Losing Your Religion?
“Can I lose my salvation?”
This is a haunting question for many who believe in the Lord Jesus. These folks struggle to find assurance that they will “stay saved.” This battle can set Christians on a roller coaster ride of intense ups and downs. In times of victory, they are on top of the world, seemingly nothing can knock them down from their high. At those times, they have assurance of salvation based on their positive emotion. Yet, they are just one sin away from being in the dumps. In their minds, they can’t be sure their sin has been truly removed. Therefore, they are frightened that they could sin, then completely fall away from Christ.
In Scripture, there are warnings which seem to indicate that the believer can fall from grace. The writer of Hebrews warned the church that there is a potential to tragically fall away after being enlightened and tasting the heavenly gift, being partakers of the Holy Spirit, and tasting the good word of God and the powers of the age to come (Heb 6:4-6a). This dreadful condition is made worse by the writer’s next haunting words – it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame (Heb 6:4b). The writer doubles down on this warning in Hebrews 10:26-29.
26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,
27 but a terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.
The situation described by the words of the writer couldn’t be more frightening especially if this scenario applies to believers. If true, people who were once true Christians face the fury Hell’s eternal fire. They loved Christ and were loved by Him, yet they face eternal torment in the lake of fire. Yet, do these passages teach that Christians can lose their salvation and what does the rest of Scripture say about these things?
In John 6:35, Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” This promise indicates that anyone who truly comes to Christ will never lack for spiritual nourishment. In verse 37, He proclaims, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” These promises show us that those who come to Christ will never be forsaken. Again, in John 10, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them.
In this passage, Jesus clearly reveals that His sheep will follow Him, and He gives eternal life to them. The promise of eternal life demonstrates that Jesus intends to fulfill His promise not to cast out anyone who truly comes to Him. In the next phrase, Jesus says, “They will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand.” This promise is emphatic in the Greek! It is impossible for believers to be snatched from Jesus’s hand! He follows up by saying that His Father is greater than all, and no one can snatch them out of the Father’s hand. Therefore, our eternal security is firmly in the hands of the Father and the Son! No one can remove us from His eternal grip.
In Romans 8:29-30, Paul gives the golden chain of salvation. In these verses, he says that God predestines those whom He foreknew to become conformed to the image of His Son. Those whom he predestines, he also calls, justifies, and glorifies. The verb tense indicates a past action that cannot be undone. These occurrences are so sure and certain that they can be spoken of as if they have already happened. If a person is foreknown and predestined by God, it is absolutely certain that he or she will be glorified. And as if Paul needed to prove this truth, he goes on to say that nothing can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus (Rom 8:39).
The writers of Scripture overwhelmingly teach that the believer is eternally secure in Christ. So, what about those warning passages? Well, Hebrews 3:12, the writer helps us understand the condition which leads to eternal damnation - unbelief. He warns, “Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God.” According to this warning, it is possible for someone to be part of the “brethren,” yet have an evil, unbelieving heart. Now, if you’re thinking that only unbelievers have hearts like this, then you are correct – that is the exact definition of an unbeliever! Jeremiah warns, “The heart is more deceitful than all else. And is desperately sick; Who can understand it?
Sadly, there are unbelievers sewn amongst the true brethren. Jesus warned of tares that have been sown among the wheat (Matt 13:24-30). Only time will tell the true converts from the false ones – the wheat from the tares. Therefore, the warning passages in Hebrews serve to remind Christians that we must persevere to the end (James 1:12). We must ask the Lord to search our hearts so that we will not be found to have an evil, unbelieving heart. We must not fall for the “once saved, always saved mentality!” These warnings also serve to condemn those who after tasting the goodness of God, they fully and finally reject Christ by turning back to their old way of life. As the Apostle John says,
They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us,
they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us (1 John 2:19).
Verses for Further Study
For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus (Philippians 1:6)
When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14)
Our Lord Jesus Christ who will also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, through whom you were called into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor 1:8-9)
In Him, you also, after listening to the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation—having also believed, you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph 1:13-14)
Jesus taught that believers in Him immediately possess eternal life (John 3:15-16, 36; 4:14; 5:24; 6:40, 47; 1 John 5:11-13).