Answers to "Ask Mike" Questions
29. Is it true that once you are saved, you can never be lost?
Thatís a difficult question to answer in a small space, but Iíll try. It may sound a bit like waffling, but let me answer this way. Once you are saved, it is difficult for a believer to be lost. It is not, however, impossible.
First, come to grips with the reality that all Christians are saved by grace (Ephesians 2:8). You canít earn your salvation by good living or good deeds. The only way you can be saved by deeds is to live perfectly in every aspect of life. Even the smallest slip, even the slightest sin, ruins your record. In fact, no one except Jesus ever earned Godís acceptance because every one messes up (Romans 3:23).
Second, come to grips with the reality that all Christians remain saved by grace. Iíve never met a believer who lived a perfect Christian life. The Apostle John went so far as to say, "If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us." (1 John 1:8 NIV) Keep in mind that Scripture recognizes no degrees of sin. Gossip and murder are both sins; neither is more serious than the other.
Third, come to grips with the reality that God loves His children in spite of their failures. He did not love you because you performed well. He demonstrated the truth of "love your enemies." (See Romans 5:6, 8). If He loved you before you became His child, what makes you think He wonít love you or requires performance after you become His child?
Fourth, come to grips with the reality that this should give you tremendous assurance. Scripture never intimates you can be saved one minute and lost the next. There is no Scripture that suggests God forsakes you when you slip or sin. Jesus said, "My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Fatherís hand." (John 10:29 NIV*)
Now that sounds like you can never be lost once saved. Right?
Fifth, come to grips with the reality that there is a sin unto death. There is a sin that, when committed, will lead to eternal death. Thatís true for the unbeliever and thatís also true for you if you fall away. Iím not talking about a momentary lapse. Iím talking about falling away and never coming back. Hear the writer of Hebrews, (Mike's notes added in brackets and emphasis added in bold text) "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened [sounds like a Christian], who have tasted the heavenly gift [this too], who have shared in the Holy Spirit [only Christians get the Holy Spirit], who have tasted the goodness of the word of God [thatís Christians] and the powers of the coming age [ibid], if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance while1 to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace." (Hebrews 6:4-6 NIV - 1note that, instead of "repentance while", the NIV text reads "repentance because", with "repentance while" as the alternate reading in the footnote)
The sin unto death is the total denial of what you know is true. It is "suppressing the truth" and denying the Father who loves you. That is a sin which can cause you to lose what you had!
Sixth, come to grips with the reality that you and I are no judge of when someone else reaches that point. It is up to us to make sure we remain faithful so we can inherit the crown of life.
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* NIV note on "all" in John 10:29: "Many early manuscripts What my Father has given me is greater than all"
Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. NIV. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.