After I had become a believer in Jesus, I wrestled with many questions. However, the one issue I dealt with more than any was: Can I lose my salvation? This question haunted me and dealt a severe and vicious blow to my spiritual confidence. Why did I think this way? Were my fears justified?
As I talked with and listened to others, I realized I wasn’t the only one asking this question. Other followers of Jesus – new and mature – feared they could lose their salvation. And, not much has changed. Therefore, “Can I lose my salvation?” is still a major question in the hearts of many believers.
What Do We Mean By Salvation?
Salvation is a big Christian word. So, what are we talking about when we use it? Salvation is the transformation of a person’s status, nature, and relationship with God. This change happens as a result of repentance and faith in the death of Jesus Christ on the cross. The nature of salvation includes the following:
- Being a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17),
- God delivering us from his righteous condemnation through the death of Jesus (Romans 8:1-2);
- God delivering us from the power of sin and evil (Romans 8:2-4; Galatians 1:3-4);
- Us experiencing inner personal renewal (1 John 1:7);
- Having the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives (Romans 8:10-11).
God initiates this transformation in our lives. So, losing something God starts and secures is theological crazy-talk. It is pure absurdity. It is doctrinal ludicrousness (In my best Mike Tyson voice). Let the following verses wash over your heart:
For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16
If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved. Romans 10:9-19
If you look carefully at these verses, there is a common theme: faith, belief, and trust in Jesus = salvation. This decision is not easy believism. This choice is a settled confidence in Jesus as the only way to God. Consequently, he is the only rescuer from sin. Faith in Jesus includes renouncing or turning away from our sins and turning to Jesus as the Forgiver and Leader of our lives. Here is another significant verse:
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. Ephesians 2:8-9
As you can see in these powerful verses, God does not base salvation on human achievement or good deeds – going to church, reading our Bibles, volunteering at a soup kitchen, or giving money to a unique offering (All these things are important, but they don’t secure salvation for us). Here is another relevant verse:
he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. Titus 3:5-7
We agonize over the thought: Do I have enough good works to keep something (salvation) that good works could never secure? Do you see why this is theological crazy-talk? Good works can never be a substitute for faith. Works do not save us. They never have and they never will. Therefore, good works are clear indicators that show that our faith is genuine.
Salvation is not about stacking up more good works than bad deeds. We are saved by grace (God’s undeserved favor and mercy) through faith in Jesus (settled confidence in the work of Jesus on the cross). Christ’s death was entirely sufficient for our salvation. I like what one theologian said: So, if you confess Jesus as Lord, Forgiver, and Leader of your life, repent (turned from) of your sins, then you are saved.
Why Do We Think We Can Lose Our Salvation?
Jesus, through his death, secured our salvation. Why do we believe that we can lose our salvation? This fear stems from several root causes:
- We believe our immoral imperfections are greater than God’s grace and holiness.
- We don’t trust what God has done and declared through Jesus.
- We know we don’t have enough good deeds to outweigh our bad deeds.
- We sin daily, and we think there is no way God can be happy with us.
- We base our relationship with God on our feelings.
What To Do When You Doubt Your Salvation
- Look for evidence of transformation. As a follower of Jesus, the Holy Spirit is inside you, working to make you look more like Jesus. Therefore, we should see consistent progress – not perfection – in our desire to obey and please God. So, look for incremental life change.
- Refuse to depend on your feelings. Sometimes, we don’t feel close to God. As a result, we doubt our salvation. But, we should not base salvation on feelings; we should base it on the objective truth that Jesus died for our sins.
- Keep progressing. When you are experiencing discouragement, and doubts overwhelm you, remember that spiritual growth is a process. Therefore, what God has begun in you, through Jesus, he will finish it.
So, when doubt about your salvation starts to dog your every step, let these verses wash over your heart and give you confidence before God:
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. John 10:27-29
Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have God’s Son does not have life. I have written this to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know you have eternal life. 1 John 5:12-13