Can a person lose their salvation?
Have you ever lost something that was of great value to you? Perhaps you've lost money or jewelry. I know I have lost things in the past. But losing these things was accidental. It was not as though I intentionally put my money into pockets that had holes in them. I did not purposely put my bracelet on with the clasp unhooked and then swing my arm in big arcs in a field of tall grass. I did not leave the house with the notion in my head, "Yup, today I'm gonna go lose something." No, whenever I've lost anything, it was by accident. It was not something that came about because of a conscious effort on my part.
What point am I trying to make and why? Well, in many churches today and on many web sites, there seems to be this campaign to convince folks that no matter what, you cannot lose your salvation. But the people who state this make it seem as though salvation is something that the people worry could be accidentally lost. Therefore, they must assure the congregation of believers that this will never happen.
Then to really, really make the people feel secure, they stress that no matter how much you sin, you are safe. That, hey, if you said the "sinner's prayer" at an altar call and believed in Jesus for two minutes on Sunday in 1983 and then have spent the last 20 years involved in the cult of Baal or have been a practicing Buddhist or New-Ager, don't worry. You are still saved. There is even a catchy tag line that has been made up: "Once saved, Always saved." I'm sure you've heard that one before.
Well, this teaching is very dangerous for many reasons, and it is also unscriptural. Let me first say that, no, I do not believe that a person can unknowingly lose their salvation any more than I believe that a person can unknowingly receive the mark of the beast. But I do believe that it is possible to intentionally walk away from the Lord and choose sin over salvation. And because many churches are denying this fact, they are thereby (1) giving people a false sense of what salvation means, (2) giving people a license to sin, and (3) doing a great disservice to folks by making people believe that no matter what they choose to do or how much they choose sin over the Savior, "Once saved, Always saved."
Anyway, enough of my talk. I will now share verses with you that show that someone who has professed belief in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Savior can still go to hell if they choose to.
First of all, Reader, we must retain our faith in the Lord Jesus and continue until the end:
Human beings can live a long time, 100 years or more. We have a beginning (our natural birth), a middle (all the time in between), and an end (our natural death).
I don't know why people teach that as long as a person "professes" to believe in Jesus for a couple seconds somewhere in the middle, that that person is eternally sealed, no matter what. If that were true, then why is the bible filled with verses that speak on continuing on with the Lord Jesus Christ UNTIL THE END?
Hebrews 3:14, "For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end."
Hebrews 3:6, "But Christ as a son over his own house; whose house are we,if we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end."
Jesus Himself said in John 15:6, "If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned."
John 8:31, "Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
In the verses above, Jesus didn't tell them, "Now that you have come forward and professed belief in me, ye are my disciples." No. He said, "If ye CONTINUE in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed."
2 John 1:9, "Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son."
Romans 11:22, "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off."
Yes, Jesus' shed blood saves all those who in faith call on Him, but we must keep our faith until the end. Is that works salvation? No. Colossians 1:20-23 "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.."
Do you remember when there was a storm at sea in Acts 27:31 and Paul said to the centurion and to the soldiers, "Except these abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved"? Well, in a similar way, Jesus is our "ship" that we must abide in to be saved. He is the "Captain of our salvation" (Hebrews 2:10).
And to abide means to remain, to continue, to be firm and immovable. We must abide with Christ UNTIL THE END!
Is it possible for someone who once believed in the Lord to stop believing? Yes.
How many times have you tried to tell someone about the Lord, and they responded, "Oh, I used to believe that stuff. I used to go to church. I've read the bible. But I don't believe that stuff anymore"?
Or maybe someone had a calamity happen in his or her life, and now they have lost faith. They don't care anything about Jesus Christ. Their heart is hard.
It is not enough to believe for a second or "well, I used to believe." If that is all you have, even the devils have more faith than you, for we know that the devils "believe, and tremble" (James 2:19) but they are not saved. Read what the bible says about those who have stopped believing:
Revelation 21:7-8 "He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death."
Luke 8:11-15 "Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. Those by the wayside are they that hear; then cometh the devil, and taketh away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved. They on the rock are they, which, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, which for a while believe, and in time of temptation fall away. And that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection. But that on the good ground are they, which in an honest and good heart, having heard the word, keep it, and bring forth fruit with patience."
Hebrews 4:1-3 "Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. For we which have believed do enter into rest, as he said, As I have sworn in my wrath, if they shall enter into my rest: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world."
Romans 11:18-23, "Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again."
Hebrews 3:12-19 "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast unto the end; while it is said, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief."
John 3:36, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him."
Yes, a person can stop believing. And you would agree, would you not, that for a person to be saved, a person must believe? We all know John 3:16, 18 "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God."
We show our true saving faith and belief by continuing to believe always!
These verses show that there will be those believers who fall away from the Lord:
Hebrews 10:38-39, "Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul."
For someone to DRAW BACK, that person obviously went forward in the first place.
1 John 2:19, "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."
These people started out as Christians, maybe they even came up at an altar call, but they were not eternally sealed and saved, were they?
Hebrews 6:4-6, "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."
Again, for them to have been partakers of the Holy Ghost and to "fall away" they must have been saved at one point.
Here is an important point: People correctly state that God gives us free will to come to Him, but then they erroneously imply that God will force us to stay with Him once we say "the sinner's prayer." Being a Christian does not mean that you have a Lifetime Membership into God's club, whether you want that membership or not. Our gracious Lord will not force Himself upon anyone who does not want a relationship with Him. Yes, God's grace is sufficient, and God promises that He will never leave us or forsake us, but we are more than capable of leaving Him and forsaking Him.
For those who say, "Well, all of those people were never really saved in the first place," I beg to differ.
Why would the Lord give verse after verse, speaking to believers, about the dangers of falling away, the peril of not believing, and the importance of continuing to the end? Because there is a real possibility of being saved and yet still choosing sin over salvation. Read this warning:
Hebrews 10:26-27, "For if we sin wilfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries."
This verse is obviously not merely speaking of someone who has casually heard of Jesus or someone who has been to church a couple of times or someone who is still undecided about matters of salvation. This is speaking of people who have RECEIVED the knowledge of the truth. Paul was speaking to the brethren, to fellow believers!
When I have stamped something RECEIVED at the office, it is because I have full possession of it. I have accepted the thing offered or sent. Here is a definition of the word RECEIVED: taken; accepted; admitted; allowed in; embraced; believed. Friend, read the above verse again. Let it sink in. That verse is talking to the brethren, and it ain't saying once saved, always saved!
Now, am I saying that if you have walked with the Lord for years and then had a momentary lapse on Monday, (perhaps you had anger in your heart or you told a lie) and then on Tuesday morning you die before you had a chance to repent of your sin and ask God for forgiveness that you are now destined for hell because you died in your sin? Of course not. God knows those who are truly His. But there is a difference between wilfully sinning with the attitude of, "hey, once saved, always saved," when compared to the person who is truly striving to live the way the Lord would have them live; a person who is convicted of sin and does all within their power to NOT sin. Again, I must stress that I know that we do not save ourselves by our good works, but the bible does repeatedly say that if we are truly saved, there will be evidence of that in the way we live our lives. And if you insist on choosing to sin, maybe (1) you are not really saved in the first place or, (2) you love your sin more than the one who you claim is your Savior.
As Paul said, this Christian walk is a race, and those who finish the race will receive the crown. Yes, there are those who start the race late, for example, the thief on the cross. But even he repented as much as he was able. He went from being someone who was unbelieving and mocking the Lord to someone who believed with all of his heart and loudly defended the Lord. Friend, are you even running this Christian race as the Lord would have you run, or are you on cruise control, comfortably sinning and blindly believing that God will force you to remain with Him? Have ye resisted unto blood, striving against sin, or do you believe that you have license to sin because you said some (possibly meaningless) words at an altar call?
Sadly, there are many folks who are being convinced by churches and well-meaning preachers that they are saved and don't have a care in the world, when that is just not true.
Why don't preachers tell the congregation the whole truth? Is it because they want to be popular? They want their numbers to grow? They don't think the pew sitters would like hearing these things? I don't know. But instead of coddling the people and assuring them that "Once saved, Always saved," find out why these people are so worried about losing their salvation in the first place. Maybe they know of the sinful things they are doing in secret and the Holy Spirit is convicting them. Stop quenching the warning by your blanket statements of security, and instead show them what God's Word says about holiness, righteousness. Show them where God's Word says that we can have victory over all sin. Show them verses that speak on staying the course. As a matter of fact, if you don't want to share ALL of the bible's truths with them, maybe you should not be preaching at all!
Well, I hope you will think twice before you repeat that catch phrase, "Once saved, Always saved." Maybe instead you should quote these powerful words: 2 Peter 1:10, "Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fail."
If you are not tired of reading, here are some closing verses for your consideration:
Revelation 2:10 Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.
Matthew 10:22 "And ye shall be hated of all men for my name's sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved."
Revelation 2:26, "And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations:"
Revelation 3:5, "He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels."
Revelation 2:7, He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God.
Revelation 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son.
Revelation 21:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.
Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.