Scripture refers to two “qualifiers” regarding salvation: being “BORN AGAIN” and believing in “Him who God has sent”.
“Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is BORN AGAIN, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” – Jn. 3:3.
“Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be BORN AGAIN” – Jn. 3:7.
“Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” – Jn. 6:29.
Some passages indicate that as the ultimate qualifier “enduring to the end” must be added to the equation. This idea has resulted in many persons concluding that is the only way one can achieve both. However, this perspective produces more questions than justified reliable answers.
If one may only hope to be truly saved by enduring to the end, then no one can ever really know if they are saved until they literally pass from this physical life into the next. If instead, enduring to the end is the natural fruit produced in everyone who is truly born again, then having become a “new creation” provides such individuals with an abiding assurance of their salvation because they are trusting in God’s ability to keep them to the end, rather than depending upon their own ability to endure.
So, the question that must be properly addressed and hopefully reliably answered is whether “enduring to the end” is the result of the perseverance of one’s human ability and will to continue on, or the natural fruit produced through the power of the perpetual indwelling of the Holy Spirit. If it can be agreed that it must be ONLY one or the other, then this report can offer some valuable insights.
My research has concluded that sincerely believing on Christ’s propitiation as the absolute remedy for ALL sin leads to an individual being invited to enter into a personal eternal relationship with God.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” – Rev. 3:20
Through the acceptance of Christ, the indwelling of a person by the Holy Spirit produces spiritual life, which is referred to as being born again. Such a personal experience produces a perpetual new life in the spirit; such individuals have become new creations and have a new eternal destiny because the Holy Spirit abides within them FOREVER.
“I will pray the Father and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you FOREVER, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells WITH you and will be IN you” Jn.14:16, 17.
I believe that ONLY such truly born again believers will “endure to the end” because they are trusting God’s ability to keep them, NOT their own ability to hang on. Further elaboration on this is of course necessary for a proper fuller understanding.
I do NOT believe that God makes mistakes. I do NOT believe that God the Holy Spirit takes up residency in a person’s life as merely a TEMPORARY “test”. I believe that God indwells ONLY persons who HAVE ALREADY (determined by His omniscience & predestination) passed from death (spiritual) to life (eternal). In God, it is a “done deal”, there is no reversal.
“For THE GIFTS and CALLING of God are without repentance“ – Ro. 11:29.
“The GIFT of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord“ – Ro. 6:23.
“Saved by grace through faith; but not of yourselves: it is THE GIFT of God” – Eph. 2:8.
Such is what Jesus spoke to Nicodemus regarding being BORN AGAIN. Peter refers to the source of this spiritual birth as the product of “incorruptible seed” – Jn. 3:3-8; 1Pt. 1:23.
A common mistake made by many interpretations of scripture pertaining to being born again is due to an improper emphasis being placed upon the catalyst necessary for the creation of spiritual life. Scripture compares the born again experience to the incarnation of Jesus Christ. Just as Christ had no earthly father and no physical male seed impregnated the virgin Mary, so also is the process of spiritual birth in born again believers.
The “seed” is the Holy Spirit, the very Spirit of God. Because God is perfect and eternal, so also is His “seed” INCORRUPTIBLE.
Many ignore this fact and wrongly place the emphasis of an icorruptible nature upon the flesh of a bornagain believer, rather than rightly focusing on the SEED by which spiritual birth has been given. Born again believers have two natures – spiritual and physical. The physical is still destined for corruption and eventual destruction. But the spiritual is eternal, not because of the believers abilty to endure, but because of God’s Spirit within them keeping them secure.
I believe that being born again transforms a believer from a former existence merely in the “flesh”, to a spiritual birth available ONLY to those chosen by God to have the blood of Christ rightly appropriated to them, therefore their sins (past, present, future) have ALL been eternally covered.
“And their sins & iniquities will I remember NO MORE” – He. 10:17.
God has dealt with sin entirely, completely, eternally, and regarding THE CALLED, He no longer associates (remembers) sin with them.
“Among whom are ye also THE CALLED of Jesus Christ” – Ro.1:6.
“To them who are THE CALLED according to his purpose” – Ro. 8:28.
The residency of the Holy Spirit (Spirit of Christ) is evidence to every truly born again believer that they have been forgiven their sins & have inherited eternal life. This knowledge comes only from a personal experience of salvation initiated by an actual encounter with Jesus Christ. From then on, the Holy Spirit which had been working WITH a person on the outside, convicting them of sin and leading them to the Savior, now takes up a permanent residency INSIDE the believer, transforming them from death unto life and becoming truly BORN AGAIN.
Several scripture passages refer to the “EARNEST” of the Spirit, which is a term that we would understand today as a “down-payment”. It is a deposit made with the promise to take delivery at a later time. This is a universal concept and scripture uses it to declare that the “deposit” of the Holy Spirit in a born again believer is the evidence that the purchase is complete; the price has been fully paid by Christ’s sacrifice and the person is NO LONGER a debtor to his flesh. Sin no longer reigns over them, but NOW they belong ABSOLUTELY to God.
“Now He who established us with you in Christ, and has anointed us, is God; who has also sealed us, and given the EARNEST of the Spirit in our hearts“ – 1Cor. 1:21, 22.
Such persons have been completely acquitted and the penalty of sin has been ENTIRELY and FOREVER removed. When God looks at them, He no longer sees the stain of sin upon them; it has been covered by the Blood of Christ. This “sin covering” is God’s eternal and irrevocable GIFT. God does NOT appropriate it, only to later recant.
Accordingly, a person is either saved or not; they cannot and do not, fluctuate between the two. It is either one or the other. Like life itself, so it is with spiritual life. There is no such thing as becoming UNBORN. Although physical life is ultimately extinguished, it is NOT reversible.
“For we that are in this present physical tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. Now He that has wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, Who also has given unto us the EARNEST of the Spirit. Therefore, we are ALWAYS CONFIDENT, knowing that, while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord. For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are CONFIDENT, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.” – 2Cor. 5:4-8.
The phrase “always confident” indicates a perpetual state of being NOT a mere temporary condition. The term “always” indicates perpetuity everywhere it is used. The passage does not say “sometimes” confident, or “momentarily” confident.
Neither does it indicate that their “confidence” is in their ability, but rather God’s ability through the Holy Spirit, given as evidence of their passage from a merely natural and physical state of being into eternal life.
Born again believers while still here in their physical bodies groan NOT because they fear the possibility of somehow being “unclothed” (referring to being clothed with the Blood of Christ – our covering), but because we have been purchased and await the transformation into our glorified bodies to be forever in the presence of God as promised. The eternal destination is forever fixed already, but the physical transfermation is yet to take place.
While this is a spiritual reality for the truly born again, it is obvious that it is not the present reality pertaining to our physical bodies, hence the phrase – “we walk by faith, not by sight”. We trust in the spiritual reality; we are not focused on the mere physical realm. But we believe that for truly born again individuals, the two realms have been merged into one eternal destiny by God in Christ through the Holy Spirit.
“That in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in Him: in whom also we HAVE OBTAINED an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his OWN WILL: that we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were SEALED with that holy Spirit of promise, which is THE EARNEST of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory” – Eph. 1:10-14.
Notice “ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” as an equally significant provision of the “down payment” process. The term “seal” is from the Greek “sphragizo” which is literally the stamp of a magistrate’s signet ring imposed for security and preservation. As such, it serves a two-fold purpose. It keeps what is sealed inside, preventing anything from getting out. It also simultaneously prevents any outside contamination from getting in.
Since the indwelling of the Holy Spirit likewise “seals” every truly born again believer, their destination (eternal life) is assured. That which is sealed by the Spirit remains in the Spirit; it cannot escape, even in the hypothetical case in which it might so desire. No outside contamination can enter in, removing any doubt that all opposing powers are effectively neutralized. Nothing can prevent what has been sealed by it from arriving safely at the intended destination. No outside influence can change it. Therefore, Spirit filled believers are eternally secure and preserved.
Now obviously, if it were left up to our mere ability to hold on to God, no such eternal guarantee would be possible. But salvation it is NOT based upon our ability, but on God’s. It is ONLY as a result of God’s predetermined will and purpose for us: It is a condition of HIS WILL, NOT our will!
“Being predestinated according to the purpose of Him who worketh all things after the counsel of his OWN WILL” – Ep. 1:12.
This verse further signifies that people are either born again and have already passed from death unto life eternal, or they are not. There is NO middle ground and there is NO deviation. You are either in Christ, or you are NOT and have NEVER been.
“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man has not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His” – Ro.8:9.
The phrase “but ye are NOT in the flesh” has also been widely misunderstood as a matter of volitional choice by a person to be “in the flesh” or “in the spirit”. But it actually refers to one’s perpetual STATE of BEING.
When the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Christ) dwells in you, you are NO LONGER “in the flesh”. Few have rightly been taught this foundational truth and consequently many false beliefs exist regarding “having passed from death to life”.
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that hears my word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is PASSED FROM DEATH UNTO LIFE” – Jn. 5:24.
“Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN BROUGHT FROM DEATH TO LIFE; and offer every part of yourself to Him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin is no longer your master; YOU ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE” – Ro. 6:13, 14.
“They went out from us, but THEY WERE NOT OF US; for if they had been of us, THEY WOULD NO DOUBT HAVE CONTINUED with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that THEY WERE NOT all of us” – 1Jn. 2:19.
If you do NOT possess the understanding that your salvation is a GIFT and as such, that it is IRREVOCABLE because you have ALREADY been redeemed from the curse of sin and death, and therefore you are eternally secure in God; NOT because of any action on your part, but because it is the PROMISE of God to “NEVER leave you nor FORSAKE you” (He. 13:5), then you have NOT “faith unto salvation”– 1Pt. 1:5.
Your “faith” is in something other than GOD. You may believe a doctrine or trust your ability to follow, but that is NOT biblical salvation; that is NOT accepting God’s GIFT.
When the Gift of God is rightly received, an ETERNAL RIGHT RELATIONSHIP with God is established and secured. Salvation comes NOT from conforming to a standard or upholding principles, convictions, or dogma. It comes ONLY as a result of an established right relationship with God in Jesus Christ through the perpetual indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is KNOWING Him personally, experientially, and intimately.
“And then will I profess unto them, I NEVER KNEW you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” – Mt. 7:23.
Many are merely “nominal Christians”. They profess to be followers of Christ. They have sincere reverence for the scriptures. They try to conform to the ordinances contained within. They are dedicated to obeying the Ten Commandments. They acquaint themselves with others who profess similar beliefs. They even believe that they really are Christians. But they NEVER truly and entirely surrendered their lives wholly and completely to God, evidenced by the very fact that they still misunderstand God’s GIFT. They frustrate His GRACE, and depend on their works and efforts to ultimately determine someday in the future whether or not they will be saved.
They NEVER really KNEW Him.
We must understand that merely associating with others who claim to be Christians does NOT qualify. There is no salvation by association taught in scripture. Merely gathering with others for worship services or bible study and regular fellowship does NOT automatically result in a true conversion experience. Going to church doesn’t make one a born again believer any more than sitting in a garage makes one an automobile.
In my decades of experience as a pastor / teacher I’ve encountered every argument to the true believer’s eternal security. Every single one of them wrongly assumes that individuals offered as proof of a person who lost their salvation, were ever truly saved in the first place.
The Apostle John confirms this when he wrote his first Epistle. I posted this above and it is worth repeating here:
“They went out from us, but THEY WERE NOT OF US; for if they had been of us, THEY WOULD NO DOUBT HAVE CONTINUED with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that THEY WERE NOT all of us” – 1Jn. 2:19.
Jesus also confirms this when He declared: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I NEVER KNEW you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ – Mt. 7:21, 22.
It should be quite obvious that those to whom Jesus was referring really thought that they were true followers of His. They really believed that they had obeyed His commandments. They prophesied in His name, they drove out demons in His name, and they even worked miracles in His name! But Jesus rejects them all because they NEVER really KNEW Christ. They are NOT persons who once knew Christ and somehow later fell away; they NEVER had a right relationship with Him, and so were NEVER truly saved at all.
Two additional important points need to be clearly understood about this scenario.
First, we must consider what it was about all that they did in Jesus name, that He did NOT accept. Were they merely lying about doing all those things? Not likely; I believe that they were giving an honest report of what they actually had done in what they perceived as obedience to Christ’s commandments.
The problem with their actions is that they missed the whole point of WHO was actually doing the works. They claimed THEY did! But scripture declares something quite differently.
“For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure” – Phil. 2:13.
No one can perform the works of God under their own power, trusting in their own ability to obey. When a born again believer is guided by the Holy Spirit to prophesy, exorcise demons, perform miracles, it is GOD in them that actually is doing the work. Apart from Him we can do nothing [Jn. 15:5].
By wrongly assuming that they were performing the works, they sought after their own righteousness. Rather than giving the glory to God, having properly recognized that only God can perform such spiritual activity, they took credit for the actions. By doing their “good works” they believed that they had gained God’s approval through their obedience, but in the process they ultimately robbed God of His proper glory.
“They said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?” Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you BELIEVE in Him whom He sent.” – Jn. 6:28, 29
God does all the work; we are only required to believe. Salvation comes by GRACE through FAITH, NOT works!’
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast” – Eph. 2:8, 9.
“If by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work” – Ro. 11:6.
The second thing to realize about those rejected by Christ deals with the personal relationship with Christ that they apparently lacked. Jesus said to them, “I NEVER KNEW you”. This means that although they knew ABOUT Christ, they NEVER actually had a personal relationship with Him in which they really KNEW Him. It isn’t that Christ once knew them but somehow they fell away; He NEVER knew them.
Sadly, many people think they know Christ based upon what others have shared with them about Him. But unfortunately, the claims of others are not necessarily accurate, and if we are content to merely accept what someone else has taught us as the true revelation of Christ, then we have NOT properly heeded His invitation and relied upon the perpetual presence of the Holy Spirit to guide us into ALL truth.
“Jesus and His disciples went out to the towns of Caesarea Philippi; and on the road He asked His disciples, saying to them, “Who do men say that I am?” So they answered, “John the Baptist; but some say, Elijah; and others, one of the prophets.“ He said to them, “But who do YOU say that I am?” – Mk. 8: 27-29.
Jesus stressed in this passage the difference in what is merely common knowledge about Him, as in what others say, too often merely speculation, and the need for a personal recognition of who He really is. Only when Christ is properly identified through a personal encounter with Him that results in a right relationship through the perpetual indwelling of the Holy Spirit, can anyone truly KNOW Him.
Scripture gives a few actual accounts of people who have misunderstood what obeying Christ’s commands and being true believers really is.
“Now God worked unusual miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons were brought from his body to the sick, and the diseases left them and the evil spirits went out of them. Then some of the itinerant Jewish exorcists took it upon themselves to call the name of the Lord Jesus over those who had evil spirits, saying, “We exorcise you by the Jesus whom Paul preaches.” Also there were seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, who did so. And the evil spirit answered and said, “Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are you?” Then the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, overpowered them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. This became known both to all Jews and Greeks dwelling in Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified” – Ac. 19:11-17.
“When Simon saw that through the laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Spirit was given, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, that anyone on whom I lay hands may receive the Holy Spirit.” But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God” – Ac. 8:18-21.
Perhaps the most tragic example of someone misinterpreting what God in Christ was really doing is Judas Iscariot. Scripture indicates that he was one of Christ’s chosen twelve original disciples. It is apparent from the full account of the scriptural passages relative to Judas, that he NEVER rightly identified Jesus as the Son of God, and so NEVER really KNEW Him.
Scripture mentions Judas in several places. Most significantly, he is declared the fulfillment of specific prophecies. He is identified as a thief and it is said of him that although he was numbered among the twelve, Jesus said he was a devil, the son of perdition, and so he went to his “own place” in death.
“Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” – Jn. 12:3-6.
“Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?” He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve” – Jn. 6: 70, 71.
“Satan entered Judas, surnamed Iscariot, who was numbered among the twelve” – Lk. 22:3.
“Having dipped the bread, He gave it to Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon. Now after the piece of bread, Satan entered him” – Jn. 13:26, 27.
“Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” (Now this man purchased a field with the wages of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst open in the middle and all his entrails gushed out. And it became known to all those dwelling in Jerusalem; so that field is called in their own language, “Akel Dama”, that is, Field of Blood.) “For it is written in the Book of Psalms: [69:25 & 109:8] ‘Let his dwelling place be desolate, And let no one live in it’; and, ‘Let another take his office.’” – Ac. 1:16-20.
“Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place” – Ac. 1:25.
“Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled” – Jn. 17:12.
From all these examples, it should be obvious that not everyone who obeys Christ’s commands or associates with those who truly believe is in fact born again and thereby eternally secure. In addition to these, scripture further recounts numerous instances when Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for being hypocrites. Clearly, these individuals must have convinced others that they knew God and obeyed His commandments; how else could they have achieved a position of leadership?
Therefore, we must always be careful not to assume that someone who claims to be Christian is truly born again. We must also not think that when someone stops following Christ that they were ever REALLY saved.
Jesus said that He has not lost a single one who the Father has given Him, except for Judas, who NEVER really KNEW Him [Jn. 17:12]. Take heed that you are not deceived by individuals who purport to believe, yet are actually numbered by Jesus among the ranks of those whom He NEVER KNEW.
The following two excerpts from scripture have often been cited as scriptural support for the occasion of saved individuals losing their salvation. However, when read with the understanding that these are instead examples of persons who are hypocrites merely masquerading as true believers, it should be obvious from the words and phrases in BOLD type, that they NEVER were truly saved.
“For there are many insubordinate, both idle talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole households, teaching things which they ought not, for the sake of dishonest gain. Therefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith, not giving heed to Jewish fables and commandments of men who turn from the truth. To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their MIND and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, & disqualified for every good work” – Titus 1:10-16.
These deceivers have defiled minds and consciences NOT being truly born again and possessing the MIND of Christ.
“But we have the MIND of Christ” – 1Cor. 2:16.
In their works they deny Christ (as was discussed earlier) thinking that they through their own ability accomplished the works. How different from them are the truly born again believers of whom scripture declares:
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” – 2Cor. 9:8.
Many times references to false prophets among believers is used to support the idea that they are persons who were once saved but turned away. But it is clear that they have always been destined for destruction. They are blasphemers, NOT true believers.
“But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. By covetousness they will exploit you with deceptive words; for a long time their judgment has not been idle, and their destruction does not slumber” – 2Pt. 2:1-3.
Compare this passage with John 3:16 that declares the two alternate destinies, eternal life or perish: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Those who truly are saved are sealed and already set in their eternal destination in eternity with God. There is NO destruction awaiting them, and NEVER will there be, because God continues His ministry of deliverance,
“The Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment” – 2Pt. 2:9.
“But these, like natural brute beasts made to be caught and destroyed, speak evil of the things they do not understand, and will utterly perish in their own corruption” –They are spots and blemishes, carousing in their own deceptions while they feast with you, They have a heart trained in covetous practices, and are accursed children These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever” – 2Pt. 2:12-17.
Using the same metaphor Jesus did, Peter alludes here to the absence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit as “wells without water”. How different from anyone ever truly saved are these individuals who pretend to be true believers. They are wells without water, contrary to what Jesus promised for true believers.
“He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” – Jn. 7:38
Another passage to consider is found in Hebrews 6:4-6 – “For it is IMPOSSIBLE for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come
IF they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.”
Notice the BOLD words & phrases. The first thing to understand when reading this passage before attempting to properly interpret it is the glaringly blatant use of the word IMPOSSIBLE. Whatever it is referring to is ABSOLUTELY outside of the realm of possibilities, much less common reality.
The next significant word is “IF”. To rightly comprehend its use here consider these synonyms regularly associated with it: on condition that, providing (that), presuming (that), supposing (that), assuming (that), in the event (that).
None of these indicate an actual occurrence, merely hypothetical ponderings. This passage does NOT say of these hypothetical losers of salvation – “WHEN they fall away”, but “IF” they fall away. That is a significant difference.
The highlighted phrase “to renew them again to repentance” is the direct object of what is IMPOSSIBLE in this passage.
It is a frequent practice in many church services of denominations that reject the doctrine of eternal security to include in a closing “alter-call” a plea for those who have lost their salvation, or fallen away from Christ to repent and come back. But such pleas are contrary to the scriptural passage in Hewbrews that declares such is an IMPOSSIBLILTY.
It seems that a motivation for rejecting the doctrine of eternal security is to perpetuate the congregants dependence upon the clergy and ritual, rather than enjoying the liberty in Christ that comes from assurance of their salvation and eternal destiny.
The argument in favor of this being a warning to true believers suggests that the description of these individuals who might fall away proves that they are saved because of their activity: “those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come”.
But an in-depth etymology of these highlighted key words reveals just the opposite. To fully grasp this, recall the people who did things in Jesus’ name that Jesus said He NEVER KNEW. [Mt. 7:21. 22.]
They too were once “enlightened” (having been informed about or shown) Jesus. The gospel was presented to them and they responded to it, although NOT properly. They “tasted” (tried a sampling), but NEVER drank in and fully swallowed; they merely “tasted” (tested) the word of God, but NEVER fully believed it. They were “partakers” (participated in) of the Holy Spirit by Whom they prophesied, cast out demons, and performed miracles. The same was said regarding Judas – “he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.” – Ac. 1:17.
But Jesus rejected all of them because He NEVER KNEW them.
They had all the outward appearances of true believers but they were merely masquerading. In their hypocrisy, they apparently even fooled themselves, believing they were saved, but ultimately they were surprised by Christ’s rejection.
So what this is actually saying is NOT that some true believers do completely fall away, thereby losing their salvation. Quite the contrary, it indicates by use of reasoning over a hypothetical situation that if such a falling away was possible, there could NEVER be any acceptable repentance to return them to their former status among the truly saved.
Therefore, this has to be merely hypothetical, NOT an indication that any such thing could ever happen because that interpretation completely contradicts what scripture teaches about repentance unto salvation everywhere else.
““No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God.” – 1Jn. 3:9
“Having been born again, not of corruptible SEED but INCORRUPTIBLE, through the word of God which lives and ABIDES FOREVER” – 1Pt. 1:23.
There are several other passages of scripture used to support arguments against eternal security but they either come from the Old Testament or within their original context refer to Old Testament law, not grace.
Salvation. while promised by God and prophesied to come in the Old Testament. has nothing to do with the keeping of the old covenant which has been fulfilled by Christ and replaced by the New Testament.
Even New Testament passages that seem to indicate the need to endure to the end as if by one’s own ability, are directed at audiences under the law BEFORE the sacrifice of Christ ushered in the New Testament and salvation by GRACE.
So, whatever scripture references refer to the righteous under law, are not properly correlated to the righteousness of Christ under the New Testament doctrine of salvation.
For more on the subject of eternal security read: Salvation: Works vs. Grace