Hebrews 6 (taken out of context) can seem contradictory to other parts of Scripture that teach that salvation is by grace alone; therefore, eternally secure. But a closer look at the context surrounding these verses reveals there is no contradiction, but rather a continuation of the theme found throughout Hebrews (and the rest of Scripture) that true salvation is revealed in perseverance.
Consider the recipients of this letter. Firstly, they were immature in their faith (Heb. 5:11-14) and had to be reminded of the basics of the faith (Heb. 6:1-3). Because this letter was written to a congregation, there would have been a mix of true believers and unbelievers.
Therefore, the author reminded them of the dangers of falling away from the faith (6:4-8). These warnings were given to those who were part of the gathered church and who shared in and experienced the blessings of fellowship within the congregation (6:4-5), but did not possess a saving faith (6:9).
Also important to note… This warning is very similar to the warnings he has already given in 2:1-3 and 4:11. In these two instances, the author warns the congregation against drifting away and also encourages them to persevere in their faith.
Similarly, the author concludes this “warning” section in Chapter 6 by showing confidence in their salvation while also exhorting them to persevere…
Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation. For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for his name in serving the saints, as you still do. And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end (Hebrews 6:9-11).
The author, though he warns the church not to drift away, believes the best of the congregation – that they are mostly believers; thus his warnings also serve as motivation for the true believer to guard against becoming lukewarm in his faith by seeking after God wholeheartedly!
For even though good works done throughout your life have no power to save you, they are evidence of a changed and redeemed heart. Psalm 62, written as a prayer for God to rescue Israel from oppression and attack, ends with the statement that God will “render to a man according to his work.” In other words, if you attack God’s people, these works reveal that you are an enemy of God, and God will ultimately execute perfect justice toward you!
It is because of God’s perfect justice that we depend on Jesus’ righteousness alone for our salvation. He is the one who saves. He is the one who keeps us from falling away. He is the one who will help us persevere to the end…until one day, we will see Him face to face!