Can a Person Lose Their Salvation

Is salvation eternally secure?

     It’s time to throw your hat into the discussion that I am not going to answer for you. I’ll present both sides of the eternal security debate. I want to present both sides briefly and as accurately as possible. Then, let’s see which side has the best evidence. I may go beyond my personal opinion for the sake of representing that side of the argument. This issue is important because it changes the way we might share with a person that is not focused on Christ and seem to have been focused on Christ in the past.

    First, the side that says you cannot lose your salvation once you really have it. This would be all Calvinists, and even a lot of non Calvinist. This belief that your salvation is eternally secure is based on the fact that it is God that holds it, and God is faithful. John 6:37 says everyone the Father gives me (Jesus) will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out. This verse does not seem to leave open the possibility that there’s anything we can do after being a child of God to lose that gift. Certainly Jesus is capable of keeping us once we believe in Him.
     John 10:27, 28 says my sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me. I give any turn a life and they will never parish. Ever! No one will snatch them out of my hand. If our salvation is based on the goodness of God, rather than the goodness of us, then we have confidence that he is able to keep us. This is the promise in this verse. To say that God is not able to assure that we stay within the fold is to doubt God’s faithfulness, which is against His character (2 Tim 2:13).
     First John 2:19 says they went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belong to us. This verse indicates to us the person that has turned their back on God does so because they never really belonged to God. If they truly had belonged to God, they would not have turned and rejected the Apostles’ message for the sake of spreading a false message. You know a person is saved because of the continuing fruit that is exhibited in their life.
     Romans 8:38, 39 says “for I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels no rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” Notice, “no other created thing” in that verse. Humans are a created thing. Therefore humans don’t even have the power to separate themselves from the love of God.
     Finally, the eternal security of the believer is based on the goodness of God and not on man’s effort. Jude verse 24 says that God is the one that is able to keep us from falling and present us faultless before God. Since God is faithful our salvation is secure.

     Now to present the position that you can lose your salvation.
     It is true that God is always faithful, but people are not always faithful. We agree that God, given His love and faithfulness, will not lose a person that is saved. In other words he will not forsake them. But it is possible that somebody that once desired God now does not desire God, so they have walked away from him. This doesn’t mean that we maintain our salvation by our works, but that the continuing in faith is necessary to maintain salvation. Works will be a sign that follows faith and salvation. If a person does not continue in good works it may be a sign that they are not continuing in faith.
     John 8:31 says that if you continue in Jesus’ word then you are really his disciples. Being a disciple of Jesus is more than just a one time salvation decision, it means continuing in that decision. Consequently, the reverse of that verse would indicate that if you do not continue in His Word then you are not a disciple. Can you be saved and not be a disciple?
     Colossians 1:22-23 says that Jesus is able to present us blameless to the Father IF we continue in faith and the hope that was preached in the gospel. This indicates the fact that a continual decision is necessary to have salvation, and not just a 1 time momentary decision.
    In Matthew 10:22, 24:13 Jesus is talking about the persecutions that will come upon the believers. He says that whoever ensures till the end will be saved. So salvation is not and instantaneous event but a continuing event. We cannot trust a quick 1 time decision to save us; we need to endure and continue to fulfill the process of that decision.
     Now, finally, we come to Hebrews 6:4-6 . Those that believe that the current believer can never lose their Salvation will say that this verse does not indicate that such people were ever saved in the first place. Let’s look at the verse carefully to see if that’s true. Count the number of clues that indicate that such a person is a real Christian. The verse says “it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted 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 to repentance…” There are no less than 5 indicators that this person that this verse refers to was a real Christian. How can a person be a partaker of the Holy Ghost without being a saved Christian? Notice also in verse 6, it says “if they shall fall away”. How can a person that is already unsaved fall away. This term can only make sense if the person what is at one time a saved Christian. Then notice it says “restore them AGAIN to repentance”. This clearly indicates that they have been a repentant person in the past, but currently refuse that repentance.
     In these cases the latter (fallen away) state is worse than the first. 2 Peter 2:21 says it would have been better for them not to have “known the way of righteousness then after knowing it, to turn from the Holy commandment delivered to them”. Knowing the way of righteousness is a synonym for being a Christian. How can the latter end be worse if they are still saved? So we see that Peter, along with John, Paul, and Jesus all taught the possibility of being saved then becoming unsaved.

     Which side has the better evidence? Your input on this dispute is welcome. Only respectful comments will be accepted.


One thought on “Can a Person Lose Their Salvation

  1. As a confessional Lutheran (Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod) who believes the Bible to be the inspired, inerrant Word of God, I take the verses indicating the possibility of loss of salvation as stern Law directed to the Old Man, the inner Adam, the sinful flesh which still resides within me. But the verses indicating that Jesus will never forsake me are taken as sweet Gospel to the New Man abiding in Christ, regenerate and trusting in Jesus’ merit alone for my salvation.
    The traditional teaching of Lutheranism uses the Law to show us that we are sinners unable to save ourselves, and we thus feel our guilt before a holy God. Then we are preached the Gospel that Christ has paid for our sins and forgiven us. We don’t just preach the Law and Gospel to the lost, but to the believers, to keep us always repentant and mindful of confessing our sins, and afterwards comforted that we have been forgiven.
    Even though we believe God’s grace in Jesus Christ has forgiven all our sins, that by no means gives us a license to sin with reckless abandon. We believe that we try to live a better Christian life not because we have to out of being bound to the Law, but because we want to, out of sheer thankfulness to Jesus for having saved us by grace through faith.
    Please note, Lutherans believe God bestows Jesus’ salvation on us in our Baptisms, giving us faith, and by hearing the preached Law and Gospel we remain and grow in trusting faith in Jesus Christ. But if a Lutheran has been baptized, yet does not trust in Jesus for his eternal salvation, he or she has fallen from the faith and is unsaved. And Lutherans also believe Jesus’ Body and Blood are present in Holy Communion. Many non-sacramental Protestants bristle at this doctrine as leftover Roman Catholicism. But we just take His words, “This is my body, this is the cup of the new testament of my blood” to be true. Unlike Roman Catholics, we believe Jesus made the sacrifice for the sins of the world, once for all time. Our pastors do not claim to turn the bread and wine into the Body and Blood of Christ; we believe Jesus does that by Himself and we make no attempt to explain how He does this.
    In summary, Bible-believing Lutherans do trust in Jesus as their only Savior, in His death and Resurrection for us personally to give us unmerited faith and salvation unto eternal life. I know our doctrines of infant baptismal regeneration and the Real Presence of Christ in Communion cause many an evangelical to question if Lutherans are really Christians or not. Well, I believe God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life. And my trust is in Jesus alone for my salvation, He is the only Way, Truth and Life. His is the only name under Heaven by which we may be saved! But we are to be in abiding, trusting faith in Jesus our whole lives through, unto the end.

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