It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.Hebrews 10:31(NASB)
In the early years of Christianity when the Church was very young, it was very difficult for many Jews, who had placed their trust in the Lord Jesus as God's and Israel's promised Messiah, not to lapse back into pre-Cross Judaism and the legalistic rituals of the scribes and Pharisees. Most early Christians were Jews who had been born under the Law of Moses.
They heard Christ's message, accepted His Messianic claims, witnessed His crucifixion, and believed that He rose from the dead. Many of these early Jewish Christians had lived under the pre-Cross dispensation of Law before moving into the post-Resurrection dispensation of Grace, and they had to come to terms with the inevitable change from the Old, Mosaic Covenant to the New Covenant that had been cut through the shed blood of Christ on the Cross.
While the letter to the Hebrews is a wonderful tool to teach us all that Christ is fully God yet fully Man, its initial target audience was Jewish believers who were tempted to lapse back into Judaism's sacrifices, ceremonies, and the traditions of the elders - to escape the severe persecution that was raging through the fledgling Church. Hebrews was written in the early days of Christianity to help these believing Jews understand the changes that had to occur because the Messiah, promised in Old Testament Scriptures, had come as the sacrificial Lamb of God.
Hebrews contains five warning passages that are addressed to genuine Christians. None of the warnings threaten believers with loss of salvation, as some people teach, because we are saved by grace through faith in Christ's sacrificial offering of Himself on the Cross and His glorious Resurrection; we can do nothing to receive salvation and we can do nothing to keep our salvation. We are made a new creation in Christ and given life-eternal when we are born from above - and it is given once, for all, by grace through faith in Him.
None of the warnings in Hebrews teach that Christians can lose their eternal salvation, for in Christ we are eternally secure. However, God has instituted certain standards of godly living to which we should all adhere as a matter of choice. The Lord, Himself, has established certain principles and practices of holy living that are well-pleasing to Him and honour His name. While there is no threat to a believer's eternal security or suggestion of loss of salvation in any of the five warnings, we are warned of severe chastening from our Heavenly Father in this life and the loss of reward in the next.
The dangers of neglecting our salvation, drifting away from the truth, being warned against unbelief and disobedience, the problems of spiritual infancy rather than spiritual maturity, and indifference to the truth of God's Word, are dangers that are addressed in the other warning passages. However, Chapter 10 deals with a specific warning against apostasy - wilfully sinning and rejecting the truth of the glorious gospel of Christ by turning back to legalism and reviving traditions of old.
Although this warning was particularly pertinent to certain believing Jews in the early Church who were tempted to revert to Judaism to avoid the terrible persecution that was sweeping through the early Christian Church, this danger of a Christian sinning wilfully, by returning to some pre-Cross teaching or being persuaded that other man-made policies, procedures, traditions, or customs are necessary for salvation or are required to keep one saved, is still perilous today. ANY believer who has been saved by grace through faith in Christ's sacrifice on the Cross who decides to adopt legalistic practices in their religion, is endangering themselves.
Any Christian, Jew or Gentile alike, who places themself back under any law or set of regulations to gain or maintain the salvation that is already theirs through Christ's shed blood on Calvary, is actually trampling the Son of God underfoot, as they are effectively declaring that the New Covenant that was cut at Calvary through His blood is of no effect. HOW SHOCKING! When Christ's blood has already sanctified a believer - what a terrible insult to the Almighty God Who saved us, to revert to the belief that something more is necessary for salvation. While a genuine believer will not lose his salvation under these circumstances, he will most certainly be judged for this gross offense. Hebrews points out that a Christian who sins in this way will be severely chastened by God and concludes with these sombre words: "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God."
May we read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest the instructive and informative teachings in Hebrews and take special heed of those passages that war us against insulting our God and Saviour Who died for our sin and rose again so that through faith in Him we might be born from above, declared righteous, and receive the riches of His goodness and grace freely and without cost.
Heavenly Father, thank You that my salvation is eternally secure and nothing can separate me from Your love. Thank You that the only requirement for salvation is to believe in Jesus. May I never be tempted to try to add anything to gain or maintain my salvation. I pray for all those who are trying to add more requirements to their walk with You and in doing so, are trampling You underfoot and bringing upon themselves a severe chastening from You which is, indeed, terrifying. May they repent, realising that they can add nothing to Jesus' finished work on the Cross. In Jesus' name I pray, AMEN.