Eternal Security – Objections from the Book of Hebrews
By: Dr. John Weldon
|By: Dr. John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon; ©2001|
|Several passages in Hebrews are classic examples cited for the loss of salvation, principally Hebrews 6:4-8 and 10:26-31. Drs. Ankerberg and Weldon talk about those this month.|
Eternal Security: Objections from the Book of Hebrews
Several passages in Hebrews are classic examples cited for the loss of salvation, principally Hebrews 6:4-8 and 10:26-31.
Consider Hebrews 6:4-8
- 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.
Notice first of all that if this verse teaches anything, it teaches that a person cannot be saved again for it says, “It is impossible… if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance….” But this is something that no one teaches who believes in the loss of salvation. Virtually everyone who believes Christians can lose their salvation also believes they can also be saved again.
Further, this is a good example showing how an unclear verse (proven by its many diverse interpretations) should not be allowed to nullify an already established doctrine.
It is certainly possible that such expressions as enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the Word of God, etc., refer to people who had been exposed to everything just short of salvation. There were certainly Jews who had come under the influence of God’s covenant blessings and had professed to turn from darkness to light. But had they truly received Jesus Christ as their Messiah? Nothing was more difficult for a Jew in the first century than to accept Jesus as his Messiah.
The author of Hebrews is writing to a very mixed crowd, including committed believers, uncertain believers, uncertain unbelievers, and those who were apostatizing. So these kinds of exhortation are hardly out of place. If we examine the characteristics given in this verse, we see that all of them can refer to every unbeliever who comes under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, or who experiences the power of God. Even today unbelievers in church on Sunday taste the good Word; they are partakers of the Holy Spirit in his work of convicting them to believe in Jesus and are thus enlightened; they may even have witnessed miracles. Likewise, many of the Jews of the first century actually saw Jesus perform His mighty works of power—so with all this they certainly had become enlightened as to the truth. But what did these people do? Did they accept Jesus? No. They rejected the Son of God and subjected Him to public disgrace. This hardly indicates these people were true believers. According to verse 6, they were clearly rejecters of Jesus Christ. But having come so close to salvation, and having seen the mighty power of God and rejected it, it is virtually impossible that, having experienced what they did, they would ever turn to Jesus again.
- If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” and again, “The Lord will judge his people.” It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
Hebrews 10:26-31 is another passage with diverse interpretation. These verses are also speaking of unbelievers because of the severity of the conditions described.
If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of the judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God (Heb. 10:26-27).
First, notice that the passage refers to “the enemies of God”—a description that cannot biblically be applied to God’s own children.
Second, notice that verse 26 can be true for both the Christian and non-Christian. Christians do, at least at times, deliberately keep on sinning after having received the knowledge of the truth. But if we apply the verse to Christians, it would seem to teach the permanent loss of salvation.
Third, the larger context is more appropriately applied to the unbeliever. Why? Because what we read is especially true of the unbeliever, one who has heard the Gospel message, perhaps many times, and yet rejected it. After having heard it and rejected it, there is no sacrifice for sins because in rejecting the Gospel, the individual has “trampled the Son of God under foot,” and rejected the only source of forgiveness. This passage fits consistently with Hebrew unbelievers who had often heard the message of truth and yet rejected it. Note finally the encouragement of the author at the end of this chapter, “But we [believers] are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved” (verse 39).