By Brannon Howse
Twisted Scripture Number 24
The Scripture: For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 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.
The Twist: Some say Hebrews 6:4-6 teaches that you can lose your salvation. They believe it teaches that someone can be a believer, can be saved, and then do something that causes the person to lose his or her salvation. Thus this verse is used to teach against the idea of eternal security.
It is nearly impossible to overstate the importance of understanding the biblical teaching of eternal security. People in many different denominations do not hold to the teaching of eternal security, but I don’t know how they sleep at night if they do not have the peace of the biblical guarantee that we are “once saved, always saved.” It’s very dangerous when people teach that believers can lose their salvation. Such teaching undermines the authority of Scripture and what’s taught in the Word of God.
You may think, “Howse, you believe once saved, always saved? That a person can say he’s a believer and then go live however he pleases?” No, that’s not what this doctrine is talking about.
What I do believe is that once someone is truly saved he or she will endure to the end. True believers will persevere in the faith. Am I saying that someone who is truly saved will never sin again? No. Can true believers fall into gross sins? Yes, unfortunately they can. And when true believers fall into sin, there are a couple of different responses they may get from God, as I’ve noted earlier. The Lord is going to chastise them or discipline them—whom He loves, He chastens or He chastises or He disciplines. They’re going to be convicted of their sin, and they’re going to repent and be restored. But their sinning doesn’t result in losing their salvation. It’s a matter of the person needing to repent and restore the relationship with God. But if you’re truly saved, you’re truly saved. Period.
I’ve also explained that sometimes God does not give a believer the chance to restore the relationship because the person is such a poor witness or testimony that God removes the person. When someone lives a wanton life of disobedience and sin, though, then we have to question, based on lifestyle choices, whether or not that person is truly saved. And the Bible says that is completely acceptable to do. We can’t pronounce final judgment on their soul—God does that—but we can evaluate the fruit in the person’s life. We can ask, “Does this person’s life line up with the fruits or hallmarks of a believer?”
Eternal security does not mean a Christian can live however he or she wants. In fact, a true believe will not want to live a life of disobedience. Many false converts, on the other hand, do live that way. Jesus speaks of this in Matthew 7:21-23:
Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Many people will be shocked to find themselves in hell someday, yet the Scriptures talk about the tares among the wheat and the goats among the sheep. There are many people who claim to be believers but who are not. Nevertheless, those who are truly saved cannot lose their salvation.
So let’s return specifically to Hebrews 6:4-6 and analyze exactly what the passage teaches us. What does “it is impossible . . . to renew them again to repentance” mean? We know these verses cannot be teaching that Christians can lose their salvation because, as we’ve said before, Scripture cannot contradict Scripture, and John 10:28 tells us plainly that no one can pluck us out of His hand: “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.”
In order to determine how the Hebrews passage is consistent with this teaching in John, let’s look first at the word “enlightened.” You see, many people can be enlightened or receive knowledge, but it does not mean they are saved. Being enlightened means simply that a person has been shown the truth or that the truth has been told to him or her. And that’s what this is saying, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened,” or who have heard the truth, or have been given the knowledge of the Gospel.
The next line is who “have tasted the heavenly gift.” And what is the greatest gift heaven has to offer? It’s Jesus Christ. The writer of Hebrews is saying, “Some of you have heard the Gospel, have had the truth of the Gospel revealed to you. You have been enlightened with the truth of the Gospel.” It doesn’t mean these people are saved but only that they heard the Gospel and were made aware of the truth of Jesus Christ, heaven’s greatest gift.
Then the writer of Hebrews declares that these people had become partakers of the Holy Spirit. This could mean that they actually saw some of the miracles done by the apostles who were empowered by the Holy Spirit or that they had at least been exposed to the ministry of the Holy Spirit in some manner. The Holy Spirit may have even revealed to some of them their sinfulness and need to repent and place their faith and trust in Christ, yet they did not respond. As a result, they remained unbelievers.
Their seeing the Holy Spirit at work could have happened because Jesus said, when He ascended into Heaven, that “I must go so the Comforter can come.” As a result of the coming of the Spirit, Christ’s disciples became His apostles. They were filled with the Holy Spirit and could do miraculous things. Some of the people to whom the author of Hebrews is writing (we don’t know for sure who wrote the book of Hebrews) is simply saying, “You heard the Gospel; you were enlightened. You heard the truth. You tasted the heavenly gift. You were aware of the truth of Jesus Christ. Some of you were partakers of the Holy Spirit in that you saw the Holy Spirit doing miraculous works through the apostles, or the Holy Spirit was even revealing truth to you.” The writer says they tasted the good word of God; they had heard the Word preached. They tasted the “powers of the age to come.” That means they saw the miracles done by the apostles, and those miracles were a foretaste of the great works to come in the future, in the millennial Kingdom Age. They tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come—the Kingdom Age when Jesus Christ rules and reigns on earth for one thousand years—in which such miracles and wonders and powers will be commonplace.
Then we come to the phrase “if they fall away.” This is a reference to “apostasy”—to fall away from traditionally held biblical truths. The phrase is full of meaning: if they become apostate, reject the faith, reject the truth of God’s Word and the Good News, and reject the Gospel. Even though they may have seen the work of the Holy Spirit through signs and wonders performed by the apostles and experienced some degree of conviction by the Holy Spirit, they fall away and reject Jesus Christ. Once that’s happened, the writer wonders (rhetorically), “How can they be renewed to repentance since they crucified for themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame?” These “fallen-away ones” are saying by their rejection of Christ: “We believe Jesus Christ deserved to be crucified. We’ve heard and seen what you apostles call proof, but we reject it. We don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God.” What hope is there for someone who’s been enlightened, who’s heard the truth, who has tasted the heavenly gift, Jesus Christ, seen the power of the Holy Spirit, tasted the Word of God, heard the Word of God, and seen the power of miracles and signs and wonders but has rejected it all? None. There is nothing else that can be done for them. What, beyond these things, could ever make someone believe in the truth claims of Jesus Christ and the need to repent and place faith and trust in Christ? The straightforward answer is: Nothing.
First John 2:19 also speaks of this:
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.
This passage is about false teachers, but it could also apply to false converts who come into the fellowship, into a New Testament Church, claim to follow God, claim to be believers, but don’t remain in the truth. These don’t persevere in the faith. They were false converts. We actually see this same thing in Matthew 12 with Jesus Christ Himself when Jesus encounters the Pharisees. Here’s what we read:
Then one was brought to Him who was demon-possessed, blind and mute; and He healed him, so that the blind and mute man both spoke and saw. And all the multitudes were amazed and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”
[In other words, could this be the Messiah?]
Now when the Pharisees heard it they said, “This fellow does not cast out demons except by Beelzebub, the ruler of the demons.”
[No, the Pharisees are saying, “He does this by the power of Satan.”]
But Jesus knew their thoughts, and said to them: “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation, and every city or house divided against itself will not stand. If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself.”
Jesus counters their thoughts with, “You say I do these miracles by the power of Satan, but how does Satan cast out Satan? I’m casting out demons, and if I’m doing this by the power of Satan, then Satan is casting out Satan? Wouldn’t that make Satan divided against himself?” Jesus is simply trying to reveal to them who He really is, but they’re not accepting it. So He pushes the point further:
How then will his kingdom stand? And if I cast out demons by Beelzebub, by whom do your sons cast them out? Therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God, surely the kingdom of God has come upon you.
“Surely,” Jesus is saying, “you have seen or tasted the power of the age to come, or the kingdom to come”—just as we were reading in Hebrews 6.
The kingdom of God is not in physical manifestation now. Jesus said this in John 18:36:
My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.
Jesus pointed out something similar to the Pharisees when He said, “You’re seeing the evidence of my kingdom, and the power I have, and the kingdom from which I am from. And you’re rejecting it. Surely the kingdom of God has come upon you! You’ve seen it. I am the King. I am Messiah. I am Lord.” And yet the Pharisees reject Him.
One day God will bring a physical kingdom. Daniel 2 makes that clear. God’s kingdom will come; we don’t build it on earth. We build God’s kingdom in the spiritual realm as we preach the Gospel, but Daniel 2 explains that God will bring His kingdom to earth someday, and it will crush Satan’s kingdom. And of God’s kingdom, there will be no end.
If we continue reading in Matthew 12, we’ll see that Jesus really drives home this point as Matthew 12:30-32 proclaims:
He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters abroad. Therefore I say to you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man, it will be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it will not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.
Jesus is saying to these Pharisees, “You have blasphemed the Holy Spirit. You have seen the powers and the things that I have done. You have seen the power of who I am and the kingdom that I represent, and it’s been a foreshadowing of the things that will come in the future age. Your unforgivable blasphemy is not believing what the Spirit has shown you.” You see how similar this is to what the writer of Hebrews 6 says to the unbelievers he addresses? The Pharisees were attributing the power of Jesus to Beelzebub or Satan. They were attributing to Jesus—to God in the flesh—power from Satan. Now that is blasphemy!
So, does that kind of blasphemy go on today? No, as a matter of fact, it really does not. Why? Because Jesus is not physically here on earth, performing miracles. Thus, it is impossible to blaspheme the Holy Spirit in this specific manner. However, there is another way individuals can blaspheme the Holy Ghost today. While in Jesus’ day the Pharisees attributed His work to Satan, today false teachers attribute the work of Satan to the Holy Spirit. Nevertheless, it’s still blasphemy.
The false teachers of the Word of Faith or the New Apostolic Reformation blaspheme the Holy Spirit by saying the works they do by the power of Satan are being done by God. This is exactly what happens when people attribute to people like Cindy Jacobs, C. Peter Wagner and his followers, Lou Engle, Mike Bickle, Todd Bentley, Rick Joyner, or a host of these folks I’ve written about extensively in Religious Trojan Horse. They say they do miracles and signs and wonders by the power of the Holy Spirit. But no, they do not. These people are masquerading as ministers of God, but they are really ministers of Satan, as 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 declares:
For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
To come back around to our original twisted scripture, then, Hebrews 6:4-6 is not teaching that a believer can lose his or her salvation. The passage is not speaking of people who were once saved and then have fallen away and lost their salvation. It is specifically talking about people who were never saved. They heard the Gospel, and in some cases they saw the power of the Gospel, but they were never saved.
The most important takeaway here is that, as a true believer, you can have the peace of security in your salvation. As a true Christian you cannot lose your salvation, and only those who twist the scripture can arrive at the conclusion that you could.
Copyright 2014 ©Brannon Howse. This content is for Situation Room members and is not to be duplicated in any form or uploaded to other websites without the express written permission of Brannon Howse or his legally authorized representative.