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Can a Christian lose salvation?

This is one of those topics that Christians love to argue about. Are we "once saved always saved"? Or is it possible to do something so bad that our salvation gets revoked? And if that happens, can we earn it back later by being good enough? So many things to debate, but what does the Bible say about how permanent salvation is? (NOTE: If you aren't familiar with the term "salvation," it might be helpful to read this article: What is salvation? What am I living my life for?)

Defining a "Christian"

First, let's define what it really means to be a Christian. It might be helpful to list a few things that will NOT automatically make a person a Christian.

Being a Christian is NOT determined by:

  • ...saying a special prayer.
  • ...walking down an aisle when people are called to the front at church/youth group.
  • ...being raised in a Christian family.

While all those things are fine and good, they are NOT what makes a Christian a Christian. The "salvation prayer" is not like a password into the Kingdom of Heaven. Being raised in a Christian home doesn't mean that you become saved by osmosis. So what IS a Christian?

An honest to goodness Christian is a person who has, by faith, accepted and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the one and only Savior for his or her sinful life (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). It's as simple as that. God offers an amazing, undeserved gift, and then we choose to take it—even though we never did anything to earn it (Romans 5:8).

Defining "salvation"

Now that we've defined a Christian, let's look at the truth about what salvation through Jesus Christ really is. According to the Bible, when you accept Jesus as your Savior, the following things become true about you:

  • You are "a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17)!
  • You are "redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19).
  • You are "justified through faith" because "we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 3:22; Romans 5:1). To "justify" means to "declare righteous." If you have received Jesus as your Savior, God says you are acceptable to Him.
  • You are promised eternal life in Heaven with God (John 3:16) and a perfect, glorified body when you get there (Romans 8:30).

Knowing that all of these things are true about salvation, what would it mean then if we were to lose it? What would the implications be?

If you could lose your salvation, then that would mean that God canceled and reversed you as a new creation; that God rejected the payment that was made for you with the blood of Christ; that God went back on His word to redeem you, give you eternal life, and to glorify you. Would God really do that? Can you be un-made as new? Can you be un-redeemed? Is eternity not really forever? Absolutely not!

God always keeps His promises (Numbers 23:19), and He is faithful to us even when we don't deserve it (2 Timothy 2:13). There is nothing we can DO to make Him love us more or less (Romans 8:39); His love is unconditional (1 John 4:16). Salvation is a gift from God, not something we can earn or lose (Ephesians 2:8). So in case it isn't clear:

Once you have been saved, NOTHING NOTHING NOTHING can take away your salvation!

No matter what sin you commit or what you do or don't do in your lifetime, your salvation is secure. If you have believed that Christ is your Savior, you WILL be saved (Acts 16:31). But! Not to burst your bubble, but being saved doesn't mean you get to do whatever you want now.

Salvation does NOT give us rights to sin all we want.

The apostle Paul talked about how just because God gives us grace, that doesn't give us the right to take advantage of Him: "What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?" (Romans 6:1-2)

Just because you are guaranteed eternity in Heaven, that doesn't mean that you get to sin as much as your little heart desires. God has given us an amazing gift, and our response ought to be obedience to Him (1 John 3:6). Think of it this way: just because you know your mom will (eventually) forgive you for breaking a window, that doesn't mean you should.

If you have truly accepted Christ as your Savior, then you will no longer desire to continually live in sin (1 John 3:6-9). Yes, a Christian will still sin; we can't help it because we are infused with it from birth (Galatians 5:17; Romans 3:23). But we will feel convicted by the Holy Spirit to correct that behavior (John 16:8). Because of God's grace, we are no longer slaves to those sinful desires. Because of Jesus, we get to CHOOSE NOT TO SIN.

But what about Christians who love their sin and/or accept Christ only to deny or reject Him later in life?

Those are two of the big objections to the concept of eternal salvation that we can never lose. But remember when we defined what a "Christian" is at the beginning of this article? A true Christian doesn't want to keep living in sin; there will always be conviction from the Holy Spirit (1 John 3:6). A true Christian would not completely deny Christ (1 John 2:19). We need to go out on a limb here and say that such a person may not have been saved in the first place.

Yes, sin is going to happen. Being tempted is going to happen. But a true Christian is always going to feel that little tug that says, "This is not a good idea." The person who is a slave to sin doesn't feel any sort of conviction and just goes forward without a second thought.

No, a Christian cannot lose salvation. Nothing on this earth can separate a Christian from the love God offers to us (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing will ever take God's hand away from His children (John 10:28-29). Our Heavenly Father is both willing and able to keep His promise of salvation forever and ever.



"To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen." —Jude 24-25

TL;DR

No, a Christian cannot lose salvation. Nothing on this earth can separate a Christian from the love God offers to us (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing will ever take God's hand away from His children (John 10:28-29). Our Heavenly Father is both willing and able to keep His promise of salvation forever and ever.

By: Catiana Nak Kheiyn

Cat is the web producer and editor of 412teens.org and loves to write novellas with local young writers at her workshops. She also contributes at GotQuestions.org, Blogos.org, and GQkidz.org. When Catiana is not writing or hanging out with teens, she loves spending time with her two kids, five socially awkward cats, and her amazing friend-amily.

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