Hebrews 6 Confirmed In Hebrew 9,10 And How It Affects "Once Saved, Always Saved"
Hebrews Chapter 6 And Once Saved Always Saved?
We just concluded the outlining of Hebrews 9 and 10, a fitting and complementary addition to the exegesis of Hebrew 6. Please refer to that work to find additional clarity in this chapter.
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,[the author is proceeding to go on to other matters beyond those that pertain to the conversion of the soul, matters that pertain to obtaining salvation by the doctrine of Christ and moving on to maturing into Christian life (going on to perfection). We concluded in chapters 9 and 10 that the evidence internally of this book points to Paul as the author(suggested also in 2 Peter 3:15). Paul is saying in this verse that we are not going to go over here of the turning away from dead works or those done in the temple in the sacrificial system, given that the epistle is addressed to Christian Jews, and turning in faith towards God.]
2 Of the doctrine of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. [baptisms, plural for there are two baptisms: the one Jesus Christ baptizes those that come to him, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:5 and 2:33) and then the baptism of water by immersion (Acts 2:41) that believers undergo as a public confession that they have turned to the Lord Jesus Christ, the symbolism of that which has occurred in the believer at conversion. Of the ordination of members of the church by the imposition of hands (Acts 6:5,6) for ministries to the body of Christ; of the resurrection of the dead in eternal glorified bodies and the doctrine of eternal damnation]
3 And this will we do, if God permit.[it is all about him and his will]
4 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, [for it is outside of the realm of possibilities that those who received the light (received Jesus, the light of the world and the truth of God), and tasted of the gift of righteousness (Rom 5:17) and have been baptized with the Holy Spirit (that which the Lord Jesus Christ does when one converts, Acts 1:5 2:33)]
5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, [and have had a taste of the word of God (taste and see that the Lord is good), and the powers of immortality and righteousness in the Messianic kingdom]
6 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. [this verse opens up with a hypothetical situation with the article "if" and follows with "they" shall fall away, not 'we' shall fall away. If it were possible to fall away to be brought back to repentance. We have to apply the bible's definition of repentance which is not sorrowing for sins as commonly and erroneously used, but it is a turning from that which they trusted in before. Paul borrows heavily here from 1 Thess 1, an epistle he wrote in 49 AD while Hebrews was written in the late 60's before his death by beheading. Paul says of the Thessalonians in 1:9 that they turned from idols in their work of faith (1:3). Paul is speaking that if they fall away to something other than Jesus Christ it would not be possible to get them to turn back once more to him they had once rejected, for there is no one else. If this were possible they would be crucifying the Son of God once again in shame for they previously rejected him. In continuing the thought, this is impossible. What is it that is impossible? It is impossible for one made a Christian and a child of God by Jesus Christ to fall away, so we are going to see what the Scripture says is the meaning of "fall away" for if it were possible then they would not be able to be brought back. And this we will address in the second part, "Once Saved Always Saved?"]
7 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: [a soil that receives the rains and produces the crops planted by the farmers, is a blessing from God]
8 But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. [but if that soil instead produces bad fruit, thorns and briers it is rejected of God and brought near to cursing thrown to be burned]
9 But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. [now the subject changes to you and is not any longer about they. Of you we are persuaded, that this we spoke before is not applicable]
10 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.[for God has seen the fruit of your work a labour of love and he is a righteous God that judges righteously. Paul uses the same phrase in 1 Thess 1:3 and refers to the Thessalonians labours in 1:9, that is the labour of love is shown by " serving the living and true God" and this they have done by their having ministered to the saints and still minister]
11 And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end: [again Paul borrows from 1 Thess 1:3, where the full assurance (patience) of hope is said to be (1:10) to wait for his Son from heaven, once again as we saw in the study in Hebrew 9 and 10 is alluding to the Lord Jesus Christ's return for his church which in their days they awaited for to be an event in their lifetimes.
12 That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises. [be diligent and follow after those that also by faith turned to God from idols, and are now serving the true and living God, patiently waiting for his Son from heaven by whose promises you receive the inheritance]
13 For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself, [the Abrahamic covenant was given by promise but also was ratified by an oath as God swore by himself above whom there is no one greater. God gave Abraham both a promise and an oath]
14 Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee. [promising blessings and a heritage to Abraham]
15 And so, after he had patiently endured, he obtained the promise. [likewise Abraham obtained the promise of his inheritance when the Lord Jesus went down to hell to get his own in Paradise home, taking captivity captive to the Father's house] END
Once Saved Always Saved?
I became interested in this topic when holding a home Bible study with some dear friends and colleagues. Two of the husbands who were religious but unbelievers consented to join us and participated even though it became obvious that they had planned to resist following certain tactics of denials. Nevertheless, progress was made till on occasions I would bring up the subject that salvation is of Jesus Christ alone, there being nothing that we could do to be saved or to lose that salvation (John 6:39) given that it is the Father's will for Jesus to lose nothing of those he had received and that believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit from that moment on. One of the wives would jump at me for saying that and would repeatedly bring me to the Hebrew 6 passage that we have just studied. Another housewife of the same charismatic persuasion would join her in ganging up against me for saying that we are secured in the Lord and that a child of God could not be lost. I just could not figure out that they held on to the teachings that a Christian could lose his salvation and it was up to him/her to stay saved once he had been born again. Why they chose to focus on this refutation rather than on the task at hand, to evangelize their unbelieving spouses was beyond comprehension but the home Bible study fizzled after that they decided to bring in the pastor that taught that doctrine in their church. We are still friends but I miss the getting together for Bible talk and worship over this issue.
In giving this deeper thinking, I wondered who came up with this phrase of "once saved always saved" and one of the top websites on this matter said that it came from the teachings of the Church of Christ or from the Catholic Church in an effort to deny its truthfulness. CARM's website says that this argument has been raging on for centuries. Rich Deem in Evidence for God has exhaustively explored the matter with hundreds of verses in coming to his conclusions. Another site is this one. The arguments that the wives in my narrative gave me were that a christian may chose a life of sin after that he had converted and this doctrine gave him license to 'do as he wills' living a desolute life and still be saved. Nothing could be further from the truth for the new birth makes one a new creature in Christ, and the Spirit of God comes to indwell us and by him the Father and the Son do to. Having the Godhead in us, how can we willy nilly go on sinning, quenching and grieving the Spirit of truth? That is not the estimation of the born again believers that I know.
Myself I was under the impression that this 'once saved always saved' came from the towers of academia and that the intent was to present it as an absurd position that derived from easy believism or the claim that if one says a prayer then one is in the club of believers, which indeed is absurd. Why do I say that? Because it is not biblical and it opposes John 1:12,13 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: 13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. I argue in this website in two page entries listed under "doctrines" above titled 'What makes a Person a Christian' and its subpage 'HS Baptism by Jesus Christ' that it is Jesus Christ alone that can make a person a Christian. Verse 13 above tells us that it is not of blood (not inherited from the family), not of the will of the flesh (not of the desire of our parents or pastor or teachers), not of the will of man (not because a person desires to be a Christian and says a prayer). We are born again to become the sons of God by the will of God, which is that the verse intends to convey.
God alone knows the heart and if any man, whosoever he may be, if he is willing to trust in Jesus Christ and prays to be saved it is Jesus himself who makes him Christian. Saying a prayer at a rally, reunion, fair, or retreat is not accompanied by a guarantee that we can give anyone that he is 'in' , only Jesus can decide that. All we do is make false converts when we take this lightly and are not grounded in Scripture in such a matter. Likewise signing a card saying at a men's meeting that one has made a 'decision for Christ' is used as a bragging tool of success as measured by the number of decisions. I say, leave this up to God and stop the nonsense. To encourage and exhort one who has received the gospel message of salvation is right and a follow up is the reasonable thing to do if at all possible, but I leave it up to the person to do it. The fear that he could die that night in an unsaved condition is bogus for if God had him on the list from before the foundation of the world, God will keep him alive till such time that he converts. We are not gods (thank God!) nor need to put on our shoulders a weight that we can not carry. The Holy Spirit convicts, not my eloquent language or matter of writting neither of which I brag about nor can. Personally I came to trust in Jesus Christ as the saviour alone 22 years ago, and my appetite for the Scriptures has escalated without boundaries. But we are not all alike nor can be, but all born again believers are works in progress so that no one can brag nor be vain in this matter. Some denominations subscribe to the doctrine of being 'slained in the spirit' as a work of conversion or empowering gifts such as the verbalizing of unintelligible guttural sounds called speaking in tongues. The slaying in the spirit is not a biblical doctrine and thus I do not subscribe to such a teaching given that it is of man and not God.
So then the next step was to do a Bible search to see how the Scriptures deal with the phrase "fall away", what is its intended meaning. This I had done with many other phrases but the one that comes to mind presently is the phrase to "pass away" which most understand as meaning to come to the very end and cease (as in a relative passing away to the beyond world to be here no longer). But pass away is described as the passing away of the clouds, that float out and are lost from sight. Or of waters that pass away or flow downstream in a brook. Or of us in our growing in maturity, that the old fades/moves on, passes away as the new comes in. To fall away is used in the Bible 23 times (16 OT and 7 NT), most often in verses where the two words are in the verse but do not form a phrase. The OT useful ones are found in Jeremiah 37, where the prophet is accused of falling away to the Chaldeans in v.13 and he defends himself in v. 14 by saying 'I fall not away to the Chaldeans'. The connotation is that he sided with the opposition, was in their camp, having left the Jew's camp. But we do find more help in the New Testament. We find the first one in Luke 8:13 They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. This is about the parable of the soils where the sower (Jesus Christ) planted the seed (the word of God of the gospel) and this particular soil is the one with a thin layer (Matt 13:19,20) of soil and rocky inside ( a hard heart) so that at the time of affliction or persecution falls away for they are not rooted at all. Practically these are the ones that come to Christianity for the benefits or the promises of gains in this world as given them by the evangelists that encourage their donations in exchange for the multiplication of such gains by God in return. When persecution comes they fall away in apostasy because they are not rooted in Christ.
This is exactly what Paul speaks about in 2 Thess 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; The context is the day of Christ, when he comes for his church, that will be preceded by a falling away first, the thinning of the ranks of those who call themselves Christians, when persecution begins to be detrimental to their plans. These again are not true believers in Christ so that they are not Christians. Calling yourself a Christian because you were water baptized or you are a church goer and take communion or sacraments does not make a person a Christian. These will fall away, for they truly are unbelievers. And finally we have Hebrew 6:6 the very chapter we have just covered: 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. But the verses we just saw explain that the ones that fall away at the time of tribulation as persecution is, are the ones not rooted in Christ, for they are not Christians. And is this not the same conclusion at which Paul arrived in the very last verses of Hebrews 10?
Conclusions: Paul concluded in Hebrews 10:39 that Christians do not fall away into perdition so that his argument in chapter 6 can not be that it is possible for a Christian to fall away, or he would be contradicting himself. Suffice it to say that if Matt Slick's CARM website says that this argument has been going on for centuries, I do not pretent to write so that many will change their minds. But because the phrase 'once saved always saved' means different things to different peoples of distinctly different theological persuasions that which I recomend is to state your stance on the word of God and leave it at that, letting others argue till their faces turn blue. And my stance is that which Paul expounded in these chapters of the Book of Hebrews: that Christians do not fall away and those who do fall away are the ones not rooted in Christ and thus are not Christians. This the Scriptures teach and on this is our stand.