Are you in the “once saved, always saved” camp? Or is your view that it is possible to “lose” your salvation? I emphasize the word lose because losing your salvation is what we say, but the act is more in line with giving away or walking away from your salvation. I imagine you can see already which of these mindsets I subscribe to, but I used to be in the other camp.
I was not raised in church, nor did I go very much as a child. We may have gone on Easter (but not always) and I went with my grandparents here and there. Sometimes I would go to Vacation Bible School also. But had really no concept of what Christianity entailed. I didn’t read the Bible, although we had several, but no one read them that I know of. I have been baptized a couple of times, but there was no corresponding change in my life, nor did I know there should be. Just where or how I reached the conclusion that, if I said the prayer of salvation, or if I went to the altar during the altar call, I was good to go, but that’s what I believed. I thought that was all that was required to be a Christian.
Ten years ago, my daughter went to VBS with her daycare group, heard the salvation message, and asked the Lord Jesus to be her Lord and Savior. She told us about it when she got home. As a result of all this, I began looking for a church home for us and found a nearby Assembly of God church, and that is where we are until this day.
During one of the sermons, my pastor made the statement that you could lose your salvation! It really took me by surprise and upset me. That wasn’t true, or was it? Well, I kept going for many reasons. It is a Holy Spirit filled church and it supplies my needs for Him, as well as teaches me something every time I go.
Right before we started to attend there, I purchased a copy of the New International Version bible and I began reading the Bible for myself. Soon after that Sunday that he talked about losing your salvation, I was talking on the phone with a lady from the church and I told her about it. She didn’t try to convince me that he was right, although I am sure she knows enough scripture to be able to present the case; she just advised me to not let that stop me from going.
I believe that was God speaking through her to encourage me, because He knew how things would go down the road. So, I kept going, and over time, the pastor made his case, not by thunderous, fiery preaching or teaching specifically on this subject, but just teaching the Bible like he always does. I came to see, through my own reading, and his teaching, that what he had said has a biblical foundation.
For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened,…and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt. Hebrews 6:4-6
For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. Hebrews 10:26-28
For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 2 Peter 2:20-22
And these are only a few of the verses that point to “losing” salvation by walking away from God, even after receiving the good news and making a promise to God to obey Him. Don’t be like the Israelites when Moses came down off the mountain, where God had given him the Commandments. After Moses gave the commands of the Lord, “The people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the LORD has said.’ So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.” Exodus 19:8. In fact, they repeated the same promise twice more in Exodus 24. And we know how that worked out.
If you promise to follow the Lord, to obey His commands and submit to His process of sanctifying you, you will keep your salvation and “no one can snatch you out of His hand (John 10:28). If you turn back, you give away your salvation and return to your unredeemed state. Salvation is a choice, and continuing in salvation is also a choice. Choose this day whom you will serve.
However, this presents another problem. People who believe this way then have to explain what John 3:16 and other similar verses mean, that mention “eternal life.” If it is possible to lose salvation, then why does scripture call it everlasting life? What else would everlasting life refer to? Did this pastor ever go into the surrounding context of these verses, and the cultural context at the time they were written? As important as this doctrine is, it is mandatory that one fully understands their meaning.
I appreciate your point, John, and I understand what you are saying, but I think the question would better be stated as “Can you give up your salvation?” I have a friend that considers herself a Christian, but she has had many affairs with other men while married, and gets drunk now and again and likes to shoplift for the thrill. Will she enter Heaven if she does not turn from her sins? Or will she hear Jesus say, “Away from me; I never knew you?”
Ask your friend what her definition is of a Christian. You and I both know that many people consider themselves Christians when they are not. They consider themselves Christians because they go to church, among many other things. If your friend does not mention in her definition anything about having a personal relationship with Jesus as opposed to just “being religious” she may not be a Christian at all. You could help her see the difference. A true believer who has had a heart and life transplant through a personal relationship with Christ will not have a desire to live a life like the one you described.