Those Who Fall Away
“If they then fall away, since they are crucifying again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt” (Heb. 6:6).- Hebrews 6:6
Hebrews 6:4–6 paints the dreadful picture that it is impossible to restore to repentance those who fall away. It is impossible to restore those who may have done many things in order to show that they were genuine Christians (6:4–5). As such, many believe that the passage teaches that genuine Christians can lose their salvation.
But this position does not fit the evidence of this text or the rest of the Bible. Since the characteristics of the group that falls away may be true also of unbelievers in the church, we cannot automatically interpret the text as teaching that genuine Christians can lose their salvation. However important this may be, the most compelling reason for believing that 6:4–6 does notteach that genuine Christians may lose salvation is found in 6:7–8, which we will look at tomorrow.
Today we examine Hebrews 6:6, which tells us that the sin that prevents someone from being brought to repentance is the sin of falling away. The sin in view here is a conscious, unrepentant denial of Christ and not necessarily some sin like murder. While heinous sin may sometimes be evidence of a conscious denial of Christ, that is not necessarily the case. Consider David as an example of one who committed the sin of murder but was later revealed to be a gen- uine believer through repentance. Believers do sometimes sin heinous- ly, but heinous sin does not always indicate that a person is unconverted. A sinner who evidences genuine sorrow over sin shows that the Holy Spirit is working in his heart and is not forever lost.
Peter and Judas illustrate this point well. Both men sinned when they publicly denied Christ. Peter repented and found restoration even though he sinned in such a way, but Judas attached himself to the church without real faith (John 6:64). Thus, the Holy Spirit would not bring him to repentance.
Finally, we are also told that those who fall away crucify the Son of God again (Heb. 6:6). The reason for this statement is clear when we see that those who fall away did have some genuine experience of the truth. The leaders in Jesus’ day knew Jesus was from God but claimed otherwise when they crucified Him. Those who fall away after experiencing the truth of Christ join the religious leaders of Christ’s day in denying the promise of God in the Gospel, and thus crucify again the Son of God.
If we have saving faith, we will never fall away. The Father will not allow anyone, even ourselves, to snatch us from Christ’s hand (John 10:27–29). One way He ensures this is through repentance and restoration. Through the work of the Holy Spirit, God works in our hearts in bringing us to repentance, and He restores us by His sustaining grace.
Passages for Further Study
Matt. 26:14–16; 27:3–10
John 18:15–27; 21:15–19