Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation ?

"Eternal Security" and "Once Saved, Always Saved"

Can a Christian lose their salvation? TRICK QUESTION! You can not lose what you do not yet have! The apostles Paul and Peter gave the correct perspective on salvation: it is something we hope for, to be received in the future. Here's Paul:

"But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ
" (Paul, in 1 Thessalonians 5:8,9; Paul did not tell them they had been saved.)

Here's Peter, saying "shall be" saved - in the future:

"But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they." (Acts 15: 11)

In fact, Jesus tells us we must endure to the end to be saved:

"And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved." (Matthew 10:22)

We shall be saved - saved from ever perishing in death - when we actually receive the promised gift of eternal life at Jesus' return. Paul explained this in 1 Corinthians 15:42-54 and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. Short of receiving the gift of eternal life, we will surely perish in death, losing everything, very much unsaved!

Salvation - eternal life - is a grace promised to us, to be received at Jesus' "revelation" or return:

"And this is the promise that he hath promised us, even eternal life" (1 John 2:25)

"Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;" (1 Peter 1:13)


Justification and salvation are two different things, at different times

In this mortal life we may enter justification; we will not be saved until we receive eternal life at Jesus' return. Paul wrote:

"Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him." (Paul, in Romans 5:9; there's another example of "shall be" saved.)

"By his blood" a person may enter justification; "through him" that person shall be saved. "Through him" means through a relationship with Him. Remember Jesus' words about those who had preached in His name, and had "cast out devils," and had "done many wonderful works"? Jesus warned what he would say to them:

"And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." (Matthew 7:23)

Not only must we know Him: we must continue to abide in Him:

"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (Jesus, in John 15:6)

So, how do we enter justification? Through faith (Ephesians 2:8) that God exists and rewards (Hebrews 11:6) we may then choose to obey and "come to God" (Hebrews 11:6) on His terms: in repentance. For that we receive His promised mercy:

"And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent" (Acts 17:30)

"He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy." (Proverbs 28:13)

So, what is the mercy promised in Proverbs 28:13? Our past sins will be blotted out:

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19, NKJV)

A believer - a person who through faith has come to God, confessing and forsaking sin - has been "purged from his old sins" (2 Peter 1:9). Believers have "remission of sins that are past" (Romans 3:25). They have redemption - by grace - from the death penalty they had earned for past sins:

"For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 6:23).

Believers have been "saved" (re: Ephesians 2:8) from hopelessness. They have not "endured to the end"; they have the "hope of salvation." They are no longer under condemnation, no longer under the death penalty they had earned as the "wages" of their past sins. That redemption was made possible "by his blood" as we saw in Romans 5:9: Jesus made His death available to cover our death penalty.


The Gift of the Holy Spirit

With past sins that separated us from God (Isaiah 59:1,2) erased, and no longer under condemnation, we enter justification, reconciled with God, no longer separated from God. Now we can begin a new life, "times of refreshing" in "the presence of the Lord" as we saw in Acts 3:19:

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19, NKJV).

And how are we in "the presence of the Lord"? Through the gift of the holy spirit, given to those who obey and come to God in repentance:

"And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him." (Acts 5:32)

"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38)

Through the holy spirit Jesus guides us out of slavery to sin and into His righteousness, overcoming slavery to sin. This is how we are made ready to receive the gift of eternal life and to inherit the Kingdom of God. Creation is not finished: sons and daughters for the Father's eternal family are being created, right now, through Jesus. He is the potter, we are the clay:

"As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent." (Jesus, in Revelation 3:19)

A relationship with Him

" . . . yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby" (Hebrews 12:11).

"He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son." (Revelation 21:7)

We can not make the journey along the "narrow way" (Matthew 7:14) that leads to life without His help. And that journey can neither begin nor continue without our repentance, abiding in Him.

Outside of repentance, we receive no mercy and no redemption; we will surely perish in death, paying our own death penalty. And outside of repentance, we can not be made ready to receive the gift of eternal life. For those reasons Jesus warned:

" . . . except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish." (Luke 13:5)

Peter makes it clear: we either come to repentance, or we perish:

"The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9).

Nothing about "faith alone" there! Jesus told His disciples to preach repentance and remission of sins, not "faith alone," not "faith + nothing = salvation":

"Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
" (Luke 24:45-47)


All those warnings . . .

We have free will, and it is possible for us to return to a life of sin, no longer in repentance and no longer abiding in Him. We've chosen sin, not repentance. In that case, we have "fallen away" from justification, no longer on the "narrow way" that leads to life. Once again we have sins that have not been blotted out. We've returned to condemnation.

That's why the apostles gave all those warnings not to "fall away" and not to "fail of the grace of God." To "give diligence to make your calling and election sure" (2 Peter 1:10,11). To "continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off." (Romans 11:19-22). Here are those verses, and a few others:

"Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it." (Hebrews 4:1)

The apostle Paul warned that believers, even after being "graffed" into the "vine," could be "cut off" the vine, just as the "natural branches" - the Israelites - had been broken off:

"Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in.
Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear:
For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee.
Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.
" (Romans 11:19-22)

The apostle Paul clearly refuted "once saved, always saved": he stated he could become a "castaway" by returning to sin, even after preaching to others:

"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." (1 Corinthians 9:27)

If, after overcoming sin through knowing Jesus, a person then returns to sin, "the latter end is worse with them than the beginning":

"For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.
For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.
But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire."
(2 Peter 2:20-22)

"For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins,
But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries.
" (Hebrews 10:26,27)

Even after receiving the holy spirit, it is possible for us to "fall away." There would have been no point in writing the next passage if it were impossible to fall away:

"For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost,
And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come,
If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.

We can "fail of the grace of God." Without the grace of God, we will not receive salvation:

"Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Our name CAN be blotted out of the book of life:

"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (Revelation 3:5)

Justification is not a guarantee that we will see salvation. Like the "if thou continue in his goodness" warning we saw earlier in Romans 11:22, here are more "ifs":

"Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
" 92 Pater 1:10,11)

"Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end;
" (Hebrews 3:12-14)

"And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
" (Colossians 1:21-23)

"For if ye live after the flesh, ye shall die: but if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live.
For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.
" (Romans 8:13,14)

Jesus warned what would happen if we return to a life of sin:

"But and if that servant say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to beat the menservants and maidens, and to eat and drink, and to be drunken;
The lord of that servant will come in a day when he looketh not for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in sunder, and will appoint him his portion with the unbelievers.
" (Luke 12:45,46)

"Once saved, always saved"? Apparently not. Sins "all paid for, past, present and future"? Apparently not. That servant was going to pay for his sins himself. As we saw in Acts 3:19, our sins remain - not "blotted out" - until we come to repentance. With His death Jesus made a payment of our death penalty available for us; we can have that redemption - by grace, as promised - if we'll obey and "come to God" (Hebrews 11:6) on His terms, in repentance.

Jesus warned what would happen if we fail to abide in him:

"If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned." (Jesus, in John 15:6)

"Once a branch, always a branch"? Apparently not.