A massive, multi-vortex, EF-5 tornado struck Joplin, MO on May 22, 2011. It killed 158 people, injured 1,150, and caused $2.8 billion in damages. Want to hear something crazy? We were there the day before it struck.
We were visiting Joplin for my wife’s graduation. We had attended college and lived there for 5 years. Every spring was tornado season, and it seemed every spring rain turned into a tornado warning.
After awhile, I grew calloused to these warnings. I laughed at the idea of a tornado. I thought one would never strike. But then it did.
Fortunately, the Lord kept us safe from danger. We had moved back to St. Louis after I graduated the year before. And we returned home the day before the tornado hit.
But I learned a valuable lesson that day: it is wise to heed warnings.
The Bible has warnings for us as Christians. We live in a hostile world that is full of spiritual dangers. These warnings help us answer the question, “Can a Christian lose their salvation?”
A Flawed Trend
We began answering this question in a previous post. The Bible gives us confidence that we have eternal life and will overcome. We belong to God and nothing can separate us from Him.
But here’s where we need to be careful. When most people decide how to answer this question, they pick out Bible passages that agree with their answer. The problem is that they neglect Bible passages that disagree with their answer.
This lack of balance is detrimental to theology! It’s especially harmful when answering difficult questions like this. We must consider what the entire Bible says, not just the passages that support our position.
What the Bible Says
The Bible assures us of the certainty of our salvation. But it also severely warns us not to lose our salvation:
- Hebrews 4:4-6 warns, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance.”
- Peter warns, “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.” (2 Peter 2:20-21)
Paul speaks of people who seem to have lost their salvation:
- He warns, “You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.” (Galatians 5:4)
- He warns Timothy, “Some have rejected faith and a good conscience and so have shipwrecked their faith. Among them are Hymenaeus and Alexander.” (1 Timothy 1:19-20)
What It Means For Us
We must heed these warnings. The Bible gives us confidence about our salvation, but that is no reason to be careless with it. Nor is it an excuse to be lazy or unproductive. Rather, we must “continue to work out our salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) and “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:8).
So what should we conclude? Can a Christian lose their salvation? Unfortunately, this goes beyond a simple “yes” or “no” answer. The Bible has more to say about this, and we’ll take a further look next month in the next post of this series.
What do these warnings mean? Can a Christian actually lose their salvation? Share your thoughts with a comment below!