Can a person lose their salvation as it states in Hebrews chapter 6?
This question usually comes up when one reads and takes these verses 4 through 6 of chapter 6 in the Book of Hebrews at face value without considering the circumstances in which the text is referring to. When this is done, the verses can be interpreted as if they were speaking about a Christian; a true believer that has been saved, and that if he or she "falls away" if you will, they can not be restored. However, this is not what these verses are speaking about. The verses in question start with;
"4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."
As with a lot of scripture, these verses cause a lot of debates within the church and theological circles. If we don't get a clear understanding of the particular circumstances to which the verses are referring to, it usually leads to the eventual questions about our salvation. The sincerity of our faith, whether we are saved or not and the very issue of 'Can I mess things up and become lost again'? There are a lot of Christian denominations that teach you can take part in a deadly sin causing your once saved soul to be forever lost. However this belief is not biblical because if it were it would conflict with many other verses Jesus spoke about such as the one in the book of John when He says those who are saved can never be taken away from Him;
My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. John 10:29
Within the debates of what these verses mean, there are several opinions as to how they should be interpreted. The first is that the text is referring to those that once they are saved commit some serious sin and are "falling away" from their faith. The second refers to those people who ‘profess’ to have faith, but their actions show otherwise. Another interpretation is that the text is referring to people who are written about, in the book of Galatians, where it talks about those who are saved and then sin, try to get re-saved by returning to adherence to the Old testament laws and customs. (This is referred to as the judaizing heresy). Lastly, (and this is my understanding and belief) the verses are in fact referring to believers, those who are truly saved, but not ones who have sinned and can not be renewed.
Some do not agree that the verses are talking about saved believers because the words in the above verses such as "enlightened” and those who have become “partakers of the Holy Spirit” and the ones who have “tasted the good word of God" are referring to people who are 'in the church', have heard the word of God but are truly NOT saved. I don’t believe this is the correct interpretation of these words because if you are a ‘partaker’ of something, you are one who has received or are actively involved in it. Also, the word tasted does not refer to just ‘sampling’ something. Scripture tells us Jesus ‘tasted’ death for everyone
But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man. Heb 2:9 We all know that Jesus certainly did not ‘sample’ death. He partook in it.
So what is the answer to all of this? It is my opinion, after much prayer for understanding and reference to scripture and many theological sources that the verses above are referring to a situation that is ‘impossible to happen’.
Another words, if this ‘impossible’ situation were to occur, it would not be possible to renew oneself to repentance because it would require the sacrifice of Jesus to occur again as it states in the later part of verse 6…since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame".
The sentence structure with the words fallen away is the issue here. These words are in the same construct of the words partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God.
Another way to think of these verses would be;
If it were possible for those who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God, to fall away, it would be impossible to renew them again to repentance.
Why? Because it would require - since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."
The verses are not speaking about a Christian who once saved, sins to a point of no return. It's really referring to a situation that cannot occur.
In verses 7 and 8 of that same chapter, it differentiates between a true believer and an unbeliever;
"For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned." Heb. 6:7,8
“Drinks in the rain” means takes in the word of God or is “enlightened and partakes”. Bearing “thorns and briers” are the unbelievers.Verses 1 through 6 are referring to people in the church who are ‘sluggish’ in their faith and not progressing. In the remaining verses, Paul speaks of a better outlook;
But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner. For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises. Heb 6: 9-12
Some people will say, what if a person comes to true faith but continues to live a sinful life. My answer to that is that this person has NOT come to true faith;
Whoever abides in Him does not sin. Whoever sins has neither seen Him nor known Him. 1 John 3:6
So anyone who has said they have come to faith but continues to sin is what is referred to as “going out from us”;
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. 1 John 2:19