Can We Lose Our Salvation?
Hebrews, Day 19
Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, and of instruction about washings, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. And this we will do if God permits. For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. For land that has drunk the rain that often falls on it, and produces a crop useful to those for whose sake it is cultivated, receives a blessing from God. But if it bears thorns and thistles, it is worthless and near to being cursed, and its end is to be burned. - Hebrews 6:1-8, ESV
Some things you have and hold precious can be lost. I'll never forget the Sunday morning I was in church when I looked down and did not see my wedding band on my hand. I had recently lost weight, and it had gotten loose, and then it was gone. I was devastated. I could barely focus on the rest of worship that day. Immediately after the service, I began frantically searching for my wedding band. Sadly, I never found it. The one I wear now is a replacement.
Other things you have cannot be so easily lost. I do not expect to some day look down in the middle of a worship service and realize I have accidentally lost my right hand. Why not? Because it is truly part of my body, and not just something I wear.
Hebrews contains two famous passages warning of the danger of falling away, today's passage inch. 6 and another in ch. 10. This has led most Bible scholars to conclude that this letter was written to a group of Christians in danger of apostasy, that is, of falling away from the faith. But is it possible for someone to lose their salvation, to belong to Christ by faith and then be lost? No, but in another sense, yes.
John 10:22-42, Romans 8:31-39 and other passages emphasize the believer's security in Christ. If we belong to Jesus Christ by saving faith, so that we are joined to Him and He is joined to us in true spiritual union, nothing can break that union. Yet it is possible for someone to profess faith in Jesus, be actively involved in His church, and then fall away and be lost. What's the difference? It's kind of like the difference between wearing a wedding band and having a right hand: One is something you wear, while the other is an integral part of you.
All professing believers involved in church life are in a covenant relationship with God. They receive many blessings from this covenant relationship. But being a part of this blessed covenant of grace community is not the same thing as truly belonging to Christ by saving faith. To use the language if Romans 9:6-7, "
This is why Paul urges the Corinthians to examine themselves to see whether they are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5) . A passage like Hebrews 6 shouldn't terrify us, but it should sober us up and cause us to pray and search our hearts and God's word to see if we are truly trusting in Jesus alone for our salvation, or if we are just making a show of faith without any substance.