Experience vs. Evidence

One of the more challenging passages in the NT is Hebrews 6:4–6. This provides challenges because it sounds like one loses his salvation. However, if more careful attention were paid to what is said in the immediate and larger contexts, this perceived problem would fade away.

Specifically, note the illustration given in vv. 7–8 and the encouragement in vv. 9–12. The point of the illustration is this: Fruit is the evidence of life; no fruit shows no life.

In his encouragement in vv. 9–12 the author of Hebrews does not consider personal experience (as noted in vv. 4–5) as sufficient evidence of salvation. Hear what he says in v. 9—“we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation.” The author of Hebrews clearly does not consider personal experience alone as part of the “things that accompany salvation.”

What are the “things that accompany salvation”? The context tells us—

  • Good works, v. 10
  • Love for Christians, v. 10
  • Perseverance, vv. 11–12

This is consistent with larger context of the book of Hebrews, which sees perseverance in Jesus Christ as essential to salvation. It is also consistent with the rest of Scripture, which recognizes genuine salvation as belonging to those who bear appropriate fruit as opposed to a mere profession of faith.

Don’t evaluate your standing before God by what you have felt and experienced. Look at your life—is there evidence of a real, demonstrable change in your behavior, activities, affection, direction, and devotion?

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