Tag Archives: salvation

Is It Possible for Me to Lose My Salvation?

It’s been nearly 2,000 years since Jesus Christ personally offered forgiveness of sins and eternal life. Of the millions who have accepted His offer, many have found the peace and joy of knowing they have a secure relationship with their Lord and Savior. Others, however, haven’t felt as secure. Some routinely struggle with confusion and uncertainty, wondering if they’ve lost their salvation in Jesus Christ because of something they have or have not done.

It’s a frightening and tense place to be in when you are uncertain about where you stand in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Understanding the basis and the nature of salvation can eliminate much of the uncertainty that some Christians feel regarding their relationship with Jesus Christ.

The Bible stresses that salvation completely rests on trusting in Jesus Christ’s death on the cross as full payment for our sins ( John 3:15-16,36 ; Romans 3:22-24 ). Faith alone is the basis for our salvation. It is not based on our own merit or performance ( Ephesians 2:8-9 ; Titus 3:4-5 ), nor is it based on the amount of our faith. It is the object of our faith that matters. Trusting in Christ (not anyone else, including ourselves) brings salvation. A strong sense of security settles in our hearts as we realize that while we are the fortunate recipient of God’s grace and mercy, we are not responsible for earning it. It’s free!

Additionally, the Bible teaches that we are eternally secure when we solely trust the Lord Jesus Christ as our Savior. This is the eternal and binding nature of the salvation that Jesus grants. Jesus said that He gives us eternal life and we shall never be lost. He declared that no one can take us out of His or the Father’s hands ( John 10:27-30 ).

In the same way, the apostle Paul wrote that those who have trusted in Christ for salvation are eternally saved. He stated, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” ( Romans 8:1 ). He went on to say that absolutely nothing can separate us from God’s love ( Romans 8:35-39 ). So then, according to the Scriptures, we can confidently believe that we are eternally secure if we have placed our trust solely in what Christ accomplished on the cross as full payment for our sins ( John 5:24 ; 1 John 5:13 ).

If we could somehow lose our salvation in Christ, then Jesus and Paul would be liars since they both described the gift of salvation as eternal ( John 3:16 ; Titus 3:7 ). Eternal means that it never ends. Our salvation is permanent. In other words, once we are saved, we are always saved.

God doesn’t give us the gift of eternal life and then take it back if we are bad. Our eternal security is not based on our ability to be good or perform, but on the promises of God ( John 3:16 ). Moreover, any attempt on our part to say that we can somehow earn and maintain a secure relationship in Christ is an affront to God. It strips Him of glory and lessens His remarkable offering of grace and mercy to an undeserving world.

Although we never lose our salvation in Christ, we can lose the enjoyment of close communion and fellowship with our heavenly Father. For example, when my daughter sins against me, it temporarily hinders our ability to be close and enjoy each other’s company. But even though all is not well between us, she never ceases to be my daughter. The same is true for those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior. Whenever we sin against God and put distance between ourselves and Him, we are still His children who are secure in His love. That is why in Luke 7 Jesus told the sinful woman whose faith had saved her to “go in peace” ( Luke 7:50 ). She could rest and not worry about where she stood with God. That relationship was eternally secure.

We will sin as Christians, and our sin should grieve us. But it shouldn’t take us by surprise. The apostle John said, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” ( 1 John 1:8 ). Most importantly, there is no sin we could commit that would cause us to lose our salvation. The apostle John added that God is willing to forgive all of our sins if we confess them ( 1 John 1:9 ). He didn’t just mean the total amount of our sins, but the various kinds of sins as well. In other words, God forgives and cleanses us from every kind of sin possible. His mercy has no limits.

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Can I Be Sure I’m Going to Heaven?

One of the biggest mistakes we can make about our own security in Christ is to base the reality of our salvation on our feelings. Our emotions are affected by so many different things that it is misleading to base our security on them. Each of us grows up in an environment that leaves us with emotional scars. Some people feel anxious and tense because of events in their past. Others are afflicted with anxiety because of neurological disorders or imbalances in body chemistry.

Since salvation is based on belief in Christ and a choice to trust His death on our behalf, the road to assurance is not found in our feelings but in acknowledging and trusting what God has done.

As we voluntarily place ourselves under the influence of Christ and trust His Spirit to guide us toward behavior that is consistent with our confession of faith, we will experience spiritual healing–healing that will extend even to our feelings and emotions. This, however, is a gradual process, and one that may involve many setbacks.

It helps to share one’s doubts with a Christian friend, pastor, or counselor. Just talking to another person can help us see ourselves and our situation more clearly. We can also be comforted by the many Bible passages that emphasize the security of believers in Christ (eg. John John 10:28-30; 13:1 ; Romans 8:29-39 ; 1 Corinthians 3:15 ; 1 Corinthians 12:13 ; Ephesians 1:13; 4:20 ; Jude 24 ).

Although the Bible doesn’t teach that believers can lose their salvation, real believers can backslide and lose their joy. The New Testament gives us many examples of believers who drew back from their fellowship with Jesus Christ: the disciples ( Matthew 26:56 ); Peter ( Matthew 26:69-75 ); the Christians in Corinth ( 2 Corinthians 12:20-21 ); and the Asian churches ( Revelation 2:4,14-15,20 ).

But we should distinguish between backsliding and apostasy–departing from the faith. A true Christian can backslide, be disciplined by God, and repent and return ( Hebrews 12:6 ; Revelation 2:5 ). A person who has merely professed faith without a genuine encounter with Christ can depart, prosper outwardly, and never return. The apostle John said that some who had left the fellowship of believers and were now teaching false doctrine showed by their actions that they never really belonged to Christ ( 1 John 2:19 ). It may be impossible for us to make a judgment about whether the person is a backsliding Christian or an impostor. Sometimes, only time will tell.

The doctrine of eternal security as taught in Scripture is intended to comfort true Christians who want to live faithfully for Jesus Christ. People who once professed faith but are now living sinfully should not be comforted by the assumption that a profession of faith guarantees their salvation. We gain nothing by examining the nature of their past “decision.” They need to soberly consider their lifestyle in the light of passages like 1 John 3:4-9 . If they are genuinely saved, God will discipline them ( Hebrews 12:6 ).

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How Can I Know If My Faith Is Strong Enough?

When you doubt that your faith is strong enough for you to be a child of God, it’s a clear indication that you misunderstand the nature of faith. Faith in God doesn’t involve certainty, nor does it imply the absence of doubts. The Gospel of Mark makes this clear in the account of Jesus’ healing of a little boy possessed by evil spirits ( Mark 9:14-27 ). The father came asking for help in front of a multitude, including religious leaders. He told Jesus that he had asked His disciples to cast the demons from the child, but they were unable. Then he said:

If You can do anything, take pity on us and help us (v.22).

Jesus’ tested the father’s sincerity, saying:

“If you can” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes” (v.23).

The boy’s father didn’t claim that he had perfect faith, nor did he walk away in despair. He acknowledged his doubts (unbelief) at the same time that he passionately expressed his desire to believe:

Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” (v.24).

This father’s faith passed Jesus’ test. Jesus didn’t condemn him for his doubts. Instead, He healed his son.

What a torment, what a terrible burden, to believe that faith must be perfect before God will respond to our need! If we believe that our faith must be perfect, we have established an unattainable goal and enslaved ourselves to a new form of works-salvation. Rather than basing our faith on God’s goodness and Christ’s completed work of love on our behalf, we base it on our own achievement-our own perfection.

People who think that their faith must be perfect before it will be acceptable to God ignore dozens of scriptural examples of people whose trust in God was imperfect, yet their faith was still accepted by Him. Here are just a few:

  • Moses ( Exodus 3:11; 4:1 )
  • Abraham ( Genesis 12:10-13; 15:1-5 )
  • Jacob ( Genesis 25:29-34; 27:1-46 )
  • Elijah ( 1 Kings 19:4 )
  • Peter ( Matthew 14:28-31; 26:69-75 )
  • Thomas ( John 20:24-25 )
  • The disciples ( Matthew 26:56 ).

These examples show that it isn’t the perfection of our trust that matters, but the perfection of God’s love and forgiveness. Perfect faith will be ours only when the Holy Spirit has completed His work of sanctification within us.

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How Could Old Testament People Be Saved?

People have always been saved by their faith in God rather than by merit earned through good works ( Hebrews 11:6 ).

The Bible is clear that Abraham, father of the Jewish people, was saved by faith. The Scriptures say, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness” ( Romans 4:3 ). Although Abraham didn’t know the exact way that God would one day provide a Savior, he made a profound statement about God’s ability to provide a substitute as he prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah ( Genesis 22:8 ).

The principle of salvation by faith continued under the Mosaic law. Because no one could perfectly satisfy the law’s demands, the law brought awareness of human sin and helplessness ( Romans 3:9-23; 7:7-14 ; Galatians 3:19-25 ). Its provisions for animal sacrifice were a further revelation of the seriousness and ugliness of sin. But the provision for sacrifice also pointed forward to Calvary and God’s provision of grace. David, who lived under the law 1,000 years before Christ, clearly knew the power of God’s grace, experiencing forgiveness and salvation through faith ( Psalm 32:1-5 ; Romans 4:6-8 ).

Faith in God always involved confidence that God would somehow provide for the forgiveness of sins. Faith always anticipated the coming of Christ and His sacrifice on our behalf. Old Testament believers offered sacrifices as an expression of their faith. By themselves, sacrificial offerings could never take away sin. When they were offered in faith, however, God accepted them because they pointed to Jesus Christ, the one sacrifice worthy to atone for all the sins of the world ( Hebrews 10:1-17 ).

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What Happens to Infants and Young Children Who Die?

Although the concept of “the age of accountability” had its beginnings early in the history of the Christian church, the Scriptures do not use this terminology. Neither does the Bible contain substantial allusions to the eternal state of babies or young children who die before they are old enough to make a conscious decision for or against Christ.

People have always been concerned about the salvation of children who die before they are old enough to clearly understand the gospel. Unfortunately, the conclusion reached by many in the early church was that infants who die without the sacrament of baptism are destined for hell—or limbo. This belief was based upon a mistaken view of baptism.

This view persisted into the Reformation. Catholics, Lutherans, and others continued to believe that infants who weren’t baptized would be condemned to hell. 1This is a tragic distortion of biblical teaching. It is a credit to the clear thinking of John Calvin that he found such a doctrine reprehensible:

“I do not doubt that the infants whom the Lord gathers together from this life are regenerated by a secret operation of the Holy Spirit.” (Amsterdam edition of Calvin’s works, 8:522).

“I everywhere teach that no one can be justly condemned and perish except on account of actual sin; and to say that the countless mortals taken from life while yet infants are precipitated from their mothers’ arms into eternal death is a blasphemy to be universally detested.” (Institutes, Book 4, p.335).

Although infants are not capable of conscious sin in the same way as someone older ( Isaiah 7:15-16; Matthew 18:3-4 ), they have inherited natures that are contaminated by sin and in need of transformation and salvation ( Psalm 51:5; Ephesians 2:3 ). Yet, because of their dependency, trust, and innocence, Jesus not only offers young children as models for the manner in which adult sinners need to be converted, He views them in a unique way:

“Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven.”( Matthew 18:10 ).

“Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.”( Matthew 18:14 ).

Further, the Scriptures clearly indicate that God does not punish children for the offenses of their fathers ( Deuteronomy 24:16; Ezekiel 18:20 ).

Therefore, we believe that those who die as infants or young children are given the gift of salvation. They aren’t given this gift because they are without sin; they, too, have inherited Adam’s curse. They are given salvation based solely on God’s grace, through the sacrificial atonement of Christ on their behalf.

“Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.” ( Romans 5:18-19 ).

Infants had nothing to do with the fact that they were heirs of Adam’s sinful nature. Therefore, it stands to reason that they can be given the gift of salvation without having consciously accepted it. Only rejection of Christ’s love on their behalf—something that cannot occur until they reach the age that conscious sin is possible—can result in their loss of Christ’s gift.

  1. Norman Fox, The Unfolding of Baptist Doctrine, 24 “Not only the Roman Catholics believed in the damnation of infants. The Lutherans, in the Augsburg Confession, condemn the Baptists for affirming that children are saved without baptism; damnant Anabaptistas qui . . . affirmant pueros sine baptismo salvos fieri” [“they damn the Anabaptists who . . . affirm that children are saved without baptism”] and the favorite poet of Presbyterian Scotland [Robert Burns], in his Tam O Shanter, names among objects from hell, Twa spanlang, wee, unchristened bairns. The Westminster Confession, in declaring that elect infants dying in infancy are saved, implies that non elect infants dying in infancy are lost. This was certainly taught by some of the framers of that creed. (Christian Theology, Augustus Strong) Back To Article
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