Monday, August 13, 2007

Hebrews 6:4-6

A verse was brought to my attention to refute my stance that a true believer can not lose his salvation. MikeT at Code Monkey Ramblings pointed out that Hebrews 6:4-6 seems to indicate that it is possible to "fall away" from the faith.

"It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace."
-Hebrews 6:4-6

This would not mark the first time I've heard this case. I think there are two things that are very important to remember when trying to discern this passage:

1. We must interpret the verses in context with the surrounding verses.
When I read the rest of chapter 6, it seems very obvious to me that Paul is warning the church that there will be false converts within the church. These are people who never leave behind "the elementary teachings about Christ" and go on to maturity. In the verses immediately following our text, Paul talks about two lands receiving rain. The first produced a useful crop, but the second produced thorns and thistles. Yet they both received the same rain.
In the same way, before I was a true beleiver, I received the Holy Spirit's teaching, I felt his presence, and I was granted a small taste of the gift. Yet if I had died in my sins, all those feelings and teachings would have meant nothing. I would have been burned up, just like the land that produced only thorns and thissles.

2. We must interperet the verses in context with the whole Bible.
As with any theology, we can make the Bible say nearly anything we want, if we try hard enough. However, when we read a passage that seems to state something contrary to a clear theme of the Bible, we must look into it. While this passage seems like it might be saying that it is possible to lose ones salvation, verses like Ephesians 1:13-14, John 10:27-29, 1 Peter 1:23, Ephesians 4:30, Philippians 1:6, Philippians 2:12-13, 1 Peter 2:5, Ephesians 2:20-22, and 2 John 1:2 tell us that it is not possible. (I could give you about fifteen more if you'd like.)
If we truly beleive that the Bible is 100% true and does not contradict itself, then Hebrews 6:4-6 must mean something else. I have provided above what I beleive it truly means.

See the post entitle Eternal Security to learn more.