Yesterday I had the joy of speaking to the High School students in chapel here at Cresset Christian Academy. This is the best school in North Carolina (I’m not biased). The students have chapel each Thursday and I get to speak to them at least once a month. Yesterday we had a “Q&A” day. I wanted to call it “stump-the-pastor”, but that would have been too easy for them. I started the discussion with a question…and we stayed with the topic the entire time. Here’s the question, “Can you lose your salvation?”
The correct theological answer is “no, you cannot.” I often put it this way, “we are never good enough to receive salvation, so we can never be bad enough to lose salvation.” The students were very engaged in the discussion and some of their questions were hypothetical like, “what if a person is a Christian and then turns their back on God and might even start following another religion? Are they still saved?” You can make the case biblically that either they were never saved to begin with, or they are saved and living in disobedience. I don’t believe biblically you can make the argument that such a person would lose their salvation
Unfortunately we ran out of time before we could finish the matter. I think the premise of the question is troubling. So many Christians think of salvation as their “ticket to Heaven”. As long as they have their ticket when they die, all is well. We miss so much when this is our mindset. Jesus said that eternal life is to know God and His Son Jesus Christ (John 17:3). We think of eternal life as mansions, streets of gold, harps, angels, and clouds. We think the ultimate thing is to simple get there. Jesus is far more concerned with how we live life each day. He didn’t speak much of Heaven, as if He was some sort of eternal salesman. Instead He spoke of following Him, sacrificing for others, showing love, and speaking truth. We must follow this example. When we live each day like this, we won’t be as concerned about our “ticket to Heaven.”
It is true that once a person is born-gain they cannot lose that, it cannot be un-done. In our human condition we often ask, “how much can I sin before it gets me into trouble (or I might lose my salvation)?” The real question is, “what does Jesus want for my life today?” Eternal Life, knowing Jesus, is a relationship. When we die there will be a change of location (earth to Heaven) but not a change in our relationship to Him. Jesus will still be our Savior, the Father will still be our Father.
Satan loves to distract us from serving Jesus and walking in obedience. He often does this by bringing in doubt. The Bible says that you can know you are saved. One of the primary ways we see this is the evidence of our works. Do you see Jesus changing your life? Are your attitudes and thoughts and priorities changing? This is the mark of a disciple of Jesus. Sure we will all sin and have our struggles. 1 John 1:8 is clear on that. But 1 John 1:9 says He will forgive our sins when we confess them to Him!
Let us determine together to not worry about losing salvation. Let us walk with one another in obedience and seek to grow closer to Jesus. Our salvation has an element that we will experience after death. There is an element for us today. It is for us to walk in obedience and live lives transformed by the power of the Resurrection of Jesus!
What is the goal? It is not Heaven. It is to know Christ and the power of His resurrection! We can never lose that. We can always grow closer to Jesus.