Hebrews 6:4-6 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.
I have often avoided these verses, but now have decided to ‘bite the bullet’ and deal with them! The authoritative declaration about the danger of ‘falling away’, in this part of God’s Word, is among the hardest to come to terms with.
The problem is this: Scripture makes it clear that we are all born in a completely lost condition (Total Depravity). So ‘God, the Father’, chooses us (Unconditional Election), and sent ‘God, the Son’, to die for those he has chosen (Limited Atonement, or Particular Redemption), and comes to those he has chosen and died for as ‘God, the Holy Spirit’. The Spirit hounds us into belief (Irresistible Grace). The three-fold God wants us to have assurance that all his work is never in vain, so once he has saved us, nothing can ever snatch us out of his hand (Perseverance of the Saints). Jesus put it like this: “My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:29-30).
The author of Hebrews could not be denying these truths, but he is wanting to warn his readers, in the strongest possible terms, against complacency. God wants us to be sure of our salvation, and we can be because it doesn’t depend on our efforts , but on his grace alone.
If, however, this assurance leads us into complacency, as it did for the Jewish nation, we are in big trouble, because it shows we haven’t really understood God’s grace, and run the risk of thinking we are saved but aren’t – hence the warning: such a mind-set only hardens our hearts against the Gospel, rendering us impervious to its message of hope! The author of Hebrews had already dealt with this danger in Chapter 3:7-14 – “So, as the Holy Spirit says: ‘Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did. That is why I was angry with that generation, and I said, “Their hearts are always going astray, and they have not known my ways.” So I declared on oath in my anger, “They shall never enter my rest.”’ See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God. But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.”
Let us rejoice in the assurance of our salvation, while at the same time being aware of the grave danger of complacency.
– Bruce Christian