The question; “Can a Christian lose their salvation?” is at best semantically confusing and at worst begs the question. The question “implies” that Christians get into some kind of spiritual wrestling match with Satan and / or his minions and, despite the Christians best efforts, have their salvation wrested from them, become disconnected to God and head screaming straight into hell itself, all very much against their will. The question should be; “Can a Christian SURRENDER their salvation after being in an absolute saved state?” When theologians approach Scripture allegorically such tail-wagging-the-dog conclusions are not only possible, they are inevitable when begging the “lose their salvation” question.
The historically great, yet biblically confused reformer, John Calvin, poured the theory that Christians could never become apostate into theological concrete where it remains until today. Many have been deceived by this doctrine during the last 500 years while the truth regarding the matter, revealed by the Holy Spirit in the book of Jude, has been rejected, overlooked and ignored. In 180 degree opposite reaction to medieval Roman Catholicism, Calvin formed a theological system now named after him, known as Calvinism. Calvinism is summed up in an acronym, “T.U.L.I.P.”
T otal Depravity – all mankind is conceived and born as sinners doomed to hell unless God “elects” them to salvation arbitrarily
U nconditional Election – some of those “totally depraved” are arbitrarily “chosen” (elected) by God for salvation while the rest are arbitrarily “chosen” (elected) for damnation, humans have no free choice
L imited Atonement – The blood of Christ, shed on the cross, is not sufficient to save everyone, just the so-called elect.
I rresistable Grace – those who have been arbitrarily chosen for salvation cannot resist the grace of God, even though they attempt to do so
P erserverance of the Saints – once those who are arbitrarily elected to salvation have been saved, they cannot never become apostate and therefore “lose” their salvation
Time and space will not allow an examination of all these theories, our immediate concern is the last leaf in the flower, as it were, “perseverance of the saints.” Can a Christian become an apostate? Can one who once was saved reject that salvation at a future point in time and re-embrace damnation? Can one who once “walks in the light as He is in the light, re-enter into “everlasting darkness where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth?” Calvin says, “no.” To “prove” this assertion, Calvinists turn to two Scripture references. [“A text without a context is a pretext for a proof text.” – D. A. Carson Sr.] These two “proof texts” are offered up:
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 me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. – John 10:28 -29
Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time. They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.
– I John 2:18 – 19
The Calvinist interpretation of these two verses goes like this:
1. Once a person becomes a Christian he / she is in the grasp of the Saviors hand and no one, not even Satan himself, can wrestle that person away from Christ.
2. Since said person enjoys this iron clad grasp in the Savior’s hand, he / she remains a Christian, in the hand of the Savior forever … no matter what sins that person commits, no matter what false doctrine that person embraces or teaches and no matter how much unbelief is spewed from the lips and heart of said person. Once a person is “saved,” that person can never be lost.
3. Thirdly, since it “appears” that one that was once a Christian is now spewing apostasy in word and deed it must mean that said person was never really a Christian anyway!
Now if the Scriptures had nothing else to say regarding this matter, the Calvinist would indeed have a leg to stand on. However, the Scripture has much more to say about it. First of all, salvation is conditional to on going faithfulness, repentance and confession of sins. John says the following:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth: But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin. If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us. – I John 1:5 - 10
Continued salvation is conditional upon our dedication to walking in the light as He is in the light and confession of all our sins. “IF” we walk faithfully and confess our sins THEN we are firmly in the grasp of the Savior’s hand and no man “can pluck us out!” However, the inverse is true as well. “IF” we do not walk in the light as He is in the light and confess our sins, we surrender our salvation and can once again be lost. We can always return but should we die in the apostate state, we can still lose our souls! Having said all the above, some might still cling to Calvin in the false hope that one can “live like hell and still go to heaven.” That is where Jude comes in.
The inspired book of Jude gives us not one, not two, not three, not four but FIVE concrete examples of people once saved that consequently became lost when they embraced apostasy. These were not people who were “never really saved,” they were people who were saved by God totally, without question and without a doubt! Here are the five examples and we will rest our case!
1. Jude 1:5 – The Lord SAVED a people out of Egypt and later destroyed those who did not believe. How many of the Israelites were saved out of Egypt and were “baptized unto Moses” as they crossed the Red Sea? ALL of them! They were ALL once saved but some of them became apostate and were consequently lost. Saved people lost their salvation..
2. Jude 1:6 – There were angels in heaven who did not keep their first estate but LEFT their habitation. Saved angels, living in Heaven, willingly abandoned their positions and deserted to the enemy! Saved angels lost their salvation!
3. Jude 1:7 – The people of Sodom and Gomorrah were once saved by God via Abraham who raised an army from his own house and saved them from destruction as we read about in Genesis 14. Unfortunately, after their salvation, Sodom and Gomorrah “gave themselves over to fornication and strange flesh.” As a result, they lost their salvation and were destroyed.
4. Jude 1:12 – Jude asserts that the apostates of whom he is writing are “twice dead.” What must be true about someone who is “twice dead?” These apostates were once “dead in their sins” but they obeyed the gospel, were buried with Christ in baptism and rose again to walk in “newness of life.” These “live souls” died again when they rejected Christ and embraced apostasy. They were truly “twice dead!” An unrepentant apostate is “twice dead” and will lose his soul, just like those who rebelled in the desert, just like the fallen angels and just like Sodom and Gomorrah.
5. Jude 1:12 – Finally, Jude asserts that the apostates of whom he is writing have been “uprooted.” One must understand that a plant that is “uprooted,” must of necessity, first of all must have been “rooted” previously! The uprooted, and now unsaved, apostate was once rooted and saved – just like those who rebelled in the desert, just like the fallen angels and just like the people of Sodom and Gomorrah
One last observation. “IF” Calvin is right and “IF” “once saved always saved” [The Perseverance of the Saints] is a true and wholesome doctrine, then the following also must be true regarding the assertions of Jude:
1. God did not really destroy those who did not believe in the desert, its just a fable.There we have it. We have a choice to make. Will we choose Calvin over Jude or will we choose Jude over Calvin? Upon that choice our souls depend!
2. God did not really allow His angels to leave Heaven, it too, is just a fairy tale.
3. God did not really destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, it is just a “Bible story” and did not really take place.
4. Jude wasted his time writing about and warning the church regarding the apostates. After all, God will still save them in the end!
© 2010 by Russ McCullough – All Rights Reserved - MCN: C4U9Q-J5SEG-27PHB