Summary: When all is said and done, we need to make sure we are saved. (NOTE: PPT for any of my messages is available (FREE) by emailing me.)
CODE YELLOW ALERT
Warning about Salvation
* One of the bedrock beliefs of Baptist is something called the “Security of the Believer.” This belief has frequently been termed “Once saved, always saved.” Without equivocation, let me say that this belief is one of my deeply personal convictions, but not because it’s Baptist, but because it’s Bible. There exist too many references in God’s word about the believer knowing, being secure, and having eternal life, to believe that the authentic believers could ever lose their salvation. (John 6:27, 2 Cor 1:22, Eph 1:13, 1 Jn 5:13)
* However, what is clear to me and should be clear to all of us is that the writer of Hebrews felt inspired by God to give us a warning relative to salvation. A cursory reading of verse 4 is enough to shake any believer. So what does this mean? What is the writer attempting to express? (We should note that this passage is one of the most hotly debated passages of scripture in the entire Bible) It is my belief that we can dig in to find out what this warning is about.
1. The Interpretations we wrestle with. As I already stated this text gives us cause for friendly debate to achieve understanding because it certainly means “something.” Calvinist have a problem with this text because it would seem to suggest that one can “fall from grace” while Armenians have a problem with this text because it would seem to state that “if you fall from grace, you are now outside of the reach of God.” Let me offer you 3 basic possible interpretations for this text (not original with me);
a. #1 – After being saved, you can lose your salvation and not have any hope of eternal life. While this teaching flies in the face of the words of Jesus, Paul, and John, it is interesting to note that the very same groups of believers who believe you can lose your salvation are the very same ones who believe you can be “saved again.” Yet, the word “impossible” means exactly that, without possibility. In other words, if you do not believe in once saved, always saved, YOU HAVE to believe in twice lost, always lost. But be clear about this, the Bible clearly teaches that authentic believers are sealed, secured, and even sheltered by God the Father.
b. #2 – speaks to this very truth by saying this is a ‘hypothetical’ statement. If you should actually lose your salvation or if there was a way for you to lose this gift of God, then you could never be saved again. The action here is on the “if”, the hypothetical possibility. While some we subscribe to this and point out that this is simply a sobering warning, others express, ‘if this is not a possibility, it is absurd to offer it as an argument.’
c. #3 – points out that there is no “IF” in the Greek language and that in the original language there is a present perfect tense signifying an ongoing action. The crux of this interpretation is found in the concept of “having fallen away”, which implies only professors & not possessors.
* If any of these three interpretations are accurate, it is a cause for great concern among the fellowship.
* Let’s just be candid; Every person here knows someone who has made a profession of faith, been baptized, and maybe seemed to have a hot heart for a short period of time, only to choose to return to their old lifestyle. What does this scripture teach us about that person? Did they lose their salvation or were they never authentically saved or do you really believe that once you are saved, you have fire insurance and can do whatever you want and God will just accept it? Just saying this raises the alert level.
2. The Issues we pour over – It serves us well to come to difficult text like this because in this land where attending church services and becoming a member of a congregation is so easy, we need to pour over the serious issues of salvation and what it means to be an authentic believer.
a. The Meaning of being a believer – This is one of the concepts which has seemingly changed through the years. Look at descriptive words in verses 4-6. Those who were once enlightened, “tasted” the heavenly gift, become companions with the Holy Spirit, and “tasted” (again) God’s good word. Do you know what is very interesting about this? Today, the majority of people see this as what it means to be saved. Yet, in the New Testament days, this did not describe an authentic believer. There are many who only “become “enlightened” to the things of God only to turn and walk away. To be a believer means that we do more than simply taste or become enlightened. Instead of simply taste the good news, we must swallow the food until it is what is giving us our strength. It’s about life change.