Sunday, February 21, 2016

Can a Christian Lose His/Her Salvation?

Do you believe that once a person is saved, they're always saved?   Do you believe that a Christian can't fall from grace?

If you do, you're like many people who believe a teaching that primarily stems from John Calvin's idea called "perseverance of the saints."  I think this doctrine of eternal security comes from an interpretation of Romans 8:39, which states, "nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Considering Romans 8:39 in conjunction with the rest of the scripture, what does the Bible say about the security of one's salvation? 

There is one bible verse that contains the phrase "fallen from grace."  Interestingly, it indicates that a Christian CAN fall from grace, which is the opposite of what many believe.  Galatians 5:4 says, "you have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by the law, you have fallen from grace."   In context, Paul is talking to Jewish Christians who were still holding on to parts of the Old Law even though it had been taken out of the way by Christ. Their error caused Paul to reprimand them and say that they were in a lost state - fallen from God's grace.  If it were impossible for them to fall from grace, why would Paul even bring it up?

Taking it a step further, let's consider the account of Simon the Sorcerer in Acts 8.  Simon was a con-artist, impressing people with trickery.  After hearing the gospel, he believed and was baptized, and he was added to the Lord's body as a Christian. When he witnessed the apostles performing miracles, or "real magic" in his eyes, he thought he could offer to buy those same gifts.  He was quickly scolded by Peter who said, "repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray the Lord that, if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness and in the bondage of iniquity."  Question:  would you say that it's possible to go to Heaven if you are in the gall of bitterness and the bondage of iniquity?  A reasonable mind would say no.  Here we see a clear example of a saved believer sinning and falling into a lost state and being told to repent.  Why would Peter tell him to repent if it weren't possible for him to be lost?

Consider James 5:19-20: "My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins."  This is clearly referring to erring Christians who have fallen away.  Why would it be necessary to bring an erring Christian back if they can't be lost?

Finally, Revelation 2:10 indicates that if Christians are faithful unto death, they'll receive a crown of life.  The reward is dependent on faithfulness.  The Christian must remain faithful. Why would the Spirit instruct us to remain faithful if it's impossible for us to lose our salvation?

In regards to Romans 8:39, this verse is referring to the institution of the church that is guaranteed salvation. The church WILL be saved, but there is no guarantee of salvation for those members who fall away.  In fact, there is no chance of salvation for those who remain unfaithful and disobedient.

The are many other examples in scripture about the possibility of losing salvation. Wouldn't it be great if everyone turned to what the bible says about the issue instead of relying on a man-made doctrine?