A little while back, I found a post on this blog that I decided to answer. He quoted this passage in Hebrews (as I have done below) and asked if anyone had thoughts on what it meant. Of course, I did, and I felt like they were pretty well reasoned. No one ever responded to my comment, so I thought I would repost it here, to see if any of you would like to.
4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away,[a] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame. – Hebrews 6:4-6
This is definitely a difficult passage. Hebrews 10:26-30 is a little clearer in my opinion.
But basically, does this passage sound like Christians can fall away from God? From salvation? And if they do, does it further mean that they can never get that relationship back??
Well, I do absolutely believe that Christians can fall away and lose their salvation. Again, the passage in Hebrews 10 teaches that plainly – it talks about one who “was sanctified” looking forward to a “fearful expectation of judgment.”
But I don’t think that means we can never be forgiven. Romans 11:19-24 talks about this subject by comparing Christians to the branches of an olive tree. Those who were Jews and had rejected Christ, were cut off from God. But Paul tells the Gentiles not to be haughty, because if the Jews could have been cut off, the Gentiles could be as well, if they turned away. And then, if they repented, they could be “grafted” back in.
So even if we can fall from God’s grace, he will accept us back with loving arms when we see the error of our way. The parable of the Prodigal Son shows us exactly that.
I think Hebrews 6 is making the same point, and when it says “it is impossible to renew them to repentance,” I think it’s saying that as long as those Christians continue in sin, there’s no sacrifice for them… in other words, they can’t be saved while hanging on to that sin. Like Paul says in Romans 6:1-2, if we’ve died to sin, how can we continue in it? That’s the life that we are to put off, when we become Christians.
So as long as we refuse to give up sinful things, we can’t be “renewed again to repentance” because we mock the sacrifice that Christ made for us. As Hebrews 10 says, we “trample the Son of God under foot and count the blood of the covenant by which we were sanctified a common thing.”