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Bible: What Does Hebrews 6 Teach Us About Grace and Apostasy?

Updated on September 15, 2016

Judas: The Apostate


Apostates Can Return to Christ?

Can apostates be saved?

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Salvation: Does it Depend Upon You?

Can true believers lose their salvation?

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Hebrews 6: The Irreversibility of Apostasy; The Necessity of "Progressive Sanctification";

Apostates Impossible to Renew to Repentance

Desiring that all of the Hebrews he is addressing should move forward from merely knowing the OT “basics” (“the elementary teaching about the Messiah”)—namely, “repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, of instruction about washings, of laying on of hands, of the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment”— to understanding New Covenant truths, the author exhorts them to “press on to maturity” (“perfection,” NKJV). [By using the word “maturity,” the translators of the NASB reduce the confusion that the King James term “perfection” surfaces]. He aims to pursue this objective with them “if God permits” (vv. 1-3).

[Ryrie calls “dead works” sins, and lists the three baptisms that the Hebrews probably reviewed and learned early in their Christian experience (405). However, it is very likely that those the author addresses here are only professing believers].

Considering the case of the “enlightened,” the writer points out that they cannot be “renewed . . . again to repentance” once they have “fallen away.” Despite having “tasted the heavenly gift,” and having become “partakers of the Holy Spirit,” and having “tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,” these “professors” cannot become true Christians because they have turned away from the Lord. They would again “crucify . . . to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame” (vv. 4-6). In other words, by completely falling away they are saying that they agree with those who put Christ to death. They, in reality, are declaring that Jesus deserved the punishment He received.

[The author of Hebrews believes that some of his readers are not even true believers, and fears that they are nearing the point of apostatizing (falling away from any belief in Christ and reverting to Judaism) [see 6:9]. Those who experience (“tasted,” “become partakers of”) a “conversion” to Christianity but who then finally repudiate these new tenets (that is, become apostates), God will not bring to repentance (“it is impossible to renew them again to repentance”). Individuals who have ultimately rejected the gospel and Christ cannot now reverse and repair that decision].

Apostasy and Perseverance

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Abraham and Isaac


Exhortation to Persevere

He compares blessed believers to a plot of land that soaks in the rain and “bears herbs useful” to the farmers, and unfruitful professors to land that produces worthless growths destined for the consuming fire (vv. 7-8; cf. John 15:2, 6; 1 Cor. 3:14, 15).

Those who profess faith in Christ must show some progress in their sanctification as evidence that their profession was genuine and to the saving of their soul.

Addressing his readers as “beloved,” the author shares his conviction that they do not fall into this latter category.

Although he admits to using strong language to awaken them, he believes that they are true Christians who will eventually mature and produce good fruit (v. 9).

He points out that God has enabled them to show some faithfulness toward Him by serving other believers; therefore, the writer reminds them that the Lord will not forget the work He began in them (v. 10).

The author wants every one to keep working hard for Christ until the “end” (v. 11) and not become lazy in their service; he encourages them to mimic the behavior of godly ancestors (v. 12).

For instance, Abraham persevered throughout his life, and God fulfilled His promise to bless and multiply him (vv. 13-15; cf. Gen. 22:16-17).

In human relationships, men confirm all their promises by swearing an oath, and that oath puts an end to all disputes (v. 16).

God, likewise, wanted to show “the heirs of promise” just how unchangeable His purpose was, so He guaranteed the outcome promised to Abram by swearing upon His own character of truth.


Hope: An Anchor of the Soul, Both Sure and Steadfast

The author next avers that God went to the preceding length (that is, guaranteeing the outcome) in order to strengthen believers’ hope in Christ’s salvation (vv. 17-18).

He describes their hope as “an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast”; securely embedded in God, it sustains believers’ trust (v. 19a).

This hope joins them to their forerunner and Melchizedekian High Priest, Jesus, who entered the presence of the God Whose abode used to be behind the veil in Old Testament times (vv. 19-20).

[Not only did Christ make His once-for-all sacrifice for believers, removing the sin barrier between God and man, but He also blazed the trail into God’s presence for them so that now they can follow in His footsteps.]

© 2013 glynch1


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      glynch1 2 years ago

      Just as a person can do nothing to get himself saved--seeing that he is saved by grace alone through faith alone apart from works--, so he can do nothing to lose his salvation, since he did not gain it by works in the first place. If one who once professed faith in Christ apostatizes from God and then dies in that state, that rejection of Christ proves that his profession was the non-saving type. He never had a salvation to lose..

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      Stargrrl 2 years ago

      Excellent hub. I personally think it is possible to lose your salvation if you choose to turn away from God.