27 comments on “This is a Tough One

  1. I agree with you on this one Don. I heard an ingteresting teaching on this a while back. The preacher mentioned that while the author says “It is impossible” in speaking about someone who was saved, filled with the Holy Spiirit, and then turned back to the world, that with God nothing is impossible. This passage bears this out, and it is something we must always keep in mind. There is nothing too hard for God!

  2. Thanks Don, this is a well put, clear explanation of one of the most difficult passages in the New Testament. I believe Ben Witherington, III wrote about the idea of ingratitude for God’s grace as being depicted here as well, and that attitude being unforgivable (although not necessarily the actions, particularly if a person repents from those actions). Greg Ogden, author of Transforming Discipleship also teaches that beyond the NT kinds of relationships to Jesus – no relationship, curiosity about Him, following Him, we have also added a fourth: using Him, which has no basis in sciprture. There may be a connection to that in this passage as well. You’ve done an excellent job of keeping this simple though.


    • Thanks for mentioning those other thoughts that may help some to get a better grasp on this tough passage. I also appreciate your kind comments about my post.

  3. In light of what you’ve said, what are some examples of “falling away”? And, do I understand you to say that “if” one has fallen away, that God’s mercy and grace will be extended to that person if they repent?

    • Well Russ, based upon the context of Hebrews, “falling away” would be turning one’s back on God and walking away entirely from the faith, in short, rejecting Christ and his grace. Am I saying that God’s grace will or can not be given to that person? No, the author of Hebrews said it.I have ony pointed out what this whole thing is NOT.

  4. This is one of the passages, along with the whole mysterious concept of “blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” that Satan has used over and over to try to choke the life out of my relationship with Jesus, for fear I’m said this or that wrongly, made a mistake beyond repair, and fear, nothing but fear. He led me to John Bunyan’s wonderful book “Grace Abounding to the Chief of Sinners”. It still bothers me some, but God is faithful, patient, and understands my concerns.

  5. Hi Don
    This post is going to be a bit convoluted but will do my best to keep it simple.

    Back in the dark ages when I was a young christian I read this passage and great fear overcame me. I went to a dear pastor who explained that since I read this passage and and the Holy Spirit brought a conviction of sorts then I had nothing to fear. He also explained that fear comes from Satan not from God so it was a mixture of both if that makes sense.

    Anyway this passage has always been in my heart and mind and yest a few years later I did turn my back on Christian things and walked the way of the world for a while to be nudged back on track. That was 2004 and I was shocked at the nonsense being spouted on the internet that was supposed to pass for Christianity. This passage in Hebrews seems totally out of context from what comes before and after. It is though Paul in writing this was making statements about maturity then he went into a trance and the Holy Spirit decided to take over then in Heb 6:9 comes back to where he finished in Heb 6:3. God took over so that we would pay more attention in my opinion. Lets go from there.

    Eze 18:20 The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him.
    Eze 18:21 But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
    Eze 18:22 All his transgressions that he hath committed, they shall not be mentioned unto him: in his righteousness that he hath done he shall live.
    Eze 18:23 Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?
    Eze 18:24 But when the righteous turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and doeth according to all the abominations that the wicked man doeth, shall he live? All his righteousness that he hath done shall not be mentioned: in his trespass that he hath trespassed, and in his sin that he hath sinned, in them shall he die.
    Eze 18:25 Yet ye say, The way of the Lord is not equal. Hear now, O house of Israel; Is not my way equal? are not your ways unequal?
    Eze 18:26 When a righteous man turneth away from his righteousness, and committeth iniquity, and dieth in them; for his iniquity that he hath done shall he die.
    Eze 18:27 Again, when the wicked man turneth away from his wickedness that he hath committed, and doeth that which is lawful and right, he shall save his soul alive.
    Eze 18:28 Because he considereth, and turneth away from all his transgressions that he hath committed, he shall surely live, he shall not die.
    Eze 18:29 Yet saith the house of Israel, The way of the Lord is not equal. O house of Israel, are not my ways equal? are not your ways unequal?

    Pay attention to verses 26-28! Is this not the same as Heb 6:4-8? Substitute Jesus for righteousness.

    The prime example of turning away is Lucifer/Satan and the angels that followed him. They dwelt with God in Eternity. They had everything mentioned in Heb 4 yet they walked away. Lucifer probably convinced most of his followers that God would bring them back but the opposite happened and they were kicked out of heaven and on to earth. Judas is another (poor) example. Sure he didn’t have the Holy Spirit but he walked with the Word of God and betrayed Him. John Calvin comes to mind. He did many good things for the reformation then stuffed up with his rubbish theology and then murders a man because he had a different theology. BTW I am not condemning Calvin here cause he may have repented. There is also the opposite in Napoleon Bonaparte. He is a type of Nebuchadnezzar since he was used by God to bring down the power of the Pope. I believe his conversion in exile was real.

    Many people do not understand the power of the cross. The cross not only saves people after the event but it saved everybody who followed God from Adam to the thief. People think linearly. They think that since the crucifixion is a point in time then everything christian happens after that point. God is eternal and He saw the cross from the beginning. Satan did not understand this (luckily) and realized his mistake at the resurrection. Satan knew Jesus would be crucified as laid out in Psalm 22 but had no idea what it would achieve.

    I said this was convoluted. This is the point. It is possible that Satan can seduce Christians and turn them against God just as he seduced Eve and the angels in heaven to follow him. For those Jewish Christians in Rome at that time and even 200 years later in the time of Diocletian would have been tempted at the severe persecution against them to betray other Christians in an attempt to save their own lives and the lives of those they loved.

    Anyway this is my own opinion and I don’t expect others to go with this. 🙂

    • Actually Steve, I think your opinion is quite interesting and while you and I have taken different paths, we’ve ended pretty close together on this one; thank you.

  6. Good post!

    I don’t pretend to have a better answer to that one. While there are other passages in the Bible in the Bible that are fairly clear God saves all those who repent and turn to him, that one clearly suggests we must remain ever faithful.

    What do I think we should learn from it? We should refrain from judging who is saved and who is not, and we should never take our own salvation for granted. We must progress in the faith. Kind of drives home Hebrews 5:11-6:3. Our assurance of salvation lies in the knowledge we love Jesus. How can we say we love someone we do not seek to know.

  7. Don, thank you. This passage has always bothered me. I knew there had to be an answer to losing salvation – after all it is written here in Hebrews for a reason. Your explanation makes a lot of sense and solidifies my passion for all to be certain of their salvation and working out that salvation to it’s glorious end. Thanks again. You’ve made my day. 😁

  8. Look at the other side of the coin: Once lost, always lost. There is never any hope for someone who was “not chosen by God”. They can study all they want, cry all they want, but it does them no good. Once lost, always lost. Then there’s what Peter said: “God is not willing for anyone to perish.”

  9. Very fun passage to explain…ha ha! 🙂 You brought up some very important points, Don. And I agree with Tom, we shouldn’t go around judging who’s saved and who isn’t, or take it for granted. The context, as you pointed out before, is Jewish Christians denying the faith and going back to Judaism (Christianity was illegal and Judaism wasn’t in the Roman Empire at the time). So, since salvation is based on having faith in Christ’s finished work on the Cross, this warning is to those who would deny such. Let me say here that it doesn’t mean those who have fallen back into sinful behavior have now lost their salvation forever. We are saved by grace through faith, not by our behavior. But if we reject grace and faith, there is no other means of salvation available to us. And I agree, it would probably be a very rare thing for someone to actually reject the faith. Nonetheless, I think this is what the writer is getting at, warning these Jewish Christians to keep the faith in the midst of severe persecution.

    • I quite agree. This “falling away” business is much than screwing up, having a bad season or benngn neglect; it’s more of a repudiation or abrogation of the covenant relationship that is being warned of.

    • Did you say “fun”? (I get the sarcasm…) Thank you, Mel, for such a compassionate reply here. I’ve come to the place of understanding that when God grants repentance, He will also always grant forgiveness–they go hand-in-hand.

  10. Pingback: This is a Tough One | A disciple's study

  11. Pingback: This is a Tough One plus – Citizen Tom

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