Psalm 24:3 “Who is allowed to ascend the mountain of the LORD? Who may go up to his holy dwelling place?“
There are two possible answers to that question. Jesus obviously is the one who can ascend to God’s holy dwelling place! But we can now too, because we have been cleansed of our sin because of His sacrifice. We can now draw near with confidence because we have had our “hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed in pure water.” So we need to hold fast to our hope, help each other live out our faith, and encourage each other by meeting together. As the day of Jesus’ return draws closer and closer, and persecution increases, we need each other more and more!
Verses 26-31 are sobering indeed. Is it possible to lose your salvation? What is the cost involved with apostasy? Is it total rejection, or just punishment? The passage continues and reminds the Hebrews about the suffering and persecution that they had already endured without wavering in their faith or throwing away their reward. The quote from Habakkuk 2:3-4 admonishes them to continue to persevere, even while encouraging them that “we are not among those who shrink back and thus perish.”
Most understandings of this passage will depend on your theology. Can you lose your salvation? Or perhaps you were never saved in the first place? Were you playing a role, and finally stopped pretending? You could even argue that the author of Hebrews offers the loss of salvation only as a theoretical possibility, since those reading the letter obviously wouldn’t be the ones falling away! Here’s the bottom line: at the very least this passage is a warning about the punishment believers will face if they backslide in their faith. Don’t do it!