Can I Lose My Salvation?
Do you know this is one of the most asked questions in Christianity today? It's also one of the most debated topics, which, of course is expected. Salvation is a big deal. Jesus Christ paid the price for our salvation with His own blood, so of course the enemy of our soul would want to minimize, distort, undermine and cause us to doubt this most precious gift.
If you've ever asked this question, or if you're asking it today, I'm going to give you some of the best news you've heard in a long time, in fact, it's called The Good News (or in other translations, the Gospel). Here we go.
Can I Lose My Salvation?
Let's look at what the Bible tells us.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God -- Ephesians 2:8
So, if we've been saved by accepting a free gift, and not "from ourselves" this means that entering into salvation is based entirely on faith and trust. Faith and trust in what? Faith and trust in the fact that Jesus is who He says He is (the Son of God) and has done what He said He did (pay the price for our sins by shedding His blood on the cross). That's it? Yes, that's it.
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved. -- Romans 10:9-10
That's the beginning of a beautiful, life long journey with your Creator! It's the point of salvation.
It's Not a Works Program!
Our salvation has absolutely nothing to do with what we've done, who we are, or what we could ever possibly do to repay Him. We didn't deserve salvation when it was given to us (the Bible says that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us) and it's free to anyone who believes they can have it. This is as simple as me walking up to a complete stranger and telling them, "Hey, I have this cup of coffee I bought for you. You can have it if you'll just walk into the Starbucks right there and let them know you're there to pick it up. I already paid for it, so when you walk in just tell them you've come to pick up the coffee that Jeff has purchased for you." If you believe what I've just told you about the coffee and act on it by walking into the Starbucks and requesting the coffee that's been purchased for you, it is yours.
When we enter in to the kingdom of heaven, or receive the gift of salvation, it works very much the same way. Salvation also involves a desire, a longing, or an inner calling that we feel prior to salvation. We start to long for "something" that's missing in our lives. We're not quite sure what it is, but we feel very unfulfilled without this "thing." None of this, of course, is occurring accidentally. God has created us all with this longing. It just takes some of us a bit more time than others to get to this point.
Okay, so that's about it, right? Jesus Christ paid the price for our sins. We have been brought out of darkness into His marvelous light (the Bible says that too) and now we can begin our journey of love, trust, and growth as we follow Christ. And who wouldn't want to follow Him? As we read the Word we see that He is the answer to every problem. He is our Protector, our Provider, a very present help in time of need, our Counselor, our Comforter, our Healer, -- I mean, we've hit the jackpot, right? This Gospel (or good news) is almost too good to be true, right? Yes! That is right! Until doubt and unbelief start to crop in to make us question our salvation. There are thousands of ways this happens, but it usually has something to do with using the Word to turn our salvation into a "performance program". That's why it can be so confusing. Let's take a look at just one possible scenario:
The Performance Program...Where Bondage Abounds
You've been attending church for a while. You're growing in God. You love the freedom and love you're experiencing, you're sharing the message of Truth with all your friends...life is good. And then somebody tells you something funky and it's like that sound when the needle scratches across the record and everything suddenly stops. This usually comes from the most unlikely places. It might be a fellow believer or a trusted teacher. The confusion will go something like this...
"Did you know that the Bible says, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness? Yep. That's in 1 John 1:9. That means you have to remember to confess your sins. If you don't remember and you're in sin when you die, well....you may not be saved."
"Oh no," you think to yourself as you remember how often you fall asleep at night without remembering to confess all of your sins. And then, what if you accidentally forget one? Then you'll go to hell just because you forgot. Wow. This Christianity thing is harder than you thought, right? Maybe you should keep a sin journal and write them down so you'll remember to confess them. Oh, or better yet, maybe you should just stop what you're doing and confess your sins right where you are, daily. Newsflash...you're entering into a works program and it's a slippery slope. This is how it begins and before you know it, you, who once walked in the freedom and liberty of Christ, become that person who is telling others that they can lose their salvation.
So, what do we do? What's the right answer? How is it that we can't lose our salvation when there's so many things in the Word that make it look impossible to serve Him? Just this one scripture alone, "If we confess our sins, He will forgive us..." That's a full time job right there.
Well, my friend, that's where His grace comes in. The Word also tell us this:
"If we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin" (1 John 1:7)
God's Word is never meant to bring us into bondage. The Bible says, "Who the Son sets free is free indeed," so if you are reading a Scripture and it has anything to do with performance or what you can do to either earn or keep your salvation, you need to ask God to reveal the Truth to you. The Scripture above tells us that if we walk in the Light (which every believer is walking in the light), the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. That's just a couple of sentences before 1 John 1:9 that someone just used to bring you into bondage. The Word of God must always be taken in context. Let's take a look at the whole picture:
1 John 1:5-10 - This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all. If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
Well, that sounds very different! Now we can see that the message says that if we claim to be without sin, we are deceiving ourselves. Instead, we need to openly admit that we are sinners in need of a Savior. If we do this, the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin. That word "cleanses" is active. It doesn't say "will cleanse." Instead it says, "cleanses." That's present tense. Here is a beautiful description of this cleansing that I heard Joseph Prince provide as a mental picture. This will dissolve all of those bondage thoughts about having to remember to confess our sins, because that would mean we are saved, not saved, saved, not saved all throughout the day. That's not how God operates.
Get Under the Waterfall!
Here's the mental picture. Let's say you have a rock and it's sitting in the dirt overnight. By morning, the rock is smudged, a little muddy, and since it was damp throughout the night, the rock even has some mold starting to grow on it. We want the rock to be clean so we pick it up and hold it under a little waterfall that's nearby. After it's clean we put it back in the dirt. Same thing happens the following night and the next morning we are holding it under the waterfall again to make it clean. This is how many Christians picture the sin and confession process, like the rock...dirty, clean, dirty, clean. But that's not how it works at all! Once we receive salvation, we are transformed from the kingdom of darkness (the dirt) to the kingdom of light (the waterfall) and we are constantly under the cleansing flow of forgiveness! We don't go from dirty to clean based on our performance or remembering to ask for forgiveness. We have been justified and are in right standing 24/7! That word "cleanses" is active. We are under the cleansing power of His forgiveness all day every day! The Word says that when Jesus died for our sins, He said, "It is finished." There's nothing more that we can do. He paid it all and gave Himself freely for us. All we are required to do is believe.
Now, since you know that you are constantly walking and residing in the Light and you are living in full acceptance from your Creator, and standing under the constant flow of forgiveness in continual cleansing....Can you lose your salvation?
Don't let anyone return you to the bondage of a "performance Gospel." There's nothing you can do. It's already been done! How's that for Good News?