Hebrews 6:4-6: Christians Losing Their Salvation?

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I learned another contemporary worship song this last weekend, “In Christ Alone,” words and music by Keith Getty & Stuart Townend (© 2001 Kingsway Thankyou Music). Overall, I liked most of the lyrics, and the music as well. It has the gospel: Christ’s birth, life, death resurrection and return. It actually sounds like a creedal song.

Having said that, as a Reformed pastor, I will not use it for worship or teaching. Why? First, it has hints of Arminian theology:

Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied;
For ev’ry sin on Him was laid—
Here in the death of Christ I live.

Did the authors write “ev’ry sin on Him was laid” to mean that Jesus died for the sins of all human beings, or in the sense of 1 John 2:2, “for the sins of the whole world?”

Second, just like most contemporary worship music, the theology of glory is hinted and maybe even evidenced in these words:

No guilt in life, no fear in death—
This is the pow’r of Christ in me.
Up from the grave He rose again!
And as He stands in victory,
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me.

Finally, and this is ironic—the authors are probably Arminian, and almost all evangelicals love this song—a few lines advocate the Reformed doctrine of the preservation and perseverance of the saints, which most Arminians hate together with all things Reformed:

No pow’r of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home—
Here in the pow’r of Christ I’ll stand.

This last point says a lot about the attitude of evangelicals concerning what they sing, which is, “I don’t know and I don’t care, as long as it moves me to sway and dance, or close my eyes and shed tears.”

Years ago, I was told by one of my high school students in Davao that their Pentecostal Bible study teacher told them that Calvin was wrong on this doctrine. The first two lines above allude to John 10:28-29:

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. 1

The teacher said that even if no one is able to pluck a believer out of God’s hand, that same believer may jump out of God’s hand if he wills to do so. Human “free will” rocks! Human “free will” reigns! Jesus was just kidding when he said, “My Father… is greater than all.” Just utter stupidity and foolishness!

For those who are wondering what this “perseveance” doctrine is all about, Tabletalk magazine has a series of devotionals on Hebrews 6:4-6, “one of the most difficult passages in all of Scripture,” which “has often been used with the attempt to prove that genuine Christians can lose their salvation.” No, this is not “once saved, always saved.” Not even “eternal security.”

To find out, here are the links to the series, verses 4-10:

“Impossible to Restore” (verse 4a)

“The Covenant Community” (verses 4b-5)

“Those Who Fall Away” (verse 6)

“A Good Crop” (verses 7-8)

“Sure of Better Things” (verses 9)

“God Remembers Us” (verse 10)

To download all of the above in one printer-friendly PDF document, click here.

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Notes:

  1. The Greek word used is harpadzo, which means “to grab or seize suddenly so as to remove by attacking or seizing.” And this also implies that the seizing is done “in such a way that no resistance is offered.” (BAGD, 134) This is the same word used in 1 Thessalonians 4:17, when believers “will be caught up together” in the air when Christ returns (see also Acts 8:39; 2 Cor 12:2; Jude 23). All of these uses eliminate the idea that the “snatcher” is more powerful than God’s hand, or that the believer is able to do jump out against God’s will.

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