by Jerry Shugart
"And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him" (Heb.5:9).
Those who teach that the believers who received Hebrews must do works to be saved quote this verse in order to attempt to bolster their case. They say that this verse is teaching that the word "obey" refers to doing works so therefore these believers must do works in order to receive eternal salvation.
However, the primary meaning of the Greek word translated "obey", hupakouo, is "to listen, to harken" (Thayer's Greek English Lexicon). The word "harken" means "to give heed or attend to that which is said.". He who believes the truth of the gospel can be said to have "obeyed" that truth, as demonstrated by the following verse:
"Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart" (1 Pet.1:22).
Peter tells the believers that their souls have been purified because of their "obedience to the truth". At another place Peter says the following:
"And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Spirit, even as He did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith" (Acts 15:8-9).
Since the believers heart is purified by "faith" then when Peter speaks about one's soul being purified by "obedience to the truth" we can understand that Peter is saying that it was their "faith" that resulted in the purification of their souls.
The Lord Jesus told the Jews exactly how to "obey" Him. The Jews asked the Lord Jesus, "What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?"
The Lord answered, saying that "This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent" (Jn.6:28-29).
In order to "obey" the Lord Jesus we are to "believe" His Word.
"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, 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 earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned" (Heb.6:4-8).
Those who deny the eternal security of the believers who received the epistle to the Hebrews say that these verses are teaching that if these believers fall away then they cannot be saved because it is "impossible" to renew them unto repentance.
The primary meaning of the Greek word translated "repentance" is "to have a change of mind". It does not always refer to "repentance toward God", and the only other time that the word is used in Hebrews it simply means "a change of mind" (Heb.12:17).
So in verse six the thought is that if they should fall away from some truth then it would not be possible to make them change their mind in regard to that truth. And it is not difficult to see what truth they were ignoring-"they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh."
Despite the teaching that they were no longer under the law they were keeping the law and offering sacrifices that were required under the law and therefore they were crucifying the Son of God afresh.
This verse is not in regard to "repentance torward God", or else we must believe that it is impossible for them to have a change of mind in regard to believing in God. The Lord would have all men to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth so therefore He would never say that it is impossible for anyone to have a change of mind toward Him. The door is always open, even for the worst of men.
To answer these verses Pastor Stam quotes Charles Baker, writing that "Pastor Charles F. Baker's answer to this question is challenging, He says: 'If this passage proves the possibility of losing salvation, it also proves the impossibility of ever regaining it' ('A Dispensational Theology', P. 456)" (Stam, The Epistle to the Hebrews, [Berean Literature Foundation, 1991], p.65).
"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries" (Heb.10:26-27).
The people who deny that those who received Hebrews had eternal security say that this verse teaches loss of eternal life. They say that these words are not speaking of chastening because they can expect the same judgment which shall "devour the adversaries."
Sir Robert Anderson addresses these verses by quoting from Henry Alford's Commentary where Alford says that "It is not of an act, or of any number of acts of sin, that the writer is speaking, which might be repented of and blotted out; but of a state of sin in which a man is found when that day shall come" (Anderson, Misunderstood Texts of the New Testament, [Kregel Publications, 1991], p.120).
The "state of sin" spoken of is the same thing that is referred to in the sixth chapter, a "drawing back" to Judaism, a religion that was fulfilled in Christ. The author of Hebrews compares this "state of sin" to the sins of presumption, which lay outside the sacrifical provisions of the law ( "there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin):
"But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people. Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him" (Num.15:30,31).