Can I lose my salvation? That is a question some Christians struggle with. Others believe in eternal security, or “once saved always saved.” As with most things within Christianity, I’m realizing that the truth is often found in part on every side. If you have not yet read the first two articles, Can We Lose Our Salvation? (Section 1) and Can We Lose Our Salvation? (Section 2), then you might want to do that before reading this one in order to get a fuller picture. If you have been with me thus far, then we are finally getting to that answer we have been building up to.
When we understand salvation in terms of inheriting life and the kingdom of God, both in this present world and in the age to come, we see salvation a little differently. We see that we presently experience salvation from the ruler of this world and the bonds of sin. We see that we will have power over all death when we are raised or transfigured at the coming of Christ.
When we also understand that all things are created for the purposes of God, that Jesus is the one who brings our salvation, and that He is faithful in completing His work in us, we see that salvation does not depend on our ability to “accept Jesus,” but instead comes from God’s predetermined counsel.
My point of view in a nutshell: Salvation is available to those who are predestined to salvation. For whom salvation is promised, the Lord will grant His Holy Spirit, writing the laws of the kingdom on their hearts, thereby saving them from sin now and preparing them for inheriting the kingdom of God to come. None who are truly appointed to salvation will lose his or her salvation. But, there will be many who lose something they only appeared to have but did not really have in the first place.
Even so, let’s consider this a little further.
With the things in mind you have read so far, do you think we are asking the right question when we say, “can I lose my salvation?”
We often get better answers when we ask the right questions. Perhaps the question should be better worded, “are there circumstances that will cause me to fail to inherit eternal life?”
In answering this, consider the duality of our salvation – both the salvation from sin now and the promise of salvation from eternal death.
Once we are raised from literal death and given spiritual bodies, will we go back to death? That seems very unlikely. When considering salvation in the present sense of being saved from present sins, the question should better be worded, “is there anything I can do to prevent the Lord from healing me of my sins?”
In answering that, consider this: do you have the power to overcome all sin on your own, or do you need the blood of Jesus and the Holy Spirit? Obviously we cannot live without sin unless some divine power is given to us. So, how then could our salvation from sin be conditional on our ability? We know that salvation is by grace given through faith and not works. We cannot be good enough. Salvation from sin is a byproduct of our calling, not some heavy burden laid on us.
So then, the answer would be an emphatic, “no.” There is nothing you can do to keep Jesus from healing you from your sin. If He has chosen you, He will work the desire for righteousness in you, and He will free you.
I realize this might cause some questions, like, “why doesn’t God just make us righteous from the beginning?” God is hidden from us to a large degree, but we still need to know that we need Him. How else will we understand our lowly state and our need to be freed and to rise above this world otherwise? There is much else that could be said in regards to God’s wisdom behind the fall and restoration of Man, but just know for now that He has a glorious reason for all of this.
Why does the bible seem to indicate we can and also cannot lose our salvation?
Rather than list all of the scriptures, I just want to leave you with a general idea. Many things seem to contradict because we lack a fuller understanding. When we consider that all things are predestined by God, and yet, we do not know our predicament and therefore live as according to our perceptions of choice or free will, would we not be told both? Would we not be told that our salvation is assured and also be told things like, “take heed lest you fall?”
We have to live as if salvation is something we strive for. We must never become complacent in our sins or start to justify our evil doings and go about establishing our own ideas of righteousness. Our lives are played out in a way that keeps God veiled from us, and the same is true for our purposes in Him. So, we are told to run the race. We are told to reach for the high calling in Christ Jesus. We are told to lay aside all sin. We are told to do many things, but, in all reality it is Jesus who is doing the work in us. I hope this makes sense. This is a concept that can be hard for me to put in words adequately. If you have not yet read it, take a look at God’s Predetermined Will for the Election of His Children in Christ.
Final Thoughts on Eternal Security and “Once Saved, Always Saved”
The problem with the traditional view of “once saved always saved” is many who hold that view think that once they make their “declaration of faith,” they are done. They can live as they want and sin as much as they please and still live. Others think they should try to not sin, but have not been told the gospel of being freed from sin literally. They have not been told that Jesus Promises Perfection. They have not been taught about The Sacrifice of Jesus and the Restoration of Mankind.
There are many who honor Jesus with their mouths but their hearts are far from Him. There are many who appear to be good Christians, but who live pretty much like the rest of the world or are just very good at putting on a show of righteousness, when inwardly they are full of hate, lies, greed, and other things often easily hidden. There are many who will lose that which they seemed to have.
Even so, “once saved always saved,” in the strict sense of the words is true. Jesus will save all whom He will save and nothing will stop Him. Once we are saved from sin will we go back? Doubtful. And if we do, He will use our failure and make a way out. Once we are saved from literal death and resurrected, will we go back? That does not seem likely.
Wrapping up loose ends:
There are some things I mentioned in brief that I need to touch on.
Let’s look at the scripture I mentioned in another article in this series, “No Sacrifice Remaining!?” A Look at “Willful” Sin.
Hebrews 6: 4-7 – 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.
Does this put some fear of the Lord in you? It should. If it does, then these words have served their purpose. We need to understand the depth of His sacrifice and the severity of sin, but we also should remember that the purpose of evil is to set examples for us so that we can learn and grow. There are many examples of warnings we are given. God tells us things we are not to do because we need to know. I do not believe that any who are called to become sons of God will fall away.
In another article within this series, “They Which do Such Things…” Do Sinners Enter the Kingdom? I stated, “The kingdom is not by word, but by power.” What does that mean?
That again goes back to what was mentioned earlier about a “declaration of faith” or reciting the sinner’s prayer. Doing a work like making a declaration does not bring salvation. This also considers the difference between a legalistic obedience and one that comes from an actual change in our nature. If the law could make one righteous, we would not have needed Jesus. The kingdom is not in the letter of the law or by some words we speak. It is by the power of the Holy Spirit of God working the laws of the kingdoms in our hearts, changing our very natures into that of Jesus Christ.
We should always take the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross and the inheritance of the kingdom of God very seriously. We should take the severity of sin very seriously. But, we should also believe in the patience and mercy of Jesus Christ. If He placed a desire in you for the things of God and a disgust for sin and the deceitfulness of this world, then that means something. Not all have faith. Keep going, and believe that salvation is for you.
What good will it do us to worry over whether we will be saved or not? There is a healthy balance here. On one hand, we want to appreciate what salvation means and take it seriously. On the other hand, we don’t want to despair over worrying too much about it, because then we become distracted.
As always, keep your focus on Jesus, and He will not let you fall.
This article is part of a series entitled, “The Severity of Sin and the Mercy of Jesus Christ.” To access the full list of articles in this series, take a look at the Teachings/Bible Study page.