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I have been wondering this for awhile, is it possible for those who were once saved to be denied eternity with God if they have strayed? At what point can we fairly make an assumption that someone is no longer saved? I have heard that once saved always saved, and also that we can lose our salvation, so I am confused.

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Hey Sarah78,

I am posting below a portion of a three part article I wrote a while back entitled "Where Did My Faith go?" that includes the following regarding salvation:

Can I lose my salvation?
I once believed that a person could lose their salvation. In the Scripture there are some verses that would initially lead a person to accept that as I had. After examining the whole counsel of God on the subject I have come to the conclusion that it teaches that you cannot lose your faith. Let’s look at some of the reasons why.

1. You cannot be separated from the love of the Son or the Father.
Romans 8:35 tells us that we cannot be separated from the love of Christ by stating the following “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” As we go through these things Jesus still loves us. He knows that these events will wear on us and cause us to struggle like the Church in Smyrna where Jesus says to them “I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
How does this prove that you will not lose your salvation? It is a love never ending. It is a love that endures with us as we go through the battles of life. It is a love that brings a promise. Paul said earlier in Romans chapter 8 verses 28-34 the following that gives us assurance “and we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
The last part of Romans 8 seals the deal. Paul writes “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 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.” We are conquerors. That means we will win the race and overcome the battle. That means we cannot lose. This victory is not dependent upon you, but God.
Some would argue that nothing can separate you from the love of God, but you can walk away. I will refute that shortly when we examine “saved by grace.”

2. You cannot be snatched from His hand.
Jesus makes it clear that once you are given to Him and become one of His sheep you cannot be snatched from the Father’s hands in John 10:27-30 “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one."
You are forever His. The love and protection of God are not dependent on you. The troubles we face in life come as refining fire, discipline, or our battle with the enemy. Even in the darkest hour God is there and ready to put a stop to the events when the time is right. The key is learning to trust God through the storm instead of always wanting to be removed from the storm. The disciples taught us this lesson when the storm rose and they feared for their lives they called out to Jesus Who was sleeping. He was asleep because there was nothing to fear. He awoke and calmed the storm. Before calming the storm Jesus told the disciples the following “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" (Mat. 8:26).
You and I are secure in the Father’s hands. Trust in the heart and power of the Father. Once you are His He will not let you go.

3. If you were able to fall away there is no sacrifice left to bring you back.
The idea of losing our faith and then returning is not acceptable according to the teaching of God. Hebrews 10:26-27 states “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God.” This verse is not an example of what will happen, but what would happen if it were possible. You see we are saved by grace, not works. We cannot fall out side of the love of God, nor can we be removed from His hand. If we were to be judged under sin we would deserve condemnation, but the Bible says that there is no condemnation for those found in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1).
The verses are teaching us that if you could fall away there would be no redemption. We can learn from God’s treatment of Israel in the Old Testament and His future treatment in the end times. Israel disobeyed God on countless occasions and chased after false gods. God brought judgment upon them time after time in the form of discipline. When they would cry out He would restore them. Did they lose their relationship with God each time? Were they renewing their relation with God each time? No! Through it all they were, and are, God’s chosen people. They did not become un-chosen and then chosen, and un-chosen and then chosen. The core relationship did not change. The surface issues altered their relationship, but not to the point of exclusion from God. The nation of Israel will be dealt with in the future. We, the body of Christ, are not dealt with as a nation. We are dealt with individually. Our relationship with the Father is through the Son. Once that occurs the core relationship cannot change. You cannot become a child of God and then not a child of God. When a person experiences being “born again” it is the beginning of a new life. That new life is in Christ. As Nicodemus stated that he could not go back into the mother’s womb we cannot reenter the spiritual birthing phase. We are or we are not a child of God. We cannot be born again and become unborn to be born all over again. And we certainly do not lose our salvation once to be lost for eternity. If that were the case the grace, mercy and love of God would be silenced and inoperable.
The apostle Peter denied Jesus three times and was yet embraced by Jesus Himself. Was denying Jesus a sin? Did Jesus die for Him again? Then the sin didn’t remove Peter from the family of God. The fact that Peter denied Jesus three times is important. The number three in Scripture carries an emphasis of fact or meaning. Three denials would qualify as “continuing to sin” therefore according to some he would be lost and need salvation again, but there is no sacrifice left. Therefore, Jesus could not have embraced Him, unless he was never lost, just wayward.

4. You are saved by grace.
I have taught through the years that “we are saved by grace and maintained by grace.” Few dispute the teaching brought forth by Martin Luther that state's it is by “grace alone” that we are saved. Some churches have attached works. Some disguise this, but their teaching of salvation requires some form of works to be saved. The Bible says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith--and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God-- 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Eph. 2:8-9). The fact that salvation is by grace and not works is clear in the Bible.
The problem arises when we take the next step. What about after a person is saved? Then what? How does a person stay saved? Too many today teach either by design or in error that it is by works. They will not word it that way. They point you to the 10 Commandments. If you want to be saved you must live up to these. Come on! I could not get saved trying to live up to these. I surely will not remain saved if I have to live up to these. Same problem as before I got saved. My sinful flesh and my human weakness will fail again. Some will create a list of dos and don’ts. If you break this list you are a lost sinner. None of this makes any sense. Why would God save us by grace and require us to live under the law to maintain that salvation? He doesn’t. The whole Book of Galatians speaks to this issue. We are free from the law and live under grace. We live under the grace of God. We are saved by grace, and this not from ourselves. We are maintained, kept in salvation, by grace, and this not from ourselves. Anything else would make no sense and be inconsistent with our understanding of God and His Word.

Summary:
1. You cannot be separated from the love of the Son or the Father.
2. You cannot be snatched from His hand.
3. If you were able to fall away there is no sacrifice left to bring you back.
4. You are saved by grace.

I believe the Scriptures teach clearly that you cannot lose your salvation. Whether I am right or wrong, because this debate will not go away this side of heaven, is not the issue. The key is that if we are hungering after God and seeking to get closer to Him we will never be testing to see if there is a line in the sand that goes to far and then “oops” I’ve crossed over and am lost again. I think many ask “Can I lose my salvation” because they want to know how close to the fire can they play and still be saved. Stay away from the fire and draw near to God. In Him you find comfort, safety and love.

Lord Bless
LT
LT,

Thank you so much for this very in depth answer. It is a question I have often wondered and have others close to me who debate it. I think that many wonder this question because of what you say, about playing close to the fire and then using God's grace. Also because there are those, like myself who from time to time, feel unworthy and full of guilt for my sins etc.. The more I learn and study his Grace the more confident I am in Him, and remembering that my Faith is not built upon my own feelings, but upon his mighty words. I also am learning more about condemnation and conviction which has helped me tremendously.

The fact that I strayed this past summer, was due to my own naivety and inexperience with depression as a Christian. I am learning more and more how to find the blessing in troubled times and to keep Him close to my heart rather then straying due to guilt.

I will definitely be taking a copy of this answer to share with those who ever doubt their own salvation or the salvation of others.

God Bless.

Sarah
Sarah,

You are welcome

Lord Bless,
LT
this was very helpful
thanks LT

Be Blessed
Hi Sarah 78,

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.

Salvation is a gift and Christianity would be a rather tops turvy faith if God kept taking away His gift and then later on returning it, only to take it back again, only to return it once more.

The TRUTH of this matter can be found in 1Jn 2:19

"They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us."

Born Again Christians may well find that there are times when we look to God in prayer or conversation only to find that God seems to have gone to Cape Town and we just cannot get through to Him. It is then that our Christian faith comes through in that we start to question our behaviour and reasons for the distance God has placed between us. Non Christians never concern themselves about this.
Eventually indifference in these false Christians, causes them to fall away. Without the Holy Spirit living in them it becomes impossible to keep the pace and they fall away.

I always maintain that when a Christian gets concerned about his or her salvation it is a fairly good sign that they are born again, otherwise they would not be concerned at all.

The Lord Bless you and have a wonderful 2009 and the years to come.

Ron
Hello Ron,

I really appreciate this statement, thank you!

"Salvation is a gift and Christianity would be a rather tops turvy faith if God kept taking away His gift and then later on returning it, only to take it back again, only to return it once more."

I love what you say here, it explains it so simply and amen to that! It reminds me of this verse that I have highlighted at the front of my journal...

"For if we have died with Him we will also live with him,
if we endure, we will also reign with Him;
if we deny Him, He will also deny us
if we are faithless, He remains faithful; for he cannot deny Himself"

(Tim 2:19)

That verse always went deep with me, the end when it says if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself...to me it reveals God as a Holy, ever present Father, always there... What is your feeling about this verse?

also it shows that if we deny him, we will also be denied, but if we have no faith, he remains faithful?

I am still so new at this, so forgive me if I am way off lol...

God Bless and may you and yours be blessed this year and years to come as well!

Sarah
You can not LOSE your salvation, but you can GIVE it back by unbelief. Since God doesn't want this, it takes much back slidding, but the Bible is clear (as senseless as it sounds) that some can actually UNBELIEVE.

Larry
Larry,

The Bible is not clear about it as you say, or everyone would agree with you. You and I have discussed this at length before and I do not wish to engage in a discussion that will end up with nothing changed on your end or mine as before.

I simply want to state that I disagree with your position on this.

Lord Bless,
LT
I was passing through and couldn't resist when I saw this forum topic.

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“The Bible is not clear about it as you say, or everyone would agree with you.”

I’m scratching my head wondering how lack on consensus disqualifies one view, but not the other.

Anyhow, the Bible is clear, despite the lack of consensus.

Luke 8:13
Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.

Both Peter and Judas fell away in a 'time of testing' as they both betrayed Christ. Peter repented and was restored. Judas took matters into his own hands and went to hell. "Belief" is a criteria for salvation. Belief is active and perpetual, not a singular decision. Paul depicts the Christian life as a race. It’s not enough to enter the race, but once in it, you have to run… and ultimately you have to finish.

The parables of Christ in Luke 8 depict those in various stages of the race. It is Christ’s work on the cross that permitted all to participate. Salvation is the gift, a free token to all, to enter the race. That token cannot be taken from you. While running race, all the benefits of salvation (forgiveness of sins, eternal life, etc.) are given to its participants. But getting the admittance to run the race (salvation) is no guarantee that you’ll finish. Some sprint, some run, some walk, some crawl, and some stop for awhile and start up again. Then there are some that after entering, completely step off course and walk away, to a point where they’ve gone so far off course, that it’s impossible to pick up where they left off.

Hebrews clarifies this:

Hebrews 6:4-5
It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.

You can fall away to the point that to get back in the race requires starting over, thus needing to reuse the token to enter—which according to Hebrews is not permissible.

Furthermore, the entire New Testament is filled with warnings to believers about the dangers and consequences of sin. Paul’s letters (the majority of the NT) are written to churches and believers correcting false doctrine. Now, if OSAS is doctrine, then “salvation” is where the Bible should end, but it doesn’t. Why? Because sin is always knocking at the door. Otherwise, why does Satan still tempt the believer if our salvation is not at stake? Yet the Bible teaches that sin left unchecked will ultimately lead to death, which is the result when one steps off the “narrow path”... are you seeing this "race" analogy yet?

Let’s look at the bigger picture. Our objective is to have an unfiltered relationship with God. Sin is the wedge that prevents it, and salvation is the bridge to get us over it.

Yet despite an unfiltered relationship with God, Lucifer, a chosen cherub (Ez. 28:11-19) and 1/3 of the angels walked away from God in heaven. If our goal is to have unfiltered access like the angels, and they fall away despite already being in heaven and in God's presence… then it’s naïve to think we can't fall away ourselves on Earth.

Salvation is not the end-all, it’s a mechanism to relationship. Relationship with God is the end-all.

Bottom line, as long as God permits free will, there are no guarantees here on Earth or in Heaven that one cant choose to walk away from God.

Believing in OSAS is somewhat harmless, as it’s believers who believe it. But it is dangerous in the aspect that it can give a Christian a false sense of security—which may encourage one to dabble in sin and even step away thinking they’ll come back later. It’s abusing God’s grace.

Philippians 2:12
Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
Hi Vikki, OSAS stands for "Once Saved Always Saved"
Rob,

Two simple points.

1) I believe you missed the point of the comment. He stated that the Bible is absolutely clear on this topic and it is not. There are people in both camps. Those that believe you can never lose your salvation and those that believe you can, such as you do. What ever gave you the idea that I was referring to a consensus? The verses you refer to have been addressed several times in other forums here on AAG and I will not take time to readdress them individually again.
2) There are two points that are often overlooked when people ask if one can be saved and lose that salvation. 1. The Bible is clear that if one were to lose their salvation that there is no sacrifice left to bring them back. If salvation is lost, they would be lost forever. 2. The concept misses the truth about being "born again." To be saved one must be born again. To lose their salvation they would have to be unborn again which simply is not possible.

You are accurate when you say salvation is not an end-all. Father God is our goal and that relationship with Him.

Regarding the danger of one saved always saved. Your comment would be true if not for the co0nvicting work of the Holy Spirit that does not ignore the sin of a true believer, but brings conviction that if left unchecked would lead to divine discipline (Heb. 12)

BTW, Philippians 2:12 is out of context in this usage.

Lord Bless,
LT
Ron
I completly agree with you. God demands "not requests " complete and indiluted loyalty. Any half measures are not allowable. One can only be hot-heaven bound and with hot passion for Christ; or cold- hell bound and dominated by cold feelings & evil. God has given us the choices and wisdom to make the choice. Remember we were created in his image. But what is sad is that we always make the wrong choice convinced by small fantasies. And since we want to convince ourself that we are right; we start interpreting the scriptures to fit our shortterm fantasies- like claiming that Jesus okayed alcohol indulgence at cana in galilee- and fall we fall.

We can only be one of the following- children of God or children of the serpent.the choice is ours and the results of each Choice are clear.God have Mercy upon us.

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