by Samuel Brooks
Once I become a believer and saved, is it possible to lose my salvation? I’ve heard some say “once saved, always saved.” I’ve also heard that God “elects” or “predetermines” who’s saved and who’s condemned before birth, as well as, “they’re already saved but just backslid” among others. My question is does Scripture say that it’s not God’s will that any should perish? If any of these statements are true, what’s the point of Christ’s sacrifice? Furthermore, if God “elected” only certain people to be saved, does that mean they could sin as much as they’d like without repentance and still go to heaven?
Going back to the question as to whether a person can lose their salvation, the short answer is “Yes!” Coming from someone who follows the Wesleyan Arminian point of view (which holds minor differences to traditional Arminianism) as opposed to the Calvinist (and various others), I believe that 1) humans are naturally unable to make any effort towards salvation, 2) salvation is possible by grace alone, 3) works of human effort can’t cause or contribute to salvation, 4) God’s election is conditional on faith in Jesus, 5) Jesus’ atonement was for all people, 6) God allows His grace to be resisted by those unwilling to believe, and 7) salvation can be lost, as continued salvation is conditional upon continued faith.
Some passages of Scripture that state that salvation can be lost include:
- “On judgement day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws.'” -Matthew 7:22-23 NLT (also see Matthew 25:1-13)
- “I tell you the truth, all sin and blasphemy can be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. This is a sin with eternal consequences.” -Mark 3:28-29 NLT (also see Luke 12:1-10)
- “Jesus replied, “You hypocrites! Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you, for he wrote, ‘These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce, for they teach man-made ideas as commands from God.’ For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own tradition.” Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition.” -Mark 7:6-9 NLT (also see Matthew 15)
- Romans 1:18-32 discusses God’s anger towards sin.
- “Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” -Romans 8:5-8 NLT
- “Don’t participate in the darkness of wild parties and drunkenness, or in sexual promiscuity and immoral living, or in quarreling and jealousy.” -Romans 13:13b NLT
- “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.” -1 Corinthians 6:18-20 NLT
- “So anyone who eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord unworthily is guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. That is why you should examine yourself before eating the bread and drinking the cup. For if you eat the bread or drink the cup without honoring the body of Christ, you are eating and drinking God’s judgement upon yourself. That is why many of you are weak and sick and some have even died.” -1 Corinthians 11:27-30 NLT
- “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outburts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” -Galatians 5:19-21 NLT
- “If we deliberately continue sinning after we have received knowledge of the truth, there is no longer any sacrifice that will cover these sins. There is only the terrible expectation of God’s judgement and the raging fire that will consume his enemies. For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Just think how much worse the punishment will be for those who have trampled on the Son of God, and have treated the blood of the covenant, which made us holy, as if it were common and unholy, and have insulted and disdained the Holy Spirit who brings God’s mercy to us.” -Hebrews 10:26-29 NLT
- “Do not waver, for a person with divided loyalty is as unsettled as a wave of the sea that is blown and tossed by the wind. Such people should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. Their loyalty is divided between God and the world, and they are unstable in everything they do.” -James 1:6b-8 NLT (also see Matthew 6:24)
- “Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. These desires give birth to sinful actions. And when sin is allowed to grow, it gives birth to death.” -James 1:14-15 NLT
- “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.” -James 4:17 NLT
- “If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words from this book of prophecy, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” -Revelations 22:18b-19 NLT
There are plenty of other passages that support the fact that an individual can lose their salvation if they continue to live in sin without repenting and asking Jesus for forgiveness; these are only a few passages! Just to be clear, no one can cause you to lose your salvation; only you can do that based on the choices that you make. I believe that this is a very important lesson because you can’t point your finger at anybody for your wrong doing. You are the only one that’s accountable and responsible for everything that you do! I know people who at one time repented of their sins, been baptized in Jesus’ name and received the gift of the Holy Spirit that ended up deciding to turn away and get involved in drugs, etc later in life; yet, say that they’re saved because they “have the Holy Spirit” even though they’re involved in sin and aren’t repenting. What about the passages that I’ve listed; including Hebrews 6:4-6 among others? God is HOLY! He can’t continue to be involved in sinful acts without repentance and asking for forgiveness. Due to that, the person(s) would need to repent and be re-newed with the Holy Spirit again if they choose to in order to be saved again.
If you’d like to read more on this topic, click here to read Rev. Irvin Baxter’s response to the same question.