By: Dr. Hank Lindstrom
Can a person who has been saved lose his salvation? This question has been a perplexing one to many. Maybe you have been questioning the genuineness of your salvation. Are you really saved? Are you really sure?
Consider the alternative, that you could lose your salvation. By virtue of the fact that you could lose it, would mean that keeping salvation would depend upon you efforts or actions. In other words, a person who says that he can lose his salvation for whatever reason, is in reality saying that he is trusting in human works to save himself. Look at Ephesians 2:8-9, “For by grace (mercy) are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is a gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast.” Salvation is not of works; therefore a person who is trusting in his works is not and will not be saved. What are we saying? Plainly stated: a person who says he can lose his salvation is not saved or he is thoroughly confused and lacks assurance of salvation.
If you are not saved forever, then you are not saved. Let me say it again. If you are not saved forever, then you are not saved.
Have you ever noticed how Bible commentaries skip difficult passages? It can be very frustrating because usually a person buys a commentary to help them to understand a difficult passage. Well, Hebrews 6:4-6 falls into that category. Many times people skip over or ignore Hebrews 6 because it is difficult to understand.
Often Hebrews 6:4-6 is misinterpreted to teach that a saved person can be lost after they have been saved. To teach that a saved person could be lost would mean that you would contradict many clear passages that say the exact opposite.
A good rule to remember when interpreting difficult passages in the Bible is as follows: Whenever you have a passage that is difficult to understand you never allow it to contradict a clear passage on the subject. In other words, you should interpret a difficult passage in the light of clear passage.
You should never contradict a “verily, verily” verse. For example, Jesus said in John 6:47, “Verily, verily I say unto you, He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” When Jesus said “verily, verily”, He was saying “truthfully, truthfully”. Why? Did Jesus ever lie? The answer is NO! Jesus did not and could not lie because He is God. Titus 1:2 tells us that God cannot lie. Jesus was simply saying, “This is a truth not to be passed over.” In John 6:47 we have a truth so important that if a person misses this truth he or she will go to hell for all eternity. The secret of eternal life is no secret. Jesus said plainly, “He that believeth on me hath everlasting life.” The only condition to this offer of EVERLASTING LIFE (NOT TEMPORARY LIFE) is BELIEF (TRUSTING IN CHRIST). Don’t contradict a clear verse like this one. With this in mind, let’s look at Hebrews 6:4-6.
“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, and have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 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.” Hebrews 6:4-6
Notice that the passage is talking about those who are saved. There are five things said about them that demonstrate this truth:
First, “Those who were once enlightened” refers to a saved person or one who has seen “the light” of the Lord Jesus Christ. The same word “enlightened” is translated “illuminated” in Hebrews 10:32 and speaks of a saved individual.
Second, “tasted of the heavenly gift” refers to salvation. Romans 6:23 says, “The gift of God is eternal life.” Ephesians 2:8 says that salvation “is the gift of God.” The word “tasted” is used in Hebrews 2:9 saying Christ “tasted death for every man.” We tasted of the heavenly gift in the same way Christ tasted death–that is, fully and completely.
Third, “We’re made partakers of the Holy Ghost.” The Bible teaches in Romans 8:9, “Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” In other words, if you don’t have the Holy Spirit you are not saved. The moment a person trusts Christ as Saviour he or she partakes of the Holy Spirit. If you do not have the Holy Spirit, then you are unsaved.
Fourth, “Tasted the good Word of God.” The Bible tells us in I Corinthians 2:14, “But the natural (unsaved) man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” Only the saved man can taste of the Word of God.
Fifth, “The powers of the world to come.” Only the born-again man has experienced the power of God. Romans 1:16 says, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth.” A person who is born-again has experienced the power of God.
“If they shall fall away” is not referring to salvation but it is referring to the “Christian life”! Hebrews 6:1 tells us that the writer is speaking about things that accompany salvation. Hebrews 6:1 tells us that the writer is talking about maturity in the Christian life and not about how to be saved.
Well, what is Hebrews 6:6 talking about? Verse six is simply stating to Hebrew (Jewish) believers who were used to a yearly sacrifice that it was impossible for them to be saved again because “by ONE offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified [the believers in Christ] (Hebrews 10:14).” Hebrews 6:1 tells us that we cannot “lay again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God.”
If a believer falls away from serving the Lord, the procedure is not to become saved again. That is impossible. It is impossible to “renew” them again unto repentance (the change of mind necessary to accept Christ as Saviour).
Hebrews 6:6 warns that if you try to become saved again all you do is crucify Jesus Christ afresh to yourself, thereby shaming Jesus Christ.
The Bible does not teach that one must be born again and again and again, etc. You can only be born-again once, never to be cast out (John 6:37) or lost (John 6:39). Salvation is complete and final. (Read John 5:24).
The solution for a believer fallen away from service to the Lord is to start serving again. We are encouraged by the words of Hebrews 6:10, that “God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love.” God will reward faithful service to him. (See I Corinthians 15:58).
God wants us to grow in knowledge of Him, to serve Him and to mature.
Lack in these areas does not mean that we have lost our salvation. That is why it is impossible to get saved again (Hebrews 6:6), because it is impossible to lose salvation (Hebrews 13:5). To try to become saved again (impossible) shames Jesus Christ who has saved us forever (John 6:47; Hebrews 9:12; 10:10; 10:12-14, 17, 18). To serve Him again brings glory and honor to Him (John 12:24), and His blessing and reward is upon us (I Corinthians 15:58).