Severed from Christ?
This question, “Can a Christian lose salvation?”, is asked over and over again. And the reason that it’s asked so repeatedly, is that people have the tendency to listen to the opinions of other people, instead of simply going to the word of God. If everyone would simply accept God’s word, as stated in the bible, the question would be put to rest forever.
So then, let’s begin with just a few common scriptures, and see what God actually says on the subject.
Please just listen to these verses that I present to you here, and allow your God given gift of human reasoning, to answer the questions that I may pose, along with the scripture verses. After all, the bible does say, in Isaiah 1, verse 18; “Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord.” That means that God expects us to come to reasonable conclusions, based on HIS word.
So let’s go ahead now, and let God’s word answer the question, “Can a Christian lose salvation?”
Jesus said, in Mathew 24:13; “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” Now, for every positive statement, like this one, there is also an implied “opposite” which would also be just as true. Therefore, if this statement is true; “The one who endures to the end, he shall be saved”, then this opposite statement, must also be true; “The one who does NOT endure to the end, shall NOT be saved.”
This principle is born out in the words of Jesus, from Mark 16:16; “He who believes and is baptized, shall be saved, but he who disbelieves, shall be condemned.” So there you have both the positive (He who believes) and the negative (He who disbelieves) stated in the same verse. This verse teaches us that belief is one of the requirements of salvation. (It also teaches us that baptism is another one of the requirements for salvation, but we’ll just consider belief for right now). Therefore, if our belief is a requirement for being saved, then it goes without saying that if you disbelieve, you won’t be saved. That’s just a matter of simple common sense, or as the bible puts it “reasoning together with the Lord”.
Now let’s go back to Mathew 24:13; “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” Therefore, the one who does NOT endure to the end, shall NOT be saved.
Now let’s ask ourselves; What do we need to endure until the end of? Do we need to endure until we become a Christian, and then we can stop enduring? Do we need to endure for one year AFTER we become a Christian? How about 5 years after, or 10 years after? The answer is given in Revelation 2:10; “..Be faithful unto DEATH, and I will give you the crown of life.” “The crown of life”, obviously refers to salvation. And the same Jesus, that said; “But he who endures TO THE END, shall be saved”, also said; “Be faithful UNTO DEATH, and I will give you the crown of life.”
Obviously, “the end”, that is spoken of, means “the end of your life”. Therefore, the one who endures faithfully, until the end of their life, this is the one who will be saved. Now, what is the obvious, and inescapable opposite, that must also be true?
Here it is; Here’s the inescapable truth; The Christian, who does NOT endure faithfully, until the end of their life, will NOT be saved! Jesus was speaking to CHRISTIANS, when He said; “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.” The non-Christian, isn’t faithful to begin with. As long as he remains unfaithful, he remains lost in sin. Be the faithful Christian, must remain faithful,until the end of our life, or he to will be lost! These are the plain and straightforward words of God.
An Everlasting Principle
I’d like to show you some verses from the old testament, that state very plainly, an everlasting principle of God, on the subject of being forgiven, and of losing forgiveness. This “law of God” that we’re going to read, isn’t a law that was only given to the nation of Israel, in ancient times. But rather, this is an eternal truth, for all ages.
Listen please to Ezekiel 18, verses 20 thru 22; “The person who sins will die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, and the father shall not bear the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous, shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked, shall be upon himself.”
“But if the wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, and observes all My statutes, and practices justice and righteousness, he shall surely NOT die. All the transgressions which he has committed, will NOT be remembered against him. Because of his righteousness which he has practiced, he shall live!” He shall live SPIRITUALLY, is what God is saying.
That describes the forgiveness of God. If anyone turns from his sin, and obeys God, his sins shall not be remembered, but they shall be forgiven, and he shall live! Our sins are forgiven because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. No matter how many sins we’ve committed, nor how terrible those sins may have been, those sins can be completely washed away, by the blood of Jesus. Isaiah 1:18 says; “..Though your sins be as scarlet, they will be white as snow. Though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.”
However, this great blessing of God, through Christ, is conditional! Listen to verses 19 & 20, from Ezekiel 18; “IF you consent and obey, you will eat the best of the land. But if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword! Truly, the mouth of the Lord has spoken!” Remember those last words of God; “Truly, the mouth of the lord has spoken!” And who can argue with God?
We’ve just read about the great forgiveness of God. But now, let’s go back to Ezekiel 18, and read verse 24; “But, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that a wicked man does, will he live? All his righteous deeds which he has done, will NOT be remembered, for the treachery which he has committed, and his sin which he has committed. For them, he will die!” For his sins, “He will die”, SPIRITUALLY! For his sins, he will be LOST!
A righteous man, is a saved man. Because a righteous man, obeys every command of God, and receives God’s forgiveness. But what if a righteous man (a SAVED man) should turn from his righteousness, and commits iniquities, and sins? God says; “For them he will die!” He will die spiritually. In other words, he will be separated from God, eternally. Any person who stops obeying God’s word, will forfeit their salvation, and once again be in a lost condition. That’s God’s word!
Now listen to verse 25;
“Yet you say; The way of the Lord is not right! Hear now O house of Israel.. (Christians today are the present day “house of Israel”) Is MY way not right? Is it not YOUR ways that are not right?”
Man wants to say that a person can NOT lose their salvation. But GOD says; “When a righteous man turns from his righteousness, all his righteous deeds will NOT be remembered! … For his sins, he will DIE!
So then go ahead and answer the Lord’s question; Is My way not right, or is your way not right?
Work out your Salvation!
Let’s look at the new testament again. Listen please to Philippians 2:12; “So then my brethren, just as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling.” That is the exhortation that the apostle Paul gave to the congregation at Philippi, and it’s the same exhortation that God gives us today. “Work out your own salvation, with fear and trembling!”
Now ask yourself this question; If Christians can’t lose their salvation, and if “once saved, always saved” was true, what is there to “work out”? How does God expect you to “work out your own salvation”, if there were no way you could ever lose your salvation? Again, the obvious answer to this is that you CAN lose your salvation, by not REMAINING faithful until the end of your life. Thus we must “work out our own salvation”, each person individually, by always continuing to DO the things God has commanded us to do, and by repenting of each and every sin that we may commit because of our weaknesses.
When Paul told the people to work out their own salvation, he wasn’t speaking to people that were working to BECOME Christians. He was speaking to people who were already Christians! This letter was addressed; “..to all the saints who are IN Christ Jesus, who area at Philippi..” (Phil 1:1) These people were Christians, they were IN Christ. They had already had their past sins washed away by the blood of Christ. And they had already been added to the kingdom of God, His church. But Paul was reminding them that they had to continue to be faithful, and keep “working out” their salvation!
In this same letter, Paul said that he counted all things in this life “as loss”, and he considers them to be “as rubbish”, compared to the value of knowing Christ. (Phil 3:8) He said in verse 10; “That I may know Him, and the power of His resurrection..” Paul was looking forward to the resurrection unto eternal life. He said in verse 12; “Not that I have already attained it, or have already been perfected, but I PRESS ON, in order that I may lay hold of that for which I also was laid hold of by Christ Jesus.”
Even an apostle of the Lord, had to “PRESS ON” in order to be saved eternally.
Lost in the Shadow
In the letter that Paul wrote to the congregations of Galatia, he spoke of some Jewish Christians, who were telling Gentile Christians, that they had to receive circumcision, in order to be saved. However the law of circumcision was a part of the OLD law, which was only “a shadow of the good things to come” (Heb 10:1) And concerning that old law, we’re told in Colossians 2:14; “He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to His cross.”
Now here’s what Paul wrote to those Jewish Christians, who were trying to impose circumcision upon the gentiles; Galatians 5, verses 3; “And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole law.” In other words, if you want to keep one part of the old law, you had better keep the whole law, because “if you stumble at one point, you are guilty of ALL!” (James 2, verse 10) But the problem is, even if you COULD keep the whole law, the old law CANNOT save anyone!
And so Paul continues, in verse 4; “..You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law. You have FALLEN FROM GRACE!” This wasn’t just some hypothetical scenario. This was happening then! People were seeking to be justified by an act of the old law (namely, circumcision), and the apostle Paul, inspired by the very spirit of God, said; “You have been SEVERED from Christ! You HAVE fallen from grace!” It’s not just a remote possibility that you MAY be severed from Christ, or that you MIGHT fall from grace, but Paul says; You HAVE already been severed from Christ! You HAVE already fallen from grace!
Salvation is only found “IN Christ” Galatians 3:27 thru 29 says; “For all of you who have been baptized INTO Christ, have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female, you are all one, IN Christ. And if you belong to Christ, THEN are you Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.”
Salvation is IN Christ, and IN Christ alone. Simple common sense will tell you that you cannot be “severed from Christ”, and still be “In Christ” at the same time. If you are “severed from Christ”, you are lost in sin. And of you have “fallen from grace”, you have fallen from salvation. It’s as simple as that.
Many people will argue, that you can “fall from God’s grace”, but not fall from your salvation. But that kind of thinking is NOT using the common sense that God has given us, and its is NOT “reasoning together” with God’s word.
We’ll either Stand or We’ll Fall
Once again, the apostle Paul wrote, in 1 Corinthians 15:1 & 2; “Now I make known to you the gospel, which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also YOU STAND. By which also you are saved, IF you hold fast the word which I preached, unless you believed in vain.”
We learn a couple things from this verse, that are important to our study. First notice that we “stand” in the gospel, and that we “are saved” by the gospel. The gospel, of course is the “good news” of Jesus Christ, and His sacrifice, ie.. His death, burial, and resurrection. Second, we learn that we are saved by the gospel, IF we “hold fast” to the word which was preached.
Remember the opposite implications that hold just as true as the original statements? Well, if it is true that we are saved by the gospel, IF we hold fast to it? (and the bible says that indeed is true) Then it is equally true, that we are NOT saved by it, IF we do NOT hold fast to it. And that is exactly what Jesus had said in Mathew 24:13, when He said; “The one who ENDURES to the end (or, holds fast to the end), HE shall be saved.” But the one who DOES NOT endure, and does NOT hold fast, shall NOT be saved!
Now let’s go back to the fact that we “stand” in the gospel. What that’s saying, is that we stand in a “saved condition” through believing, and obeying (hold fast means to obey) the word of God. Now take a look at Romans 5: 1 & 2; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God, through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith, into this GRACE in which we stand..”
This verse says that “We STAND in the grace of God”. 1 Cor 15:1 says; “We STAND in the gospel”. The grace of God, and the gospel of God, are the very same thing! And salvation is BY the grace of God, correct? Ephesians 2:8 says; “For by grace you have been saved..” So we can easily see, that we “stand” in the gospel, and we “stand” in God’s grace, and we “stand” in salvation, because they are ALL the same thing.
So here’s the question.. How could anyone possibly “fall from grace”, without falling from salvation? Well, the only sensible answer is, you can’t! When you “stand in grace”, you stand in your salvation. And when you “fall from grace”, you fall from your salvation. That’s simply what the bible says. And the bible also says that some people “have fallen from grace!” It’s already happened!
Severed without ever being Connected?
And remember that statement, “You have been severed from Christ”? Did you ever hear someone say; “Those people were never a part of Christ to begin with?” Well, answer this then; How can a person be severed from something that he’s never been a part of in the first place. You CAN’T!
It is CHRISTIANS, who have “put on Christ” in baptism, and who have been in a covenant relationship with Him, and who “belong to Christ”, and who are branches of the true vine, who is Jesus Christ. And it is CHRISTIANS, who can be “SEVERED from Christ”. We all know, without a doubt, that salvation is IN Christ. But to be “severed from Christ”, is obviously to be separated from Him. There is NO salvation, separate and apart from Christ.
Jesus said in John 15:5; “I am the vine and you are the branches. He who abides IN Me, and I in him, he bears much fruit. For APART from Me, you can do nothing!” Now listen to what happens to a branch of the vine (that’s a Christian) who no longer abides IN Christ. “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch, and dries up, and they gather them and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
To be thrown away as a branch, is the same as to be “severed from Christ”. And Jesus says, that when a Christian is thrown away as a branch, he dries up, and is gathered, and cast into the fire, and is burned. That is NOT salvation! Jesus Christ Himself, is stating once again, that a Christians CAN lose their salvation. They can be “severed from Christ”, they can “fall from grace”, and they can fail to “endure until the end”. All of which equates to losing one’s salvation. And all of which is straight from the bible, straight from the word of God!
The Lampstand can be Removed!
I’m going to turn to Revelation chapters 1 and 2. The apostle John saw a vision including seven golden Lampstands. (Rev 1:12) And he saw the Lord Jesus, holding seven stars in His right hand. (Rev 1:16) And in verse 20, Jesus tells John what the stars and the lampstands represent. “As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lampstands; The seven stars are the angels (or messengers) of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands, ARE the seven congregations.”
These lampstands represent seven congregations of Christians, members of the body of Christ. Now listen to what Jesus says to the congregation at Ephesus, in Rev 2:4; “But I have this against you. that you have left your first love.” This congregation of the Lord’s people, had lost the love in their hearts, that had first motivated them to become Christians. You remember what Jesus said was the greatest and foremost commandment, don’t you? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mathew 22:37)
Now listen to what He tells those Christians in Ephesus, who had lost this kind of love for Him; “Remember therefore, from where YOU HAVE FALLEN, and repent, and do the deeds you did at first! Or else I am coming to you, and will REMOVE your lampstand out of it’s place, unless you repent!” (Rev 2:5)
Those are some pretty strong words from Jesus. The golden lampstands, represented the various congregations of Christians, located throughout the area of what was then, Asia. And each of those congregations, had a place in the kingdom of God, and in eternity. But Jesus tells these Christians.. “You have fallen!” And then Jesus reminds them, that He IS coming again, to gather His kingdom and to deliver it up to God the Father. (1 Cor 15:24) And He says, if you have not repented by then.. “I will remove your lampstand out of it’s place”. In other words, you will lose your place in heaven, you will LOSE YOUR SALVATION!
We pray sincerely that this would not happen to ANY Christian, but the scriptures are abundantly clear, that it HAS happened, and it will continue to happen, whenever souls lose their LOVE for God, and turn from their FAITH in God, and stop OBEYING God, and go back into the world. May God bless us with the strength we need to remain “faithful unto death!