4It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6if 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 to public disgrace.
Yet in this same chapter, there are other references to “enduring to the end” and “hope of salvation”:
11We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.
19We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
There’s something more to this. There seems to be a sort of condition or caveat in verse 6 with the phrase “to be brought back to repentance.” In other words, it’s not impossible to bring them back, but to be brought back to repentance is impossible. I found it curious that it doesn’t say “to be brought back to salvation.”
I needed to understand this so I looked up the Greek word for “fallen away”. It’s parapipto which means “to stumble or fall along side.” It’s not the word apstosia from which we get the idea of apostate or apostacy.
What am I getting to? Look one more time at the first verse of this chapter:
“1 Therefore, leaving the discussion of the elementary principles of Christ, let us go on to perfection, not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, ” (NKJV – emphasis mine)
The book of Hebrews has many references to showing faith through works. All this leads me to wonder if the writer of Hebrews is not talking about loosing faith that leads to salvation at all. Perhaps the writer is saying we can loose our effectiveness as a witness for Jesus Christ. Look at verses 7-9:
7 For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; 8 but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned. 9 But, beloved, we are confident of better things concerning you, yes, things that accompany salvation, though we speak in this manner.
The things that accompany salvation – the works – are those things I believe the writer is saying are impossible to regain or to be “brought back to repentance.” Verses 7 and 8 remind us that we’re here to bear fruit on this earth – to show an example of Jesus Christ and through our works, produce fruit.
There’s another reference to this situation in the Bible that comes to mind in Revelation chapter 2, where Jesus warns the church at Ephesus that even though their deeds are good, their work is without love, and as a consequence, they will lose their lampstand, or in other words, their witness.
Bottom line: Perhaps for those who have tasted God, then fall away, it is impossible for them to regain their testimony and effective witness.
I pray something in these verses has prompted a desire to learn more. The more I study this issue of eternal security, the more I find out I do not know. Only through diligent study, prayer and discussion with other God-followers can we grow in knowledge. Please feel free to comment to my thoughts.
God bless your studies…