Hebrews 6:4-12 – “It is Impossible…” (Part 2)

Have some in the congregation actually drifted away to the point of apostasy? Chapter 6 and chapter 10 both have strong words of warning against apostasy.  It is possible that some have, but the writer’s intention may be to drive the point home well enough that the readers do not recant their faith when the difficult persecution comes.  This is a rhetorical strategy, to describe the worst case imaginable, then show how the reader has not gone quite that far yet.

Thanks, Derri

For example, I might tell my students, “you will fail Greek if you do not study for the exam!” to encourage them to study, although I know that none of them will fail the exam because I have fully equipped them for success.  Some might struggle more than others, but I have given them the necessary tools to pass the exam.

Does the text say that it is impossible for them to repent?  Perhaps, but perhaps not.  The word “impossible” does mean “not able,” but it can also mean “not capable.” Louw and Nida gloss the word, “pertaining to being impossible, presumably because of a lack of power to alter or control circumstances.”  I might use this word to describe my chances of breaking the world record in the pole vault.  It is so unlikely, so out of the range of my capabilities (not to mention the principles of science!) that I can call it “impossible.”

As we work through the passage this will become more clear, but what we seem to read here is that those that do recant and reject Jesus in a public way are not able to repent, because they are no longer capable of repenting. This is not necessarily the “unpardonable sin,” but it is a sin that is so deep and so destructive to the person who commits it that they are no longer capable of making act honest act of repentance and be restored to fellowship.

The reason that it is impossible is that the individual has “once for all” been enlightened, the same phrase used to describe Jesus’ “once for all” sacrifice for sin.  Just because it is impossible for a man, it does not mean that God cannot move that person to repentance and bring them back.  He very well may let a person go, but if He wills he can bring them back.

The two most powerful words in the Christian faith are …”but God.”

9 thoughts on “Hebrews 6:4-12 – “It is Impossible…” (Part 2)

  1. I find the idea of losing your salvation very unsettling. I am a firm believer in eternal security and it is something that I find comfort and rest in. Although I do not believe that we should continue in our sin that grace may abound, I do believe that because of our fallen-ness we are going to make mistakes and we are going to fail but Jesus paid it all on the cross. When we fall He picks us back up draws us back to Him. I agree with the statement that “just because it is impossible for a man, it does not mean that God cannot move that person to repentance and bring them back. He very well may let a person go, but if He wills he can bring them back.” God in His infinite mercy and omniscience has the power and will to bring anyone back to Him and to repentance. Since God is sympathetic He will not let us fall. Hebrews 4: 15-16, “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace in time of need.” God is also our helper. Hebrews 2:18, “For in that He Himself has suffered, being tempted, He is able to aid those who are tempted.” God understands our struggles and temptations for He was also tempted. God’s word also promises that He will provide a way out of our struggles and temptations for He is faithful. 1 Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Through it all, I believe that nothing can separate you from God once you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior. In our finite minds some sins are hard to find pardonable but there is no sin that is too “big” or great for God. If it is in His will, He will bring people to repentance and back to Him.

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  2. Im reminded of a semi-famous song by the GBC alummi rapper Beacon Light called “Big God”. In this song Beacon raps about how the biggness of God is bigger than anything in the human realm can ever understand or comprehend.Thus leading to we can only generalize in a near foolish attempt to understand His ways. I do not know if I am fully on board with the once saved always saved like were talking about…I also find it very hard to get on the track of God’s will forceing me to come back and repent. However in that very same token I whole heartedly believe that the will of God is 100% un-escapeable. God’s will “haunts”, for lack of a better term, us for the full duration of our life. His persuit of us never ceases thus we have every chance till the end of our time to ask for redemption. But it is HIs ever failling presance that makes us repent not his imposeing will. If we are ment to be saved by Gods will then even if we falter at somepoint we will come back…

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    • I forgot about that. It is a favorite, and touches on the topic of the post. A kind of passive recommendation of that band.

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  3. I like the thought that the author of Hebrews saying this is a strategy technique. I believe I like that thought because I do not want to think that people can lose their salvation, it really makes my heart hurt to think that is possible. “The consequence of apostasy from Christ is that “it is impossible… to be brought back to repentance,” (Heb. 6:4-6). How horrifying to think that it is stated in the Bible that we could not have our salvation if we walked away. But, do we think that this would be in the sense, I have walked away from Christ and never sought him out again? Or is it that I have walked away and I am pleading for God to forgive my ways at the end of my life and I still will never have Him again? I just cannot think of God in that light. I view him as a merciful, all forgiving Savior. I do not think that He would deny His child a home again. “The danger of apostasy from faith in Christ begins with “drifting,” which in Hebrews 2:1 is described as not paying due attention to the message of who Jesus Christ is and what he has achieved,” (Jobe, pg.135). I think this would apply to the people who just go to church and walk out and never build a relationship. There needs to be some spiritual discipline when trying to grow, there has to be a relationship with God. If there is not a relationship with Him, did you ever really receive Him?

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  4. This whole issue is one I have struggled with for quite some time. It is difficult in a section that can be easily interpreted to be very literal or stretched out far beyond necessity. Even Jobes is very double sided on this issue, giving different sides of whether or not Hebrews 6 and 10 are truly speaking of apostasy. Some believe that the impossibility is simply for earth, while others believe the single act of walking away dooms them for life and what comes after. While the concept of death being the end point is terrifying, turning away from the Lord and exactly what that means is even more so.

    I think a very common issue it what defines completely “turning away” from the Lord. I have seen Christians remain “uncertain” for a time where they are exploring other beliefs and unsure whether or not to follow God. Does this count as turning away? Is uncertainty, in a sense, arrogance to the truth since God has made it “plain to all” (Romans 1:19). I do not entirely know the answer, beyond the fact that the idea of death not truly being the end of the deadline could be terrifying. The concept that God may yet work in hardened souls is a far more comforting one, but is it perhaps too comforting?

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