We are often asked, Can I lose my Salvation?, and the answer is an emphatic “NO!.” Yet, many Christians do not understand that their salvation is secure. That eternal life is guaranteed. So how can you convince Christians that they will never lose the promises of their inheritance in Christ? Only by using the Word of God and knowing that the Holy Spirit will testify of Christ’s faithfulness and the eternal life that can never be lost or forfeited.
Securely Saved or Working out Salvation?
Doctrinal differences are the substance of the centuries-old debates on the security of one’s salvation.
- Arminian denominations deny that the true child of God is eternally secure. They believe that one can fall from grace and lose salvation. Therefore, Christians must always be working out their salvation.
- Calvinist denominations insist that one who is truly saved can never lose salvation. However, they also teach that the person isn’t likely saved if one is not living like a Christian and persevering in the faith.
- The Catholic faith believes that Christ saves a person and sins are forgiven when water baptized. But also teaches that one must work to receive their total inheritance of going to Heaven at death by staying in a state of grace by keeping the church’s traditions (i.e., confession of sins to a priest, partaking of the sacraments, et.al.).
So what does the Bible say? The Bible clearly teaches a distinction between justification and sanctification, and by understanding the differences, confusion about eternal security will be cleared up.
Justification is a judicial term. It is what takes place the moment Christ saves a repentant sinner. Through the washing of sins by the blood of Christ (Revelation 1:5), our sins are forgiven, and we are made clean. When sinners repent and trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross, Christ saves them, regenerates their souls, imputes His righteousness to them, seals them with the Holy Spirit, and declares them justified.
- Justification is a one-time event, a declaration of receiving forgiveness of sins and Christ’s righteousness. (Romans 8:1).
- Justification is a declaration by the Judge of one’s standing in Christ (1 Corinthians 1:30). God declares us justified because our sins have been washed away (Rev 1:5), and we stand before Him with the righteousness of Christ (2 Cor 5:21).
- Justification is a permanent declaration because we are sealed by the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13, 4:30)
Our justification makes us “just as if I’d never sinned.” Additionally, because of the imputed righteousness of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:21), we are made “just as if I’d always lived a sinless life.” This justification is based on the Lord’s sinless life…not on anything we have done.
Gal 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
Sanctified and Sanctification
At the moment of justification, a person is sanctified (made holy/set apart) because of the imputed righteousness of Christ. However, because mankind still lives in the flesh in a fallen world, believers continue to sin. At the moment of our justification, an ongoing process of progressive sanctification begins, and it lasts until we go to be with the Lord in Heaven. This is what Paul was writing of when he wrote to the Church at Philippi:
Philippians 2:12 Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation [sanctification] with fear and trembling.
This verse in Philippians is often wrongly used to deny eternal security. It must be noted that Paul was writing about “our own salvation [i.e., sanctification].” This is our walking in the Spirit in our daily lives. In our justification, Jesus did it all. But in our sanctification, we participate by surrendering to God and allowing the Holy Spirit to work in and through us.
When Paul wrote this admonition to “work out your own salvation,” he had already written that the One who justified them would be with them and would complete their sanctification process:
Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing, that He which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Sanctification includes the Holy Spirit’s work in our lives.
The Holy Spirit works in us to conform us to the image of the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29, 1 Peter 1:15,16), making it possible for us to choose to do good works and demonstrate our love for God.
Understand that the failure to distinguish between justification and sanctification is the basis of the confusion about eternal security. Let’s now focus on the Bible’s teachings that inform us we cannot lose our salvation.
We Can’t Un-earn Something That We Did Not Earn
The greatest support for eternal security is the basis for justification. We did not do anything to earn our justification. Therefore, we can’t do anything to un-earn it. God is the One who justifies. To think that justification can be lost, taken away, or even be unfinished is to undo the work that God has done.
Justification is a sovereign work of our Triune God. All three persons of the Godhead preserve the justification of sinners regenerated by God.
God the Father
- Eternal security is founded upon God’s sovereign purpose. His eternal purpose is declared in Ephesians 1:11-12 and anchored and confirmed in Hebrews 6:17-20.
- Eternal security is founded upon God’s solemn promises, not our faithfulness (Romans 4:16), and it is confirmed throughout the Bible (Genesis 15:6; John 3:16; Acts 16:33; Romans 4:23-24, et al.)
- Eternal security is founded on God’s justice and love. Christ’s death paid the penalty for man’s sin. Therefore God is just and faithful to give us eternal life because our sins have been paid for, we’ve been forgiven, and we have received Christ’s righteousness (2 Cor 5:21). He’s done this because He loves us (Romans 5:6-10)
God the Son
- Eternal security is dependent upon Jesus’ substitutionary death (Rom 5:8, 8:34). We cannot be condemned because our sins have been paid for and we have been redeemed (Romans 8:1).
- Eternal security is dependent upon Jesus’ substitutionary life. He has given us His righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21) — the righteousness of living a sinless human life. Therefore, we cannot be condemned (Romans 8:1)
- Eternal security is dependent upon Jesus’ word. He has promised eternal life, which means without end (John 10:28) Eternal means forever!
God the Holy Spirit
- Eternal security is given through the work of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of regeneration (Titus 3:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Ephesians 2:10)
- Eternal security is given through the work of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of baptizing (Romans 6:3, 8-11; 1 Corinthians 12:13)
- Eternal security is given through the work of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of permanently sealing those who are saved (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13-14) We are “sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30)
The Triune God is the One who saves us. We could only lose our salvation if He were to act counter to His character, nature, and expressed will. He cannot do that, for He is immutable…without change, and He is faithful and true. His promises are secure, and His glory is magnified by the eternality of the gift of justification through the work of the Lord Jesus Christ. God will never take back the precious gift of salvation that He has given to those who come to Jesus.
“How can I convince someone that they have eternal security?”
You can’t. But God can! Share the truths of the Bible, the love of God, the finished work of the Son, the power of the Holy Spirit — and the faithfulness of our God. Help non-believers come to know the great gift that is offered to them in Christ. And help believers find rest in the assurance of eternal security in Jesus!
Key Verses That Offer Assurance of Our Eternal Security
1 John 5:10-13 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself [the Holy Spirit who seals us unto the day of redemption]… And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God [WHY?]; THAT YE MAY KNOW that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Note: These things were written for our assurance… “that ye may KNOW…”
John 10:28 I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
Note: The new life in Christ is “eternal” and we are told we will “never perish.” Never means NEVER. And “any man” includes us. We cannot do anything that will “pluck” us out of His hand.
Romans 8:38-39 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Note: Paul could not be clearer in the book of Romans. NOTHING can “separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Romans 11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
Note: This word repentance means to “care afterward, i.e., regret. God does not change how He feels about us. Nor does He change His mind about saving us. Even if a believer backslides, the gift of eternal life (our justification) will not be take away.
We are in Christ, and we are His Body:
Ephesians 5:30 For we [Christians] are [present tense] members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
2 Timothy 2:13 If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: He cannot deny himself.”
The gift of salvation is irrevocable by God. Our justification is a gift freely given by God and freely received by us.
Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast
Finally, eternal security is not only a gift to us, but also a gift from God the Father to His Son (John 17:6, 20). Believers are not only the Body of Christ, but also the the Bride of Christ. And the Father will never take the Bride away from His Son.
And most importantly, Jesus said, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” (Mat 11:28) There is no rest if you are working out your justification or your entrance into Heaven. Jesus promised rest.
Heb 4:3, 10-11a For we who have believed do enter that rest…For he who has entered His rest has himself also ceased from his works as God did from His. Let us therefore be diligent to enter that rest…
Give thanks to the One who has given you
the greatest gift you will ever receive,
and live your life in thanksgiving to Him.
Articles About Salvation
- How can I convince someone that they have eternal security?
- Does Hebrews 6 Teach Salvation Can Be Lost?
- What is eternal security/assurance of salvation? Can I lose salvation?
- What Happens If I Continue to Sin?
- 1 John 1:9 What is the Christian “Bar of Soap?”
- The Gift of SalvaTION: Justification & Imputation
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