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Can a Person Lose Their Salvation?

Can a real believer in Jesus Christ ever be lost again? Can one who is really saved ever commit a sin, or sin to such a degree, that they would lose their salvation and be condemned forever? Can a Christian know with assurance they will be saved in one, five, ten, or twenty years from now, or even forever? Do we have to live daily in fear of missing heaven? Do we have to work our way into heaven?

These are some of the questions that cause confusion to unbelievers and some believers, as well. There are many people tortured by these questions. Many live in fear that their salvation may be lost at any moment, either by their own negligence, or giving in to a momentary temptation. Scripture promises the believer joy, but without eternal salvation there can be no joy. This section will attempt to answer these, and other similar questions.

Believers are justified when they are born again and are placed into the body of Christ, the eternal Savior, Revelation 22:13, who purchased believers with eternal redemption, Hebrews 9:12, with eternal salvation, Hebrews 5:9, and gives the believer eternal life and they shall "never" perish, John 10:28. Clearly one cannot lose this "eternal salvation", bought with "eternal redemption", and given "eternal life" to "never" perish. To believe that anyone can lose salvation makes God a liar.

A believer is safe whether they know it or not, since they are kept by the power of God. Recognition of this fact gives the believer assurance. Concerning believers 1 Peter 1:5 states, "Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time." Clearly believers are kept by God and not by anything they can do on their own.

Assurance of salvation is the absolute conviction of a believer that they are in present possession of a salvation, in which they will be eternally kept. One should note that a believer's assurance does not rest upon sanctification, which is progressive, but on justification which occurs once and for all at the moment of belief. Justification isn't progressive; we are just as just, as just as Christ is at the moment of our salvation. Neither does assurance rest upon works, but upon faith in Jesus Christ alone.

True faith and assurance

A believer can have confidence that true faith gives. If we are exercising faith in Christ, we know it, Hebrews 10:22-23. That is the sense in which Paul expressed his assurance, 2 Timothy 1:12.

A lack of assurance can be traced to doubt as to one's committal to Christ, or doubt as to God's ability, or willingness, to save and keep the believer. It could also be due to ignorance of God's promises, or to sin.

The full assurance of understanding

It is the Holy Spirit that gives a believer full understanding of the scriptures, 1 Corinthians 2:12-14. Believers can have the assurances that result from a spiritual understanding of the revealed facts, on which their complete safety rests. Assurance is the confident realization of God's promise of eternal security. Assurance has to do with our understanding of the facts and provisions of salvation through faith in Christ, Colossians 1:9.

There are at least seven areas that reveal facts, of which an understanding of them will provide a believer with assurance of salvation.

1. A believer can have assurance of salvation because of their union with Christ. When a believer first believes, they are baptized into the body of Christ by the Holy Spirit 1 Corinthians 12:12-13.

This Spirit baptism refers to the work of the Holy Spirit, whereby He places believers into union with the body of Christ and identifies them with Christ's person and work. If believers could lose their salvation, it would mean the body of Christ could be, and would be, maimed. This would be against Scripture, Ephesians 5:29-30.

The carnal church in Corinth, was full of strife, envy, fornication, and drunkenness. Paul declared, to them "are you not walking like mere men?" (1 Corinthians 3:3). Yet, he affirmed the fact of their salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

This Spirit baptism joins the believer into union with Christ, and becomes the new spiritual position of the believer. In Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 1:6, Colossians 3:3-4, and Ephesians 2:5-6 one can see the fact that the Bible emphasizes we are saved and accepted through our position or union with Christ.

2. Christ finished the work of salvation by putting away the believer's sins so that there is nothing remaining against the believer, Romans 8:31-35.

From these verses it can be seen that believers are kept by God Himself. It is God that justifies us.

Look further ahead at the next two verses, Romans 8:38-39, and you will see that nothing can separate the believer from the love of God.

In the following verse we can also see that Christ Himself put away the believer's sin, Hebrews 9:26. This is restated by Peter in 1 Peter 3:18.

It is by the death of Christ that we are justified, and not by keeping of the law or good works, Acts 13:38-39.

Scripture states that we are saved by grace, through faith in the person and work of Christ and that salvation is not of works we have done, Ephesians 2:8-9.

You might note that if we have put our trust in the work of Christ, we are saved. However, if we can lose our salvation by what we do or not do, then we are saved by our own works and not the finished work of Christ.

3. We have God's promise of assurance in His word. Jesus tells us of our eternal security John 10:28-29. There are those that agree with the above verses, but state that man can deliberately leave the refuge of their Father's hand. If that were true then we would perish, but we have the unconditional promise in the same sentence in John 10:28 that the believer shall never perish. We also have the clear promise from Christ in John 11:26 that a believer shall never die.

Then, we have the promise that the work that was begun in the believer at the moment of conversion would continue till the day of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1:6. A believer can be assured that God will keep them, and the good work that was begun by God will continue till the return of Jesus Christ. Sanctification is a process that begins at salvation and continues till Christ returns. It is God who keeps us, and nothing that we ourselves do.

4. Christ as the High Priest and Shepherd takes care of the believer. If a believer does sin, he has an advocate with the Father, 1 John 2:1. When we sin, and all believers sin, we have an advocate (Christ) with the Father. Sin causes a loss of fellowship, not a loss of salvation, with God and can be overcome by confessing that sin, 1 John 1:9.

Christ clearly states that He takes care of His sheep (the believers). This is stated by the apostle John in John 10:10-14. Christ states here that He knows His sheep and they know Him. Christ is not only able to save, but He is able to care for those that are saved, Hebrews 7:25.

5. The Father's faithfulness to Christ. Jesus prayed that the Father keep through His own name those that He had given Jesus, John 17:11.

Believers are sanctified by God the Father, but are preserved in Jesus Christ, Jude 1:1.

6. The fact of the new covenant. Jesus has promised to not remember the believer's sins, Hebrews 8:12.

7. Believers are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Scripture tells us that we are not only sealed by the Holy Spirit, but tells how long we are sealed. We are sealed unto the day of redemption - to the day that Christ returns for us. A seal in ancient times was a sign and proof of a completed transaction and of security, since only an authorized person could break the seal. In the sealing of the Holy Spirit, the authorized person is God, and He has promised that the seal is unto the day of redemption, Ephesians 1:13 and Ephesians 4:30. The believer is sealed at the moment of salvation and sealed unto the day of redemption, and no one can break that seal but God Himself, and He has promised to keep us and will therefore not allow the seal to be broken. God will not break it because of His promise, and no one else has the power to break it, including the believer. Therefore, the believer belongs to God as a result of this finished transaction of their salvation in Christ.

What did Jesus mean about "my sheep"?

In John 10:27-30 Christ says of His own, "I know them." and He continues on to say "they shall never perish." Note that they are in the Fathers hand, and Christ says they shall "never perish."This shows that God is going to keep them, and one would have to be more powerful than God in order for a believer to be taken out of His hand and perish.

If someone should say that they are a Christian and does not hear the voice of the Shepherd and do not follow Him, that person is a hypocrite and not a Christian. If one professes to be a Christian, and does not hear the voice of the Son of God, it matters not what profession he makes, he is not a Christian. No matter what one may profess, if one does not follow Christ, one is a hypocrite.

Some follow a while and look good outwardly, as described by the apostle Peter. They walk in the way of righteousness, and then turn away from it, 2 Peter 2:20-22. Notice that nowhere in this verse does it refer to one who is saved. People can go to church and clean up their outward appearance, but their nature remains unchanged. They must be born again to receive a new nature.

Looking closer at the passage above in 2 Peter 2:20-22, we find that these people are false prophets and teachers, and if so, and the Bible says so, they are not saved. In verse 20 we see that these unsaved false teachers and prophets have knowledge of the Lord, and have escaped the pollutions of the world, and they know the way of righteousness. They are enlightened as to the way of salvation, but through their own lusts they corrupt the truth of God and return to their vomit, or wallowing in the mire. A sheep is one who has been born again, and while they might get careless and become soiled, but would never wallow in the mire. C. H. Spurgeon said, "If this dog had ever been born again and gotten a sheep's nature, it never would have gone back to its own vomit; and if this sow had ever been regenerated and had the heart of a lamb put in it, it never would have gone back to its wallowing in the mire."

If Christ knows His own, what about the ones He doesn't know? (Matthew 7:22-23) Obviously if Christ "never new them," and that's what the above verse says, they were never saved to begin with. Those that never knew Christ might include a Sunday School teacher, a deacon, a minister, or just an active church member, but after a time they turned their back on Christ, and now deny Him. At the White Throne Judgment they would, of course, mention all their works and Christ will say, "I never knew you." They were never saved in the first place. It is possible to join a church and to make a Christian profession and still not be saved. It is possible to observe the Christian ordinances, to teach and to preach, and yet never be born again. If one teaches and preaches the truth, it will produce good results, whether the teacher or the preacher is real or not, for God uses the truth and His Word will not return void.

It should also be noted what these false teachers were saying to get into heaven. They said they had taught in "thy name", cast out devils, and done many wonderful works. You can do all of that, and none of it will get one into heaven. We are not saved by our good works, we are saved by God's GRACE through FAITH and that alone, Ephesians 2:8-9. These false teachers, attempting to get into heaven by good works were denied by Christ because they had never accepted what Christ had done on their behalf, and were expecting their good works to get them into heaven so Christ said He never knew them. Then, if we go one more verse further, Ephesians 2:10, it can be seen that although we are not saved by doing good works, we are saved to do good works.

Separation from the love of God

Some believe that man, of his own free will, can separate himself from God, resulting in a loss of salvation. However, Romans 8:38-39 includes "any other creature", which includes man, and means that man cannot separate himself from the love of God. Those who state we can be separated from God because of sin mean that one can become lost because of sin and use Isaiah 59:2 to prove this separation, or loss of salvation. The separation mentioned here is not a loss of salvation. The word "separated" used here conveys the idea of division such as a partition between a believer and God, and has to do with fellowship, not loss of salvation. Sin separates a believer from God in that there is a partition between God and man, in other words sin causes a loss of fellowship with God. God will no longer hear a believer's prayer until their sin is confessed. Because of a true Christian's union with Christ, the Christian is in Christ, and therefore nothing can separate a Christian from the love of Christ. To be separated from Christ would be to mutilate the body of Christ and this is something not taught scripture.

A believer is baptized by the Holy Spirit, and Spirit baptism refers to the work of the Holy Spirit, whereby He places believers into union with the body of Christ, and identifies them with Christ's person and work. If believers could lose their salvation, it would mean the body of Christ could and would be maimed, Ephesians 5:29-30.

The carnal church in Corinth was full of strife, envy, fornication, and drunkenness. Paul declared, to them "are you not walking like mere men?" (1 Corinthians. 3:3). Yet, he affirmed the fact of their salvation and the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

The vine and the branches.

Some mistakenly take John 15:1-6 to mean that a backslidden Christian will be cast into Hell. The subject of the passage is fruit bearing, not eternal salvation. Some Christians bear very little fruit, but all Christians bear some fruit. There are those who profess to be in the vine who bear no fruit, and will eventually fall away, or be cut out when Jesus comes. If there is no fruit, there is no union with Christ, one has not been saved.

Note that verse 6 states, "If a man abide not in me." When we first accept Christ as Savior, we are baptized into the body of Christ and will remain there forever. However, if one does not "abide in me", then that person has never been saved (has never been baptized into the body of Christ) and is a professor, a hypocrite, and not a possessor of salvation, a true Christian. There are, and will, be professors in the Church till Christ comes again. A professor, like a tare, or weed, mixed with wheat, may look good outwardly while linked with the Church, but inwardly they are dead and they will eventually fall away, or be cut off.

Fallen from grace?

Does "ye are fallen from grace", mentioned in Galatians 5:4, teach that a believer can lose their salvation? No! The context of this verse is that the Galatians were turning to the law for salvation in place of being saved by grace. If we try to keep the law for our salvation, then as the beginning of the verse states, "Christ is become of no effect unto you" and, therefore, we have fallen away from the grace that Christ provides for us, and are attempting to be saved by our own good works. If one is an unbeliever, and attempts to be saved by doing the works of the law, then they have fallen from the doctrine of grace and are still lost. If one is a believer and turns away from the doctrine of grace, attempting to keep their salvation by the works of the law, they have fallen from the doctrine of grace. This does not mean they have lost their salvation, but that they are living and teaching a false doctrine of works instead of grace. They have fallen from the doctrine of grace.

The issue here is the meaning of "fallen from grace." Does it mean that a believer has fallen from their positional standing in grace? No. With reference to Gal. 5:4 Wilmington's Bible Handbook states, "While the phrase "fallen away from God's grace" is often used to describe someone who has adopted a sinful lifestyle, Paul used it to describe those who had regressed into legalism (5:4)." If one reverts to legalism, then one has fallen away from the doctrine of grace and not from their positional standing in grace.

The doctrine of grace excludes the doctrine of legalism, and the doctrine of legalism excludes the doctrine of grace. It is either one or the other. Grace and works cannot coexist for salvation, Romans 11:6.

What happens when a believer sins

It was previously stated that one does not lose their salvation when they sin, so what happens when one lives in sin? One of the first things is that God will no longer hear us. We have broken our fellowship with God, Psalm 66:18. He will only hear our prayer when we confess our sin to Him. Once we do confess our sin, with the intention of never doing it again, He will forgive the sin, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness, 1 John 1:9. When a believer sins and fails to confess their sin, they have a loss of joy and are in misery, Psalm 32:3-4. In addition, God will begin to discipline a believer who sins. The purpose of God's discipline is to bring the believer back to where they should be spiritually, Hebrews 12:7-8.

If a believer continues in sin, they will not lose their salvation, but they will be disciplined by God, Hebrews 12:5-10, 1 Corinthians 11:29-31 and Psalm 32:4. The believer that sins loses their testimony and dishonors Christ, 1 Peter 2:12-15. The word "conversation", as used here in the King James Version, means your conduct of life. So our conduct of life must be honest among the Gentiles, so if we sin, then we lose our good testimony and dishonor Christ, 1 Peter 4:15-16.

A believer that sins loses rewards at the judgment seat of Christ, 2 Corinthians 5:10. A believer that continues in sin can be disciplined by the church, 2 Thessalonians 3:6 and Matthew 18:17. If a believer continues in sin they could receive discipline to the point of, and including, physical death, 1 Corinthians 5:9-10.

What should believers do if they should sin? 1 John 1:9 tells us we should confess our sins. From this it should be obvious that if one should sin, and continue in sin, we will see the discipline of God in their life. God is long suffering, but if the believer should persist in their sin, God may decide to take them out of this life. If one sins and they have no discipline from God, then they must question whether they are truly believers.

Believers are eternally secure and cannot lose their salvation, which was accomplished by the finished work of Jesus, who sits at God's right hand as an advocate for believers. However, unless believers abide in fellowship and deal in faith with their sins, they can fall into serious conditions. This can happen because the person was never truly saved, but other times the real cause is a failure to abide in Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit.

John 10:28-30,
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.
30 I and my Father are one.

The believer is sealed unto the day of redemption.

God seals the ones Christ has redeemed and makes us secure to Him.
Ephesians 1:13-14 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
This sealing is until a time in the future.
Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
2 Corinthians 1:22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

Who can separate us from Christ?

Can sin or the law separate us?
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace. Sin has control before we are born again but afterward we are set free. The law lost its dominion over us when Christ paid the penalty, demanded by the law, for us, and set us free. As He paid the penalty, we are forever free.
Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
Can the world separate us?
1 John 5:4 For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.
Can troubles or afflictions separate us?
Romans 8:35-37 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

The true believer has eternal life.
Christ calls us His sheep and gives us eternal life.
John 10:4, 5 26-31
John 3:15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Christ is our security.
Heb 7:22-25 Christ sits on the throne as our mediator.
1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous
Our sins are forgiven and cleansed through the mediatorial work of Christ.

God promises security.
Isaiah 54:17 No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of me, saith the Lord.
We don't have any righteousness of our own, it is of the Lord so our salvation is of Him not ourselves.
John 5:24 Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Shall not be condemned so if we can be condemned to death then this verse isn't true.

Nothing can separate us from Christ. Romans 8:35-39

Christ's blood cleanseth us from all sin.
1 John 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
This is a continual cleansing – past, present, and future.
Colossians 1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

The sins of the believer are forgiven and covered by the blood.
Isa 43:25 I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.
Heb 10:17 And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more.
Psa 103:12 As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.
1Jn 2:12 I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name's sake.
Eph 4:32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you
Psa 85:2 Thou hast forgiven the iniquity of thy people, thou hast covered all their sin. Selah.

The claim that Judas fell.
Joh 6:70 Jesus answered them, Have not I chosen you twelve, and one of you is a devil?
Joh 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.
Joh 13:11 For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
The claim that the Israelites fell in the wilderness.
Heb 4:6 Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief:
Heb 4:11 Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.
Heb 3:17 But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness?
Heb 3:18 And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?

All things that offend shall be gathered out of the Kingdom.
Satan is in the Kingdom Psa 103:19 The LORD hath prepared his throne in the heavens; and his kingdom ruleth over all.
Tares are in the kingdom - Mat 13:38 The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; of his grace that he has freely bestowed on us in his dearly loved Son.
The book of Hebrews states that Christ’s death is the only sacrifice which counts and is one and for all time. Hebrews 9:11-15 Hebrews 9:24-28 Hebrews 10:12-14
The second argument of Romans 8:34 concerns the resurrection and session of the Savior at God’s right hand. He sits at God’s right hand as our powerful advocate and intercessor to plead our case when we sin or when accused of sin, and to intercede on our behalf by virtue of His finished work on the cross which reconciles us to God.
Rom 8:34 Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. Can we fall from grace according to Galatians 5:4? Gal 5:4 Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.
Can some believe for a while and then lose their salvation? Luk 8:14 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.



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