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Q&A: Do you believe that a Christian can lose their salvation?

Q: Do you believe that a Christian can lose their salvation?

A: Whenever I get asked this question, I find that I must first ask some questions of my own. People
deserve a thoughtful response and not just a quick "yes" or "no." So, in an effort to do just that, I'm
going to share and respond to what I have found to be the real concerns that lurk BEHIND this
question.

Here's the first version of what some people are actually asking: "If I continue to make mistakes and fall into sin, is there a point where God will say, 'That's enough!' and erase my name from the Book of Life?"

The answer is No! I do not believe it is possible to lose your salvation because of sin. I mean, you didn't receive salvation because of your goodness, so how in the world could you lose it due to sin?

The fact that this question even exists suggests a lack of understanding of what Jesus did on the
cross. Sin has been dealt with once and for all for those who come to the cross by faith and receive
the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. When Jesus said, "It is finished" He meant that sin was paid for
COMPLETELY by His suffering and death. To suggest that a believer's sin could somehow nullify
that suffering is, to be quite honest, absurd.   

Finally, if salvation could be lost due to sin it would mean that we are saved by grace but KEPT in a place of salvation by our own goodness — which, in the end, simply equates to salvation by works. 

Although failures are inevitable, God's grace is greater still and the blood of Jesus Christ keeps on cleansing us from sin. (1 John 1:7) 


The second variation of this question goes like this: "If I commit some sin and fail to confess it before I die, will God send me to Hell?"

This question is closely related to the one we just looked at, and comes from those who believe they must keep themselves saved by confessing and repenting of any and all sin. Although it's a popular belief among far too many Christians, once again it's just a thinly veiled version of salvation by works.

We are saved by placing our confidence in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross — not by flawlessly confessing each and every sin we've ever committed. 


The third version of this question is a more straightforward one that wants to know, "Is it possible
for a born-again believer to go from faith to unbelief?"

There are many in the Body of Christ who would respond to this question with a resounding "NO!" And this seems to be the majority belief. My only problem with that response is that it flies in the face of God's Word.

I find the New Testament filled with repeated warnings written to born-again believers about the danger of abandoning faith and walking away from Christ. (And by walking away from Christ, I am not talking about committing a sin. Again, believers cannot lose their salvation by sinning any more than they can earn eternal life by doing good.)

If walking away from the Lord in unbelief isn't possible as many believe and teach, I have to ask myself why there are so many warnings like the ones below scattered throughout the New Testament. Warnings like:

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. 1 Corinthians 15:1-2 (ESV) 

I highlighted the word "if" because it introduces what we call a conditional clause. (A lot of Christians forget that although salvation is free, it is NOT unconditional. It is conditioned on FAITH.) As the Apostle Paul states above, the continuation of faith is also necessary. Furthermore, we can also see from the passage above that Paul believed it was possible to "believe in vain."

Also, take note of the Apostle's words in Galatians 5:

Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace. Galatians 5:2-4 (ESV) 

The Apostle Paul believed that it was possible to "fall away from grace." But how? In this case it was
by adding circumcision as a requirement for salvation. This is what the believers in the Galatian
churches were doing, and Paul warned them that if they made that move, "Christ will be of no
advantage to you." Take note that this warning was spoken to believers.

Finally, we see that the author of Hebrews believed it was possible to "drift away" from the message of faith in Jesus Christ.

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? Hebrews 2:1-3a (ESV)

I understand there are many sincere followers of Christ who passionately reject any idea of a true
believer walking away from the Lord in unbelief. I respect their position, but as I study the Word of
God, I cannot embrace it because of these repeated warnings by New Testament authors about
doing that very thing. As a Bible teacher, it is my responsibility to respectfully communicate the
message of God's Word without bias or partiality. Although it seems impossible to imagine someone
being saved and later being unsaved, each and every believer must ultimately allow the Word to
have the final say on how they view this issue.

So, can you lose your salvation due to sin? Heavens, no! The Apostle Paul told us that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Jesus Christ our Lord. (Romans 8) 

Can a believer eventually adopt a position of unbelief and walk away from the Lord? The Bible suggests that is possible.

3 comments:

  1. Very good to lead folks to the WORD and not your opinion! That is why I love CALVARY'S teaching.

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    Replies
    1. Amen and Amen, take every question back to the Living Word of God.

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  2. I agree. This is enlightening. Thanks Pastor Paul.

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