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Question

Is it possible to lose your salvation? Hebrews chapters 6 and 10 seem to suggest so.

Answer

Thank you for your deep and important question about people falling away from God. I have pasted below the two passages that I believe you are referring to:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt (Hebrews 6:4-6)

And

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgement (Hebrews 10: 26-27).

These passages have been at the centre of much Christian debate over the centuries. There are two ways to understand them: that they refer to genuine Christians who fall away, or to apparent Christians who were only temporarily committed to the gospel. I take the latter view because the first one contradicts other passages of the Bible, for example:

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)

Jesus answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one" (John 10:25-30).

This question is important to view in light of Jesus' work on the cross. Jesus died and took the punishment for the sin of his people. Jesus took all of their punishment for their sin and made them right with God. Jesus finished his work on the cross by saying "It is finished" (John 19:30).

There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1)

Nothing can separate God's people from God. Jesus died for them and gave them the gift of faith. God's people cannot lose this gift.

I think, therefore, that these passages don't refer to people who have genuinely been converted but to people who had become a part of the Church for a time, saw the reality of Jesus' power and love (the 'tasted' the good things of God), knew in their hearts it was true, but were never truly right with God through Christ. This still happens in churches, regrettably. You see people full of enthusiasm for God, who seem genuinely converted for a while but then they turn against it all. They are especially hardened in their hearts, perhaps because their experience is like an inoculation - which gives people a small dose of some infection that makes them resistant to its full power. They have 'tasted' the powers of the age to come without swallowing them, so to speak.

People sometimes criticise this view (what might be called 'once-saved, always saved'), as teaching that we can sin freely without God's disapproval. However, there are other reasons for a true believer to avoid sin than fearing the loss of salvation. Paul says:

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? (Romans 6:1).

This is a very complex question, but I do not believe that someone can lose their salvation. If someone does sin the answer is always to look again to the cross and turn back to God. We all need to do this on a daily basis. God will forgive people who call on the name of Jesus. No sin is too big for Jesus to forgive.

I hope this answer helps you to find peace with God through Jesus Christ. If you want to know more about what Jesus has done for you please watch the video on the main part of our site: Watch the video

I encourage you to attend a local Bible believing church and speak to the leader about your question. If you want to find a local church, our Church Finder may help you: Find a Church

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*All Scripture references are taken From The English Standard Version of the Holy Bible unless stated otherwise

*If anything in this answers affects you directly, then please feel free to call our confidential prayer line in the UK on 0845 4567729, where trained Christian volunteers will take your call and pray both for you and with you. If you are outside of the UK then you may submit your request for prayer on line at www.ucb.co.uk/prayerline


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