The book of Hebrews is not addressed to Christians saved by grace through faith, it is written to Jews under the Law who are considering the claims of Jesus Christ.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” Hebrews 6:4-6 (KJV)
Nearly every week. it seems, people will write in and ask me how I am able to reconcile Hebrews 6 with Paul’s doctrine of Eternal Security. The answer to this question begins in another Pauline verse of Scripture found in 2 Timothy:
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (KJV).
If you have not read our previous Bible studies on the importance of Rightly Dividing, please click here to catch up. Without a remedial understanding of what Paul meant when he told Timothy to “rightly divide” the word, this article won’t make much sense to you so please read it before going further.
Not all of the New Testament was written as doctrine for the Christian living in the age of Grace. In the NT, as in the Old Testament, God can be addressing any one of three different groups of people when He is speaking. Sometimes He is speaking to the Jews and Israel, sometimes it’s to the born again Church, and sometimes it’s to the lost gentiles. So the first thing we must do is to establish to whom God is speaking, let’s start with the book in question, Hebrews.
Our first clue is contained in the title of the book itself, and it is there we find who the book is addressed to, and that is to the Hebrew people otherwise known as the Jews. It does not reference the Body of Christ, the Church in any meaningful way. Rather, the writer of Hebrews speaks as one trying to persuade lost Hebrew people about the “better way” of Jesus Christ our High Priest. Chapter after chapter of Hebrews calls to mind the Old Testament and the Law of Moses, and carefully compares and contrasts that to the New Covenant with Jesus Christ. Going on the assumption that Paul is the writer of Hebrews, let’s call to mind his passion for his lost Hebrew brethren:
“I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen.” Romans 9:1-5 (KJV)
Now, if you will carefully read and pray over those verses from Romans 9, and then go back an reread the first 6 chapters of Hebrews, I can promise you it will begin to make sense to you. The book of Hebrews is not addressed to Christians saved by grace through faith, it is written to Jews under the Law who are considering the claims of Jesus Christ. And all through the book the writer is constantly comparing and contrasting life under the Law to life under Jesus Christ. As doctrine, it cannot be addressed to Christians because it advocates a works + faith salvation, and that goes against everything else Paul wrote. The book of Hebrews will have it’s full application during the time of Jacob’s Trouble, the Great Tribulation, where believers will be saved by faith + works, and they will have to refuse the Mark of the Beast at the cost of their own lives. The “better things” mentioned in Hebrews is the element of works, added to their salvation, that keeps them safe in God’s will.
“But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak. For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.” Hebrews 6:9,10 (KJV)
Paul, writing of the doctrine of Eternal Security, is very clear that when the believer is saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8,9), that they are SEALED IN by the Holy Spirit and that sealing will last right up to the very moment they come face to face with their Saviour, Jesus Christ:
“That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.” Ephesians 1:12-14 (KJV)
The Holy Spirit writing through Paul repeats this same point later on in chapter 4:
“And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” Ephesians 4:30 (KJV)
And just to silence the doubters of this doctrine, the Holy Spirit again through Paul hits this grand slam doctrinal home run out of the park in Romans 8:
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:35. 37-39 (KJV)
The eager Bible student shall note the following about these verses written to born again believers: Paul is asking if there is something, anything, that can separate us from Jesus Christ once we are in Him. He gives every type of external and internal thing that could cause you to lose your faith, things like hardships, influence of beings from the spirit realm, death, something now, something later, something we cannot anticipate. His last example is my personal favorite where he says “nor ANY other creature”. Do you know WHO the “any other creature” is referring to? Why, it’s referring to YOU. You couldn’t be unsaved even if you begged God to do it. Why not? Because HE sealed you in, you didn’t seal yourself in. It’s ALL Him, it’s ALL Jesus. He does the saving, He does the keeping, He watches over us for ETERNITY.
Eternal Security is a GREAT GIFT not given to anyone in the Old Testament, and only to the Body of Christ in the New Testament. David in Psalm 51 begged the Lord not to “take His Holy spirit from him” after he sinned greatly because he knew he didn’t have eternal security. David was saved by faith + his works, as all Jews in the Old Testament were, but not so in the Church Age. And after the Church is taken out in the Pretribulation Rapture, things return to how they used to be, that is to say faith + works.
Salvation is a FREE GIFT that you can only do one of two things with. You can either accept it and be saved or reject it and stay lost. But what you do not get to do with it is modify it in any way, shape or form. Jesus on the cross cried “It Is Finished!”, and so it comes to us as a finished, completed package. The revelation that Paul received clarifies that eternal security is for the Body of Christ alone. Did God do that because He thinks so much of us? NO. He did it because He thinks so much of what His Son did on the Cross, and then again on the Third Day.
In conclusion, Hebrews 6 on one hand, and Ephesians 1, 4 and Romans 8 on the other cannot possibly be written to the same group of people as doctrine. They are antithetical to each other and cannot be reconciled. But when we rightly divide what we are reading, and understand that Hebrews is written to unsaved Jews and Ephesian and Romans to born again Christians, we have perfect harmony. In 1 Corinthians 5, we see the story of the man who slept with his stepmother which Paul said was so great a sin that he was cast out of the Church fellowship and “delivered unto Satan”. But the man never “lost his salvation”, rather he received chastening from the Lord. In 2 Corinthians 2, Paul tells the people to welcome the repentant man back into their fellowship, but there is no mentioning of his being “resaved”. Sin causes the believer to temporarily lose FELLOWSHIP with the Lord, not their salvation. So let me close with the cure for the born again believers sin problem:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” 1 John 1:9 (KJV)