The title of this article is a rewording of a false theory many of our religious neighbors espouse which claims a Christian can not be lost once they come to faith in Jesus. They teach humans have no free will concerning salvation, God chooses who will be saved or damned, and once God elects you for salvation it would be out of the question for a Christian to fall away or sin so as to be lost. This ideology is known as, “the impossibility of apostasy.”
I recently published a video where I agree with the idea Christians are, “once saved, always saved.” If you watch the clip, you will understand I do not believe it in a Calvinistic sense. It is true that once I put my faith in Jesus the Christ as the resurrected Son of God and am immersed into Christ, no being (human or demonic) has the power to pluck me from God’s hand (Romans 8:38-39). If I live a life of faith, walking in the light, I remain in a saved state (Romans 5:1-2; I John 1:7).
There is a big “but” associated with that idea. While my salvation is secure from man or devil, my own unbelief and disobedience can lead me to fall away from grace. This is where Calvinism misses the point. We are saved by grace through faith when we come to the obedience of faith (Romans 1:5; 16:26). But faith is something each person must come to after hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ (Romans 10:17). If I can come to believe in God through his son, I can lose faith and fall into rebellion against Jesus as Lord. Does it make any sense that God the Father would save an unrepentant sinner? Will he welcome into the kingdom of heaven a person who will not serve his resurrected Son in his kingdom while on earth? As the Spirit says through Paul, “Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”-Romans 6:1-2.
We will examine a few Scriptures in a moment to clarify God’s will in this matter. But for a minute let us consider the very nature of God. Is it taught anywhere in the Bible that a person can ignore God, sin without consequence, and still be considered pleasing to the Lord? What about Adam and Eve? Were they allowed to enjoy the garden of Eden once they had sinned? Or course not (Genesis 3:23-24). Did God bless Saul after he refused to destroy the Amalekites? No, he was removed as king (I Samuel 15:26-29). How did things work out for Samson when he let Delilah cut his hair? Not well (Judges 16:19-21).
Perhaps the most similar case to Christian salvation and our ability to be lost, is the people of Israel. They were in a covenant relationship to God. They were his chosen people and God promised to fight their battles and give them the Promised Land as a permanent inheritance. But they fell into idolatry, unrepentant sin, and proceeded to break all ten of the commandments and then some. Even though they were the chosen people of God, the Lord put them away (II Chronicles 36:15-16; Ezra 5:11-12). Today, the biological sons of Jacob are not born into a covenant relationship.
We enter into a covenant relationship with God when we repent and are baptized. We walk in in faith, we can walk out in unbelief. Here what the Spirit of God has to say:
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”-Hebrews 10:26-27
“You are severed from Christ, you who would be justified by the law; you have fallen away from grace.”-Galatians 5:4
“For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first.”-II Peter 2:20
The Bible clearly teaches the danger and possibility of falling away from a life lived in saving faith. We must tend to our faith, weed the garden or our heart, and grow closer to God every day. Let us strive to make our calling and election sure. “What can man do to me?”-Hebrews 13:6.