The issue of whether or not a born-again Christian can lose his/her salvation is an important issue that most of us wonder about. Some say that yes, you can, because God’s Word seems to indicate that there are certain conditions/criteria we must meet in order to preserve our salvation. Others (myself included) say that no, a TRUE believer (having experienced a GENUINE conversion of the heart) can NOT lose the salvation that God freely granted. While I do think that the topic of HOW we become saved in the first place is of much greater significance, it seems appropriate that we as believers try to understand to our best ability what God’s Word teaches on the durability of that salvation. Can you lose your salvation? Please allow me to share what I think about this, as a way of clarifying my position. I am not trying to pressure others to think exactly the same way that I do. I realize that though there is ONLY ONE OBJECTIVE TRUTH, we are merely humans after all, and are doing our best to try to understand WHAT that one truth is. In other words, we sometimes have a hard time deciphering the Bible. If you don’t agree with me, that’s okay. Maybe there will come a point at which I myself will change my mind on this, who knows? I GREATLY appreciate the comments I have already received on this topic! I am deeply thankful for your honesty, sincerity, and boldness in approaching this topic through your comments. I carefully and prayerfully consider ALL of your replies, even though I may not always be able to respond to each and every one of them (though I try to). Please, continue to post your thoughts, even if you think I won’t agree; what sort of person would I be if I was so fragile I couldn’t tolerate a little healthy “controversy”? I truly want to know what you think, and value your input very, very much. Thank you!
To start off with, let’s look at these verses from Romans 8:29-30.
“For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.”
Here are the key words:
This is the “unbroken chain” I mentioned earlier, in a couple of my comments. There is a direct progression from one state to the next, with no breaks in between. Note the use of the word, “also.” For example: “For whom he did foreknow, he ALSO did predestinate … Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he ALSO called: and whom he called, them he ALSO justified: and whom he justified, them he ALSO glorified.” “Also” seems to indicate that the action which directly follows the previous action undoubtedly and naturally accompanies it.
Additionally, God doesn’t predestine people to hell contrary to their wishes: He FOREKNOWS them first (notice that “foreknow” is first in the list, before “predestinate”). He gives all of us freewill, and He knows beforehand how we will choose to respond to the gospel. Based upon His foreknowledge, He follows up with the rest of the “blueprint.” There is a certain mystery in this, because though we have free will, God also makes it clear to us that “No man can come to me [Jesus], except the Father which hath sent me draw him: and I will raise him up at the last day” John 6:44. Perhaps, God is able to see the small seed of willingness to accept the truth already present in our hearts, and then waters that seed, and causes it to grow, as He draws us to Jesus.
Next, is the issue of our works. Let’s look at a few verses about this:
“…every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour. For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
1 Corinthians 3:8-15
According to this passage, our foundation is Jesus Christ, and no other. Our salvation is based upon faith in Jesus Christ. That’s it. There’s only one Way, Truth, and Life; no man comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ (John 14:6). However, what each Christian builds upon that foundation is what is in question here. As it says near the end: “If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.” Our salvation is not being contested, but our works are. How are we building upon the foundation of our salvation? With worthless deeds? Or with lasting deeds? Are we seeking the kingdom of God? Or are we seeking after our own make-believe kingdoms? Yes, the works of each Christian will be carefully examined on “the day.” However, whether our works have been bad or good does not affect our salvation; it affects our REWARDS: “If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward.” Some folks, on that day, will not get the rewards they had expected to get. They will see that their worldly endeavors were just as fragile and flimsy as wood, hay, and stubble are as building materials. Other folks, on that day, will get the refreshment of seeing their hard work validated. Their good deeds are like gold, silver, and precious stones. Durable, lasting, and timeless.
“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. For the earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God: But that which beareth thorns and briers is rejected, and is nigh unto cursing; whose end is to be burned. But, beloved, we are persuaded better things of you, and things that accompany salvation, though we thus speak.”
If you keep reading down through this chapter in Hebrews, you will also see mention of patiently enduring, and then obtaining the promise (vv. 12, 15). Here’s what seems clear to me: if we are true followers of Christ, we WILL endure. Because we are connected to the Vine, His life flows through us, and sustains us even through times of weakness and temporary distancing. I think back to my own life; I went on a short detour for a time during which I sinned and grieved my Father’s heart. But did I come back? Yes, I did! So, I clearly will not be counted among those of whom it is said, “If they shall fall away [it is impossible] to renew them again unto repentance,” because I WAS renewed again unto repentance. I believe the above passage from Hebrews is referring to those who have made a superficial, emotional, fake commitment to religion. They heard the Word of God preached. They saw the hand of God move. They may have even witnessed God performing miracles in answer to prayer. BUT, their hearts were BAD SOIL. They put Christ to shame again, when they rejected Him even after they knew the truth, and had experienced His goodness toward them time and time again. They reviled and rejected Him eventually, because they never were His to start out with. They had only “tasted the heavenly gift,” but it hadn’t made it’s way to their stomachs. They were made “partakers of the Holy Ghost”–they had experienced something of His power and goodness in their lives, but they hadn’t received the fullness of His presence within their hearts. It’s like they took a little bite, just to see if they were going to like the food, and then spit it right back out. “Blah, I don’t like this yucky stuff!”
Isn’t it apparent that the plant which bears thorns and briers is no good at the core? A good plant doesn’t bear bad fruit, right? A good plant might experience dry spells, and might need the vine dresser’s help to produce more bountiful fruit (through the means of pruning), but though it is in the process of growing and becoming stronger, it is still good. True Christians are caught in the middle of a battle between spirit and flesh. This battle is fierce, and the Christian finds himself/herself struggling to walk in the spirit, in order to not fulfill the desires of the flesh (Romans 7 & 8). When we listen to the WORD OF GOD, and OBEY IT, we are walking in the Spirit. Will we always obey perfectly? No. When we fall down, we must get up again. But there is hope, in that God is always with us, stabilizing us through the guidance of His hand. He WILL sustain us, even in our weaknesses, and perform that which He has promised to those that believe: He will give us eternal life.
“And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.”