The answer to this question has been debated for centuries, and there are reputable, well-meaning advocates on either side of this argument. This argument has probably received the most attention from those who advocate the views of Arminian Theology. Organizations such as the Nazarene Church, the Wesleyan Church, and the Christian Holiness Association all teach that one can lose his or her salvation. This question is also called the OSAS argument, or the “Once Saved, Always Saved” argument, as well the doctrine of “The Perseverance of the Saints”. While there are advocates on each side of the fence, the Bible makes it quite clear that those who are truly followers of Jesus Christ cannot lose their salvation. Let’s look at a few arguments to support our claim.
First, one must understand the Bible teaches that God loves His children unconditionally. In Luke 15:11-27 we read the Parable of the Lost Son. This parable, told by Jesus, provides vivid imagery of a father’s unconditional love for his son in the face of complete apostasy. The father is seen waiting with open arms for the son to return. This parable demonstrates clearly the unconditional love, grace, and mercy that God has for His children.
Second, Romans 8:35-39 makes it very clear that nothing and no one can separate a person from the love of God. This means that not even a believer can separate himself or herself from the love of God. Paul said, “For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will have the power to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!” (Romans 8:38-39). This is powerful evidence that heavenly beings, worldly beings, our present sins, sins we might commit in the future, or anything else created by God has the authority to separate us from the love of God that we have through Christ Jesus.
Thirdly, In Ephesians 1:3-5, we read and know that, “according to the kindness of His will, He (God) predestined us to adoption as the sons (and daughters) through Jesus Christ to Himself.” God has made us full-fledged children by formally adopting us into His spiritual family. In adoption a child is brought into a family and given the same rights as a child born into that family. God did this through Jesus, and it pleased Him. One should note that there is no such word as “un-adopted”. Neither the term nor the idea exists today. One cannot be “un-adopted” from a family. Therefore, we can say confidently that a Christian cannot be un-adopted from the family of God!
Fourthly, one of the clearest passages that teach us one cannot lose their salvation is found in John Chapter 10. Here Jesus says, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:28–29). This verse is self-explanatory. Jesus simply says that His children are given to Him by His Father, and no one, not even the Christian himself, can take a believer out of the hands of Jesus.
Finally, looking at the issue logically, there are many wrong aspects to the idea that one can lose one’s salvation. First, God is sovereign. No one can dispute that. To say that one can lose their salvation is to say that that person can thwart the will of the Almighty Creator of the universe, which is simply impossible. Secondly, the Bible never teaches that one can lose their salvation. While there are several passages, when read out of context, that might seem to give this impression, there is a preponderance of evidence in favor of the view that one can never lose his or her salvation. Thirdly, reading the Bible systematically gives us a good understanding of God’s commitment to our salvation. Over and over, God gave Israel forbearance from judgment when He should have judged them for their sin. This shows that God is committed to His faithful covenant partners (Jeremiah 31:31-40). It simply doesn’t make sense that God would give His very best, His own Son, to accomplish salvation for His people, and then allow His accomplishments to be thwarted or set aside.
As we conclude, we must answer the question as to who God’s children really are. Resolving this matter may help answer the question regarding whether a person can lose their salvation. A Christian isn’t merely a church member, a member of a Bible study group, or a person who has said the right prayer at an evangelism rally. A Christian is a person who has, through faith (Ephesian 2:8-9), accepted Christ as their Savior and made Him Lord over their life. A Christian is someone who realizes that they are a sinner (Romans 3:23), who realizes that they are hopelessly dead in sin without Christ (Romans 6:23), and who believes that the atoning work of Christ on the cross is the only hope they have of salvation (John 14:6). Those who are truly His children will exhibit a new character (2 Corinthians 5:17) and will abhor sin and unrighteousness, just as the Bible says, “The Lord knows those who are His, and everyone who names the name of the Lord must turn away from unrighteousness. (2 Timothy 2:19, HCSB).
Therefore, we must conclude that salvation by faith alone cannot be reconciled with the belief that one can lose his or her salvation. The idea that one can lose his or her salvation simply doesn’t measure up to the clear teachings of the Bible, nor does it make sense logically. Christians have no part in their salvation, thus cannot commit acts that forfeit their salvation. They did not accomplish their salvation, nor can they cause the loss of it. Christians serve a faithful God who is committed to their salvation, even when they might not be (2 Timothy 2:13, HCSB).
Key Search Words: Can I lose my salvation? Once Saved, Always Saved, OSAS, Arminian Theology, Apostasy.
GotQuestions.org article one.