1 Tim. 4.1, John 14.17, Eph. 4.30, Heb. 6.4-6, 10.26, Gal. 5.4

(See Will of God vs. Will of Man)


Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, in who you were sealed for the day of redemption (Eph. 4.30). The use of the word "grieve" here and not "anger" reveals the Holy Spirit's love. "Grieve" it says and not "cause to depart," for "he dwells with you and will be in you" (John 14.17). While every born-again believer does have the Holy Spirit permanently residing in him, nevertheless the plight of the indwelling Spirit may not be the same in all saints-He may be either grieved or gladdened.

    1 Timothy 4.1:

        Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

These who depart the faith were actually never in the faith, but it only seemed as though they were, since 1 Tim 4.2b says "They pretend to be religious, but their consciences are dead [seared]".

Summary of Heb. 6.1-8: These verses are about pressing on for those in vv.4-8 are still on a course that is correct, except that they have fallen. They don't lose their salvation, and they are not to go back to their first six elementary doctrines of repentance. They still repent, but they don't go back to the foundation since the foundation was already set. They should not do this or they will be become useless (rejected), punished (brought NEAR a curse), and purified by fire (burned, as in 1 Cor. 9.27, by fire).

Troy Brooks

Question 46: Will Those Mentioned in Hebrews 6.4-8 Perish?

Question 45: Falling Away from Grace (Gal.  5.4) | Question 47: Remaineth No More Sacrifice (Heb. 10.26) | Run the Race (Matt. 7.21)

Gospel Dialogue, CFP, Watchman Nee

A letter from a person who was non-OSAS, and Troy Brook's response


Will the class of people mentioned in Hebrews 6.4-8 perish?


Let us read from verse 1 to verse 8 of Hebrews 6:

Wherefore leaving the doctrine of the first principles of Christ, let us press on unto perfection; not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of the teaching of baptisms, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of the dead, and of eternal judgment. And this will we do, if God permit. For as touching those who were once enlightened and tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the age to come, and then fell away, it is impossible 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 land which hath drunk the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them for whose sake it is also tilled, receiveth blessing from God: but if it beareth thorns and thistles, it is rejected and nigh unto a curse; whose end is to be burned.

Some people after reading verses 6 and 8 (italicized above) conclude that this class of people cannot be saved. Who are they? According to verses 4 and 5 they are people who fall away from the truth after they have experienced four things: (1) have once been enlightened, (2) have tasted of the heavenly gift, (3) have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and (4) have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come. Their consequence will be: are “rejected and nigh unto a curse, whose end is to be burned” (v.8). Basing their conclusion on this last verse, some judge that this class of people is not saved. If such is really the case, then a person who has eternal life is able to lose it—which is to say, that he who is saved may be “unsaved”. How can we explain it?

Let us first understand what the book of Hebrews is talking about. Hebrews speaks about “pressing on”; and our progress of pressing onward is twofold: (1) Christians must grow, and (2) those who teach others must grow too. Christians should know the Lord progressively more in their lives; those who teach others should also teach more advanced truth; that is, they should not only teach on salvation from the beginning to the end of the year, they should teach even deeper truth.

The peak concerning progress spoken in Hebrews is reached in Chapters 5 and 6. Chapter 5 speaks of Melchizedek, about whom the writer says: “Of whom we have many things to say, and hard of interpretation, seeing ye are become dull of hearing” (v.11). You ought to have fully grown, yet you are still pitifully old babies. You should be able to take the solid food of the word of righteousness but, sad to say, you are in need of milk. Then Chapter 6 is addressed to those who teach. In their teaching there should be progress instead of confining it merely to the six elementary doctrines of repentance from dead works, faith toward God, the teaching of baptisms, the laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. So we may plainly perceive that Hebrews 6.1-8 does not deal with the problem of initial salvation but with the problem of progress. The aim of this Epistle to the Hebrews is to point toward progress, not toward salvation. We will be seriously mistaken if we confuse the theme.

A number of Christians pay no attention to the truth of the church or the truth of the kingdom; their eyes are exclusively fixed on salvation as if that is all. But the Bible is not totally devoted to the matter of salvation; it tells us of many other things. Hence let us first lay hold of the theme of the epistle before we look into this particular portion of Hebrews. Now the passage before us may be divided into three sections: (a) verses 1-3, “not again”; (b) verses 4-6, “impossible”; (c) verses 7 and 8, which can be entitled “should not”. Let us take up each in order.

(a) Not again. “Not again” is in reference to six things; namely, repentance from dead works, faith toward God, teaching of baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. We are told about “not laying again a foundation”. These six items are foundational truths. Since the foundation is already laid, it need not be laid again. Who will ever build a house by laying the foundation all the time? After the foundation is laid, the work should proceed onward.

(b) Impossible. “Once” in verse 4 refers back to a historical fact. “Again” in verse 6 is the same word as the “again” in verse 1. The coordinate conjunction “and” in this section joins four things together; namely, once enlightened, tasted of the heavenly gift, made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come. Hence what is said here is, that if a person already has experienced these four things it is impossible for him to be renewed again unto repentance if he falls away. For this person has only fallen—he has not forsaken the course he runs. Since his direction is still correct, how can he ever renew his repentance, crucify again the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame?

The writer of this letter told the Hebrews in verses 1-3 that they had no need of laying again the foundation. Some might retort: But what if a person fits the description in verses 4-6? Must he not lay the foundation again if he falls away? Should he not be renewed again to repentance? The answer of the writer was: Even though one may have the conditions of verses 4-6, that is to say, a situation in which he has really sinned, it is still impossible for him to be renewed to repentance.

Can we be born again and then be unborn? Can we be renewed to repentance and be reborn? The repentance in verse 6 is the same repentance as in verse 1, so it is repentance as a foundation. This does not suggest that one should not repent again; it only affirms that no one could go back to the foundational position and renew himself to repentance. That, then, is the big difference. Take special note of the word “again”—renew again to repentance, laying again a foundation of repentance. Not again, because it is impossible.

Therefore, this passage does not instruct us that if a person falls after he has received so much spiritual benefits he must renew his original repentance and lay again the foundation. Regeneration happens only once. Who will start all over again if he merely falls on the way? Even so, many people entertain such a misconception as this.

(c) Should not. Although verses 1-3 tell us “not again” and verses 4-6 tell us “impossible”, verses 7 and 8 tell us that we “should not”, which means that we should not continue to fall, we should not always sin, lest we seem to crucify the Son of God afresh and put Him to an open shame. We will be disciplined if we really do so. Hence we should not do it.

Some people assume that if a person sins after he is saved he will be unsaved. Other people believe that after one is saved he will not be punished regardless of what sin he commits. Both of these views are incorrect. God expects a saved person to grow and to make progress. Just as no one can go back to his mother’s womb and be born again after he has lived a bad life for several decades, so spiritually he cannot go back to lay again the foundation if he ever falls away. But what if he really continues doing bad things? There will be three consequences; namely, (1) rejected, (2) brought nigh to a curse, and (3) be burned.

 (1) Rejected—This is the same word as the “rejected” found in 1 Corinthians 9.27. There Paul describes how he buffets his body and brings it into bondage lest by any means after he has preached to others he himself should be rejected. Naturally every Christian knows that Paul is not in danger of becoming unsaved, but that he is afraid lest he miss the crown and the kingdom.

What is meant by being rejected of God? For example, you have a bicycle which was originally in good shape and fit to be used, but now it is broken and rusted and cannot be used. By saying this it does not mean that this bicycle has disappeared; it is only being rejected, put aside because useless. To be rejected by God does not mean that a person has lost eternal life or is unsaved; it only means he is set aside by God and has thus become useless. To those believers who continue in sins, God has His discipline of putting them outside of glory—in outer darkness-without any part in the kingdom. This is what Matthew 25.30 means.

(2) Brought nigh to a curse—Here it says nigh to a curse, not a curse itself. Nigh to a curse looks like a curse, and yet it is not to be cursed. What is being stressed here is not so much a matter of the degree of punishment as it is the fact of punishment itself. Not only unbelievers will be punished, Christians too will be punished. Therefore it says nigh to a curse.

Let us be very careful lest we deign to think that no matter what a Christian does he will not be punished. Remember that “nigh unto a curse” implies there is punishment.

(3) Be burned—This fits in well with what 1 Corinthians 3.15 says about God’s fire burning up the person’s work. Such a person is like a living garbage can in which are stored many unclean things that will be purified through the fire.

We should rejoice on the one hand and be warned on the other. Our salvation is safe and secure on the one side, yet on the other side we will receive punishment if we do not behave. Although such punishment is not permanent, we shall have no part in the millennial kingdom.

To sum up, then, Hebrews 6.1-3 states that the foundation is not to be laid again; verses 4-6 explain that it is impossible to again lay the foundation from whence a believer has fallen but there must be a rising up, since there is no possibility of going back to renew his first repentance; and verses 7 and 8 conclude that one should not misbehave, because he will surely be punished if he persists.

Watchman Nee