“And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence to the full assurance of hope until the end, that you do not become sluggish, but imitate those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.” ~ Hebrews 6:11-12
A young child is walking with his father in the Grand Canyon. The young child asks, “Dad, how close can I go to the edge without falling off?” Doubtless, this question strikes horror in the father and he replies, “Stay right next to me! Don’t even go near the edge.”
Scripture describes that in Christianity, there is a line, a spiritual edge of a cliff where we may fall away from Christ. What is the line? How do we know if we have crossed it? Scripture declares that salvation is available to all who receive Christ (John 1: 12). However, Scripture also urges believers to walk with Christ, keep the faith, abide in the Vine (2 Corinthians 13:5, John 15:5). Hebrews 6:4-6 states, “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
Consider the tension that exists in modern Christianity with the doctrine of “Once Saved, Always Saved.” Some groups believe and argue the point that a person cannot lose their salvation. The other group believes that you can lose your salvation. Calvary Chapel tends to lean towards the fact that we must be diligent to stay in the faith and heed the many warnings in Scripture against apostasy. However, I never want to approach the Scripture through the lens of my own ideology. I want to look at Scripture honestly.
What does this passage truly mean? Let’s look at it honestly with a fresh mind. This passage is very direct. It says that it is impossible to renew a person to repentance after they fall away. This goes against the doctrine that once a person is saved, they are always saved. People who argue this theology tend to deal with this passage by saying that the words “enlightened” and “tasted” simply mean a person who has dabbled in Christianity. However, that would mean that anyone who ever explores Christianity cannot come to repentance. This argument is like Biblical gymnastics to try and fit a particular passage into a particular ideology.
To take an honest look at the text reveals that the word tasted is the same word used to describe Jesus tasting death (Hebrews 2:9). This does not mean that Jesus just dabbled in death. It, in fact, means the opposite! When Jesus tasted death, he died and took the punishment of death for all mankind! So then, if a person who fully tasted Christianity, a person who is truly saved, falls away, they can never be renewed to repentance.
When I was a youth pastor, a few students came to me with their Bibles open to Hebrews 6. They explained to me that they had walked away from the Lord and were afraid because they could never come back. I asked, “Well, do you want to follow Christ?” They replied, “Yes! But we don’t think we can.” These students had not crossed the line. They still had a desire to follow Christ. They needed to make some life changes immediately and follow Christ wholeheartedly.
Only God knows what that line is that you cannot cross. Hebrews 6 shows that there is a line that a person can cross where they will never want to come back again. I do believe it is very difficult to cross this line. Jesus says He will leave the 99 to go after the 1 who is lost! I walked away from the Lord for a year, and He called me back to Himself. There is security in Christ. No controversy exists surrounding the fact that when a person walks close to the Lord, they are saved.
Like the young child, we may ask, “How close can I get to the line and still be saved?”
Jesus responds, “Just stay close to me. You will be safe.”