Can A Person Lose Their Salvation?

by Rayola Kelley

Q: Please clarify scripturally exact meaning, I’ve been taught that salvation cannot be lost? Eph. 1:11-14” 

A: Thank you for your inquiry. Many people struggle over the issue of losing one's salvation. The real issue is not whether one can lose his or her salvation, but whether or not one has truly been saved. There are many who claim to be Christians, but is there any real evidence that salvation has occurred in each of their lives? Hebrews 6:9 stipulates the things that will accompany salvation. For example, in Romans 10:9-10 the Apostle Paul clearly states that we must believe in our heart the Gospel. Salvation is a heart revelation, but many have only made a mental assent about it, but it never has penetrated their heart as being a matter of truth or way of life. We are told that the heart believeth unto righteousness. Righteousness is accounted to us at the point of faith. Faith approaches to believe the Word as truth and responds accordingly. Such righteousness points to right standing with God. Sadly, most people are only interested in or caught up with the theological points of salvation instead of the reality of it being truly evident in people's lives. They argue over whether one can lose salvation when the harsh reality is you cannot begin to lose what you never possessed in the first place.

       The Bible is clear also that we must be born again of the Spirit and the pure water of the Word (John 3:3, 5). 1 John 3:9 states that "Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him, and he cannot sin because he is born of God." There are those whose lifestyle does not bear witness that they are truly born again, yet they believe they are saved.

       Jesus stated that if you love Him, you will obey Him. We are to be identified to Him and His saving grace by possessing sacrificial love for and towards our brethren. As the Apostle John stated in 1 John 4:20-21,  how can one claim to love God while hating his or her brother or sister? How many people who claim to be Christians regard hate, indifference, unforgiveness and bitterness in their heart? We are also told those who do not receive a love for the truth will be swept away by a lie into destruction and damnation (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). We know that Jesus is the summary of all truth. We must reason that people who have been and will be swept away by the lie engulfing the world have failed to fall in love with the Jesus of the Bible—His person and His work of redemption. 

       The truth of the matter is the Bible speaks of salvation in three tenses: have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved. We are instructed to work out our salvation in fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). By faith we have been saved due to justification, are being saved as we submit to the work and leading of the Spirit, and will be saved when we are raised in newness of life to be glorified with Jesus. The Bible clearly stipulates that salvation is not a one- time event, but an ongoing work. This work entails working the very life of Jesus into us, through us and out of us to reproduce itself in others who respond to the evidence of it being real in our lives.

       To me the biggest issue and concern of the Church is not whether we can lose our salvation, but whether people truly understand what  it means to be saved. In a world deluged with knowledge and opinions, very few Christians are lacking doctrinal content, but many are lacking the actual evidence or assurance of what it means to be saved. They end up hiding behind doctrinal stands that amount to nothing more than wishful thinking which comes from believing that if something is considered to be true, such knowledge is enough to ensure that it is reality. However, the Christian life is not a doctrinal understanding, but a way of living and walking that will manifest itself in attitudes and behavior. It is not enough to possess a mental assent of salvation, one must possess the very life of Jesus. It is not enough to be in love with the concept of Jesus, you must truly love the person of Jesus. It is not enough to maintain a doctrinal view of Jesus, one must know Him in a personal, intimate way to ensure salvation.

       To me, this theological struggle over one's eternal security would not be an issue if we as believers truly majored in what it means to be saved. Only God can know what is in the heart of a person, but Jesus was clear. He stated we would know people by their fruits—not their doctrinal stands on a matter or their religious affiliations.

       I hope this answers your question.