Can Christians Lose Their Salvation?

Question:

Can a Christian lose salvation?

Answer:

If you are asking whether a Christian who is born again can become un-born again, that would be difficult to answer. If God wanted us to try to find the lowest place, then perhaps He would have invested some of the Scripture to explaining this, but He is always calling us higher and closer to Himself both before and after we have been born again. If you are asking whether or not a Christian who is born again can remain immature and never be found faithful? That is a different question and the answer is, yes.

The meaning of salvation or saved is different from the meaning of born again. Salvation is completed at the manifestation of the sons of God, the adoption, which is the redemption of our bodies, the day when we all come in the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God to a perfect man to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ. This is the purpose of the Church. Our spirits are redeemed and joined to the Holy Spirit the moment we are born again. It is obvious, both from experience and from Scripture, that our minds and bodies have not yet been redeemed.

Here is an excerpt from the email that SeekFind.net received. (The entire email is printed further down the page.) The following is an extreme, extra-biblical view that confuses many and takes away their hope:

The most frequent objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation are 1) What about those who are Christians and continually live an immoral lifestyle? 2) What about those who are Christians but later reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these two objections is the phrase “who are Christians.” The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle (1 John 3:6). The Bible declares that anyone who departs the faithis demonstrating that he never truly was a Christian (1 John 2:19). Therefore, neither objection is valid. Christians do not continually live immoral lifestyles, nor do they reject the faith and deny Christ. Such actions are proof that they were never redeemed.

The viewpoint that was just quoted in red print is an extreme view and is not based in Scripture nor is it in agreement with experience. I would suppose that everyone knows someone who really thought that they believed in Jesus as their only Lord and Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil, yet that person walked away from God. The writer of this theological opinion states that these people whom we know were never Christians. If that is true, and it is also true that you really think that you believe in Jesus as your only Lord and Savior from sin, death, and the power of the devil, you may not really be born again. How could you know? How are you different from that person who thought that they believed? The trouble with these extreme, extra-biblical views is that they create crazy scenarios such as this one. And people do indeed become confused or even lose their faith when people, like the one who wrote the red text previously mentioned, go beyond Scripture.

One thing is sure: If a Christian begins to wander from the will of God and becomes addicted to or deceived by some sin, that Christian will lose something. Will they become un-born again? Has God told us the answer to that? Can we make the statement without making assumptions? There is plenty in Scripture where God speaks to us about security that cannot be taken from us.

Using the term, lose salvation is confusing. They will not lose the salvation or redemption of their spirit because they repeatedly sin. God will keep calling them back to follow Him. Think about it. The Bible clearly states that whatever is not of faith is sin. Since faith comes by hearing and hearing comes by an utterance of God, that means that God leads us. Whenever we fail to listen and obey, that is sin. We are in the process of learning to be led and learning to allow grace, the free gift of righteousness, to do the work of God through us. We are just learning this.

If a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle, then where do we need to set the arbitrary bar of morality to make sure that the teacher of this false doctrine ends up being saved? The teacher of this doctrine will certainly want to be on the right side, but we know that he or she is not perfect. We know that they think wrong thoughts from time to time. If we set the bar that high, then all of us are lost, so we better lower the bar. Let’s not talk about words. Let’s lower it to deeds. Maybe we will make it only sexual sin. That should be popular. And it has to go to actual physical adultery. Now, how many times must a person sin in this way to call it an immoral lifestyle? This doctrine may be called “Eternal Security,” but it should be called “Eternal Insecurity.” You can never know if you are saved, since other people thought they were saved, and they now, supposedly, were never saved. You can’t get there without denying other Scripture and without assumptions. Assumptions have zero truth value.

There is another form of eternal security that says that once you have been born again, you can rebel totally against God and it will not affect your salvation. There is scripture that seems to contradict this. There is also Romans 10:6 says, ‘But the righteousness that is by faith says: “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?'” (that is, to bring Christ down)’ Perhaps, God didn’t make these things plain because He wants our focus on the upward way, not the bare minimum amount to be saved.

The problem comes in whenever we go beyond what God has said through Scripture. What God has said in Scripture is enough. There is no need to add to it or to delete any of it. Being born again is that start of something. There is much about pressing toward the mark of the high calling.

The reality is that what you do affects how you think and how you think affects what you do.

Hebrews 2:1-4 1Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. 2For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; 3How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard him; 4God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?

But what about 1 John 3:6 which says: Whosoever abideth in him sinneth not: whosoever sinneth hath not seen him, neither known him? This is a difficult verse and many have speculated concerning its meaning. We know this, that there is only one person who meets this criteria. His name is Jesus. We also know that when we are born again, we become two people. We are the manifestation of Jesus Christ in the Earth because He lives in us and does His works through us. We experience His abiding presence in thought, word, and deed. Jesus, the Christ Who is in us, cannot sin. (1 Jn. 3:4-11) We also know that we have the flesh. The flesh can do no righteousness. It can be a hypocrite and can try to project the image of righteousness, but it is evil and in it is no good thing. The flesh has not seen Jesus; neither does it know Jesus. This is probably what John meant when he wrote this. He didn’t mean that, if you sin, you have never been born again. In the same letter, John states that anyone who claims to have no sin is a liar.

But what about 1 John 2:18 which says: 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? If you look at the previous verse, you will see that John, here, is speaking of the spirit of antichrist. He doesn’t mention faith at all.

2 Timothy 2:12-13 says: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself. Belief and faith are the same thing, though there is a type of belief that is not faith. The kind of faith that a Christian has is a faith that is imparted by God through God’s revelation and leading. Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by a word (literally, utterance) of God. You see that we can lack faith and still He is faithful. However, if we Christians deny Him, then He will also deny us.

The following email came to the SeekFind.net inbox and it is a cause for concern as it goes well beyond what the Scripture teaches and it ignores so much of what the Scripture teaches. It is here so that readers can examine what it wrong with the theories contained in it.

Question: “Can a Christian lose salvation?”

Answer: Before this question is answered, the term “Christian” must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer, or walked down an aisle, or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what “makes” a Christian. A Christian is a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).

So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? Perhaps the best way to answer this crucially important question is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation, and to study what losing salvation would therefore entail. Here are a few examples:

A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse speaks of a person becoming an entirely new creature as a result of being “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be canceled and reversed.

This brings up the question: are all who have been born again in Christ? If they are in the Body of Christ, they are in Christ. What is the Body of Christ?

For Adam, the son of God, to have left the Garden of Eden, his position as son of God would have to be cancelled and reversed. Can a Christian walk away from God? If the answer is no,

  1. then a lot of Scripture has to be rationalized away.
  2. then the person who walks away from God never was saved.

Some claim that a person keeps his or her salvation even if they walk away from God completely. (the teaching of The Way International). They can curse God, become an Atheist, and work against the gospel and deny Christ without consequence. They cannot fall away according to this doctrine. The question is then, “How much sin can I do without ending up in hell.” The answer is, “As much as you like,” according to this theory.

A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). The word “redeemed” refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase that He paid for with the precious blood of Christ.

Not true. Christ died for every man, woman, and child, whether they accept Him as Lord and Savior or not.

A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To “justify” means to “declare righteous.” All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and “un-declare” what He had previously declared.

This line of thinking is along the line of an extreme rationalization regarding a fatalistic view of predestination. God set (predestinated those whom He forknew). He knew ahead of time that they would be faithful and finally be conformed to the image of Jesus. Note, that this is not referring to being born again. It is referring to being conformed to the image of Christ. We don’t have such foreknowledge, so we cannot know who is set in advance to be conformed. God didn’t say that He predestinated anyone to Hell. In God’s plan, those who are justified are also justified in advance, since God knew what they would do. Now, God does not lie. He does not call anything just that is not just. “He who doeth righteousness is righteous.” as John said. However, through foreknowledge, God can declare it so from the beginning since He alone knows how it is all going to happen.

A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Eternal life is a promise of eternity (forever) in heaven with God. God promises, “Believe and you will have eternal life.” For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be taken away. If a Christian is promised to live forever, how then can God break this promise by taking away eternal life?

Eternal life is literally the life of the coming age. Is it possible to possess this life and lose it? God doesn’t tell us the answer. In fact, this life shines on every person, since Christ is the light that lighteth every man. People are able to reject the light. God intends that the path of the just should be as a shining ling that shines more and more until that perfect day. That is the day of the manifestation of the Sons of God. It is very possible for a Christian to reject God’s leading into more light. To remain as we are is sin. It is also possible (we have certainly all witnessed it) to see Christians turn completely away from the light. God has not given us ability to examine their walk or their hearts completely as He sees them. Nor has God called us to try to judge in these matters.

A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). As we learned in Romans 5:1, justification is declared at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification is guaranteed for all those whom God justifies. Glorification refers to a Christian receiving a perfect resurrection body in heaven. If a Christian can lose salvation, then Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.

Let’s add the context of that Scripture and the meaning is more clear.

1 Corinthians 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate [set or appoint ahead of time] to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 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.

Those who God foreknew are so guaranteed. The problem is that we do not foreknow as God forknows. God foreknew who would receive Him, so He was able to justly foreordain or set ahead of time.

This is not an appointment to barely squeak into Heaven and closely miss hell. This is an appointment to be among those who go from glory to glory according to2 Corinthians 3:18 and who come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the son of God the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ according toEphesians 4:11-16. These are those who experience the manifestation and the redemption of their bodies according to Romans 8:18-23.

Many more illustrations of what occurs at salvation could be shared. Even these few make it abundantly clear that a Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says happens to us when we receive Jesus Christ as Savior would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation cannot be reversed. A Christian cannot be un-newly created. Redemption cannot be undone. Eternal life cannot be lost and still be considered eternal. If a Christian can lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and change His mind-two things that Scripture tells us God never does.

None of these rationalizations are true as the answers above clearly show.

The most frequent objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation are 1) What about those who are Christians and continually live an immoral lifestyle? 2) What about those who are Christians but later reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these two objections is the phrase “who are Christians.” The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle (1 John 3:6). The Bible declares that anyone who departs the faithis demonstrating that he never truly was a Christian (1 John 2:19). Therefore, neither objection is valid. Christians do not continually live immoral lifestyles, nor do they reject the faith and deny Christ. Such actions are proof that they were never redeemed.

This brings us back to the problem of eternal insecurity. Many people who believed with all their heart that Jesus was their Lord and Savior have, for one reason or another, fallen away and walked away from the faith. This writer is claiming that they never believed well enough. But they confess as everyone else confessed. They believed as everyone else believed. So, if this writer is correct, then no one can be certain that they believe well enough to really be saved. That is nonsense. It seems that God doesn’t want us judging these matters, and that He wants us to press toward the mark of His high calling, not to merely try to make sure we are born, but to grow up into Him.

Here is another terrible problem this this person’s theology. How much sin makes a person fall into the un-born-again ones who thought that they were born again, but they continually live an immoral lifestyle. Must they never have any thought that is not of faith in order to know that they are saved? Suppose they are really trying to walk with God, but they have a lustful thought. Does that mean that they were never saved? Where is the magic line that shows that they were never saved? Some of the saddest letters we get at SeekFind.net are those from people who don’t know if they are saved because of this theology. Worse than that is the theology that says that if they commit sins, then there is no place of repentance. They now are convinced that there is no way that they can repent. And all of this is “based on Scripture,” plus a few arbitrary assumptions.

First of all, what extent of sin puts you over the line in backsliding. Is it having one wrong thought? Two? Fourteen? A thousand? Or does it come at saying a mean or off-color word? Again, how many or how bad would the word have to be? Or is it a physical act that is required to prove that they were never saved? Let’s set the line at a physical act and we could then just imagine which acts would prove that a person was not saved. Then, we need to determine how many occurrences would prove that the person is continually living an immoral lifestyle. We could put that law into a book somewhere so that every false teacher in every church could teach their false doctrine properly.

When doctrine is false, it becomes very complex. This is the case with many versions of the “eternal security” doctrine. While there seems to be some truth, ask yourself, “Does God really say what the theologians are saying He says?” “Are they adding to God’s Words?” “Are they denying the parts of Scripture that seem to be saying that you can fall away?” “Are you trying to find the bare minimum to be saved?”

The person who preaches a message like this is either claiming not to have a sinful nature (John says they are calling God a liar.) or else setting the law-line just beyond his or her own sin problem.

The fact is that there is no amount of sin that can negate their salvation. However, sin takes people out of the presence of God and they end up choosing to walk away from God. Unless they stop walking away from God, they will end up falling away, just as so many scriptures say that they fall away.

No, a Christian cannot lose salvation. Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28-29). God is both willing and able to guarantee and maintain the salvation He has given us. Jude 24-25, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy-to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

It is true that nothing can separate us from the love of God. God loves sinners. God loves the unsaved or else no one could ever be saved. God loves his entire kosmos, His entire creation. God is able to keep you from falling. In fact, it takes a real act of rebellion for a Christian to fall away from God completely. What we can readily observe is that Christians who begin to walk worldly also begin to slowly change their theology or accommodate their wayward walking. Some of these people actually change their theology to Atheism or New Age cults. Without the Holy Spirit, people can go anywhere and can walk completely away from God.

 

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