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Q & A ~ How do we explain Hebrews 6:4–6 which appears to suggest that someone who has received God’s grace, may be lost at the end?

If we believe in the doctrine of perseverance of the saints, i.e., once a person is saved, he cannot ultimately lose his salvation, then how do we explain Hebrews 6:4–6 which appears to suggest that someone who has received God’s grace, may be lost at the end?

The doctrine of perseverance of the saints is clearly taught in the Scripture (e.g., Jn 10:27–29 and Rom 8:37–39), therefore Hebrews 6:4–6 cannot refer to a person who loses his salvation. In fact, Hebrews 6:4–6 does not speak of a person who has received God’s grace, but someone who may be said to have tasted of the grace of God. He is one who has been in fellowship with God’s people; worshipped together with them; received instruction in the Word of God; and witnessed the work of God among His people (vv. 4–5). He may even be awakened to his own sinful condition and has been enlightened sufficiently to agree that Jesus is truly the Christ, the Son of God (cf. Mk 4:16–17). However, although he professes to be a believer, he has never been regenerated, has not truly repented of his sins nor believe that he needs Christ to save him. Such a person may fall away, i.e., renounce Christ and sever his associations with the Church. And if he does, he is in grave danger of committing the unpardonable sin because of his deliberate rejection of Christ despite having been enlightened by the Holy Spirit (v. 6). This interpretation is supported by its context, particularly the following verses. Verses 7–8 illustrate the difference between the genuine believer and the false believer by the two kinds of grounds: one which "bringeth forth herbs" and blessed of God; and the other which "beareth thorns and briers" and rejected. This illustration bears remarkable similarity with Jesus’ illustrations on the same subject in the Parable of the seed and the sower (Matt 13) and of the tree and its fruits (Matt 7:15–23). Moreover, in verses 9–12, the author applies his thesis to his readers by telling them that he is persuaded of better things of them because of their good works.