It is such an important question. Can we lose our salvation? Or said another way: Can God’s grace be rejected? Can someone actually squander, neglect, or even return as it were their free gift from God?

There is a prevailing thought about this question among the Christian community. For example, a popular answer to this question is pictured. They only offer one Bible passage and it sounds pretty good; it seems like Paul sums it up in Romans 8.

Unfortunately, no real explanation or context for the passage is offered. So, let’s put it through the Bible Study Framework to really understand what Paul is saying, its context, and ultimately how it actually informs us about this question. While we’re at it, let’s look at all that God has to say about if we can lose our salvation (otherwise, we are just Scripture weighting).

can we lose our salvation?

Popular teaching regarding salvation from another website.

Can we lose our salvation?

how Scripture answers "Can we lose our salvation?"

We can be sure that God will hold up His end and no other force can keep us from our salvation1, but Scripture is abundantly clear that we can fall away and thereby lose our salvation1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9. In fact, Scripture shows the New Testament writers uniformly warned about this reality. Paul1,2,9, James4, John5, Jude6, Peter7,8 and even ‘anonymous’3 all give urgent warnings that we can lose our salvation.

“You didn’t earn your salvation, so you can’t lose your salvation.” This is the popular and knee-jerk response when the question if we can lose our salvation comes up. Ironically, the logic of the statement doesn’t even stand and is most certainly and obviously not true.

Of course we can lose things that we didn’t earn! If someone gives you a dollar bill you didn’t earn it but…you can lose it…you can neglect it…you can forget about it…you can misplace it..you can have it stolen…you can even simply discard it. So it is with our salvation, and Scripture even points to many of these same culprits3,4,8 of how we can lose our salvation.

[If there was ever a case study for the importance of understanding the context of Scripture it’s demonstrated with this question and passages. We must always consider context for any passage of study. The simple process of the Bible Study Framework and its critical “What is the context?” component is demonstrated below.]

the answer above is based on and footnoted with the following Scripture Blocks
1

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, 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.

[Paul] is convinced that nothing in all creation can separate [Christians] from God’s love that is shared through Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letter to the Christians in Rome encouraging  them to continue in their “obedience of faith” (1:5, 16:26), not practicing the things of the unrighteous (1:16-2:11) and not succumbing to those teaching false doctrine (16:17-18).  In the immediate context he is making the point that no outside force (makes a list in vs. 35 “tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword”) can defeat “God’s elect”.  “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (vs 31)

How does it inform?

There is no external power or being that can separate a Christian from their faith/salvation. God is more powerful and above all other forces and His promise is true.

!! study note: context is extra important here !!

Does it apply? Yes

2

Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God!

The works of the flesh include things such as sexuality immorality, jealousy, divisions, drunkenness, etc.  They are warned again as before not to practice such things in order to inherit then kingdom of God.

Paul, much like he does in the letter to the Romans, is imploring and encouraging the Christians (this time in the churches of Galatia) to remain obedient in the walk of faith.  He begins the letter with strong language about resisting false teachers and begins this chapter saying, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.”  He contrasts practicing the works of the flesh and its result (e.g. not inheriting the kingdom of God) with the work of the Spirit and its result (
Galatians 6:7-8
).
How does it inform?

Those that have been saved to walk by the Spirit can forget or lose their inheritance (e.g. salvation) by not continuing to walk in (e.g. practice) the works of the Spirit.

Does it apply? Yes

3

Therefore we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. For since the message declared by angels proved to be reliable, and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?

If we don’t pay attention to what we heard we will drift away.  Since the message from angels was reliable and inflicted a punishment for each disobedience, we won’t escape either if we neglect our greater salvation.

The writer of Hebrews is addressing his letter to all the converted Jews and pointing out the superior promises they have through Christ and His covenant, over the Mosaic Law (the “message declared by angels”).  The entire letter and primary theme is to “hold firm” or “hold fast”, an idea repeated several times (2:1, 3:6, 4:1, 4:14, 10:23, 10:35) and elaborated on in chapter 6 (
Hebrews 6:1-12
).

How does it inform?

If we don’t pay attention, we can drift away (fall away) from our salvation.

Does it apply? Yes

4

My brothers, if anyone among you wanders from the truth and someone brings him back, let him know that whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.

If any brother wanders from obeying the truth he is a “sinner” who’s soul is subject to “death”.  If someone “brings him back”, that person will be covering a multitude of sins.

James’ letter throughout is about encouraging and warning Christians to live out the “word of truth” (1:18) in their lives and gives many practical examples of what that looks like.

How does it inform?

We can wander from the truth, and in so doing, subject ourselves to eternal death (e.g. lose our salvation).

Does it apply? Yes

5

Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father. And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

Continue in what you heard.  If you do that, you will abide in the Son and in the Father and His promise of eternal life.

John, in his letter to brethren, makes refrain after refrain for them to continue to “walk in the light”.  In the first chapter he states it as, “If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.” (1:6)

How does it inform?

If we do not stay true to the word, that is, practicing it and not continuing in sin, we will receive the promise of eternal life from the Father.

Does it apply? Yes

6

Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Brethren, I was anxious to write about the salvation we share, but instead need to appeal to you to fight for the faith that has been fully delivered to all the saints.

Jude, the brother of James, is writing to Christians to warn them about false teachers.  He encourages them to be “building” themselves up (vs 20) and “keep” in the love of God (vs 21).
How does it inform?

Jude’s emphasis is warning about their salvation being “stolen”, by false teachers that “crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.” (vs 4)

Does it apply? Yes

7

Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.

You were once not a people with no mercy.  Now you are God’s people who have received mercy.  Please, as sojourners and exiles, resist the passions of the flesh that will capture your soul.

Peter is writing to the “elect” of the “dispersion” – Christians that have been scattered throughout Galatia and Asia Minor.  He is encouraging them to stand firm in the face of current persecution and reminding them of the promise they have in and through Christ.

How does it inform?

Giving in to the passions of the flesh can cause us to lose our soul (e.g. salvation).

Does it apply? Yes

8

Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall. For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

As a result brethren, be vigilant to realize your calling and election (salvation) by practicing these things.  If you do this, you will be welcomed into the kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peter’s second letter, like his first, still encourages the faithful to remain so while focusing on the peril of false teaching.  In this immediate context, Peter has just listed several qualities (virtue, knowledge, self-control, steadfastness, godliness, brotherly affection, and love) that they should make “every effort” to add to their faith.  In fact, they must be added and “increasing” (vs 8).  “For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.” (vs 9)

How does it inform?

Christians must be constantly aware and working to confirm our salvation. Specifically, we should be adding to our faith those qualities

Does it apply? Yes

9

Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you—unless you believed in vain.

Paul reminds the Corinthian brethren of the word, the Gospel of Christ, that they believed and is currently saving them. It will continue to save them as long as they remain in it (“hold fast”).

Paul is about to make his great defense of the resurrection of Christ.

How does it inform?

A Christian is “being saved” by remaining obedient to the word of Christ. If they don’t continue to “stand” in it or “hold fast” to it, their salvation is “vain” (without purpose/cause/success).

Does it apply? Yes

Do you agree? If so, share this question and the Bible Study Framework with others.

If you know of some other verses or you have something to add to the verses already listed for this question please leave a comment below! We welcome the public discussion and will incorporate your input into the Framework above. We have nothing to hide and invite your help in considering all that God’s word has to say.

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