Apostasy and the Christian
By Pastor Tony Butler
In my opinion the book of Hebrews stands alone among all the epistles as the most Christ centered book of the NT. The book of Hebrews is a book filled with glorious teachings of the grace of God. It is a masterful presentation of the absolute superiority of Jesus' life and ministry as God incarnate over all the prophets and angels. Hebrews reveals to us our Great High Priest and King after the order of Melchizedek Who sits at the right hand of the throne of God. There at the right hand of the father Jesus ever lives to make intercession for all believers before God the Father.
Jesus is revealed as a sympathetic, merciful and gracious High Priest to all believers who come to him for help. In the book of Hebrews we discover the boldness we have as believers to come into God's very presence by the blood of Jesus. Jesus' High Priestly ministry in the heavenly tabernacle and His superior ministry over the Levitical priests who ministered from an earthly tabernacle is clearly revealed in Hebrews. It presents the death of our sinless Savior on the cross as a onetime, all-sufficient sacrifice which eternally redeems, and eternally forgives our sins so as to remember them no more.
Hebrews is filled with glorious truths, blessings and benefits that come to all believers through faith in Christ. Hebrews is filled with wonderful power of good news for the people of God. But good news isn't the book's only motivator; it is also mixed with the motivational power of warning. There are five serious warnings are found in Hebrews which present some difficult passages that must be addressed honestly without trying to make them adapt to preconceived ideas of fixed theological systems created by man. These passages deal with this question: Does a true believer have the capacity to turn away from Jesus through unbelief to the point of apostasy and thus lose his/her salvation?
There are godly Christian teachers that have different approaches and viewpoints concerning the five warnings spoken in the book of Hebrews. I am going to list the warnings below, but I am only going to write on the fourth warning as found in Heb. 10:26-31, because of where we are in our study. It is impossible to give the subject of apostasy the time that is needed from a single sermon in the pulpit. I can assure you I will not develop all the issues in this paper as well. I am writing this paper to help the congregation see some of the issues and different opinions that are out there on the subject of apostasy. God bless you all as you study to show yourselves approved in this matter.
The Five Warnings Of Hebrews
Warning One - Hebrews 2:1-3
Hebrews 2:1-3 - "Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;"
Warning Two - Hebrews 3:7-4:13
Hebrews 3:7-19 - "Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do always err in their heart; and they have not known my ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.) Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
Hebrews 4:1-11 - "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief."
Warning Three - Hebrews 6:4-8
Hebrews 6:4-8 - "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, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, 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. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned.
Warning Four - 10:26-31
Hebrews 10:26-31 - "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."
Warning Five - 12:25-29.
Hebrews 12:15-24 - "Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled; (16) Lest there be any fornicator, or profane person, as Esau, who for one morsel of meat sold his birthright. (17) For ye know how that afterward, when he would have inherited the blessing, he was rejected: for he found no place of repentance, though he sought it carefully with tears. (18) For ye are not come unto the mount that might be touched, and that burned with fire, nor unto blackness, and darkness, and tempest, (19) And the sound of a trumpet, and the voice of words; which voice they that heard intreated that the word should not be spoken to them any more: (20) (For they could not endure that which was commanded, And if so much as a beast touch the mountain, it shall be stoned, or thrust through with a dart: (21) And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake:) (22) But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, (23) To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect, (24) And to Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel."
Hebrews 12:25-29 - "See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: (26) Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. (27) And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. (28) Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: (29) For our God is a consuming fire."
Does The Book Of Hebrews Warn That A Christian Can Be Lost?
To begin to answer the question I think it is important to understand the various approaches to the book of Hebrews taken by Christians as to whom the book was written.
The Two Primary Views Concerning The Recipients Of The Letter
1. A minority belief among Christians is that the letter to the Hebrews was written to unsaved professing Jews who were on the verge of salvation, but were not actually saved. Because of the persecution of Christians within the Roman Empire these professed unsaved Jews were drawing back from Christianity and were returning to the shadow of the Law.
If one accepts this view, there is no longer a discussion about the five warnings leading to Christian apostasy because they weren't saved in the first place. If this view is correct, then my view is absolutely incorrect.
2. A majority belief among Christians is that the letter was written to true Jewish believers who were being persecuted for their faith in Jesus, but not to the point of bloodshed. The Jewish Christians were beginning to draw back from assembling with other believers and were tempted to return to the shadows of the law where they could hide safely within the confines of Judaism, which was a legal religion in the Roman Empire at the time. (I adhere to this majority view, that the book was written to Christians.)
Within this school of thought there are three primary views among believers concerning whether or not a true, born-again Christian can lose their salvation/apostatize.
"The Impossibility View"
There is no way a Christian can lose their salvation therefore Hebrews doesn't teach that a Christian can apostatize.
(This is called the "Once Saved Always Saved" - OSAS)
This view is based primarily on two foundations within evangelical Christianity
1. Calvinism - Calvinism teaches since Christians are elect people that are predestined by God to be saved there is no way for him to lose what God has eternally predestined him to have.
2. The Promises Of God. Not all proponents of OSAS are Calvinists. The promises of God themselves declare the believer's sins are forgiven and forgotten eternally by the blood of Jesus. The Bible promises that the believer has eternal life and eternal redemption through faith in Christ. Therefore it is impossible for the promises to be true if one can be unsaved after becoming a believer.
"The Possibility View"
There is a way for a Christian to lose his salvation. Though there are wonderful promises but there are also clear warnings in the bible that would suggest a Christian could forfeit his salvation.
It is very important to understand "The Possibility View" falls into two camps!
The first Camp - (I call this the "Saved, Lost, Saved Lost" camp - SLSL)
People who adhere to this approach of Scripture believe it is completely possible for a Christian to lose his salvation. Many who adhere to this view don't think that apostasy is the only way for a Christian to be lost. They also believe that if a believer dies with some un-confessed sin before he can receive forgiveness through repentance and confession he will go straight to hell and suffer eternal damnation. This view is held primarily by people who believe that salvation is conditional, their salvation being partly based on the works and faithfulness of the believer. In this camp a man can backslide and be lost just by committing sins and not keeping all the commandments of Christ. (It is a very man centered and very works based approach. Most the people in this camp preach a false gospel of works, however there are a few exceptions)
Many people that adhere to this view also believe even the apostate can be restored to salvation by confession and repentance. Within this camp there are also people that distinguish between losing your salvation by sinning/backsliding versus losing your salvation by apostasy. Though they believe one can become lost just by sinning/backsliding, they also teach that if a Christian apostatizes he can never be saved again.
The Second Camp - ( "Eternal Security Of The Believer" camp - ESOTB )
People in this camp believe it is impossible to lose your salvation except by means of apostasy alone. People who adhere to this view are not Calvinists, but they believe all the promises of God about eternal life to the believer, and all the blessings that flow from Christ to the believer as a result of his justification through faith.
In no way do they believe in works for salvation or works to maintain salvation. They believe that salvation is totally dependent on believing on Jesus alone, apart from any works. Salvation is maintained and secured by the power of God through faith. (I Pet. 1:5) As long as one continues to believe/trust in Christ, he/she is eternally secure. They see Christians as free moral agents who are responsible to use their will for obedience and faith.
Because of a Christian's free will, people in this group believe Christians can willfully choose sin, which can harden the heart to the point of unbelief /apostasy so that he willfully walks away from faith in Christ.
It is different than "Once saved, Always saved" because it does allow for apostasy concerning Christians whereas OSAS doesn't.
It should be understood that many Christians use the term "Eternal Security Of The Believer" and "Once saved Always Saved" synonymously, making no distinction between the two terms.
There are no small disagreements on this subject within Christendom. It has been debated over and over for centuries. I believe that the "Impossibility View" (OSAS) and the second camp of the "Possibility View" (ESOTB)are well within the pale of orthodoxy. The first camp of the "Possibility View" (SLSL) has serious problems because for the most part, they are performance-based legalists working for their salvation. (I totally disagree with the "SLSL" view)
To me there is a possibility the OSAS view could possibly be correct. (Not the Calvinist approach but the Promise Based approach.) However, at present I belong to the ESOTB group because of the clear language used in Hebrews that I can't deny. Though I admit I could be wrong in my approach, I find it amusing that few in the OSAS group will ever acknowledge the same. Let me make it clear that both groups (OSAS/ESOTB) dogmatically believe salvation is all of grace through faith. Both groups revel in all the spiritual blessings we have "in Christ" through faith in Christ. Both have a Christ centered grace based orthodoxy.
Was Hebrews written to Christians?
I think it is important to determine whether or not Hebrews was written to Christian Jews or merely written to professing Christian Jews. The answer to the question determines completely how one approaches the warnings of Hebrews. I will attempt at this time to show some of the internal evidence within the book that clearly reveals Hebrews was written to Christians. (This is a majority view of evangelical commentators, by the way.)
1. The readers are called "Holy Brothers" Heb. 3:1 - This term is only used one other time in the NT.
I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. (1Th 5:27)
People who disagree say the term doesn't demand the Jews were true believers. The Jewish people are called "holy" as a nation or people. All Jews are holy in the sense they were separated by God from all the other nations to be His people (Lev. 20:26). The apostle Peter called them brethren before they were saved as he preached his first sermon in Acts (Acts 2:29). Therefore it is possible the term could be used for unsaved Jews by the writer of Hebrews, but not likely. The fact is that the two words combined "Holy" and "Brethren" are never used in the NT to for unsaved Jews, only Christians.
1. There isn't a single place where the readers are admonished to believe on Jesus or to be saved. The only admonition is for them not to harden their hearts in unbelief and to continue in the faith.
"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God." (Heb 3:12)
2. They had a firm testimony of Christian hope, service and love.
"For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister. And we desire that every one of you do shew the same diligence to the full assurance of hope unto the end:" (Heb 6:10-11)
3. They clearly professed faith, and the writer of Hebrews exhorts them to hold on to that profession.
"Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)" (Heb 10:23)
4. There are 12 "Let us" statements by the writer of Hebrews, showing he saw himself as one of them.
5. The readers had a solid history of facing affliction, mocking and hardships in the past because of their faith in Christ.
They were said to have been enlightened/illuminated/Gr. fotidzo. They had even supported the writer of Hebrews when he was in prison because of his faith.
"But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; Partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly, whilst ye became companions of them that were so used. For ye had compassion of me in my bonds, and took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." (Heb 10:32-34)
6. The whole of Hebrews is full of exhortations that only make sense if the readers are Christians. The writer of Hebrews calls them to continue in love, continue in sound doctrine, warns against false teachings, tells them to obey their spiritual leaders, and prays that Christ in them would work out His will in their lives.
"Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wel lpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen."(Heb 13:20-21)
Much more could be said but this is sufficient in my sight. ("A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.") As I stated previously, those that teach that the readers weren't Christians go against almost the entire community of Christian teachers and commentators as well as clear internal language in Hebrews used for believers.
Reconciling The Seemingly Irreconcilable
As I mentioned previously there are two camps of OSAS. Each is a little different. Each of the two camps approaches scripture a bit differently. One bases their approach on a supposed biblical theological system called "The Tulip" which is an acronym for the five basic tenants of Calvinism while the other bases its view on the eternal promises of God separate from Calvinism within the New Testament.
The Calvinist camp
If the Calvinist camp is correct in their theology then OSAS is absolutely correct. Common sense says if God chose you to salvation by divine decree without human will being involved at all by means of God's irresistible grace, then there is absolutely no way a Christian predestined by God to be saved could ever be lost. This is a fixed logical and philosophical consequence that flows naturally out of a Calvinistic theological system.
The Promise Based camp
These are believers that teach OSAS based on the promises and spiritual blessings that come to the Christian based upon the finished work of Christ on the cross. They don't believe for a moment that the work of God can be undone in the believer's heart because the promises of God for salvation are eternal in nature. They can't see how a Christian can be saved eternally and then be warned of danger that will make them lost eternally.
They do adhere to the possibility of professing believers not being genuine Christians. Such persons were never saved; they were mere professors of faith and not true possessors of salvation. Therefore, some people in this category teach that the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were never saved in the first place. I also absolutely recognize and believe that many people claim to be Christians but in reality have never experienced new birth/salvation. They never lost their salvation; they just never had it. However, in the case of Hebrews, I don't think this applies at all.
So, how can one believe that a Christian can lose his salvation without teaching works for salvation and works for maintenance of salvation? How can it be possible for someone to have eternal life, eternal redemption, and eternal sanctification and still lose their salvation? In light of the all the promises of God concerning believers regarding salvation, how could a Christian possibly lose such a salvation? These are logical and honest questions. However, they aren't the only questions.
A Proper Balance Between Promises And Warnings
Does the Bible declare warnings to Christians about losing their salvation? Can warnings be as valid as promises to Christians concerning losing their salvation? If so, how can the two be reconciled?
In order to answer the question, I think we need to go to the Scriptures and find a place where promises were given for life, and warnings were given for death simultaneously. If we can find such an illustration perhaps we can find a proper biblical balance concerning promises and warnings given to Christians.
There is such an example in Scripture. The illustration below is a "promise" of physical salvation for life and a "warning" of losing physical salvation ending in death. The principle is the same when applied to eternal salvation where one sees promises and warnings.
The Promise - Everyone Will Be Saved
Acts 27:16-32 - "And running under a certain island which is called Clauda, we had much work to come by the boat: (17) Which when they had taken up, they used helps, undergirding the ship; and, fearing lest they should fall into the quicksands, strake sail, and so were driven. (18) And we being exceedingly tossed with a tempest, the next day they lightened the ship; (19) And the third day we cast out with our own hands the tackling of the ship. (20) And when neither sun nor stars in many days appeared, and no small tempest lay on us, all hope that we should be saved was then taken away. (21) But after long abstinence Paul stood forth in the midst of them, and said, Sirs, ye should have hearkened unto me, and not have loosed from Crete, and to have gained this harm and loss. (22) And now I exhort you to be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. (23) For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, (24) Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee. (25) Wherefore, sirs, be of good cheer: for I believe God, that it shall be even as it was told me. (26) Howbeit we must be cast upon a certain island.
The Warning - Stay In The Ship
(27) But when the fourteenth night was come, as we were driven up and down in Adria, about midnight the shipmen deemed that they drew near to some country; (28) And sounded, and found it twenty fathoms: and when they had gone a little further, they sounded again, and found it fifteen fathoms. (29) Then fearing lest we should have fallen upon rocks, they cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. (30) And as the shipmen were about to flee out of the ship, when they had let down the boat into the sea, under colour as though they would have cast anchors out of the foreship, (31) Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. (32) Then the soldiers cut off the ropes of the boat, and let her fall off."
This biblical narrative is a perfect illustration of precious promises and viable warnings. On one hand there is a divine revelation given to Paul that there would be no loss of human life, but only that the ship would be destroyed, thus "The Promise." Later Paul would see some sailors attempting to leave the ship on a smaller skiff connected to the boat, he told the centurion that if the sailors left the boat that he (the centurion) and his men couldn't be saved, thus "The Warning."
Now this presents a good question: How could both be true at the same time? Was Paul lying? Does God contradict Himself? The answer to both is "no". The truth is that both were true simultaneously, the promise and the warning. If denominations were built on this story you would have those that only claim the promises and those that only emphasize the warnings. However, the real balance would be to believe both the promises and the warnings.
The reality of the scripture above is that the promise became true because the warning was heeded. God knew the decision they would make before they made it. What would have happened if they didn't keep the warning and disobeyed the warning of Paul? They would have perished. The fact is they didn't perish, though it was possible, thus fulfilling the prophecy of the promise.
An Interesting Comparison
Jn. 6:37-65 is used by so many Calvinists and promise based Christians to prove the impossibility of losing one's salvation. In this portion of scripture we see God the Father give all that will believe to Jesus as a gift and that none of them would be lost. Jesus declares all that are given to Him that He in no way would cast them out. and the fact that Jesus promised to cast out none that came to Him out. All the above are seen as one's who have been drawn by the Father to come to Jesus.
All that the Father gives Me shall come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will in no way cast out.(Joh 6:37)
And this is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day. (Joh 6:39)
And He said, Because of this I said to you that no one can come to Me unless it was given to him from My Father. (Joh 6:65) (These verses are a Calvinist's playground)
However, if one will look carefully at the promises in Acts 27 there is the same language used by God along with a clear warning.
: for there shall be no loss of any man's life among you, but of the ship. (23) For there stood by me this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, (24) Saying, Fear not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given thee all them that sail with thee.
The angel promised those on the ship were given by God the Father as a gift to Paul declaring all would be saved. The angel made this crystal clear.
Paul Shortly after the promise sees the shipmen pretending to be lowering anchors when they were actually in the process of lowering the safety boat to escape.
Paul warns the Centurion that if the shipmen leave the boat that the Centurion and all his men could not be saved.
In quick response to the warning the centurion had the safety boat cut loose from the main ship. This obedience to the warning brought about the promise of the angel and every person was saved.
For me, I see the same scenario with Christians concerning apostasy. I fully recognize the promises of God to Christians and I trust completely in those promises. At the same time I recognize the warnings to Christians as to drawing back in unbelief and departing from the living God. (Heb. 3:12) The real question is just how far can a Christian depart from God?
The clear example above of the balance between the promises and warning of God has weight. Christians have free will and have the capacity to make some very bad decisions. God in love has provided exceeding precious promises to us but he has also placed some serious warnings before us. I believe in them both, promises and warnings. To me it is not a wise thing to discount warnings. It can only be healthy to the believer to balance the whole counsel of God's Word instead of ignoring the kinds of things they may not like to think about.
Lest fear should overly strike one's heart because of warnings, we need to look at the kinds of statements made by the writer of Hebrews after speaking warnings. Hebrews is much more about the emphasis of exhorting and encouraging believers than he is about warning believers. Read below and you will see something very interesting.
Hebrews 6:9 - "But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak."
Hebrews 10:39 - "But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
Hebrews 12:28 - "Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear:"
At no time does the writer of Hebrews ever intimate that the believers in Hebrews had apostatized. Though he spoke with such harsh warnings he always encouraged them. (Heb. 6:9) Just as all the people on the ship were saved by believing the promise and heeding the warning, I believe all Christians would be wise to do the same. The difference between ETSOTB and the OSAS people is simply that the former declares the possibility that a Christian losing his salvation by apostasy. OSAS adherents deny the possibility because they can't see how warnings and promises can be true simultaneously.
Extremely Important To Understand
The eternal security of the believer camp of the "Possibility View" ( ESOTB) doesn't teach salvation by works nor does it teach maintenance of salvation by works.
Faith isn't a work; it is "an attitude of the heart" under the influence of the convicting and convincing work of the Holy Spirit (Jn. 16:8). Faith believes what God says is true.
"Unbelief" is also an attitude of the heart that doesn't believe God's word is true.
The warnings given in Hebrews were made to Christians. I have no problem with a Christian standing on the promises, but he better also take heed to divine warnings. He may not understand how they both can be true simultaneously, but he would be wise not to trust in his own understanding and invalidate what could be a very real possibility.
In my opinion this is a good balanced approach between the Promises and the Warnings. It doesn't make me correct, but I think there is a good argument here. It is a viable alternative view with which the majority of believers are not familiar. Most Christians think you have to be either OSAS or SLSL.
After having explained a third view of ESOTB to many people I have heard many positive comments of thankfulness.As already mentioned I dogmatically believe that the Book of Hebrews was written to Believing Christian Jews. Therefore from now on there will be little consideration that the readers weren't Christians.
Thus the questions: Now we will look at the punishment that is threatened upon the believer as found in Hebrews 10:26-31.
Does Heb. 10:26-31 Teach The Possibility That A Christian Can Lose His/Her Salvation?
Does It Merely Teach The Possibility Of Physical Death To The Disobedient Believer?
Hebrews 10:26-31 - "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, (27) But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries. (28) He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: (29) 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? (30) 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. (31) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
There are multitudes of OSAS people that absolutely believe that Hebrews speaks of apostasy by Believers. However, the difference is in the interpretation of the judgment. In their point of view the judgment is only physical death. Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum, a well respected, born-again Jewish scholar explains it like this;
To read the rest of the article, click here to download in Word format.