Can people who are saved by Jesus ever lose their salvation? For a helpful exploration of this important question, see the following free eBook: Eternal Security or Faithful Faith? In addition, here are some sentiments about eternal security that are common and seem reassuring, but they can be misleading in light of what the Bible teaches about salvation:
Statement: Once you are a child (of God), you never cease to be a child. God would never disinherit his children.
Sorry, but this statement is not accurate. On the one hand, the Bible says we were once children of disobedience and wrath (Ephesians 2:1–3), but we switched families when we became children of God by faith. So switching families is possible. In the same way, the Bible also warns that by apostasy a Christian would be treated as the “[enemy] of God” (Hebrews 10:26–27). Parents sometimes must disinherit their children (for criminal, rebellious, terrible, and continuous acts). The same is true with God.
Statement: God doesn’t erase names from the Book of Life.
This is a false belief because the Bible explicitly warns that this is possible. See Psalm 69:28 and Revelation 3:5. God sees ahead in time and knows who will truly finish their lives with active faith in Christ; he has seen it from the creation of the world (Revelation 17:8). God gives us free will, or else we would not be accountable for our actions. God will not take someone to heaven who perpetually determines to reject him.
“God sees ahead in time and knows who will truly finish their lives with active faith in Christ; he has seen it from the creation of the world.”
Statement: A child of God is safe, for “no one will snatch them out” of Christ’s hand (John 10:28).
True, no one can snatch a child out of God’s hand. And this gives us great peace. But this passage does not address our free will or the need for ongoing faith, both of which are addressed in other passages. According to these other passages, we can walk away from Christ’s protective hand when we turn from him and reject him.
Statement: The eternal life we received is everlasting life.
Eternal life is indeed a quality of present life as well as a lasting promise for eternity. However, the apostate had this gift of everlasting life, and then turned their back on it. Would God save a non-believer who rejects Christ? Similarly, when a person no longer has faith, the promise is forfeited.
Statement: One who is born again cannot be unborn!
“Born again” is a helpful metaphor for salvation, but we would be taking the metaphor too far to try to force apostasy into the mold of the same metaphor (i.e., of becoming unborn). When a person rejects Jesus, the more accurate biblical metaphor is that of spiritual death (1 John 5:16–17). This is apostasy.
“According to these other passages, we can walk away from Christ’s protective hand when we turn from him and reject him.”
Statement: If I have been sealed by the Holy Spirit, how could I become unsealed?
King David prayed that God would not take the Holy Spirit away from him (Psalm 51:10–12). The New Testament also warns us not to put out the Spirit’s fire (1 Thessalonians 5:19). The Spirit is a seal in our lives, but it is nowhere described as an “un-removable seal.” We cannot say—one way or the other—that God would “unseal” someone, but we can say the Spirit of God can lose all influence in a person’s life.
Statement: God does not take back his gifts!
This statement originates from Romans 11:29, which says, in the context of Israel’s identity as God’s chosen people, that “God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable.” Applying this verse about God’s chosen nation to the situation of the apostate is questionable. Moreover, when apostasy happens, God does not take back his gift. Rather, the apostate turns away and rejects God’s gift.
For more on this important topic, download the free ebook by Bobby Harrington called Eternal Security or Faithful Faith?