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Can Salvation Be Lost? - Part 2

Updated on November 4, 2017
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I am a Christian pastor who wishes to bring glory to God in all that I do, and to help people through my writing to know Him better.


Salvation is a Free Gift of God

One of the reasons why so many people fear losing salvation is that they aren't sure that in the end they will be good enough to stand before the judgement of a Holy God. They wonder if the good works that they have done will be enough to make up for all of the bad things that they have thought and done in their lives. To some, it is almost as if God's future judgement is somewhat like a balance scale where God places a person's good works on one side and his bad works on another. If the good outweighs the bad, then everything is all right. But if you do even one more bad thing and the balance is tipped on the side of your evil deeds, then God has to reject you. This is truly a horrible way to live since you will never know, this side of eternity, how you'll measure up.

I. Salvation Can Never be Earned

My reply to people who are seeking to be saved in this way is to stop wondering. The Bible already tells us that nobody can ever be saved like this. If you're seeking to be saved by works, it will never happen. The Bible tells us that God's standard for heaven is perfection. James 2:10 tells us:

"For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all."

In other words, in order to be saved by works at all, you need to be totally without sin. And that is not possible. I've often heard the illustration of the cake baked with one rotten egg. If you bake a cake and put all of the ingredients in it such as flour and sugar, baking powder etc. and put just one rotten egg in the mix, it will ruin the whole cake. That is a good example of a person trying to be saved by good works. Even one sin destroys the whole thing.

And what does the Scripture say of man and sin? It tells us that all of us have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. Romans 1-3 covers all people, from the utter pagan, to the morally self-righteous and even God's chosen people, the Jews. Read Romans 3:20-23:

"Therefore, by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; Even the righteousness of God which is by faith in Jesus Christ to all and upon all them that believe; for there is no difference: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."

Further, the Bible has this to say about what we perceive to be righteous deeds. Isaiah 64:6 tells us:

"But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away."

II. Salvation is by Grace through Faith

So if salvation is something that cannot be earned, then it has to be gotten in another way other than works. God's Word says that it is only by grace through faith. The word "grace" simply means unmerited favor. That tells us that we did absolutely nothing to deserve the salvation that God is freely giving to us. Don't get me wrong, salvation has a cost. It cost the Son of God his life on the Cross of Calvary. However, no price we could have paid would ever be enough.

There are many Scriptures that talk about salvation being by God's grace, through faith including Romans 4:1-5; Romans 8:33-39 and Titus 3:5. But let me quote one. Ephesians 2:8,9 tells us:

"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast."

Did you get that? No one will ever be able to come before God's judgement seat one day and say: "I did it my way." It is God's way, or no way at all. And God's way is that you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and accept His sacrifice on your behalf. It is a lot like receiving a gift here on earth. Presents are given to the recipient without cost. But it doesn't belong to you until you reach out and receive it.


The obvious question here is: "If salvation is a gift, given by God through no merit of our own, then how can we have anything to do with losing it?" That which we received that we didn't work to get, we cannot lose through works either. However, it doesn't stop there. Salvation is more than a glorified "get out of hell free card." It is far more than just the forgiveness of sins past, present and future. When God is finished with us we will be totally conformed to the image of the perfect Son of God, Jesus Christ. But that is a subject for the next article.


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    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      In order for us to understand the book of Galatians, it is necessary to know why Paul wrote it. There was a group of men that were telling the Galatians that in order to be saved, they had to follow the law of Moses and be circumcised. This is a letter in which Paul gets very angry because these men were distorting the true gospel and making it a gospel of works. In chapter 1 of the epistle, Paul was actually astonished that the people of the Galatian church were abandoning the true gospel for another. He said in Galatians 1:6-9 that:

      "I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you to live in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel- which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let them be accursed..."

      This is strong language and could rightly be translated as "eternally condemned to hell." This whole book was written to combat a perverted gospel of works and not grace.

      The section that you are quoting is another strong passage. The term 'severed' here means to be separated or estranged. The term 'fallen' means to lose one's grasp on something. In this case, it is to lose one's grasp on grace. Grace, by definition, is unmerited favor, so they had lost their grasp on what the grace of God is all about.

      And who are those who have fallen from grace? It is those who are seeking to be justified by the law. To fall from grace is to knowingly or unknowingly revert back to thinking that you can do something to maintain the right standing you already have with God through Christ. It is grace that saves us, and it is the grace of God that will keep us eternally secure.

      In I Corinthians 9:25-27 Paul is comparing the Christian to an athelete competing for a prize. The Greek word for disqualified means disapproved after testing. A careful distinction should be made here between a prize and a gift. Ephesians 2:8.9 says that salvation is by grace through faith, and is a gift of God. The free gift of justification cannot be by works (Romans 4:1-8). However the prize or crown is a reward for endurance and suffering for the cause of Christ, and for works done, or not done for Him. Earlier in I Corinthians, in chapter 3 Paul talks about the rewards that a Christian will receive. In verses 6-15 he compares the works done for Christ with gold, silver and precious stones that cannot be destroyed by the fires of judgement. They endure and will be rewarded. Those things done for self are like wood, hay and stubble, which will burn up. For that a Christian suffers the loss of reward.

      The key verse to look at here is verse 15 that gives the possibility that no good works will remain. The person sees all of his works burned up before him. But he himself will be saved, "yet so as through fire." He doesn't lose salvation, but rewards.

      Jesus and Paul don't disagree on this at all. We need to know Jesus' full teaching on this subject. In John 10:27-29 he states:

      "My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall any man take 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." The words 'never perish' are quite strong and it is impossible to say that Jesus believed that a true believer could ever lose salvation and still be able to say that they would never perish. Never means never.

      In John 15, Jesus is using the metaphor of the Vinedresser and the branches. The Vindresser is the Father. The branches which bear fruit are the true Christians. They are those who abide. The word "abide" means to remain or stay around. That a person remains is evidence of true conversion, or salvation. If you look at I John 2:19, it says that those who don't remain were never really part of the people of God in the first place. John says:

      They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us."

      So if we put all of this together, none of these verses goes against the belief in the eternal security of every believer. They are all saved by grace, through faith, plus nothing. And it is that grace that will ultimately lead us to share in Christ's Kingdom forever. Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ (Romans 8:38-39).

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Doesn't Paul warn the Galatian disciples:

      2 Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. 3 I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law. 4 You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified[a] by the law; you have fallen away from grace. (Gal 5:2-4)

      Doesn't he also speak of his own salvation this way:

      25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control,[b] lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. (1 Cor 9:25-27)

      And ultimately doesn't Christ teach:

      5 I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.

      Not to be rude, but salvation is actually at stake, so I'll be direct: Paul's teaching seems consistent with Christ's; yours seems consistent with neither. Ultimately, your logic is plausible---but Paul teaches that plausible doctrines can lead to hell. (Col 2:4-8)

      So ultimately, how do you harmonize what you are teaching with what Christ actually taught?

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      By arguing the point you are arguing with all that the New Testament says about Abraham, Enoch, the prophets and you are nullifying the work of Jesus Christ who died for the sins of all men, past present and future. Also, you're arguing with Paul who is quoting the Old Testament when he says that there is none righteous, not even one (Romans 3:10-12; Psalm 14:1-3; 53;1-3).

      Enoch and Elijah were saved because they, in faith, were followers of the one true God and the revelation of Him that they had up until that time. But their faith would have been in vain had not God sent his Son to die for their sins just like He died for mine. The Old Testament Law, among other things, proved that no one could be saved by works. Not because the law was bad, but because man, in his present state, with his old nature, can never do anything to please a Holy God. He needs the substitutionary work of Christ.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Neither Enoch nor Elijah had faith in Jesus. Jesus was not on the earth yet. Nowhere did it say anything about Jesus when discussing either of them. Their faith was in God the Father, They were Judged worthy. Judgement is according to works.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Modern Christians place the same emphasis on faith as the Bible places on it. What you are reading in James 2 is the fact that James is teaching that a person who has been saved by faith should show evidence of that salvation by his fruit. A living fruit tree will produce fruit, and a living Christian will produce good works. It is not the works that saves him. It is God's grace, through faith. The works are a result of that faith.

      Romans 4 tells us clearly that works can never save. Even Abraham was saved by his faith. And David spoke of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works (Romans 4:1-8).

      The book of Hebrews in chapter 11 tells us that Enoch was taken up and didn't see death by faith (Hebrews 11:5). And that same chapter later talked of the prophets, which would include Elijah. It says in verses 32 through 34: "And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets, who by faith conquered kingdoms, performed acts of righteousness, obtained promises, shut the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire escaped the edge of the sword, from weakness were made strong, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight."

      If man could ever be saved by anything other than faith in Jesus Christ, then Christ's death would be in vain. He died and arose again because it was the only way that man could ever be justified before a Holy God. That was just as true in the Old Testament as in the New. Paul says that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Faith saves --your works provide your reward. BUT do remember, Enoch went to God without death, saved by his works, as was Elijah. Modern Christians place everything on faith. Faith without works is death.( James 2) Therefore: Faith alone gives one the same results as sin. DEATH

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Paul, the Apostle received his authority from the risen Christ and all Scripture is God breathed or inspired. What you are quoting from in the Book of Revelation is the Great White throne judgement, which is the final judgement of unbelievers before they receive their eternal punishment in the Lake of Fire. They have rejected God's offer of Salvation through Christ, and so have no other alternative but to be judged according to their works for salvation. And they fall far short, as anyone who seeks to be justified by works will do.

      If you read earlier in chapter 20, it talks about the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth after the seven year Great Tribulation. If you see, there were those who had already been raised who had gone through the Tribulation period. These are said to reign with Christ during that thousand year period. But the rest of the dead, aren't raised until the time of the final judgement.

      What isn't spoken of in Revelation are the saints which the Apostle Paul refers to as the Body of Christ. They include all believers who have been saved during this Age of Grace which we now are living in. As Paul says in Romans 9-11, Israel has been temporarily set aside and God is offering salvation to the whole world. And he is placing them into the Church, or the Body of Christ.

      The Church has already been caught up to be with the Lord by the time of the Tribulation period. And they also have faced a time of judgement, but it isn't for salvation as Christ paid the complete penalty for sin (Hebrews 10:14). This is a judgement for rewards for things done for Christ after salvation (II Corinthians 5:10). Paul talks about things done for Christ and likens them to gold, silver and precious stones, which when they go through the fire of judgement, will remain and they will be rewarded. The things not done for Christ are likened to wood, hay and stubble. They will be burned up, and the believer is said to suffer loss. But he himself will be saved, according to Paul, so as by fire (I Corinthians 3:10-15).

      Works are very important in the Christian life, but not for salvation. We were once dead in trespasses and sins and God has given us a new life through faith in Jesus Christ. Works are the fruit that comes from that new life. They are the demonstration that a person is truly born again. It is a lot like looking at smoke coming out of a chimney in a house. The smoke is evidence that there is a fire somewhere, because a fire gives off smoke.

      In James 2 it says that faith without works is dead. That is what he means here. If you truly have faith and have received salvation, works should be the natural result. First comes faith, then a new life in Christ. Then comes works.

      Finally, I will talk about John 10:27-29 in my next hub, but these verses are a wonderful assurance from Christ Himself that His sheep are given eternal life by Him, and they will never perish. I invite you to read it for yourself. May the Lord bless you.

    • profile image

      Deborah Sexton 

      7 years ago

      The thing is not to offend in one point. But keep the whole Law. Yahshua (Jesus to you) never taught we are saved by faith, only Paul did.

      The final thing Yahshua said through John was:

      Revelation 20:12

      And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works

      Revelation 20:13

      And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works

      We're not judged by our faith but our works.

      He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Lifegate: Once again I thank you for your support in reading my hubs. And I am thankful to God that Salvation is a gift, because both of us know that without that gift none of us would be able to stand before a Holy God. I praise Him every day for what He's done for me.

    • lifegate profile image

      William Kovacic 

      7 years ago from Pleasant Gap, PA


      "It is God's way, or no way at all." So well said. That should clear up any doubt. Like you said--A gift is a gift, and God never goes back on His Word or His Gift. Thanks for another well put together hub.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      It is definitely a magnificent topic. To know for certain that you belong to the Lord forever is a wonderful thing. Our God is marvelous! Thanks for the comments.

    • YvetteParker profile image


      7 years ago from AUGUSTA, GA

      Great! Thanks so much for sharing. I recently had a conversation with a staff member (fellow believer)on this same subject.

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Amen! May He recieve all the glory for what He has done.

    • voice of one profile image

      voice of one 

      7 years ago from Illinois

      Good Hub. Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift (2 Corthinians 9:15).

    • GodTalk profile imageAUTHOR

      Jeff Shirley 

      7 years ago from Kentwood, Michigan

      Thank you for visiting, and for your comments. God bless.

    • Glenda Grosjean profile image

      Glenda Grosjean 

      7 years ago from Wayne, MI

      Thanks for standing on the truth of God's word! Great Hub!


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