The Question: Is it ever too late to be restored?
“Can salvation be regained after 2 Peter 2:20,21 and Hebrews 6:4-6 if a onetime believer sincerely repents and desires to get back into the graces of God?” – from Steve
Steve, I believe the article “The Point Of No Return” gives the biblical answer to your question. I would encourage you to read that and then return to this post to continue the discussion if you have additional questions.
In 2 Peter 2:20-21, Peter is showing the sorrowful state of the apostate. Where they had been purified and cleansed from the sickness and filth of sin, they have turned to it again and become corrupted once more. When he says the “latter end is worse for them than the beginning,” he is referring to the fact that a lost person, having no knowledge of anything other than their sickness and corruption, does not know the salvation they are missing. But the person who had escaped that corruption, they know what they have given up! It is worse for someone who knows what they are missing or giving up than for the one who has no knowledge of it to begin with. Both are equally lost but the one has a greater remorse than the other because of their knowledge. They knew the price that was paid for their sin. They knew the condemnation of sin. They knew the cure for sin. They had escaped all of that and had the hope of heaven. Turning back to the world, they gave it up and they know what they have lost. It is worse for that person.
In Hebrews 6:4-6, the Hebrews writer is referring to the Hebrew converts who were being tempted to turn back to Judaism and leave Christ. It would be impossible for them to find salvation according to that dead system (cf. Heb. 6:1-3). They had learned the truth and been converted to Christ. If they turned away from that truth then they would be forfeiting their salvation with no hope of regaining it as long as they were apposed to Christ. There is only one way of salvation and it is impossible to be saved outside of him (Jn. 14:6). If they went back to Judaism then they would be putting Christ to an open shame. According to the Jews, Jesus deserved to die on the cross. They had called for his crucifixion (Matt. 27:22-23). Clearly, being aligned with such a party would make one’s salvation forfeit and impossible to regain as long as they are seeking salvation in any other religious system.
Neither of these passages teach that a person can so sin as to make restoration impossible. Paul said that he was a pattern of God’s mercy (1 Tim. 1:16). He was essentially saying that if Christ could forgive him, who killed Christians and persecuted the church, then he can forgive anyone. There is no such thing as a sin that a person cannot be forgiven of if they will repent and ask God’s forgiveness (1 Jn. 1:9).
The only time it is truly “too late” to be restored is when we close our eyes to this world. We will give account to God for what we have done while in this life (2 Cor. 5:10). As long as we are in this physical body we still have time to repent and be restored to Christ. None of us are promised another day (James 4:14). Certainly, this is powerful motivation to repent today and be restored. Waiting another day may truly make it too late!
Read “The Point Of No Return” and continue the discussion below in the comments if you have more questions on this.