Can you have a real relationship with God and lose it?
This question is another that has been put into the box of questions for a panel to respond to this Sunday at my church.
I think the obvious place to go to is the book of Hebrews, and its enigmatic answer would be:
Yes, so watch out! But I’m confident you won’t lose it.
Hebrews 6 progresses as follows:
Let us pursue perfection, rather than returning to the basics of repentance etc.
For it is impossible to restore to repentance those who have fallen away
But we are more confident that you will keep the hope of the promises
God swore to Abraham, and Abraham endured to receive the promise
God swears to the heirs, so that we might seize the hope before us
We have this hope through Jesus our Melchizedekian high priest
As is typical for Hebrews, here we see both warning and assurance: You are in grave danger of falling!… but we’re confident that you won’t succumb.
It seems to me that believers need to act in fear of the genuine warning that they can fall away through disbelieving disobedience… and concurrently hold to the assuring promise that God will complete what God has begun. This is crystallised in the amazing verse 3:14:
For we have become partners of Christ, if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end.
This verse almost defies grammatical sense, to make the double point of assurance (we have become partners of Christ) and warning (if only we hold our first confidence firm to the end).