CAN YOU LOSE YOUR SALVATION?
If you remember nothing else about Salvation ... REMEMBER that Salvation is what we BELIEVE and KEEP BELIEVING - not how we feel nor how much we may be in rebellion to Him - nor frustrated with Him because of the trials of life He's allowed to come our way (believe He's "Let us down.")
By: Norm Rasmussen
Founder, Precious Testimonies
This is a very important question. I trust that by the time you are done reading this, you’ll be confident in what to believe about the matter. Confusion abounds over the topic and the main reason for it is that many people don’t have a crystal clear understanding of what SALVATION really IS. Many have a wrong understanding of how salvation is obtained, and how a Christian can remain secure in it the rest of their lives.
What is salvation, then?
Salvation is the forgiveness of our sins
against God, others, and ourselves.
Salvation is the
forgiveness of our past, present, and future sins (we’ve yet to commit).
Why is it important to be
forgiven for our sins?
Because the Bible
clearly tells us that our sins will be judged by God, and the punishment for
them will be death –
Eternal death means that we will suffer in hell
for eternity for our sins, if not forgiven by God for them.
Salvation is attained and secured by what a person
not what a person
The devil works so
hard to keep Christians from understanding the crucially important difference of
the two and that is where so much confusion comes in.
Salvation is attained and forever secured by what a Christian
continues to keep trusting for.
What a Christian does after they become saved
(inititally obtained salvation, in other words) involves eternal rewards.
Eternal rewards is what a Christian lays up in
heaven once they have received the free gift of salvation.
Saying it another way: A Christian is saved from their sins by believing -- rewarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ by their doing after they were saved.
It bears repeating: It is so important to understand the difference! The Christian’s works of obedience to God that follow their salvation are what the Bible calls “good works” – “not working for one’s salvation to try to earn it or being deserving of it.”
The following Bible scripture
passage clearly points this out:
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9 (NKJV)
Let’s closely examine a few key
words in the above scripture passage, so we fully understand what God is
communicating to us in it.
“For by grace you have been saved …” This is telling us that God’s love – God’s mercy – God’s compassion is what motivated/motivates God to want to forgive us for our sins and let us go to heaven and be with Him for eternity, not holding our sins against us.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith …” This is telling us that we are saved from our sins by our believing something. Believing WHAT? Don’t miss this! This is where the devil confuses people. Christians are saved from their sins by believing that they need forgiveness from God for their sins, so they can have God’s wrath removed off them both now and especially on the Judgment Day when it matters the most.
At the heart of Christianity is
this core statement of truth:
God died for sinners.
God died on the cross and took the punishment
for the sins of all people so they could be forgiven them.
Do you believe that?
If you do … you have obtained “salvation”.
Your believing – your
in that declaring of truth is what saves you from the penalty of death for your
sins, and keeps you saved from them.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, lest anyone should boast.” God wants us understanding that doing spiritual things does not and will not save us from our sins. The only “work/s” that ever saved anyone from their sins is the act of compassion God demonstrated on the cross over 2,000 years ago. God died in our place. God executed His wrath against our sins, on HIMSELF. God took full punishment for our past, present and future sins by taking our punishment for them.
God shed His innocent blood on
our behalf on the Cross.
We can’t add to this ultimate, supreme
sacrifice of love on His part … not can we take away from it.
The best we can do is
be thankful for it and demonstrate to God we are thankful for it by what we
once we believe it.
What God wants us
doing once we believe it is commonly known as then becoming an obedient disciple
of Jesus Christ – obeying His commands as given in the New Testament Bible, and
obeying all other commands given by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament Bible,
for they are the very commands of God … being the Father, Jesus the Son (the
know), and the
“Lest anyone should boast.” God ends out the declaring of truth in Ephesians 2:9 by saying that no one – absolutely no one will be able to stand before God on their Judgment Day and try to tell God His sacrifice on the Cross for their sins was not sufficient enough of a sacrifice from God to have the penalty of their sins removed off their lives while they lived on Earth.
No one will be able to convince
the Judge of the universe that they were “good enough of a person” to have the
penalty for their sins be forgiven by Him … as though their “being good enough”
carries more weight – has more value - than God dying in their place which He
did for them, when He didn’t have to.
No one will persuade the Judge that His dying on the cross and taking full punishment for all that past, present and future sins needs a little “extra” help on their part. “God … surely all the things I did (or didn’t do) for you to help other people while I lived on earth was good enough to have you remove your sentence of wrath for my sins, wasn’t it? Yes – I believe you died for my sins on the cross, but didn’t that just forgive my past sins up to the time I turned my life over to You and decided to become a Christian? Didn’t you expect me to do “good works” after that the rest of my life to earn forgiveness for any sins I would commit after that?” The Judge will then ask: “Are you saying that My sacrifice for your sins needed a little help from you? Are you saying that you’re so special and so super-spiritual that you were a more acceptable sacrifice than I WAS – that I AM?” Cringe time for such an individual. It’s not going to fly with the Judge.
Salvation is the FREE gift of God. If there is anything beyond believing – trusting - for it on our part … then it couldn’t possibly be “free”.
If we could “earn” salvation (forgiveness for our sins), what was the point of God dying for us on the cross then? There would be no point. The heart and soul – the very foundation of Christianity - would be a complete lie.
Now here is where most Christians get confused by the devil. Officially, does a Christian become saved from the penalty for their sins when they pray “the sinner’s prayer”? It depends. That may have been the starting point of their becoming spiritually born again as addressed in John chapter 3, but technically that wasn’t what saved them. What saved them is their believing that God paid full penalty for their sins by taking their full punishment for them on the Cross, and their asking His forgiveness for those sins by what they prayed in praying the sinner’s prayer. The prayer itself didn’t save them. Their asking forgiveness for them and believing – trusting - they were/are forgiven for them in their prayer is what removed God’s wrath off them immediately so that they will not be judged for them on the Judgment Day and subsequently punished for them for all eternity.
What keeps a Christian saved from the penalty for any future sins they commit after that? The very same as when they first started their relationship with Jesus Christ. What works intially continues to follow the exact same pattern. God doesn't change paths - directions - along the way. Their continuing to believe God paid full penalty on the cross for them, AND confessing those sins to God and once again asking His forgiveness and receiving it for them, as 1 John 1:9 says a Christian is to do.
Satan tries to use the scripture “work out your salvation by fear and trembling” to keep Christians confused about “our works” and “God’s grace”. Christians “working out their salvation” is their determination to walk in daily obedience to God’s commands as given to us in the New Testament. No Christian walks in total obedience to God after they become initially saved from their sins. It’s a process once a person becomes spiritually born again -- after they have been saved. A life-long process at that in this life.
In Christian circles, we hear of “backsliders,” or “being in a backslidden spiritual state with Jesus Christ,” or “having fallen away from Christianity.” Satan diligently strives to keep us confused about what is really going on in these matters of being “backslidden”. To a person who initially believes that God paid full penalty for all their past, present and future sins, and then purposely chooses NOT to believe that any more can be assumed to lost what they once had with God. God gives each of us that right to believe it, or disbelieve it. God won’t force us to initially believe it, nor will He force us to KEEP believing it. He gives us freewill to believe what we want to choose to believe.
If a Christian once believed that God paid full penalty for all their past, present and future sins, and then simply decides to live a life of selfish sinfulness with little or no regard for what God thinks about their doing so … that doesn’t technically cause them to lose their salvation. That involves the discipline of God for unrepentant sinners saved by God’s grace. (Repentance doesn’t mean we’re simply sorry for our sins. Repentance to God means we are to diligently work with God for His help and our turning AWAY from committing sins we keep committing. If you’ve been a Christian for any length of time, you know the process it involves).
But if a Christian renounces believing that God paid full penalty for dying for them for their past, present and future sins … or simply refuses to CARE anymore and continue sinning by either refusing to believe they are sinning, or that they’ll take their chances that God won’t hold it against them on the Judgment Day … then of course they would be extremely wise in assuming they have canceled out God’s forgiveness for their sins. Why a person would do such a thing is beyond comprehension, but it happens. We must remember that blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is THE unforgiveable sin. What truly is that sin, and why is it unforgiveable? That sin is refusing to believe initially … or later on afterwards … that forgiveness for one’s sins is ONLY granted by God by our believing what He accomplished for us by dying on the cross for us to have His forgiveness granted.
Can a person start out believing correctly about what God says saves them of their sins … then fall away from believing correctly what God says saves them from their sins … then be given another chance to believe correctly AGAIN what saves them from their sins? God alone is the judge of the matter. Satan is so cunningly deceitful in this arena. Cults, para-cults and wolves in sheep’s clothing – false prophets - are Satan’s disciples to try to deceive innocent sheep of God into believing lies regarding matters of salvation.
Other Christians disagree, and they base their belief on this scripture. God alone can and will have mercy on whom He will have mercy. Only God knows who will ultimately end up with Him in eternity and who won’t. Only God decides who He wants spending eternity with Him and who He doesn’t. He should have that right. He’s Creator and Judge.
God does not want us confused about what saves us from the penalty for our sins, nor does He want us to believe He will stop forgiving us for our sins if we continue to engage ourselves doing 1 John 1:9 and Romans 8:13 (1 John 1:9 immediately cancels our debt. Romans 8:13 addresses the matter of sanctification – the matter of repentance – dealing with strongholds of sin in our life AFTER we become disciples of Jesus Christ our Savior and Lord, to the glory of God the Father), but Satan sure wants to keep us confused!
Let’s summarize by once again making certain we always keep this straight in our minds:
We are saved from the penalty of our sins by our initial belief and our on-going believing – on-going trusting - in the complete and finished work of God on the cross. What we do after that is what earns us both favor from God in this life and future rewards in the next life … or causes us to have a loss of God’s favor in this life and a possible loss of future rewards on our Judgment Day.
Salvation – forgiveness for our sins by God – can neither be earned, nor is it granted to the “deserving.” No one deserves salvation. Truth is, we all deserve God’s wrath because of our sin against Him and His subsequent judgment of death in hell for eternity for them because punishment for wrong doing is only right. Justice demands punishment for wrongdoing. Yet God eagerly desires to grant humanity salvation (forgiveness) to those who will simply believe and keep believing that His dying in their place is the biggest deal in all creation, forever and ever.
Can a person lose their salvation? Why in the world would a person WANT to lose it, once they understand how it’s granted? Yet how can a person lose something they never really had to begin with, if they never came to understand what true salvation was in the first place?
Well … now you KNOW, to the glory of God.
The human spirit swells up with joy beyond what words can begin to describe once they receive understanding of what God did for them by dying for them when He didn’t have to. The immeasurable cost required by Him by shedding His innocent blood for us when He didn’t have to. The sacrifice He gave us on the cross so we could be free from penalty for all our sins. Once you begin to fully grasp what He did for us by dying in our place … that’s not something you reject, or give up indefinitely, not if you are wise anyway. Only a self-deluded hard-hearted fool would turn down a gift of such pricelessness. Why would God want someone like that spending eternity with Him? Yet heaven will be full of sinners saved by His grace who will be there with Him. People like myself. It’s beyond comprehension! Yet it’s crucial in believing it.
And hell will be full of people who refused to reach out and show appreciation for God’s free gift of eternal salvation (forgiveness through Christ Jesus). People who refused to believe it … and/or couldn’t be bothered in caring about it so they did nothing about it while they lived on earth. For them, God’s wrath won’t be executed against them for all eternity just for their sins, though that’s reason enough. It will be also be because of their lack of appreciation for what Jesus Christ accomplished for them, when He didn’t have to. If Jesus Christ had been solely just a mere man, then His sacrifice wouldn’t mean much. But because Jesus Christ was both a mere man AND God Himself … that means EVERYTHING! It does to Him, anyway … and when He’s the Judge of where we’ll spend eternity, what matters to Him is truly all that really matters, doesn’t it?
In closing, here is another writing on this topic that I highly endorse: http://agapegeek.com/2010/03/16/once-saved-always-saved-vs-the-sin-unto-death/
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