There are a few Bible passages that, upon first glance, seem to indicate that a Christian can lose his salvation. For example, Hebrews 6:4-6 speaks of the possibility that those who were “once enlightened” and have “tasted the heavenly gift” and “become partakers of the Holy Spirit” might “fall away.” Likewise, Revelation 22:19 provides an ominous warning about God taking away a person’s part from the Book of Life. Similarly, in John 15:1-2 Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit He takes away.” If you are looking for Bible texts to support your idea that salvation can be lost, these three would surely be on your list.
Still, the best commentary on the Bible is always the Bible and no single passage can ever be allowed to stand alone as an island unto itself. Instead, each passage must be understood in the light of the Bible’s totality. This means that any passage that appears to go against the main current of scripture must be interpreted in a way that fits into that current. We must not take a handful of passages and use them as the lens through which we view the bulk of scripture. To the contrary, we must begin with the obvious teaching of the bulk of scripture and interpret the handful of passages through that teaching.
And what does the bulk of scripture teach about losing one’s salvation? It teaches that the Christian is eternally secure. Said another way, it teaches “once saved always saved.”
Now, I wouldn’t be much of a Bible teacher if I just added a hearty, “Amen” to that last sentence and closed out this post. So, what I’m going to do is list 20 Bible evidences for the eternal security of the believer. Along with each reason, I’ll cite at least one appropriate passage (all from the N.K.J.V.). An entire sermon could be preached from any one of these 20, but I’ll be brief with my comments and keep things moving along at a nice pace.
#1. Once you become a Christian, no one can snatch you out of God’s hand. In John 10:27-30, Jesus says, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone 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 My Father’s hand. I and My Father are one.” No one is able to snatch the Christian out of God’s hand. This promise might possibly even be extended to include the Christian himself.
#2. As a Christian, you aren’t just in Christ’s hand; you are actually in Him. According to 2 Corinthians 5:17, the Christian is “in” Christ. Did you know that 1 Peter 3:20 depicts Noah’s ark as a symbol (type) of salvation? Well, Noah and his family were “in” the ark, weren’t they? They could fall down inside the ark but they couldn’t fall out of it. Applying this symbolism (typology) to salvation, the Christian can fall down inside Christ but not out of Christ. You see, salvation is not found in a place called heaven. If we think about it, Satan and the other rebellious angels actually fell from there. No, salvation is found in a person: the God-Man, Jesus Christ. Since the Christian is “in” Him, the only way the Christian could ever lose his salvation is if Christ lost His relationship with God the Father. That, of course, can never happen. Remember that Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30).
#3. The indwelling Holy Spirit is the Christian’s down payment on salvation, and God always pays His bills in full. 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 says that Jesus has given Christians “the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.” The classic King James translation uses the old word “earnest” instead of “guarantee.” People used to call down payment money “earnest money.” Therefore, the teaching is easy to understand: God the Holy Spirit’s presence within the Christian serves as God’s down payment on the Christian’s salvation. The Spirit is the earnest money that God has put down on the full payment. And since God never goes bad on a bill, the Christian must one day get to enjoy the full benefits of salvation. If the Holy Spirit ever vacated a Christian’s body, God would lose His down payment with that Christian and go bad on a bill to which He had committed.
#4: Jesus promised that the Christian will never “perish.” In John 10:28, Jesus says of His people, “and they shall never perish.” In His teachings, Jesus used the idea of “perishing” to describe a soul ending up in Hell (John 3:16; Matthew 5:29-30). Here, though, He promises that not one of His people would “perish” in this way. This promise would be proven to be a lie if even one Christian somehow lost his salvation and wound up in Hell.
#5. For “eternal life” to be true to its name, it cannot be probationary. In John 3:16; 10:28; and Mark 10:30, Jesus calls salvation “eternal life.” He couldn’t have used that word “eternal” if this life could potentially be lost along the way. He would have had to call it “temporary life” or “probationary life.”
#6. The Christian will never again be charged with any sin on his eternal account with God. Romans 4:1-5 explains that God accounts the Christian’s faith in Christ for righteousness. While this is wonderful in and of itself, Romans 4:6-8 goes on to explain that God will never again “impute” any sin to the Christian. The word “impute” means “to charge to an account.” So, when we put the two thoughts together, we see that God has charged righteousness to the Christian’s eternal account and He will no longer charge any sin to that account. This is an unbeatable combination that ensures that God will see the Christian as “righteous” for all eternity.
#7. Nothing or nobody can separate the Christian from the love of God in Christ. Romans 8:35-39 applies exclusively to Christians. For one thing, the passage is written to those who know “the love of God which is in Jesus Christ our Lord.” For another, throughout the passage the apostle Paul uses the words “we” and “us” in reference to the Christians of Rome. The point of the passage is that it is impossible for the Christian to ever be separated from the love of God in Christ. Paul goes so far as to say that even “principalities” and “powers” can’t accomplish this separation. This is significant because the Bible uses these words in reference to fallen angels. Since Satan Himself is a fallen angel, even he can’t steal a Christian’s salvation.
#8. The Christian is God’s child, and God will never disown His child. John 1:12 says that Jesus gave those who received Him as Savior the right to become children of God. The Christian becomes God’s child in two ways. First, he becomes God’s child by way of a birth as he is “born again” (John 3:1-16). Second, he becomes God’s child by way of an adoption as he is formally adopted into the family of God (Romans 8:14-17). I am the father of two boys and I will always be their father, no matter how badly they behave. The same is true of God and His children.
#9. The indwelling Holy Spirit seals the Christian until the day of redemption. 2 Corinthians 1:22 and Ephesians 1:13 tell us the indwelling Holy Spirit seals the Christian. But Ephesians 4:30 takes the matter a step further in saying that this sealing is “for the day of redemption.” The Christian isn’t sealed “for the day of backsliding” or “the day of falling away.” No, he is sealed for the day of redemption, which means that he is sealed for the day he sees Christ face to face.
10. The Christian is predestined to go to heaven. The proof texts for this are Romans 8:30 and Ephesians 1:11. You simply cannot be more sure of going to heaven than to be predestined by God to go there. The Bible never uses the idea of predestination in relation to lost people and hell. It only applies predestination to the Christian.
11. The Christian is kept by the power of God. Show me a person who believes that salvation can be lost, and I’ll show you a person who thinks that an individual must keep his salvation by his own power. This misses the Bible’s teaching completely. 1 Peter 1:5 says the Christian is kept “by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” The words “through faith for salvation” speak of the faith in Christ that is the requirement for salvation. But the power for keeping the Christian in that salvation comes from God, not the Christian.
12. Salvation is a good work of God, and God always finishes what He starts. In Philippians 1:6, Paul says to the Christians of Philippi, “He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” If a person got saved, and then lost that salvation, that would amount to God failing to finish a job He started. That kind of thing doesn’t happen with God.
13. The Christian has a reserved inheritance in heaven that does not fade away. The passage on this is 1 Peter 1:3-4. This inheritance is described as “incorruptible” and “undefiled.” That fact that it does not fade away means that nothing the Christian does or doesn’t do can cause him to miss out on this heavenly inheritance.
14. God will present the Christian as faultless before Himself. According to Jude verse 24, the Christian does not have to keep himself from stumbling or worry about how he will look when he stands before God. It is God Himself who will present the Christian as faultless.
15. The Christian has passed from spiritual death to life. In John 5:24, Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death unto life.” You see, the Bible teaches that each person is born “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1; Psalm 51:5), but when an individual believes in (places faith in) Jesus as Savior, that person gains eternal life. This is what Jesus meant by “has passed from death into life.” Furthermore, there are no Bible passages that speak of passing from death into life and then back into death.
16. Jesus will confirm the Christian to the end. 1 Corinthians 1:8 is the proof text on this. It doesn’t say that Jesus will confirm the Christian to the time when the Christian sins too much. To the contrary, it says that He will confirm the Christian to the end. That is eternal security.
17. Jesus makes intercession with God the Father for the Christian. In Luke 22:31-32, Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith should not fail.” Notice the link between Christ’s praying and Peter’s faith not failing. This same idea can be applied to all Christians because of Hebrews 7:22-28, verse 25 of which says of Jesus: “Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.”
18. The Christian commits his salvation to Jesus, and Jesus will keep it until the day of its full consummation. In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul says to Timothy, “I know whom I have believed and am persuaded that He is able to keep what I have committed to Him until that Day.” Here again the idea is that the Christian isn’t responsible for keeping his own salvation. That is Christ’s job. Since Christ is all-powerful, He is more than capable of doing the job.
19. The Christian has been made accepted in Jesus. In Ephesians 1:6, Paul says that Christians have been made “accepted in the Beloved.” “Beloved” is a title for Jesus. The point is that God the Father doesn’t accept Christians because of their good works. He accepts them because He accepts Jesus and they are “in” Jesus. As long as He accepts Jesus, He must accept those in Jesus.
20. Lot is a wonderful example of eternal security. Lot was Abraham’s nephew and his story is told in Genesis chapters 12-19. It is the story of a saved believer who committed gross sins such as drunkenness and incest (Genesis 19:30-38). Nevertheless, despite Lot’s despicable conduct, 2 Peter 2:7-8 calls him “righteous.” This gets back to the truth that God does not impute sin to the believer’s account (Romans 4:5-8). What was true for Old Testament believers such as Lot, Abraham, Samson, and David is also true for New Testament believers (Christians).
So, there you have it, a list of 20 Bible evidences for the eternal security of the Christian. As a child of God, the disobedient Christian can experience God’s whippings (Hebrews 12:5-11). In worst-case scenarios, he can even be put to an early death by God (1 John 5:16-17; 1 Corinthians 11:27-30). But he can never lose his salvation. Since salvation cannot be produced by good works (Ephesians 2:8-9) it cannot be lost by bad works.
Of course, having a proper understanding of eternal security should lead the Christian to do a better (not worse) job of serving the Lord. If you know your eternal destiny is fixed and secure, you can take the time you would spend worrying about that destiny and use it to serve the Lord all the more. Basically, eternal security should make the Christian very appreciative of what God has done, is doing, and will do for him, and out of that appreciation should flow better service to God. That’s how the transition is made from being saved to acting saved.