- Tettei Shahday-Annang
Can a Christian lose his salvation? Once saved, always saved? Is eternal security biblical? These are some questions people and often new converts, ask. First and foremost, we need to make it clear that a Christian is a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a different specie, a class without a past. Being brought up from a Christian home or having said a prayer does not make you a Christian. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what makes a Christian.
A Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ as his Lord and personal Saviour, and therefore possesses the Holy Spirit (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9). He isn't an improved version of his old self. He is a new being with a new life. So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose his salvation? NO! I believe you're wondering why. "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). It's as simple as that. If a Christian could lose his salvation, then eternal life, as the Bible talks about, is not really eternal.
He that is born again cannot perish. Eternal life is the promise of spending forever in heaven with God. God promises, "Believe and you will have eternal life." The Christian's promised to live forever. "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing" (John 15:5). Jesus is the Christian's life. "As the Father hath life in himself; so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself" (John 5:26). In other words, the believer has the life of God! The Christian draws his life right from Jesus - best put, he's connected to Him. He can do nothing without Jesus.
The Lord set up everything for the Christian; he didn't have to work out anything on his own. He only had to believe and confess - and he's automatically brought into sonship with God, having in him the indestructible, imperishable, indomitable...divine life of God - the Zoe life that makes him a wonder. When you got born again, the former life which originated from your earthly parents died in Christ, and was made a reality the moment you confessed His Lordship over your life. For the Christian to lose salvation, God's got to get him born again to his old self which He wouldn't do.
Get this: "And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory" (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV). When people come to know Christ as their Saviour, they are brought into a relationship with God that guarantees their eternal security. The Christian is God's possession (1 Corinthians 6:20). The believer is so powerful, I tell you.
Every God-begotten person conquers the world's ways. The conquering power that brings the world to its knees is our faith. The person who wins out over the world's ways is simply the one who believes Jesus is the Son of God (1 John 5:4). Simple!
"Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ" (Romans 5:1). The Christian is declared righteous - that's how God sees him. When God looks at him, He doesn't see a sinner. All He sees is Glory! God is just, and the justifier of them that believes in Jesus! (Romans 3:26). But isn't this unfair for God to let criminals go free, and say that they are innocent? No, for He does it on the basis of their trust in Jesus who took away their sins. Jesus exchanged his place for the sinner's. He took my dirt and gave me His estate (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I love this: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot" (1 Peter 1:18-19). Hallelujah! We were purchased at the cost of Christ's death. God doesn't buy and lose! For that to happen, all what Jesus came to do has to be reversed. God has to revoke His purchase of the individual for whom He paid with the precious blood of His Son. God has to go back on His Word, which is impossible.
Once saved, always saved! A Christian cannot lose salvation. To make it even clear once more, salvation is the gift of God. Saving is all God's idea, and all His work. All we do is trust Him enough to let him do it. Salvation is God's gift from start to finish! We don't play the major role. If we did, we'd probably go around bragging that we've done the whole thing! No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving (Ephesians 2:8-9). Since salvation is a gift, we can count on it, for God's gifts are irrevocable (Romans 11:29).
Eternal life cannot be temporary and God cannot renege on His Word (Titus 1:2; Numbers 23:19; 1 Samuel 15:29; Hebrews 6:18; Psalm 89:35). See what Jesus says about the Christian: "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 me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:28-29). Who would dare tangle with God by messing with one of God's chosen? Who would dare even to point a finger? (Romans 8:33). God guarantees eternal life and maintains the salvation He has given us (Jude 24).
In fact, I have a problem with Christians who would rather choose to stay away from God because they did something wrong. That's the tool the devil uses to let us feel that God's annoyed with us. The Good Shepherd searches for the lost sheep, and, "when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home" (Luke 15:5-6). Instead of driving you away, Jesus goes into action looking for you. Do you get it? It is up to Him, not us, to present us before His glorious presence. Our eternal security is a result of God keeping us, not us maintaining our own salvation. See this: "Those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified" (Romans 8:30).
If a Christian can lose his salvation, then Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies. In fact, the second coming of Christ will be an occasion of jubilation for the Christian. Oh, when the graves are opened, with the dead in Christ rising first, and all living saints caught up together with them to meet the Lord in the air. Wow! It will be a time such as attends the meeting of a bride with her bridegroom. As a Christian, you never need to fear a condemnatory judgment for sin. Why? Because to you, this judgment is already past.
Christ paid it in full! He suffered what you were supposed to be punished for (John 5:24). If you still don't believe this, just wait. When Jesus comes again He will have in His body the marks of crucifixion as proof that He paid for the penalty for sin in full. But the Bible talks about judgment for all, right? The truth is that not all men will be judged at the same time and place. There's more to this, and of course that's a message on its own. But at this time I'll share a little about the judgment of the Christian. It will surprise you. The reality is that the Christian is going to be judged for rewards. Judgment for rewards? Emphatically yes!
Of all judgments, the Christian will appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ (Romans 14:10; 2 Corinthians 5:10). There he will be judged for his works. The Greek words used for judgment in those verses is "bema." It appears in classical Greek to identify the judge's seat in the arena of the Olympic Games. The bema was the seat whereon the judge sat, not to punish contestants, but to present awards to the victors. When Christians stand before the bema of Christ, it will be for the express purpose of being rewarded according to their works. There is no idea of inflicting punishment. The believer will be judged at the Judgment Seat of Christ while that of unbelievers will take place at the Great White Throne, after the one thousand year reign of Christ on earth.
The Christian is a labourer with God, and therefore shall receive his reward (1 Corinthians 3:9-15). But what if he does something wrong? As Christians, if our work is of the right kind or character, we will receive a reward. Contrariwise, if what a believer does is not of the right character, "he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire" (1 Corinthians 3:15). We shall receive the reward for what the Lord requires of us (Luke 18:11-27; Matthew 25:14-30). When Jesus comes, each of us will receive his or her just reward for service according to the measure and motive of our works.
If we're going to be rewarded then it means our position in heaven is going to differ. We're not all going to be on the same level, and this is where good works count. The Bible talks about some types of rewards in 1 Corinthians 15:41-42. Each Christian will be given a celestial body in the Resurrection, but they will differ in glory. The verse talks about the glory or beauty of the sun, the moon and the stars. Even among the stars there are different kinds of beauty. There's also going to be five types of rewards in heaven.
The Incorruptible Crown will be for those who keep under the body and bring it into subjection (1 Corinthians 9:25); the Crown of Rejoicing is the soul-winner's crown (1 Thessalonians 2:19, 20); the Crown of Righteousness is for all who look for that blessed hope, who wait for the return of Jesus, and who love His appearing (2 Timothy 4:8); the Crown of Life is for those who have given their lives for the sake of the Gospel (James 1:12; Revelation 2:10), and the Crown of Glory is reserved for the undershepherds - the preachers and teachers of the Word who care for the flock of God during the absence of the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:2-5).
So what about Christians who live in a sinful, unrepentant lifestyle? If there is to be joy and rejoicing for those who receive the crowns, surely there will be disappointment and sorrow for those who will not receive them. Whatever we do is recorded, not for our condemnation as Christians but rewards. Any true Christian will not live a state of continual, unrepentant sin (1 John 3:6). No Christian is happy sinning. The Bible also says that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he was never truly a Christian (1 John 2:19). By their fruit you will recognize them (Matthew 7:16). God has put a desire in the Christian to do right always. But when he misses the mark, He's got Christ pleading on his behalf (1 John 2:1). A Christian has to grow (1 Peter 2:2).
The scripture that settles this topic is found in Romans 8:38-39, and I love to read from the Message version: "Do you think anyone is going to be able to drive a wedge between us and Christ's love for us? There is no way! Not trouble, not hard times, not hatred, not hunger, not homelessness, not bullying threats, not backstabbing, not even the worst sins listed in Scripture: They kill us in cold blood because they hate you. We're sitting ducks; they pick us off one by one. None of this fazes us because Jesus loves us. I'm absolutely convinced that nothing - nothing living or dead, angelic or demonic, today or tomorrow, high or low, thinkable or unthinkable - absolutely nothing can get between us and God's love because of the way that Jesus our Master has embraced us." Hallelujah!
Finally, dear Christian, "Be ye steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love" (Hebrews 6:10). "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Jesus Christ" (Colossians 3:23, 24). And if you are not yet a Christian, no matter how broken your family or life in this world has been, the Lord God has made a way for you to be completely restored and repaired, through the resurrection life of His Son.
Receiving this resurrection life through faith adopts you immediately into a new family whose destiny is eternally perfect loving relationship (Romans 10:9-10). Receive salvation now, and you will never regret making such an important decision in your life.
I love you,
God bless you!