Monday Minutes With Pastor Chris McCool (September 5, 2022)

In the last two editions of “Monday Minutes,” we shared an article by Elder C.H. Cayce on the topic of “from from grace.” I cannot presume to improve upon his writings, but I feel a burden to continue looking at this topic today.

For those who claim that a child of God can “fall from grace,” in the sense of completely losing his or her eternal salvation, Heb. 6:4-6 are verses that they use to support this position: “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, 5 And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 6 If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.”

As I have already said, these verses are often misunderstood and misapplied in the religious world. We sometimes hear preachers of other orders say that a child of God can “fall from grace” – that is, be eternally saved one day, but based upon his or her bad conduct, eternally lost the next – and use these verses as support for that proposition. But is that really what these verses mean?

The answer is a resounding, “NO!” This passage does NOT teach that children of God can lose their eternal salvation; rather, it teaches us an extremely important truth about the need for faithfulness and diligence in our discipleship. Let’s look at the details of this passage.

First of all, “no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation” (1 Pet. 1:20). In other words, we should never apply our own personal opinion to any verse, nor should we take that verse out of its context and try to make it say something that goes against the other verses around it. Moreover, there is NO conflict in Scripture, so where you find a clear statement of doctrine in one book, you’ll never find a conflict in doctrine in any other book. With this in mind, let’s look at the passage in Hebrews.

Let’s look at the context first. In this case, it is clear from the context that these verses are NOT talking about eternal salvation, but rather the discipleship of God’s children. After jumping right into the basic theology of Christ and His deity, the writer (whom I believe to be Paul) firmly admonishes that “WE ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which WE have heard, lest at any time WE should let them slip.” (Heb. 2:1). Notice that three times he uses the term “we.” This affirms that the Hebrew letter is written to those who, like the writer, have heard and believed the spiritual things of God. These who have heard and believed spiritual things must have already been born again, for otherwise they would not have heard or received them (1 Cor. 2:14).

We glean more context from the intervening chapters. Chapters two through five contain both doctrinal statements about Christ and His work, deity, and humanity, and are also filled with admonition to these believers to be diligent to learn and grow in grace. At the very end of Hebrews 5, Paul criticizes them for becoming “such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat,” and therefore being “unskillful in the word of righteousness.” Heb. 5:12-14. Then, as he opens chapter 6, he encourages them to “leav[e] the principles of the doctrine of Christ” and move on to maturity. Heb. 6:1-3.

Only at this point do we get to the verses about “falling away.” Remember that this letter is written to the born again, and the context is their discipleship. Paul affirms that he is talking to “those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come.” Heb. 6:4-5. In other words, this is a message to regenerated children of God! And the message is just this: “Don’t fall away from these basic doctrines of Christ; if you do, you will find yourself in a very bad place!”

You see, even a child of God can “fall away” in the sense of losing close fellowship with God. These Hebrew Christians were in danger of this. Paul had just admonished them for becoming “such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.” Heb. 5:12. Instead of being teachers, they were having to be re-taught! In Chapter 6, he tells them that they should be “leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ” and going “on unto perfection” (or maturity). Heb. 6:1.

So how does this match up with other places Scripture? Next week, we will look at some other verses from elsewhere in Hebrews, and other books of the Bible.

May the Lord bless you is my prayer!

Elder Chris McCool, Pastor