Can you Lose Your Salvation?
This is a question every believer encounters at some point in their journey with Christ. Some people wonder if they were truly saved in the first place, which is a similar question. The issue is ‘did I do something that made God mad at me?’ Or, ‘I have backslidden and I am not pursuing God, does God still consider me saved?’ Or, ‘I think I have committed the unforgiveable sin.’
In considering this question it is obvious that theology matters. You must know what you believe about soteriology, or the doctrine of salvation. How does a person become saved and if saved, always saved? What are the conditions for salvation? It is essential to know what it takes to go to heaven and whether salvation depends on you or not. Your perspective and bias on how you approach Scripture will influence how you answer this question as well. A Calvinist, for example, will always say no to this question since it is part of Calvinism that one cannot lose his or her salvation. So, if Calvinism is true, the question is answered in the negative, you cannot lose your salvation. But, then the questions just morphs for the Calvinist to ‘Are you sure you are saved?’. Because if you do not persevere and you do fall away, then they will say you were never saved in the first place.
What are the conditions for Salvation?
Faith and Repentance from man; Grace and mercy from God.
One place to start is Eph 2:8-9 “For it is by grace you are saved through faith and this not of yourselves
NAU Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;
NAU Ephesians 2:9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.
By grace through faith. Many people mis-translate the part ‘not of yourselves’ as referring to faith. That is incorrect. In the Greek the pronoun is neuter and so its antecedent must be neuter as well. Faith in the Greek is feminine. Obviously grace is not from man, it is from God, so it doesn’t fit either. The proper antecedent therefore is salvation is not of yourselves and salvation is not the result of works, it is the gift of God. Does God exercise faith to save us? No, the Bible is clear that we must exercise faith to receive the gift of salvation. Therefore, faith is not a work otherwise this Scripture would not be true.
So God saves us from our sins and gives us salvation or eternal life as a free gift. It is not something we earn; it is something received on the basis of faith. This leads me to John 1:12
NAU John 1:12 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,
This verse presents two conditions for salvation: receive Jesus and believe in the name of Jesus. This verse also presents salvation as becoming a child of God. Other verses state that we are adopted by God the Father. This relationship is one of the reasons many people will give to state that we cannot lose our salvation since we would also lose the relationship of being God’s son or daughter. In effect, God would have to un-adopt us.
So, we have at least two conditions for salvation: faith and receiving Jesus. What about another famous verse, Romans 10:13: “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” The idea here is that anyone who calls out to be saved will be saved. You say, “Jesus, save me” and Jesus saves you. Pretty simple. This is not a separate condition, though. Calling out to Jesus is the action that relays to God that you believe Jesus will save: faith.
One of the aspects of belief is that the Bible presents it in the present tense. In other words, it is not a one-time event. In the Greek, a one-time event is presented in the aorist tense which in English is translated as past tense. In the Greek present tense, an ongoing action or continual action is implied which means that belief is ongoing. It is the idea that our faith must have lasting value. One cannot be considered to be saved if he believed for one day and then changed his mind. His belief in Jesus must continue. An analogy might be marriage. You love that person for life. A one-night stand does not constitute love nor marriage.
This brings up an important question. What if a person believed in Jesus for a long time and then began doubting that Jesus really is God? If you stop believing in Jesus, do you lose your salvation? The answer to this question at this point would be yes because present tense belief, ongoing belief, is a requirement to be saved.