In an article on this website, I shared a couple of the strongest affirmations of Scripture which declare that our salvation, once given by the Lord Jesus Christ, is forever secure.
Our salvation in Christ is safe, solid, secure. This is called the doctrine of the security of the believer. We are saved forever. It’s basic scripture.
Or so I thought.
Some readers objected and even protested.
I should not have been surprised. After all, I was raised in a denomination of the Arminian persuasion which teaches the possibility of losing one’s salvation and then regaining it. Now, I never heard our home church pastor say anything like that. But it seems to have been part of that church’s doctrine.
I recall hearing a family member speaking disparagingly of Southern Baptists. “They believe you can get saved today, go out tonight and get drunk, and still be saved tomorrow.”
Which is true, of course.
That’s not our favorite way to express it. And most definitely not something we encourage. But one’s salvation has to be stronger than Jack Daniels or we are all in big trouble!
So, I’d like to return to the subject and go a little further into this mighty important subject. See what you think.
Those who believe in the possibility of losing salvation will quote scriptures which they say we must answer, texts about “falling from grace” and “making shipwreck.”
I get that, but they are missing something.
They have it exactly backward. Anyone who believes in the possibility of losing salvation must respond to a thousand statements to the contrary found throughout the Word. They can start with John 3:16 where Jesus says “Whosoever believeth in me shall not perish but have everlasting life.” What does shall not perish mean, and what does everlasting life mean?
These are not hard questions.
When they finish, they can stay in the same chapter and look at verse 36. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life.
Why in the world would the Lord would say such a thing if it was conditional on anything and could be reversed by something we do?
We are not proof-texting here (that comes later!), but simply pointing out that there are hundreds of references in the New Testament to eternal life, never die, shall not perish, and such.
Does the Bible mean what it says?
The Word calls believers “children of God” and “sons of God.” Can a child become not a son or daughter? Did God choose the wrong metaphors? Should He have said we become friends of God instead of children? Friends come and go, but a child is yours forever.
The point here is that rather than demanding that we answer those few scriptures which seem to say something contrary to this doctrine, the nay-sayer must answer those hundreds of texts which plainly declare that salvation is forever.
My hunch is some think of the Lord’s teachings the way we view modern commercials or the promises of politicians, that they are so much hyperbole and not to be taken literally. Just as we know the uselessness of holding a candidate to his campaign promises–he would say, “Well, circumstances have changed”–some think we must give our Lord wiggle room to have exaggerated or oversold His product.
I find that most troubling.
Did Jesus exaggerate the security of the believer? Did He overstate Himself when He said “shall never perish”? If you say He did and that we should not hold Him to a high standard, then the discussion ends here, because we’re not talking about the same Jesus.
Jesus is The Truth. He is our Authority. If we cannot believe Him when He speaks of salvation, then nothing He says has meaning.
Take John 10:27-29, which is as strong a statement as Scripture contains on the subject. (But do not overlook the fact that the New Testament contains many such statements, each just as solid and affirmative.)
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who gave them to me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.
How wonderful is that? How precious and assuring.
Question: What does it mean? Stop and consider that. Do it for the next year, then we’ll talk!
A sweet and sincere friend said to me, “Well, no one else can snatch them out of God’s hand, but surely I can take myself out.” She explained, “I made the decision to come in and I can make the decision to go out. It just makes sense.”
Am I the only one troubled to see how loosely we play with the Lord’s statements and how lightly we take His promises?
My response to her is three-fold:
–1) You did not make the decision to “come in” on your own. Jesus said, “No one can come to me unless the Father draw him” (John 6:44). Free will has its place, to be sure. God does not force salvation on anyone.
Surely no one believes that the Father looked up in surprise one day and was so excited to find out that we were coming to Him for salvation. “Hey, Gabriel! You’re not going to believe this! Old Sarge is walking the aisle. Alert the angel band. Big news!”
Our coming to salvation was initiated by Him. Even faith is a gift of God, we’re told (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This isn’t Calvinism, friend (for anyone wanting to detour down that side road). It isn’t any “ism.” This is just the Word.
–2) When we came to Jesus for salvation, we were born again by the Spirit of God and were forever changed. We are new creations in Christ. We have become children of the living God, our names recorded in the book of life. I am not the same ‘me’ as before.
There is no undoing of that.
That’s why we cannot just walk in and out of salvation as though it were a civic club we joined or a college class we decided to drop. Salvation changes us for all time. It does something irreversible.
–3) Did you notice that our Lord said, “My Father, who has given them to Me is greater than all”?
Is God faithless? Does He give today only to take back tomorrow? Does He make these great promises but later point to the fine print like a hot-shot salesman in your living room?
If I can take myself out of Jesus’ hand and out of the Father’s hand, does this make me “greater” than God? It would seem.
Even such a seemingly innocuous line as Luke 10:20 teaches the security of believers. Jesus cautioned the disciples not to rejoice over successes from their preaching missions, but “rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Sooner or later every disciple learns that our missions and revivals do not always bear fruit. If our joy comes from the results of our labors, we will sometimes be excited and thrilled, and at other times disappointed and depressed.
Jesus wants none of that. He wants His disciples always rejoicing.
So, He did something wonderful and profound: He tied our joy to our salvation.
When Jesus told His followers to rejoice “that your names are written in Heaven,” He was assuring a constant flow of thanksgiving and rejoicing by His people. After all, this salvation of His does not fluctuate, is not conditional on anything. It’s settled once and for all.
No other interpretation makes any sense. If we can have salvation and lose it, then get it back and lose it again, the Lord chose the wrong metaphor and is guilty of misleading His people.
Do not miss that. If we can lose our salvation, then the Lord has misled His people. And that is a serious charge to make.
Now, on the subject of losing your salvation and getting it back…..
Show me where it happened.
Scripture has not a single instance of anyone losing his salvation and then getting it back. Not one.
In fact, Hebrews 6:4-6 points out that if someone did in fact lose their salvation, it would be impossible for them to be saved again since that would require Jesus going to the cross all over again.
To save you a second time would necessitate a second Calvary.
(Important note: We are aware that Hebrews 6:4-6 implies the possibility of losing one’s salvation. That’s one of the difficult texts we have to deal with. But do not miss the major thrust of the point the inspired writer is making: The impossibility of being saved twice. In fact, the writer seems to be saying that if one loses salvation, that’s it for them forever.)
If I were the devil, I would want God’s people to be in constant turmoil, worrying about their salvation. Even though they could point to a time when they repented and received Christ, I’d have them worrying if they had done something since to reverse the situation. I’d stir them up to feel guilty over every sin and tormented by their doubts and fears.
That way, we would not have to worry about them doing anything for Jesus to reach others. People preoccupied with their own slippery standing will not be rescuing the dying around them.
My question to you: Why not choose to believe the Lord Jesus above your own fears?
Finally, even though I suggested that you meditate on John 10:27-29 for the next year somewhat in jest, it’s not a bad idea. In fact, stay with the entire chapter. It’s a mother lode of spiritual insights and blessings.
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Everlasting life. That means it never ends. It’s John 3:16 and I suspect we have all known it all our lives. We say we believe it. What if we started believing the whole thing?
What if we started believing God and not believing our fears?
Bottom line: What will it take for us to start to take Jesus at His word?