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Can a Christian lose his salvation?


e live in a day where a disturbingly high number of Christians are doubting their salvation. Have you ever experienced this doubt? Maybe you feel that you aren’t good enough, or you feel that your sins are too great, or you feel that you’ve “blasphemed the Holy Spirit.” These doubts may have led you to ask, can a Christian lose his salvation? This article will take a brief look at what Scripture says about this question.

If it were possible, then salvation would be the result of works, not grace.

     You will be encouraged to know that losing one’s salvation is not possible for the born again Christian. In fact, reaching the conclusion that salvation can be lost is the result of not biblically understanding the work of Christ. If it were true that one could sin his way out of salvation, it would become a form of works salvation, or what I call “maintenance works salvation.” Maintenance works salvation is the idea that one may be initially saved, but he must continuously perform a certain level of good works in order to maintain his salvation, for fear that he may “walk away” from his salvation or that God may take it away.

     However, when we look at Scripture, we find that this is not true. In fact it is false that one must perform or obey to a certain level to maintain salvation. If this were true, it would put your salvation in your own hands instead of God’s. Scripture is very clear that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and that He (not you) will complete the work in you that He started (Philippians 1:6). The Bible is also clear that His children are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus, through His gift of salvation by grace through faith (Ephesian 2:8-10). In other words, He is the one continuously working in you through the gift of salvation you received through faith as a result of the His underserved favor toward you.

If you have confessed Christ as Lord, you are saved.

     If you have made a genuine profession of faith and confessed Christ as Lord, you are saved (Romans 10:9-11), and the entire process of your salvation is entirely due to God’s effort, not yours. This truth is an absolute certainty because you are sealed by the guarantee of the Holy Spirit in Christ (Ephesians 1:13-14). And so you have nothing to do with the security of your salvation from the moment you first confess Christ to your last dying breath. In fact, God never tells us that it is possible for Him to grant salvation and then take it away if we don’t perform to a certain standard. That is because salvation is not conditional upon your works. It is a gift. If your salvation was conditional, then it would not be a gift (Romans 4:4-5). When you made your genuine profession of faith, God set His saving love upon you, and nothing, not even yourself, can separate you from the love that God has for you (Romans 8:38-39).

Use the plain truths of Scripture to address difficult passages

     So if you are struggling with these sorts of doubts, stop believing the lies, and review what the Bible teaches about salvation. Don’t focus on a handful of difficult and obscure passages such as Matthew 12:22-30 or Hebrews 6:4-6 that are hard to understand. Notice that none of these passages refer to someone who has made a genuine profession of faith and has received and then lost any of the many gifts that come with salvation, which include being sealed with the Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14), being made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and being given a new nature (Ephesians 2:3-5), among many others.

     Instead, use Scripture to interpret Scripture. As you do this, focus on the overwhelming number of passages that clearly explain the truth of the Gospel and what Christ has done for His people. And as you more fully see this plain teaching of Scripture, you will become confident that those difficult passages cannot mean that a Christian can lose his salvation, because the overwhelming majority of Scripture teaches the exact opposite.

Focus on the infinite and irrevocable grace of God

     Also consider all the awful things that God’s people have done, and yet He still loves them. For example David killed someone so he could steal his wife and commit adultery. He lived unrepentantly for at least nine months. Jonah ran from God. Peter publicly denied Christ multiple times, and then he later behaved like a hypocrite to the Gentiles. The list goes on and on.

     Furthermore, think about the absurdities that would need to occur in order for a true believer to “disinherit” eternal life. (John 3:16) You cannot be “un-born again” (1 Peter 1:23). You cannot be “un-adopted” (John 1:12). You cannot be “re-condemned” (Romans 8:1,34) You cannot be “un-reconciled” (Romans 5:10), “un-justified” (Titus 3:7), “un-chosen” (1 Peter 2:9), etc. Do you really believe God would reverse all these things that He has done for you? Absolutely not. Once you put your faith in Christ as Lord, it is done and cannot be undone. God’s work is irrevocable (Romans 11:29). God, not you, is the one who begins His work in you and continues to work in you, and you cannot stop Him (Acts 5:39).

     Instead of focusing on not meeting God’s standards, which no Christian will ever do, focus on what Christ Has done and the many many permanent things He has done and is doing for His people. And if you don’t know what those things are or haven’t really studied them, then study those things so that you can understand and learn how to rest in the finished work of Christ instead of living in fear due to your failures.

A word about assurance

     Now of course the immeasurable and depthless grace of God is not a license to sin (Romans 6:1-2). However, the believer has been supernaturally transformed with a completely new nature (Ephesians 2:5). He has become a new creation entirely (2 Corinthians 5:17). So while a Christian may have periods of backsliding, they will always return through the continuous work of the Spirit and God’s discipline of His children (Hebrews 12:7-11). 

     If you are currently struggling with a period of habitual sin, you may be doubting the assurance of your salvation. And if that is the case, here is a good article to review about how you can build confidence and assurance of your salvation.

Be encouraged with these reminders

     To close, here is a list of reminders of some of the many things Christ has done and who the Christian is in Christ:

Who the Christian is in Christ

In Christ by His mercy and grace….

…I am accepted:

  • I am God’s child (John 1:12)
  • I am Christ’s friend (John 15:15)
  • I have been justified (Romans 5:1)
  • I am united with the Lord and one with Him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17)
  • I have been bought with a price—I belong to God (1 Corinthians 6:20)
  • I am a member of Christ’s body (1 Corinthians 12:27)
  • I am a saint (Ephesians 1:1)
  • I have been adopted as God’s child (Ephesians 1:5)
  • I have direct access to God through the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 2:18)
  • I have been redeemed and forgiven of all my sins (Colossians 1:14)
  • I am complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10)

…I am secure:

  • I am free from condemnation (Romans 8:1,2)
  • I am assured that all things work together for good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28)
  • I am free from any condemning charges against me (Romans 8:31-34)
  • I cannot be separated from the love of God (Romans 8:35-39)
  • I have been established, anointed, and sealed by God (2 Corinthians 1:21,22)
  • I am hidden with Christ in God (Colossians 3:3)
  • I am confident that the good work that God has begun in me will be perfected (Philippians 1:6)
  • I am a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20)
  • I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love, and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7)
  • I can find grace and mercy in time of need (Hebrews 4:16)
  • I am born of God and the evil one cannot touch me (1 John 5:18)

…I am precious:

  • I am the salt of the earth (Matthew 5:13)
  • I am a branch of the true vine of Christ (John 15:1,5)
  • I have been chosen and appointed to bear good fruit (John 15:16)
  • I am called as God’s child to shine as a light to the world (Philippians 2:15)
  • I am God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16)
  • I am seated with Christ in the heavenly realm (Ephesians 2:6)
  • I am God’s workmanship for good works (Ephesians 2:10)
  • I may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)
  • I am part of God’s chosen race, royal priesthood, and holy nation (1 Peter 2:9)

Adapted from Neil T. Anderson’s book, Bondage Breaker


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