Q. I have a question on Hebrews 10:26-29. I was brought up to believe in “once saved, always saved”, yet this scripture would make someone think that salvation could be lost.
“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of truth,there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law will die without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace.”
I am new to your site, but you seem to have some pretty knowledgeable things to say. Please clear this one up for me.
A. Let’s review the concept of OSAS. The Bible clearly tells us that at the moment we first believed, we were given the seal of the Holy Spirit as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance. This confirms that our salvation is assured (Ephes. 1:13-14). Paul confirmed this in 2 Cor. 1:21-22 adding that God has taken ownership of us and it is He who makes us stand firm in Christ. The Bible also says that we’re saved by faith alone, not by works (Ephes. 2:8-9). So the basis for our salvation is belief, not behavior, and it’s guaranteed right from the start. This is possible because all the sins of our life were forgiven at the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).
These are incredibly clear statements on the unconditional and durable nature of our salvation, and form the foundation for the OSAS view. To deny OSAS you have to believe that other statements in the Bible can rescind or contradict these promises. That means you believe that either God wasn’t sincere when He had Paul make them, or that He let Paul make a promise in His name that isn’t true, or that He changed His mind and revoked them.
Now let’s look at your quote from Hebrews 10:26-29. If the writer was referring to our salvation then the first phrase of that passage has disqualified everyone who has ever lived from ever going to Heaven because no Christian has ever lived a sin free life.
Even the mighty Paul confessed that he couldn’t keep himself from sinning. (Romans 7:18-20). The Apostle John agreed. “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives.” (1 John 1:8-10) Both were writing to the Church, not to unbelievers.
Finally, look at the context in which the Hebrews passage was given. The whole letter is an argument against the tendency of Jewish believers to go back into the Levitical system, which required the sacrifice of a Lamb as the remedy for sin. Statements both before and after the passage you quoted confirm the confidence we have that Jesus paid the whole price for all the sins of our lives. He is the Lamb of God who took away the sin of the world (John 1:29) once and for all and made us perfect forever (Hebrews 10:12-14).
Hebrews 10:19-23 says, “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.”
And Hebrews 10:35-36 says, “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” Jesus said that the will of God is that everyone Who looks to the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life. (John 6:40)
Put it all together and you can see that Hebrews 10:26-29 says that there’s no longer any acceptable sacrifice for sin in the Levitical system, and that looking for one is a sin that has the effect of “trampling the Son of God underfoot, counting the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulting the Spirit of grace,” and that going back to the Law of Moses after Jesus had come to fulfill it was a worse insult to God than disobeying it before He came.
Under the New Covenant the remedy for sin is 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.
Failure to confess our sins gives us no release from the guilt we feel for sinning. Over the years this guilt builds up into a “fearful expectation” of judgment, which is what Hebr. 10: 27 actually says. It’s not that we’ll wind up being treated like God’s enemies, because that would violate all the promises God has made to us. But the guilt we feel for all our sins will make us fearful that it could happen.