I recently visited a church in my area and enjoyed the services, but being the skeptic I am of so-called “Christians” and churches and if they live up to the word of God, I asked a leader in that ministry where they stood on eternal security. He answered that the church believes Christians can lose their salvation based on Hebrews 6:4-6. So I’ll discuss a few scriptures such churches use to promote this false teaching.
4For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6If 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. 7For 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: 8But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. 9But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.
The things mentioned in verses 4 and 5 are like falling rain. Some earth that receives God’s rain bring forth herbs that are good (i.e. Christians doing good works as a result of being saved). Then there is earth that receives rain but yields thorns and briers (unbelievers) who bear God’s curse and will be burned. The “once enlightened” who “tasted of the heavenly gift” and “were made partakers of the Holy Ghost” but fell away are those who will see Jesus on judgment day and say “Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity,” Matthew 7:22-23.
Verse 9 provides the contrast to the previous verses by beginning with the word BUT. The writer is persuaded that those to whom he is speaking are doing good things because of their salvation as opposed to the type of people in the previous verses who aren’t saved and end up falling away because their hearts didn’t change. This is simply a reiteration of Christ’s parable of the sower and the seed.
26For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, 27But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. 28He that despised Moses’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?
Here is another reiteration of Jesus’ parable of the sower and the seed, not a teaching on losing one’s salvation. A person receives the knowledge of the truth when they hear the gospel. But if they reject that knowledge expecting some other form of salvation (via some other religion), there is no other sacrifice for their sins. Jesus said he that endureth to the end shall be saved. So those who don’t endure to the end (even if for a period of time they were living sanctified outwardly) aren’t saved and never were. Jesus said these people are “They on the rock… 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,” OR they are “that which fell among thorns… which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection,” Luke 8:13-14.
They did not receive Christ in their hearts. They only had knowledge in their minds about the gospel and thought it would be nice to try the Christian lifestyle, but they didn’t let the gospel get to the root of their problem–the cleansing of their wicked hearts.
2 Peter 2:20-22
20For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. 21For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them. 22But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.
When a reader of this passage takes into account the context of these verses, it’s obvious Peter isn’t talking about losing your salvation. Why? Because Peter, who was a Jew, would never call someone who is truly clean through Jesus Christ a dog or a sow. These were known as unclean animals. They were symbolic of the unsaved. If you clean and train a dog or sow to do good things, they will return to their unclean ways sooner or later because it’s in their nature.
If you teach and show an unsaved person how to live righteously and morally, they may live morally for awhile, but their unclean hearts will lead them back, sooner or later, to a continual lifestyle of ungodliness. They are like the man Jesus talked about in Matthew 12:43-45, “When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first.”
What shall we say to these things?
People caught up in the loss-of-salvation doctrine tend to forget the simplicity that is in Christ [2 Corinthians 11:3]. Simply put, salvation=everlasting life=eternal life. If the new life one has in Christ is eternal and everlasting, that means it has no end. In other words, if you have it for a year, but lose it next year, then it’s not everlasting. Duh!
Furthermore, the doctrine places the continuation of salvation completely in the power of the individual, overlooking the fact “‘…that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” [Philippians 1:6] or that “we are labourers together with God,” [1 Corinthians 3:9]. In other words, the loss of salvation doctrine is a works-based salvation, a salvation based on fulfilling the works of the law, which is not really salvation at all.
If the Almighty God is powerful enough to save us from sin, isn’t he powerful enough to keep us saved? “Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?” [Galatians 3:2-3].
–Harry A. Gaylord–