Every time I’m around a group of believers this question comes up: can a believer ever lose his or her salvation?
The question comes from untaught believers or confused believers who have heard differing views. What about a believer broken over a persistent sin? Whatever the question, they need a clear answer from the Word of God.
I need to start with security of the believer. My defense of this doctrine is directed at those who are genuinely born again. We cannot see others’ hearts, but we can see the development of qualities listed in 2 Peter 1:5-7: virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and charity. When these are produced, “they make you that ye shall neither be barren or unfruitful” (1:8).
My defense for the security of the believer is based on five pillars: the plan, power, payment, provisions and practice of God.
Let’s define security of the believer. The true believer in Jesus Christ is forever kept safe from condemnation before God, no matter what he or she may do or experience. Some use this “once saved, always saved” idea in a derogatory way.
First, the scripture states it is God’s plan to keep his own safe from damnation. In John 6:39, Jesus says, “This is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but shall raise it up again at the last day.
Jesus also speaks of his keeping power in John 17:11, asking the father to “Keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me.”
Second, God has the power required to keep his saints. We say God is all-powerful, all-knowing and everywhere present, but do we ponder the implication of these facts? In Jude 24 we are told God is “able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the present of his glory with exceeding joy.”
1 Peter 1:5 refers to being “kept by the power of God.” This is one of my favorite verses; it speaks of his keeping until the time when our salvation reaches its end and we are in his presence.
In John 10:28-29, the term “no man” means no person, not even you, can pluck you out of God’s hand.
Third, God is free to keep his saints secure because Jesus’ sacrifice fully paid for all our sins.
Some ask, “What about my sins after I got saved?” If Jesus’ death failed to pay for all future sins, then his shed blood was not sufficient and you would then need to either crucify Jesus again or find another sin payment. There is no other payment. See Romans 6:9 or 1 Corinthians 6:19-20.
Fourth, God provided believers with everything they need to be kept safe. Ephesians 4:30 says, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” When we sin after salvation, God has provided us with a lawyer, an advocate, to plead our case. 1 John 2:2 says, “And he (Jesus) is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” Remember, the context is about sin after salvation in this passage.
Fifth is the practice of God. Those who truly belong to Christ are kept safe, but they are treated like God’s child. Hebrews 12:6 says, “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receives.” See also 1 Corinthians 11:31-32.
There are many forms of his chastening. They are implemented with mercy to assure us we belong to him.
There are many other passages I could go to; there are words such as “everlasting,” “eternal,” “whosoever,” etc. They mean what they say, or they are a lie. You judge.
Joseph Merriman is pastor of First Baptist Church in Greenfield. This weekly column is written by local clergy members.