Why You Can’t Do Anything to Relinquish God’s Grace

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Christians sometimes wonder if they can lose their salvation. The question of “eternal security” (or “once saved always saved”) is hotly debated. Our movement even regards the question as a matter of essential doctrine!

Many Christians argue you can lose your salvation. They say if you sin too frequently or too severely, or if you stop pursuing Christ for too long, you can backslide to the point that you are no longer saved. This seems to be the general position of our movement.

This goes directly against the biblical concept of grace. We didn’t do anything to receive God’s grace. We didn’t deserve it in the first place, but He gave it to us anyway. Why would He all of a sudden take it away when we continue not deserving it?

The Bible says He won’t. It affirms there is nothing we can do to relinquish His grace. Nothing will compel Him to disown us as His children.

Nothing from Within
Nothing from within will cause us to lose our salvation. No amount of temptation or unbelief can separate us from God’s grace.

Romans 7 & 8 describe difficulties of the Christian life. Paul openly shares about our ongoing struggle with sin, as well as our weakness in prayer. In the context of these struggles, he reminds us, “The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (8:16). Even when we fail to make spiritual progress, the Spirit assures us we belong to God.

John goes a step further. He says, “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in them; they cannot go on sinning, because they have been born of God” (1 John 3:9). Not only does the Spirit assure us; He prevents us from sinning to the point that we are no longer God’s children.

You cannot relinquish God’s grace because the Holy Spirit won’t allow it. He preserves our salvation through our failures and shortcomings.

Nothing from Without
Nothing from without will cause us to lose our salvation either. No amount of persecution or opposition can separate us from God’s grace.

Paul mentions these difficulties in Romans 8 as well. He asks, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” He famously answers, “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (8:35, 37).

Paul addresses physical danger; John addresses spiritual danger. He writes, “We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them” (1 John 5:18).

You cannot relinquish God’s grace because your status before Him is unassailable. Not even Satan can harm you to the point of losing your salvation. Jesus puts it simply: “No one will snatch you out of my hand…no one can snatch you out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28-29).

Why the Warnings?
The New Testament contains several warnings. Paul 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” (1 Timothy 1:19).

The most fearful warning is Hebrews 6:4-6: “It is impossible for those who have once been [saved]…and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance.”

Christians who argue salvation can be lost appeal to these warnings. They ask, “If you cannot lose your salvation, why does the Bible warn us not to?”

These warnings are for our edification. The Holy Spirit uses them to produce perseverance; by them, He strengthens us to stand firm to the end. The Spirit most often works through the Word of God. Just as He uses the gospel to produce faith, so He uses Scripture’s warnings to sustain it.

This post concludes my series on grace! Feel free to share it with your pastor or friends from church!

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