Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?
A Biblical Response to Hebrews 6:4-6
Can Christians lose their salvation? Many teach Christians can lose their salvation, but does the Bible teach that Christians can lose their salvation? Hebrews 6 is a popular chapter in which those who believe a Christian can lose their salvation use for their support, but Hebrews 6 in reality teaches the very opposite in which a Christian cannot lose their salvation.
Hebrews 6:1-3 “1 Therefore leaving the elementary teaching about the Christ, let us press on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2 of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. 3 And this we will do, if God permits.”
Actually looking back in the previous chapter, we see the following: Hebrews 5:12-14: “12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you have need again for someone to teach you the elementary principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food. 13 For everyone who partakes only of milk is not accustomed to the word of righteousness, for he is an infant. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.” Notice that these who are being addressed are said to be infants and in need of milk. And the author in Chapter 6 starts off by saying let us leave the elementary teaching about Christ by pressing onto maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of washing of hands, and the resurrection of the dead and eternal judgment. The issues are on growing in maturity in Christ and not laying again a foundation of repentance. These are issues that if need to be addressed will be, but for them in which this was written it should have not been the case.
Hebrews 6:4-6 “4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
These are the main verses in which causes the confusion whether a Christian can lose his salvation. Verses 4-5 clearly indicate these are true believers in Christ which they have been enlightened, tasted the heavenly gift and made partakers of the Holy Spirit. There is no doubt these are Christians which the author is speaking about. The issue then seems to turn in verse 6 where it says ‘then have fallen away’ indicating they have now lost their salvation or as some will say these have now become ‘apostates’.
According to LEXICAL AIDS TO THE NEW TESTAMENT BY DR. SPIROS ZODHIATES concerning the word "fall away" in Hebrews 6:6 he says: “parapipto" means to fall beside, to fall down, or inadvertently. Denoting a side-falling and not a conscious and deceitfulness and falling into sin as would be expressed by "parabaino" (#3845), to "willfully transgress”. As to the words "renew" and "again" these words are important to know in light of the context. The word ‘renew’ is the Greek word "anakainzo" (#340) which means to renew, qualitatively new. In reference to Hebrews 6:6 this would be saying it is impossible for a Christian to have a "new or qualitatively" different repentance toward Christ, since that would mean Christ’s death was not sufficient the first time. In other words this is saying it is impossible for a believer to be born again twice since that would mean the sacrifice of Jesus was not good enough the first time and would have to do it again and thus putting Jesus to open shame. These verses are indicating that a person who is born again does not need to be born again a second time, or that he is going to lose his salvation, but actually that he is secure in Christ. The word "again" is the Greek word "palin" (#3825) which means renewal or repetition of the action, again, anew again, further, moreover in turn, on the other hand.
Consider the following: “Why is it impossible to have a qualitatively different or new repentance? Because to have a different kind of repentance, it would be necessary for Jesus Christ to die again on the cross. According to the entire teaching of Hebrews (9:28; 10:11, 12), Jesus Christ died once and for all for man’s sin. He cannot come back and die again in order to gain for us another redemption which will see us through this time. Not only is it impossible fo have Jesus Christ die again, but having failed to save to the end the ones who trusted in Him, it would cause His crucifixion on the cross to become as something to be ridiculed. It did not work; it was not sufficient. This is what we call in philosophical language reductio ad absurdum, or reduction to an absurdity. From a false assumption we deduce absurd conclusions. It is false to suppose that we could fall, because that would invalidate the crucifixion of Christ on which our repentance was based if we were to be saved to the end. In order to have a lasting salvation it would be necessary for Christ to be recrucified which is an impossibility, for He died only once and for all. But it would also make His crucifixion be declared ineffective.” Dr. Spiros Zodhiates, Hebrew-Greek Word Study Bible, notes on Hebrews 6:1-6
In light of what has been shared here there are a few main points to recap. First, those who have been born again are partakers of the Holy Spirit and in fact are sealed by the Holy Spirit according to Apostle Paul. (Ephesians 1:13) Second, there will be those who fall away or get side tracked as all of us do, but remember the promise of God, “that He who began the good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" Philippians 1:6. Thirdly, for those who do fall down and get caught in sins they cannot lose their salvation and regain it again, for that would mean Jesus would then have to die again which contradicts the Scriptures entirely. (Hebrews 9:28, 10:11-12, etc.) This in context proves that Christians cannot lose their salvation and those who use this text are not reading it in context.
Hebrews 6:7-8 “7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”
What do these verses mean? Simply these go with the parable which Jesus spoke of called the “Parable of the Seed” in Mark 4:1-20. In verses 13-20, we read the following: “13 And He said to them, “Do you not understand this parable? How will you understand all the parables? 14 “The sower sows the word. 15 “These are the ones who are beside the road where the word is sown; and when they hear, immediately Satan comes and takes away the word which has been sown in them. 16 “In a similar way these are the ones on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, who, when they hear the word, immediately receive it with joy; 17 and they have no firm root in themselves, but are only temporary; then, when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately they fall away. 18 “And others are the ones on whom seed was sown among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, 19 but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. 20 “And those are the ones on whom seed was sown on the good soil; and they hear the word and accept it and bear fruit, thirty, sixty, and a hundredfold.” Here is the contrast in the simplest terms. Those who are sown in good soil will produce good fruit in their lives, and will endure. Those who have no root, those who have only a said faith, those who have unfruitful lives will fall away. Those who are of the good soil will have lives that reflect the tree in which they are rooted in, and those who have no root will, in time, die off and fade away, and eventually be burned up. (Matthew 7:13-27 & 25:31-46)
Hebrews 6:9-12 “9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. 10 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints. 11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end, 12 so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.”
The promises of God are true. The author says we are convinced of better things concerning you, which was those he said “was infants” in Chapter 5 and “need of milk”. The author was not worried about their salvation, yet he said they were not walking in maturity but were supposed to be. God is not a God who says see you later alligator, but is a wonderful God who knows our very being and is there with us to the end. (Hebrews 13:5)
Christians cannot lose their salvation because the Scriptures are clear that those who are in Christ have been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14) and to teach Christians can lose their salvation teaching a works-based gospel message that Paul wrote against in the book of Galatians. We are to realize the full assurance of hope in our lives until the end, and not being sluggish but being imitators of those who set the example of faith and patience.
My prayer is that these verses help you in knowing that in Christ you have eternal life, and will one day be with the Lord.