“Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.” Hebrews 3:12
This is a tough verse to deal with for many Christians because many of us would believe in what is called Perseverance of the Saints or Eternal Security (there is a difference, but the end point being that those who are saved cannot lose their salvation). The writer is talking to those whom he calls brothers, yet warns them not to fall away. What is more, he is very clear in his instruction on how to help keep people from falling away.
v. 13 “But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”
He then states the proof of our perseverance.
v. 14 “For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”
This sounds like works salvation and like the exact opposite of not being able to lose your salvation but-that is most certainly not the case.
The example the writer gives is that of the covenant community of Israel in the Old Testament. They were in the covenant because of their circumcision but that did not mean that they were saved. They rebelled, they disobeyed, they were then forbidden to enter the rest. They had heard the truth, they had partaken of the covenant benefits yet, because of their unbelief, they showed that they were not part of those who were saved.
Only those who are saved will persevere.
Is this works salvation? No, for you did nothing and could do nothing to regenerate your heart.
Are you still responsible for something in your salvation? Yes. Scripture is clear that we must confess and believe.
Are we to work? Yes. James very clearly states that salvation without works is dead.
How does this work? “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure” Phil 2:13. God will keep those whom He called.
There is this beautiful picture of God working in us, and enabling us to persevere. We are working, yet it is the Spirit working in us and part of how He does this is through our Christian community. He uses us to exhort each other and keep each other.
Much more can be said, much more to hash out. More to come.