Some claim that a Christian cannot lose salvation while others claim that he/she can. The belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation is often called “eternal security.” It is important to emphasize that the early church never taught eternal security and the two oldest branches of Christianity, Catholicism, and Orthodoxy, reject it. A Christian definitely can lose salvation.
Those who support the idea of “eternal security” can use several passages from the Bible to support their claim. However, it is important to be familiar with the original languages of the Bible, Hebrew, and Greek. We know that the Greek word for “believe” is epistewo, a word which refers to saving faith. In other words, faith without works is dead as beautifully expressed in the word of James. It is not enough to simply believe. In James 2:19 we read, “Even the demons tremble and believe.” Though they believe, they obviously do not have salvation. This makes it clear that mere belief is insufficient. It has to be supported by action.
Matthew 24:13 says the following, “But the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved.” If a person cannot lose his/her salvation, what is the need to endure to the end? The answer is that salvation is a life-long process. In fact, it can be classified into three stages of justification – initial, progressive and final.
The Bible emphasizes the need to follow God’s commandments.
To obey God is to love God, to follow God and do His will. If the doctrine of eternal security is true, there is little need to follow the commandments. In John 15:10 we read, “If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.” In Galatians 5:6 we see the importance of loving God, of having a saving faith when we read, “The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” In 1 Timothy 4:1, we read, “The Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith.” The Bible makes it clear that salvation is not guaranteed. Christians must persevere until the very end to ensure their salvation.
The Christian’s position with God is not so secure that it cannot be lost.
To believe that one is guaranteed a spot in heaven is not only a grave error but also a sin of presumption. In Revelation 3:5 we have a verse that is a problem for those who support the idea of eternal security. The verse says, “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels.” The verse indicates that Christians can have their names blotted out from the book of life. Since Christians can have their names blotted out from the book of life, their salvation is not secure. They must persevere until the very end so that they do not lose the crown of salvation.
Another verse that counters the idea of eternal security is found in Romans 11:21-22. “For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.” If Christians have an assurance of salvation, they cannot be cut off. However, Romans 11:21-22 clearly states that they can be.
The Bible clearly indicates that Christians must overcome trials and temptations to gain salvation. The doctrine of eternal security sounds wonderful and is no doubt very comforting for those who believe it. However, the doctrine of eternal security, also known as the assurance of salvation and “once saved always saved” is not taught in the Bible and is in fact very dangerous. It can lead Christians into a false sense of security and may convince them that they are guaranteed salvation regardless of how much they sin and disobey God.