Teaching The Truth in Love
This writing is in response to the statements made in an article titled “Can a Christian lose salvation”, from the website, gotquestions.org.
The belief that a Christian CANNOT lose their salvation, is an incorrect interpretation of the scriptures, resulting from being unaware of some very clear verses on the subject, and possibly by reading into other verses, things that are not actually said.
My purpose here isn’t to discredit any person or persons, but rather to simply expose the truth of the scriptures. So please listen carefully as I explain.
The Article begins with a definition of what a Christian is. The definition is summed up in these words; “A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior, and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit.” To begin with, this is not an accurate, or full definition of a what it means to be a Christian. Now, granted, a Christian is someone who trusts in Jesus Christ, however, the writer gives three scripture references to go along with his statement, but none of those references say even one word, about a Christian “possessing” the Holy Spirit. As a matter of fact, the words “Holy Spirit” aren’t even mentioned in any of the verses. I see this happening a lot; Where a writer gives scripture references to back up a statement that he’s made, and then none of the references has anything to do with his statement.
So we’ve got to be very careful about listening to what a man says. We’re much better off, just listening to what the bible says.
Here are the three references given by the writer;
John 3:16; “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him, shall not perish, but have everlasting life.”
Acts 16:31; “And they said; Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you and your household, and you shall be saved.”
And Ephesians 2:8 & 9; “For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God. Not as a result of works, that no one should boast.”
What these verses are all focusing on, is faith, or “belief”. But a Christian cannot simply be defined as someone who has faith, or someone who believes, because it take much more than believing, to be a Christian. It says in James 2:19; “The demons also believe, and tremble!” And the demons are NOT Christians!
And as I’ve said, none of these verses say that a Christian “possesses” the Holy Spirit. In reality, a Christian does NOT “possess” the Holy Spirit. But here’s why the writer tries to define a Christian, as someone who does “possess” the Holy Spirit. If he can get you to believe, that God has already given you this possession of the Holy Spirit, then that would also mean, that you already possess, eternal salvation. And if you already possess eternal salvation, it would be impossible for God to take back, that salvation, without being untrue to His word. Therefore, if all this were to be true, a Christian could NOT lose their salvation!
However, the writer has not given us any scriptural evidence, to prove his claims.
So in other words, the writer of that article, makes a statement concerning what a Christian is, and then fails to give even one verse of scripture that confirms his statement.
So, let me clarify, from the bible, what a Christian is, and whether a Christian possesses the Holy Spirit. The bible says; “The disciples were first called Christians, in Antioch.” (Acts 11:26) The name Christian, is another name for a disciple. The word disciple means.. “a follower, and a learner”. So then a Christian is a disciple; A follower and learner, of Christ. “Take up your cross and follow Me..” Jesus said, in Luke 9:23. “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me..” He said in Mathew 11:29
Listen to how Jesus says a disciple is made; “Go therefore, and MAKE DISCIPLES of all nations, BAPTIZING them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, TEACHING, them to observe all that I commanded you..” (Mathew 28:19 & 20)
Jesus names here, two specific things that are required to make someone a disciple. A person must be BAPTIZED, by the authority of God (that’s what it means to be baptized “in the name of” the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit) And then a person must be TAUGHT to observe ALL things that Jesus has commanded us to do.
A Christian is also someone who has REPENTED of their sins, and who has been FORGIVEN of those sins. The apostle Peter, told those who had come to believe in Jesus Christ; “Repent and let each one of you be baptized, for the forgiveness of your sins, and you shall receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:38) No one but a Christian, will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
A Christian is someone who has RECEIVED the word of God (in other words, they’ve accepted the truth of God’s word, and have decided to follow that word, by obeying the word) And a Christian is someone who has been ADDED to the church, which is the congregation of the saved. Acts 2:41 says; “So then those who had received his word, were baptized, and there were added that day, about 3,00 souls.” Verse 47 says; “And the LORD was adding to the congregation, day by day, those who were being saved.”
Now you have a pretty good idea of what the bible describes, as a Christian. But look again at Acts 2:38. God says; If you will repent, and be baptized, by My authority, for the forgiveness of your sins, you SHALL receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
So then, DO Christians actually possess the Holy Spirit? Is that what this verse is saying, when God says; “you shall receive the GIFT of the Holy Spirit” ? The answer is, NO, God is not saying, that he will give penitent, baptized, believers, an actual “part” of the Spirit, that makes God who He is. If that were the case, then ALL Christians, would be God in the flesh. In reality, Jesus Christ is the only human being that has ever lived, that actually had THE Holy Spirit living within Him, because Jesus, WAS “God in the flesh”. (John 1, verse 14) His Spirit, was in FACT, the very Spirit of God!
When God said; “You shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”, He was making a promise to us. We know this to be true, because the very next verse (V-39) says; “For the PROMISE is for you, and your children, and for all those who are far off, as many as the Lord God shall call to Himself.” So then, in God’s own words, we know that He is making a promise here. God is promising us a GIFT, and that promise will be fulfilled by the Holy Spirit.
And God tells us exactly what this “gift of promise” is, in 1 John 2:25; “For THIS is the promise that He Himself has made to us; Eternal Life!” A Christian is someone who has the promise of eternal life, when this life is over. Just like it says in Ephesians 2:8; “For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the GIFT of God..” Thank God for His gift!
Now, once again, let’s make sure that we understand, that a Christian has the PROMISE of eternal life. This is one of the “stumbling blocks” that people run into, when trying to understand that a Christian can “lose their salvation”. A Christian does not POSSESS eternal life, during THIS life.
Even Abraham, “the father of the faithful”, Romans 4:11 & 4:16, STILL does not possess eternal life. Speaking of Abraham and other faithful people, the scriptures say, in Hebrews 11:13; “All these died in faith, WITHOUT having received the promises..”
The other point that is such a “stumbling block” to so many, is that our salvation, even the promise of eternal life, is CONDITIONAL! The promise of eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, is conditioned, upon our remaining faithful until we die. In 1 Corinthians 15:2, the condition is “IF you hold fast to the word which I preached to you.” And if you do NOT hold fast to that word, then you will have believed in VAIN, and you will NOT be saved eternally.
Jesus states the CONDITIONS again, in Mathew 24:13, like this; “The one who endures to the end, the same shall be saved.” Your eternal salvation is conditioned, upon enduring to the end.
And Jesus states the condition yet again, in Revelation 2:10, when He said; “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The crown of eternal life is conditioned, upon our remaining faithful until death.
Many people assume that eternal life is “unconditional”, but the bible says otherwise. Many people think that a Christian possesses eternal life right now, but the bible says otherwise.
The promise of eternal life is conditional, upon our holding fast to the word that was preached to us, and upon our remaining faithful, until the end of our life.
Now let’s address two more of the statements made in the article from gotquestions.org.
The writer says that a Christian is “a new creature.” I totally agree. 2 Corinthians 5:17; “Therefore, if any man is IN Christ, he is a new creature. The old things are passed away, Behold, new things have come.”
And the writer says that “for a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be destroyed”. Again, I totally agree. Jesus said in Mathew 10:28; “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul. But rather, fear Him who is able to DESTROY both body and soul, in hell!”
The new creation can be destroyed, just like the old creation can be destroyed. Nowhere, do the scriptures say or imply, that it can’t! When we are FIRST born, we are born blameless and innocent. Ezekiel 28:15 says; “You were blameless in your ways, from the day you were created, until unrighteousness was found in you.” And since unrighteousness is found in all of us (“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”, Romans 3:23), we will all be destroyed in hell, unless we’re forgiven of our sins.
And God gives us all that opportunity to be forgiven of our sins, through faith in Jesus Christ, and obedience to His word. That’s what the “new birth” is all about. (“Unless one is born again, He cannot see the kingdom of heaven”. John 3:3) That’s why we’re told in Romans 6:4; “Therefore we have been buried with Him in baptism (the old sinful creature is “put to death, and is buried”, so to speak) in order that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too should walk in newness of life.” That “newness of life”, that we are raised to walk in, is the “new birth”, that Jesus spoke of. And Yes, when we are raised to walk in newness of life, we are raised “a new creature”. The old creature was dead in sin, but the new creature has been FORGIVEN, of the sins that it has committed, and has been given another chance to obey God. “The old things have passed away, Behold, new things have come.” It’s new beginning!
But just like our old self will be destroyed, if we never receive the forgiveness of our past sins, the new self, will also be destroyed if we don’t receive forgiveness of the sins that we commit AFTER we’ve been raised to walk in newness of life. The new creature that we become, isn’t immune to sinning. As a matter of fact the apostle John assures us that Christians WILL sin again. John writes to Christians, and says in 1 John 1:8; “If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves, and the truth is not in us.”
The difference between the old self, (the old creature) and the new self (the new creature), is that now we KNOW about Jesus, and about the forgiveness He offers through faith and obedience to His word. Our OLD self, goes through life sinning, over and over again, not knowing about the forgiveness of sins. But then, once we learn of Christ, and when we learn what He commands us to do, to BE forgiven of our sins, then we can obey His commands, and become “a new creature”. We can be baptized, and be “raised to walk in newness of life”, and be just as blameless and innocent as the day we were first born. We can start all over again, but this time, we begin as an adult. An adult who knows what God requires of us.
But none of that means that we can’t lose the salvation that we’ve been blessed with. If we don’t do any better the second time around, than we did the first time, we’ll be lost all over again. Our sins will once again separate us from God, just like they did the first time. Isaiah 59, verse 2 says; “But your iniquities have made a separation, between you and your God.” Our iniquities, in other words, our sins, will ALWAYS make a separation between us and our God. That is God’s LAW, concerning spiritual life and spiritual death. And it make no difference at all whether it’s the old creature that’s sinning, or the new creature that’s sinning. Without being forgiven of the sin we commit, we stand separated from God, and separated from salvation.
Listen closely to these verses from 2 Peter 2:21 & 22; “For if after they have escaped the defilements of the world, (that’s your original forgiveness, of your past sins) by the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are AGAIN entangled in them, and are overcome.. (to be overcome, MUST mean that you stop repenting. Because if you DID repent, you wouldn’t BE overcome by sin) ..the last state has become worse than the first! For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment delivered to them.”
Do you see what a dire situation a Christian can find themselves in, if AFTER being saved from their past sins, they become entangled in sin, AGAIN! And do you see how STRONG the warning from God is, about the possibility of losing your salvation? “It would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment!”
Listen to this warning from God, in Hebrews 10:26 & 27; “For if we go on sinning WILLFULLY, after receiving the knowledge of the truth.. (This is written to Christians! Christians who were saved from the penalty of their past sins, by receiving the knowledge of the truth, and by obeying that truth) So if we go on sinning willingly, after receiving that initial forgiveness.. “There no longer REMAINS a sacrifice for sins, but a CERTAIN terrifying expectation of judgment, and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries.”
Losing your salvation is not only a possibility, it is a CERTAINTY, if a Christian goes on sinning willfully, without stopping that sinful behavior, and repenting of those sins, and receiving forgiveness of them.
A new creature in Christ, CAN and WILL be destroyed, by God, if they continue sinning, without repenting of each and every sin. Listen to what the apostle Peter told a newborn Christian, after he committed another sin; “Therefore, REPENT of this wickedness of yours, and PRAY the Lord, that if possible, the intention of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are in the gall of bitterness, and in the bondage of iniquity!” (Acts 8:22 & 23)
Wow, it doesn’t get any more “real” than that! To be in the “bondage of iniquity”, is obviously, to be trapped in sin. And any Christian, who’s trapped in sin, is NOT standing in a saved condition! And there’s no way out, except to repent and pray to God for forgiveness.
“But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:57)
Thanks be to God, that.. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)
This is one of the promises, that God gives to Christians! “And if anyone sins, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” (1 John 2:1)
He’s our advocate, IF we confess our sins, and repent of them, and pray for forgiveness. But if we won’t do those things, then we’re LOST, all over again, and we will be destroyed. These are the words of God, straight from the bible. I don’t see how anyone, can argue with those words!
I’ll address more of the objections offered by the writer of the article from gotquestions.org, in another response, that I will deliver shortly. In the meantime, I truly hope that these bible verses that I’ve offered, clear up some of the misunderstanding about whether or not a Christian can lose their salvation.
The bible clearly says that it CAN happen, and that it WILL happen, and that it HAS happened!
God bless you in your studies.