Can a Christian Lose His or Her Salvation?

What follows is an excerpt from an article that bears the same title as this post. You can read it here.

Scripture teaches that believers must persevere until the end, but also that believers will persevere until the end by God’s grace. As the Westminster Assembly concluded, Christians might temporarily yield to Satan’s temptations, even to excess, but like Peter when he denied Christ three times, God will still restore and preserve the faith of the Christian, a faith which God gave in the first place! Peter went on to be chief among the apostles! Two biblical principles must be held side-by-side:

1. You Must Persevere until the End: God’s Requirement of His People

God does not merely command us to begin to believe for a time, and then fall away. He requires us to continue to believe until the end, living lives of repentance and covenant faithfulness. Granted, He does not ask for a perfect faith, but He does ask for a real faith, one that produces real, lasting change.

• Colossians 1:21-23

• 1 John 1:5-10; 3:3-6

• Hebrews 10:26-31

• Hebrews 12:1

2. You Will Persevere Until the End: God’s Preservation of His People

We will persevere because God preserves us. God will keep us from falling—not one will be lost of all those who belong to the Son. True believers are not able to leave Christ, for Christ is at work within them.

• John 6:38-40

• John 10:28-29

• Romans 8:28-39

• Philippians 1:4-6

• Philippians 2:12-13

• 1 John 2:19

This first set of texts cannot be used to refute the second; nor can the second set of texts be used to refute the first (cheap grace). The point that makes the two compatible is the biblical teaching that faith (while commanded of everyone) is a gift from God to His elect. If faith is simply a human action of a free will, then it can be lost. But if saving faith is God’s gift, then it cannot be lost. Can professing Christians fall away? Yes, and they will perish. Can true Christians fall away? No, for they are kept by the invincible power of God in Christ. The Bible teaches us that professing Christians who leave the faith were never truly believers (1 John 2:19; and notice the qualification even in Hebrews 10:39).

_______________________________

Dan’s question: If we agree that we are saved by faith alone in the finished work of Christ on the cross, but also assert that if we commit sin(s), or fail to repent of every single one, are we not saying that our works contribute, at least in part, to our ultimate salvation?

As the above article excerpt states, if one is saved by an act of human free will, then one must necessarily be able to leave the faith by another act of human free will to be logically consistent. Also, to believe that God alone saves AND preserves in faith those who have trusted in Christ for their salvation is also logically consistent. However to say that God alone saves initially (grants eternal life) but by human effort one must remain saved, is theological schizophrenia.

NOTE: This is a public blog post and I make no claim to having absolute truth concerning the issue at hand. I do however claim as absolutely truth my Nissan being parked in the driveway. Nevertheless, this IS an important issue because it shapes much of our Christian lives, especially in the area of personal evangelism.

Have a great day, everyone!

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Categories: Christianity, Contributors

29 replies

  1. This is an important subject Dan. How we treat it determines how we live. Are concentrating on the work God has called us to do or are we in a constant scramble to keep ourselves saved? It’s an important question.

    If it interest you, I actually wrote on it. Sort of longing post, but had lots to cover

    https://thei535project.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/jesus-paid-it-all-and-the-payment-was-permanent/

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  2. Does a Christian know if he is a true Christian or just a professing Christian?
    If the gifts of God cannot be lost, how did Adam fall?

    Liked by 1 person

    • A Christian can know if he/she is a Christian or not. We are even encouraged to examine our faith (2 cor 13:5) in view of that knowing. It,all depends on what our,faith is based on, our own efforts, or the finished work of Christ on the cross.

      As to your,second question, ‘falling’ and being completely ‘lost’ are two different matters. Also, pre-fall, Adam was not a candidate for redemption as all men who came after, so is it a valid question?

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      • People who are convinced Christians lose their faith. If we say retroactively that they were never true Christians then no convinced Christian can claim to be a “true” Christian, which renders their blessed assurance useless.
        Adam is posited as an example of someone squandering grace.

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  3. I’ve put it this way. When you were “saved”, you were forgiven past, present, and future once and for all. Jesus said “it is finished”. He doesn’t have to get back up on the cross every time we sin. Yes, the evidence of a saved life, is fruit. Are we doing his work?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Evan,

    God brings his own to a position of repentance through the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes we must persevere and by God’s power we will. God has promised that he will keep in the faith those whom he saves. Your logic would put believers into the bondage of the fear that God does not make good on his promises. Since all believers sin daily the best place for me to be when I die is in the very act of repentance. What if I have a sinful thought moments after I have repented of all known sin? Am I destined for hell if I don’t immediately repent? How many sins does it take and of which kind (venial or mortal) will send me to hell? I could say that because the Holy Spirit lives in me that in my new nature in Christ I have a constant desire to repent of sin, put there by God. It is God who brought sorrow and repentance to Peter and he gave me a repentant heart. Acts of repentance on a human level add human works to faith for salvation and occasion to boast. I don’t know what else to say except it might be a form of hell on earth to love in fear of hell for not having repented of something.

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  5. I can see you are convinced

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    • The scriptural support used to ‘prove’ you can lose your salvation have to mean something else (and they can) if God promises to finish the work he began and by his power keep us in the faith. And God so promises. The supporting passages for those promises have no ‘IFS’.

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  6. A hypothetical IF does not necessitate a free will choice to do anything, although it could imply it. If God promised to bring to completion the work begun in us by his power, he will do exactly that. If I ‘saved myself’ by making the final vote concerning salvation by my own human free will decision then I could very well wake up in hell one day.

    I think the state of the fallen will of man is the real issue here. An endless convoluted discussion about repentance is useless. If God saved me me I am secure in the double fisted hand of God (See John 6). If God said that a fallen man hates God and cannot please God, then that is what God said (See Romans 8:7-8).

    Salvation and the assurance of final glorification is a matter of the power and character of God, not human decisions. It is God who predestines, calls, justifies, and glorifies. We MUST persevere and we WILL persevere if God does the saving. That’s the point of this post.

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  7. If eternal life is ultimately conditioned upon something we ‘do’ then God is a liar and Christ died in vain.

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  8. Dan, I noticed that all our discussion has “disappeared” from your blog. Where are all the 17 replies logged in your blog. I trust that you did delete them. On the other hand, If you did, why did you do so? I hope you did not delete them as I spent much time answering all of your questions and responding to each of your claims. If you did delete them then that is something that someone with integrity would not do. After all, you argued that this subject is an important one. You could have simply agreed to disagree. If you have an explanation as to what happened then please do so. If this reply of mine gets deleted then I know my answer and I perceive that you have not acted in an honest fashion. I trust that that is not the case and this is all just a mistake.

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    • No mistake my friend. I realized that I am no match for such a superior intellect as yourself and figured such a lopsided debate was a poor witness.

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      • Dan you are not a poor witness; we just believe differently. LIke I said we can always agree to disagree. The scriptures were meant to be understood by the common everyday person but I fear that we have allowed the theologians to wrest away its plain meaning away from us by allowing them to tell us what the scriptures mean rather than allowing the scriptures to speak for themselves. I learned that the hard way after sacrificing much money and giving up a career to attend a Reformed seminary – only to find out later by my studying the scriptures on my own that the the tenets of Calvinism cannot be supported by the Bible. I would encourage you to keep an open mind allow the Holy Spirit to guide your understanding. May God bless you as you do so.

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        • Evan,

          I wasn’t advocating for Calvinism, tulips, roses or petunias. It was a posting of two sets of passages, one which seem to clearly state the requirement to persevere and another that promised that we would persevere and not be lost. It is the simple reading of scripture that has, through the years, brought me to the position I hold. That is our impasse, my friend. Although we could debate until the Second Coming, we probably should let God deal with our hearts and minds and cause any necessary changes of opinion. I have also studied Calvin and the history of Calvinism rather thoroughly because I discovered that the beliefs I was coming to from Bible study were held by many men and theologians throughout the centuries. He certainly was not the ogre I once thought him to be. I have The Institutes on my shelf. But this isn’t about John Calvin. It’s about sovereign grace. God saved me and has promised to preserve me in the faith. Jesus said “I give them eternal life and they shall never perish.” That passage might be the single passage I have studied more than any other.

          Be blessed, Evan!

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          • You don’t have to answer this question Dan or even post this reply (which is my last one). But I am curious. On one hand you say we are at an impasse. But on the other hand, you acknowledge that our discussion was “lopsided.” So based on your perception of the lopsidedness of our discussion, why would you still cling to your view if you found it difficult to defend your view? Why would you not acknowledge that there are perhaps some flaws in your belief which may not cause you to change your mind right away, but at least cause you to reexamine the issue for yourself? That is what I don’t understand.

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          • Actually, your interpretation of me thinking it was a lopsided discussion in your favor is in err. My comment to that effect was a failed attempt at sarcasm. To much veil? For the record, I believe my position is the Biblical one and I stand on it with the force and conviction of Martin Luther.

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  9. Always a discussion that carries insights/outsights from all sides. A few more maybe?

    A man was asked what would happen to him if after professing saving grace in the Christ of God……..he turned his back, to which he received this rather stunning reply: ‘then the light of God would shine on his back…………’

    So do not our backsides also need illuminated? Love that thought by him.

    Secondly, Regarding ‘can a believer be lost……………? I would suggest: what did you do to be found? If you ‘did’ something, I suppose ‘that’ can be lost……….But if the Lord did it all………..can there be a Saviour who does not save utterly, completely, and perfectly? Hmmmmm.

    Perhaps man is his own saviour? Perish that thought by the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. So why did you delete our discussion Dan?? You could not counter my arguments so you resorted to deleting my posts? You are the one who made your view public on your blog and invited comments – but apparently only those comments that happen to agree with you. You never responded to my claims or questions and never wrestled with the scriptures. If you’re going to have a blog, at least have some integrity and honesty. I was wrong – you are a poor witness. I forgive you but nonetheless cannot trust you and I suspect that this reply won’t see the light of day either.

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    • Maybe, just maybe I got tired of being told dogmatically that I was totally wrong or making some sort of logical fallacy for stating that some passages mean exactly what they say. Maybe, just maybe I was tired or your absolute certainty about things and condescending demeanor. Maybe I just think you are bowing down to the idol of autonomous,free will like I once did. Please note that there are a lot of ‘maybes’ in the above. And PLEASE don ‘t be so arrogant to declare that I do think I could refute your ever so flawless argumentation. Can this stop now or must I erroneously concede that I’m a mental midget in the face of your monumental intellect?

      Not knowing you personally, all of the above might be in error, but I doubt it. That’s the way you come across. Seriously.

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