Five Minute Devotions: Hebrews 6
Hebrews 6 makes the jump from elementary, foundational teaching to more difficult and debated issues (Hebrews 6:1-3). Chief among these is whether or not true salvation can be lost. The author introduces his topic, seemingly answering in the affirmative (Hebrews 6:4-8), but also states that he is confident in his readers’ perseverance (Hebrews 6:9-12) and in God’s promises (Hebrews 6:13-20).
The mantra of Hebrews 6 could be summed up in two simple words: “Always forward.” Although salvation from the penalty of sin can happen in a snap, salvation from sin’s power is a lifelong journey toward Christian maturity.
The Church would do well to remember this. All too often, we (rightly) expend our efforts on getting people into church and forget to do anything with them once they’re in there. The goal of Christianity is not to come to church every Sunday or tithe monthly or even to lead a Sunday School class—it’s to grow in intimacy with the Father.
Hebrews 6 continues to turn the corner in terms of content. Up until this point, the author’s theology has been basic and foundational. But now, he says, it is time to leave the elementary things behind. The chapters that follow are difficult. We journey with the author through the ancient sacrificial system, through obscure musings about Melchizedek, and the intricacies of the Temple. But he begins with the paradox of guaranteed salvation.
Spend long enough in Christian circles and you’ll inevitably come across the phrase “Once saved, always saved” and the inevitable debate that comes with it. On one hand, Scripture appears to teach that one’s salvation is eternally secured. Those that are saved, who have the Holy Spirit within them, have had the blood of Jesus applied to their sins once and for all. On the other, Scripture appears to teach that there will be those who fall away from the faith. Which is it?
The author of Hebrews offers little except to confirm the paradox. Verses 4-6 seem to explicitly indicate a genuine faith that has genuinely (and eternally) fallen away.
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 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. – Hebrews 6:4-6
Yet verse 19 speaks of the assurance of salvation:
We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. – Hebrews 4:19
He also expresses his own confidence in his readers’ perseverance in verse 9. So how are we to move forward? What shall the answer be? I think the answer is that we must live in the paradox.
God will always uphold his end of the deal. Salvation will never be anything but by grace through faith. The opportunity for eternal rest is always there and will never go away. Believers should be secure in that.
But while God will never change, humans might. God will cling to us, but if we demand that he let go, he will not hold us in an unwilling embrace. Our eternal security is secure so long as we ourselves do not commit spiritual suicide.
It’s on that note that the author of Hebrews is at his harshest, calling it impossible for them to come again to repentance. These are hard words, but they also seem very clear: denying the reality of a Spirit-filled life you’ve experienced is something you cannot come back from. It is a sobering thought.
Jesus, we recognize these as very sobering words. Hold fast to us. Do not let us go. Give us confidence and assurance of our salvation. Give us your peace through your Spirit.
Has this chapter changed your belief on eternal security? Why or why not?
How should we deal with these paradoxical portions of Scripture?
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