Can Someone LOSE Their Salvation?
I don’t believe anyone can LOSE their salvation – as long as LOSE means misplacing it. Picture your car keys slipping between couch pillows. “Hey, where’s my salvation? Anybody see my salvation?” In that light, your salvation can’t be lost. I do not believe that the scriptures support so fragile a context for our eternal position in God. After all, God Himself has valued it so precious that He will watch out for that, and in fact do all that He can or must do for us to finish well.
I do however believe the scriptures support a position whereby someone can intentionally turn from God so that they break covenant and destroy their salvation experience. An analogy I might put forth would be LOSING your salvation in like manner to LOSING your driver’s license because you repeatedly drove recklessly and purposely undermined and destroyed the blessing of the privilege, perhaps because you exalted drunken pleasure over responsibility. But let’s look into the Word, because worldly analogy only goes so far.
As always, scripture is best and most safely interpreted by scripture.
Here’s the banner verse for folks who contend: “Once saved, always saved” – no matter what you do or don’t do. Sadly that is a popular albeit faulty belief that, extended to full measure, requires the faulty conclusion that if/when someone might go off the deep end of faith and remain in that place, they were never saved in the first place. Oh my. Where would that leave us if this happened to someone who had ministered in a healing anointing, and then walked into a lifestyle of ongoing sin? “Gee. They prayed over me and I was healed. But they fell, so they probably were never saved. Bummer. Do I have to give back my healing?” Sounds silly, does it not?
The once-saved-always-saved banner verse is this:
Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”
“NEVER LEAVE YOU NOR FORSAKE YOU”. That sounds about as firm as it gets. Thank You Lord.
Meanwhile, and as always, we would do well to honor God and His Word by reading that particular scripture within its context. That is always safe.
The writer of Hebrews, in fact writing to Jewish believers who knew their Tanach (Old Testament), was quoting Deuteronomy. In Deut 31, Israel was about to enter the Promised Land and engage their foes in fierce battle, in the will and purpose of God. Prior to that scheduled conflict, Moses their great leader would himself be leaving them and going to his final resting place. He was assuring the people that GOD HIMSELF would not be leaving them alone.
6 Be strong and of good courage, do not fear nor be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, He is the One who goes with you. He will not leave you nor forsake you.”
7 Then Moses called Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must go with this people to the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it.
8 And the Lord, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.”
Wow – “will not leave you” is recited not once, but TWO TIMES.
We do wisely to read further into the text of Deuteronomy. although for blog-economy as well as to stay on point, we skip to verse 16:16, where the Lord looks forward to the corporate actions of the children of the covenant, to their future rebellion.
16 And the Lord said to Moses: “Behold, you will rest with your fathers; and this people will rise and play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners of the land, where they go to be among them, and they will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
17 Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’
Do we see something else in Deuteronomy 31, besides God’s promise that He would not forsake us? In fact, we do. We see that our great God not only reveals His faithfulness in promising not to INITIATE forsaking us, we also see the correct context of that promise, which is clearly supported by other biblical accounts.
God’s people, exercising their free will, are always and at all times remain free to turn from God and His ways, to go after evil, and to forsake HIM – at which time His response, (thankfully proven throughout history to occur only after their ongoing refusal to turn back to Him) will eventually be His forsaking the ones who had so forsaken Him.
And that is not a warning reserved exclusively for the Jewish people of either the Old or New Testament:
21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either.
22 Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off.
If you continue in His goodness. Great words.
21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled
22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—
23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.
If INDEED you continue. Your call. Our call. We have grace to obey.
Earlier in Hebrews we have the warning to brethren – “brethren” being ones in fellowship with God and one another, and we also thankfully have a remedy:
12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;
13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,
How clear and concise is the word of God?
Verse 27 of Psalm 73 might well be interpreted as describing two groups: the group LIVING in a constant state of distance from God and His ways, and a second group who had known better, had tasted of the goodness of the Lord, and then had deserted Him. Logically, one cannot desert a place to which they had never been. They had been saved:
For indeed, those who are far from You shall perish;
You have destroyed all those who desert You for harlotry.
Doesn’t verse 27 sound strikingly similar to the following New Testament admonition to saints (beloved) against their departing from God and thereby eventually finding themselves in the camp of people whose lifestyles of rebellion had set them up for eventual destruction?
2 Peter 3:17
17 You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked;
Are we walking on eggshells in our salvation experience?
Matthew, in describing our precious and gentle Lord, determined for none to perish, quoted Isaiah 42 in assuring us of God’s tender hand upon even the weakest of the weak, at the same time assuring the Gentiles of their salvation potential:
20 A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
The psalmist puts it this way (I love this clear description of purpose – those who seek You):
10 And those who know Your name will put their trust in You;
For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.
That is both our assurance of true eternal security – as well as our invitation to a lifestyle of actively seeking Him:
“For You, Lord, have not forsaken those who seek You.”
THAT fits so beautifully into the context of all scripture.
12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;
13 for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.
What a great and fair gospel. Thank You, Lord.
All scripture NKJV