Secure or Not?

 Brussels, the Grand Place, by Gillham

Brussels, the Grand Place, by Gillham

You are a follower of Jesus Christ, a Christian, a Believer. Your sins are forgiven and you have a ticket to heaven. This is a wonderful thing.  

But I have a question: Can you lose the salvation you have at this moment? 

Granted, it would be petty of God to cast you aside over a small sin—something piddly, like losing your temper and stewing with frustration when the pasta boils over. But what about a larger sin, or a big sin? What if you explode in a cursing, screaming fit—at God—or fall off the sobriety wagon, or have an affair, or divorce your mate, or binge on porn, or pull a gun and rob a store, or whatever?  

Fill in the “whatever” with the worst sin you can imagine and run a security test on your salvation.  

How did your test come out?  

If you do something egregious, can you lose your salvation?  

There are plenty of folks, theologians included, who believe without equivocation that salvation is tenuous, i.e. you can lose it. There are whole denominations of Christians who believe salvation drops away when you fall away from the faith in some fashion, and they cite Scripture to back it up. 

We can’t have this both ways. Either salvation is secure or it is not.  

Before we go farther, we need to clarify our definitions. First off, the opposite of spiritually saved is spiritually lost. If you are not with God, then you are lost to God. Since our question is about salvation, let’s define lost, i.e. what it means to be apart from God.  

The Bible defines “lost” as separated from God, dead, ruined, fallen, worthless, cursed, and a few other choice attributes. In one of the longer passages on the subject, Romans 5:12ff explains that the spiritual problem necessitating salvation is that we are descendants of Adam. Since he was spiritually dead when he and Eve produced children, from the Bible’s perspective they produced spiritually dead children.  

The passage in Romans goes on to indicate that the remedy for this spiritual deadness is spiritual life. This is why Jesus offered us life, called Himself life, and indicated that in order to gain life we must be reborn, i.e. born again.[1]

You should understand at this juncture that while preachers preach against sin and offer an altar call to salvation to remediate the problem of poor performance, spiritual lostness is more problematic than bad behavior. It is true we have a performance problem, but it is also true that we have an identity problem.  

Granted, sinful behavior is not good and is an aspect of being separated from God. But this difficulty calls for a change of behavior, which is hopeful and somewhat doable. Per the definition from Scripture, fixing spiritual lostness requires the procurement of a different lineage.  

In order to be saved, you need a new set of parents. This is a problem of substantially greater magnitude than behaving badly.  

When the Bible delves into the nitty gritty of how salvation occurs, it describes a process that takes us from the family of Adam and places us into the family of God. Not only are we forgiven for our sinning, but we are forgiven for being sinful.  

Thus, salvation is the spiritual transfer of us from one family to another by way of Jesus’ provision and our acceptance of His provision. When this transpires, we are moved from darkness to light, from death to life, from Adam’s lineage to God’s family, from destitute to heirs with Jesus Christ.  

If our spiritual problem as lost people in the lineage of Adam is truly so grave as to be described as dead, and our life in Christ as saved people is truly so magnificent as being resurrected and adopted into the lineage of God, then to go backward, i.e. lose our salvation, would require:  a) a return to irretrievable worthlessness as a lost person who is dead, and b) additional sacrificial efforts by Christ to raise us once again from death in Adam to life in Christ.[2]

When we become Christ-followers, we demonstrate our allegiance to God and give testimony to the justification of our spiritual accounts with God by being baptized. If you think about it, baptism is a pantomime of salvation’s process. The pastor says as you are baptized, “We are buried in the likeness of His death and raised to walk in new life.”  

A picture is worth a thousand words, and God knew we needed a picture given the magnitude of salvation. Thus, the picture of baptism to illustrate what happens when we are saved.  

Galatians 2:20 encapsulates succinctly what we are examining: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” 

Scripture describes God taking everything He couldn’t tolerate about us, i.e. our poor performance and the source of our personhood being in the family of Adam, and placing it on Christ. When He was crucified, the old man we were in Adam was crucified. When Christ was buried, our old self was buried as well. Everything God couldn’t stand, He killed it and buried it with Christ Jesus.  

Scripture then describes salvation as being raised up with Christ’s resurrection. In this transformation, we are new people—in Christ—with new hearts, totally forgiven, seated in the heavenly places, and deeply desiring to walk in a manner corresponding to our new identity.[3]

The magnitude of salvation’s reach is astounding. Of course, the gravity of the problem was astounding, thus the need for a remarkable solution. But the joy of salvation and what to do with it is a discussion for another time.  

What we are needing to know is whether or not this great salvation is secure or not. Indeed, it is grand. Can anything remove it, diminish it, or tarnish it?  

A loss of salvation would require the undoing of all that precedes this paragraph. Salvation is more profound, glorious, and far reaching than the mere forgiveness of what we have done wrong (sins), even though this is remarkable. Salvation, to be certain, does provide forgiveness for the sins we have committed, but it also provides a solution for the fact that we are dead in sin by virtue of being in the wrong lineage, i.e. in Adam. Salvation takes us from Adam and places us in Christ. With salvation, we cease to be dead and partake of life eternal.  

God had two problems with us: a) we do things wrong (sins), and b) we ARE wrong as people in Adam (sinners). So in Christ, He forgives our sins and our sinfulness and makes us new people. This is what happens at salvation.  

Now: Think about reversing this process to accommodate the notion of losing your salvation. You can see the rational, logical, philosophical, and theological problems.  

Given that this is the position of Scripture regarding salvation, why do some folks teach that you can lose your salvation, or experience what they call falling from grace? 

Perhaps they are focused on trying to get people to behave better through guilt and shame. If so, this is a small, shortsighted view of what Christ accomplished at Calvary. Not only this, it doesn’t remedy the problem. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.  

 

I realize you are reading because you are interested in the security of your salvation. But the subject is really bigger than you—or me.

 

If the folks who teach that you can lose your salvation are correct, then entire sections of Scripture become wrong. Romans 5-8 is metaphorical at best. Given that Hebrews is about the completed and finished work of Christ, it becomes worthless drivel. Most of Ephesians and Philippians are no better than myths, wishful thinking. The principal claims of Christ, about being the light and coming to bring light and life, is vain posturing by a deluded individual in the first century.

 

Granted, these folks can go into Scripture and “cherry pick” a verse here and there as though to document their perspective. But cherry picking verses—or any other source if you are searching for truth—is poor practice. You learned better than to do this when you were in the sixth grade writing your first research paper.

 

God does secure a few theological points in single verses, but He doesn’t do this on core, theological truths like salvation. So, while you can cherry pick verses, or refer to passages that are notoriously misinterpreted, e.g. Hebrews 6, to document losing your salvation, this viewpoint cannot reconcile huge sections of Scripture regarding the theology of salvation.

 

If you can lose your salvation, then whole swaths of Scripture, and many of the claims made by Jesus, go away. In this event, not only have you lost your salvation, you’ve got a Bible that isn’t worth carrying.

 

On the other hand, if your salvation is secure, then Scripture sings out with hope and confidence. You are no longer who you used to be. You have life, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. Thankfully, your salvation is dependent on Jesus Christ alone, not your ability to do something more. You can neither add to your salvation nor can you diminish it. The problem, and your irretrievable worthlessness as a lost person, so ruined you that only Christ and Him alone could create a salvation plan.  

 

The obvious question that arises is this: If this salvation is true, then I am indeed secure. I’m just as secure as Jesus Christ is in the arms of God. I can do whatever I want, can’t I? I can sin all I want to. Right?

 

It’s the question asked of Paul in between Romans 5 and 6, and the answer is, yes. Yes, you are free to do whatever you want.

 

The real question though, which in itself is a test of salvation and your security, is: Now that you grasp what transpired through salvation, look into your new heart and tell me: How much do you desire to sin?

 

[1] For starters ref. Jn. 10:10; Jn. 11:25; Jn. 3:3ff

[2] This paragraph summarizes the thesis of Romans 5:12ff and the entire book of Hebrews

[3] Ref. Rom. 6:3-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Ezek. 36:26; Col. 2:13; Eph. 2:6