Does Hebrews 10:26 Teach Loss of Salvation?
and Arthur Pink and the Greek word diakonos
Question #1: Does Hebrews 10:26 means that one can lose his or her salvation in
Christ Jesus. Please explain this scripture in terms of apostasy, the
unpardonable sin, and loss of salvation. Thank You
Response #1: Let me start with a suggested translation for this passage and the
For if we willfully continue in the life of sin after
accepting and recognizing the truth [of the gospel], there
remains no further sacrifice we can make for our sins, but only
a terrible expectation of judgment, and a burning fire, ready to
devour those who oppose [His will].
What we have here in the broader context of chapter ten is a
heartfelt plea from Paul to his fellow Jewish believers in Judea not to
fall back into the now dead temple worship of the past which
foreshadowed Christ, but instead to hold fast to the reality of the
risen Jesus Christ our Lord. For to continue to look backward, indeed,
to continue in rituals which proclaimed a Christ yet to come, and to do
so in full knowledge that Christ had already come, was, in effect, to
You ask about the relationship of these verses to apostasy, the
unpardonable sin, and loss of salvation, and, it is true, that these are
the consequences of willful, vociferous, and chronic denial of Christ -
because such behavior weakens, degrades, and, eventually, destroys faith
without which there is no salvation. It is after losing faith
entirely that the believer
becomes an apostate (for he/she is no longer a believer, no longer
having faith). It is for this sin, i.e., denying Christ, that there is
no longer any pardon, or, as Paul puts it here, "there remains no
further sacrifice". Christ is the only sacrifice for our sins, but if we
reject Christ, if we give ourselves up to sin to the point where we no
longer possess faith in Christ (for unchecked sin weakens, erodes, and can
eventually destroy faith), then there is no "further sacrifice" whereby
we may be saved (because salvation only comes by grace through faith in
Christ). This is why, for example, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit is
said by Christ to be unpardonable (Matt.12:31) - because the Spirit was
testifying about Christ, and to blasphemously claim that the witness of
the Spirit was a lie was to utterly reject Christ. In a very similar way
here, to continue sacrificing animals (who represented the future
sacrifice of Christ) was to proclaim, in effect, that Christ had not yet
come. Maybe these believers knew better at first, but Paul's point here
is that they were compromising on this very important point, sending the
wrong message to themselves and others, and putting themselves in grave
danger of eventually believing the false message and losing their faith
in Christ (since what they were doing was tantamount to a denial of
Christ, and, eventually, we all come to believe what we say, and believe
what we insist on doing).
This principle of sin eventually quenching faith is true both of the
particular sin in context here and of sin in general. For Jesus told us
not only to hear what He said but to do what He said (Lk.6:46).
Otherwise we resemble the man who built his house on sand, and that
shaky house-of-faith built on sand is sure to collapse just as soon as
serious pressures arise (like the plant in the parable of the Sower that withers in the sunshine,
having no deep root). Apostasy, the unpardonable sin, and loss of
salvation, the three subjects you ask about in regard to this verse, all
have this in common: they are all the result of loss of faith, and loss
of faith is inevitably connected to choosing our will against God's
will. That is, it is inevitably related to sin - not occasional sin, for
"we all stumble in many things" (Jas.3:2), but to the embracing of a life of sin whose
end is death (Rom.6:23). Not that all sin leads to spiritual death, but
there is sin, a pattern of giving completely in to sin, which does
(1Jn.5:16). And why does complete surrender to sin result in spiritual
death, apostasy, the loss of salvation, and the placing of the person
beyond pardon (cf. Jas.1:14-15)? Not because of a lack of mercy on God's
part (for His mercy is unlimited), but because of the hardening of the
heart of the person in question, who has now become unwilling to ever
look God in the face again, unwilling to repent, and unwilling to take
back his denial of Christ which his actions have proclaimed and to which
his heart has eventually responded.
It is important to note that Paul is preaching to the Judean
believers here, and that he is very hopeful that they will heed his
warning and repent. He is "convinced of better things" about them things
which "accompany salvation" (Heb.6:9), even though they have "not yet
resisted sin to the point of bloodshed" (i.e., are not committed as they
should be to choosing for God over sin: Heb.12:4).
It is always a tricky business to judge whether a person or a group
is so far removed or in the process of removing themselves from God that they have lost faith (and
salvation). But, clearly, there are behavior patterns which should alarm
all believers, and any willful, high-handed pattern of sinning,
especially when it is being justified as "OK", or "not so bad", is
spiritually dangerous in the extreme. There are, however, two things we
can say for certain about all this:
If we stray far enough from the true path long enough, go far
enough in the wrong direction, and oppose God strongly enough, it is
possible to endanger our faith and our salvation to the point where we
have neither any longer because of our own choices.
If we stay on the right path, taking pains not to turn to the left
or the right, pursuing sanctification (without which no one will see the
Lord: Heb.12;14), loving the Lord, living for the Lord, embracing the
Word of God, rejecting the world and its priorities, choosing instead
for God and His priorities, turning away from sin and evil, and
repenting of every slip, then we most definitely will be brought safe
into the kingdom of heaven (2Pet.1:11).
In other words, there are clearly two ways to live our lives as
Christians. The latter way, shown to us by our Lord, is a safe way and a
satisfying way. The former way, the one warned against by Paul here, is
a dangerous way and a slippery way. If we take pains to tread the
righteous way, we are more secure than we can know in the loving embrace
of our God who guides us by His Spirit in the footsteps of His Son. But
if we ignore the true way and follow our own way, we risk everything we
once claimed was really important to us; we risk our faith; we risk our
very salvation. But it is at least worth asking the question why someone
who claims that he/she loves Jesus Christ would demonstrate over the
course of a lifetime that his/her true love was really anything but the
Lord. That is surely a big part of why we remain in this life even after
professing our faith - to make it clear to all whether or not we really
meant it when we said we loved Jesus.
Please see also the following links:
Have I Lost
Sin, Confession and Forgiveness.
Sin and Spiritual Transformation.
Apostasy and the Sin unto Death, the Conscience and Sanctification.
Sin Problem, Unbelievers,
and Hardness of Heart (in BB 4B: Soteriology).
Your Anger, do not Sin: Ephesians 4:26 and the Sin Nature.
The Saved and
Apostasy and the Sin unto Death (in BB 3B: Hamartiology: the study
Yours in Him who is the only way, the only truth, and the only life,
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Dear Dr. Bob,
What do you think of Arthur W. Pink?
I made use of Pink's "Gleanings in Genesis" in Seminary many years
ago. As a commentator, I found him better than most, but must confess
that I find myself almost never using the many commentaries on my
shelves. The main reason for this is that most commentaries cycle around
well worn paths (many of which are either obvious or incorrect). Deeper
investigation of scripture inevitably rests upon linguistic analysis
(where the tools are different, few commentaries really being very
helpful in this regard), historical and cultural considerations, and
intricacies of theology that are seldom addressed except in the most
specific systematic treatments. In general, I find Pink good on
typology, less so on the details of eschatology. He suffers from a
complaint in that regard that is not unique to his day, namely,
over-identification of specifics with contemporary political
configurations. This is something which, while not entirely avoidable, I
have tried (and intend to continue to try) to keep away from as much as
possible. One thing that can be said in Pink's favor is that he
represents a method (namely, detailed investigation and exposition of
scripture) that is to be highly commended, even if one disagrees with
some specifics. This is the kind of thing that is hard to come by these
days in this sort of depth.
Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,
I have a Greek question for you on the gender of the word diakonos
("deacon"). I thought it was a masculine noun, but in Romans 16:1 it
appears to be used of a woman ("deaconess"?). Which is it?
There are, in fact, very many nouns in Greek that admit of both
masculine and feminine construction - almost all nouns that refer to
people can do so. In fact, even the most common Greek word for "man" may
also mean "woman" (anthropos), since it is really the generic
word for human being (aner being the word for
masculine-gender-man, as gyne is the corresponding
Greek is really easy to figure out on this score, however, because of
the fact that the definite article and adjectives etc. all reflect
gender (so that he anthropos = the woman human, while ho
anthropos = the man human). Such it is with diakonos. So the
proof of the pudding in any given context is not the word diakonos
per se (which might be either gender), but rather what it is that
modifies it. Incidentally, when in doubt, the "default setting" for such
common gender nouns is masculine (as in all collectives: a mixed bag is
always masculine in Greek; for feminine gender to apply to a group, the
entire group has to be feminine).
There is no question about Romans 16:1,
however. In that verse, the word diakonos does refer to a woman
(i.e., a "deaconess"). We know that because it
is modified by the participle form -ousan, i.e., the feminine
accusative singular form. Translating the word "deaconess" is perfectly
fine as long as one understands that the base word in Greek is the same
for both men and women (i.e., "deacon" and "deaconess" are identical in
Greek with the exception that the supporting words are in the feminine
gender in the latter case).
You might also find these links of use:
Deacons and Elders.
Questions on Church Polity
The Local Church
and Personal Ministry I
Church and Personal Ministry II
Bible Teaching versus Sermonizing
Hope this helps.
Yours in our Lord Jesus Christ,