Can you lose your salvation and become unsaved?
When I first began writing about the gospel of grace few people asked this question. It was too contentious, too uncertain, too hard.
So one summer I set out to read every single scripture on the subject. Turns out there are about 300. About half of them say you can’t lose your salvation, while the other half seem to suggest you can.
At first glance, these two groups of scriptures seem to be in conflict with one another. One group is full of God’s unconditional promises; the other is full of conditional statements.
But when I read these scriptures through Jesus-glasses, I found not one scripture that said you can lose your salvation. Although there are bad consequences to straying or falling from grace, having your Father unchild you is not one of them.
(If this is news to you, I recommend reading this list of the top 12 promises regarding your eternal security.)
Can you lose your salvation?
Not a chance. God’s Word is crystal clear.
So why do people worry that they can?
They worry because they don’t know what makes the new covenant new. They confuse the “we wills” of the old covenant with the “he wills” of the new. They believe that Jesus saves them, but they don’t know that Jesus also keeps them. They worry they can undo what they never wrought in the first place. They fear they can compel God to do what he said he wouldn’t.
There will always be some who say you may be lost at the end. (I call them insecurity preachers because their anxious and fear-filled messages are designed to dislodge you from your secure position.) But those who say such things make one of two bad assumptions:
Bad assumption #1: Salvation starts later (you’re not saved yet)
Yet the Bible says those in Christ have been made new. New life is now, not tomorrow. Sure, we are waiting for the redemption of bodies, when that which is perishable puts on immortality. But you are not your body and in Christ you are saved now. Today is the day of salvation.
Bad assumption #2: Salvation is not forever (you can lose it)
Is it possible to lose the gift of salvation? The insecurity preachers say yes. “Your salvation is temporary, on probation.” But that’s not what the Bible says.
And having been perfected, Jesus became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey him (Heb 5:9)
If you are saved now, you are saved eternally. Jesus doesn’t do partial salvations or temporary salvations or trial salvations. He only authors eternal salvations.
Incidentally, the original word for eternal is sometimes translated as forever or everlasting. Your eternal salvation is forever and everlasting.
You are saved forever and ever and ever!
Because Jesus’ blood obtained an eternal redemption (Heb 9:12), you have an eternal inheritance (Heb 9:15), guaranteed by an eternal covenant (Heb 13:20), resulting in eternal life (John 3:16) and a welcome into the eternal kingdom (2 Pet 1:11) by the eternal God (Rom 16:26).
Which is why the eternal gospel (Rev 14:6) gives us eternal comfort (2 Thess 2:16).
There are hundreds of scriptures proving your salvation is secure, but I will leave you with just one:
I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. (John 5:24)
Those who preach insecurity make one of two assumptions, and Jesus demolishes both of them here. “He has crossed over from death to life.” There goes assumption #1. New life is not something you experience in the sweet by and by, but something to enjoy today.
“Whoever hears and believes has eternal life and will not be condemned.” And there goes assumption #2. If you believe, you will never be condemned. One with the Lord you simply cannot lose your salvation.
“But what if I stop believing?” You will no longer enjoy eternal life, but you won’t lose eternal life. If you could lose it, it wouldn’t be eternal, would it?
I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
Your salvation is not something to wonder or worry about. John writes, and so do I, so that you may know with certainty that, in Christ, you have eternal life.
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