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Bible Question

Can a Christian Lose Their Salvation?

Answer

No, a Christian cannot lose their salvation. For the past 30 years, I’ve been affirming the doctrine of “once saved, always saved,” also known as “Eternal Security.” This blog aims to direct you to the Bible verses supporting this doctrine, so you can experience “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7).

Let’s consider the concept of eternity versus temporality. John 3:16 highlights that belief in Jesus results in eternal life not temporal life, a core aspect of the New Covenant. The authors of the New Covenant aimed to assure believers that salvation is complete once received and that it is eternal, unconditional and forever. Once the Holy Spirit comes to dwell within you, He also seals you.  

“And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit” Ephesians 1:13

However, there are numerous pastors, teachers, and bloggers who reject eternal security. They argue that one can lose salvation through persistent sin or deliberate abandonment of faith. This viewpoint disregards the finality of Jesus’ sacrifice and insults the Holy Spirit.

“How much more severely do you think someone deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Hebrews 10:28-29

For a Christian to lose their salvation, God would have to erase the mark on a Christian, withdraw His Spirit, cancel the deposit, break His promise, lie, revoke the guarantee, remove the gift, and keep His inheritance.

The Bible clearly teaches us that we have eternal life and can never lose it, no matter what.

​I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. John 10:28-29 

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

My wife and I were asked by the lead pastor to leave our church because we were sharing the belief with fellow members that their salvation is eternally secure. It was a deeply painful experience for us. Our intention wasn’t to create division among the church members and staff; rather, we aimed to reassure them that Christ would never abandon them, regardless of circumstances. Isn’t that what the Bible teaches us, and isn’t that what God wants us to understand and believe?

Salvation Defined

Many people teach that you can lose your salvation because they lack a full understanding of what salvation truly entails. When I ask individuals about their understanding of salvation, the most common response I receive is “Jesus died for my sins.” While this statement is undeniably true, it only represents half of the gospel.

In reality, our problem extends beyond merely being sinners in need of forgiveness. We are born spiritually dead, separated from God, and desperately in need of life. This spiritual death sentence originated on the day Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command in the Garden of Eden. Despite being instructed not to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they did so anyway. As a result, the entire human race was condemned to spiritual death.

In essence, all of us enter this world without the Spirit of God, which constitutes our primary problem.

In Romans 5:12 the Apostle Paul writes…

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned—”

In Ephesians 2:1-3, Paul again writes….

“As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.”

This is the bad news.

From Death to Life

The good news is that God had a plan all along to offer new life to all mankind. Jesus Christ not only took away the sins of the world but then rose from the dead, ensuring that anyone who believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

God raised Jesus from the dead to offer new life to the spiritually dead, which includes everyone. The same Spirit of God who raised Jesus from the dead will also raise us from the dead when we put our faith in Him (Romans 8:11). This offer of new spiritual life comes by faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (John 3:16, John 3:36, John 6:40). Notice in John 3:16 the words “shall not perish.” This means that if you believe in Jesus, you shall not perish spiritually, but have eternal life.

The Apostle Paul articulates this truth in Romans 10:9: “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” The resurrection is more than just an Easter holiday we celebrate each year; it is through belief in the resurrection that guarantees us heaven one day.

One of my favorite verses to describe this transaction from spiritual death to spiritual life is John 5:24: “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged but has crossed over from death to life.”

Can it get any clearer than that?

Will God Ever Leave Us?

Once that transaction happens, God promises over and over to never “leave us or forsake us” (Hebrews 13:5). We are then eternally saved. Based on God’s promise, He will never leave us once we are born again.

Numerous scriptures emphasize that once we are saved, we are always saved. So why do many pastors teach that salvation can be lost? Is it a control issue? Is it to ensure we sin less or to maintain church funding and job security? Do they believe God will change His mind and withdraw His Spirit from a born-again child of God? What’s the deal?

The Apostle Paul sought to assure us that losing salvation was absolutely impossible. In Romans 5:15-19, Paul contrasts what Adam brought to mankind with what Jesus offers. In Romans 5:15-19, Paul underscores the contrast between Adam’s impact and Jesus’ provision for all mankind. He repeats this theme in Romans 6, assuring Roman Christians that they have died to the sin of being “in Adam.” This doesn’t mean we’ve ceased sinning altogether; we still struggle with sin despite finding victory in certain areas of our lives.

Paul mentions this 11 times in the following verses back to back to back….

Romans 6:2 “we died to sin”

Romans 6:6 “so that the body of sin would be rendered powerless”

Romans 6:7 “no longer a slave to sin”

Romans 6:7 “we died to sin”

Romans 6:11 “count yourselves dead to sin”

Romans 6:14 “for sin shall not be your master”

Romans 6:17 “you used to be slaves to sin”

Romans 6:18 “you have been set free from sin”

Romans 6:20 “when you were slaves to sin”

Romans 6:22 “you have been set free from sin”

Romans 8:2 “you have been set free from the law of sin and death”

These verses should unequivocally reassure a born-again Christian. Will you ever be an unbeliever again? Will Jesus Christ ever leave you? Absolutely not! You have received the very life of Christ and have been marked by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13).

Bible Proof God Will Never Leave You

Hebrews 6:18 “it is impossible for God to lie”

Hebrews 7:25 “he is able to save completely”

Hebrews 13:5 “never will I leave you or forsake you”

Ephesians 1:13-14 “having believed you were sealed”

Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved” (Past tense)

John 3:16 “you have eternal life and will not perish”

John 5:24 “you have crossed over from death to life and will not be judged”

John 6:37-40 “whoever comes to me I will never drive away, I shall lose none of them.”

John 10:28 “No one can snatch them out of my hand”

John 10:29 “No one can snatch them out of my fathers hand”

John 11:25-26 “Who ever believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

1 Peter 1:4-5 “we have an inheritance which can never perish, spoil or fade.”

2 Timothy 2:13 “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful”

Titus 1:2 “God does not lie…”

Romans 8:35-39 “nothing can separate us from the love of God”

Romans 11:29 “….for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable”

The 2 Things the Cross Does For Us

To further emphasize that Christians cannot lose their salvation, it’s crucial to understand why Jesus took away our sins. Yes, Jesus died on the cross to forgive us completely and cleanse us of all sin. But there’s another aspect: Jesus died so that the Spirit of God would never depart from us once we are saved. This is how the cross and the resurrection work together.

Consider these questions:

  1. What caused the Spirit of God to depart from Adam?
  2. What caused the Spirit of God to depart from Jesus? (John 19:30 and 1 John 2:2)
  3. What is the only thing that could cause the Spirit of God to depart from you?
  4. Where are your sins today?
  5. Were your sins judged by God?
  6. What was the verdict?
  7. What was the penalty for your sins?
  8. Who is the One who took it?
  9. How much of it did He take? Some or all of it?
  10. So then, what penalty for your sins is left for you?

Therefore, why can’t the Spirit of God ever depart from you when you sin? Because all your sins have been taken away! This is divine logic! The cause of spiritual death (Adam’s disobedience) has been eradicated by God. Even when we sin, we are forgiven because Jesus took away our sins once and for all (Colossians 2:13). Once you have the Spirit of God living in you, He will never leave you, for any reason. That’s eternal security, and it’s why this news is so good.

What About The Book of Hebrews?

These are 2 verses, some pastors use to say, “you can lose your salvation”. They are Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10:26.

Hebrews 6:4-6

The Book of Hebrews was specifically addressed to the Jewish community, who had long adhered to the Old Covenant, including the Mosaic law and sacrificial rituals. Within this context, some Jews embraced Jesus Christ as their Savior, while others remained hesitant, teetering between their traditional faith and the new Christian beliefs. The writer of Hebrews aimed to caution those who hadn’t fully embraced Christ, urging them not to disregard such a profound salvation (Hebrews 2:1-3).

It’s advisable to begin by reading the initial five chapters of Hebrews. In Chapter 5, we encounter individuals who were slow to grasp the concept of salvation. These individuals hadn’t fully comprehended the doctrine of imputed righteousness and were still reliant on basic teachings rather than deeper spiritual truths. They hadn’t undergone a genuine transformation in their faith in Jesus Christ, the concept of imputed righteousness, and the complete forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 6:4 uses phrases like “tasted,” “shared,” and “enlightened.” Tasting implies only sampling, not fully consuming or embracing. Being enlightened by something doesn’t necessarily mean accepting it. Therefore, it’s deemed impossible for them to return to repentance because they had never truly repented and been spiritually reborn. It’s akin to attempting to revisit a place you’ve never been to; the analogy illustrates the impossibility. These unbelieving Hebrews were figuratively crucifying the grace of God anew and subjecting Christ to public humiliation. However, the author of Hebrews expresses optimism, believing better things concerning salvation for the readers (Hebrews 6:9).

Hebrews 10:26

“If we deliberately keep on sinning after receiving the knowledge of truth, no sacrifice for sin is left”. The sinning here refers to unbelief, after receiving the knowledge of truth. They rejected the truth about Jesus. Again, they heard, they shared, they were enlightened, and they tasted. But they did not swallow or drink the knowledge of truth. These unbelieving Hebrews had insulted the Spirit of Grace. There was no sacrifice for them left and they were in danger of the fire of hell.

Human Testimony or God’s Testimony?

Some pastors and teachers occasionally rely on the personal experiences and testimonies of individuals to support the notion that Christians can lose their salvation. They might say something like, “Look at Pastor Jim; he walked away from God, proving that Christians can lose their salvation.” However, this approach raises a critical question: Why should we base our theological beliefs on the experiences of others rather than on the clear teachings of Scripture?

The validity of our theological understanding should primarily stem from the Bible’s teachings rather than individuals’ life stories. While personal anecdotes can offer insights and illustrations, they should not supersede or contradict the authoritative word of God. The scriptures provide the ultimate authority and guidance for understanding matters of salvation, faith, and Christian living.

Therefore, it’s essential to examine biblical passages carefully and interpret them within their proper context to form a solid theological foundation. Relying solely on human experiences to shape theological beliefs can lead to confusion and misinterpretation of God’s word. Ultimately, the Scriptures serve as the unerring standard by which we discern truth and shape our understanding of salvation and the Christian faith.

“We accept human testimony, but God’s testimony is greater because it is the testimony of God, which he has given about his Son. Whoever believes in the Son of God accepts this testimony. Whoever does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because they have not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:9-12).

We ought to place our trust in the testimony of Jesus and the Word of God alone.

My prayer for this blog is that it will reassure you of your eternal security in Christ. May it leave no room for doubt that Christ will never abandon you, regardless of the circumstances.

Listen to these Grace Coach Podcasts

You Can Not Lose Your Salvation

Romans 5:1-11 – Salvation Defined

Romans 5:12-21 – Saved By His Resurrected Life

Eternal Security – Part 1

Eternal Security – Part 2