Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?

The short answer to the question of whether a Christian can lose salvation is "no." But clearly the answer is more complicated than that. First, we must understand what a "Christian" is; not all who use the title have actually put their faith in Jesus. 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 family that follows the Christian religion or born to parents who know Jesus as Lord and Savior. A Christian, according to the Bible, is a person who has, by faith, personally received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior from sin (John 3:16–18; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:1–10). As a result, that person has been freed from eternal condemnation, been made new, and been given the indwelling Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 5:17–21; Ephesians 1:3–14). There are several reasons why it is impossible for such a person 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 does not lie or go 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. Second Corinthians 5:17 declares, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." 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. "You were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you who through him are believers in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God" (1 Peter 1:18–21). God "has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God's power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time" (1 Peter 1:3–5). 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. The inheritance is kept by God's power. Ephesians 1:11–14 speaks of predestination and the seal of the Holy Spirit "who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory." Salvation is secured by God, and the seal of the Holy Spirit in all who have trusted in Christ Jesus affirms that.

Justification is the doctrine that explains what happens at salvation. Romans 5:1 says, "Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." 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, forever. 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 will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand." Eternal life comes from God through Christ. Those who trust in Christ 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. It could be that such people are in a period of wandering (1 Corinthians 3:13–15; Galatians 6:1–5; 1 Thessalonians 5:14; James 5:19–20). Though they are faithless, God will remain faithful (2 Timothy 2:13). Or it could be that these people are merely professing to be Christian but do not actually have a relationship with God through Christ. The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually, unrepentant 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 Christian (1 John 2:19). We cannot judge the heart of any individual in such situations, and we should be praying for them and sharing the truth of the gospel with them.

Jude 1:24-25 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."

Related Truth:

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?

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