Can a person lose the Salvation they received from God when the “believed in the Lord Jesus” and were saved?
A very good friend recently sent me a link to read and respond to. The link was from a man who was warning us not to assume that salvation is secure. He was concerned that some might thing that being saved means you can’t lose your salvation, and I think was genuinely motivated by his concern to protect some from “falling from grace”. You can read the blog here if you like.
Obviously, I disagree with the writer. This is an old argument; but one that is answered pretty easily with a good grasp of the Scriptures. Once a person is truly saved, that person is saved for good – eternally. In fact, if a person could lose his salvation (as the writer claims he did) there would be no way for him to get it back – to be saved again. I’ll show you what I mean.
Let’s look at this Scripturally (as the writer suggests)
The Seed and the Soil
He quotes from Matthew 13, the Parable of the Soils. “And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. “Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. “But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. “Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. “And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. “He who has ears, let him hear.”” (Matthew 13:3–9, NASB95)
And then, Jesus’ explanation: “Hear then the parable of the sower. “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. “The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. “And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. “And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”” (Matthew 13:18–23, NASB95)
One and Done!
He then references John 3:16 and points to the word “believes”. The original word is, in fact, written in what we call “present-active” tense. However, it is also written with a singular intention. In other words, it happens once and continues through the end. Once our faith is genuinely placed in the fullness of Christ’s provision, that faith continues – and that’s a God thing. It’s a “one and done” kind of faith. Paul said, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6) The truth is that God is the One holding our eternal security – not us. (see John 10:27-30)
The Evidence of Faith is in the Fruit
So, what about the Parable above? Doesn’t Jesus imply that some of the seed started but then fell away? If that applies to humans and salvation, doesn’t that mean they fell from God’s grace? Notice that three of the seeds had one thing in common. They failed to produce fruit. Only one seed – the seed that fell on the good ground – produced fruit. Saving faith ALWAYS produces fruit. James asked, “What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him?” (James 2:14) Paul makes it even more clear in Ephesians when he says, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10) Saving faith produces fruit (works). This is not going to church, or reading the Bible, or even going street-witnessing… the fruit produced in the Christian life is a change of heart, not a change of actions: “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22–23)
The writer claims he fell from grace – lost his salvation, and the regained it (which is impossible, as I will show you in a minute). He says that he “gave his life to the Lord at a Youth for Christ event” and had all the outward signs of faith for 5 years. Then he rejected Christ and lived to “curse Jesus and [fight] against Christianity”. He asks the question, “Was I ‘saved’ during those 25 years of anti-Christian ‘preaching’?” and then answers it with a “resounding NO.” I agree with him in this: he was not a Christian when he was cursing Christ. For five years he lived as one of the other soils. The seed was planted and there were some outward signs of growth. But either the sun of persecution scorched his growth or the weeds of selfish desire chocked out the growth – the faith was not a “believing” faith. How do I know? Because it produced no fruit.
John 3:16 was quoted above and the word “believe” was analyzed in its tense, but not in its definition. Believe translates the Greek word PISTEUŌ. It means to be persuaded of something, and hence, to place confidence in, to trust… it signifies, in this sense of the word, reliance upon, not mere acceptance of ideas. In fact, earlier in John it is used in a way that details this sort of “believing”. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name…” (John 1:12) This is not a mental ascent but a full-hearted faith that abandons everything else.
A faith that believes in Jesus for the blessings He will bestow, and is not prepared to endure the suffering His name also brings, is NOT a believing faith. It may not always be seen (Cross reference the parable that followed the sower and the seed in Matt 13:24-30), but persecution and worldly desire will reveal it. Saving faith declares with Rhea Miller, who penned the words,
“I’d rather have Jesus than silver or gold, I’d rather have His than have riches untold; I’d rather have Jesus than houses or lands, I’d rather be led by His nail-pierced hand…”
Once saved…. And only once!
Finally, let me direct you to Hebrews 6. In the book of Hebrews, the author is comparing the old Jewish system of repeated sacrifices as a covering for sin – over and over, to the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus Christ. As the sin covering of animal sacrifice would wear thin, a new sacrifice was needed. Each sacrifice was woefully insufficient. However, the atoning, forgiving, sin-covering sacrifice of the sinless Son of God is fully sufficient to cover ALL sin. In chapter 6 he encourages his readers to “leave behind the elementary teachings” of that old system. It’s not that those things were bad – not at all; it is that something so much better had come. He explains that if we use the same “repeated sacrifice” mentality for the sacrifice of Christ is would never work. He gives the hypothetical example of losing the atonement of Jesus (like you would the atonement of a bull or lamb). “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4–6)
Did you catch that? If one could fall away (lose their salvation) there would be NO WAY to regain it. Why? Because Christ would have to be sacrificed again. His one application of atoning grace was not sufficient to complete what He began, and He is subject to public shame.
If Saved, Always Saved
Once saved, always saved? Yes! Or as my more reformed friends like to say it, “IF saved, always saved”. It’s the work of God in the heart of a person who abandons all and casts their faith exclusively upon Christ. So I say with Paul, “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and His grace toward me did not prove vain…” (1 Corinthians 15:10, NASB95)