03 – This is not about ‘losing your salvation’
Before we walk any farther down this path, I want to be clear about two things:
– We are not talking about “losing your salvation.”
– The teaching commonly called “the security of the believer” is absolute Bible truth.
No one should walk away from this discussion saying I believe a Christian can lose his salvation.
That choice of words – “losing your salvation” – is unfortunate at best and at worst is a gross distortion of Scripture and an insult to God and Christ. It implies that salvation can be misplaced like a key or a cell phone. It suggests that a person who wants to keep his salvation might instead lose it forever – that God might take it away.
The Bible is clear that this is impossible.
Consider two key passages I quoted in the previous installment:
“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give eternal life to them, 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.” (John 10:27-29 NAS)
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39 KJV)
Add to that:
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NAS)
“If we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13 NAS)
“I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5 NAS)
“God has given us both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can take new courage, for we can hold on to his promise with confidence.” (Hebrews 6:18 NLT)
God is both able to keep what we have committed to him and absolutely faithful to keep it. Even when we are without faith, he can be trusted to stand by us because it is against his nature to abandon us. The Lord can no more turn his back on us than he could commit a sin.
There are some Christians, however, who teach that a follower of Christ can “lose” his salvation. The way some tell it, the loss might even be accidental, as if a conscientious Christian could commit a sin and be unaware of it – a “sin of omission,” as they say – then die in his sleep and wake up in hell. As I said in the first installment, that is an unbiblical notion that ought to be strenuously opposed.
The idea that a believer could lose his salvation is not only an insult to the faithfulness of God but also to the one who voluntarily laid down his life to set us free from the penalty of sin and the power of death. The Letter to the Hebrews pleads with the Jewish Christians not to turn their backs on Christ because his sacrifice of his life is the only one adequate to make us acceptable before God “once for all time … perfected forever.” (10:10) The cost of a sufficient sacrifice is precisely why the writer warns them not to “neglect so great a salvation” (2:3). Such an insult is impossible to take back, because it would require them to “again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put him to open shame.” (6:6)
The truth is – and there are many more passages of Scripture that could be quoted – Christians who genuinely seek to follow Jesus have no reason to worry about their security in salvation.
Now, what about the others?
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