For twenty years I have struggled with the fear of losing my salvation, especially during periods when my love for God has grown a bit cold or I have succumbed to recurring sins. For some reason I was always drawn to the scary scriptures in the bible that seemed to indicate that I could fall away if I wasn’t careful.
I am indebted to the bible teaching of Chuck Missler for challenging my beliefs on this important topic and for encouraging me to explore the “whole counsel of God” throughout all of scripture rather than looking at just a few verses in isolation and out of context.
To my surprise, I have found numerous scriptures throughout God’s Word that either directly or indirectly promise believers that they will never lose their salvation. The following scriptures make it very clear to me now and I pray that they will illuminate your understanding as well:
Romans 8:33-39 “Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of God?.......For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
The real clincher for me in the above verse is “any other created thing”. For some reason I always thought that by my own will, by my own bad choices, I could walk away from God’s hands, but it finally dawned on me – my will is also a created thing , a gift from God, which means it cannot separate me from the love of God either.
John 10: 28-29 “ And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no-one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.”
John 6:37 “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me , and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out.”
1 Corinthians 1:6-8 “..even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you, so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will confirm you to the end, that you may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Ephesians 1: 13,14 “In Him (Jesus) you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.”
2 Corinthians 1: 21,22 “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us in God, who has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.”
Matthew 28:20 “....and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
John 14:16 “And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever...”
Philippians 1:6 “...He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”
1 Thessalonians 5:23,24 “Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul and body be preserved blameless at the coming of Christ. He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.”
So, if it is as clear as the above scriptures suggest, that our salvation is eternally secure, how do we explain the scriptures that seem to indicate that it is not so secure?
I am no bible scholar but let me share just a few insights from my own research of God’s Word and from my own experience.
Firstly, for years I have failed to appreciate the difference between justification, sanctification and glorification which all form part of the amazing salvation process of our spirit, soul and body.
In simple terms justification relates to us being freed from the “penalty” of sin, (ie. separation from God) where our spirit is “translated from the power of darkness into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” Colossians 1:13.- Justification gives us ‘entry’ to heaven. Justification results in us receiving the Holy Spirit and becoming sons and daughters of God. The only part we play in justification is to “believe” in Christ. “..and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses” Acts 13:39.
Sanctification relates to us being freed from the “power” of sin where our soul /mind becomes transformed into the image of Christ from glory to glory as we learn to co-operate with and walk with the Holy Spirit moment by moment. “But we all... are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord” 2 Corinthians 3:18. “Don't be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what is the good, well-pleasing, and perfect will of God” Romans 12:2. Sanctification gives us an ‘inheritance’ in heaven if we persevere and overcome. To be sanctified we not only need to “believe” in Jesus Christ but also “obey” Him.
Glorification relates to us being freed from the “presence” of sin, where our body will be transformed from an ageing, sensual, earthly body into a glorious, incorruptible heavenly body. “Who will transform our lowly body, that it may be conformed to His glorious body..” Philippians 3: 21. Glorification gives us ‘residence’ in heaven. Glorification flows inevitably from being justified. “... whom He justified, these He also glorified.” Romans 8:30.
Another way of looking at it is that there is a past, present, and future aspect of our salvation. Our justification is a ‘past’ tense as it was accomplished by the Christ’s completed work on the cross and received the moment we believed. We can therefore say that with confidence that we have ‘been’ saved. The process of sanctification results in us ‘being’ saved (present tense) and eventually at some time in the future we ‘will be’ saved when we are glorified.
The light really came on for me when I recognised the difference between “entering” heaven ( via justification) and “inheriting” heaven (via sanctification). Seriously, I can no longer find anywhere in scripture where our justification/sonship can be lost or the Holy Spirit taken from us. On the other hand the scriptures quite clearly show me that my spiritual inheritance in heaven can be squandered or forfeited if I do not yield to God’s sanctification process. And this is where every believer’s true spiritual battle begins, learning to crucify the flesh by walking in the Spirit. I challenge everyone who reads this to search the scriptures for themselves and to check out the context and original Greek use of the word “salvation” before they question theirs or anyone else’s eternal salvation in future.
1 Corinthians 3:11-15 really nails this for me. It teaches us that our unsanctified works of the flesh will be consumed by fire at the bema seat judgment of Christ, resulting in a loss of rewards or inheritance in heaven, but will by no means prohibit our entry therein. “Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.”
Now I realise that the apostle Paul was never paranoid about losing his salvation/justification in scriptures like 1 Corinthians 9:7 “But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified.” but about losing his rewards or inheritance. When you read the book of Hebrews with this perspective in mind you get an incredible insight into the dangers of not being sanctified or pressing on to maturity.
To be honest, I suspect that my pride also contributed to my view that I could lose my salvation. Somehow, I thought that I had a major part to play in my salvation through my faith and my repentance. I seemed to place more confidence in my faithfulness (or unfaithfulness more like it) rather than God’s faithfulness. If I had a major part in earning my salvation then I guess I could successfully argue that I could also reject it or lose it. Scripture however makes it very clear however that it is God alone who :
Calls and draws us “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:44). “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined...whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.” (Romans 8:29-30)
Saves /Justifies us – “.. being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:24).
Gives us faith – “For grace you have been saved through faith, and that not from yourselves; it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8)
Leads us to repentance - “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance”. (Romans 2:4).
Gives us eternal life – “And you He made alive, who were dead in trespasses and sins..” Ephesians 2:1, “And I give them eternal life...” (John 10:28).
Our part in receiving this miracle of salvation is simply “believing” in our Saviour and what He has done. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved..” (Acts 16:31). “... these things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31). “To Him all the prophets witness that, through His name, whoever believes in Him will receive remission of sins.” (Acts 10:43). “Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:28).
If it is God who has saved me and justified me, could it be “unbelief” or “calling God a liar” if I doubt His promise to keep me in His hands to the end and to never leave me or forsake me? Could it be that the fear of losing my salvation somehow blocks the flow of God’s love in and through my life? Could it be that doubting His eternal salvation results in me removing my spiritual armour (ie. helmet of salvation in Ephesians 6:17), making my mind vulnerable to satan’s lies and torments? Just a thought!!
In concluding, it wouldn’t surprise me if the exodus of God’s people from Egypt under the hand of Moses and Joshua is some sort of parallel on this important subject. All the Hebrews were covered by the blood (ie. Passover lamb) and led through the red sea (baptism) on their deliverance from Egypt. This appears to represent our “justification”. To the best of my knowledge, nowhere in the bible do any of the Hebrews return to Egypt. The fact that God closed the red sea behind them (also drowning most of the Egyptian army in it) seems to shut the door on that prospect rather firmly don’t you think?
For the next forty years they wandered throughout the wilderness learning to trust and obey God. This seems to represent our “sanctification”. Although there were some severe judgments by God for unbelief and disobedience during this time, I can find nowhere in scripture where God disowns His called out people during this time. Interestingly enough though, a large number of God’s people (including Moses) did miss out on their inheritance however - the promised land.
Finally, under the leadership of Joshua, the generation that finally trusted and obeyed God successfully crossed the Jordan river and inherited the promise land. This may be symbolic of our “glorification” when we finally inherit our true spiritual homeland – heaven.
So, where does your confidence lie in regards to your salvation? Is it in God’s proven faithfulness and unshakeable Word or in your weak faith and limited understanding of His Word. Whatever your views on this subject, I pray that God will draw you closer to Himself and remind you of how remarkable and glorious His grace and plan of salvation is through Jesus Christ. G.R.A.C.E. – God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. Amen, Hallelujah!!!!