This blog has a great little feature where I can see if someone types a search string in Google or Yahoo or something in order to find this site. One string implied a person (I never know who) was searching for assurance of their salvation in light of Hebrews 6. I recently encountered this when discussing difficult passages in general. Yesterday it was brought up again dealing with assurance of salvation. I guess it’s time to look at it.
With the Bible especially, the difficult passages should be viewed in light of the passages that more simply convey their point. Hebrews 6 often presents a difficult point. Why? Because it conveys a point that seems to be contradicted in other places of the Bible – our secure faith. So, is our faith secure? First, we will look at the passages that convey their point simply.
Romans 8:29-30 (ESV) reads,
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.
All that are foreknown by God are predestined. All that are predestined are called. All that are called are justified. All that are justified are glorified when they die. There is no disconnect, no time where we opt-out.
Romans 8:38-39 reads,
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Not only is it not in ourselves to leave, nothing else in all creation can remove our salvation.
John 10:28-30 Jesus says,
I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will 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. I and the Father are one.
Jesus promises eternal life that cannot be removed (John 17:3).
1 Peter 1:3-5 reads,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.
“An inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you”. Our salvation is secure, kept in heaven for us. You are guarded for salvation.
Our justification is from God’s grace in Jesus Christ. Consider how much He has done! Here is what I mean (in no particular order): repentance is from God, Acts 5:31 and Acts 11:18; belief is from God, Philippians 1:29; faith is from God, Ephesians 2:8-9; even our continual work in sanctification is by God, Philippians 2:12-13; our justification is from God, Romans 3:24. Though all these are from God, we still have responsibility to obey Him by working out our own salvation through His Spirit. But once we are saved, there is no way to lose our salvation. Since we did nothing for it, how could we lose it by doing or not doing something?
Since we know our salvation is secure once we are saved, how do we know we are saved initially? Romans 10:9 reads, “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved”. Have you confessed that Jesus is the Master of your life, your Lord? Have you believed that Jesus was completely righteous (without sin), took the punishment of death for your sins and rose again to show that God accepted you as His child through Jesus’ propitiatory death? If so then you are saved. For further reading I would encourage you to read 1 John because in 1 John 5:13 John writes, “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life”.
So, what about Hebrews 6?
First, an extremely important rule of reading anything is that it should be taken in context. We have gone over the assurance of our salvation. So we know that the Bible teaches that “you may know that you have eternal life”. How does Hebrews 6 fit in?
Far too often when this question arises the reader/questioner does not make it beyond verse six or eight. In verses one and two we are entreated to become mature because we know the elementary things. In verse three the author prays that we will go on from the elementary things, with God’s permission. Why will we go on from the elementary things to the mature things? Verse four and five,
For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come
We should not be continually going over these elementary things because those who came to repentance, were enlightened, have tasted the heavenly gift, shared in the Holy Spirit, tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come and again need to be restored to repentance, now have no hope. Once people experience these things it is no help to go back again to restore their repentance through the elementary things. Why is this so grievous? Verse six, “if they then fall away, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt”. Those who have such an intimate experience yet fall away are crucifying the Son of God again and holding Him up to contempt. This is truly grievous! Verse seven and eight give a short parable contrasting soils that are watered equally by God yet one “produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated” and the other “bears thorns and thistles”.
Wow! What can we conclude? Often the assumption is made that tasting the heavenly gift, sharing in the Holy Spirit, tasting the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come all indicate a person’s salvation. It is at this point we must not stop reading. Verse nine reads, “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things–things that belong to salvation.” The author is making an appeal – we’re talking about this stuff but in your case it’s different. They spoke “in this way” about being stuck in the elementary things and those who fell away. “Yet [!] in your case” – their case was different. “Beloved”, beloved is often used of those who are saved. Compared to the list of other interactions, this one we can recognize as a term of endearment to those who are saved. The author is not worried at all about them. They have a different case. “We feel sure of better things”, the author(s) feel that better things are set for the beloved. If the previous verses were speaking about the loss of salvation then surely there would be some room to be concerned about the beloved. But this is not so, they are even “sure” of better things. What are these better things? The better things are “things that belong to salvation”. So these former things do not belong to salvation. The author was not speaking about someone who was saved in verses four through six. That was something different, “now we’re talking about salvation”!
We know that verses four to six are not speaking of salvation. What do they speak of? We are told “Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!” in Psalm 34:8. It seems some taste but fall away, remaining in their love of darkness (John 3:19-21).