Can Christians Lose their
By Tom Brown
This is the most important question Christians
can ask, because their eternal soul may depend on it!
The greatest deception which has been devised
by Satan that has been accepted by a large number of Christians
is the false doctrine of "once saved, always saved."
This doctrinal theory assumes once a person is saved that there
is nothing he or she could ever do to lose his or her salvation.
Even if he should become fruitless and commit the grosses sins,
this creed teaches that he is still saved. Nothing could be
further from the truth.
The reason so many American Christians believe
this lie is because of the undo influence John Calvan had over
European Christianity. (And, of course, Europe influenced
America.) Calvin was the first to popularize the concept that all
Christians will persevere to the end.
Although God definitely promises to do his part
to keep us saved to the end, this does not mean that we do not
have a part to play. God promises eternal security, but not unconditional
eternal security. Nearly all God's promises are conditional; that
is, they are dependent in part on us for their fulfillment.
WHAT DOES THE BIBLE TEACH?
It is important that we go to the
Bibleand the Bible aloneto see what God says about
this important subject. This article is going to prove that
salvation is a free gift of God, and must be maintained by
holiness and bearing good fruit.
There are two important aspects of being saved.
First, salvation as it relates to the sinner. A sinner
experiences the new birth by accepting Christ. There is nothing a
sinner could do to earn the new birth. The new birth, which the
Bible calls salvation, is a free gift. The second aspect of
salvation relates to the born again Christian maintaining his
salvation. He maintains it through holiness and bearing good
Someone might argue and say, "You are
teaching that salvation must be earned through good works."
No, I'm not. Salvation is free, but keeping it is costly.
Suppose a friend gave me a brand new car which
he paid out of his own money, and simply gave me the title and
keys and said, "It's yours, Tom. Enjoy it." All I can
do is reach for the keys and title and say, "Thank
Let me ask you a question. Is the car a free
gift to me or did I have to earn it? It's free, right! But let me
ask another question. Is it going to cost me money to keep and
maintain the car? Sure it is. I'm going to have to put gas,
change the oil, give it tune-ups, wax the car, and so on. The car
is costly to keep, but it was free when I received it.
Salvation works the same way. I can't earn it.
God freely gave me my salvation since Jesus paid for it through
His sacrifice on the cross. But once I receive it, I must take
care of it. This is what Paul means when he says, "Work out
your salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12).
He does not say, "Work for your
salvation." He says, "Work out your salvation."
You can not work out something that you do not have. You
have to possess salvation before you can work it out. Salvation
comes first, maintaining it comes next. It is maintaining your
salvation which we are talking about in this article.
God was the first to ask whether or not people
could lose their salvation. We find God asking this question in
Ezekiel 18:24: "'But if a righteous man turns from his
righteousness and commits sins and does the same detestable
things the wicked man does, will he live?'" God is asking,
"Will he live, if he departs from his righteous ways?"
And what was the answer? "'None of the righteous things he
has done will be remembered. Because of the unfaithfulness he is
guilty of and because of the sins he has committed, he will
He will die spiritually, not physically,
because we all die physically. Death is in reference to spiritual
and eternal death. The Bible calls the lake of fire the second
death. Eternal damnation is called death in the Bible.
Many would like to argue with God, but what God
says stands. God says that he will die. We have to accept his
WHAT DOES THE NEW TESTAMENT
Someone might argue, "Yes, but that threat
was under the Old Covenant. In the New Covenant, God does not
threaten the believer with damnation if he departs from holy
living." People who argue this have simply never taken a
close look at the New Covenant warnings of the believer losing
his salvation. Let us see what the New Testament teaches about
believers losing their salvation.
Jesus clearly warns, "Every branch IN ME
[this refers to believers] that bears no fruit, the Father cuts
off." And what will be the outcome of those fruitless
branches? Jesus continues, "The branches will be cast into
the fire." (see John chapter 15).
How much clearer do we need Jesus to be!?
Paul echo's Jesus' warnings to fruitless
believers in Romans 11:21: "For if God did not spare the
natural branches [unbelieving Israel], he will not spare you
[gentile Christians] either." Paul continues in the next
verse, "Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of
God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided
that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be
cut off." If this is not a warning of Christians losing
their salvation, then I don't know what is.
Paul gives many warnings in much of his
writings. Take 2 Timothy 2:11-12 as an example: "...If we
died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will
also reign with him..." No one has any problems with this so
far. It is the next statement that gives Christians problems.
"If we disown him, he will also disown us."
Notice the pronouns "we" and "us." These
pronouns clearly refer to us believers. God promises to disown us
if we disown Him. This warning must be taken seriously.
Peter describes Christians who had lost their
salvation in 2 Peter 2:20-21: "If they have escaped the
corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus
Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse
off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have
been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness,
than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred
command that was passed on to them." Peter is saying that
Christians who have lost their salvation are worse off than
unbelievers who have never been saved. This should sound the
alarm on sleeping Christians.
And we must not forget the most famous passage
in the Bible concerning Christians losing their salvation. It's
Hebrews chapter six. The writer plainly warns what happens to the
born again, Spirit-filled, Bible-toting, anointed Christians who
falls away from the Lord. He says, "It is impossible for
them to be brought back to repentance." He describes these
apostates as thorns and thistles which will be burned in the end.
I wish more Christians would take this warning seriously.
THE FINAL WARNING
And lastly, let us not forget the final words
Jesus spoke to the churches. These words are found in Revelation
chapter two and three.
Listen carefully to some of the warnings He
gave to backslidden churches as well as some of the promises He
gave to overcoming Christians.
"If you do not repent, I will come to you
and remove your lampstand from its place" (ch 2, v 5).
"He who overcomes will not be hurt at all
by the second death" (ch 2, v 11). The opposite is also
true. If you don't overcome, you will be hurt by the second
death, which is the lake of fire.
"He who overcomes will be dressed in
white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life"
(ch 3, v 5). Notice that God's pencil, which wrote your name in
the Lamb's book of life, also has an eraser at the other end. The
name can be erased from the book of life if you don't overcome.
"Hold on to what you have, so that no one
will take your crown" (ch 3, v 11).
"So, because you are lukewarmneither
hot nor coldI am about to spit you out of my mouth" (ch 3 v 16). This warning is rather clear.
HOW CAN YOU STAY SAVED?
This article may seem quite negative so far.
However, I want to end it on a very positive note.
You may be thinking, "My God, I might
easily lose my salvation if I fall away from the Lord."
Well, would you like to know the secret to never falling?
This secret is found in 2 Peter 1:10:
"...For if you do these things, you will never fall."
There is something that you can do that will prevent you from
ever falling. And what are the things you can do that will keep
you from falling?
Peter says to add to your faith all the
wonderful characteristics of the divine nature such as goodness,
self-control, love, etc. He says, "For if you possess these
qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being
ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus
Christ" (v 8). You need to possess these qualities in increasing
measure. In other words, you need to keep growing.
No one has ever fallen away from the Lord who
was growing. People usually backslide when they stop growing. As
long as you are growing, you can never backslide.
And what is God's wonderful promise to the
growing Christian? "And you will receive a rich welcome into
the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" (v
11). I can't speak for you, but I don't want to barely enter
heaven by the skin of my teeth. I want to make a grand appearance
Wouldn't it be terrible to die and enter
heaven, only to have one of the angels say, "Oh, it's just
you."? No! I want to receive a rich welcome into the eternal
kingdom. How about you? You can! If you make your life count for
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