Q. I have received so much instruction, encouragement and wisdom from your writings. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you. My question comes from Hebrews 6:4-6 which states: “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, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.”
I have mulled this verse over and over and cannot seem to grasp it. This isn’t a cloaked stab at the OSAS argument. I am convinced, as you are, that we are saved by what we believe not by how we behave. I simply can’t make these verses align with anything else so that means I’m missing something. Can you help?
A. To understand this, you have to put the Letter to the Hebrews into it’s proper context. The recipients were Jewish believers who were being lured back into keeping the Law. The Jewish remedy for daily sin was the sacrifice of a lamb. The Christian one is to ask the Lord for forgiveness (1 John 1:9)
If these Jewish believers fell back into the sacrificial system, they would spend their whole lives out of fellowship with God and be symbolically crucifying the Lord over and over. He’s the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, (John 1:29) and He was sacrificed once for all time (Hebrews 10:12). Since the cross, the only way to restore us to repentance (bring us back into fellowship) is to invoke 1 John 1:9. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
You also have to understand the difference between Union with God and Fellowship with Him. Union is our salvation and is guaranteed and eternal. Fellowship is our relationship with Him and is temporal and conditioned on behavior. Sin can’t invalidate our salvation but it can interrupt our relationship until we confess.
Hebrews 6:4-6 concerns a fellowship issue not a salvation one. Those receiving the letter are already saved. The clearest clue is in the sharing of the Holy Spirit. Once we do that He’s sealed inside us as a guarantee of our redemption (Ephes. 1:13-14). But our fellowship with God can be interrupted by un-confessed sin. That’s why He gave us 1 John 1:9. It’s the Christian’s bar of soap in that it cleans us up again after we’ve sinned.