First, we must understand this is a very controversial subject among believers. We are called not to dis-unty but to be united as one body of believers “in Christ.” When we arrive in heaven we will not see denominatinal camps spread abroad. With this being said the aproach I take in this discussion is one of respect for all Bible believing Christians. I do not post this in an attemp to solicit a doctrinal argument. We can get nowhere by arguing our doctrinal beliefs but there are no boundaries as we agree in love that we do not all understand or interpret the Scriptures the same. In this blog, I am going to present my personal understanding of Salvation. In doing so, I am in no way stating that I do not appreciate other positions. I write primarily in response to someone who asked me what I believe on this subject. Included are my thoughts and notes which are not meant to be an exhaustive study on the subject.
What I have discovered along my journey is that there are basically two extremes. First, some believe it is impossible for one to ever lose his or her salvation after truly being saved. When someone is in apparent sin and refuses to be reconciled with God those of this extreme usually are quick to say, “the person must have never truly accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.” That is a very easy position to take and in my opinion puts to much responsibility on the person who seeks to be saved. Also, it seems to throw the unrepentant sinner “under the bus.” Second, there are those who believe the extreme that if the person who has been saved does not live a “holy” life he or she can lose his or her salvation by any sin. This seems to promote fear instead of faith. One final comment on these two extremes before we move on to a more positive thread of thought. I do not believe in eternal security, nor do I believe in eternal insecurity.
The Bible teaches that salvation, being born again, is necessary for a person to see the Kingdom of God, receive eternal life, forgiveness of sins, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and to become a child of God, and joint heir with Christ. It is also clear that salvation is to be received by faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ for the atonement of the individual sins, including a turning from sin and the self-centered life (repentance) and turning over the Lordship of one’s life to Jesus Christ. Salvation is also totally by God’s grace. He elects, predestines, calls, justifies, sanctifies, and glorifies every true believer (John 3:3 and 3:23, Romans 8:29 and 10:13, Ephesians 2:8-9, 1 John 1:9 and 1:12).
Yes, one can lose his or her salvation. This is not God’s desire. He is not willing that any would perish but all come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). The subject of losing one’s salvation is often referred to as “backsliding” or “falling from grace.” Backsliding is when a believer turns back to sin and ignors the conviction of the Holy Spirit. In doing so he or she is reversing the repentance and turning his or her back toward God. Backsliding is closely aligned with carnality in that one’s desires and devices are acted out as oppossed to God’s will (1 Corinthians 3:3, Proverbs 14:14). There is often much deception from the adversary (devil) to the point where the backslider may actually believe he of she is in right standing with God. The outward actions of someone who is in a backsliden state are just symptoms of a heart problem where he or she has alienated himself or herself from God. God never abandons a believer. However, a believer can abandon God (Isaiah 55:7, Hosea 14:4, Luke 15:17-18, 1 John 1:9, Revelation 2:4-5). God does not condemn us; our own wickedness and backsliding do that (Jeremiah 2:19). Neither did Jesus come to condemn us as He came to save that which was lost and give life abundantly (Luke 19:10, John 10:10).
Personally, I have experieced grace beyond measure. The Lord has never walked away or has ever cast me away. Time after time, I have experienced the love of Jesus as the Holy Spirit has drawn me closer during seasons I have strayed. How do we keep from being decieved and backsliding. The answer for me is prayer. Paul taught that we are to pray at all times. I don’t believe that means we are to be knelt down on 24-hours a day as religious fanatics but I do think it means being in the presence of Christ at all times with an attitude of prayer. It is an ongoing conversation of which our lives are dependent. One of my favorite studies is the Old Testament Tabernacle. Those who have sat under my teaching of the Tabernacle realize the importance I place on being inside the Tabenacle. There is no substitute for being “in Christ.” I choose to continue abiding in Him (Luke 15:6). Therefore, I believe one can lose his or her salvation but it is a matter of his or her choice and not the will of God.
My hope is for you to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and teach you. Here are a few Scriptures for consideration:
2 Chronicles 30:9 – Grace assured at repentance
Psalm 32:1 and 145:14 – Blessed and upheld in the Lord
Isaiah 43:18-19 and 44:22 – Old things are gone the new redeems
Matthew 3:1-2 and 10:32-33 – By repentance and confession
John 3:17 – No condemnation in Jesus
Romans 6:23 – gift
Ephesians 2:8-9 – gift
2 Timothy 1:9 – gift