Are we saved in Christ only to lose our salvation in Christ in a weak moment, or a temptation that we could not overcome in the flesh, or a lack of belief (which is usually our lack of understanding)? Are we to believe that Jesus was only a starting place to our salvation and it is entirely up to us to keep ourselves safe in the sight and in the heart of God? Is it possible that those who have been chosen in Christ before the disruption of the world (Ephesians 1:4) can be lost at any given moment, no matter how much they believed in Christ the moment before they fell into a temptation, or doubt, and did not repent from their error?
I was sent an email that was sent to a friend of mine, from someone who believes we can lose our salvation (with scripture references allegedly proving this to be true). I will paraphrase what was passed on to me:
"We can lose our salvation by our own doing, (or maybe better) by our own flesh, and we can save ourselves and restore ourselves by the same flesh that caused us to fall, if we repent."
That is pretty much the gist of the email.
One question that comes to my mind is: How can we humans (who believe) turn off and on what Christ accomplished for us and in us, much like turning a light-switch off and on, by our flesh, and destroy what dwells in us through spirit? Is our flesh really that much stronger than His spirit?
Not according to Paul:
"Now if Christ is in you, the body, indeed, is dead because of sin, yet the spirit is life because of righteousness." (Romans 8:10)
With Peter we have our first example of a believer who denied knowing the Lord. So I would like to ask these people who believe the weakness of our flesh can destroy what Christ has accomplished; "Was Peter lost when he denied he knew the Lord early that morning, before His crucifixion?" And if Peter died before he saw the risen Lord (Peter never repented, at least not a verbal repentance, but Judas did), would Peter have been eternally lost, and as many believe, sent to hell?
If the answer is yes, then Jesus lied to him when He told the twelve, Peter included, that they would each sit on one of twelve thrones judging the nation of Israel during the Millennium Kingdom (Matthew 19:28). These same people believe that Jesus lied to Judas as well, because they now believe that Judas forsook his place and is in hell getting exactly what he deserves, even though Judas repented, (see the article "The Restoration of Judas, at www.godisgod.ca" ).
Peter was no more lost than any other believer who has had, or is having, a moment of doubt, or denial, or falls into a trial for a season. Peter, like all of us was human, and as humans we are going to trip, and doubt, and at times we are going to deny, just like Peter. And during those times does anyone truly believe the Lord will turn His back on us eternally unless, or until we repent?
Lets find out.
I would like to say up front (if it hasn't been realized yet) I do not believe anyone can lose their salvation in Christ: ever, and no one is lost eternally.
NOT A HUMAN- HUMANS LIE
We read from the scriptures that God is not a human and He does not lie:
"God is not human, 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) ESV
We know from scriptures what God's will for humankind is:
"I am entreating, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, pleadings, thanksgiving be made for all mankind, for kings and all those being in a superior station, that we may be leading a mild and quiet life in all devoutness and gravity, for this is ideal and welcome in the sight of our Saviour, God, Who wills that all mankind be saved and come into a realization of the truth." (1 Timothy 2:1-4)
The ESV translate verse four "who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth." Or in other words, leaving people to believe that; God has a desire (wish), and that wish is all mankind be saved, but He is incapable of making it happen because it is only a desire (wish), and it is up to the human to make God's desire (wish) come true, and it is up to the human to keep up his/her end of the bargain if they grant the desire (wish) of God. Does that sound like something The Only Sovereign God would allow, a God who is not a human, a God Who has spoken and it will happen, a God Who inspired Paul to write these verses above in 1 Timothy (and below from 2 Timothy) ,concerning the believers security in Christ?:
"Faithful is the saying: "For if we died together, we shall be living together also;
if we are enduring, we shall be reigning together also; if we are disowning, He also will be disowning us; if we are disbelieving, He is remaining faithful -- He cannot disown Himself." (2 Timothy 2:11-13)
On the surface it appears these verses (at least one of them) seem to support the teaching of losing your salvation: "if we are disowning, He also will be disowning us." ( n.b. In some versions it says "if we are disowning Him." Him is in italics, meaning it was added by the translators, and not found in the originals, so it must be ignored). Also, these verses would seem to contradict, either the fall away teaching, or the eternal security teaching when taken together, because we read: "if we are disbelieving, He is remaining faithful -- He cannot disown Himself."
So in these four verses, from 2 Timothy, it would appear that either Paul got confused and contradicted himself, or, Paul was writing not about losing our salvation, but about our walk in the Lord, and also our allotment, when we realize fully our salvation: (when we are physically in the presence of the Lord), and our security in the Lord.
If we were to take out the one verse ("if we are disowning, He also will be disowning us") and place it with other verses taken out of context to support that we can lose our salvation, and ignore the surrounding verses, we would be making up a teaching that is not in the scriptures, a contradiction, breeding confusion, therefore perpetrating a lie. But if we keep this verse in the context it is written in, we can see that those who endure, will be reigning with Him (have an allotment in the coming eon), those who are disowning He will disown, not disown their salvation, but disown their place in reigning. We know this because in the next verse He addresses those who are disbelieving: "if we are disbelieving, He is remaining faithful -- He cannot disown Himself." Himself (figuratively) could be said to be us, His body, in which He dwells in spirit ( Romans 8:9-10, Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:30), as well as literally Himself the Christ, we are inseparable, those who are in Christ. This verse has nothing whatsoever to do with losing your salvation, together they have everything to do with our walk, our security, and our allotment in reigning with the Lord. Your salvation is secure, always, even if you come to a place where you disbelieve. So we can see that God is not a liar, as is confirmed in the verse from Numbers, God's will-will be done, that being, all will be saved as we read in the verses from 1 Timothy, and He is remaining faithful to His word, that we are secure in Christ, as we read in the verses from 2 Timothy.
So with this in mind, lets look into some of these other scriptures that many claim salvation is not a sure thing, and all who are in Christ are in danger of losing it every second of every day because of our weak flesh, and we must struggle to keep saved right up until the moment we breathe our last breath.
WHO EFFECTS OUR SALVATION?
I would like to remind all that there is a huge danger of falling into error when we cherry pick a verse, and ignore the surrounding verses, especially when trying to prove a teaching. An example of doing this would be the portion above from 2 Timothy, as well as this next portion from Philippians. Here is chapter two verse twelve:
"So that, my beloved, according as you always obey, not as in my presence only, but now much rather in my absence, with fear and trembling, be carrying your own salvation into effect."
One would get the impression when reading this one verse that it is up to us to carry our salvation into effect on our own. When we read the verse just after it we can see it has nothing to do with us, except that we are the vessels where His salvation has been placed:
"For it is God Who is operating in you to will as well as to work for the sake of His delight."
God will not even consider allowing us to carry this salvation of His into effect on our own, because it would not only exalt the human to a position above God, it would dethrone the Christ, and the work of the spirit. Also, if it were up to us on our own to keep us in God's good grace, and to carry our salvation to its conclusion, no one would be saved, ever.
When Jesus' disciples asked a question concerning this matter of how can anyone be saved, when a rich young man refused to follow Jesus on His earthly ministry, Jesus answered their question:
"Then who can be saved?" But He said, "What is impossible with man is possible with God." (Luke 18:26-27)
In the portion of scripture above from Philippians, the verses before it tells us the magnitude of God's Delight:
"Wherefore, also, God highly exalts Him, and graces Him with the name that is above every name, that in the name of Jesus every knee should be bowing, celestial and terrestrial and subterranean, and every tongue should be acclaiming that Jesus Christ is Lord, for the glory of God, the Father."
No human can thwart God's will and plans for our salvation through Christ, because He is the "SAVIOUR", the One that saves, and keeps, not ourselves on our own.
SECURE IN CHRIST, OR NOT?
No matter how far we fall we are secure in Christ. We may not be in the front line of fellowship, but we are still beloved by the Father. We could even take this down to an earthly level. If a son or daughter falls out with their parents, disobeys them, or even disowns them, are they still their mother and father? The same is truer with God. He is still our Father and loves us (Read Romans 8:28-39).
There are many who make claims of believing in Christ, but do not (1 John 2:19), those people will find no security in Christ, as they are merely giving lip service, and religious ritual. They cannot fall away, because they never believed, they are simply lost during this eon and the next. They are the ones Jesus will say I did not know you (Matthew 7:21-23). No believer will ever hear those words, ever.
Another verse that was sent to prove we can lose our salvation can be found in Galatians 5:1:
"For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery."
I am uncertain how this verse proves we can lose our salvation (maybe the stand firm part, as if it is a work of our own to keep us saved), so I will comment on it from that point anyhow.
What is the yoke of slavery Paul writes of?
All through this epistle Paul is telling the Galatian believers they are free in Christ (that is what they are to stand firm in), not under the bondage of religion or their own strength. The Galatians were actually in danger of falling out of grace, because they were wanting (and some probably were) to add to there salvation by following the law and circumcising. One could ask: "How can we fall out of grace when salvation is secure?" We fall out of grace when we rely on the flesh to keep us in Christ. This is something those who believe we can lose our salvation champion, you are kept by your own strength, your flesh, and certain rituals, the spirit really doesn't come into play. The verses following this verse from Galatians disprove that:
"For freedom Christ frees us! Stand firm, then, and be not again enthralled with the yoke of slavery. Lo! I, Paul, am saying to you that if you should be circumcising, Christ will benefit you nothing. Now I am attesting again to every man who is circumcising, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Exempted from Christ were you who are being justified in law. You fall out of grace. For we, in spirit, are awaiting the expectation of righteousness by faith. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision is availing anything, nor uncircumcision, but faith, operating through love. You raced ideally! Who hinders you not to be persuaded by the truth? This persuasion is not of Him Who is calling you. A little leaven is leavening the whole kneading. I have confidence in you in the Lord that in nothing you will be disposed otherwise. Now he who is disturbing you shall be bearing his judgment, whosoever he may be. (Galatians 5:1-10)
To fall out of grace has absolutely nothing to do with losing ones salvation, it means you are now relying on your own flesh to secure your salvation, and complete your salvation, you have made grace null and void in your walk. Not that grace has been removed by God, it never will be, you have lost your understanding of grace, so you try in futility to work for it, never able to grasp it in your mind. Paul earlier in the epistle calls that witchcraft:
"O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain - if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith - just as Abraham "believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness"? (Galatians 3:1-6) ESV
So we can see that Galatians 5:1 has nothing at all to do with losing ones salvation. On the contrary, this whole epistle has to do with how by works of the flesh we cannot hold onto the grace we have in the faith of Christ, we fall under the law. We don't lose our salvation, we just don't appreciate it, and its freedom (Galatians 3:11).
Romans 11:21 is the next verse that is said to say we can lose our salvation:
"For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you."
It must be remembered that this portion of scripture (Romans chapters 9-11, I would encourage all to read them first), has to do with Israel and the nations. This section of scripture is national, Israel as a nation is the main theme of this portion of the scriptures.
The natural branches are said to be Israel, and during this time of their rejection of Christ they have been broken off, and we now have a period called by many "The Church Age." This is when those who are chosen in Christ from the disruption of the world, of the nations are being brought into Christ. These natural branches (Israel) have been placed in unbelief. Paul tells us this in verse 20 ("By unbelief are they broken out"). We will see later Who caused their unbelief. Then Paul tells us that:
"And even they, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God has the power to graft them in again." (vs. 23)
With this verse it seems that it is up to them to believe, and God is patiently waiting for them to repent, staying out of their way until they do, and if and when they do He will graft them back in. Would God let what He has called a stiff necked people (Exodus 32:9, Acts 7:51) make such an important decision? Lets read what Paul says happens:
"Lest you be wise in your own sight, I do not want you to be unaware of this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles (Nations) has come in. And in this way all Israel will be saved, as it is written, "The Deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob (Israel)"; and this will be my covenant with them when I take away their sins." (vs. 25-27) ESV
Who is it that turns them around, and Who is it that takes away their sins?
Not the people, The Deliverer will banish their ungodliness, and remove their sins.
Now read the rest of this chapter (emphasis are mine) :
"As regards the gospel, they are enemies for your sake. But as regards election, they are beloved for the sake of their forefathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. For just as you were at one time disobedient to God but now have received mercy because of their disobedience, so they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy. For God has consigned all to disobedience, that He may have mercy on all. Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable His ways! For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counselor? Or who has given a gift to Him that He might be repaid? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be glory forever. Amen." ESV
No one is lost eternally. Salvation is for all. It was God who placed all in disobedience that He may have mercy on all. It is God who banishes their ungodliness, and sends the Deliverer who will graft them back in again (Romans 11:26-27). Again, He would not allow a human such power, although humans believe they have it.
The next verses are from John 15:6, 10:
"If anyone should not be remaining in Me, he was cast out as a branch, and it withered. And they are gathering them, and into the fire are they casting them, and they are being burned." (vs.6)
"If ever you should be keeping My precepts, you will be remaining in My love, according as I have kept the precepts of My Father and am remaining in His love." (vs.10)
What does it mean to be remaining in Me?
Jesus answers the question in verse 10 above. There is nothing here about losing salvation. At the time of these words from Jesus the kingdom was about to be rejected, and there was no salvation in Christ to be had, because He had not yet gone to the cross to remove Sin and abolish death. Here He is simply stating if His followers kept what He said as truth, they would remain in God's love. Not that His love has conditions. We read in 1 John 4:10:
"In this is love, not that we love God, but that He loves us, and dispatches His Son, a propitiatory shelter concerned with our sins."
They will realize this love when they keep His precepts, because they speak of His love, and we see that those who do not remain in His love are as if they are cast out. In other words they have not realized His love. They are still His, and He tells us this in verse 2:
"Every branch "in Me" bringing forth no fruit, He is taking it away, and every one bringing forth fruit, He is cleansing it, that it may be bringing forth more fruit."
There are branches in Jesus that do not bring forth fruit. These branches will be purged in His fire (verse 6). None are lost, they are still in Christ, just fruitless.
2 Peter 1:10 is the next verse given that is said to support a believer can fall away:
"Wherefore, rather, brethren, endeavor through ideal acts to confirm your calling and choice; for, doing these things you should under no circumstances be tripping at any time."
Once again, the surrounding verses prove that the tripping (ESV- fall), is not losing your salvation, but because of an inability to come to a complete recognition of Christ they could trip, stumble, or fall (a view versions have added "away", supporting their teaching of losing salvation, but again, it was added and should be discarded).
Verse 11 reads: "For thus will be richly supplied to you the entrance into the eonian kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ."
Peter was present when the rich young man approached Jesus and asked Him what he must do in order to enjoy the allotment of eonian life. Jesus gives him a list, and also tells him to give all he has to the poor and follow Him (read Mark,10:17-22). The rich man walks away sorrowing. Everything else he said he did, but he would not part with his money. What does Jesus say? What He doesn't say is what many believe He said: "if you do not do what I said you are going to hell." No. He says: "How squeamishly shall those who have money be entering into the kingdom of God!"
We, the believer, will have nothing lacking upon entrance into the kingdom, when the spirit is our sole guide to truth, not tradition and ritual. Most people trip over truth, because tradition is much more appealing.
There are barriers in life that are designed to hold us back on our journey, one is our flesh and its desires, and the mature believer knows this and ignores them, all the while pressing on.
"For, walking in flesh, we are not warring according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not fleshly, but powerful to God toward the pulling down of bulwarks; pulling down reckonings and every height elevating itself against the knowledge of God, and leading into captivity every apprehension into the obedience of Christ, and having all in readiness to avenge every disobedience, whenever your obedience may be completed." (2 Corinthians 10: 3-6)
We aren't yet complete, so we are not ready to avenge all our many disobediences. We do continue to grow and learn, and we do trip, and doubt, but never do we fall away.
The teaching that we can fall away is a teaching that the flesh must overcome every fault (Sin) that Christ died for. The exact opposite of what those who are in the body of Christ are shown:
"Now we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the transcendence of the power may be of God and not of us." (1 Corinthians 4:7)