The doctrine of the eternal security of the believer is a very important belief that we hold. Believing that if a person is truly saved, he or she cannot lose that salvation is a basic concept that is found throughout Scripture (see John 6:51-52, I Corinthians 9:15, Romans 8:31-39). Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that if a person prays a salvation prayer at some event, then quits going to church a few weeks later, never to return or show love for God again, that this person is truly saved and will go to heaven. A person who has truly encountered Christ will persevere until the end.
This is an important belief for a Christian to hold, because it acknowledges the One who is actually responsible for salvation. If you know Jesus Christ, you were not saved because of anything you did. You were saved on the basis of God’s grace alone. He did everything for your salvation, including setting up the plan through Jesus, speaking to your heart, giving you the faith to receive Him, making you His child, and keeping you in His plan. All you did was respond to the initiative of God. It goes to reason then, that if God did everything for you to get saved, then He would also have to make a decision to take away salvation. And the Bible is clear to teach that He would never ever do that.
Some Christians do believe that a person can lose their salvation. They would say that just as a person has chosen to receive Christ, he or she can also choose to reject Christ. Hebrews 6:1-7 is one of the texts these people use in making their argument. In fact, this passage can be one of the hardest to understand if you believe in eternal security, unless of course you take a good look at the context.
Remember that the author is writing to three groups of people. All three groups were Jewish people who have been exposed to the Gospel. The first group were Hebrew Christians. The second group were Jews who were part of the church, but were considering abandoning their Christianity to go back to their old religion. The third group was Jewish seekers, who were considering Christ, but not accepted Him yet.
This passage addresses the second group. At some point they got involved in the church, and liked the Jesus idea. But they had never totally given their lives to Him. They experienced what God could do in the life of a person by being around other Christians. They had seen God’s miracles when other people gave their lives to Christ. They heard from people when they had their prayers answered and heard testimonies about God’s grace in times of trial. But in the end, these folks never surrendered their lives to Jesus. They always held a bit of themselves back. They wanted Jesus and their way too. Some of them probably made a decision to follow Christ, but that commitment was never a full repentance and surrender to the Lordship of Christ. Now the fruitfulness of that decision was coming out, as these people were considering leaving Christ and going back to their old way of life. In their case, it was a return to the Jewish religion with the regulations and sacrifices. This is the difference between bearing herbs or bearing thorns in verses 7 & 8.
If God drew you to salvation, and did a work in your life, you can be assured that once you have given your life to Christ, that He will hold you until the end. On the other hand, if you made a decision to something rather than a full surrender of your life to the person of Christ, and you never truly repented of sin, then you may not know Jesus Christ. To the first group, this passage should give you assurance. You bear herbs in your life because God is the one working the soil of your heart. To the second, the thorns of your life indicate that you never really knew Jesus. To you, this is a warning to reconsider your commitment to Christ and truly come to Christ through faith and repentance.
Is your life characterized by the herbs of God’s grace, or the thorns and thistles of you own life?