Can a Christian Lose His Salvation?
Here are the key elements:
1. The means of salvation is clear: we are saved by faith alone and not by works. We are made righteous by believing in Jesus Christ and not by our obedience to commands. It’s not Jesus plus the law. Only Jesus. The one command we must obey in order to be made righteous is to confess Jesus as Lord (Romans 10:9). We should certainly obey God in everything, but a disobedient lifestyle does not automatically forfeit our salvation. If we get saved by believing in Jesus, then it makes sense that we remain saved by believing in Jesus. It’s not “believe and obey” in order to be saved…only “believe and receive Jesus” (John 1:12).
2. However, using the same guideline, if a person once believed in Jesus, but then later stopped believing in Jesus, they would no longer be saved. But I would not use the term “they lost their salvation”, but rather “they discarded their salvation”. I think it’s more like no one can accidentally “lose” their salvation. But they can certainly give it back. Even though they once received Jesus (truly, in their heart), they could also later reject Jesus (which, if from the heart, God would honor their choice). No one can pluck you out of the Father’s hand. So, no demon or person can pluck you out. But it doesn’t say you couldn’t pluck yourself out.
3. So, can we use the term “once saved, always saved”? Well, since it’s not an actual Scripture, I don’t preach it that way. On one hand, the answer is “yes, as long as you keep believing in Jesus for your salvation”. On the other hand, it’s not impossible to undo your previous decision. God is highly committed to human choice and freedom of will, so God will protect our free will all the way to hell if that’s what we choose. And He will let us change our heart about it if we want to. Eternal life is determined by the human decision to believe in or reject the Savior. So, we don’t become Christians by not sinning. And we don’t remain Christians by not sinning. We remain Christians by believing in Jesus until the end.
4. Does sin matter? Certainly. Does disobedience have a repercussion? Several. Disobedience and sinful lifestyle can actually lead to a seared conscience and hardened heart, which then makes it easy for a once-saved person to reject Christ and go to hell.
5. Hebrews 6:4-6 details the type of person who could legitimately forfeit their salvation. It would be a person who was actually very close to the Lord and the Holy Spirit at one point and then rejected Him (likely, this is the more defined explanation of what Jesus referred to as “blasphemy of the Holy Spirit”.)
6. One clear example of a Christian living in sin who is still saved is the fornicator Paul addresses in 1 Cor Ch 5. Because this brother wouldn’t repent from his known sin (known by all the church), Paul said, “deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus” (1 Cor 5:5). Here’s the picture: a disobedient brother being turned over so Satan could destroy his flesh with some sort of suffering, with the hope that either the brother would repent and start living right. Or that the guy would even die (before hardening his heart to the point of rejecting Christ), so that his spirit would still be saved. So, a sinful Christian killed prematurely by Satan and still saved in the end is better than that Christian being left in rebellion for many years during which his heart hardens to the point of no return. We have to accept this into our theology somehow.
7. What about scriptures like “not inherit the Kingdom of God” and “sorry I never knew you…depart from me”? (See the videos.)
8. What about repentance and unrepentant sin? (See the book and videos.)