Instruction about Baptisms

This is the third of six topics described in Hebrews 6 as the ‘elementary teachings of Christ’ and the ‘foundation’ of the Christian faith.

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The Greek word βάπτισμα (baptisma) describes an immersion in water, as practiced by John the Baptist and also on those professing faith in Jesus, but is also used in the sense of ‘drench’ (Daniel 4:23) and ‘wash’ (Hebrews 9:10). The same word is used to describe the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers after Pentecost.

Acts 19 speaks of certain disciples who had not received the Holy Spirit, because they had only received ‘John’s baptism’. Once they were baptised ‘into the name of the Lord Jesus’ they received the Spirt and spoke in tongues and prophesied (Acts 19:3-6).

It is clear from the plural ‘instruction about baptisms’, that these different forms of baptism all form part of the Christain foundation.

John’s baptism

The Law of Moses prescribed washing in many cases where cleansing and purification were required. For example, for contact with a dead body (Numbers 19:11-12) and for nocturnal emissions (Deuteronomy 23:10-11). These washings never brought about a permanent cleansing and were an ongoing part of the religious life of the Jews. The washings of the Old Covenant were reminders of man’s defilement, just as blood sacrifices reminded of the penalty for sin.

The specific mission of John the Baptist was to prepare the way for the one who would come as the durable solution for every form of uncleanness – Jesus the Messiah, described as a refiner’s fire and a launderer’s soap  (Malachi 3:2) – who cleanses us by the washing of water through the word  (Ephesians 5:26).

Shortly before Jesus started his ministry, John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’ He is the one the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him’ (Isaiah 40:3). People went out to John from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, they were baptised by him in the Jordan River  (Matthew 3:5).

The Baptist called the Jews – those in covenant relationship with God and heirs to the Messianic promise – to confess their sins and repent. Only those who did this qualified to receive the Redeemer, as Isaiah had warned: The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins, declares the LORD  (Isaiah 59:20).

John baptised across the Jordan River  (John 10:40), probably at the place where the Israelites crossed into the Land at the time of Joshua (Joshua 1:2). This is highly significant. In terms of the Law of Moses, the Land was promised to the Israelites as an inheritance, as long as they remained obedient. God told them through Moses: Keep all my decrees and laws and follow them, so that the land where I am bringing you to live may not vomit you out. You must not live according to the customs of the nations I am going to drive out before you. Because they did all these things, I abhorred them. But I said to you, You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance (Leviticus 20:22-24).

By withdrawing across the Jordan, the penitent ones of Israel acknowledged that they had forfeited their Land through disobedience, placing themselves at God’s mercy in anticipation of the coming Messiah.

Many of the Pharisees came to John, but he turned them away because they presumed the inheritance without repentance, relying on their descent from Abraham.  John rebuked them, saying, You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The axe is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 3:10).

Scripture records that all the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus’ words, acknowledged that God’s way was right, because they had been baptised by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the Law rejected God’s purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptised by John  (Luke 7:29-30).

When John told the Pharisees, out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham, he was probably referring to the memorial erected at the Jordan in the time of Joshua and spoken of in Joshua 4:4-7. God would rather raise up descendants for Abraham out of stones, than to fulfil his promised to the unfaithful members of Abraham’s natural seed. At the same time the Baptist was anticipating God’s adding into Israel of faithful believers from among the Gentiles – as the prophets predicted (see Psalm 87:4-6 & Zechariah 12:11).

The advent of the Redeemer would also be the time of God’s unique punishment upon the Jews who rejected Messiah, His final offer of mercy. Isaiah had warned of this also:

Zion will be redeemed with justice,
her penitent ones with righteousness.
But rebels and sinners will both be broken,
and those who forsake the LORD will perish.
(Isaiah 1:27-28)

Jesus came first as the Redeemer of those who acknowledged their guilt, but then, forty years later in AD70, he came in judgment on the unfaithful remnant of Old Covenant Israel – those who refused to repent and believe.

As John the Baptist had also warned them: I baptise you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire  (Matthew 3:11-12).

Baptism in the name of Jesus

Before Jesus became the atoning sacrifice for the sins of the world, it was not yet known how sin and iniquity would be fully and finally dealt with. Those who received John’s baptism would invariably sin again – so his baptism had no permanent effect on their conscience and standing before God. But in Jesus the righteousness that comes by faith  was revealed.

Faith, as we considered earlier, is to respond to God’s word. Baptism into the name of Jesus is the first response required of a new believer.

Baptism in water signifies the crossing point in our spiritual journey – as travellers often cross a river or sea when migrating to a new land.

Abraham is the first person in the Bible to be called a Hebrew(Genesis 14:13). The word means ‘one who crossed over’. Abraham would have passed through one of the great rivers surrounding the Land to which he was called, but that crossing only illustrates the more important one – from the life he left behind to a new life of trust and dependence on God.

Baptism signifies the transition from a life of unbelief and self-reliance to one which is founded on the promises of God. Abraham left his country for the promise that he would become a great nation  through whom all the nations of the earth would be blessed  (Genesis 12:1-4). In the same way, the believer is drawn to baptism by a promise: Repent and be baptised, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off – for all whom the Lord our God will call  (Acts 2:38-39).

While the repentance required for John’s baptism was repentance from sin (failure to keep the Law of Moses), the repentance required for baptism into the name of the Lord Jesus is repentance from unbelief (see Acts 2:38, Romans 10:9, Galatians 3:5). The sinner is made right with God by believing in the completed work of Messiah, which God confirmed as effective by raising him from the dead.

We also understand from Abraham that ‘leaving’ is a necessary precondition to ‘receiving’. Abram left, as the LORD had told him … and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there (Genesis 12:4-5).

Abraham’s earlier life was probably happy and comfortable, but he gave up what he had to pursue the promise. We see the same in the apostle Paul’s case: Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the Law, but that which is through faith in Christ – the righteousness that comes from God, and is by faith  (Philippians 3:7-9).

Faith and God are not things we add to our existing life. God requires that we abandon self-will, vain ambitions and selfish desires in order to be led by His Spirit. This is the leaving and receiving of the Christian faith.

When Abraham ‘crossed over’ he made an irrevocable decision. Even though he faced many difficulties that may have given him cause to reconsider, he never returned to his former homeland. Scripture bears witness of Abraham and his offspring: If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country – a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them  (Hebrews 11:15).

Abraham, in a manner of speaking, died to his old life in order to begin the new. Likewise, all of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death. We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life  (Romans 6:3-4).

As Jesus was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18), we too must put to death whatever belongs to the flesh  (Colossians 3:5) in order to receive new life by that same Spirit.


The Bible speaks of many other crossings through water, all of which illustrate some truth about baptism.

the flood

Noah passed from a world under God’s judgment to a renewed earth. Peter wrote: In the ark of Noah only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolises baptism that now saves you also (1 Peter 3:20-21). Like Noah, faithful believers escape a world which is condemned and wait to be translated into God’s perfect society – a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness  (2 Peter 3:13).

the Red Sea

The Israelites crossed the Red Sea to escape slavery in Egypt. Jesus drew on this analogy when he taught: I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin  (John 8:34). Baptisms signifies deliverance from our bondage to sin.


Jacob wrestled with God at Peniel before he crossed the ford of the Jabbok. For most of his life, he had tried in vain to secure God’s promise through his own efforts (employing both deceit and ingenuity), but at Peniel, Jacob accepted that God alone can fulfil His promises. By crossing over, we enter into His rest (Hebrews 4:9-10). We now depend on God rather than ourselves for the fulfilment of all things, becoming His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10), knowing that He can do exceedingly more than anything we can ever ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

Baptism in the name of Jesus Christ is for those who believe in God’s way of forgiveness and restoration and are willing to respond in faith to His call. For this reason a believer should never be asked, ‘do you want to be baptised?’, but should rather be instructed: ‘do you want forgiveness for your sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit for a new life in faithfulness to God? If so, the Bible offers it to you by your faith in Jesus, which faith you are called to demonstrate by your baptism.’

Baptism in the Holy Spirit


The Holy Spirit is God’s divine presence in the world, by whom He works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will (Ephesians 1:11). It is the Holy Spirit who drives human destiny to God’s desired conclusion.

The Spirit, like wind, is not found in any particular place, is not predictable in his movements and is visible only by what he does (John 3:8).

From the earliest times, the Spirit has moved and guided the prophets and servants of God. The Spirit was then uniquely concentrated in Jesus – for to him God gave not the Spirit by measure  (John 3:34), in him all the fullness of the Deity lived in bodily form (Colossians 2:9).

After Jesus’ ascent to heaven, the Holy Spirit was given to the church. To fulfil what God had promised through the prophet Joel – afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh  (Joel 2:28) – he is now more widely dispersed than in earlier generations, and working with greater intensity.

The Spirit testifies to Jesus’ ascent into celestial glory and his reunion with the Father, at whose side he now rules as Lord over all (John 7:39, John 16:7, Acts 10:36). In this way the Spirit convicts the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment (John 16:8), leading sinners to faith in Messiah, and then dwells in the hearts and minds of those who believe (1 Corinthians 6:19).


On receiving the Holy Spirit, a person is born again. After Samuel anointed Saul as the first king of Israel, he told him: The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy … and you will be changed into a different person (1 Samuel 10:6).

The defect in human nature that prevents us from living the way that is pleasing to God is remedied through the gift of the Holy Spirit, who writes God’s law on our hearts. God’s Spirit motivates us according to God’s will and purposes – reminding us of the teaching of Christ (John 14:26), imparting the wisdom and understanding of God (Acts 6:10), comforting and affirming us in our relationship with Him (John 14:16), and directing, guiding, equipping and empowering us for the works of God (Hebrews 13:21).


All who believe will receive the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is promised in response to water baptism (Acts 2:38-39), but can also be given before baptism, as in the case of Cornelius (Acts 10:47-48).

The Bible reveals four things by which the believer may know that he has received the Holy Spirit: the revelation that Jesus is Lord, love towards others, the affirmation of sonship, and certainty of the eternal inheritance in Christ.

Jesus is Lord

The apostle Paul affirms that no-one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:3). Even the disciples who walked, and ate and slept in the company of Jesus could not accept his divinity without the gift of the Spirit. The apostle John saw the glorified Christ revealed and fell as if dead (Revelation 1:17). His gospel proclaims, in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God  (John 1). Anyone who knows that Jesus is God, has the Spirit of God.

Love toward others

Jesus taught that all the commandments are motivated by love for God and love for each other (Matthew 22:36-40). Paul explains that love is the fulfilment of the Law  (Romans 13:10). God promised under the New Covenant that He would put His Law in our minds and write it on our hearts (Jeremiah 31:33). Paul writes to the church that God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us (Romans 5:5).

Anyone whose life and actions are motivated by God’s love can be confident that he has received of His Spirit. Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love  (1 John 4:7-8).


At the same time, the purpose of the Messiah was to bring many sons to glory (Hebrews 2:10). Jesus restores us to the relationship that God originally had with Adam – one of trust and love, as between a father and his son.

A son is one who learns from his father, applies his father’s wisdom, and obeys his instructions. The son brings honour to the father by prospering according to the father’s will. In return the son enjoys the father’s unqualified favour and is heir to all he has.

Whereas a servant obeys for fear of his master’s anger and retribution, a son obeys his father for fear of his disappointment. A slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever  (John 8:35).

The Holy Spirit affirms us in this relationship, as the apostle explains: For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs –  heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory (Romans 8:15-17).

Certainty of eternal life

The gift of the Spirit is further said to be a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come (2 Corinthians 1:22, 5:5): You also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession – to the praise of His glory  (Ephesians 1:13-14).

We know that we have received the Spirit when we are certain of eternal life in the kingdom of God. As it is written: ‘No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him’  –  but God has revealed it to us by His Spirit … We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us  (1 Corinthians 2:9-12).

It is the revelation of God’s love in Christ, the assurance of our right-standing with God through faith in Jesus and the confidence in our eternal inheritance in Him that give true believers such an unshakable devotion and a readiness to forsake everything, even to the point of laying down their lives for Him.


This baptism in the Spirit  empowered the disciples for the task to which Jesus had called them: You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth  (Acts 1:8). This was also the immediate result when the apostle Paul was filled with the Spirit in Damascus: At once he began to preach in the synagogues that Jesus is the Son of God (Acts 9:17-20).

The gift of the Spirit must have the same effect on all who receive him, namely that we become in word and deed, witnesses to the Lordship of Christ.


The giving of the Spirit in the time of Acts was commonly manifested in the gift of tongues, but the significance of this has been widely misunderstood, resulting in many attempts to conjure up a similar phenomenon in the present time.

The important consequence of tongues at Pentecost was that the pilgrims who had come to Jerusalem from all over the known world could hear ‘the wonders of God’ proclaimed, each in his own language (Acts 2:11).

At one time the whole world had one language and a common speech. The diversity of languages and other ethnic distinctions originated at the Tower of Babel, where man united in rebellion against God. There He confused their tongues to frustrate their intentions, and scattered them across the earth as different nations (Genesis 11:1-9).

Through the gospel, God would bring about a new unity of people through the work of His Spirit, by reconciling those from every nation, tribe and tongue who submitted to His will. Jesus’ prayed for this shortly before his crucifixion: I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as You are in me and I am in You …  May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent me and have loved them even as You have loved me (John 17: 20-23).

The Old Testament prophets announced this in advance, e.g.“Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people”  (Zechariah 12:11).

Pentecost was the starting point of this process. In its temporary reversal of the Babel curse, the gift of tongues signified that the whole world would now be united in Messiah, in faith and obedience to God. From that time the blessing promised to Abraham spread out to all the nations.

Pentecost was unique and we should not expect the experiences of that time to be shared by believers in all generations. Paul later explained to the Corinthians: ‘Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled …’ (1 Corinthians 13:8). The enduring quality and eternal binding force of the Christian faith is love. Love is the universal language of Christianity.

The same gift of tongues had, however, a further signification. At the same time that salvation would spread to all nations, many of the Jews to whom the word of God had been entrusted had become proud and would neither accept salvation from sin, nor be willing that God’s grace and favour should extend to the ends of the earth. Isaiah prophesied a unique judgment on these people:

Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues
God will speak to this people, to whom he said,
‘This is the resting place, let the weary rest’;
and, ‘This is the place of repose’ –
but they would not listen …
Therefore hear the word of the LORD, you scoffers
who rule this people in Jerusalem …
the Lord, the LORD Almighty, has told me of the destruction decreed against the whole Land
(Isaiah 28:11-22).

As His punishment toward those who has made His living faith into a religion of dead works, God pronounced that His word would hence be spoken to them in foreign tongues, so that they would not be able to heed and escape His judgment. Those who refused to listen to God’s clear and simple message where thus confounded in hearing the oracles of God in an unintelligible way.

Paul confirms that tongues were a sign for unbelievers – i.e. an indication that the punishment of those who ‘would not listen’ – was near (1 Corinthians 14:22).

Tongues were thus common in the church until the time of the Temple’s destruction in AD70. After that tongues were no longer prevalent.


The Day of Pentecost commenced the fulfilment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28 that God would pour out His Spirit on all flesh … and the young men would prophesy.

Wherever those early believers spoke in tongues as a consequence of receiving the Holy Spirit, we see that they prophesied, i.e. spoke out the wonders and praises of God, in foreign languages (see Acts 2:11, 10:46, 19:6, etc.).

A heart filled with God’s Spirit will express itself in spontaneous and exuberant praise. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Matthew 12:34). Such a response cannot come from mimic or imitation and does not need to be induced by human effort. Instead, like streams of living water gushing forth from an unfathomable spring, so is the sheer joy and praise which emerges from those who have once known the riches of God’s love by the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Prophecy and not tongues is thus the definitive evidence of Spirit baptism, even as it then occurred. No one cursing God in a tongue could be said to have been baptised in the Holy Spirit.


1. Is baptism necessary for salvation?

Some have suggested on the basis of Mark 16 and John 3 that you cannot be saved without passing through water. These scriptures read:

Whoever believes and is baptised will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned  (Mark 16:16).

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. You should not be surprised at my saying, You must be born again’ (John 3:5-7).

However, Peter explains that forgiveness comes through baptism not by the removal of dirt from the body, but the response of a good conscience toward God  (1 Peter 3:21). It is faith in God’s word that brings life, even if we lack the opportunity to do its requirements.  Jesus taught: whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life  (John 5:24).

The attitude of the heart is always more important to God than the physical act of baptism. The physical act is required as a demonstration of inner conviction, and not the other way around. We know that the thief on the cross was promised entry into the kingdom without baptism (Luke 23:43).

It also seems in the passage from Mark 16 that baptism is assumed as a consequence of believing, rather than being instituted as a prerequisite for salvation.

Regarding the passage from John 3, we must consider that water is often used as an analogy for the word of God. Jesus is said to cleanse the church by the washing with water through the word (Ephesians 5:26) and he told the disciples, you are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you (John 15:3).

Yet, even Jesus submitted to baptism, to fulfil all righteousness (Matthew 3:15). He also taught, that no servant is greater than his master  (John 13:16) and that those who love me … will obey what I command  (John 14:15). As many believers as have the opportunity should thus be baptised in water into the name of the Lord Jesus.

2. When should a person be baptised into the name of the Lord Jesus?

As soon as a person believes that Jesus died for his sins according to the Scriptures and was resurrected, he should be baptised. The Ethiopian eunuch, as soon as he understood this from Scripture, believed and was baptised. It is not necessary for the believer to first cleanse himself of sin. He is in any event unable to do that without the help of the Holy Spirit whom God has promised to give him.

It is not the primary responsibility of the convert to seek baptism – although it is not wrong for him to ask for it. Jesus puts the obligation on his disciples to teach and baptise (Matthew 28:18-20). Thus it is the obligation of the church to instruct the new believer in the faith, to convince him of the importance of baptism and to bring him through the water.

3. Does water baptism guarantee salvation?

If there could be a ritualistic guarantee to salvation then it makes a mockery of the righteousness that comes by faith. This would mean that we could achieve the promises of God by applying a formula – turning Christianity into a form of witchcraft. Paul warned the Corinthian church: I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptised into Moses in the cloud and in the sea … Nevertheless, God was not pleased with most of them; their bodies were scattered over the desert. Now these things occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did  (1 Corinthians 10:1-6).

4. How do I get baptised in the Holy Spirit?

While baptism in water is done by men in obedience to what Jesus commissioned in Matthew 28, the giving of the Holy Spirit is a sovereign act of God, and must be sought of Him. John the Baptist said, I baptise you in water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit  (Mark 1:8).

It says that the Holy Spirit is given to those who obey (Acts 5:32). God bestows different measures of the Spirit with different manifestations on different people. Under the Old Covenant the high priest was anointed on his head (Leviticus 21:10) whereas the other priests had the anointing oil sprinkled on their garments, mixed with blood (Exodus 30:30). A believer should never expect to emulate the experience of another.

Anyone who desires to be filled of the Spirit must first examine his motives. Does he earnestly desire to be Christ’s witness – to receive power from on high to proclaim Him in Jerusalem, Samaria and unto the ends of the earth?  If so, he has the right motives. Then he should pray, and the Spirit will be given. Or does he, like Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:18), seek the power for his own reputation, fame and financial benefit? If so, he is asking with wrong motives and it will not be given (James 4:3).

The Holy Spirit can come in response to the laying on of hands (discussed in the next chapter). But believers should be wary of attempts at inducement that resemble the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel (see 1 Kings 18).

5. Are tongues still given as a manifestation of the Spirit?

As the gift of the Spirit is a sovereign act of God, so are the manifestations of receiving His Spirit. We cannot limit what God may do, nor deny the legitimacy of an experience that a believer has had – including ecstatic speech or the gift of tongues.

With reference to Paul’s teaching in 1 Corinthians 14, we should nonetheless consider whether the modern recurrence of tongues is not yet again a sign of God’s imminent judgment against those who are self-seeking in their faith and will not hear the clear message of Scripture. This judgment is not against those who receive the gift, but against those who pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings (Jude 1:8) – i.e. who follow their own appetites contrary to the word of God.

6. Does receiving the Holy Spirit guarantee salvation?

King Saul received the Holy Spirit and prophesied (1 Samuel 10:6), and was yet condemned because of his disobedience to God (1 Samuel 28:16-19).

We are told in the letter to the Hebrews: It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace  (Hebrews 6:4-6).

By issuing this warning, we must accept that such a falling away by people who have ‘shared in the Holy Spirit’ is a distinct possibility. Paul wrote: I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest by any means when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway (1 Corinthians 9:27, KJV).

It follows that anyone who has received the Spirit and become a witness to the risen Christ – even the apostle Paul himself – may forfeit salvation if he does not guard his life and doctrine closely.