Lots to unpack in this great chapter as the author continues to build his case that Jesus is far far superior to anything we can imagine. He has already talked about His superiority to the prophets, to angels, to sin, to suffering, and to temptation – in this chapter he makes the case that Jesus is even superior to Moses. Now to a Jewish audience, even a Christian Jewish audience, these are almost fighting words because of the respect and honor that the Jews held for Moses. But the fact is… Jesus is better!
One of the doctrinal questions that the author begins to address is this: Is it possible to lose your salvation once you have been granted salvation? The letter to the Hebrews, more than any other letter in the New Testament, raises this question. Notice in chapter 3 a few comments that the author makes:
- verse 6 – we are His house IF indeed we hold fast our confidence...
- verse 12 – Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
- verse 14 – For we have come to share in Christ, IF indeed we hold our original confidence
- verse 19 – so we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief
The doctrine that we in Baptist circles cling to is stated this way: Once saved, always saved. But is it biblical? Historically, the doctrine is known as “Perseverance of the saints.” Perseverance of the saints basically means this: those who persevere to the end are indeed the true and genuine saints of God. This is what the author to Hebrews vehemently believes. His concern for his readers, during a time when when their faith was being rigorously tested, was to make to make sure that they indeed believed what they said that they believed.
The tests that we encounter in this life will do this. They will shake our faith to the core and help us recognize if our faith is merely “lip service” or does it reflect a heart that clings to and relies solely on Jesus for life and salvation. I certainly know many people who at one time claimed the name “Christian” but who are now no where to be found in circles of faith. And you do too. When the trials of life came their way they reverted to their default way of handling things – by dependence on self and the things of this world. If you are truly saved then your default way of dealing with life has been changed so that your first response is to turn to the Lord, not your last.
So is the doctrine “once saved, always saved” a biblical doctrine. Absolutely! The question that the author to the Hebrews raises, and that we must ask ourself is this: Are we genuinely saved? 2 Corinthians 13:7 says this…
“Examine yourselves to see if you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Or do you realize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you – unless indeed you fail to meet the test.”
May this brick cause you to rely more and more on Jesus as the days of testing increase – or if there are any question marks in your mind to examine yourself to to see if you are in the faith.