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Hebrews 6:4-6, Can a Believer Fall Away and Be Lost?

Hebrews 6:4-6, Can a Believer Fall Away and Be Lost? Bookmark

Does not Hebrews 6:4–6 teach that a believer can fall away and be lost?

First, we must remember that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers at a time while the temple was still standing (Heb. 10:11).  Many Jews had embraced Christianity as a sect of Judaism merely, like the Pharisees and Essenes, but without perceiving that it was an exclusive religion which set aside Judaism and the Judaic sacrifices absolutely, leaving only Christ in their place.  The whole body of Jewish Christians were therefore addressed as being on the ground of profession, hence the exhortations of which this passage is one.  It will be remembered that in the Gospel of Matthew, which is also Jewish in its outlook from the 13th chapter on, the same exhortations frequently occur.  The peculiar peril of the Jewish professor was that he might, having taken Christianity only superficially, give it up and go back to the sacrifices, which would be in effect “crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to an open shame.”

The case supposed in the sixth chapter is not that of a mere unbeliever, because a mere sinner may at any time believe and turn to the Lord.  The case is one of a person who has stood in the full blaze of gospel light; he has been made a “partaker” of the Holy Ghost” in His convicting power (John 16:8–10) and has therefore tasted of the word of God and of the powers of the age to come.  The case is fully described by our Lord in Matthew 13:20, 21.  The seed of the word has found lodgment in his emotional nature.  Intellectually he is convinced.  Now if such an one goes back instead of going on to believe and be born again, it is impossible to renew him again to repentance.  We can never judge in any individual case, but warning is to be sounded out in the ears of professors, surely never more necessarily than in this day when so many are joining church after an emotional revival, without any real transaction with Jesus Christ about their sins.  That this is not a true Christian who goes back and is lost is certain from the great passages which teach unqualifiedly that such a person cannot be lost, such as John 10:28, 29; Ephesians 4:30, etc.

As to falling from grace, that a good Christian may do, and that millions of Christians have done.  They have lost the sense of the grace of God and are living under law; but falling from grace is not falling from salvation.  It is losing the joy of assurance and going back under the cold shadow of the law. Also (2 Pet. 3:17), we all fall from our steadfastness.  Again and again doubts as to God’s providence and fatherly care overcome us—we fall into despair and unbelief in many ways, but we do not fall into hell nor out of the hand of God, who keeps us.  The truth as to this whole matter, however, let me repeat; is to be ascertained first by distinguishing the Scriptures which relate to professors from those which relate to believers, and secondly, by establishing ourselves in the great truth of assurance.

Scofield, C. I. (1917). Dr. C. I. Scofield’s Question Box. (E. E. Pohle, Ed.) (pp. 10–12). Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute. (Public Domain)

 

 

Does not Hebrews 6:4–6 teach that a believer can fall away and be lost?

First, we must remember that Hebrews was written to Jewish believers at a time while the temple was still standing (Heb. 10:11).  Many Jews had embraced Christianity as a sect of Judaism merely, like the Pharisees and Essenes, but without perceiving that it was an exclusive religion which set aside Judaism and the Judaic sacrifices absolutely, leaving only Christ in their place.  The whole body of Jewish Christians were therefore addressed as being on the ground of profession, hence the exhortations of which this passage is one.  It will be remembered that in the Gospel of Matthew, which is also Jewish in its outlook from the 13th chapter on, the same exhortations frequently occur.  The peculiar peril of the Jewish professor was that he might, having taken Christianity only superficially, give it up and go back to the sacrifices, which would be in effect “crucifying the Son of God afresh and putting him to an open shame.”

The case supposed in the sixth chapter is not that of a mere unbeliever, because a mere sinner may at any time believe and turn to the Lord.  The case is one of a person who has stood in the full blaze of gospel light; he has been made a “partaker” of the Holy Ghost” in His convicting power (John 16:8–10) and has therefore tasted of the word of God and of the powers of the age to come.  The case is fully described by our Lord in Matthew 13:20, 21.  The seed of the word has found lodgment in his emotional nature.  Intellectually he is convinced.  Now if such an one goes back instead of going on to believe and be born again, it is impossible to renew him again to repentance.  We can never judge in any individual case, but warning is to be sounded out in the ears of professors, surely never more necessarily than in this day when so many are joining church after an emotional revival, without any real transaction with Jesus Christ about their sins.  That this is not a true Christian who goes back and is lost is certain from the great passages which teach unqualifiedly that such a person cannot be lost, such as John 10:28, 29; Ephesians 4:30, etc.

As to falling from grace, that a good Christian may do, and that millions of Christians have done.  They have lost the sense of the grace of God and are living under law; but falling from grace is not falling from salvation.  It is losing the joy of assurance and going back under the cold shadow of the law. Also (2 Pet. 3:17), we all fall from our steadfastness.  Again and again doubts as to God’s providence and fatherly care overcome us—we fall into despair and unbelief in many ways, but we do not fall into hell nor out of the hand of God, who keeps us.  The truth as to this whole matter, however, let me repeat; is to be ascertained first by distinguishing the Scriptures which relate to professors from those which relate to believers, and secondly, by establishing ourselves in the great truth of assurance.

Scofield, C. I. (1917). Dr. C. I. Scofield’s Question Box. (E. E. Pohle, Ed.) (pp. 10–12). Chicago: The Moody Bible Institute. (Public Domain)

 

 



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