Once received, can salvation be lost? This question has been asked and discussed by many Christians and is understandably one of great importance. The security of salvation impacts how a believer lives the Christian life. The reasons for believing salvation can or can not be lost come from the believer’s understanding of key salvation doctrines.
Most Christians accept one of three possible answers to this question. The least commonly held view is that salvation is lost every time a Christian sins. Those who hold this position believe that to keep their salvation Christian’s must ask for forgiveness every time they sin.
The more common view is held by many who believe Lutheran or Arminian doctrines. This second group includes Wesleyans, Methodists, Charismatics and some Baptists. This belief contends that salvation is not lost by committing sin, but a person who lives in sin or turns from the faith loses his salvation. This position finds support in passages like Hebrews 2:1, “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip”; Hebrews 6:4-6 “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance, seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame”; and Galatians 5:4, “Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.” The warnings in these passages against falling from grace or letting truth slip seem to indicate that a Christian can lose his salvation.
The third view is held by many Baptists and those who believe Calvinistic doctrines. The third view is called eternal security and it denies that those who are truly saved can ever lose their salvation. A minority of those who hold this view believe anyone who prays a prayer for salvation is saved forever, no matter if they continue to live in sin or later deny Jesus. The majority who hold this third view believe those who are saved are secure in their salvation and genuine salvation is accompanied by a changed life. Because of James 2:17 they insist a prayer or confession of faith not accompanied by a transformed life is not truly saving faith. Scriptures upholding the doctrine of eternal security include John 10:28-29, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”
Despite the presence of passages that would seem to teach otherwise, the New Testament is clear and consistent in its teaching about salvation. The saved are saved forever. Salvation can never be lost. The Christian is secure in salvation because no part of it is accomplished by the person. Jesus has done everything necessary to save those who believe. The book of Hebrews is often cited as proof that salvation can be lost, but it is not. Hebrews is an awesome explanation of the supremacy of Jesus. He is greater than angels, Moses, the priests, the law and the sacrifices. Because Jesus is infinitely better, the salvation He gives is sufficient and eternally secure for all who will believe. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified.” (Hebrews 10:14)