Question: Can we lose our Salvation
Recently I met a man who told me that we only had our sins forgiven up to the day I was saved and that if I sinned again I could cease to be saved and again be lost. Is this true?
This is a fundamental question for every Christian. The answer to this will determine whether we live in fear or peace and whether we are able to enjoy our salvation or tremble at the thought of losing it. I hope this answer, though quite long, will give you the assurance of knowing that salvation is permanent.
Faith alone or good works?
I once met someone who believed that preaching that salvation is permanent meant that we were giving people false hope and telling people that they could continue to sin after being originally saved. However, to take this view, fundamentally destroys the very purpose for which we are saved, i.e. to be given liberty, joy, peace and to be without fear so that we can worship God in freedom of heart, enraptured with the one who loves us so much. We cannot be persons who are worshipping God if we are still focussed on our own failings and weaknesses. Likewise, we cannot be worshipping Christians if we are going back to our sins and old fleshly pleasures. This view of being saved today and then going back to sin actually indicates that the new creation in Christian has not been fully understood. A Christian doesn’t want to go back to sin because they have found such tremendous peace, joy and liberty in our Lord Jesus, by the power and indwelling of the Holy Spirit and in relationship with the Almighty God as our Father. Our hearts have been changed to find joy in God’s divine will and finds little pleasure in the temporary entertainments and lusts of this world. (Read the studies on ‘Salvation’ as well as ‘Faith’ and ‘Justification’.)
Let’s look closely at some of the scriptures relating to this:
God’s purpose involves salvation: He is satisfied with Jesus’ life and person
God’s purpose is that we should be saved. This was the purpose of God in sending the Lord Jesus who came to do God’s will. God’s will, we are told, is that he “desires that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). God has been so satisfied in the perfection and person of His Son that He has made Him the basis for our salvation. He declared on two occasions that the Lord Jesus was His beloved Son. The first time He declared His delight in the Lord’s life and in the second time He said “hear him” placing His seal of approval thereby on the Lord’s teaching and ministry. We find in several scriptures that it is the Lord’s life and His faith that is the power that gives us life, for if the Lord had not been perfection itself then He could not have been a sacrifice for our sins. Hebrews 7:27 says of the Lord Jesus that he “has not day by day need, as the high priests, first to offer up sacrifices for his own sins, then for those of the people; for this he did once for all in having offered up himself”. He offered up Himself for He had no sin. He has no need to offer up any more. We are told that as our great high priest He continues to intercede for us but there is no question of our needing another sacrifice for dealing with sins.
“For if, being enemies, we have been reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much rather, having been reconciled, we shall be saved in the power of his life” (Romans 5:10).
"For this is the will of my Father, that every one who sees the Son, and believes on him, should have life eternal; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40).
“He that believes on the Son has life eternal, and he that is not subject to the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides upon him” (John 3:36).
“And this is the witness, that God has given to us eternal life; and this life is in his Son. He that has the Son has life: he that has not the Son of God has not life. These things have I written to you that ye may know that ye have eternal life who believe on the name of the Son of God.” (1 John 5:11-13).
God was infinitely satisfied with the Lord Jesus and therefore the Lord Jesus is the fundamental basis of salvation. We have either believed on God’s Son and have salvation; or we have rejected God’s beloved Son and have no salvation.
“But when the kindness and love to man of our Saviour God appeared, not on the principle of works which have been done in righteousness which we had done, but according to his own mercy he saved us through the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, which he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that, having been justified by his grace, we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
This quotation from Titus shows clearly that it is not we who have cleansed ourselves but God who has washed us according to His own mercy and by His own power. His aim is that we should become heirs according to eternal life. We have not influenced God’s decision but it was according to His own mercy that we have been saved.
“He came to his own, and his own received him not; but as many as received him, to them gave he the right to be children of God, to those that believe on his name; who have been born, not of blood, nor of flesh's will, nor of man's will, but of God” (John 1:11-13).
Once we have been saved then we have been made children of God by receiving the Lord Jesus. We have been born again according to God’s will. We cannot be unborn or lose the new creation that is referred to in 1 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 6:15. God has started something new in us and while we still have our sinful bodies (what the Bible calls “the flesh”) that body has been crucified with Christ and can’t be uncrucified.
So, our salvation is founded on God’s delight in His Son and the Lord’s life was a complete delight to Him.
The Lord Jesus’ sacrifice is the reason why we are saved.
“For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). This scripture makes it abundantly clear that we are not saved by our own efforts. Even if we could live a life that was outwardly holy we would fail because our thoughts are governed by sinful emotions such as lust and pride. If the Lord’s death on the cross only partially removed our sins up to a certain date we would still have to live in fear because of our daily failings. God desires to show mercy to all (Romans 11:32) and so He has given the Lord Jesus. All the offerings given in the book of Leviticus speak of the sacrifice being unblemished and give us an image of the perfection of the ultimate sacrifice. Peter tells us that we have been redeemed “by precious blood, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot, the blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). His blood was valuable to God because it represented a perfect life given up in love for sinners (see Leviticus 17:14 and Deuteronomy 12:23). God’s will was all that mattered to the Lord Jesus and it was by that will that “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Hebrews 10:10).
The blood of Jesus was shed according to the will of God. That blood was infinitely precious to God because it represented a perfect life which was surrendered in death out of love for God. God has saved us because of the value of that blood and not because of anything we have done. The scripture is clear that we are worth nothing in our sins. However, God has valued us even though we are naturally ungodly and saved us by virtue of the blood of the Lord Jesus.
The basis of our salvation
Nothing can change the value of the Lord’s shed blood to God.
“For ye are saved by grace, through faith; and this not of yourselves; it is God's gift: not on the principle of works, that no one might boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). We can’t influence our own salvation, but God has given the faith needed to secure it. He gave it, we did not earn it. It is based on the value that God has for Jesus and the value God has on the blood that His Son so willingly shed to save us.
Not only that, but once we are saved we begin to realise that God had actually had us in mind for His blessing from before the world existed. The fact that someone has repented and been saved is evidence of the fact that the Lord has worked in us to bring us to salvation. It is not we who decide to repent. It is the “goodness of God [that] leads thee to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).
“Because whom he has foreknown, he has also predestinated to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he should be the firstborn among many brethren” (Romans 8:29).
“And all that dwell on the earth shall do it homage [the image of the beast], every one whose name had not been written from the founding of the world in the book of life of the slain Lamb” (Romans 13:8). Every Christian has their name in the book of life. This scripture shows that our names were written there before the world’s foundation.
The thief on the cross beside the Lord Jesus was told “This day, shalt thou be with me in paradise”. It was not conditional on his being pure in thought during the next few hours before he finally succumbed to death. It was certain and secure.
The purpose of our salvation was to free us to worship.
Our salvation has a purpose. It is to give us liberty (2 Corinthians 3:17), joy, peace (Romans 15:13), righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) and to bring us near to God (1 Peter 3:18). We could enjoy none of these things if we had to continue to worry about whether our lives were good enough for God. It is also to make us into worshippers in spirit and truth (John 4:23 and Hebrews 9:14). We could not worship if we doubted the greatness of God’s love for “perfect love casts out fear”.
Hebrews tells us that God gave us strong encouragement which would give us hope that is to be a steadfast and sure anchor in our lives. “In which it was impossible that God should lie, we might have a strong encouragement, who have fled for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us, which we have as anchor of the soul, both secure and firm, and entering into that within the veil, where Jesus is entered as forerunner for us, become for ever a high priest according to the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 6:18-20). We have been given access into God’s presence through the veil of separation between God and Man because of the Lord Jesus’ work on the cross. The veil was torn from top to bottom when the Lord died. It would not be a secure nor firm anchor if that anchor could slip and our encouragement and salvation be lost.
We are also told that as a result of the Lord’s work we have been given God’s Holy Spirit to indwell us. The Holy Spirit could not be in us if we had not been made holy. We are unable to be holy in our own strength, but the Lord’s blood has cleansed us and we now are clothed in Christ’s righteousness. The Holy Spirit within us is the evidence of our salvation (see Ephesians 1:14). Hence, Paul spent some time in 1 Corinthians telling them that as their bodies were already temples of the Holy Spirit they should be aiming to live holy lives. Their bodies had not ceased to be temples because of their failings but they were not representing truly the holy nature of the divine person who was indwelling them and indwells every Christian.
So, it would be impossible to fulfil the purpose of our salvation if we were still trying to make ourselves good enough for God. God has given us the Holy Spirit so that we might rest assured in His love and in the certainty of His salvation. We are then free to simply enjoy His presence and worship Him with free and joyful hearts.
We are clothed in Christ and there is no condemnation any longer.
The scriptures below all demonstrate that salvation in the Lord Jesus is complete. By trusting in Him we have been redeemed so that we might enjoy a new life in His presence immersed in His love.
“There is then now no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, that he that hears my word, and believes him that has sent me, has life eternal, and does not come into judgment, but is passed out of death into life” (John 5:24).
Jesus “who himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, in order that, being dead to sins, we may live to righteousness: by whose stripes ye have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“Herein as to us has been manifested the love of God, that God has sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (1 John 4:9).
“Herein has love been perfected with us that we may have boldness in the day of judgment, that even as he is, we also are in this world” (1 John 4:17). We have boldness in the day of judgement and not fear. Why? Because our sins are gone.
The Lord Jesus’ has made the ultimate sacrifice. As our great high priest, He has offered up Himself and laid down His own perfect life to save us. We are saved because God is satisfied completely in Jesus as our substitute. To say that we could ever lose this salvation is to imply that God could ever value His Son and His sacrifice less. Scripture is clear that the Lord Jesus died to remove our sins and make us free to serve and worship God in joy and peace. The Lord Jesus has restored the link of fellowship between God and Mankind so that we might enjoy eternal life even now (see John 17:3). We could not do this if we were required to keep the Law to gain salvation. This was the Law that the whole nation of Israel was unable to keep.
However, this does not give us license to live in sin. Paul tackled this very suggestion in Romans chapter 6. A Christian loves the Lord who saved them so much that their one driving desire is to serve Him and be for His will and pleasure. Our old wants and desires are to be crucified with Christ so that we no longer live in sin. “Knowing this, that our old man has been crucified with him, that the body of sin might be annulled, that we should no longer serve sin” (Romans 6:6). Instead, we are told to “have your mind on the things that are above, not on the things that are on the earth; for ye have died, and your life is hid with the Christ in God. When the Christ is manifested who is our life, then shall ye also be manifested with him in glory” (Colossians 3:2-4).
The result of full salvation.
So, our salvation cannot be undone because it is not based on us at all but solely on Christ and God’s valuation of His life and sacrifice. May we live in the liberty that comes from being where the spirit of the Lord is and, while keeping ourselves unspotted from the world, be here for His glory and praise. God has completed the whole work of salvation Himself on our behalf in the person of His Son. Now His desire is that we should know Him as He knows us (see 1 Corinthians 13:12) and enjoy the rest into which He has brought us. May our lives be filled with the spirit of worship, without fear, echoing words like these:
“O depth of riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable his judgments, and untraceable his ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counsellor? or who has first given to him, and it shall be rendered to him? For of him, and through him, and for him are all things: to him be glory for ever. Amen”