When I first decided to follow God and accept Jesus as the Savior of my soul, I was so excited. To be honest, I was also a bit terrified. This new-found gift was precious and I didn’t want to lose it. Every time a preacher called for people to make a decision to follow God, I ran to the altar, repeated the “sinners prayer”, and breathed a sigh of relief. After all, I had sinned a time or two (definitely more) since I had last done this. What if I messed up too bad? Finally, a mentor of mine pulled me aside and said “Relax man, God’s got you.”
This line of thinking led me to consider, can you lose your salvation? Was there a single or compilation of mistakes I could make that would take me out of God’s love and grace or is it true that once saved always saved?
In this article, let’s take a look at the concept of once saved always saved, and whether it is possible to lose your salvation.
Above: Sunday Service, “Did you know” segment titled “Is it once saved always saved or can you lose your salvation?”
Well, that settles it. Just kidding. Let’s look at this important question through the scripture. There are schools of thought out there that will disagree with the “once saved always saved” belief, but my hope is this article will bring you peace in knowing that while your walk with God won’t be perfect, He’ll never turn His back on you.
If you want to know more about salvation before moving forward check out this article by Apostle Johnny Ova – What is Salvation?
Does God want you to know if you are saved? I believe scripture shows us that to be the case in many ways, but even the Apostle John wrote in his letter that he was writing specifically to let them know that they had eternal life. (1 John 5:13)
It is extremely important to say that salvation is not simply saying a prayer or claiming a Christian denomination. It is a life event, where God literally regenerates and renews us through the Holy Spirit. This happens the moment we truly declare Jesus as Lord and believeth in His resurrection. When this happens, we are a new creation or as expressed in John 3, “born again”. Read the full John Chapter 3
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
So, now that the obvious has been addressed in that we can be saved… Can you lose your salvation? Is being saved something that can be given up, lost or taken? Let’s consider these 5 points that would lead us to the “once saved always saved” belief on salvation.
Let’s just get this misinterpretation out of the way! Probably the biggest argument against once saved is always saved is that it somehow gives us a free pass to sin all that we want. Even atheists like to scoff at this concept. The Apostle Paul addresses this specifically in Romans 5 and 6.
The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more,
If we just pluck this little verse out, then maybe we could justify the license to sin. I mean doesn’t it mean if your sin is at a level 8, then God’s grace is at least at level 9. So, if the answer to “Can you lose your salvation?” is no… go do whatever you want, right? But wait, there’s more. This is why it is important to realize that chapters and verses are in the bible for our convenience only. The epistles (letters) were complete. We have to keep reading.
What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?
The Apostle Paul knew where the human mind would go and quickly established that although “once saved always saved” there is no license to sin. Salvation doesn’t mean we become perfect, but there is always evidence of someone being renewed. Good works, a desire to eliminate sin, and the fruits of the spirit follow. Amen?
Our salvation in the Bible is described as eternal. Consider perhaps the most popular verse in the Bible is John 3:16. Let’s look at this scripture starting just 2 verses earlier.
14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. 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. John 3:14-16
God didn’t say, you have eternal life until you commit a really big sin or until you sin a bunch of times. He says believe and life is eternal… not conditional.
Also, consider this God’s knowledge of your salvation has been eternally known. You didn’t surprise Him one day by your faith and you most certainly won’t surprise Him with a lack of it. God knows everything in the past, present, and future.
30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. Romans 8:30
Because He knew that you would follow Him before time, God is not biting His nails wondering if you were going to make it. If you could lose your salvation, even today it would be up in the air.
One of the most compelling scriptures that is a proponent for “once saved always saved” is John 10:28-30
28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” John 10:28-30
So, can you lose your salvation? Ask yourself, is there anyone strong enough to pull you from God? The Bible says no. But can you, yourself, be a stumbling block to the once saved always saved belief? The verse we are discussing here clearly says no one can snatch the believer out of His hands. We have to imagine God would have included that in Scripture. It would have said something to the tune of “no one but the believer themself”. But, it doesn’t. God who can save you, will also preserve you.
I am not sure if you’re convinced, but the Apostle Paul was. He says,
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. Romans 28:37-39
In John 6, Jesus talks about losing none of those whom the Father has given Him
37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.
39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.” John 6:37-40
So, a good follow up to “Can you lose your salvation?” is “Can Jesus lose you?”. Scripture says He cannot. He is able to keep you and nothing can take you away.
Consider also Jude 1:24
24 To Him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy—
Can you lose your salvation? Only if God decides to move out! (He won’t). Every believer has these 2 things.
Do you suddenly become un-regenerated? The Bible says nothing for the new birth being taken away. Can you be undwelt by the Holy Spirit?
17 the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. John 14:17
You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ. Romans 8:9
The second you have the Holy Spirit the Bible says you belong to Christ. Going back to #3… How then, if Jesus cannot lose you can you lose your salvation? Once saved always saved means that God is here to stay and work things out. There is no reversal of the gifts associated with salvation.
To understand this we must first go back to the view of sin under the old covenant. James, the brother of Jesus, shares how sin was viewed under the law.
For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. James 2:10
Why is this important in the can you lose your salvation debate? It is because by the old standard the smallest of infractions held the weight of the largest. The wages of sin was death, no matter how big or small. (Romans 6:23) With that said, there is no evidence in the new testament that now we have some complex scale where some sins are greater than others, or by hitting a certain threshold you can be disqualified.
Sin is falling short of God’s glory and we all make mistakes. Therefore, if we (those in Christ) are subject to the eternal wages of sin even the littlest of sins would remove us from His Grace. Imagine if every mistake you made took you out of the equation. God would need a really big eraser for the Lambs book of Life!
Can you lose your salvation or is it once saved always saved? If you could lose your salvation and eternal life when you sin, then at some point timing is just as or even more important than the finished work of Christ. Imagine this scenario…
The coworker that drives you crazy hits your last nerve. You’ve had it and storm over to their desk. For the next 30 seconds, it’s like you never read the bible a day in your life. You are saying words that would make a sailor blush. You are definitely not portraying the love of Christ at the moment and all over sin territory.
Finally, your fit of rage is done and you step outside to cool down. You walk out the door and into the parking lot and bam, hit by a truck. In the twinkling of an eye, it’s you and Jesus. Can you lose your salvation this way? You didn’t have a chance to repent so did you die in your sin. Is Jesus going to say, “Hey, I tried… bad luck with that timing.” In this scenario, Jesus saved you the first time but it’s all about timing after that. That is not the Gospel.
God is here to stay with you, even with all your imperfections.
6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Phil 1:6
One of the key differences between Christianity and every other religion is that it is not based upon works. You don’t earn the love of God, so you can’t lose it or give it up by your actions. To say the contrary is to say “Jesus, what you did for me on that cross wasn’t enough.” It is the position that your sin can somehow trump His sacrifice.
Salvation is by God’s mercy and not by our own deeds. The Apostle Paul wrote:
he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,
Can you lose your salvation? No. Once you are saved, you are always saved. Walk in that assurance. Stop thinking you are disqualified after every mistake. Be bold wearing the helmet of salvation and I hope that with this article, there is no doubt about your place in eternal life.