First let me start off by answering a question. Do I believe that a true Christian can lose salvation? No they cannot. Now, if you agree with me, please continue reading. If you disagree with me, I urge you to continue reading, but I wanted to tell you up front what I thought.
I think that I have to define “true Christian” as the Bible defines it, because based on the results of a Gallup poll in 2007, 82 percent of Americans say they are Christian. A true Christian by Biblical standards is a person who has realized that they were born into sin (Romans 5:12) and have repented and have put their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their savior and their Lord, and have come to hate the sin that they once loved and find their joy and pleasure in Jesus Christ.
It is by this definition that I can call myself a Christian, and for that I worship and praise God, because his saving grace is a gift that has been given to me. I did nothing to earn it, and can do nothing to merit it.
Back to the topic, it is this Christian that I believe cannot lose salvation. My basis for this writing is Hebrews 6:4-6 which states (NASB):
For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
I believe that this text in Hebrews is saying that an unbeliever can lose the possibility of salvation. This is the type of unbeliever who has fallen away in both inward disposition and in outward profession. This is the definition of apostasy: abandonment of one’s religious faith. These are those who have tasted, who have been drawn, who have appreciated the gospel and the death of Christ, saw the beauty of it, the wonder of it, and can conceive the wonders of heaven, but have never truly committed to Christ.
They never sensed that true inward transformation where they begin to abhor their sin and see their lostness, and see their wickedness, and see the holiness of God, and turn from their sin, and embrace Christ to be their savior and Lord of their life.
I believe that there is a line that you can cross and once you cross it, you can never return and be saved. The people who have crossed this line are so severely hardened that they are hopelessly lost. They have turned aside in a blatant manner; they don’t just abandon the outward faith, they abandon their conscience (their conscience says they know that is wrong, and yet they still go against their conscience).
There is a type of falling away that a believer can commit and yet not lose salvation. I believe this is shown in Matthew 26:69-75. Peter outwardly denied Christ, but did not abandon his conscience. I know that I have been like Peter in the past (and for that I am ashamed), but I never did abandon my conscience, and it is only by the grace of God that I am still saved. There is probably a little Peter in all of us, don’t you think?
Am I saying that a person who is saved has a license to sin? No. I know that I still sin. However, I do not live in a lifestyle of sin. That is the difference between an unbeliever and a believer. A believer will sin, but will not live a lifestyle of sin such as an unbeliever.
To sum up, the people in Hebrews 6 are the people that have come so close to salvation, climbed the ladder almost to the top, saw the glory of God, appreciated his Word, and yet did not commit to Christ, and have since fallen away both outwardly and inwardly, and because of that they have no hope of salvation.
In the true biblical understanding, true converts, true believers, true Christians can never ever be lost again, only unbelievers can lose salvation.
There is no salvation where there is no repentance. Repentance comes before faith – you have to turn from something to turn to someone. We must seek God while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6). Jesus is mighty to save! There is always hope if you will come to Christ.
Finally, my personal motto based on the words of Martin Luther: Here I stand, God help me.
– Adam Smith