Salvation

 

 

2. Can a believer lose his salvation? In other words, can those who had a real experience with God lose their state of grace?

 

 

Yes, a believer can lose salvation. The Scripture clearly teaches that this possibility exists. Let us see what the Scripture says.

The author of the epistle to the Hebrews says: “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. For the earth which drinks in the rain that often comes upon it, and bears herbs useful for those by whom it is cultivated, receives blessing from God; but if it bears thorns and briers, it is rejected and near to being cursed, whose end is to be burned” (Hebrews 6:4-8 – NKJV).

Now I am going to expound these words. First of all I want to say that those about whom the Scripture says: “If they fall away” are believers. Why do I say this? Because I know that some Christians think that those about whom the Scripture says: “If they fall away” are not believing persons, or rather they are not true believers. In other words, according to some Christians, these people who may fall away look like believers outwardly but actually they are not true believers. But that is untrue because the things which are said about these people can be said only about true believers. On the other hand, the writer of that epistle wrote to believers, and if he had cited as an example what might have happened to false believers in order to warn believers of a risk they could not run because they were true believers, it would not have made sense!! Don’t you think so?

Not only that, we say also that the above mentioned words apply to mature Christians who are well versed in the Word of God, and not to babes in Christ. But let us look closely at these words.

Those who were once enlightened are the believers who, after they lived in darkness, through the Word of God, which is light, and the Holy Spirit, who was sent into the world to convict the world of sin and of righteousness and of judgment, acknowledged their sins (that is, they recognized they were sinners before God) called upon the Lord so that He might have mercy on them. On that blessed day, a great light dawned upon them, darkness vanished and the light of the Lord came upon them. Therefore they were enabled to see the light. That the passage applies to believers is confirmed by the fact that a little further the writer tells those believers to recall “the former days in which, after you were illuminated, you endured a great struggle with sufferings” (Hebrews 10:32 – NKJV).

Once they were enlightened, they tasted the heavenly gift, which is eternal life because the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23). The apostle John, speaking about Jesus, says that He is “the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20 – NKJV). Obviously, those who have tasted the heavenly gift have tasted the goodness of God, that is, they have tasted that the Lord is good, for Peter says to the saints: “You have tasted that the Lord is good” (1 Peter 2:3 – NIV).

After they tasted the heavenly gift, they became partakers of the Holy Spirit, which means that they received the Holy Spirit, that is to say, they received the baptism with the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Just as when one receives Christ, he becomes partaker of Christ (Hebrews 3:14), so when one receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit, he becomes partaker of the Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.

In addition to this, these people tasted the good word of God because they delighted themselves in the Word of God. Therefore, they meditated on it, they put it into practice, it became their joy, their interest in the word of God was profound and not superficial.

They received also some gifts of the Holy Spirit, for the Scripture says that they have tasted the powers of the age to come. The gifts of the Spirit are not powers of this age. Therefore they have received some of the following gifts: gifts of revelation (the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, discerning of spirits), gifts of word (prophecy, different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues); gifts of operation (the working of miracles, gifts of healings, faith).

Now, if these people fall away, and I say it again, if they fall away, then they can’t repent and they can’t return to the Lord any more. However, I would like to point out that this fall is not any fall (or sin) for it is written: “A righteous man may fall seven times and rise again” (Proverbs 24:16 – NKJV), but is a particular fall, from which it is impossible for them to rise again. This is confirmed by the fact that the Scripture says that if they fall away it is impossible “to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:6), whereas the same Scripture says that it is possible for those who commit any other sin to be brought back to repentance, in that God gives them time to repent. In the Scriptures of the New Testament we have the example of those servants of the Lord who committed adultery with Jezebel (Revelation 2:21-22), about whom the Lord said to John that if they did not repent of their deeds, He would cast them into great tribulation (Revelation 2:22). We have also the example of those believers of the Church in Corinth who had sinned, for God had given them time to repent: listen to what Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Lest when I come again, my God will humble me among you, and I shall mourn for many who have sinned before and have not repented of the uncleanness, fornication, and lewdness which they have practiced” (2 Corinthians 12:21 – NKJV). Therefore, I repeat myself, the fall of Hebrew 6:6 does not refer to any fall but to a particular fall. I have said what this fall is not; now let me explain to you what this fall is. This fall consists in denying the Lord wilfully, in casting away one’s faith, in forsaking the Lord. It does not consist in wandering from the truth because it is possible for those who have wandered from the truth to repent and return to the Lord, for James says: “Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20 – NKJV), and Paul, speaking of the servant of the Lord, says: “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26 – NKJV); but it consists in an everlasting backsliding from which it is impossible to return to the Lord.

With regard to the fact that it is impossible for them to repent, I want you to notice that since the Scripture says that if they fall away, it is impossible for them “to be brought back to repentance” (Hebrews 6:6 – NIV), it is evident that one day these people had been brought to repentance; so this proves that the Scripture here is speaking of true believers.

What destiny is awaiting then those who fall away? Here is the answer: “For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace? For we know him that hath said, Vengeance belongeth unto me, I will recompense, saith the Lord. And again, The Lord shall judge his people. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:26-31). As you can see, the raging fire that will consume the enemies of God is awaiting these people, they will be punished much more severely than those who reject the law of Moses, because they have trampled the Son of God underfoot and counted the blood of the covenant (that is, the blood of Jesus Christ) by which they were sanctified (this also proves that they were true believers for they were holy brothers, partakers of the heavenly calling) a common thing, and they insulted the Holy Spirit. Therefore those who deny the Lord insult the Holy Spirit (that is, they blaspheme against the Holy Spirit) and we know that the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven men, as it is written: “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men” (Matthew 12:31).

I conclude by reminding you of the following words of Paul: “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:11-13). Therefore, our aim must be to die in Christ in order to go to be with Him; our aim must be to endure so that one day we may also reign with Him. Far be it from us to deny the Lord, for if we deny Him, He also will deny us and thus we will go to perdition.

Of course, during our pilgrimage we all stumble in many things, but God has promised us that He will remain faithful, for the apostle John says: “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 – NKJV).

O, Lord our God, how great is your faithfulness. To You be the glory now and forevermore. Amen.

 

 

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