Warning About Salvation

Title: Warning About Salvation

Bible Book: Hebrews 6 : 1-12

Author: Jerry N. Watts

Subject: Eternal Life; Salvation



One of the bedrock beliefs of Baptist is something called the “Security of the Believer.” This belief has frequently been termed “Once saved, always saved.” Without equivocation, let me say that this belief is one of my deeply personal convictions, but not because it’s Baptist, but because it’s Bible. There exist too many references in God’s word about the believer knowing, being secure, and having eternal life, to believe that the authentic believers could ever lose their salvation. (John 6:27, 2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13, 1 Jn 5:13)

However, what is clear to me and should be clear to all of us is that the writer of Hebrews felt inspired by God to give us a warning relative to salvation. A cursory reading of verse 4 is enough to shake any believer. So what does this mean? What is the writer attempting to express? (We should note that this passage is one of the most hotly debated passages of scripture in the entire Bible) It is my belief that we can dig in to find out what this warning is about.

I. The Interpretations

There are interpretations of this passage that we wrestle with. As I already stated this text gives us cause for friendly debate to achieve understanding because it certainly means “something.” Calvinist have a problem with this text because it would seem to suggest that one can “fall from grace” while Armenians have a problem with this text because it would seem to state that “if you fall from grace, you are now outside of the reach of God.” Let me offer you 3 basic possible interpretations for this text (not original with me);

A. #1 – Saved and Then Lost

Some believe this passage states that after being saved, you can lose your salvation and not have any hope of eternal life. While this teaching flies in the face of the words of Jesus, Paul, and John, it is interesting to note that the very same groups of believers who believe you can lose your salvation are the very same ones who believe you can be “saved again.” Yet, the word “impossible” means exactly that, without possibility. In other words, if you do not believe in once saved, always saved, YOU HAVE to believe in twice lost, always lost. But be clear about this, the Bible clearly teaches that authentic believers are sealed, secured, and even sheltered by God the Father.

B. #2 – Hypothetical Statement

Some say that this passage speaks to truth that those who are saved are secure by saying this is a ‘hypothetical’ statement. If you should actually lose your salvation or if there was a way for you to lose this gift of God, then you could never be saved again. The action here is on the “if”, the hypothetical possibility. While some we subscribe to this and point out that this is simply a sobering warning, others express, ‘if this is not a possibility, it is absurd to offer it as an argument.’

C. #3 – Professors and not Possessors

The passage actually points out that there is no “IF” in the Greek language and that in the original language there is a present perfect tense signifying an ongoing action. The crux of this interpretation is found in the concept of “having fallen away”, which implies only professors & not possessors.

If any of these three interpretations are accurate, it is a cause for great concern among the fellowship.

Let’s just be candid, every person here knows someone who has made a profession of faith, been baptized, and maybe seemed to have a hot heart for a short period of time, only to choose to return to their old lifestyle. What does this scripture teach us about that person? Did they lose their salvation or were they never authentically saved or do you really believe that once you are saved, you have fire insurance and can do whatever you want and God will just accept it? Just saying this raises the alert level.

II. The Issues

There are issues here that we must pour over.

It serves us well to come to difficult text like this because in this land where attending church services and becoming a member of a congregation is so easy, we need to pour over the serious issues of salvation and what it means to be an authentic believer.

A. The Meaning of being a Believer

This is one of the concepts which has seemingly changed through the years. Look at descriptive words in verses 4-6. Those who were once enlightened, “tasted” the heavenly gift, become companions with the Holy Spirit, and “tasted” (again) God’s good word. Do you know what is very interesting about this? Today, the majority of people see this as what it means to be saved. Yet, in the New Testament days, this did not describe an authentic believer. There are many who only “become “enlightened” to the things of God only to turn and walk away. To be a believer means that we do more than simply taste or become enlightened. Instead of simply taste the good news, we must swallow the food until it is what is giving us our strength. It’s about life change.

B. The Maturity of being a Believer

Let us never be confused about this; becoming a spiritually mature believer is very similar to maturing physically and emotionally. Let’s begin by looking at verses 1 and 2 to discern that characteristics which are laid forth here. We should come to the place in our lives that we do not have to continually lay the foundation repentance. Why? Because with our initial repentance behind us and our relationship in Christ growing, repentance should become a part of our lives as the Holy Spirit works in us to change us. Those things we did which were displeasing to God are now disappearing from our lives as the Holy Spirit takes control. Additionally, we don’t have to continually revisit all the foundations of the faith because they have not just become a part of our learning, but they are a part of our life. Baptism, Ordination, the Second Coming, and all the rest are things which we know, embrace, and most importantly LIVE OUT. This is not a request, but a requirement for the authentic believer. For this one is told to put aside the milk for babies and begin to eat the meat of the word. It’s not just a matter of intellectual, academic knowledge, it is about LIFECHANGE. Just like a child & adult.

C. The Mission of being a Believer

Personally, my concept about the “mission” of the believer has been in a state of change for quite some time. Let me attempt to explain; Jesus is very clear about the mission we have been given. That is, we are to “make disciples as we go through our life.” This mission is constant and permanent. However, taken in context of the rest of Jesus’ teachings, it seems to me that today’s average believer in the USA may have missed an integral part of Jesus’ command. Allow me to explain it with an illustration. At my house I have a golf instructional video by a man named Bob Mann. The title of this video is entitled “Automatic Golf.” Anyone who has played golf with any degree of proficiency knows that golf is anything but “automatic.” However, Bob’s concept was and is simple. If you use solid fundamentals, practice these fundamentals, and get everything right “BEFORE” the swing begins, then the golf swing becomes an automatic action. Back in the day when I was “pursuing” golf, I watch this VHS regularly and employed his principles. At that time my game improved over 12 strokes (which is an amazing improvement). Again, the secret was this; before you ever “started the swing” to get as much as possible in the right position and then just “let it happen.”

Now if you will, humor me, and apply that concept to the mission of being a believer. In the same way the golfer desires for the golf shot to go down the fairway the believer desires for his life and words to line up with the word of God and the mission given us by Jesus. In order for this to happen, there must be some fundamentals of faith which are already in place and active in our life. For instance, the first step is to trust Christ, the next step is to live out (not just know) His commands. For instance, “love the Lord God with all your HEART, SOUL, MIND, and STRENGTH.” Next, is to seek Him daily. This means regular Bible Study and prayer that is two way (a conversation). Next is to determine what call is on your life. Then perhaps as you study, you learn how to deal with the conflicts which come. In all of this, we learn HOW to be a believer. When we learn the HOW, then we will be able to share this method with others who need to know Christ. I wonder why it is that some of the same people who “say” they know the Lord and have “discovered” His purpose for their lives also say that they “rarely invite” someone to worship or Bible study.

III. The Impact

There is an impact that we have.

Personally, the key for this entire passage is found in the explanation of verses 7-12. As I read this section which speaks of rain, the ground, vegetation, thorns and thistles, salvation, service, and the rest; one concept comes to mind. Every life makes an impact of some kind. The impact is driven by our “faith.” That is, what we have faith in, how much faith we have, and the reach of our faith. Hebrews 11 say, “Faith is the reality of what is hoped for and the proof of what is not seen.”

It seems to me that this comes down to being sure that you and I are authentic believers and not some artificial offshoot of that which is real. With our faith we trust in Christ. We have faith that He is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. This is not a flippant faith which only tastes the good things of God but rather invests in the truth of God by embracing His every word. But this is only the beginning.

A. Faith produces Fruit

Better said, “Faith in Christ produces Good fruit” because every life produces fruit of some kind. The Bible tells us that “rain falls on the just and the unjust”. When the water of the Holy Spirit falls on a life, fruit comes forth. The type of fruit which is seen is only a representative of the kind of seed it comes from. For the authentic believer, “useful vegetation” is produces while for the artificial believer they’ll be thorns and thistles. I’ll offer just one illustration in the form of a question; do you really think an authentic believer, blessed by God, filled with the Holy Spirit can habitually produce the fruit of division? Obviously not, so it would seem that the fractious person is not an authentic believer because “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is peace.” Our faith impacts others by the fruit we produce.

B. Faith produces Faithfulness

In verse 9 & 10 we see an encouragement to be faithful and consistent. It speaks of “serving” and even “serving the saints.” Jesus said, “I didn’t come to be served but to serve” so by extension we can call on His words in John 20:21 that we are also to serve. With our faith firmly in Christ, it will almost destroy us not to be faithful and consistent because HE is so faithful and consistent. A “dead give away” these days about the heart of people is found in this concept. For some reason, we seem to have bought into a concept which says, “God will accept what I choose to give Him.” Yet, Jesus says, “Whoever puts His hand to the plow and looks back is not fit for the Kingdom.” You see, God didn’t send Jesus to die so that we can give Him our leftovers. He expects all. Authentic faith leads to authentic faithfulness which has a tremendous impact on those who watch us.

C. Faith produces Fortitude

Look at the last word in verse 12, it is perseverance. Most translations it reads “patience”. The Greek word means forbearance, longsuffering, patience, or perseverance. Here is where the “rubber meets the road”. An authentic faith in an authentic Savior will produce authentic believers with authentic faithfulness, fruit, and the fortitude to stick it out. Instead of “burning out”, we’ll stick it out. Instead of falling away, we’ll fall into. Instead of running out, we’ll run in. Do you know why? Because the authentic believer knows there is nowhere else to run.

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