toward Christ, but multiple baptisms, multiple washings that Jews at that time did repeatedly on account of sin.    

Similarly, and phrase “laying on of hands” does not referring to the Christian practice where a pastor or elder would lay hands on someone, for example, to commission them to go and do ministry work. Instead, this term refers to when Jews would lay their hands on the animal about to be sacrificed to transfer their sins to the animal, as described in Leviticus 1:

“And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him.” (Leviticus 1:4 KJV)

These are what the author referred to as “dead works.” He calls them “dead” because these rituals had no power to save anyone. They were just a foreshadow of the perfect sacrifice for sin that was coming, namely, Jesus. And now that Jesus had come, there was no longer any need to go back to the ritual washings or the laying of hands on an animal sacrifice to transfer sins. All that was just a picture of the coming Messiah, Jesus. 

The author is telling these Jewish believers, “Don’t go backwards to the things that were a mere foreshadow of Christ. You now have Christ!”

Even the other things he mentioned – faith toward God, resurrection of the dead, eternal judgment – were not bad things but were merely the foundations of the faith that were there to prepare the way for Christ. But they now had the real thing. They now had Christ. And the author was telling them not to go back to those foundational teachings but to move forward to maturity in faith toward Christ. 

This now brings us to the most misunderstood verses in the Bible:

Hebrews 6:4-6

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghostand have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6 KJV)

The key to understanding these verses is to identify which group of people the author is referring to. These verses are speaking to those in the church who were not yet saved and were deciding to go back to Temple Worship. These verses are NOT referring to believers.

The Identity of Who is Being Described in Verses 4-6

I want to quickly go through 5 ways we can tell that these are not believers.

  1. The Vocabulary Used To Describe Them
  2. The Vocabulary NOT Used To Describe Them
  3. Verse 9 – Things That Accompany Salvation 
  4. Change In Pronouns In Verses 4-6
  5. Other Scripture

Let’s look at each of these.

1. The Vocabulary Used To Describe Them

Verses 4-6 uses specific terms to describe these people:

They Were Enlightened – In other words, they had heard the Word of God and the Gospel message. They knew about Jesus and what He had done. But they hadn’t necessarily acted on it. It says they were just enlightened. I could have been enlightened about a free food giveaway at McDonalds, but that doesn’t mean I went there. I was just enlightened about it. 

They Had Tasted Of The Heavenly Gift, and Tasted The Good Word of God And The Powers Of The World To Come – This word “taste” means to sample. If I sample food in a grocery store, I’ll first taste it and then I can decide whether to buy it or not buy it. By being in the church, these unbelievers had sampled the Gospel message and the Word of God about Christ. They had even witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit moving in that first century church. But that’s all they did was sample it. They tasted it. In other words, it hadn’t gone beyond the tasting stage to where there was real commitment. 

This word “taste” was also used in Hebrews 2:9 to describe how Christ “tasted death.” How did Christ “taste” death? He only sampled it in the sense that He was dead only 3 days before He resurrected into a new eternal body.  Death could not hold Him. There are people who have been dead for thousands of years and are still to this day in a state of death, waiting for their eternal bodies. They are experiencing death in the fullest sense. But Jesus? As far as suffering and dying is concerned, He experienced suffering and dying to it’s fullest. But death itself He merely sampled for 3 days. He “tasted” death.

They Were Made Partakers Of The Holy Ghost – This does not mean they were saved but merely partook of and witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit working in their lives and in the lives of people in the church. Is it possible to partake of the Holy Spirit without being saved? Yes. A good example would be healings, which were common in first century church history. Someone who was healed was made a partaker of the Holy Spirit in the sense that they received and experienced the work and power of the Holy Spirit in their lives firsthand to heal them. But that doesn’t mean they were saved. They just partook of the blessings of the Holy Spirit. 

An unbeliever can not only partake of Holy Spirit’s blessings but can even be sanctified by the Holy Spirit in the sense that they are set apart for blessings just because they are in the presence of other believers. But that also doesn’t mean they are saved.

According to Scripture, can an unbeliever be “sanctified” just by being with other Christians? Absolutely. 

“For the unbelieving husband is sanctified by the (believing) wife, and the unbelieving wife is sanctified by the (believing) husband: else were your children unclean; but now are they holy.” (1 Corinthians 7:14 KJV)

The word “sanctified” just means “set apart.” This doesn’t mean that the unbelieving husband or the unbelieving wife is saved. It just means they are sanctified or set apart by the Holy Spirit to receive the covenant blessings that God extends to that marriage because of the believing spouse. That includes God’s blessing of provision, protection and favor that the unbelieving husband or unbelieving wife now receives because he or she is joined to a believing spouse.

The same is true in the church. An unbeliever who starts attending a church becomes sanctified in the sense that he or she is now set apart from other unbelievers who are not attending church. That unbeliever who attends church comes under the blessings and protection that God extends to that entire church. That doesn’t mean they’re saved, just that they are coming under a certain level of protection and blessings from God, through the Holy Spirit, that they would not have received had they not attended the church. It is the Holy Spirit that protects and empowers a church with these blessings. These unbelievers are being made partakers of the Holy Spirit in that sense. In never says in verse 4-6 that they were indwelt with the Holy Spirit. They just partook of the Holy Spirit.

They crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame – I’ve heard it said that this proves that these are Christians losing their salvation because this verse shows that they once accepted Christ and that, after they lost their salvation, if they tried to turn back, they would be crucifying Christ afresh, again, a second time. But that’s not what this verse is saying. This verse doesn’t speak about accepting Christ, but about crucifying Him.

To understand this verse, you have to put yourself in the place of a Jewish person in that first century Jewish church. These people had a history of practicing Temple worship. Then they heard about this person Jesus, how He might be the Christ. They were starting to believe to the point where they left the Temple and were now attending a church. They heard the Gospel, understood the Word of God, and witnessed the power of the Holy Spirit moving in that church. But after all that, they just couldn’t commit to believing that Christ’s blood alone was sufficient to save them. So they left and went back to Temple worship. 

When they then sacrificed that first animal for their sins, what statement were they making? That salvation through faith in Christ alone is false. They were agreeing with the very people who put Christ to death. For if Christ wasn’t Who He said He was, if He wasn’t in fact God and if faith in His blood alone was not the only means to wash away sin, if all that was not true, then according to Jewish Law, He deserved to die. When these unbelievers left the church and made that first animal sacrifice for their sins, they were publicly declaring that Jesus was a liar Who deserved to be put to death. They were crucifying Christ to themselves afresh, publicly rejecting Him and agreeing with those who killed Him, putting Him to open shame, for every priest in that Temple knew that these people had come out of the church and were now publicly renouncing Christ. They were crucifying Christ afresh, putting Him to open shame. That’s what this verse means.

The same is true of unbelievers today who reject the Gospel. Their rejection says that they are agreeing with those who killed Jesus, that Jesus isn’t Who He claimed to be. They are crucifying Christ afresh to themselves, putting Him to open shame. For if Christ isn’t in fact God and if His blood isn’t able to wash away sins, then He is the worst liar of all and deserved to die.

  

 So these terms used in Hebrews 6 (enlightened, tasted, being made partakers, crucifying to themselves the Son of God afresh) all refer to an unbeliever who has come under the teaching and blessings of the church but then decided to reject the Gospel. These terms are not referring to saved believers.

2. Vocabulary NOT Used To Describe Them

Another way to show that verses 4-6 are referring to unbelievers is to look at the descriptive words that are NOT used to describe these people. Throughout the New Testament, there is a common vocabulary used to describe saved believers, words like justified, redeemed, regenerated, born again, forgiven, adopted into God’s family, child of God, spotless, without blemish, holy, purified, saints. None of these commonly used words to describe saved believers are used in Hebrews 4-6. That’s because verses 4-6 are not talking about saved believers. These verses are talking about people who experienced things that came close to salvation but still fell short of it.

3. Verse 9 – Things that Accompany Salvation

“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.” (Hebrews 6:9 KJV)

In this verse, the author is clearly talking to believers for it starts out with the word “beloved.” And what does it say? That “we are persuaded of better things of you, things that accompany salvation.” So immediately, he is drawing a contrast to the people he referenced in verses 4-6 and the saved believers in the church. Why would he use the term “that accompany salvation?” Because he is drawing a contrast between things that do not accompany salvation (verses 4-6, 8) and things that do accompany salvation (verse 9 through the end of the chapter). From verse 9 through the end of the chapter, he is again talking to believers and transitions to talking about things that accompany salvation.

4. Change In Pronouns In Verses 4-6

Another proof that verses 4-6 refers to unbelievers is the change in pronouns. The chapter beings with the author addressing believers in the church in verses 1-3:

Speaking To Believers (verses 1-3):

“…let us go on unto perfection…” (Hebrews 6:1 KJV)

“And this will we do, if God permit.” (Hebrews 6:3 KJV)

Then there’s a shift in pronouns – no longer “us” and “we” but “those” and “they.” Clearly, the author is not speaking about the same group of believers but about some other group. 

Speaking About Others (verses 4-6 – shift to third person):

“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened…” (Hebrews 6:4 KJV)

“If they shall fall away…” (Hebrews 6:6 KJV)

“… seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh…” (Hebrews 6:6 KJV)

Again Speaking To Believers (verse 9 – end of chapter)

“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation,….” (Hebrews 6:9 KJV)

“For God is not unrighteous to forget your work …” (Hebrews 6:10 KJV)

The author clearly draws a distinction between the saved believers in the church and this other group being referenced in verses 4-6. Who is this other group being referenced in verses 4-6? It could be that the author is speaking in a general sense to warn believers. But wouldn’t it have been better for him to speak directly to those saved believers if these verses applied to them – “If YOU should fall away” instead of “If THEY should fall away?” This change in pronouns isn’t conclusive in and of itself, but when you combine this with the other things I’ve mentioned, including verse 9 where the author says he is “persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation,” which even further distances these believers from verses 4-6, this gives a pretty good chance that this change in pronouns in verses 4-6 also shows that saved believers are not in view here.

5. Other Scripture

Other Scripture tells us that Hebrews 6:4-6 is not describing a believer abandoning the faith and losing salvation. In 1 John chapter 2, the believers in that first century church asked the Apostle John about people who appeared to be believers but who had then apparently renounced their faith and left the church. His response:

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19 KJV)

According to John, those who leave the church and walk away from faith in Christ were never saved, even though they may have appeared to be saved. In fact, John doubles down on this point by saying that if they had been saved, there was “no doubt” (that means 100% certainty) that they would have stayed. 

According to John, there is no such thing in Scripture as a saved believer who becomes apostate. A believer may fall into sin or become confused about his or her faith and drift away for a time, but if that person has truly been saved they will always come back.

The writer of Hebrews also agrees with this in chapter 3:

“For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;” (Hebrews 3:14 KJV)

People who believe that you can lose your salvation like to quote this verse as proof, but this verse does not say “you will be made partakers of Christ” if you hold your confidence till the end. It says “we are made partakers of Christ” if we hold our confidence till the end. In other words, holding our confidence till the end is showing evidence that you are already a partaker of Christ. It’s no different that John saying, “if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us…” They would have endured to the end. Enduring to the end, just like bearing fruit, shows evidence that you are already saved. We’re not saved by enduring and we’re not saved by bearing fruit. These are not requirements to get saved or to stay saved. These things just show evidence of salvation. A person who is truly saved will endure and will bear fruit.

In Hebrews 3, he’s warning those who were thinking about leaving the church that they were giving evidence that they were not saved. Enduring to the end is not a condition for being saved. It is an evidence that you are saved. 

But for a Christian who is saved, they will not drift off into apostasy and stay there. The reason for this is that the moment we are saved we become a child of God and are indwelt and sealed by God’s Holy Spirit until the day of redemption (Ephesians 1:13-14, 4:30).

“…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV)

Every saved Christian has been purchased for God by the blood of Christ. After we believe in Christ, we are indwelt with the Holy Spirit, which means God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. And He remains there “until the redemption of the purchased possession,” until the day of redemption when God will give us our eternal bodies.

As believers, God’s Holy Spirit is sealed within us. So if a believer becomes confused about his or her faith and walks away from it, the Holy Spirit is still there inside, testifying about the truth of Jesus. Not only that, but God is working in that believer’s life through chastening, discipline, circumstances, His Word and other means to pull that child of God back. That’s why no saved believer can ever fall away into apostasy and stay there. God will be faithful to pursue that wayward believer and bring him or her back.

Jude 24 says it is God Who keeps us from falling:

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 24 KJV)

While God’s Word instructs us to stay in the faith, ultimately, it is God Who keeps us from falling and He has many means to keep hold of His children, including stern warning verses in the Bible. God doesn’t just sit idly by while His children plunge off into the abyss. God is a good Father Who loves His children. He will not let even one of His children fall into an eternal flame. 

Jesus told us that not a single saved believer would be lost:

“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me I SHOULD LOSE NOTHING, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that EVERY ONE which seeth the Son, and BELIEVITH ON HIM, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:39-40 KJV)

That’s a guarantee of salvation to every one who believes. And why is our salvation secure? Because it is God Himself Who keeps us from falling. So if our salvation is secure because God Himself is keeping it secure, then verses 4-6 cannot be talking about a believer who loses salvation. 

And if you are thinking about 2 Thessalonians chapter 2, where it talks about a great falling away into apostasy before the antichrist is revealed, that’s not talking about individual saved Christians falling into apostasy but about the church falling away from the teachings of the Gospel. As we get closer to the end of this age, we can even see that happening in the church today. Many churches today no longer preach the Gospel. That doesn’t mean saved believers are losing their faith. The church itself is falling away into apostasy. But every saved believer is secure in their faith. 

Even the same writer of Hebrews speaks of the security of our eternal salvation:

“For by one offering He hath PERFECTED FOR EVER them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14 KJV)

You can’t be perfected FOREVER if salvation can be lost.

And Hebrews ends with this powerful salvation assurance from God:

“I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” (Hebrews 13:5 KJV)

If we are perfected forever and God promises to never leave us nor forsake us, then Hebrews chapter 6 or chapter 10 or any part of Hebrews cannot be referring to a believer losing their salvation. 

So with these 5 proofs, now that we’ve identified that these are unbelievers who are being addressed in verses 4-6 and not believers who are losing salvation, let’s look at what the verses are saying about these unbelievers, for it is a warning to every unbeliever who turns away from the Gospel.

The Meaning of Verses 4-6

For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6

Quite simply, these verses are saying that if an unbeliever hears all the evidence of Jesus, about being saved through faith in Christ, has seen and understood what God’s Word says about Christ, understands the Gospel message, and has witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit confirming that Word — if, after seeing and understanding all this, the unbeliever still rejects Christ saying, “no, I don’t believe it, that’s not for me,” and turns away, then it will be impossible to renew them to repentance.

Notice that it doesn’t say “renew them to salvation.” We’re not talking about losing salvation. It says “renew them to repentance.” What does that mean? Repentance from what?

To understand the phrase, “Impossible to renew them again to repentance,” let’s go back to verse 1, where the author told us which repentance he’s referring to:

“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,” (Hebrews 6:1 KJV)

The word “repentance” in the Greek is the word metanoia. It simply means, “a change of mind.” The Jews in that church had “changed their minds” about Jesus to where they believed enough truth about Him to leave the Temple and start attending a church. They repented (changed their minds) about those dead works of the Temple that could not save them and were starting to believe in Christ. That doesn’t mean they were saved yet, any more than an unbeliever is saved when he or she starts considering Christ and decides to attend a church service. It just means they saw enough truth about Jesus to where many of them left behind, or changed their minds, about Temple worship and started attending the church. But not all of them were saved. Like an unbeliever today who attends a church service, some were just hearing the truth and agreeing with some of it but not trusting in it yet. They were just tasting it. And now some of them were starting to leave the church, ultimately deciding that they didn’t believe in Jesus above their prior Temple worship.

They were rejecting the Gospel and reverting back to Temple worship. They were returning to their former dead works. For those who did that, the author says it is impossible to renew them to that same place of repentance. This is not saying that God was closing the door on them or preventing them from repenting, but that it was impossible for them to return because they had already ruled out faith in Christ as a means of salvation and had hardened their hearts against the Gospel.

They had seen it all – the Gospel, Christ, the work of the Holy Spirit, miracles of healing, God’s Word of salvation, that Christ was crucified for their sins – and they rejected it. For those people, there was nothing more for them to see. They had seen it all and still rejected it. For them to repent of that unbelief and come back to the church would mean returning again to a position that they had already seen and rejected. 

What this means is that, for an unbeliever, there is a danger of hardening your heart to God. You can reach a point of no return where you’ve heard the message of the Gospel so many times and rejected it to where it becomes impossible to go back. You would have to re-accept a position you’ve already firmly and publicly rejected. 

It’s not that God doesn’t want you to come back or is preventing you from coming back. God loves it when people repent, turn from their sin and cry out to Him.  We see that all through Scripture. He welcomes that. But when a person has hardened their heart to the Gospel and found it to be deficient, deciding that salvation by God’s free gift of grace through faith in Christ won’t by itself save them, it becomes hard, even impossible, for them to come back to that position and believe in it with all their heart, with saving faith. An unbeliever who understands the Gospel and still says no can reach a point of no return where their heart becomes too hardened in unbelief.

Fall Away

This phrase “fall away” in verse 6 is an interesting word in the Greek. It is the Greek word word, parapiptō, which means “to fall alongside.” It is not the Greek word for apostasy, apostasia. It comes from two Greek words:

para – means “beside” or “near”

piptō – means “to fall down” or “to fail”

While its meaning can include apostasy, it more correctly means to fall or stumble alongside your faith. These unbelieving Jews who fell away believed there was some truth to this person, Jesus. That’s why they starting attending church. They believed part of the Gospel but not all of it.

So they didn’t become true apostates, no longer believing in God or Jesus. Instead, they stumbled alongside what little faith they had saying, “It’s not enough. Faith in Christ alone is just not enough to save me. I still need to do something myself to be saved,” which in their case, was returning to Temple sacrifices. They believed some of the Gospel but not all of it. 

This is the same problem reported in the book of Galatians, where Christians in the church were being pressured to observe feast days and other Temple traditions, adding those in with faith in Christ to be saved.

We see this also in the Corinthian church where some people in the church were believing some of the Gospel but not all of it, which Paul says is to believe in vain. What does it mean to “believe in vain?”

To answer that, let’s look at the passage where Paul defines the Gospel and warns people about believing in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:

“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the Gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:” (1 Corinthians 15:1-4 KJV)

From this, we can see that there are three parts to the Gospel:

  1. That Christ died for our sins
  2. That He was buried
  3. That He rose again on the third day

For you to be saved, you have to believe all three parts. If you only believe in one or two of them, it is not enough. You are believing in vain. In the case of the Corinthian church, how were they believing in vain? Some of them were not believing that Christ rose again from the dead. We know this because for the remainder of 1 Corinthians chapter 15, after introducing the topic of “believing in vain,” Paul speaks exclusively through the end of the chapter about the resurrection. Some in the church were not believing the resurrection, so they were not believing the entire Gospel. The parts they were believing were not enough. You have to believe the entire Gospel. They were believing in vain.

How about the Jews in Hebrews chapter 6 who were going back to Temple sacrifices? How were they believing in vain? They weren’t believing the first part of the Gospel, that Christ died to pay for all of their sins. They were saying that Jesus’ sacrifice was not enough. They still needed animal sacrifices. What faith they did have in Jesus was therefore not enough. They were believing in vain.

How about today? Can you think of any groups that are believing in vain today? I can think of one – those who hold that faith in Christ alone is not enough, that you still have to put an end to sin and obey all of Jesus’ commandments or you will not be saved. To them, the blood of Jesus is not enough to cover all of their sins. They have to add to what Jesus did by adding in their own obedience.  So salvation to them becomes a joint effort: “Jesus did His part but that’s not enough. I must also do my part.” They are believing in vain because they are not believing the entire Gospel. They believe parts of it, just not the part about His blood truly paying for all their sins – past, present and future.

They are rejecting the teaching of salvation through faith in Christ alone and instead embracing the false teaching that a person is saved through faith in Christ + things that they have to do. In other words, Christ’s sacrifice is not sufficient in and of itself.

As it says in Hebrews, they are falling away, parapiptō, falling alongside their faith. They are not falling into apostasy. But they are stumbling in their faith, falling alongside of it.

A Narrow Way

Faith in Christ for salvation is a narrow way, saying that it’s not up to you to earn your salvation, but that salvation is a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. To one side we see all other religions, things man decides he must do on his own to prove his worthiness before God. While on the other side we see apostates and humanists, those who reject the notion of God entirely or their need to be saved because of their own supposed-goodness. Christianity stands alone in the middle, a narrow way, saying that we are hopelessly guilty of sin before a perfectly holy God and our only hope is Jesus. Nothing we do can add to or subtract from what Christ has already done for us. Christ’s sacrifice is complete. He is the perfect offering and salvation comes only by believing in Him.

When we place our faith in Christ alone, believing He is God’s Son Who died in our place to pay our debt of sin before God with His blood, was buried and rose again on the third day, at that very moment we believe we are forever saved by God’s grace. Or as Paul and Silas replied to the jailer who asked them:

“Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved…” (Acts 16:30-31 KJV)

Salvation is that simple. It’s a simple Gospel message that tears down the pride of man, saying “nothing you do yourself is good enough, but what Christ did is perfectly complete and all you need.” And you have to believe all three parts of Gospel, or you are believing in vain.

What This Means To Us Today

So how do we apply this teaching today? I see three takeaways:

  1. Make sure you are saved before you reach a point of no return – There are many people today who attend church and believe the truth of God’s Word but aren’t saved. Like the unbelieving Jews in Hebrews 6, they’ve heard the Word, the Gospel, they’ve seen the Holy Spirit at work in the church, they’ve partaken of His blessings, they believe there’s truth there and have tasted it, but they haven’t committed their lives to Christ, calling out to Him and believing only in Him for their salvation.

    If you are not saved or not sure of your salvation, make sure you are saved today, before you become hardened to where you can no longer be saved.  The Bible says:

    “…now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (2 Corinthians 6:2 KJV)

    Don’t put it off any longer. How do we know if we’re truly saved? One of the ways is observing whether our lives are bearing fruit for Christ. When we are saved, God’s Holy Spirit comes to live inside us. He indwells us and changes us to be more like Christ. We become a new creation. That will affect how we live. We are not saved by bearing fruit, but having fruit in your life is a good indicator that your faith is real. If you say you believe in Jesus but there’s no change in your life and you are still living in sinful pleasures like the rest of the world, what evidence are you giving that you are truly saved? Is your faith real if nothing changes? Quite possibly not. That should be a red flag warning to you.

    In chapter 6, verses 7-8 point out this difference. In this example, the earth represents the person. One is a saved believer, the other not saved:

    [SAVED] “For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: [NOT SAVED] But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.” (Hebrews 6:7-8 KJV)

    Is there any fruit for Christ in your life? Which of these two do you identify more closely with? If it’s the second one, check your faith. Are you really saved? Or have you deceived yourself that you are saved but there’s no real evidence in your life of saving faith. If that describes you, get into God’s Word and go before God in prayer and stay there until you know you are saved. This is too important a thing to get wrong. God will not bar the way and stop you from coming to Him, no matter how badly you have sinned. God loves a repentant heart and is ready to forgive. His grace through faith in Christ will cover all sin. But it is only through Christ that God’s forgiveness is received. Faith in Jesus is the only way we can be forgiven. So the first takeaway is: make sure you are saved today!

  2. Don’t fall away from the Gospel that teaches salvation is a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. Don’t add to what Christ did to try and save yourself. And don’t take away from it, thinking it’s not enough. Believe in Christ alone to save you, nothing more. Salvation isn’t about what you do or don’t do. It’s about what Jesus did for you.

    Aren’t we to be obedient to Christ? Of course. But that has to do with discipleship, not salvation, not trying to prove our worthiness before God with our own efforts. Or as Paul put it, his goal was to be:

    “… found in Him (Jesus), not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Philippians 3:9 KJV)

    Don’t add to or take away from the simple Gospel. We are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone. Then, after salvation, we become disciples, learning to obey and be transformed to be like Christ. Salvation is by faith alone. Discipleship is by works, our works of obedience in following Christ. Don’t mix the two or you’ll get a works-based Gospel, which is not the Gospel at all. 

  3. We can have complete assurance of our salvation in Christ

Assurance of Salvation in Christ

And for this, we get to the last part of Hebrews 6, which is one of the strongest defenses in the Bible of how we can have assurance of our eternal salvation in Christ and how our salvation can never be lost because it is based on the promise of God. Starting in verse 9 and through the rest of the verses, the author’s now getting to the point of the whole chapter: about their need to reach spiritual maturity and to be assured of their salvation. For the rest of this chapter, the author talks about how we can NEVER lose our salvation because salvation is based, not on our performance or obedience, but on the promise of God. Let’s look at that.

First, the author, far from being concerned that these believers might lose their salvation, is totally confident that they will move on to maturity and do the good works that accompany salvation (v.9-10).

“But, beloved, we are PERSUADED OF BETTER THINGS OF YOU, AND THINGS THAT ACCOMPANY SALVATION, though we thus speak.  For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward His Name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” (Hebrews 6:9-10, KJV)

It says that the Father will be faithful to remember their good works. Notice the hope in these verses about the very same believers. The author was never talking about those saved believers losing their salvation or reaching a point where they could no longer repent and turn toward God. Instead, he urges them to continue on in the faith.

Second, he urges them to be diligent followers of Christ so that they can inherit the promises of God (v.11-12).

And we desire that every one of you do SHEW THE SAME DILIGENCE TO THE FULL ASSURANCE OF HOPE UNTO THE END: That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” (Hebrews 6:11-12 KJV)

Notice that it says “promises,” plural. He is not speaking just about salvation alone but also about the promises of eternal rewards that will be given for a life of faithful service. Beyond salvation, we will be rewarded for becoming obedient disciples of Christ.

Third, the author says that we are saved based on God’s promise, not our own behavior and uses Abraham as an example (v.13-18).

For when God made promise to Abraham, because He could swear by no greater, HE SWARE BY HIMSELF, Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. For men verily swear by the greater: and an oath for confirmation is to them an end of all strife. Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a STRONG CONSOLATION, who have fled for refuge to LAY HOLD UPON THE HOPE SET BEFORE US: (Hebrews 6: 13-18 KJV)

This promise of God to save us and reward us is our “strong consolation” by which we can lay hold of the hope set before us. What is that hope? That Jesus alone saves us and rewards us. Jesus is the hope set before us. And that promise of God of salvation and reward through Jesus cannot be broken for God does not lie. It’s important to note that it says God swore by Himself. In other words, there aren’t two parties to this promise of salvation – God and us. God is not saying that He will do His part as long as we do our part. No, it says God swore by Himself. It is a unilateral promise of God to save us by His Grace through faith in Christ and, because salvation depends only on God’s promise, we can have strong consolation that He will save us and do what He promised.

This same teaching that our salvation is based solely on the promise of God and not on our own obedience or on anything that we do is seen also in Galatians, where Paul states in chapter 3:

“For if the inheritance be of the law, it is no more of promise: but God gave it to Abraham by promise.” (Galatians 3:18 KJV)

Our eternal salvation rests not on our obedience and faithfulness, but entirely on His promise and His faithfulness. That is why we can never lose it.

Fourth, in probably the strongest statement of our security in Christ, the author says Jesus is the “ANCHOR” of our soul (v. 19).

“Which hope we have as an ANCHOR of the soul, both SURE AND STEDFAST, and which entereth into that within the veil;” (Hebrews 6:19 KJV)

An anchor keeps a ship from being swept out to sea and lost. Jesus is our anchor Who keeps us from being lost. It says He is “sure and steadfast,” meaning we can trust that we can never be lost from Him.

That is why Paul said in Romans, chapter 8:

“For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)

Once we are saved, nothing can separate us from Christ. If Jesus is the anchor of your soul, then your soul isn’t going to drift away and become lost. Because of Jesus, your anchor, your soul isn’t going anywhere. That’s why it is impossible to lose your salvation.

And then fifth, Jesus is our FORERUNNER, going before us, forever giving us access to God (v.20)

“Whither the FORERUNNER is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec.” (Hebrews 6:20 KJV)

It says it is Jesus Who has “entered into the veil” that separates mankind from God, going as our forerunner to give us access forever to the Father. It’s all about Jesus. He is our High Priest Who won our salvation and so we should therefore strive on to spiritual  maturity.

Do you see how different this chapter is, far from the incorrect, scary interpretation of Hebrews 6:4-6 that says you can lose your salvation and never get it back? This chapter does have a warning to unbelievers, but for believers in Christ, it is a chapter of reassurance and of urging believers on to faith and maturity, so that they can bear fruit for God. The chapter ends with this section where we are given total assurance of our salvation and the promises of God, even comparing this hope in Jesus as our anchor that will keep us “sure and steadfast” from ever getting lost. Hebrews chapter 6 is, in fact, one of the strongest chapters in the Bible that proves you can never lose your salvation.

So, in conclusion, Hebrews 6:4-6 is about:

  • Reaching spiritual maturity, NOT loss of salvation
  • For unbelievers, it gives a warning that salvation is found only in Jesus, that if they turn back and fall away after hearing the truth, then they can reach a point of no return where they can become forever lost.
  • But for believers, the author gives assurance of salvation, urging everyone to press on toward believing in Christ and attaining spiritual maturity, resting  in the fact that Jesus is the anchor of our souls, both sure and steadfast. 

There is nothing in this chapter about a saved believer in Christ losing their salvation. Instead, we can have assurance in Jesus, our hope, Who is our perfect High Priest forever, giving us access “behind the veil” to the Father.

………..

Finally, I do this in all my videos, if you are not 100% sure that you are saved, that if you died today, God would welcome you into heaven, I urge you to make your commitment to Jesus secure right now. Here’s a prayer for salvation that you can pray. But keep in mind that a prayer does not save you. You are saved only when you place your trust in Jesus alone, believing in your heart that He died to pay your debt of sin to God and that He rose from the dead to show you the eternal life that He offers. This prayer, then, is just a way of formalizing that decision, putting a stake in the ground, saying that you are trusting in Him and never going back. If that’s what you would like to do, please pray with me:

“Lord, I have sinned and I need you to save me. I have not lived the way You desire me to live. Against You and You alone have I sinned. I am so sorry. From this point forward, I want to dedicate my life to You. I believe that Your Son Jesus shed His blood and died on the cross to pay for my sins, that He was buried and that He rose from the dead to show me the new eternal life You have for me. I believe solely in Jesus to save me, that He paid my debt of sin 100%. Thank you for this forgiveness. Please save me, live inside of me, be my Savior and Lord, and enable me to live for You. In Jesus Name I pray. Amen.”

If this expresses what you truly believe in your heart, know that you are eternally saved. God gives you this assurance:

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV)

Thank you for watching.


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