Once a person is saved are they always saved? When people come to know Christ as their Saviour, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their salvation as eternally secure. Numerous passages of Scripture declare this fact.
- Romans 8:30 declares, “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified.” This verse tells us that from the moment God chooses us, it is as if we are glorified in His presence in Heaven. There is nothing that can prevent a believer from one day being glorified because God has already purposed it in Heaven. Once a person is justified, his salvation is guaranteed – he is as secure as if he is already glorified in Heaven.
- Paul asks two crucial questions in Romans 8:33-34: “Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died more than that, who was raised to life – is at the right Hand of God and is also interceding for us.” Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? No one will, because Christ is our advocate. Who will condemn us? No one will, because Christ, the One who died for us, is the one who condemns. We have both the advocate and judge as our Saviour.
- Believers are born again (regenerated) when they believe (John 3:3; Titus 3:5). For a Christian to lose his salvation, he would have to be un-regenerated. The Bible gives no evidence that the new birth can be taken away.
- The Holy Spirit indwells all believers (John 14:17; Romans 8:9) and baptises all believers into the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13). For a believer to become unsaved, he would have to be “un-indwelt” and detached from the Body of Christ.
- John 3:15 states that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If you believe in Christ today and have eternal life, but lose it tomorrow, then it was never “eternal” at all. Hence if you lose your salvation, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.
- For the most conclusive argument, Scripture says it best itself, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” – Romans 8:38-39. Remember the same God who saved you is the same God who will keep you. Once we are saved we are always saved. Our salvation is most definitely eternally secure!
Eternal security – is it Biblical?
When people come to know Christ as their Saviour, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security. Jude 24 declares, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before His glorious presence without fault and with great joy.” God’s power is able to keep the believer from falling. It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation.
The Lord Jesus Christ proclaimed, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of My Hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, no one can snatch them out of My Father’s Hand” – John 10:28-29. Both Jesus and the Father have us firmly grasped in Their Hands. Who could possibly separate us from the grip of both the Father and the Son?
Ephesians 4:30 tells us that believers are “sealed for the day of redemption.” If believers did not have eternal security, the sealing could not truly be unto the day of redemption, but only to the day of sinning, apostasy, or disbelief. John 3:15-16 tells us that whoever believes in Jesus Christ will “have eternal life.” If a person were to be promised eternal life, but then have it taken away, it was never “eternal” to begin with. If eternal security is not true, the promises of eternal life in the Bible would be in error.
The most powerful argument for eternal security is Romans 8:38-39, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Our eternal security is based on God’s love for those whom He has redeemed. Our eternal security is purchased by Christ, promised by the Father, and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
Can a Christian lose salvation?
First, the term Christian must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer or walked down an aisle or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian. A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Saviour and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8–9).
If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?
The Bible teaches that everyone who is born again by the power of the Holy Spirit is saved forever. We receive the gift of eternal life (John 10:28), not temporary life. Someone who is born again (John 3:3) cannot be “unborn.” After being adopted into God’s family (Romans 8:15), we will not be kicked out. When God starts a work, He finishes it (Philippians 1:6). So, the child of God – the believer in Jesus Christ – is eternally secure in his salvation.
However, the Bible also contains some strong warnings against apostasy. These warnings have led some to doubt the doctrine of eternal security. After all, if we cannot lose our salvation, why are we warned against falling away from the Lord? This is a good question. First, we must understand what is meant by “apostasy.”
An apostate is someone who abandons his religious faith. It is clear from the Bible that apostates are people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ but never genuinely received Him as Saviour. They were ‘pretend’ believers. Those who turn away from Christ never really trusted Him to begin with, as 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” Those who apostatise are simply demonstrating that they are not true believers, and they never were.
The Parable of the Wheat and the Tares (Matthew 13:24–30) provides a simple illustration of apostasy. In the same field were growing wheat and “false wheat” (tares or weeds). At first, the difference between the two types of plants was undetectable, but as time went on, the weeds were seen for what they were. In the same way, in any given church today, there may be true, born-again believers side by side with pretenders – those who enjoy the messages, the music, and the fellowship, but have never repented of their sins and accepted Christ by faith. To any human observer, the true believer and the pretender look identical. Only God can see the heart. Matthew 13:1–9 (the Parable of the Sower) is another illustration of apostasy in action.
The Bible’s warnings against apostasy exist because there are two types of religious people: believers and unbelievers. In any church there are those who truly know Christ and those who are going through the motions. Wearing the label “Christian” does not guarantee a change of heart. It is possible to hear the Word, and even agree with its truth, without taking it to heart. It is possible to attend church, serve in a ministry, and call yourself a Christian – and still be unsaved (Matthew 7:21–23). As the prophet said, “These people come near to me with their mouth and honour me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me” – Isaiah 29:13; cf. Mark 7:6.
God warns the pretender who sits in the pew and hears the Gospel Sunday after Sunday that he is playing with fire. Eventually, a pretender will apostatize – he will “fall away” from the faith he once professed – if he does not repent. Like the tares among the wheat, his true nature will be manifest.
The passages warning against apostasy serve two primary purposes. First, they exhort everyone to be sure of their salvation. One’s eternal destiny is not a trifling matter. Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see whether we are “in the faith.”
One test of true faith is love for others (1 John 4:7–8). Another is good works. Anyone can claim to be a Christian, but those who are truly saved will bear “fruit.” A true Christian will show, through words, actions, and doctrine, that he follows the Lord. Christians bear fruit in varying degrees based on their level of obedience and their spiritual gifts, but all Christians bear fruit as the Spirit produces it in them (Galatians 5:22–23). Just as true followers of Jesus Christ will be able to see evidence of their salvation (1 John 4:13), apostates will eventually be made known by their fruit (Matthew 7:16–20) or lack thereof (John 15:2).
The second purpose for the Bible’s warnings against apostasy is to equip the church to identify apostates. They can be known by their rejection of Christ, acceptance of heresy, and carnal nature (2 Peter 2:1–3).
The Biblical warnings against apostasy, therefore, are warnings to those who are under the umbrella of “faith” without ever having truly exercised faith. Scriptures such as Hebrews 6:4–6 and Hebrews 10:26–29 are warnings to “pretend” believers that they need to examine themselves before it’s too late. Matthew 7:22–23 indicates that “pretend believers” whom the Lord rejects on Judgement Day are rejected not because they “lost faith” but because the Lord never knew them. They never had a relationship with Him.
There are many people who love religion for religion’s sake and are willing to identify themselves with Jesus and the Church. Who wouldn’t want eternal life and blessing? However, Jesus warns us to “count the cost” of discipleship (Luke 9:23–26; 14:25–33). True believers have counted the cost and made the commitment; apostates fail to do so. Apostates had a profession of faith at one time but not the possession of faith. Their mouths spoke something other than what their hearts believed. Apostasy is not loss of salvation but evidence of past pretension.
Is there such a thing as an ex-Christian?
This is a question for which there is definitely a clear and explicit Biblical answer. First John 2:19 declares, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” This Scripture makes it abundantly clear – there is no such thing as an ex-Christian. If a person is truly a Christian, he/she will never depart from the faith “…for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us…” If a person who claimed to be a Christian denies the faith, he/she was not truly a Christian. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us…their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” No, there is truly no such thing as an ex-Christian.
It is important to distinguish between a true Christian and an “in name only” Christian. A true Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. A true Christian is a person who understands what the Bible says about sin, sin’s penalty, who Jesus is, what Jesus did for us, and how that provides for the forgiveness of sin. A true Christian is a person who has received Jesus Christ as personal Saviour, has been made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and is progressively being transformed into the image of Christ. A true Christian is a person who is kept a Christian by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:13, 30; 2 Corinthians 1:22). This true Christian can never become an ex-Christian. No one who has truly and fully trusted in Christ as Saviour could ever deny Him. No one who truly comprehends the evil of sin, the terror of sin’s consequences, the love of Christ, and the grace and mercy of God, could ever turn back from the Christian faith.
There are many in this world who claim to be Christians, but are not. Being a Christian does not mean being an American or having white skin. Being a Christian does not mean recognising that Jesus was a great teacher or even seeking to follow His teachings. Being a Christian means being a representative of Christ and a follower / servant of Christ. There are people who have had some connection to a “Christian” church and then later renounced that connection. There are people who have “tasted” and “sampled” Jesus Christ, without ever actually receiving Him as Savior. However, there is no such thing as true ex-Christian. A true Christian will never, and could never, renounce the faith. Any person who claimed to be a Christian, but later rejects the Christian faith, was never truly a Christian.
Article source: www.gotquestions.org