Most people are familiar with the story of Adam and Eve and the account surrounding the “Fall of Man.” They are also aware that God came to this earth in the form of Jesus Christ and paid the ultimate price to free us from our sins. Unfortunately, there are those who believe that all sins have been pardoned by Christ’s death and therefore believe “once saved, always saved.” Yet, in the confines of sin, there is a sin that God Himself considers unpardonable. With respect to the Bible, can we unknowingly disqualify ourselves? When looking at scripture one finds that the book of Hebrews states, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance” (Hebrews 6:4-6). Therefore, can man lose their salvation? This answer depends on three differing positions. First, the view of the non-believer who outright denies Christ existed. Second, those who have heard the Word of God yet do not necessarily accept it. And third, those who accept the truth, yet still turn away from Christ’s sustaining and redemptive grace.
Today, society is representative of cross-cultural social acceptance. It is no wonder that many exist who may have heard the Word of God conveyed to them at times, and even professed a sense of faith, but not accepted Christ’s true saving grace. In essence they are non-believers. These people reject the belief that Christ came to this earth and paid for our sins. This is viewed as the intentional rejection of the salvation that Christ provides to man. “Such impenitence, if it continues throughout a person’s life, will lead to eternal separation from God because of the unwillingness to turn from sin” (Thorsen 159). And while many may elect to believe that this rejection is simply a singularly act of defiance. “It is crucial to recognize that the unforgivable sin is not a single act but a continuous, ongoing rejection. Anyone who has committed this sin would have no desire in this life to repent and believe in Jesus” (Hanegraaff 22).
Next, there is a link between Hebrews 6:4-6 and the parable that Jesus conveys in Mathew 13:2-23. This parable reflects one of a crop and soil that relates to a person receiving the Word, but due to their non-acceptance, is not essentially saved. In the eyes of the Lord, this is rebellion. As Thorsen warns, “Ongoing rebelliousness may, in fact, result in hardness of heart – a recalcitrance – that reduces a person’s ability to recognize and repent from sin” (Thorsen 159). In the confines of this rebellion, the unpardonable sin is looked upon as a sin that is developed over time; it is not a sin that one commits impulsively. It advances from ones opposition of the Holy Spirit, into a denial against Him. The final result is the permanent rejection of the Holy Spirit in one’s life, which results in the unpardonable sin, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.
The final approach that I feel takes on the most understanding is found in Hebrew 6:6, “If they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace” (Hebrews 6:6). The key words here are “fall away.” “Those believers who adhere to the notion of eternal security have often suggested that the ones who are described as "falling away" were not really true believers” (Powers). As I Timothy 4:1 attests, “But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith” (I Timothy 4:1). “The terms ‘fall away’ or ‘falling away’ means: ‘To fall away; to turn away; to commit apostasy. To turn aside; to deviate’” (Jackson 7). As such, the term “falling away” is not addressing those who are considered “backsliders.” On the contrary, this is a deliberate act to turn away from Christ and reject the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. These people are viewed in the same confines of those described in Hebrews 6. They were turning away from their faith and from the very salvation that Jesus provides.
In the confines of ministry context, I believe that there is substantial evidence to support the truth behind ones ability to lose their salvation. A good starting point is to convey the message of Mark, “I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 3:28-29). This passage seems to be very clear; the only true way that one can lose their salvation is if they choose to deliberately make the effort to do so. Furthermore, “Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:39). As scripture confirms, contrary to popular belief, losing ones salvation is not done by accident. Thus, believers do not have to worry about inadvertently losing their salvation by a mere slip or indiscretion.
In summary, although the term “unpardonable sin” is not found in the Bible, there is one sin repeatedly described as “eternal,” and that is the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately there is much misinformation surrounding this unpardonable sin. As one has learned, it does not occur in one single act of defiance or rebellion. “It is the intentional and persistent rejection of salvation offered through God’s Holy Spirit. Truth be told, when one intentionally, with full knowledge, chooses to ignore the cautions provided by scripture and the Holy Spirit, they are leaning toward committing the unpardonable sin. Their decision to blaspheme the Holy Spirit is considered a “willful” act. And as such, this blasphemes the work of our Heavenly Father and constitutes being cast away into the eternal flames of damnation.
Building HIS Kingdom One Soul at a Time...
Hanegraaff, Hank. The Bible Answer Book. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishing, 2004. Print.
Jackson, Michael. “Sins for Which There is No Pardon.” Nlag.net. 2011. Web. March 30, 2011.
Powers, Daniel G. “Observations from Hebrews 5-9.” Online.nbc.edu. 2009. Web. March 30, 2011.
Thorsen, Don. An Exploration of Christian Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic, 2010. Print.