First of all, in Scripture, salvation is described as an unbreakable chain that always leads to salvation.
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
Whether you're a Calvinist or not, this verse clearly shows that salvation is an unbreakable chain. It's important to note that this verse doesn't say “some of those he called he also justified”, etc etc. What this verse says is that all those whom God predestines He will glorify; thus there's no chance of losing your salvation. This is also demonstrated in other verses:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”
This verse says that a person who believes in Jesus and is saved “has eternal life” already. It doesn't say “may have eternal life unless he loses his salvation.”
“All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”
All those that God saves will be in heaven, no one will lose their salvation before they get there.
“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
Is God going to start something and fail to finish it?
God loves His elect so much that He would never let us lose our salvation:
“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? 33 Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written,
“For your sake we are being killed all the day long;
we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Nothing can separate us from the love of God – not any earthly power, including ourselves.
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.
Jesus prays this prayer in John 17:
“And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.”
This shows that it's God's will to keep us saved. As John MacArthur says, “Since our Savior always prays in perfect harmony with the will of the Father, we can be assured that keeping our salvation secure is the will of God.”
“And we desire each one of you to show the same earnestness to have the full assurance of hope until the end,”
If there's not a “full assurance of hope”, this verse is meaningless.
2 Peter 1:10
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.”
1 John 5:13 (really the full book)
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God that you may know that you have eternal life.”
You can't “confirm your calling and election” unless it's possible to be sure that you're saved. Likewise, you can't “know that you have eternal life” unless it's possible to know that you have eternal life now.
2 Corinthians 13:5
“Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves.”
As MacArthur says “There's no valid basis for being assured of your salvation if Scripture says it's possible for you to lose it.”
2 Timothy 1:12
“which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that Day what has been entrusted to me.”
God himself guards our salvation, and God's not going to fall asleep on guard.
One last point before I hit on some common objections: when you're saved, your name is written in the book of life. Or actually, the more correct thing to say (Calvinist or not) is that your name has been written in the book of life: “everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.” says Revelation 13:8. However, this actually contradicts the belief that you can lose your salvation. If you can lose your salvation, then your name would have been written in the book of life...and then erased. However, those who are saved have had their names written in the book of the life since before the foundation of the world, right? So it's impossible for that to happen (Head spinning yet?). One might argue that one who loses their salvation never had their name written in the book of life. But in that case, that person was never saved. That's exactly what I believe: while it may appear that someone has lost their salvation, in reality they were either a true Christian in need of repentance or a false convert:
“For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things.”
1 John 2:19
“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
And lastly: =P
There are statements in Scripture that seem to imply that you can lose your salvation, some of which include the following:
1 Corinthians 10:12
Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.
1 Corinthians 9:27
But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
However, neither of those verses actually says that you can lose your salvation. “Fall” and “be disqualified” mean other things.
There are some instances in Scripture where it seems like someone has fallen away and lost their salvation:
1 Timothy 1:19-20
By rejecting this, some have made shipwreck of their faith, 20 among whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I have handed over to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.
2 Timothy 2:16-18
But avoid irreverent babble, for it will lead people into more and more ungodliness, 17 and their talk will spread like gangrene. Among them are Hymenaeus and Philetus, 18 who have swerved from the truth, saying that the resurrection has already happened. They are upsetting the faith of some.
2 Peter 2:1-2
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed.
However, these were all false converts. For example, in the 2 Peter verse, these were false teachers claiming to be saved. Here, Paul is using sarcasm, saying that they claimed to be Christians but that they denied the “Master who bought them”, meaning they had a fundamental misunderstanding of Christianity.
“As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away.”
Advocates of the idea that you can lose your salvation point to this passage as an example of someone who “fell away” from belief in Jesus. However, fruit is the marker of a true Christian:
“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?s So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit.”
The person in Matthew 13:20-21 never bore fruit and was thus not a Christian. This applies to all examples where it appears that people fell away from salvation: these are people who fell away from the appearance of salvation.
Here's a pointed passage that people who advocate the belief that you can lose your salvation point to in order to support their views:
“For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries.”
What this verse is saying is that if a person is exposed to the fullness of the gospel and they understand it and then they reject it, then there's no hope for them. The smoke machines, light show, and rock band won't help. ;D
Objection: Romans 8:31-39 is true, but God still loves those who aren't saved, right? So you can't use that passage to support the idea that you can't lose your salvation.
There are two routes I could choose here. I could use the concept of limited atonement to argue for the fact that God doesn't love those who aren't his elect. But in order to do that I'd basically have to convince you of Calvinism and I'm not going to try to do that today. =P Instead, I'll take the easier route and simply say that the context is very clear that this passage is talking about believers, not unbelievers.
Objection: John 10:27-29 is true – no one can snatch us from God's hands – but we can jump!
Jumping is someone separating you from God's love, it just happens to be you. So no.
An overarching common objection is personal experience. People see someone who started coming to church, appeared to have repented, and said the sinner's prayer. But then a few years later, they're living a life in complete rebellion to God. These people are false converts – exactly what John is describing in this verse in first John: “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”
If this article confirmed and strengthened what you already believe, I'm glad it was a blessing for you! If you're not sure what you believe on this topic, or if this article challenged what you believe, I highly encourage you to read the verses I included in this article, pray, and study to see if you believe what you believe because that's what the Bible says, or because it's what you've been taught all your life. If y'all wish to discuss or debate this article, that is fine. And feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions that you may have. If this does spark a debate or discussion, please remain civil and do not call anyone names, or insult or attack their beliefs. Comments that do so will be deleted. Most of all, thank you for reading!
MacArthur, John. Saved without a Doubt: Being Sure of Your Salvation. Vol. 2. Colorado Springs, CO: Victor, 2006. Print.
Cartoon used courtesy of Adam Ford, Adam4d.com