Can you lose your salvation?
In theology, there are several different views of salvation. Let me explain 3 popular views of salvation:
- Universalism: Everyone who has ever lived and is alive today will be saved. In this view, a loving God would not create an eternal hell. (A great resource to read for those who are struggling with what to believe about hell is a book called Erasing Hell by Francis Chan. http://www.amazon.com/Erasing-Hell-about-eternity-things/dp/0781407257). Universalism has been widely condemned as a heresy.
- Once Saved Always Saved, also known as “Perseverance of the Saints” or Eternal Security of the Believer: In this view, if you are TRULY saved, no matter what you do, you will never lose your salvation. In other words, if you are a legal “son” or a “daughter” of parents, no matter what happens, they will always be your parents. This same principle would apply if you truly become a “son” or a “daughter” of Christ.
- The third view says that the possibility of a total and final apostasy (falling away) is possible.
In this blog, Ill primarily focus on “Once Saved Always Saved” vs. the possibility of total and final apostasy, in other words, the possibility to fall away from Christ and salvation.
Before we move on, let me say this:
- These 2 views are not that far apart, as one would want to draw them. Let me show what I mean by an example: if there was a young, single guy, lets call him “Nick,” who began to attend church, went up and prayed the sinner’s prayer, started attending baptism classes, got involved in church as an usher, was part of a small group, but then, something changed. Nick got a new girlfriend. He began to spend more and more time with her, & eventually stopped coming to church. Soon after, Nick began to live together with this girlfriend and lost all connections with the local church. Is Nick saved at this point? A person who believes in the possibility of “falling away” would say that Nick came to know Christ, but backslid and needs to repent and come back to Jesus, if he is to be saved. A person who believes in “Once Saved Always Saved” would say that Nick was probably never saved, because if he was truly saved, he would not depart from the local church, and continue to do the things he is doing, and therefore, to be saved, Nick needs to repent before Jesus for his sins, and truly come to know Him and be born again. In both of these views, Nick is not saved and needs to repent, which is really the ultimate question.
- These two positions both aim to base their views on scripture, and hold a high view of scripture. One or the other position does not say, “We know that the scriptures say this, but we don’t think we should believe in those scriptures…”
Some scriptures that seem to support “ONCE SAVED ALWAYS SAVED:”
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.
1 Corinthians 3:15
If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
“And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby you are sealed unto the day of redemption.”
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? … No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.”
Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
1 John 3:9
No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God.
Some scriptures that seem to support the ability to “fall away.”
Revelation 22:18, 19
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
Revelation 2:4, 5
But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.
1 Corinthians 9:27
“But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”
Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.
“They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away.”
If anyone does not remain in my, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.
1 Corinthians 15:2
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
1 Timothy 1:18-19
Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight, holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
1 Timothy 6:20-21
Timothy, guard what has been entrusted to your care. Turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called knowledge, which some have professed and in so doing have wandered from the faith. Grace be with you.
2 Timothy 2:12
If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will disown us.
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.
2 Peter 2:20-21
If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred commandment that was passed on to them.
2 Peter 3:17
Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.
“Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
Some downsides of each view:
Once Saved Always Saved
- If “Once Saved, Always Saved,” why all the warnings in the Bible? Why the language if that’s not even possible to fall away? Isn’t it a lie to say that you can fall away, but in reality, you cant?
- What about those people in history, like Stalin and Hitler, who at one point confessed to be Christian, attended Sunday school, even went to Bible College and were supposedly saved? Were they doing those acts against humanity, all while yet being still saved?
- If a person who backslides is explained away as someone who was “never with us,” then shouldn’t everyone question their true salvation, since all sins are viewed equally before God? The sins of Hitler and Stalin are equal and comparable before God to such things like gossip, lying, and stealing.
- How do you then really know if you are truly saved? Since you can go to church, be baptized, display the character of a Christian, and yet, if you walk away, be spoken of as someone who was never with us, then what “evidence” is needed to say about someone that they are saved, and will always be saved? No matter what evidence you present, there will always be people who’ve displayed such evidence in the past, yet ended up doing crazy and inhuman things. Were they doing things things, yet still saved?
- They say that no virgin’s lamp can go out; no promising harvest be choked with thorns; no branch in Christ can ever be cut off from unfruitfulness; no pardon can ever be forfeited, and no name blotted out of God’s book! They insist that no salt can ever lose its savor; nobody can ever “receive the grace of God in vain”; “bury his talents”; “neglect such great salvation”; trifle away “a day of grace”; “look back” after putting his hand to the gospel plow. Nobody can “grieve the Spirit” till He is “quenched,” and strives no more, nor “deny the Lord that bought them”; nor “bring upon themselves swift destruction.” Nobody, or body of believers, can ever get so lukewarm that Jesus will spew them out of His mouth. They use reams of paper to argue that if one ever got lost he was never found. John 17:12; that if one falls, he never stood. Rom. 11:16-22 and Heb. 6:4-6; if one was ever “cast forth,” he was never in, and “if one ever withered,” he was never green. John 15:1-6; and that “if any man draws back,” it proves that he never had anything to draw back from. Heb. 10:38,39; that if one ever “falls away into spiritual darkness,” he was never enlightened. Heb 6:4-6; that if you “again get entangled in the pollutions of the world,” it shows that you never escaped. 2 Pet 2:20; that if you “put salvation away” you never had it to put away, and if you make shipwreck of faith, there was no ship of faith there!! In short they say: If you get it, you can’t lose it; and if you lose it you never had it. May God save us from accepting a doctrine, that must be defended by such fallacious reasoning!” – John Wesley
If the possibility of “falling away” exists,
- At what point do you consider someone who has fallen away? After one sin? After 10 sins?
- If one is “fallen away” after every un-repented sin, is there one person who is alive who has no un-repented sins? Can you show them to me?
- There isn’t one person who can say that at this current moment, I don’t have one issue, one sin that I am conquering, dealing with in my life. The Bible says that if you understand to do good and don’t do it, it is sin. At what point can you say that you have done all the good that you could at every opportunity? Daily, there are hundreds of opportunities to do additional good, but we often don’t take those opportunities.
- Is our salvation so flaky that we can loose it 10 times a day? If so, then who can be sure that they will repent and be saved in time, after another falling-away?
- There are many people who grow up believing in the possibility of falling away, and after a life long relationship with Jesus & serving in the local church, yet, they are still uncertain whether or not they will be saved, because one thought or a deed done or one opportunity to do a good deed is not taken would cause them to sin, therefore miss out and fall away from Christ. If one sin will not cause you to fall away, then is that number 10? 15? 50? At what point do you fall away?
- If our repentance and forgiveness covered only the current and past sins, who can be certain that they will not sin in the future, or after committing sin, have enough time to repent, and so be saved?
MY POSITION: Can a believer lose his salvation?
To say that the Bible is totally CLEAR and teaches only one side and doesn’t give a hint to the possibility of the other would mean that you have to explain away a lot of scriptures. If you are not certain which scriptures would be required to explain away, read the blog from the beginning. I think there was some intention on God’s part, to leave it, as it is.
If the Bible would openly and only say “Once Saved, Always Saved,” then it would give everyone who is saved a license to sin. Objectors of “Once Saved Always Saved” contend that if people know they can never lose their salvation – they will feel free (be licensed) to sin without fear of eternal consequences. If the Bible would openly and only warn everyone about the possibility of falling away, without such promises as “we are sealed unto the day of redemption,” “He who began a good work in us will complete it,” and “My sheep hear my voice and they will never parish,” then no one could ever be confident in their salvation, and would always be questioning their current position in Christ. No one could peacefully go to sleep, certain whether or not they or their children are saved. Also, whether or not one can “lose” their salvation and “reject” it, and what the difference between these two are is a separate post.
Therefore, I conclude & choose to believe in all of the Bible
- I believe that Christ who started a work in me will complete it.
- I believe that nothing can separate me from the Love of Christ.
- I believe I need to be daily repenting before the Lord because I know myself, and I sin
- I can be easily carried away by lawless man, pride, self-deception, and I need people in my life to correct me, admonish me that I may continue to grow in the Lord, and not fall from my secure position in Christ.
- I choose to sleep as one who believes that my salvation is secure, yet live, daily seeking the Lord and daily repenting, knowing how easily I can be led astray. If Paul said so, so can I preach to others, yet myself, end up disqualified (1 Corinthians 9:27). We must also not judge others, and their salvation. I find that many Christians believe in the security of their salvation, yet quickly and easily are ready to denounce someone else’s salvation.
- It is just as dangerous to believe you are “licensed” to sin and do whatever you want without any eternal consequences, and believe that the salvation given to you by Christ is unstable, flaky, and uncertain.
- We must be certain that if we remain in Christ, our salvation is secure. And the only way we continue to remain in Christ is through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, daily repentance, and surrendering to Christ.
In conclusion, let me remind of you Proverbs 24:16, “for the righteous falls seven times and rises again.” A righteous man is not one who will never fall, but a righteous man is the one who gets back up, after a fall. By the mercy of Christ, His power, and His strength, may we continue to die daily, with Apostle Paul, and live for Christ.