Often in these conversations the subject of eternal security arises. I believe that a Christian is eternally secured, preserved by Christ’s finished work on the cross vs. the perseverance of the Christian to prove his salvation. The former rests in the finished work of Christ while the latter has no rest as they must constantly convince themselves and seek assurance of their salvation.
I was reading in Hebrews 6 that difficult passage that seems to indicate the potential to lose one’s salvation:
4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age 6 and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
As I read this again it dawned on me that the writer is not talking about an individual person’s ability to lose their salvation but he is writing about the fate of unrepentant Israel. Israel was enlightened by the prophets, tasted of the heavenly gift of the blessings of God, experienced the presence of the Holy Spirit, lived in prosperity while the national posture obeyed the commands and experienced the very presence of the Son of God in their midst.
But instead of receiving Christ, they rejected Him and spread false rumors of Jesus’s demise and made claims that He never rose again but His disciples stole His body away. It’s in that sense that they keep Jesus on the cross because they cannot let go of the condemnation that put Him on the cross so they continue to subject Jesus to public disgrace. To think otherwise is to admit that His charges were false and that He really is the Messiah.
Notice the text that follows:
7 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 blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
For the Hebrew recipients, the use of the term “land” is a loaded one and represents the nation of Israel. That is why the writers of Hebrews uses that imagery to portray Israel as a barren land that does not produce so that it is burned up. It was only a few short years later that the temple was destroyed and much of Jerusalem was under fire.
But to assure the Hebrew recipients of their salvation, the writer follows with a statement that indicates that he wasn’t talking about them:
9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are convinced of better things in your case—the things that have to do with salvation.
This isn’t the only time that I have seen Biblical interpretators miss an author’s reference to Israel and in every case, it can lead to a twisted understanding if you miss it.
In this case, this text cannot be used to defend the teaching that one can lose their salvation.