The question, “Can a Christian lose their salvation?” is troubling. Many of us ask this when friends and/or relatives pass away. Although they professed faith in Christ, their lifestyle didn’t support it. So we wonder, “Will I ever see them again?”
Pastors struggle with this also. Many people profess their faith to us and ask us to baptize them. But when they stop attending church or return to their sin we wonder, “Was their faith genuine? Or have they fallen away?”
Most people raised in the church are baptized as preteens or teenagers. But the statistics show that most students abandon their faith after high school. This leaves youth ministers asking, “Did my students lose their salvation? Or were they never saved to begin with?”
This series has studied what the Bible says about this issue. In the first post, it assured us of our salvation. In the second post, it warned us not to lose our salvation. In the third post, it cautioned us that things aren’t always what they seem.
We are now ready to answer the question, “Can a Christian lose their salvation?”
A Flawed Trend
There are two final mistakes to avoid when answering this question. The first is to not answer it. Many try to avoid it. They don’t want to step into the “debate” by picking a side. Or maybe they are still wrestling with it for themselves.
That is selfish and lazy. This is an important question that many people ask. For some it is intensely personal. We must study the Scriptures, form our own conclusions, and be prepared to share them with others.
The second mistake is to make this question an issue of fellowship. As Christians we tend to divide over what should unite us. We bicker and quarrel. We uphold our views as the truth and brand other views as “false teaching.”
But do we not all agree that God saves sinners? And do we not all agree that in order to be considered genuine, salvation must be proven by a lifetime of faithfulness? So is there any legitimate cause for division over this issue?
What the Bible Says
We have considered all the pertinent Scriptures and avoided all the common mistakes. But the question is still difficult to answer.
Theologically I feel compelled to answer “no.” The Bible clearly says that salvation is a work of God from start to finish. Paul says, “For those God foreknew he also predestined…and those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30). Will God lose someone in the midst of this process?
But biblically I feel compelled to answer “yes.” The New Testament strongly warns us not to fall away. Peter says, “It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then turn their backs on [it]” (2 Peter 2:21). What does it mean to “know the way of righteousness” if not to be saved?
In light of this tension, the best answer seems to be “probably not.” A Christian probably cannot lose their salvation. And most, in fact, will not lose their salvation.
What It Means For Us
This means we must stop judging others. As Paul asks, “Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls” (Romans 14:4).
So mind your business and worry about your own salvation. “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Instead of passing judgment on others’ salvation, live in such a way that yours cannot be questioned.
What do you think? Can a Christian lose their salvation? Share your thoughts with a comment below!
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