“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted of the goodness of the Word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting Him [Jesus] to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessings of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.” (Hebrews 6:4-8)
I would like to start off today by saying that yes, this passage has proven difficult for some to accept. On the one hand, it seems to be talking about Christians. On the other hand, it seems to be talking about being cursed, and being burned, if we somehow don’t “measure up.” In order to “get out of this bind,” some have preferred to say that this passage couldn’t possibly be referring to Christians (I believe they are wrong, as our study is hopefully pointing out). Secondly, others have simply said, “Well, it is talking about Christians, and I guess this passage means that a Christian can lose their salvation.” But there is a third possibility in all of this, and that is the one espoused by many a careful Bible Scholar (for example, see The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (c) 1983, Victor Books/SP Publications, New Testament Edition, pp.795-796, By John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck).
What the passage is teaching is not that a person can lose their salvation — this would be inconsistent with the whole counsel of God, as revealed in the entire Bible. No, rather, the passage is truly a motivating passage — one which should make us think. And that is what it is designed to do. In fact, many passages are like that in the Bible. I remember when I wanted to get married, I had to agonize over 1 Corinthians 7, because it appeared as though it was teaching that it was in fact better to remain single than to get married. But this in itself is contrary to the whole counsel of God when God said (in Genesis 2:18, before sin entered the world) that “it is not good for the man to be alone.” Ever since that statement was uttered (and even before, of course), nothing has changed.
It has always been better for a man to be married, than to be single — after all, God said it! Yet, in 1 Corinthians 7, it seems to be teaching that a person ought to remain single if possible, and that it is somehow “higher” and “better” and “more noble” in God’s eyes if a person is able to do this. Of course, a careful and thoughtful study of 1 Corinthians 7 reveals that this passage does not teach this. This was the error of John Chrysostom, one of the early Church Fathers, who claimed that celibacy, in and outright, was the better option. Everything must be kept in proper context, and if a person studies the passage carefully, he/she will discover that at that time, there was an “impending situation,” or “present distress” (1 Corinthians 7:26) which made it better for a person to “remain as he is,” lest he be unable to cope with the present situation. Plus, as Lewis Smedes points out (a very good author, by the way), again, the point of this passage (in 1 Corinthians 7) is to challenge the serious-minded person about their real motives for wanting to get married — not to prevent them from getting married (which would be inconsistent with Genesis 2:18), but to challenge them on their real motives for wanting to get married, before they make such a great decision. How many people had wished they had paid more attention to this before they got married? So then, what Hebrews 4:4-8 has to offer us is also “serious meat” to chew on, in much the same way, I suppose, as does the 1 Corinthians 7 passage wish to challenge us. Let us therefore be challenged!