Rob Buckingham's Blog

Can I Lose My Salvation?

It’s a question that’s as old as the Christian faith itself: Can I lose my salvation?  It’s a good question and one which I believe is asked out of one of the most profound human needs, the need for security.

Various opinions have been offered over the centuries in an answer.  The French Theologian and Pastor, John Calvin (1509-64) and subsequent generations of his followers taught a doctrine known as, “The perseverance of the saints.”  The Westminster Confession of Faith states it as follows: “They whom God hath accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace: but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”

Calvin died, but his teachings lived on, and in 1591 Jacobus Arminius (a Dutch theologian and pastor) began a long process by which he attempted to reform Calvinism – a process which was continued by his followers after his death in 1609.  Part of the attempted reformation of Calvin’s teachings included his views on unconditional eternal security.  Today, “Can I lose my salvation?” continues to be a question that Christians wrestle with and disagree over.  It’s a question people often ask me at Bayside Church.

I believe this question comes from a wrong understanding of salvation, where people see it as an event rather than a process.  If I join a gym and workout once am I, once fit always fit?  I wish :).  We understand that in any area of life we need to exercise discipline and effort not just to maintain but also to grow and develop; it’s the same with salvation.

The Bible speaks of salvation concerning the past, the present, and the future.  Consider these verses:

Ephesians 2:5, “it is by grace you have been saved.”

Philippians 2:12, continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”

Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him.”

In His Great Commission, Jesus instructs his followers to make disciples, not just decisions.  I believe there is often too much emphasis on getting people “saved” by “making a decision” and “saying a prayer.”  While all of this is a good start, we are in danger of communicating to people that, once they’ve said the prayer, they are saved, all is good, and they can now go on living life as they always have.  Becoming a disciple or follower of Jesus, on the other hand, is a lifelong commitment.  Eugene Peterson refers to it as, “A long obedience in the same direction.” [1]

The word “disciple” comes from the Greek word “mathetes” from which the English word mathematics derives.  Mathetes refers to “mental effort needed to think something through.” [2] In other words, before you choose to become a follower of Jesus, it is vital that you count the cost, diligently thinking through the ramifications, and then making a decision that will affect the rest of your life.  When we make that kind of choice, the risen Jesus will continually intercede for us. “Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him.” [3] At Jesus’ Second Coming the salvation he started in us through his life, death and resurrection will finally be completed as he ushers us into eternity.

Can I lose my salvation?  It’s a good question and one which I believe is asked out of one of the most genuine human needs, the need for security.  I consider that we’re secure in Christ: “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [4]

The lost son that Jesus spoke of in his parable in Luke 15 was wayward for a time but eventually returned to his father.  At no stage did he ever cease being his father’s son.  His straying broke their fellowship, but not their relationship.  While I believe a follower of Jesus should live a life that is worthy of, and pleasing to God, He also understands and makes provision for our wanderings and imperfections – that’s the beauty of grace!  Followers of Jesus should rest and relax in God’s love, mercy, and grace.

I decided to follow Jesus when I was 19 but, after a few months, I drifted away and, for the next two years, I didn’t live the life of a Jesus follower.  During that time, I regularly felt the tug of the Holy Spirit on my heart, calling me home.  I eventually came back and once again committed my life to following Jesus.  Since that time, I’ve engaged in “A long obedience in the same direction,” but that doesn’t mean my life has been without mistakes, failures, and straying. During these times I continue to sense that gentle tug, and the relentless love of God constantly drawing me back.  I rest in God’s eternal security because, “I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until that day.” [5]

 

[1] https://www.amazon.com.au/Long-Obedience-Direction-Eugene-Peterson/dp/0830822577

[2] https://bibliaparalela.com/greek/3101.htm

[3] Hebrews 7:25

[4] Romans 8:38-39

[5] 2 Timothy 1:12


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