Can You Lose Your Salvation?
This is a popular topic among most Christians, as we have all experienced moments in which we have doubted our salvation, or even thought that we had somehow disqualified ourselves through some form of rebellion or sin. Some believe that salvation can be lost, and those who hold this view typically agree that apostasy, or turning away from God, will lead to a loss of salvation. While others hold that salvation is certain and permanent.
What exactly is salvation? Well the Hebrew and Greek concepts of salvation center around the concept of being delivered out of temporal or physical danger and brought into a state of safety. The Hebrew concept adds the connotation of victory and both concepts describe an event in which things were quite dire and then through some intervention, deliverance was experienced. So what are we saved from then?
When the New Testament discusses salvation it centers around the deliverance of the believer from the danger of judgement on account of their sins. Christ and His sacrificial offering are understood to be the grounds on which salvation is realized. It is through Christ bearing our sins and dying on our behalf that we are saved. Salvation is thus seen as a gift from God freely given to all mankind. Salvation is an expression of the character of God. The gift communicates that God's love and acceptance of us is far greater than the offense of our sin. 2 Corinthians 5:19, "that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them." Salvation then describes the act of God in delivering us from the penalty of our sins. We are saved from wrath, and reconciled to God.
Salvation is therefore an event, centering around a historical sacrifice, and it is all embracing. Meaning that when one places their confidence in Christ they are effectively and eternally forgiven, made righteous, and made holy (1 Cor 6:11). This salvation event is irreversible as it centers around the historic death and resurrection of Christ. Thus once we enter into the gift found in Him, there is no way to reverse it. Remember, the sacrifice of Jesus is an offering of the life of God in exchange for the life of the sinner. God willingly pays our debt, dies for us, and as such we will not have to pay the penalty for our sins.
So can you lose your salvation? Effectively no. What about apostasy? Even if one were to give God the middle finger and walk away, if they had placed their faith in Christ, the salvific work is irreversible. The gospel informs us that God, in love, willingly dies for the sinner and pardons us on the basis of His goodness and not on the basis of anything within us. Thus we cannot thwart it. I want to leave you with this short quote concerning salvation.
"Salvation is the rescue from a state of danger and restoration to wholeness and prosperity. In the Bible people are 'saved' from foreign nations, from enemies, and from the penalty of sin. Salvation also entails health, wholeness, and victory."
Hamme, J. T. (2014). Salvation. D. Mangum, D. R. Brown, R. Klippenstein, & R. Hurst (Eds.), Lexham Theological Wordbook. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.