Can Salvation be Lost? Part 1
Definition of Terms
Can a person know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are completely justified before a holy God and will always be justified? In other words, can a person know that he or she is saved and will one day be with the Lord for eternity? There are many Christians who would have trouble answering these questions with a yes. Many seem to hope for the best that God would let them into His heaven, even if they have accepted the fact that Jesus Christ died on the cross for their sins, and they have trusted him for their salvation.
So many rely on their feelings to judge whether or not everything is right between them and God. One day they feel estranged from Him, while the next they feel that everything is all right. They just assume that their feelings are an accurate measure of their spiritual condition. These people soar to heights of elation, only to plunge to the depths of depression.
Too many think that salvation is merely the forgiveness of sins. So it is naturally assumed that, if they sin after salvation and then die before doing something to get forgiveness, they would be lost. Others feel that no man can pluck you out of the Father's hand and nothing can separate you from the love of God, but you're free to jump out on your own.
It is because of these and other misconceptions regarding salvation that many Christians fail to experience the full joy that comes from knowing that they are sons and daughters of the living God forever. But the Bible tells us that we can know that we have eternal life. It isn't something we can lose, or worry that God will one day reject us. It is as certain as the promises of God. Listen to I John 5:11-13:
"And this is the record, that God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life; and he that does not have the Son of God does not have life. These things have I written to you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may believe on the name of the Son of God."
This doctrine has many expressions connected with it. It is sometimes called "Once saved, always saved." It has also been called the doctrine of "eternal security." Many have referred to it as the "perseverance of the saints." This final title is somewhat inaccurate, however. The saint is not the one doing the persevering. God is the person who perseveres to make sure that what He has begun in the believer, He will bring to completion (Philippians 1:6).
Though none of the actual terms that we use for this doctrine are in Scripture, the concepts that these terms express certainly are there. The Bible teaches the eternal security of every believer, and unless we have a biblical view of the salvation we possess, we can never live the abundant life that our Lord promised us (John 10:10).
However, before we can understand this glorious doctrine, it is first necessary to have an understanding of the terms "lost" and "saved."
I. What Does it Mean to be Lost?
The Bible says that we are all sinners. Sin is any lack of conformity to the character and will of God. It is disobedience to Him, or doing what He doesn't want us to do. Scripture says that we are sinners both by choice and by nature. We are all guilty of personal acts of disobedience to God (Romans 3:10-23). But we were also born with a sinful nature (Psalm 51:5), which we inherited from the first man, Adam (Romans 5:12).
God, is completely holy and cannot look upon sin. Therefore, we, in our natural state are alienated from Him and can do nothing to please Him. We who were originally created to have fellowship with the Lord, are now His enemies and separated from our creator.
The penalty that is the result of our sin is death. That includes physical death, which is the separation of soul and body. It also includes spiritual death, which is the separation of our soul from God. And finally, if this condition is not remedied it leads to eternal death. That is the eternal separation of the soul from God in the Lake of Fire.
Being in a lost condition means that we have no chance on our own to ever remedy this situation. Apart from the work of Jesus Christ on the cross to save us from our sins, this is the lot of every person. We are all on our way to an eternity of punishment for our sins apart from God.
II. What Does it Mean to Be Saved?
This is the where the next article has to elaborate more, because it is the key to understanding eternal security. But briefly, salvation is totally from the Lord. It includes both negative and positive aspects. We are saved from our lost condition and our sins are forgiven. And we are brought into a relationship with the Lord which provides us with several dozen positive blessings when we trust Christ. They include:
1. Regeneration- This is the work of the Holy Spirit by which He transforms the believer from a state of spritual death to spiritual life (John 3:5; 10:10,28).
2. Justification- This means that God declares us righteous, since we are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (Romans 3:21-26).
3. Being freed from the domain and dominion of sin (Romans 6:2-14).
There are many more but we will save them for later. Salvation ultimately includes every divine undertaking from the believer's deliverance out of his lost state, to his final presentation in glory when he will be totally conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.
The sooner that we understand that salvation has absolutely nothing to do with us, the sooner we will realize that there is nothing that we can do to lose it. It is totally a work of God's grace through Jesus Christ. May we give Him the glory for the great things that He has done!