We ask for a second time, is it possible for a true Christian to forfeit their salvation, under certain circumstances? I started answering this question in our last Little Lesson.
We’ve looked at 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 where Paul definitely says that certain categories of people who are involved in the most grievous types of sin as a lifestyle—as a practice—will not inherit the kingdom of God.
Can a True Christian Stop Following Jesus?
Obviously, Christians could revert back to those lifestyles. Christians could become adulterers. They could become thieves. They could become idolaters.
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 6:11, “Such were some of you.” This doesn’t characterize you anymore. You’re no longer unrighteous. You’re no longer fornicators and adulterers and idolaters and homosexuals and drunkards and revilers and swindlers. You repented. You were born again. You are new creations in Christ Jesus.
But that does not preclude the possibility that a dog can return to his vomit (2 Peter 2:22), to borrow a Biblical phrase that warns Christians about going back to their former lifestyles. We find many times in Scripture these admonishing statements to continue in the faith and strive to enter through the narrow gate. The second phrase is right from the lips of Jesus.
There are just plenty of reasons to believe from New Testament, Old Testament scriptures that it’s possible for Christians to stop believing, stop following, go back into their old ways and, at some point in time, resisting the discipline of the Lord, resisting the Holy Spirit and His conviction, that God would say, “Okay. If that’s what you want.”
But it’s not easy to lose your salvation. You don’t just lose it like you lose your car keys.
What about those folks who say that you can’t possibly forfeit your salvation? Well, they have their proof texts. They don’t have nearly as many, by the way. But as I said in our previous Little Lesson, you don’t decide this issue by seeing who has the most scriptures. You see who can harmonize their proof texts with the opposite viewpoint’s proof texts.
Probably the most common scripture that’s quoted by those who say it’s impossible for Christians to ever forfeit their salvation is John 10. Jesus says,
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – vv. 27-29
Well, that does sound like the believer is quite secure. Once you got it, as one guy said, it’s like a tattoo. Even if you regret it and would like to get rid of it, it’s too late. You’re stuck with it.
Once Saved, Always Saved?
So people will say, “There it is! Eternal security for the believer. Once saved, always saved! I’ve got my verse.”
Ok, but harmonize that verse now with the scores of other verses that would bring some balance to your position and maybe help us better understand exactly what it was that Jesus was promising here! It seems to me the emphasis in these verses is, “No one will be able to snatch them out of my hand.” That is nobody is going to be able to steal you from God’s love and care, from the salvation and the forgiveness that He’s granted you. Nobody can take that from you.
However, balancing that with so many other scriptures that would bring some balance, you can walk away if you want to.
I don’t have a dog, but if I did, I could say to my dog, “I think you’re a great dog! No one’s ever going to steal you from my house. No, sir! I’ll be watching you closely. You’re safe as long as you’re in my house. I’m not going to let any thief or dog snatchers get you. I’m going to feed you, take care of you. I love you. You’re sticking with me til the end, my dog.”
This may all be true, but it does not exclude the possibility of my dog saying to himself, or herself, “I’m out of here! I don’t like staying with David. There are greener pastures. There are nicer neighbors I’ve been noticing who would probably take a little better care of me.”
My dog has freewill and I can’t change that. It’s not a robot dog. It’s a freewill dog, as all dogs are.
A Balanced View
Again, we have to balance John 10. I mentioned Colossians 1 in the last Little Lesson. Here’s one of the many proof texts Paul writes:
Yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. – vv. 22-23
Note the conditional “if”. There are so many scriptures like this.
The Olivet Discourse
I would direct your attention to the Olivet Discourse as well. Jesus was talking to his closest disciples, Peter, James, John and Andrew. Just those four, and no more according to Mark’s gospel. It was very clear, though, from the other synoptic gospels that it was definitely not Jesus speaking to crowds. It was Jesus speaking to his closest disciples. He emphatically warned them that they wanted to make sure that they would be ready when He returned. Because the consequences of them not being ready were very, very dire.
I’ll conclude answering this question in the next Little Lesson. We’ll look at the Olivet Discourse where Jesus told about all of the future things that are going to come to pass and his second coming. He spent a lot of time warning his disciples, “Make sure you’re ready for this because, if you’re not, you’ll be thrown into that place where’s weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Talking to Peter, James, John and Andrew. Something to think about.
Thanks for joining me! Hope to see you next time. God bless.