When we put our faith in the salvation that Jesus provides, we receive His eternal life and are eternally saved (John 10:28). But is that all there is to it? Can a person who has been saved lose their faith yet retain their salvation? Are works required to maintain salvation? How secure is our salvation? There are several different schools of thought on how the dynamics of faith, works, and security relate.
What is the relationship of faith, works, and security in salvation?
The first perspective holds the belief that salvation requires the initial act of faith along with continued obedience in order to merit salvation. According to this view, when you die, your life and works will be evaluated by God to determine your final salvation "status"—only then will you know whether you are saved or lost. The Roman Catholic Church adheres to this basic teaching, and some Protestants think along these lines as well. This perspective is lacking in the "security" component. The problem with this view is that it neglects to focus on the fact that we are saved by grace through faith and that nothing we do could ever earn us salvation: "For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast" (Ephesians 2:8–9). When we are saved, our justification before God is instantaneous. Salvation happens now, not just in the afterlife.
An alternative approach to faith, works, and security's connection says that people are saved by faith and completely neglects the component of works. In this perspective, which is sometimes referred to as "easy believism," as long as you have professed faith in Christ at some point, there is nothing you could do to lose your salvation. Repudiating your faith or embracing a sinful lifestyle are non-factors, because you are still saved no matter what. This approach is dangerous because it does not take into consideration the scriptural warnings that place emphasis on holy living and persevering faith (1 Peter 1:15). It lacks in recognizing transformation, demonstrated through "works," as a result of salvation (2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10).
The third perspective adheres to the belief that you are saved by faith, but it combines faith with works in the sense of believing that you must avoid continual and unrepentant sin. So, you could be saved and living for Christ, full of the Holy Spirit, but still ultimately fall away and lose your salvation. This approach takes the Bible's warnings about sin seriously, which is good; however, it doesn't fully take into consideration all of the passages that discuss assurance of salvation as well as the fact that we are not saved by works (Romans 8:38–39; Titus 3:5). It is illogical to think we are not saved by works yet must somehow maintain our salvation through works. This perspective is imbalanced because it tasks us, rather than Christ, with maintaining our salvation.
The fourth and final viewpoint on the dynamics of faith, works, and security confirms that people are saved by faith in Jesus Christ, based on His merit and His death on the cross. Christ took your sin on as His own and gave you His righteousness instead (2 Corinthians 5:21). When you are born again and filled with the Holy Spirit, He works His will and ways in your life, changing your inner man which ultimately reflects outwardly as you continue living in submission to Him. If you claim to have placed your faith in Christ but have no fruit as evidence of a transformed life, it is possible that your initial profession of faith was not a genuine one (Matthew 7:19–21). This viewpoint is biblical because it confirms that we are saved by grace through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9) for the purpose of doing good works through Christ (Ephesians 2:10).
We persevere in Christ because He is not only the God who saves us but also the God who protects us and gives us the strength we need to continue on in Christ (Philippians 1:6).
Is salvation by faith or works or both?
Why do so many people believe in salvation by works?
How are good works the result of salvation?
Does the Bible teach eternal security?
How can a believer have assurance of salvation?
Truth about Salvation