I write this post today as something of a reminder to myself, than a persuasion to others. This topic I will be looking at is an extremely heated debate, perhaps the most divisive issue in all of Protestantism.
There are misunderstandings on both sides and a lot of accusations on both sides.
The question is one that every believer has struggled with, will struggle with, and does struggle with. Myself is no exception, and in fact if I didn’t change camps, I might not be writing this today.
Can you lose your salvation?
I can hear the debating begin already.
Please note I will not be looking at the larger issue of Calvinism and Arminianism, although the study of those systems is pertinent to the debate.
This question is important for so many reasons, one, it will give peace, or in my case, sanity, to the believer, two, this question is an issue of what the future holds for every believer, and of utmost importance, and this is why I take such a strong stance on this issue, the question deals with what exactly did Christ do on the cross.
Once saved, will a believer remain saved? Or can salvation be lost?
I will readily admit I used to be a staunch “arminian” on this debate. While I do not identify as a Calvinist by any means, I no longer identify as an Arminian either. I find truth and errors in both systems.
I used to be of the belief that salvation could be lost. I no longer am. What changed me? I will look at this in the article.
This issue is especially important for apologists because I have encountered many atheists who claim to be former Christians. What about them? We’ll take a look at that as well.
Please note as well, that I will not tolerate or give credence to the idea that this teaching “gives a license to sin”. No mature and serious believer would ever use this as a reason to sin, and if they did that person will have to answer for that.
I read an article by a Pentecostal publication not too long ago, that argued salvation could be lost, and the analogy that they gave to this was as follows:
Salvation is like a plane ride. We are all headed to the same destination, however, some passengers can choose to “jump away” and never reach their destination (heaven).
I find this analogy to be seriously flawed in light of what salvation actually is according to Scripture. And that’s what we will look at to start with. Before we can ask the question of whether or not salvation can be lost, we need to look at what salvation is.
If we see what salvation truly is, we will begin to see clearer and clearer it’s not something that can be “lost” no more than your identity as a human being can be “lost”.
To view salvation as a plane ride is to seriously understate what happens at salvation. Let’s take a look at several things that happen when one is saved.
ONE: A NEW PERSON IS CREATED
That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.
There are two parts to a believer. One that the person had through birth, and one the believer has through the new birth. Both are present at the same time and we can choose to follow either one.
A believer is not just a regular person who happens to believe Christianity. A believer is an entirely new creation of God.
2 Corinthians 5:17 Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
1 Peter 1:23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.
If a person gets saved that person now has an entirely new nature which is a direct creation of God, which is what John speaks about in John 1:12, becoming the sons of God.
Salvation is not a guessing game of how I feel today, and what I will do or not do tomorrow,. Salvation causes a new righteous creature of God to be born. If one were to lost their salvation, the question remains.
What happens to the new creature? Losing salvation would posit that the new creature would die. But 1st Peter says the new birth is of something that is incorruptible, how can something incorruptible like to the word of God give birth to something that can die or become corruptible? Which leads us to the next point:
TWO: THE BELIEVER IS A PART OF CHRIST, AND CHRIST CAN NEVER DIE AGAIN.
This is one of the strongest points that prove eternal security, and this definitely shaped my view today.
The problem with the airplane theory is that the saved person is not on the airplane, they are the airplane.
1 Corinthians 6:16-17
What? know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? for two, saith he, shall be one flesh.
17 But he that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit.
Losing salvation would mean eventual spiritual “death” of a believer. That’s not going to work here. A person joined unto the Lord is one spirit. Paul here uses the analogy of becoming one flesh with a person, and says here and in the following verse we have had a similar event with the Lord, where we are no longer two but now one.
For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
31 For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.
32 This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
A saved person is NOT autonomous. That saved person is one with the Lord. Of His body, so much so that Paul says we are of His flesh and bones, and that we’re one spirit. We are the body of Christ, and members in specific.
To have people losing their salvation means Christ’s body is not only constantly being ripped apart, but that His body parts are dying.
That’s a major no no:
Romans 6:9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him.
Christ defeated death at the Resurrection. That means Christ literally can never die again. He literally physically/spiritually cannot die, He simply cannot.
Having a believer (a part of Christ) die means that death still has some dominion according to that view. Which is not possible. Which makes losing salvation a dangerous doctrine.
But what about physical death? Believers can still physically die can they? No, they only sleep in Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:13) We will be raised again physically like Christ was, which leads us to our next point.
THREE: AN ENTIRE DEATH BURIAL AND RESURRECTION WOULD HAVE TO BE REVERSED
If one could lose their salvation, that person’s death burial and resurrection would have to be reversed. This type of stuff isn’t considered by those in the lose salvation tribe. The understanding they have of salvation is not strong enough.
Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:
6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.
If a person is a believer, that person has been crucified WITH Christ (Galatians 2:21) What’s next? Christ was buried, so we are buried with Him, what’s next? Christ was raised, so we will be raised with Him.
Losing salvation would mean that believer has to become “uncrucified” and un-buried with Christ, and then not be raised. It’s not as simple as jumping away from a plane.
FOUR: WE ARE ALREADY SAVED IN THE FUTURE
The major problem the losing salvation theology is that salvation is so much of a done deal, from God’s perspective we are already with Him.
Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;)
6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
We are quickened (made alive) with Christ, and guess what else? We’re sitting in heavenly places in our Saviour.
Losing salvation means we would have to be cast down from these heavenly places. If we’re in heavenly places already I’m pretty sure salvation was a done deal.
Romans 8:30 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.
Glorified is past tense here. It’s a done deal. From God’s timeless view we’re already glorified.
FIVE: CHRIST’S SACRIFICE WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO KEEP US SAVED
This is the part I feel strongest about. In the Old Testament people had to repeatedly offer sacrifices over and over and over. Why? Because those sacrifices could never save.
Christ’s was obviously of infinite more importance.
Hebrews is a Book many will go to to claim salvation can be lost. However, Hebrews presents such a strong view of Christ’s atonement, one cannot think salvation can be lost.
Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.
13 For if the blood of bulls and of goats, and the ashes of an heifer sprinkling the unclean, sanctifieth to the purifying of the flesh:
14 How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?
What type of redemption did Christ purchase us? ETERNAL redemption. That means we are redeemed not until we lose our salvation, not after 12 years of believing, or 3 years, or two days, but forever. There is no time limit. We are redeemed with an eternal redemption.
Hebrews 10:14 For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.
Christ’s death on the cross was so strong, it saved us not for a certain number of years, not until we lose it, but forever.
This disproves the teaching that we can “hand salvation back to God”. It’s not something we have temporal control over. It’s an eternal act procured by Christ.
The teaching that we can lose our salvation says Christ purchased not eternal redemption but temporary probation. Not perfection forever but a temporal fixing that we must maintain.
That’s not the case.
There are many more verses that could be dealt with. Ultimately, I believe the best verse on us not losing our salvation is John 6:39
John 6:39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.”
Christ ALWAYS does the will of the Father (John 8:29) And He’s not going to lose us. Christ will lose nothing, and those believers which the Father gave to His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, Christ will present them to the Father, and He’ll have them all in His hand, safe and sound when He does.
I will do another part to this in the future, there are some more verses and concepts to deal with, but I truly believe if it were up to us to maintain salvation we would lose it.