While the theme of Hebrews is “Jesus is better,” the whole point of the book is to admonish Christians of Hebrew descent not to return to their former religion. To do so would be to desert Christ and abandon all hope of salvation. The very fact that so much time is spent in Hebrews and elsewhere throughout the New Testament warning against apostasy is proof in and of itself that such is possible.
Many of these warnings are couched within conditional statements of blessing. Let’s note some of the explicit texts from today’s chapter.
“…but Christ as a Son over His own house, whose house we are if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of hope firm to the end” (v 6). Note the conditionality of being a member of the house of Christ. So, what happens to those who do not hold fast? Surely, they forfeit the reward promised to them.
Consider the entire context of verses 7-11 and how we must guard against hardening our own hearts and losing the rest promised to the faithful.
“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God” (v 12). Note that this warning is given to brethren. Note also that brethren can enter a state of unbelief and depart from the living God. Again, what happens to brethren who allow their hearts to become evil and depart from the living God? The tired, old “he never was saved to begin with” argument won’t hold up in comparison to this text. A man cannot depart from a place he’s never been.
Verse 13 provides the means by which we can protect one another from such apostasy. Namely, to exhort or encourage one another daily.
Verse 14 contains another conditional statement of blessing, “For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end.”
Finally, (and for the second time, cf vv 7-11), rebellious Israel is held up as an example of those who fell into disobedience due to unbelief. In like fashion, Christians must guard against falling into disobedience through the same example of unbelief (vv 15-19).