Is salvation ours to lose?
Once saved always saved? I realize that’s a pretty controversial topic and you may differ with my viewpoint, but based on what scripture and the Holy Spirit has shown me, this is my opinion.
If salvation is a gift of Grace, why is it once we are saved, religion teaches us that in order to remain saved, we have to somehow become “better people” and live to “a new standard of the law”, or we’ll lose our salvation? Why is it so hard for us to believe salvation is a lifetime, lifelong gift freely given to us by the Grace of God to set us free from sin itself, and not some kind of “deal” that gets taken from us if we mess up once, twice, or a hundred times? I’m not advocating we use this amazing gift as an excuse to continue in sin, that’s not my point. Bit if we are truly born again, and we desire to know and follow Jesus, then we know that for many of us, growing in holiness by the teaching of the Holy Spirit is a process that can take time, especially in the beginning if you are among “church goers” like I was, who do not look or act any different than the rest of the unsaved world.
I struggled with this topic for years an until recently, and if you are like me, often I felt there has been a “double message” by what the 20th century church as a whole has taught me about my salvation. Scripture says it’s faith that justifies us and brings us to the saving grace of God, through His son Jesus, and not our attempts at following some religious laws or doctrine. (Romans 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”). So if it’s faith and God’s grace that brought us to salvation, wouldn’t it make sense that His grace was large enough to keep us in salvation??….and that you and I no longer have to worry that we’ll somehow lose salvation if we miss living up to a subjective standard of holiness instead of living by the law of the spirit, with a clean conscience which should automatically change the way we once behaved?
The word is very clear on this, that it’s by His grace, through faith we are saved, and not by our works or by upholding the Law of the prophets. Yet it seems everywhere I go, people are feeling oppressed that they aren’t “living up to the law” so to speak, as Christians. I see and hear the voice of condemnation everywhere I go in the church, which often is the very thing that keeps us in bondage to continue in sin.
Perhaps one of the issues in the churches I attended, was whole concept of the “sinners prayer” which technically isn’t even in the Bible, and in my opinion, often misses the point of what it means to follow Jesus (as if it’s an option we can leave out). In other words, I know many people who said “the prayer”, but show no evidence that they are born again, and have no fellowship with Jesus, Holy Spirit, and our Father.
But for those who are truly born again, I think so many of us at one time or another, bought into the lie that Christ got us saved, but now I have to somehow sustain my own salvation and “live up to the law” as a perfect Christian in order to keep it, or God can’t love and accept me. His word says “yet while we were still sinners, he sent His Son”! I found in the past, when I would think this way I would ultimately always fall short and end up “feeling” condemned by my own thoughts, or worse by the church. Yet, we wonder why much of the church is dying today while filled with such judgement and condemnation, and missing the good news that we can be restored to new life and set free of sin! Who want’s to go to church and be reminded of just how short we fall from being “perfect Christians” instead of being taught we are sons of God being sanctified by Grace? And if we’re honest and listen to what many of the youth today are saying, “who want’s to even be saved if condemnation is the end game for us”? Where’s the good news of the Gospel Jesus spoke of, in that message? If there isn’t the good news of reconciliation drawing our youth to today’s church, then I promise you something is missing from what Jesus intended because everyone was drawn to Jesus’ message of love and forgiveness, except of course the Pharisees!
Yet in just speaking such words above, I bet some reading this are upset thinking I’m teaching a “hyper Grace” message, ignoring major parts of scripture, and promoting a license for people to sin without worry or regret. That would be wrong! If that is what you are hearing, then I promise you are missing my point and maybe the good news of the Gospel. When we start thinking the gift of salvation is too good to be true, and that somehow you and I must do something to earn it, then we are under-estimating the real power in such grace, to change a mans heart to truly repent and we are underestimating the power of the Holy Spirit working within us (through conviction not condemnation). It is the goodness of God that leads us to change (Rom 2:4), and not judgement and condemnation. Holy Spirit is our advocate, not a source of condemnation. He corrects us and teaches us how to become more like Jesus.
The Great Lie
Is it just me or has anyone else noticed that religion tends to teach us “Once saved, we must bear the burden of the “law” and “act” like good Christians to remain saved?” Somehow we are consciously or subconsciously told “watch out, you better be holy now or you might lose your salvation!” ….as if what Christ did on the cross wasn’t enough to keep us saved and somehow we need to step in to take over by fulfilling the law. Does anyone else see the ridiculous conclusion that not only strips the cross of it’s purpose with this logic but also it’s power to produce greater holiness in each of us? Think about it, when you are born again and then question whether or not you can lose your salvation, aren’t you really saying God isn’t/wasn’t big enough to cover your sins? Really, do you think your sins are so bad or so large that Jesus, the spotless lamb of God who took away ALL the sin of the world, wasn’t enough to remove your sins? Or are you saying that you’re so important, that you need to step in and take over for God by adding your works to His work on the cross? I hope all this sounds silly, because when we start thinking Jesus wasn’t enough, then we really are diminishing the power of transformation found through faith and grace, and we have been deceived by the enemy himself AND we remain so sin conscious that we fail to learn to walk in true righteousness and freedom. Jesus paid the full price for all of it!
If I were the enemy, I’d sure do everything in my power to get you to believe the lie that if you fall short in your walk, you’re in great jeopardy of losing your salvation! Think about the chaos that is created in a person who is feeling uncertain. Enough chaos can also keep you from drawing closer to God in your walk. Folks, I assure you that if you are hearing the voice of condemnation trying to tell you that you can lose your salvation based on your inability to follow the law, then you are hearing a bold lie from the pit of hell…don’t believe it! No one is capable of fully following the law and if you follow the law, you are condemned by the law. If that is where you are at, then I pray you will be set free. Anyone still living by the law is in bondage and needs to be set free by the truth and the real good news of the saving grace of what Jesus did on the cross through the Gospel!
If you have been born again and really read what scripture says, then you will find it’s not about what you and I have done (or can do), it’s ALL about what Christ already did and that our sins of yesterday, today, and tomorrow are forgotten as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12). It’s so important for us to know that our escape from sin is not found in the law or our works to be perfect, but that our escape from sin is found through our faith in Jesus, and believing that we can in fact be free from sin itself, if we continue to follow Him and walk by the Spirit. It’s that simple.
There is nothing you or I can add to what Jesus already did on the cross 2000 years ago. Salvation is a gift which continues to do a good work within us when born again, and unless you were not born again, or unless you purposely curse Holy Spirit, and unless you “deviate from the faith and turn away from their allegiance” (Heb 6:6 – basically telling God that you no longer wish to be saved or do not wish to believe and follow Jesus), then you cannot lose your salvation because your are not fulfilling the right “religious doctrines” or not fulfilling the law, or by not acting like a “perfect christian”. So let’s also not confuse the gift of salvation, with our heavenly rewards for storing up treasures in heaven, and seeking to walk an greater holiness. What we do in our life is very important to God, and there are rewards in heaven for following Jesus and walking in greater holiness, and our salvation rests on the finished work of the cross, not our works. I think that is where so many people get lost and either fall on the slippery slope of religious works, or fall back into the bondage of living in sin. Why not keep your faith in Jesus, walk with Him, desire Him, get to know Him through prayer and His word, and let Him work out your salvation (as you surrender your life to Him) since He is the author?
Hebrews 6:6 and the scriptures below, describe the case(s) when a Christian can lose their salvation. After study on these, I’m convinced these are only the rarest of cases of “mature believers” who have fully walked in the gifts of the spirit, fully understand their relationship with God, were fully committed to the Lord, and in a sense, “turned to the dark side”, willfully despising/denying their salvation cursing the Holy Spirit Although I would think it rare, such is the nature of free will – one can always choose to willfully turn down the gift of salvation, even after being saved.
Mark 3:29 but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.” Luke 12:10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.
Paul’s Warnings about the Law:
So with that exception aside, Paul warned in several places both in Galatians and in Roman’s against the legalistic/law mindset that taught Christians that in order to “stay saved” we must follow the law. The religious elite at that time, kept trying to tell believers what Jesus did on the cross, wasn’t enough and they needed to do more by following the Jewish law in order to remain saved.
Paul asked them “Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by means of the flesh?” Paul is trying to show the Galatians the difference between receiving salvation as a gift of grace verses by our own means of following the law. The truth is non of us is capable of following the 600+ laws of Moses, and exactly why we needed Jesus to do so for us, and now we live by faith, saved by Grace.
The Free Gift
As humans born in a fallen world, somehow it’s so hard for us to believe we could actually get something we never deserved. That just isn’t what the world has taught you and I. So in our lack of understanding, many of us spend a lifetime trying to justify God’s grace through our own works of righteousness by upholding the law, trying to become better believers. In fact, 2000 years ago, the Galatians struggled with this same concept and if we look around most of the church still struggles with this concept, condemning believers (and ourselves) for not being good enough and needing to try harder to become better Christians. But God’s grace is indeed sufficient.
In doing so, we (and the church at large) has/have missed the true gift of freedom Christ gave us in removing the guilt and condemnation placed upon us by trying to live up to the law of the Old Testament. This is what Jesus meant when He said in Matthew 11:30 “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” With 611 laws in the Old Testament, there was nothing easy or light in trying to uphold those laws and although the law of old had an important purpose in History the result was before our redemption through Christ’s gift, all fell short and were left with guilt, shame, and condemnation living daily in a state of “sin consciousness” . But if we understand and accept the good news of the Gospel we’ll see, Christ came to free us from such a state of “sin Consciousness”. Galatians 3:13
Christ purchased our freedom [redeeming us] from the curse (doom) of the Law [and its condemnation] by [Himself] becoming a curse for us, for it is written [in the Scriptures], Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree (is crucified). Yes, we have been set free because, “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law”! Amen
“The righteous live by faith”
This is really a huge point that many of us (and the church) as a whole miss today as well. Scripture is so clear on this revelation, just read Galatians 3:10 to see my point. 10 For all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse, as it is written: “Cursed is everyone who does not continue to do everything written in the Book of the Law.”[e] 11 Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.”[f] 12 The law is not based on faith; on the contrary, it says, “The person who does these things will live by them.”[g] 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a pole.”[h] 14 He redeemed us in order that the blessing given to Abraham might come to the Gentiles through Christ Jesus, so that by faith we might receive the promise of the Spirit.
Why the Law?
You ask, why then was the law given? Great question and one that Paul addressed in Gal 3:19 Why, then, was the law given at all? It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise referred had come. The law was given to show the world’s desperate need for a savior “the Seed” of Abraham, Christ Jesus.
The Law of Sin and Death
It’s so important for us to remember what Paul tells us on how “the law” could never bring man to a state of righteousness – Gal 3:21 For if a law had been given that could impart life, then righteousness would certainly have come by the law.
Freed from the Law
But instead, Paul says “Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin” ( “the law”) meaning that since Christ has come, those who believe by faith have been freed from the law. – Gal 3:22 22 But Scripture has locked up everything under the control of sin, so that what was promised, being given through faith in Jesus Christ, might be given to those who believe.)
Freedom in Christ
You and I truly must understand this, if we are to walk free from the condemnation of sin, and approach the throne of God in petition and prayer with a clear conscience provided by Jesus himself, and not by our works upholding “the law”. Otherwise, we all fall short and deny the very gift of fellowship with our Father because guilt, shame, and condemnation (the works of the enemy) try to separate us from God with a veil of darkness.
(2 Corinthians 3:14
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away.
2 Corinthians 3:15 Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.)
Too much Grace?
We have been given such a grace and freedom through Jesus to experience the depth of God’s love without the burden of sin staining our relationship with Him. There are far too many believers who worry that a “message of Grace” (or hyper grace) is a ticket to live an “unholy” life by believers. But I say, if we truly born again then it’s His goodness that leads us to repent, and not the blinding judgment of the law. (Romans 2:4 ….Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?) I say, if we love God and are called to his purposes, then it is He who changes us from the inside out by writing His laws upon our hearts, and not from the outside using the “laws of old” referred to as “the law of sin and death”. Heb 10:16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the Lord: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,”
The Work of the Cross
Let’s not be deceived, it is He who is doing a great work in each of us by His hand, not by our own hand, not by works, and certainly not by the law…. Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. 1 Thessalonians 2:13 …. it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe…..
It is the gift of the Father, the great work of Jesus on the cross, and the counsel of our Holy Spirit that has given us the freedom to draw closer in our walk with God, approach Him with a clear conscience, and become transformed by His grace. . Hebrews 12:2 …..looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith….
So let’s stop trying to become righteous by our own works or by the law and start believing in the righteousness given to us through “grace by faith”. It’s His Grace with our Faith that started this work in us and it is the same Grace with our faith that will conform us into the image of His Son! Does that mean we use Grace an excuse to live unholy or to be lazy in growing our faith or sloppy in our holy habits, no of course not! But let’s start where the cross finished and let’s believe in God’s promises and listen to what Paul is telling us when he says we are “the righteous children of God” and stop believing we are just a bunch of “law breaking, worthless sinners”!
Believing in our value to God as His child, takes us to a whole new plateau in our walk and allows His holiness to enter into us by His amazing Grace. Our faith is the amazing transforming agent that allows God’s Grace to shape us, if we’ll walk by faith and not by the law or our works. Jesus paid the price for you and I to be free and justified with our Father in heaven by His work on the cross, to become “heirs according to the promise”. We need to stop trying to become heirs, since we’ve already become heirs by His work, and not by the law or by our deeds.
4 But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, 5 to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship.[b]6 Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba,[c] Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir.Scott L