Is Salvation a Sure Thing or Dependent Upon Us? Part 9

June 3, 2015 at 6:54 AM 1 comment

Unbelief causes us to depart from God, who is TRUTH.

Unbelief causes us to depart from God, who is TRUTH.

Before we go any further, let’s take a look at Hebrews 6:6, shall we?

“…and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.

Like every other verse in Scripture, Hebrews 6:6 has a context and it needs to be considered. The immediate context is from verse 4 to 8. The larger context starts with verse 1 and of course, this section is really a continuation of the discussion that the writers to the Hebrews began in Hebrews 4. Let’s look at the immediate context, Hebrews 6:4-8.

“For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. 7 For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings forth vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8 but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed, and it ends up being burned.”

As numerous commentators have pointed out, this particular section of Scripture is taken to mean several things, depending upon which group of people you find yourself among. I have come to understand that this section is referring to authentic believers who have departed the faith. What this means – if you have taken the time to read the previous 8 posts in this series – is that the authentic Christian has chosen to embrace unbelief in some aspect of God and His truth. This is not impossible for true Christians to do and we had best own up to this fact. To deny this is to actually embrace untruth through unbelief. We most definitely need to avoid this at all costs. It is a point of pride really that causes Christians to believe they will never embrace error in this life. It is always possible, which is why the writer of Hebrews emphasizing this fact so often, encouraging his readers to enter into God’s rest. If they are actually already true believers, yet being encouraged to enter into some type of “rest,” the obvious implication is that simply being a Christian does not equate to entering into God’s rest.

The writer of Hebrews also seems to clearly note that this “rest” is something that happens after this life is over but is not simply limited to being in heaven. This makes me think that the writer is talking about rewards, crowns, and greater responsibility of believers in the next life into eternity future. These rewards are earned in this life, by constantly and continually embracing truth by believing God, taking Him at His Word every step of the way. We’ve seen numerous examples of believers who failed (in the previous articles in this series). We dare not make the mistake of thinking that we will never be one of them. It is foolhardy to think so.

The question that arises from this though is whether an authentic Christian in embracing unbelief actually loses their salvation? Obviously, those who believe that salvation can be lost point to this portion of Scripture as one of their pet proof texts. But based on everything that the writer to the Hebrews has stated from Hebrews 1:1 up to this point, it seems doubtful that this is the intent of the writer.

All right, so Hebrews 6:6 tells us that for those who have fallen away, something is “impossible.” What is that?

“To what is it ‘impossible’ for an apostate to be renewed? The writer said it is “repentance,” not forgiveness or salvation. Immediately the question arises whether this explanation is realistic, since some believers—who have departed from the truth—have repented and returned to the fold of the faithful. I believe the writer meant that in the case of apostates, the
really hard cases who are persistently hostile to Christ, it is impossible to restore such people to repentance (cf. vv. 1, 3, 7-8). The word ‘apostate’ refers to extreme cases of departure from the truth. We usually refer to less serious departure as ‘backsliding.’ This inability to repent is the result of sin’s hardening effect, about which the writer had sounded a warning earlier (3:13). It is also the result of divine judgment (cf. Pharaoh, Exod. 9:12; 10:20, 27; 11:10; 14:4, 8, 17).

For a long time, I have believed that this type of person who fell away due to embracing unbelief, was never really a Christian in the first place. Through study (and it is ongoing), I’ve come to conclude that if we understand exactly what God means by “departing the faith,” then we must admit that true Christians can depart from the faith. In a nutshell, this pointedly means that these believers at some point, embrace a false idea that stems ultimately from their unbelief.  At some point, they begin to embrace lies about God. This is unbelief. 

Moses was accused by God of unbelief (Numbers 20). Will you argue against God that this is not really what Moses did? If you do, then you will be guilty of unbelief and falling away from the truth.

Adam and Eve chose unbelief. They did this when they chose (or was deceived into believing a lie, as in the case of Eve), to embrace an unbelief about God. They agreed with the Tempter that God was a liar. They departed from the faith, they fell away from Him.

Peter was guilty of denying the truth about what Jesus would have to go through in Jerusalem. Jesus called him out for it. Peter then fell away again by denying that he even knew Jesus. He again embraced unbelief.

Christians are constantly being bombarded with having to embrace truth or lies in society. Our response to society’s lies determines whether or not we fall away or depart from God. For instance, society increasingly says homosexuality is normal and should be accepted as such. God clearly demonstrates (Romans 1) that it is not normal and is abhorrent to God. While we are not to condemn the homosexual nor are we to do what members of the Westboro Baptist Church have done, we must stand with God in agreement with Him that homosexuality is wrong. To rationalize it as many Christians have done today means departing from the faith, by calling God a liar. This is unbelief.

Any time a Christian embraces some form of unbelief, that Christian has departed from the faith. Put another way, that Christian has departed from the truth that God has revealed and embraced untruth, which is the same as unbelief as far as God is concerned. Can you – as a Christian – ever depart from the faith? Can you act or think out of a position of unbelief? Absolutely, and we need to be encouraged to never do this, while understanding that it is always a possibility.

When we see it like this, it becomes easy to see why people too often see Christianity as a set or list of rules and dos and don’ts, doesn’t it? Christianity is not a set of rules. It is an attitude of believing and that believing (ongoing, aorist tense in Hebrews), will either cause us to live rightly or live wrongly. It all stems from our believing. Do we believe God or do we cave into the deceit of the enemy, which causes us to disbelieve God? I honestly have to marvel at the simplicity of this truth.

Too often, Christians tend to see actions (because we cannot see a person’s heart or motivation), and call that action sinful or not. The actual reality though as we’ve learned is that while sin is often seen in the action, sin does not start in that action. The action itself is the out working of the sin that began in our heart (will) and whether we believe God or not.

Moses chose through unbelief to strike the rock twice. Had he been tempted to do that, but instead did what God told him to do, Moses would not have sinned. He was angry with the Israelites and rather than controlling his anger, he allowed his anger to control him and he sinned because of it. His anger clouded his thinking and instead of doing things God’s way, Moses thought he had a better way. Ultimately, he came to believe that God’s way was not the best and his way was. Proverbs 14:12 certainly applies here.

“There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

Every time we choose unbelief, we die a bit, spiritually. For some, the unbelief may be so great that God chooses to end that person’s life. Moses thought his way was right. It was wrong. It ended in death, literally. Are you above Moses? Are you above Ananias and Sapphira? Are you above Peter? Do you think you are unable to fall away from God by embracing an attitude of unbelief? If so, then you are actually ripe for falling away.

Let us encourage one another to reject all forms of unbelief. Let us press on to the high calling that we have in Christ Jesus. Let us run the race with perseverance, submitting ourselves to Him every step of the way. Let us not falter, but continue on so that He and He along will be glorified.

Let us run and not grow weary. Put away every falsehood (lie based on unbelief) and keep our eyes focused on the prize. Let us not fail to run in a way that qualifies us to enter fully into the rest that God has set aside for us, a rest that He will bestow on those who have not departed from the faith.

I do not believe our salvation can be lost, though I am very well aware that there are many who believe it can be lost. I believe that though we might become unfaithful through episodes of unbelief, He will not.

Let me say this regarding the folks who believe that salvation can be lost. Though I believe they are in error, I also believe that it is better to err on the side of caution and to diligently inspect our lives on a daily basis to determine whether or not there is anything that might cause us to depart from God’s truth, even if only for a short moment of time. That should create within us a righteous fear that will – hopefully – keep us from denying God and His truth.

There are too many today who believe that because salvation is guaranteed, they can live any way they choose to live and God will “forgive.” No, the reality is that God expects us – calls and warns us – to live a life in complete, continual, and ongoing belief in Him. This is ongoing attitude should guide every Christian daily, until we take our last breath. Then, there will no longer be a need for faith because we will then actually see.

Obviously, I have not covered every portion of Scripture that teaches about our salvation. That’s what the Bible is for and that’s what YOU and I are meant to do as we look to His Word for His truth. If you find that you disagree with me, that’s fine. Take it to the Lord. Study His Word. Ask and allow God to speak to you so that you will be rightly dividing His Word, a workman who will not be ashamed later on.

Believing in God means obeying God. Sin is unbelief. I want to spend more time going over why Christianity is not a list of rules or dos and don’ts and why it is instead a relationship with Christ that pivots on our continued belief in Him…or not. Join me then.

Entry filed under: christianity, Demonic, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation.

Is Salvation a Sure Thing or Dependent Upon Us? Part 8 Good News of Hebrews 4…

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