The short answer to this question is "no." Then why do so many Christians seem to walk away from the faith? Haven't they lost their salvation? Again, no. The simple explanation is that those who walk away were never Christians to begin with. A "Christian" is not someone who has 'made a profession' by saying a prayer, or signing a card, or coming forward at the end of a church service. Neither is a Christian defined as someone born into a Christian family. A Christian, according to the Bible, is a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). There are several reasons why it is impossible for a born-again Christian to lose salvation.
Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?
First and foremost, we become Christians by faith, and that faith is not something we come up with on our own. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes it clear that true, saving faith is the GIFT of God. For salvation to be lost, God would have to take back His gift. God is not like a man that He lies or goes back on His promises. "God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?" (Numbers 23:19). Romans 11:29 tells us that "the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable." Therefore, the gift of faith He imparts to His own will never be taken back. This is the most comforting truth about losing salvation—it can't be done because God won't allow it, for the sake of His name, His character and His glory.
Secondly, the Christian is a new creation—not a remake of an old creation, but an entirely new creation. "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come" (2 Corinthians 5:17). Again, the power for the new creation comes from God, not from us. Just as we had no hand in our first birth, we have no hand in our rebirth. We are God's creation and for a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to cancel and reverse the new creation.
Christians are redeemed, or purchased, by the blood of Christ shed for us on the cross. "For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18-19 NIV). A redeemed person cannot be 'un-redeemed.' Furthermore, because God is omniscient, knowing all things before they happen, He would not shed His blood for those He knows He is not going to redeem.
Justification is the doctrine that explains what happens at salvation. "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). To be justified means to be declared righteous by God by virtue of the exchange that happened at the cross. Our sin was exchanged for the righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21). For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and "un-declare" what He had previously declared and take back the righteousness of Christ. That simply doesn't happen.
John 3:16 is the promise of God to give eternal life to all who come to Christ. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life." Eternal life is just that—eternal—the promise of eternity (forever) in heaven with God. God promises, "Believe and you will have eternal life." For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would not be eternal. Again, God will not break His promise by taking away that which He has declared to be eternal.
Jesus made a profound statement about the security of the believer in John 10:28 "I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand." Eternal life comes from God through Christ. They will never be lost and no one, including believers themselves, can be taken out of the firm grip of God.
From these few verses, we can see that it is impossible for a true believer to lose salvation. The saved cannot be 'unsaved.' The new creation cannot be un-created. The redeemed cannot be unredeemed. Eternal life cannot be made temporary. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and change His mind—two things that Scripture tells us God never does.
Those who object to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation point to professing Christians who continue to live in sin and those who become Christians and walk away from the faith. These 'professing' Christians are no Christians at all. If they were, their lives would reflect the fruit of the Holy Spirit who dwells within all believers. The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle (1 John 3:6), nor will a true believer depart from the faith. Those who do are demonstrating that they never truly were Christians (1 John 2:19). Therefore, neither objection is valid.
Jude 24-25 says it all: "Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen."
How can a believer have assurance of salvation?
Is eternal security a license to sin?
Is salvation by faith or works or both?
What does it mean that faith without works is dead?
Is salvation possible after death? Is there a second chance for salvation?
Truth about Salvation