Is it possible for a believer in Jesus Christ to be lost again or lose their salvation?
How to Be Saved
Before we speak about whether a person can lose their salvation or not, we should ask the question, “How is a person saved in the first place?” We know Jesus began His earthly ministry after John the Baptist was put in prison. The very first words of His earthly ministry were, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). We also know God grants repentance (2 Timothy 2:25). Part of what is mentioned in the Book of Acts tells us how we must be saved. It essentially says what Jesus said: “Repent, therefore, of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, the intent of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22). We are saved by faith alone when God brings us to repentance, and then we put our trust in Christ. We know it is “by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is fully a work of God (Acts 4:12). However, after we’re saved, can we lose our salvation? Does the Bible say this?
Willfully Rejecting God?
One of the most troubling passages in the Bible for those who believe they can lose their salvation is found in Hebrews 10 where the author wrote, “For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26-27). An even more troubling passage is found in Hebrews 6:4-6 where the author wrote, “It is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.” My question is, is tasting salvation the same as taking it or receiving it? And if you’ve tasted in the heavenly gift, does that mean you’ve received it? I don’t think so because just a few sentences later, the author writes confidently, “Though we speak in this way, yet in your case, beloved, we feel sure of better things—things that belong to salvation” (Hebrews 6:9). The Apostle John described some who “fell away” or left the church by writing, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us” (1 John 2:19). If they were really ever a part of the church, they would have never left in the first place. Only unless it was an unbiblical church and they are seeking a better, more biblical church should they leave, but that’s not the same as losing one’s salvation.
Everyone probably knows John 3:16, which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” But we seem to think we can lose what we did not gain in the first place. If we think we can lose our salvation, then we might think the Bible verse should say, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life…unless they blow it…or unless they lose it.” However, that doesn’t appear anyplace in the Bible that I know of. Paul was sure of God’s finishing what He started. He wrote to Timothy, “I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me” (2 Timothy 1:12). Of course, “that day” is the day of Jesus’ visitation or second coming. Paul was confident that “there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:8). Paul sounds very certain about this. If someone says they’ve received eternal life but then thinks they’ve lost it, was it really “eternal” to begin with? If someone’s worried about losing their salvation, they probably haven’t lost it because an unsaved person wouldn’t care in the first place.
Jesus on Assurance
Jesus is the greatest source of truth there is, and what He said of those who come to Him in faith is crystal clear: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37). Even in the Greek, “all” still means all, as in all people who believe in Him. Further, Jesus said, “This is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day” (John 6:39). To cap that off, He later said, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29). And in the very next chapter, Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:25-26). With all these verses about assurance and a few troubling verses people may wonder about, I think it’s clear that if Jesus gives someone eternal life, it is eternal, which means it’s forever. What God gives, He does not take back. He is not like a man who changes His mind (Numbers 23:19)
If you are still not sure whether you can lose your salvation, why not camp out in Romans chapter 8? It contains what is called “the golden chain” where Paul writes, “Those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified” (Romans 8:30). To further hammer this truth down, he writes, “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:38-39). Isn’t that persuading? Aren’t Jesus’ promises convincing? To me they are.