Lost Your Salvation? Is it Possible? (2)

Losing Your Salvation

Lost Your Salvation, Is it Possible? Understanding Hebrews 6

The main purpose of the epistle to the Hebrews was to encourage the Jewish Christians to press on to perfection by remaining faithful to the Lord without having to return to the “shadows” contained in the Levitical laws.

Under duress of the false apostles who enticed them to rely on external rites, such as circumcision, the Jewish Christians began to believe they needed to do those things to retain God’s favor and mercies, much like today’s believers who assert that steadfast perseverance is needed to retain one’s salvation and if they fail that the loss of salvation is imminent.

Unfortunately, the notion that perseverance secures a believer’s salvation turns the spiritual eyes inward to “self” and a reliance on human effort to retain and maintain salvation instead of on Christ Jesus Who is the Author (Source) and Finisher of our faith. Those who do not believe in eternal security accuse those who do believe in it of “cheap grace.” This is what Dave Hunt says of their accusation:

Those who believe in “falling away” accuse those who believe in “eternal security” of promoting “cheap grace.” The latter in itself is an unbiblical expression. To call it “cheap” is really a denial of grace, since it implies that too small a price has been paid. Grace, however, must be absolutely free and without any price at all on man’s part ; while on God’s part the price He paid was infinite. Thus for man to think that his works can play any part in either earning or keeping his salvation is what cheapens grace, devaluing this infinite gift to the level of human effort. To speak of “falling from grace” involves the same error. Since our works had nothing to do with meriting grace in the first place, there is nothing we could do that would cause us to no longer merit it and thus “fall” from it. Works determine reward or punishment-not one’s salvation, which comes by God’s grace. The crux of the problem is a confusion about grace and works.

In the Greek, Christ’s cry from the cross, “It is finished!” is an accounting term, meaning that the debt had been paid in full. Justice had been satisfied by full payment of its penalty, and thus God could “be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus” (Rom:3:26). On that basis, God offers pardon and eternal life as a free gift.

He cannot force it upon anyone or it would not be a gift. Nor would it be just to pardon a person who rejects the righteous basis for pardon and offers a hopelessly inadequate payment instead-or offers his works even as “partial payment.” (Read the full article here).

Salvation is not the subject of Hebrews 6 but repentance. We have grown accustomed to associate the word “repentance” only with salvation without taking into account that it also has much to do with sanctification (“growing in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ” as Peter 3: 18 says).

In this regard “repentance” involves the believer’s attitude to God’s Word and his/her response to it in obedience or disobedience. In fact, it is Hebrews that makes it very clear the God’s Word is sharper than “a two-edged sword piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4: 12).

Here it is made quite clear that the Word “piercing” (to penetrate) the mind (or conscience) means to impress on a wayward sheep the incumbency to repent and the imperative to discern between the carnal and the spiritual so as to walk in the Spirit and not according to the flesh (the dividing asunder of soul and spirit).

It is in this sense that the author of Hebrews wants to convey the truth that it is impossible to bring to repentance those who have been enlightened by His Word and who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift of salvation and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit (in other words, genuinely saved saints of God), and have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and the world to come, if they deviate from their faith and turn away from their allegiance to and reliance on Christ so as to rely on their own fleshly efforts. It is then when the wayward Christian forgets that it is Christ Jesus who has begun a good work in him and promised to perform it until the day He returns (Philippians 1:6).

In other words the Word of God (Sword of the Spirit) cannot bring God’s children to repentance if they do not respond in obedience to the penetration of the Spirit’s two-edged sword. The word “metanoia” means to change the mind for the better. When a person’s mind is so fixed upon its reliance of the flesh for the maintenance and ultimate and final consummation of one’s salvation it becomes just about impossible to bring that person to repentance, in other words to a place where he/she is wwilling to change their mind for the better.  To get a better understanding of the meaning of the phrase “renewing them to repentance” we need to turn to Galatians 3: 3, “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh. Have ye suffered so many things in vain?”

As long as believers rely on the flesh or their own efforts to be made perfect (reach the runner’s finishing line and win the prize); if they remain adamant and persist in reaching the goal in their own efforts, even the Word of God cannot bring them to repentance (change their minds for the better). It does not mean that they cannot repent of their sin of obstinacy. It simply means that the Word cannot bring them to repentance as long as they rely on their own fleshly efforts to reach the goal of their salvation.

Apostasy (falling away) and losing your salvation

Note very carefully that verse 6 in this chapter does not say, “it is impossible to renew them again to repentance” and therefore they have lost their faith (salvation). It says “if they fall away” which simply means “if they deviate from the faith.” Faith in Christ is to trust Him completely for and with everything in our lives. I’m sure we all agree with that!

Yet, even the slightest deviation from this faith into a faith in one’s own efforts (even to the extent of persevering to the end so as to retain one’s salvation) cannot please God. Wierbse says:-

“Fall away” is not the Gk. word apostasia , from which we get the English word “apostasy.” It is “parapipto,” which means “to fall beside, to turn aside, to wander.” It is similar to the word for “trespass,” as found in Gal. 6:1 (“if a man be overtaken in a fault [trespass]”).

So, v. 6 describes believers who have experienced the spiritual blessings of God but who fall by the side or trespass because of unbelief. Having done this, they are in danger of divine chastening (see Heb. 12:5:13) and of becoming castaways ( 1 Cor. 9:24″27 ), which results in loss of reward and divine disapproval, but not loss of salvation.

The phrase “seeing they crucify” (v. 6 ) should be translated “while they are crucifying.” In other words, Heb. 6:4:6 does not teach that sinning saints cannot be brought to repentance, but that they cannot be brought to repentance while they continue to sin and put Christ to shame.

Consider carefully that not the field but the fruit in verse 7 is burnt. God is glorified when we bear much fruit unto His glory and honour, and this can only come about if we abide in Christ (His death and resurrection life), for He Himself said, “without me you can do nothing.” (John 15: 1 and further).

Any kind of self-effort, even unto the maintenance of our salvation, are but the fruit of the flesh (thorns and thistles) and will be burnt in the end by God who is a consuming fire (1 Corinthians 3: 10-15). “But if any person’s work (even his own perseverance activated by the flesh) is burned up [under the test], he will suffer the loss of it all (losing his reward), though he himself will be saved, but only as [one who has passed] through fire.”

Does the security of our eternal salvation give us a license to sin? God forbid! As Paul said, “What shall we say [to all this].” Are we to remain in sin in order that God’s grace may multiply and overflow? Certainly not? How can we who died to sin live in it any longer? (Romans 6: 1-2).

What lies at the root of the fruit of conditional salvation (security) ie. losing your salvation?

There is only one thing that drives those who believe that saints can lose their salvation – DISTRUST

  • They distrust Christ Jesus who said: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:28)
  • They also distrust his empathic promise: “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 10:29). Here we see that the believer and his salvation is securely fixed in the hands of both the Father and the Son.
  • They distrust his words in 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.”
  • They distrust his promise in Hebrews 12: 2: “Looking unto Jesus the author and FINISHER OF OUR FAITH; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)
  • They distrust his words in 2 Corinthians 7:10: “For godly sorrow worketh repentance to salvation not to be repented of: but the sorrow of the world worketh death.”

The tragedy is that they are not even ashamed of their distrust of Him and to distrust Him is to displease Him.

“But without faith it is impossible to please and be satisfactory to Him. For whoever would come near to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He is the rewarder of those who earnestly and diligently seek Him [out]” (Hebrews 11:6)

See: —> Losing Your  Salvation, Is it Possible? Understanding Hebrews 6 (Part 1)

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Tom Lessing (Discerning the World)

Tom Lessing is the author of the above article. Discerning the World is an internet Christian Ministry based in Johannesburg South Africa. Tom Lessing and Deborah Ellish both own Discerning the World. For more information see the About this Website page below the comments section.

11 Responses

  1. Sharon says:

    Great article! I have met a few people that believe you can lose your salvation. I always ask them to give me one example of anyone in Scripture that was truly saved and then lost their salvation due to a sin in their lives. Peter denied the Lord 3 times and yet he didn’t lose his salvation. Jesus Saves and God Keeps. Hallelujah!

  2. Hans says:

    [Edited: comment moved from The General Conversation Section – If You Don’t Know Where to Say it, Say it Here!]

    I do not really know where to begin, but I will start by saying that I struggled through the doctrines of many “churches” and found most of them wanting when compared to scripture. I was fortunate enough to come across the writings of Dave Hunt and found in his writings confirmation to the things that was bothering me in most denominations. The one thing that still bothers me on your website is the doctrine of eternal security. I wish to explain eternal security, the way scripture speaks to my heart, and let everybody correct me where I am wrong. I Know we are saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not by works, but where does faith originate, what does faith look like, and what is the result of faith?

    2Th 2:10 and every type of evil to deceive those who are dying, those who refused to love the truth that would save them.
    Gal 5:6 For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
    Rom 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    From the scriptures above I believe that, when hearing the word of truth, we have a choice to believe the truth or reject it. If I love what I hear, I would choose to believe, but if I do not love what I hear, I would choose not to believe. When hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, it is the Spirit of Jesus Christ that attracts you or not, and when you are attracted it is as a result of love for this Spirit of truth in Jesus Christ, and is also accompanied with faith in Jesus Christ, in his Spirit. If we are in love with this Spirit of God, then we will walk in the very same Spirit.

    2Co 3:17 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.
    If we love God, and we can only know Him by the Spirit of His word, God gives us his Spirit, and work in us to do His will.

    Php 2:13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    Now the question is: Can I ever loose my salvation? By faith we are born of the Spirit, but our flesh do not die. There will always be a war between the flesh and the Spirit. We know that God works in us to keep His commandments, and that the flesh works in us to break the commandments of God. Now God tells us: Gal 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. Gal 6:8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. It is impossible for a sinner to sow to the Spirit. God is speaking to those who has received his Spirit. This by itself indicate that if a believer should choose to sow to the flesh he shall reap corruption. God also said: Luk 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. It would seem that the child of God has some work to do. To be saved by his works? No! To be saved by his faith which is proved by his works. Even after accepting Jesus Christ as our personal saviour we still have a free choice to obey or not to obey. If we sow to the Spirit we shall reap life everlasting, but if we sow to the flesh we shall reap corruption. Php 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 with fear and trembling. This scripture also refers to works that should be done in fear and trembling. See to whom this letter was written. Php 1:1 Paul and Timotheus, the servants of Jesus Christ, to all the saints in Christ Jesus which are at Philippi, with the bishops and deacons:’” Why should this saints, bishops and deacons have any fear if they can never loose their salvation. I see it this way: God works in you to do His pleasure. Moment by moment you adhere to God’s Spirit because of faith and sometimes your flesh will resist the Spirit of God. The child of God, by his will, has to resist the flesh and adhere to the Spirit of God. Should we fail: 1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

    See also the heading of the letter to the Ephesians. Eph 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, to the saints which are at Ephesus, and to the faithful in Christ Jesus:

    Eph 4:20 But ye have not so learned Christ;
    Eph 4:21 If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus:
    Eph 4:22 That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;
    Eph 4:23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind;
    Eph 4:24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.

    By faith we have to diligently work, restrain the flesh, that we might heed to the Spirit of God in us. God will correct His children, but He will never force them. This is but a drop in the ocean of the very same message repeated throughout scripture.

    Joh 10:27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
    Joh 10:28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
    Joh 10:29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.

    Rev 3:1 And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.
    Rev 3:2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God.
    Rev 3:3 Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee.
    Rev 3:4 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy.
    Rev 3:5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.

    When looking at these scriptures I believe that nothing created can pluck me out of the hand of my Father. In Him I have eternal security. The only question remaining is, do I abide in Him, do I daily choose to stay in Him or will the love for something else lead me astray?
    Where do I falter in this reasoning?

  3. Sharon

    Exactly, no one is born again multiple times, and people that believe you can lose your salvation need to tell me how they know at what ‘point’ they lost it.

  4. Tom Lessing says:

    Hi there Hans

    If you don’t mind, I would like to try and answer your question. So let’s begin with your final statement:

    “When looking at these scriptures I believe that nothing created can pluck me out of the hand of my Father. In Him I have eternal security. The only question remaining is, do I abide in Him, do I daily choose to stay in Him or will the love for something else lead me astray? Where do I falter in this reasoning?”

    This is a mistake we all tend to make. We believe with all our heart that Jesus Christ will save us to the uttermost (Hebrews 7:25), but then we turn our eyes away from Him and fix them inwardly to ourselves to see whether there is at least something in ourselves to accomplish what He had promised to do. Your question “do I abide in Him, do I daily choose to stay in Him or will the love for something else lead me astray” is so typical of the flesh. I know because I have asked the same questions in some stages of my life, especially when I had sinned.

    The truth is that He knew, even before He saved you, that there are going to be times and situations when you are not going to abide in Him and times when you are even going to be led astray. However, do not allow this to dismay you or make you feel despondent. He has made provision for this as well.

    Salvation is a once off occurrence when you receive by faith everything Jesus had done for you personally on the cross, i.e. He paid the penalty for your sins and also baptised you into his death. That’s it and no one, not even God Himself, can take your salvation away from you again.

    Really, not even God Himself can take your salvation away from you? How can the Judge who is also your Advocate and lives for ever to plead for you, take away your salvation? He can only take away your salvation if He, the Judge, stops being your Advocate. And again, this is impossible because He lives forever to intercede for you as your Advocate. For Him to be able to take back the gift of eternal life He had given you would amount to the undoing of what He had done for you on the cross, i.e. to bear and completely stop (put an end to) the wrath of God in condemning you to an eternity in hell. That’s impossible. That’s precisely why Hebrews 6 says that if it were hypothetically possible for you to lose your salvation, Jesus would have to be crucified and put to open shame in public again.

    Let us now look more precisely at Hebrews 7:25: “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.”

    I want us to focus on the following . . .

    Wherefore. Words in the Bible are of the utmost importance because I believe with all my heart that the Holy Spirit inspired men to write down those words (2 Peter 1:21). The word “therefore” refers to verse 24 which says: “But this man, because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood.” Christ Jesus’ priesthood is inflexible, unmovable and non-transferrable which means that his gift of salvation to all those who have put their trust in Him as Saviour is also unchangeable, inflexible and unmovable. Had it been true that a saint can lose his/her salvation Jesus’ priesthood could never have been unchangeable. The notion that you may be saved one moment and lose your salvation the next, is an affront to Christ’s unchangeable priesthood. If his priesthood (intercessory work at the right hand of God) is unchangeable then his gift of salvation must of necessity also be unchangeable. I don’t know how to say it more clearly.

    He is able. The word for “able” is “dunamai” and describes the magnanimous dynamic power Jesus has, not only to forgive sins but also to see saints safely through to glory.

    To save them to the uttermost. Jesus Christ never saves someone and then leaves him/her to their own devices. “Uttermost” is a very strong word in Greek and means to take or carry one to the most perfect and complete fulfilment of that which God has in store for his saints. It ties in perfectly with Paul’s statement in 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.” Notice that HE will perform it and not the saint. If the saint was required to finish the work HE had begun, none of us would ever have made it. We would have fallen short again and again.

    That come unto God by Him. The answer to your question “do I abide in Him, do I daily choose to stay in Him or will the love for something else lead me astray” lies in these few words “that come unto God by Him.” To abide in Him simply means to exercise by faith your God-given privilege to enter boldly into the most holy of holies in heaven – through the blood of Jesus Christ – to either plead and receive forgiveness for your sins (when you have sinned) or to receive the “dunamai” (the ability) to live a life which pleases Him. (Hebrews 10:19).

    seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them. Our High Priest is not someone whose priesthood is passed on the next person when he dies (as in the Old Testament). He ever lives (cannot die) . . . to do what? To make intercession (pray for) his saints. Remember what Jesus said to Peter? “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren. (Luke 22:31-32). Does that mean Peter was on the verge of losing his salvation and that he needed to be converted again in order not to lose his salvation? No, it means that Peter couldn’t possibly lose his salvation because Jesus prayed for him. “When you are converted” simply means to return to the path you originally followed but left went you went astray through temptation/s. Jesus’ ministry on earth was to die for us and pay the penalty for our sins so that we may be saved. His ministry in heaven at the right hand of God as our High Priest and Advocate is to intercede (pray) for us so that we may be saved to the uttermost. Salvation and salvation to the uttermost are his responsibilities. Our responsibility is to abide in Him by means of our boldness to approach Him in the holiest of holies in heaven, through his blood, so that we may receive mercy whenever it is necessary.

  5. Hans says:

    Thanks Deborah and Tom. I will study what you have given me.

  6. Werner Groenewald says:

    Hi Deb & Tom. People that are born again and then turn their backs on God till their death, were they genuinely saved/born again in the first place? As I understand it, someone who is truly born again and then for some reason goes back to the world, Jesus will work to finish that person’s faith. What is meant by working out one’s salvation with fear & trembling? (Philipians 2:12)

    I understand that no good works can add to what Jesus had done on the cross.

  7. Dear Werner

    Hello there and welcome to DTW, let me explain.

    In Philippians 2:12-13, Paul writes, 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 with fear and trembling. 13 For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

    This verse is often used to instil fear in people, warning them that they will lose their salvation if they don’t work at it with fear and trembling. Paul would never encourage Christians to live in a continuous state of anxiety, fear and panic. That would contradict Pauls many other exhortations to have peace of mind, take courage, and take confidence in Jesus Christ the author and finisher of our salvation.

    Simply put, the Greek word that translates ‘fear’ in this context actually means reverence and respect. Paul uses the same phrase in (2 Corinthians 7:15) where he refers to Titus as being encouraged by the Corinthians’ reception of him “with fear and trembling”, that is, with great humility and respect for his position as a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Paul himself came to the Corinthian church in “weakness and fear, and with much trembling” (1 Corinthians 2:3), mindful of the ‘great and awesome’ nature of the work in which he was engaged.

    The Greek verb meaning “work out” means “to continually work to bring something to completion or fruition“. We do this by actively pursuing obedience in the process of sanctification. Paul describes himself as “straining” and “pressing on” toward the goal of Christlikeness in (Philippians 3:13-14).

    The “trembling” he experiences is the attitude Christians are to have in pursuing this goal — a healthy fear of offending God through disobedience and an awe and respect for His majesty and holiness. “Trembling” can also refer to a shaking due to weakness, but this is a weakness of higher purpose, one which brings us to a state of dependency on God. Obedience and submission to the God we revere and respect is our “reasonable service” (Romans 12:1-2) and brings great joy.

    Psalm 2:11 sums it up perfectly: “Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.” We work out our salvation by going to the very source of our salvation, Jesus Christ – the Word of God – wherein we renew our hearts and minds (Romans 12:1-2), coming to God in reverence and awe.

  8. Werner Groenewald,

    Working out your salvation simply means to put into practice everything that God Himself works in your innermost being (soul and spirit). It does not mean that we should do any good works in order to escape God’s wrath and hell.

  9. Tony Griffin says:

    And by the way wiersbe was wrong about the term falling away being the Greek word parapipto. I am looking at the Greek text right now and the word used here is “parapesontas”. It comes from the verb “parapipto.” The actual Greek text renders this word to apostasize. To fall away from the true faith. To fall away from the worship of Jehovah.

  10. Hi Christian. Were you saved because you stopped sinning and never sinned again? How sure are you that you have confessed all your sins?

    Jesus said, “And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” (Joh 10:28).

    He did not say, “I give unto them eternal life on condition that they confess all their sins from the day they received their moral consciousness and all the sins they are still going to do, and never sin again, lest I shall pluck them out of my hand.”

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