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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?

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)

 

 

Asking the Right Question

Asking the Right Question

“So Jesus used this Illustration: ‘If you had one hundred sheep, and one of them strayed away and was lost in the wilderness, wouldn't you leave the ninety-nine others to go and search for the lost one until you found it?  And then you would joyfully carry it home on your shoulders.  When you arrived, you would call together your friends and neighbors to rejoice with you because your lost sheep was found.  In the same way, heaven will be happier over one lost sinner who returns to God than over ninety-nine others who are righteous and haven’t strayed away!’” (Luke 15:3-7 NLT)
“All of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God’s paths to follow our own” (Isaiah 53:6 NLT).

Bob Flynn, President/CEO

Ayoung man called me from northern Iraq in much anguish over the perceived loss of his salvation.  He had been engaged in a firefight and had inflicted casualties and had for the first time taken a human life.  War in the best of circumstances (if there is such a thing) is at best ghastly.  This warrior had experienced something that would change him forever.  He had killed someone created in the image of God and was suffering from the experience.  The reason God gave King David for denying him the privilege of building the temple was that he had blood on his hands.  This is the unseen red badge of courage that the warrior carries with him always (wounded deeply with no visible wound).  I suspect that if the truth be known, there are not many of us who contemplate the possibilities of combat before we enter the military.  I certainly did not.  I suspect that the most horrific experience for a believer would be to kill his brother in Christ in combat.  Those who have the ears to hear the Holy Spirit grieve will confirm that the soul would know if this event would occur.

For this young man the angst was real and the weight upon his heart was great! He thought he had lost his salvation because of his combat experience.  I suppose that in order to lose something one must first possess it. In the case of salvation one must recognize that we, the believers, are not the possessor but the possession!  If the question is, What is my salvation?, then I am looking for something that I had never possessed to lose.  If the question is, Who is my salvation?, then I will soon discover the correct answer.  In the former I am lost.  In the latter I am found.  Our salvation is in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ! He is not lost.  He is seated at the right hand of the Father.  The question then should be, Is He sufficient to keep me?

“As he loved the unsaved enough to give His Son to die for them, even when they were ‘yet without strength’ and ‘enemies’; ‘Much more then, being now justified by his blood’ and ‘reconciled,’ they shall be ‘saved from wrath through him,’ and ‘saved by his life.’ Such is the unchangeable love of God” (Lewis Sperry Chafer, Grace).

This young man had not sinned in the taking of life in combat. However, he was surely wounded by his experience.  Just as we are “without strength” when Christ died for us (Romans 5:6 KJV), we are often found “without strength” and bleeding from the wounds of life.  The New Living Translation says, “When we were utterly helpless.”  What has changed?  Are we not “utterly helpless” in Romans 6 when we are a slave to sin?  Are we not “ utterly helpless” in Romans 7 when we are under the law?  We can see the victory only when in Romans 8 we see a new law in effect, “the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus.”

Whenever parables are taught, I have noticed a consistent phenomena; We reach the wrong conclusion because we are asking the wrong question.  The aforementioned parable of the lost sheep is no exception.  When the parable of the good Samaritan is taught, the question always asked is, who is my neighbor?  The question taught by the parable is, whose neighbor am I.  When the parable of the Pharisee and the Publican is taught, the thought that invades the conscience is, “I am glad I am not like that Pharisee.  The lesson taught is, we are the Pharisee.  With the parable of the lost sheep it is easy to focus on our waywardness, “All of us like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6 NASB) and miss the “unchangeable love of God.”

“Now we who are strong ought to bear the weaknesses of those without strength and not just please ourselves” (Romans 15:1 NASB).

This young warrior just needed a hug and a reminder that God’s love is unfailing! Jesus said, “ I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand.  “My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29 NASB).  Eternal life given that is eternally secure in Christ Jesus! We are in good hands!


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