Thursday, March 9, 2017

Can you lose your salvation? (Part 1)

Many folks struggle with the concept of eternal security, the idea that if you're saved, you're always saved. Just as it is with every other teaching, it's quite legitimate to ask the question, "Is this doctrine biblical?"

Regarding eternal security, the answer is yes. If a person has been saved by God, that person will always be His child and will spend eternity as a co-heir with Christ (see Romans 8:17).

When engaging in conversation about a subject as important as this one, it's important that positive and negative approaches are both saturated with biblical insight and wisdom. Because there is a time to go on offense and time to go on defense, this topic will be discussed in two parts. First, I'll play offense and ask seven questions that may cause the other side of this argument to question his belief in maintaining salvation.


If a person is justified by faith due to his own works being insufficient to save (Romans 4:1-8, 5:1), how could he subsequently be rejected by God because of his works (Galatians 3:2-3)?

Scripture is very clear in its description of justification by faith. The only way a person can be declared innocent before an eternally holy and just God is by grace through faith in the one sacrifice that was made to permanently reconcile man to God.

Since this is true, it could never be that a person who has been so justified by grace through faith would then fall out of that covenant by way of works. Salvation is never earned by the recipient; therefore, it could never be lost by the recipient.

If a person's citizenship in heaven is directly tied to God's predetermination (1 Thessalonians 5:9), how could man thwart the purposes of the faithful, all-powerful, and all-knowing God who saved him for His own purposes and praise (Ephesians 1:11-12)?

You must understand the big picture of salvation. The salvation of all believers is not rooted in the present or even the temporal past. Salvation is rooted in a before-the-world, predetermined plan of God on an individual basis. He didn't generally predestine all of humanity so that they could accept Him or choose not to; He specifically predestined people who absolutely will believe and be saved. How that faith comes about within them is debated.

Thus, knowing the infinite power and might of this loving God -- particularly His covenant faithfulness and knowledge of all things -- it would be outside of His nature to break His predetermined plan, which was created in accordance with His will alone.

What is the time-related promise associated with the sealing of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 1:13-14 and 4:30?

Both of these passages speak of being sealed by the Spirit until a future day. Ephesians 4:30 says, "the day of redemption." Upon belief, a person is sealed (1:13) and that sealing lasts until the end, when bodies are fully redeemed by Christ. There's no room for losing salvation.

What is the substance and purpose of the Holy Spirit being given as a "guarantee" or "down payment" in 2 Corinthians 1:22

Again, sealing is mentioned. The word for it is sphragizo, which means to attest ownership. This will be discussed in the question after next.

The word for "guarantee" is arrabon, which is a pledge. It was used in common Greek to describe earnest money, or a down payment. One description says it was money "given in advance as a security deposit that the whole will be paid afterwards."

If there is no sure promise associated with receiving the Holy Spirit (remember, He enters upon belief as described in Eph. 1:13), this verse gives no hope and means nothing. He is our guarantee of future glory; He is the evidence of God's choosing of us; He is our assurance.

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How can a believer stop following God when He is the One who guards and finishes the work He started (Philippians 1:6, 2 Timothy 1:12)?

These verses provide great promises for the gospel believer. God, who begins the work, will finish the work. Philippians 1:6 uses the word epiteleo, which comes from the same root as the word Jesus used just before He breathed His last. He said, "It is finished!" It is complete. Perfected. Over.

God will bring to a full completion the work He started in the believer. He brings about sanctification. Though we're certainly responsible to trust and obey, ultimately, it's up to Him to do the work. And He will do it.

The 2 Timothy passage gives the reader the time frame. God guards your salvation until the end. You cannot lose your salvation. Better yet, you cannot lose the salvation He has given you.

If believers are made God's possession by way of His own purchase, how could they legally reverse that purchase (Acts 20:28, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 Peter 2:9)?

Here is a wonderful -- literally wonder-ful -- truth. God owns believers. My pastor has summed up the gospel by highlighting that fact. He says the gospel is this: "God glorifying Himself by purchasing His enemies with an infinite price."

Legally, believers have been adopted (Gal. 4:4-6, Eph. 1:3-6). Positionally, they've been exalted with Christ in the heavenlies (Eph. 2:4-7). And, at the end of the day, they belong to God. He is the owner of their souls. He determines where they go. They're going to be with Him forever.

Does Scripture ever define a line that believers could cross that would cause them to lose their salvation?

This last question is more philosophical than textual. The Bible never says something to the effect of, "If you cross line-x, you are no longer on your way to heaven."

There's a reason why it doesn't say that. You can't lose your salvation!

So if you believe that Christians can un-save themselves, where is that line? What authority defines that line for you? Are you comfortable with that authority?

I hope this has been helpful.

Part 2 >

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