Sunday, July 8, 2018

Does Hebrews 6:4-6 Teach That Apostates Cannot Be Forgiven?

        The text of Hebrews 6:4-6 has been a source of controversy amongst Christians as to its meaning. It certainly is thought-provoking in a solemn sense. In fact, it has put believers into a state of needless panic over it seemingly teaching that people who depart from the truth of the gospel are beyond the reach of obtaining forgiveness from God. Nevertheless, we know beyond a reasonable doubt that Hebrews 6 cannot be teaching that idea, since Scripture elsewhere exhorts us to spiritually assist backsliders in coming to repentance (Galatians 6:1).

        What may serve as an antidote to this problematic passage of Scripture is the recognition that the audience to which this epistle was originally written was Jewish. It was primarily addressing Jewish Christians who were thinking of reverting to Old Testament Judaism in the face of upcoming persecution. In short, the author goes on to demonstrate Christ as being superior to the Old Covenant. He urges them to fervently hold fast to the gospel. They were in need of spiritual edification (Hebrews 6:1-3).

        This epistle goes in depth concerning various types, shadows, and how they are fulfilled in the New Testament. It describes Christ as being greater than Moses and the angels. It affirms Him to be our Sabbath and High Priest. The author of Hebrews affirms Christ to be greater than the temple and its sacrifices. He is the fulfillment of the Law, which cannot save us. Its customs are useless to us. Jesus established the New Covenant. The Jewish Christians were encouraged to continually remain faithful to the Lord and endure persecution for His sake (Hebrews 10:23-39).

        So, the point of this passage is not to say that God will refuse to forgive the sins of apostates who humbly turn to Him in repentance. Rather, those who persistently seek the Law as a means of justification are only destining themselves for eternal condemnation. These people are inexcusable because they already know and understand the truth of the gospel. The sacrificial alters have no power to redeem us. The priesthood cannot atone for our iniquity. Jesus Christ already made full atonement for our sin (Hebrews 10:10-14). We are place our trust in His work for salvation. Those who attempt to reinstate Old Covenant practices are putting Christ to an open shame. They are rejecting the sufficiency of His work. People who repent of their sin can receive mercy from God.

1 comment:

  1. What I see with Heb. 6:4-6 is that these are people who learned the Gospel, who know what it teaches (i.e. they have been "enlightened") and therefore have no excuse when they decide to reject it; they can't claim they never heard the message! They are worse off than if they hadn't heard it, because they now have absolutely no excuse before God.