There is a Salvation controversy within main line Christian church beliefs. Some denominations believe that once a person is saved they are always saved. Other denominations believe that one can lose his or her salvation after becoming saved.
In 2015, while attending a church service, the pastor of my church, whom I greatly admire, stated in his sermon that his church believes that one can lose their salvation after becoming saved. After the service I spoke with Pastor Barger about this church belief. Pastor told me that he has studied this topic carefully and he is convinced that people can lose their salvation after accepting the Lord as your personal savior.
Although I disagreed that a truly saved person can lose his or her salvation, I did not press the issue with the pastor because of my regard for him and I wanted to study the issue more. I have read the Bible cover to cover many times and have taken extensive notes on the topic of salvation. I decided to read through the Bible again, asking the Lord to guide me in finding the answer to this question. Are people who are saved always saved or can they lose their salvation?
The Baptist church where I attended in my earlier life taught that once a person is saved they are always saved. If a person falls away from the Lord Jesus, then repentance will restore their fellowship with the Lord. However, falling away does not mean they lost their salvation, it is God allowing you to find your way closer to Him. Making mistakes in life, dealing with hardships and difficulties is God’s way of bringing people closer to Him. I personally believe that if someone falls away from God, whatever their reason, when that person comes back to God he or she is a much stronger Christian than he or she was before falling away from God.
This controversy of whether a person is once saved always saved or the person can actually lose their salvation will not be settled by the writing of this article but maybe a few will benefit from the research. I believe that mainline Christian churches have a common belief that a person cannot work their way into salvation (heaven). For me, it seems that if a person can lose their salvation because they are not doing the right things or perhaps doing wrong things, (sin), even though that person once had truly repented and gave his or her life to Jesus, then that person is essentially still trying to achieve salvation by his or her own efforts. That would be in contrast to Ephesians 2:8 which says, “ 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith… it is the gift of God” (NIV) If God never changes, does not lie, does not steal, then once a person receives the gift of salvation, then the gift belongs to that person. How can a Holy and Righteous God take away this gift once He has given it to you?
If Salvation is a gift from God then doing good deeds will not make a person more saved. Works may better a person’s reward but it will not save a person and if a person does not work in a manner that pleases other Christians it does not mean that God will take away that person’s salvation. However, one must truly believe in Jesus Christ to receive the gift of salvation and God cannot be fooled. God knows your heart and He knows your true thoughts!
I am not saying that Pastor Barger is wrong, he could be right, with this caveat, for the people that believe that a saved person can lose their salvation, then for those people it is possible they can lose their salvation. Let me elaborate .
If a truly saved Christian believes a certain way about something, then perhaps God has lead that person to believe that way. Maybe God has lead someone else to believe it differently. It makes no difference to that person’s salvation or to your salvation. Trying to change that person from revering God with that belief can possibly be both harmful and wrong. If a person believes that one should never eat meat on Wednesday because it is in reverence to God that this person abstains from eating meat on Wednesday, then Christians should respect that belief and not try to change it. How does anyone know whether or not that person has made a personal vow to God about this issue? Only God knows this person’s heart.
Perhaps this same principle, found in Romans, can be applied to the topic of salvation as well. If a person believes that once they are truly saved they are always saved – then they are saved. If a person believes that they can lose their salvation after receiving the gift, then because that person does not have the same faith to accept the once saved always saved doctrine, then for that person it is possible to lose his or her salvation. I submit this as a possibility for you to consider. Read the following verses in Romans 14, and pray that God helps us all reach the correct conclusion about our salvation.
Romans 14:19-23 says, “19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All food is clean, but it is wrong for a person to eat anything that causes someone else to stumble. 21 It is better not to eat meat or drink wine or to do anything else that will cause your brother or sister to fall. “22 So whatever you believe about these things keep between yourself and God. Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves. 23 But whoever has doubts is condemned if they eat, because their eating is not from faith; and everything that does not come from faith is sin” (NIV)
When trying to decide a controversial issue, aside from any direct indisputable evidence, then one must reach a conclusion based on a preponderance of the evidence. If a vast majority of the evidence points to a particular conclusion, then one or two references that may imply a different possible conclusion should not be enough for a rational person to conclude that the latter is a reality. It is true that there are a few verses that may suggest it is possible to lose your salvation but the preponderance of Biblical verses clearly state the contrary is the reality – belief in Jesus Christ is the number one necessity for the “gift” of salvation.
In the Bible, God, admonishes people for putting too heavy a burden upon people to receive salvation. It is totally impossible for anyone to achieve salvation by following the law. In the same way, to believe that a person can lose the salvation that God has gifted to them – puts people back into doing good works which was the requirement when the Israelites were under the Law. Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross put an end to the Law!
Then I remembered a conversation I had with Pastor Barger in 1995, concerning this very same topic. Pastor stated the same belief at that time, a person can lose their salvation. We talked a few minutes about this, I stated that I believe that if a person is truly repentant and has accepted Jesus Christ as his or her savior – then that person is saved forever. Once saved always saved for a true believer! Pastor Barger, disagreed with me. Seeing the concern on my face, Pastor Barger looked at me and said, “I believe that God would take a saved person before He would allow that person to die and go to Hell”. This quote is as close as I can remember it.
When I remembered this conversation with Pastor Barger in 1995, the light went on in my head – bingo! The once saved always saved belief and the belief that a born again Christian can lose their salvation are essentially the same. Pastor was saying that God would take a born again person before He would allow that person to be lost and go to hell. In essence the once saved always saved belief and the belief that a person can lose his or her salvation is the same. If Pastor Barger is correct about God taking a person before He would allow that person to be lost, I see no difference in the two positions. Again, we are talking about born again Christians and not unbelievers. Salvation is a faith based gift!
Belief, (faith), in Jesus is the necessity for salvation – I find no other requirements in the Bible for receiving the gift of salvation. 1 John 5:1 says, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God,” (NIV) 1 John 5:12 says, “12 Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life” (NIV) Romans 1:16 says, “16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.” (NIV) Roman 6:23 says, “ 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in[b] Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV) Romans 9:16 says, “16 It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (NIV) Romans 10:9 says, “9 if you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” (NIV) Romans 10:10 says, “10 For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” (NIV)
The list of verses which state that salvation is a gift from God to the person who believes in faith, goes on and on. None of these verses say that after a person is born again they must do this or do that or they will lose their salvation. I will attach a list of salvation verses at the bottom of this article. There are some verses that may lead a person to believe one could lose their salvation. Remember, it is the preponderance of evidence when there is a lack of direct evidence that one should be looking for to find the answer to the question. I encourage you to study the topic for yourself and let the Holy Spirit guide your conclusions.
One final thought to assist those who will become like the Bereans and search God’s Word for the answer. Do not be afraid. If a Bible verse makes sense then do not look for another sense. God is not a God of double talk – those that God has chosen will understand and those that God has not chosen will never understand!
Below is a partial list of verses which refer to the subject of salvation:
2 Timothy 3:15 says, “and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”
Hebrew 5:9 says, “ 9 And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him,…” (NKJV)
Hebrew 5:9 says, “and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him” (NIV)
Hebrews 7:25 says, “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him,…” (NKJV)
Hebrews 7:25 says, “25 Therefore he is able to save completely[c]those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.” (NIV)
Hebrews 9:11-14 says, “But Christ came as High Priest of the good things to come,[a] with the greater and more perfect tabernacle not made with hands, that is, not of this creation. 12 Not with the blood of goats and calves, but with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 For if the blood of bulls and goats and the ashes of a heifer, sprinkling the unclean, sanctifies for the purifying of the flesh, 14 how much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? “
Hebrews 9:28 says, “so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation.” (NKJV)
Hebrews 9:28 says, “28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.” (NIV)
Hebrews 10:8-10 says, “ 8 Previously saying, “Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.”[b] He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (NKJV)
Hebrews 10:8-10 says, “ 8 First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’– though they were offered in accordance with the law. 9 Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” (NIV)
Hebrews 10:12-14 says, “ But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” (NKJV)
Hebrews 10:12-14 says, “12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.” (NIV)
Hebrews 10:38-39 says, “Now the[k] just shall live by faith;
But if anyone draws back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 39 But we are not of those who draw back to perdition, but of those who believe to the saving of the soul.” (NKJV)
Hebrews 10:38-39 says, “… ‘But my righteous[g] one will live by faith.
And I take no pleasure in the one who shrinks back.’ 39 But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved.” (NIV)
James 1:12 says, “ 12 Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (NIV)
James 2:26 says, “ 26As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” (NIV)
1 John 4:14 says, “ 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Saviour of the world.” (NIV)
Romans 10:4 says< “ 4 Christ is the culmination of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.” (NIV)
Romans 11:11 says, “11 Again I ask: did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” (NIV)
1 Cor 12:3 says, “… no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” (NIV)
Psalm 37:39 says, “The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord;
he is their stronghold in time of trouble.” (NIV)
Numbers 21:6-9 says, ” 6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, ‘We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.’ 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” (NIV)
Joel 2:32 says, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;…” (NIV)
Jonah 2:9 says, “…Salvation comes from the Lord.”’ (NIV)
John 4:22 says, “… salvation is from the Jews.” (NIV)
Matthew 7:21 says, “21 ‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” (NIV)
Galatians 5:18 says, “18 But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (NIV)
Philippians 3:15 says, “And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you” (NIV)
Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no saviour.” (NIV)
Acts 4:12 says, “12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’” (NIV)
Acts 10:34-35 says, “34 Then Peter began to speak: ‘I now realise how true it is that God does not show favouritism 35 but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right.” (NIV)
Acts 11:18 says, “…So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” (NIV)
Acts 16:31 says, “…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved…” (NIV)
Acts 28:28 says, “Therefore I want you to know that God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles…” (NIV)
Luke 12:8-9 says, “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (NIV)
Luke 12:10 says, “10 And everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven.” (NIV)
John 3:14-15 says, “14 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (NIV)
John 3:16-18 says, “16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.” (NIV)
John 3:35 says, “35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.” (NIV)
John 6:27 says, “27 Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you….” (NIV)
John 6:28-29 says, “29 Jesus answered, ‘The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV)
John 6:40 says, “ For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.’” (NIV)
John 6:47 says, “47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life.” (NIV)
Ezekiel 33:12 says, “12 ‘Therefore, son of man, say to your people, “If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.” (NIV)
Ezekiel 33:18-19 says, “18 If a righteous person turns from their righteousness and does evil, they will die for it. 19 And if a wicked person turns away from their wickedness and does what is just and right, they will live by doing so.” (NIV)
Daniel 12:3 says, “3 Those who are wise[a] will shine like the brightness of the heavens, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (NIV)
John 8:12 says, “12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)
John 8:23-24 says, “23 But he continued, ‘You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins.” (NIV)
John 10:9 says, “9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved…” (NIV)
John 10:27-28 says, “27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (NIV)
John 14:6 says, “6 Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (NIV)
John 17:2-3 says, “2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (NIV)
John 20:30-31 says, “30 Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (NIV)
Romans 11:5-8 says, “ 5 So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. 6 And if by grace, then it cannot be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
7 What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, 8 as it is written:
‘God gave them a spirit of stupor,
eyes that could not see
and ears that could not hear,
to this very day.” (NIV)
Romans 14:15 says,”15 If your brother or sister is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy someone for whom Christ died. ” (NIV)
Romans 16:19 says, “19 Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.” (NIV)
Romans 14:16 says, “16 Therefore do not let what you know is good be spoken of as evil.” (NIV)
1 Corinthians 12:3 says, “…no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit. (NIV)
Psalm 37:38-39 says, “38 But all sinners will be destroyed; there will be no future[e] for the wicked. 39 The salvation of the righteous comes from the Lord; he is their stronghold in time of trouble.” (NIV)
Numbers 21:6-9 says, “6 Then the Lord sent venomous snakes among them; they bit the people and many Israelites died. 7 The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke against the Lord and against you. Pray that the Lord will take the snakes away from us.” So Moses prayed for the people.
8 The Lord said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it up on a pole; anyone who is bitten can look at it and live.” 9 So Moses made a bronze snake and put it up on a pole. Then when anyone was bitten by a snake and looked at the bronze snake, they lived.” (NIV)
Joel 2:32 says, “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.” (NIV)
Jonah 2:9 says, “…Salvation comes from the Lord.” (NIV)
John 4:22 says, “…salvation is from the Jews.” (NIV)
Matthew 7:21-23 says, “21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (NIV)
Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.” (NIV)
Philippians 3:15 says, “15 All of us, then, who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you.” (NIV)
Isaiah 43:11 says, “I, even I, am the Lord, and apart from me there is no savior” (NIV)
Acts 4:12 says, “12 Salvation is found in no one else (only Jesus), for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (NIV)
Acts 16:31 says, “…Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” (NIV)
Luke 12:8-9 says, “8 “I tell you, whoever publicly acknowledges me before others, the Son of Man will also acknowledge before the angels of God. 9 But whoever disowns me before others will be disowned before the angels of God.” (NIV)
John 3:14-15 says, “4 Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up,[f] 15 that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” (NIV)
John 3:35-36 says, “35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands. 36 Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (NIV)
John 6:40 says, “40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life” (NIV)
John 6:47 says, “47 Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life” (NIV)
Ezekiel 33:12 says, “12 “Therefore, son of man, say to your people, ‘If someone who is righteous disobeys, that person’s former righteousness will count for nothing. And if someone who is wicked repents, that person’s former wickedness will not bring condemnation. The righteous person who sins will not be allowed to live even though they were formerly righteous.’” (NIV)
John 8:12 says, “12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (NIV)
John 8:24 says, “ I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he (Jesus), you will indeed die in your sins.” (NIV)
John 10:9says, “9 I (Jesus) am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved” (NIV)
John 10:14-16 says, “14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (NIV)
John 10:27-28 says, “ My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I (Jesus) give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (NIV)
John 14:6-7 says, “6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really know me, you will know[b] my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” (NIV)
John 20:31 says, “31 But these are written that you may believe[b] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (NIV)
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