A few extra verses are added for context:
“Because of this, having left the discourse of the beginning of Christ, let us be borne on to full growth, not laying down again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God, of baptisms, of doctrine, and of laying on of hands, and of resurrection of dead ones, and of eternal judgment. And this we will do, if indeed God permits. For [it is] impossible for those once having been enlightened, and having tasted of the heavenly gift, and becoming sharers of [the] Holy Spirit, and tasting [the] good Word of God, and [the] works of power of a coming age, and having fallen away, [it is impossible for them] again to renew to repentance, crucifying again for themselves the Son of God, and putting [Him] to open shame. (For the earth drinking in the rain often coming upon it, and producing vegetation suitable for those for whom it is also worked, receives blessing from God; ‘but bearing thorns and thistles,’ [it is] deemed unfit and near a curse, of which the end is for burning) (Hebrews 6:1-8).
Of course, verses like the above must be read in light of the truth of explicit gospel passages such as this one:
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give eternal life to them, and they shall not perish to the age, never! And not anyone shall pluck them out of My hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
Obviously, from the above verses we know that Hebrews 6:4-6 does not refer to Christ’s sheep.
The author of the letter to the Hebrews begins by saying (among other things) that we do not lay again a foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. The true Christian does not continue to repent of dead works and fruit unto death; he does not continue to repent of thinking that self-righteous religion is not dung (Philippians 3:8). And the true Christian does not continue to repent of believing in a false god, since when God regenerates him, he has faith toward God, abides in the doctrine of Christ (2 John 9), and is preserved (guarded) through faith (1 Peter 1:5). To put it another way, a true Christian does not lay again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God because he never follows a false christ:
“And when he puts forth his own sheep, he goes in front of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will not follow a stranger, never! But they will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of the strangers” (John 10:4-5).
If it were possible for a true Christian to lay again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, then it would be possible for a true Christian to follow a false christ (i.e., a stranger). How so? Because if a true Christian followed a false christ, then they would need to repent of the dead work of following a false christ and cease putting their faith towards this false christ (i.e., stranger) and put their faith back toward the true Christ (i.e, true Shepherd; God). Of course, as Christ said, this can never happen, and so it necessarily follows that laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God can never happen. The key word regarding faith and repentance is “again.” If my explanation here be a bit unclear then I encourage one to read the two cited links below to see what I am trying to say.
Marc has written the following:
“There is another amazing change that happens as an immediate and inevitable result of regeneration. It is inseparably connected with the first, and it, too, is a great and God-glorifying change. It is a change that happens to every saved sinner upon conversion. That change is God’s giving the sinner the gift of repentance. This initial repentance is called evangelical repentance or gospel repentance to distinguish it from the ongoing repentance in a believer’s life. Gospel repentance is a one-time occurrence that happens at conversion and is a permanent change. https://agrammatos.org/2017/07/31/gospel-repentance/
There is indeed ongoing repentance in the Christian’s life — but the repentance from dead works and faith toward God in the book of Hebrews is not ongoing, but “a one-time occurrence that happens at conversion and is a permanent change.”
Those who have initially professed faith toward God and have also professed repentance from dead works are here in view. Those who profess repentance from dead works are NOT people like tolerant Calvinists who believe that some who believe a false gospel are Christians. Why not? Because tolerant Calvinists do not believe that all self-righteous religion (e.g., Arminianism) is fruit unto death.
“…[W]hat fruit did you have then in the things over which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death” (Romans 6:21).
The tolerant Calvinist does not believe that the end of false gospels like Arminianism is death, and so the tolerant Calvinist cannot be one who initially had professed true repentance from dead works. I believe that only those who would at least profess to agree with articles such as “Gospel Repentance” (the one I already linked above) and “Gospel Repentance and Judgment” (https://agrammatos.files.wordpress.com/2018/01/gospelseries.pdf) can be said to profess repentance from dead works and faith toward God.
And so those who have professed faith in the true gospel, are those who have tasted of the Word of God, etc., etc. And so it appears that those who have professed essential gospel doctrine, who later repudiate that profession, for them, it would be impossible to renew them to repentance — it is impossible to renew the apostate’s professed repentance to a true repentance. The “repentance” needs to be “renewed” since it was a lie the first time around, as shown by their defection from the faith. This “repentance” needs to be renewed into a true repentance — BUT the author of the Hebrews says that this is impossible.
It does appear that for this true apostasy (bearing “thorns” and “thistles”) from the faith, the inevitable end is “burning” (Hebrews 6:8). In other words, it appears that true apostasy from the faith is a sign of reprobation — but of course, I tend to be hesitant in declaring that with certainty as there is the concern of uprooting the wheat with the darnel (Matthew 13:24-30. To judge all unregenerate people as reprobate is clearly to uproot the wheat with the darnel. The main question is whether or not apostasy from the faith is a sign of being a darnel. Related to this is 1 John 5:16-17:
“If anyone sees his brother sinning a sin not unto death, he shall ask; and He shall give life to him, to the ones not sinning unto death. There is a sin unto death. I do not say that he should ask about that. All unrighteousness is sin, and there is a sin not unto death.”
This passage seems to say that those who apostatize from the faith are not to be prayed for. And not praying for someone would be an uprooting of darnel without uprooting wheat, IF it be true that apostasy has as its end, “burning” (Hebrews 6:8) and “death” (1 John 5:16). And lastly, it appears (again) from Hebrews 6:4 and 6:6 that the true apostate from the faith does not even want to “renew his profession,” and of course we know that with God all things are possible, but since God says here that it is impossible to renew to repentance, then this appears to mean that God will not grant this apostate repentance for the reasons mentioned (e.g., crucifying again for themselves the Son of God).
I’ll end with this hypothetical scenario:
A professing Christian (formerly a tolerant Calvinist of the John Owen variety) who has acknowledged that all Christians believe the gospel and has judged saved and lost by the gospel, thus exhibiting true repentance and faith. The winds of persecution come and he caves, and begins to repudiate his initial profession of faith in the true Christ. He is a dog who has returned to the vomit of tolerant Calvinism — or more accurately, tolerant Owenism. The apostate, tolerant of self-righteous religion Owenist, now crucifies again for himself the Son of God, and puts Him to open shame. How so? By returning to the Owenic vomit, which teaches that Christ merely purchased conditions for the sinner to meet in order to save himself; it also teaches by necessary implication that Christ did not meet all the conditions for the salvation of all whom He represented. Owenism’s false god raised a false christ up from the dead, even though the false Owenic christ did not meet all the conditions for salvation. Owenism puts the the true Christ of Scripture to an open shame by its own teaching that implies that the true Christ is not risen, since according to the Owenist there are supposedly more conditions for the sinner to meet. For more regarding the teaching of the John Owen of Owenism see: