Last week, we looked at the promise of Jesus: “My sheep… will never perish” (John 10:27-28). That’s what Jesus said, “My sheep will never perish. They will have a faith that lasts.” Here’s what that means:
Those who are truly Christ’s sheep (and turn away) will come back.
They may be gone for a long time. They may be gone a long way, but if they are Christ’s sheep, they will come back. They must! Nothing is surer. True faith lasts, and Jesus will never lose one of his own.
The great example of this is Peter, who denied Jesus with cursing. If you had heard him on that night, you would have said, “He’s gone. He can’t ever come back from this! There’s no hope for him — speaking like that about Jesus!” But Peter repented and he was wonderfully restored, showing that he truly was one of Christ’s sheep.
Those who turn away (and do not come back) were never truly Christ’s sheep.
The profile and the position of these people is set out for us in Hebrews 6.
I know that some Christians believe that a person who truly belongs to Jesus Christ can lose their salvation, and they will point to this passage in support of that belief.
But here is the problem: All Scripture is given by the inspiration of God, and it is all the Word of that one God, so we must always interpret Scripture in the light of Scripture. And we must never understand what God says in one place in a way that would contradict what he says in another place.
- Our Lord Jesus said, “My sheep…will never perish” (John 10:27-28), so Hebrews 6 cannot mean that some of his sheep will perish.
- The Scripture tells us plainly that nothing can separate God’s people from his love (Romans 8:35-39), so Hebrews 6 cannot mean that some things will separate his people from his love.
- The Scripture says that God who began a good work in his people will bring it to completion at the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6), so Hebrews 6 cannot mean that in some cases, God will abandon a saving work he has begun.
I want to suggest to you that these verses in Hebrews 6 teach a very important principle that runs right across the New Testament: It is possible to have spiritual experience that is not saving experience, and to be in this position is to be in the greatest spiritual danger.