This past Sunday we discussed the controversial topic of whether or not a Christian can lose their salvation. This topic has been controversial enough in the history of the church that I thought it may be helpful to reiterate some thoughts on the subject here. First, however, whenever we discuss an issue that godly Christians disagree on it’s always helpful to clarify that, while important, our answer to this question does not determine our standing before God. Even if someone thinks we can walk away from our salvation (something I disagree with), we should still agree that that salvation comes from faith in the atoning work of Jesus and resting in His grace, not earning His favor.
However, that summary of the Gospel is a good place to start this discussion. The precise reason why I have a problem with the idea of a Christian apostatizing (losing their salvation) is because it places the emphasis on the wrong person. Even asking what can I do to lose my salvation shows a poor understanding of the Gospel’s message that we are saved based on what Jesus has done for us. If salvation were based off of us doing enough good things to earn God’s love then certainly we could do enough bad things to lose His love. Or to give a more nuanced explanation, if salvation were based off of me choosing Jesus, certainly I could also choose apostasy as well. As the verses below should clarify, though, the beauty of the Gospel is seen in that while we were still sinners Jesus died for us (Romans 5:8), or even more poignantly, while we were dead in our sins God chose us for salvation (Ephesians 1:4, 2:5).
As we saw on Sunday, the passage of Hebrews that is often used to argue that Christians can lose their salvation in fact teaches nothing of the kind (Hebrews 5:11-6:12). Rather, it warns us that being a part of a local church or claiming a religious affiliation does not mean we have submitted ourselves to the lordship of Jesus. A discussion of eternal security (the doctrine that states true Christians will not apostatize) should not bring apathy or passivity with our faith, rather it should cause us to ask ourselves if we have truly submitted our lives to Jesus or are we merely playing with religion? If we have truly been transformed by the Gospel and have put our faith in Jesus then we should not fret or be anxious about losing our salvation, but instead rest in the loving grip of our Savior.
So, I’d encourage you to spend some time reflecting on these passages of Scripture. Not as “proof-texts” to align with a theological agenda, but as affirmations that our confidence in salvation rests not in our ability to persevere, but in God’s promise to preserve His children.
All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day (Is Jesus prone to losing things? Absolutely not! So rest in His grip).
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. (No one can cause us to lose our salvation, and “no one” includes you, is your will stronger than God’s grip?)
Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world (Hebrews has shown us Jesus, as our priest, is interceding in heaven on our behalf. Will our High Priest’s prayer go unanswered?).
For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us (The same number chosen by God will also reach the end state of glorification, so we should rest in His favor)?
For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (If nothing can separate us from His love nothing can separate us from His salvation).
And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ (Does God quit before the job is done? If He saved you He will continue to work in you).
2 Thess. 3:3,
But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (Did He let His guard down and let Satan slip in with out Jesus noticing? Of course not!).
for he has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you (Did God change His mind?).
1 Pet 1:3-5,
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (God is protecting your salvation in heaven, surely He will sustain our salvation here on earth).
1 Jn. 2:19,
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us (When someone does walk away from the church it is a sign that they were never truly a Christian, not that they lost their salvation).
Jude 21, 24-25,
Keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life…Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen (His worthiness of praise is tied to His ability to protect us in salvation, if we can lose salvation He isn’t worthy of praise).