Can A Christian Lose His Salvation?
In my youth I discovered that the topic of eternal security has enduring interest and debate. The challenge goes like this, "If a Christian commits a horrible sin and dies in an unrepentant spirit, he is no longer saved and does not go to heaven."
Incidentally, you may find it interesting to know the official doctrine of the Presbyterian church is just the opposite. One of their five key doctrines is the "Perseverance of the Saints." That is, once saved, always saved, no matter what.
For me, I am not prepared to say whether a person can lose his salvation or not. All I know for sure is that the way of losing it is misrepresented in that above statement about losing it because of a grievous sin.
How did we gain our salvation in the first place? By good works? No, it was by faith in Jesus. If, then, we gained our salvation by faith, do you think we keep and maintain it by good works? No, that is not possible.
Paul wrote the entire epistle of Galatians to repudiate that exact opinion. Galatians 3:2-3 says, "This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh?" It was not our good works that saved us and therefore it cannot be our good works that keep us saved. It is the Spirit of God and blood of Jesus that keep us saved. It was not our own power that saved us and it is not our own power that keeps us saved; it is God's.
Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans laying the foundation for Christian doctrine. In it, in chapters 7, 8, 9 and half of 10, he covers the same topic of our own goodness versus God's salvation. The conclusion is the same; it is not our good works (or lack of sin) that keep us saved.
Another way of putting it is by asking, Which sin is greater than God's power? Which sin can God not save us from?
Different people and cultures put different values on sin. In some places, lack of hospitality is the worse sin possible. In the United States unforgivable sins might be rape/torture/murder, which run a close second to being gay. Those two seem to be unforgivable in this country. But lack of hospitality is like nothing to us; we're not hospitable all the time. So which culture is right? If we aren't hospitable, is that horrible enough to make us lose our salvation? It may be unforgivable in Saudi Arabia, but murder there is like an honor, which was evident when they danced for joy in the streets when 3,000 Americans were murdered on Sept 11, 2001.
What if we don't commit a sin horrible in our own eyes, but it is horrible in God's eyes? What if God assigns a higher degree of "awfulness" to a sin that we take lightly?
Or could it be that all sins are equal in God's eyes? If all sins are equal, and sin can cause us to lose our salvation, then nobody is saved because 1 John 1:8 says, "If we [Christians] say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us."
We can only conclude from the Bible that losing our salvation because of sin is impossible. However, whether we can lose it another way, I cannot say. If such a feat were possible, then it would have to be done in this way. A person would have to lose his salvation in the same way he got it, that is, through faith. When he became saved, he embraced God, accepted Jesus and repented of his sins. He asked God to save him in Jesus' name. To lose that, he would have to re-embrace Satan, repudiate his faith in God and Jesus, and ask God to release him from his salvation. He would promise to serve Satan forever thereafter, and there would be no coming back to God a second time. If such a thing happened, I don't know but I imagine that God would release him.
There is another situation that touches on this. It is found in Matthew 7:22-23. Jesus said, "Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity." This is talking about the Day of Judgment. It is a prophesy about the church, because in Jesus' day, none of the Pharisees or Priests were preaching and doing miracles in Jesus' name. Jesus' lesson here is only for people who are preaching in Jesus' name, casting out demons in Jesus' name, and doing wonderful works in Jesus' name. That can only apply to spiritual leaders in the Christian church.
Jesus says, "I never knew you; depart from me." That is not, "I once knew you but you sinned and lost your salvation." No, instead it is, "I never knew you." They had never been saved. They had never come to Jesus for salvation. They had never embraced Jesus as their lord and savior. Instead, they are like wolves in sheep clothing; they are in church and know all the church lingo, but they have never been saved. And they probably don't even know they are not saved, because they don't realize that there really is a God and that salvation is through faith only.
That means there are people in church today who are walking around, preaching and thinking they are saved. They think they are saved because they are in church and not embracing an outward sin. However, God says that's not enough. To be saved, one must actively embrace Him and accept Jesus as his savior. That is an event that takes place at a specific time in a person's life.