Loss of Salvation?
Salvation cannot be taken from us:
John 3: 16 - 18
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God's one and only Son.
Romans 8: 28 – 38
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died — more than that, who was raised to life — is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered."
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
But not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian:
Matthew 7: 21 - 27
"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?' Then I will tell them plainly, 'I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'
"Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."
Matthew 25: 31 - 46
"When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his throne in heavenly glory. All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
"Then the King will say to those on his right, 'Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.'
"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'
"The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'
"Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.'
"They also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?'
"He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.'
"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life."
1 John 5: 1 – 5
Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.
And not everyone who receives the knowledge of Christ is born again, even if they 'go through the motions' of becoming and being a Christian:
Hebrews 6: 4 – 6
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
1 John 2: 18 - 22
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. I do not write to you because you do not know the truth, but because you do know it and because no lie comes from the truth. Who is the liar? It is the man who denies that Jesus is the Christ. Such a man is the antichrist — he denies the Father and the Son.
Apostasy: to profess faith in Christ and partake in the life of the church, then deliberately abandon Christ and the church - - were they ever really born again?
"Apostates apparently can only be professors and not actual possessors of true salvation, otherwise their defection would incur severe chastening, or if this failed to restore them, untimely (physical) death." (Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press, Chicago, 1976)
But everyone who is saved will be delivered (even if it kills them):
1 Corinthians 5: 1 – 5
It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that does not occur even among pagans: A man has his father's wife. And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have been filled with grief and have put out of your fellowship the man who did this? Even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. And I have already passed judgment on the one who did this, just as if I were present. When you are assembled in the name of our Lord Jesus and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, hand this man over to Satan, so that the sinful nature may be destroyed and his spirit saved on the day of the Lord.
1 Corinthians 11: 27 – 32
Therefore, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. A man ought to examine himself before he eats of the bread and drinks of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without recognizing the body of the Lord eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep (died). But if we judged ourselves, we would not come under judgment. When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be condemned with the world.
1 John 5: 16 – 20
If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that. All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death.
We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the one who was born of God keeps him safe, and the evil one cannot harm him. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one. We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true—even in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
Hebrews 12: 4 – 11
In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And you have forgotten that word of encouragement that addresses you as sons:
"My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son."
Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father? If you are not disciplined (and everyone undergoes discipline), then you are illegitimate children and not true sons. Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of our spirits and live! Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.
We might be inclined to think that one who freely comes to God through Christ can just as easily leave. We might even take offence at the idea that God would not let us leave Him once we are His.
Look at it this way. Let's say this existence is a ship slowly sinking in the cold North Atlantic, and that we who are saved are those passengers and crew that didn't buy the line that the ship is 'unsinkable'. We've manned the lifeboats and are standing by to pick up anyone else who finally figures it out and jumps overboard and swims towards us.
But then, the ship is slow to sink. The passengers and crew who remain aboard stand on the deck wrapped in their warm coats sipping their drinks, laughing at us as we bob about in our lifeboat on the dark, cold, choppy, North Atlantic waters. They insist that the crew have everything under control, that the leaks are being patched, that the lights and heat still work, and that the stewards are about to serve supper.
Suddenly someone in our lifeboat insists that they be allowed to return. After all, they point out, everyone still on the ship is warm and comfortable and we left the ship in a hurry, leaving behind all our possessions. Our luggage is still in our staterooms. Our cash and other valuables are still in the purser's safe. Perhaps this person is our son or our daughter, our husband or our wife, our mother or our father.
Would we let them jump overboard and swim back to the sinking ship? Or would be restrain them? Remember – this is the North Atlantic. Even if they make it back to the sinking ship (and we know the ship will sink) anyone who jumps overboard at the last minute won't last twenty minutes in the water before they succumb to the cold and die of hypothermia or drown.
Of course we would restrain our fellow passenger. We would sit on them or tie them up or do whatever it took to keep them in the lifeboat.
And after we're rescued, who would hold our actions against us? What magistrate would arrest us for restraining our foolish fellow survivor against his or her will? Could they successfully sue us for their losses because we kept them in the lifeboat? What jury would award damages?
In all likelihood he or she would come to his senses and be grateful to us for saving their life.
If we would do this to our fellow passenger, to save his or her mortal life, how can we think God would do less for those who are born again, to save their immortal souls?
Billy Graham Evangelistic Association
Q: What is the unpardonable sin? I am afraid I may have committed it.
A: Many Christians have heard that there is an unpardonable sin and live in dread that something grave that they have done before or after conversion might be that sin. Their fears are unfounded. While there is an unforgivable sin, it is not one which a true believer in Jesus Christ can commit.
The one sin which God cannot forgive is mentioned in Mark 3:28-30 and Matthew 12:31-32. Jesus had been performing miracles, including driving demons out of people by the power of the Holy Spirit. Instead of recognizing the source of Jesus' power and accepting Him as God's Son, the religious leaders accused Him of being possessed by the devil and driving demons out in the power of the devil. Jesus responded by saying, "I tell you the truth, all the sins and blasphemies of men will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin."
The sin of the religious leaders, blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, was a refusal to accept the witness of the Holy Spirit to who Jesus was and what He had come to do, and then submit their lives to Him. Jesus said concerning the Holy Spirit, "When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment" (John 16:8). They chose rather to reject the Spirit's witness to their sin and to Jesus and accused Him of being demon possessed!
The point for us is that if we have received Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we have not blasphemed the Holy Spirit; we have accepted His witness. One study Bible explains it as follows: "To commit this sin one must consciously, persistently, deliberately, and maliciously reject the testimony of the Spirit to the deity and saving power of the Lord Jesus." If a person keeps doing that until death, there is no hope of forgiveness and eternal life in heaven. Once again, the unpardonable sin is not some particularly grievous sin committed by a Christian before or after accepting Christ, nor is it thinking or saying something terrible about the Holy Spirit. Rather, it is deliberately resisting the Holy Spirit's witness and invitation to turn to Jesus until death ends all opportunity.
In order to experience God's peace, we must come to Him, trusting His promises. Isaiah 1:18 says, "Come now, let us reason together, says the Lord. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow." In 1 John 1:9 we read: "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." Jesus Himself assures us, "Whoever comes to me I will never drive away" (John 6:37). Our God is a compassionate and merciful God. He desires that no one should be lost, but that all should come to salvation through repentance and personal faith in Jesus as Savior and Lord (2 Peter 3:9; Acts 2:21).
Q: I'm a Christian. Will I lose my salvation if I sin?
A: The person who makes a genuine commitment of his life to Christ becomes a child of God and a member of God's family (John 1:12). Just as an orphaned child is adopted into a family, so are we adopted by God and made a part of His family forever. And some day we will go to be with Him in heaven. "How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!" (1 John 3:1).
However, just because we have committed our lives to Christ does not mean we will no longer struggle with temptation, and sometimes sin. Even the great apostle Paul could say, "I find this law at work: When I want to do good, evil is right there with me" (Romans 7:21). When we do sin, God does not reject us or disown us. Our fellowship with Him may be broken, but our relationship is not; we are still members of His family if we have truly committed our lives to Christ. When we sin we should immediately turn to God, confess our sin honestly, ask His forgiveness—and then turn from our sin. The Bible promises, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
If we truly know Christ and are seeking to follow Him, we will not be complacent and unconcerned about sin in our lives. In fact, one of the signs of true spiritual life is the hatred of sin and the determination to conquer it. We will not continue to repeat the same sins over and over again, but will seek God's help (by the Holy Spirit who dwells within us) to overcome them. The Bible promises, "No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it" (1 Corinthians 10:13). Indifference to sin in one's life is a sure sign of serious spiritual sickness, and may indicate that one has never truly invited Jesus into one's life as Savior and Lord (1 John 2:3-4).
Q: Can a person be saved more than once?
A: Some people who truly repent of their sin and receive Jesus as their Savior and Lord fall into sin and then feel that they must be saved all over again. This is not the case. The Bible says, "My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defense—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One" (1 John 2:1). "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).
Mr. Graham has said, "Christian conversion is the transformation which we experience when we are born of God. Since one is not born over and over again, we must think of Christian development in two phases: birth and growth. A child, for example, is born once. True, he falls down many times, but when he falls he doesn't need to be born again. His falls, his bumps and bruises are all part of growing. So it is in the Christian life. Birth is sudden, once and for all, but development is the work of an entire lifetime. We can be converted in a moment: the precise moment that we accept Christ. But it takes a lot of prayer, Bible reading, church-going, and Christian service to make a mature Christian."