Can You Lose Your Salvation?
Is it possible to lose your salvation?
Once saved, always saved? Or is it possible to become un-saved? There are a few points I think we need to delve into in order to answer this question properly. Because after all, if it is possible to lose my salvation, what if I already have and don’t know it? That’s why this is an important question.
Both the Roman Catholic theology and some denominations of Protestantism hold to the view that one can in fact lose his or her salvation. Catholics believe, for example, in two categories of sin. Venial sins are the less serious ones which require confession to a priest, who is the mediator between man and God, who will then grant forgiveness. The more serious sins, according to Catholic theology, are known as mortal sins, which, when committed, can cost salvation.
I differ strongly with this position.
I like what Dr. Michael Brown said when asked this same question. He says that we cannot “lose” our salvation in the sense that we can lose our car keys, as if to misplace them. However, Brown states, we can forfeit our salvation, being that God will not force anyone into heaven against their will. God grants us the choice to obey or reject him. Should we choose to reject him, we can forfeit our salvation and refuse to follow Christ.
I would argue, however, that someone who once was a Christian and has either fallen away, known as apostasy, or has chosen to stop believing, was never truly saved in the first place.
Well, First things first: what does the Bible say? Paul speaks of salvation as “transformation.” He says in 2 Corinthians 3:18 that we are being transformed into God’s image, with ever-increasing glory.
Romans 12:2 tells us not to conform to this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.
Transformation in the Greek is the word metamorphoo. This is where we get the English word “metamorphosis,” when speaking of the change a caterpillar engages in when becoming a butterfly, for example. It is literally to make a dramatic change in form or being.
Now, once a caterpillar transforms a butterfly, the butterfly cannot transform back into a caterpillar. In other words, it is a brand new creation, permanently. The same is true for a believer who has been transformed by the Holy Spirit.
Similarly, Jesus speaks in the gospel of John about salvation being a “rebirth.” One who has truly been born again is a new creation, Scripture says.
So, if true salvation has taken place in the life of the believer, he or she cannot lose that. In other words, Christ’s atoning work on the cross covers our sins, and according to Romans 8, there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. So, though we will still stumble and sin, our sins are paid for, and our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Jesus also says of believers in John 10:28, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.
Let’s look at a few other passages which speak of the believer’s eternal security.
John 15:24 says “I tell you the truth, whoever hears my words and believes Him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned. He has crossed over from death to life.”
Ephesians 1:13–14, “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
Philippians 1:6: “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.
So what about those who do fall away? Going back to Matthew 7; what about those who Jesus says will say to him, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy, drive out demons and perform miracles in your name?” To which Jesus says he never knew them.
There is a distinction between those who profess, and those who possess salvation. Anyone can profess salvation. In other words, anyone can claim to be saved. But only those who have truly been redeemed by God’s Spirit are really saved. After all, James says in James 2:19 that even the demons believe, but they are not saved.
As for the true believers who seem to fall away, Scripture seems to also draw a distinction between a loss of salvation, which does not occur, and a loss of spiritual rewards or even personal faith, which is evident in passages like 1 Corinthians 3:11-15, 1 Corinthians 9:27, Galatians 5:4, and 2 Timothy 2:17-18.
So in summation, we are saved by grace alone through faith alone. Repentance is a response to salvation, and is part of the evidence that we have been redeemed. Those who are truly saved will have a new heart and a new desire to live for Christ. They cannot lose their salvation unless they choose to deny the Lord.
Nobody is unsaveable. God will redeem anyone who calls on the name of the Lord.
And Scripture is clear, when we are saved, God’s spirit will testify with our spirit that we are in fact saved.
So be encouraged that nothing can separate you from God’s love.