QUESTION: Hi. I have a question about salvation. I was wondering if salvation is set in stone at the moment of accepting Jesus as savior, or if it can be taken away somehow. It is really confusing me and hurting my faith in christianity in general. I have learned that much of Christianity is just like politics, and it is not settling well with me.Answer:

There is some controversy over the doctrine of “perseverence of the saints”, also known as “once saved, always saved.”  Many teach that once one is saved by the blood of Jesus, it is impossible for one to lose salvation.  This doctrine is the stepchild of Calvinism and of the predestination/original sin doctrine which originates with Augustine in the fourth century.  I believe that the biblical teaching is clear, however.  It definitely is possible for us to lose our salvation.

The purpose of the book of Hebrews is to warn against falling away and to instruct how to avoid this.  Hebrews 6:4-8 and Hebrews 10:26-31 and many other passages make it very clear that if we deny Jesus, turn our back on him, “willfully continuing in sin” then we can lose our salvation.   The entire subject of Hebrews 3:  Also 1 Peter 2:21-22 also tells us that, after being saved, if we return to the world, we are worse off than we were at the beginning.  Clearly, this includes not being saved.  I believe that God is fantastically patient with us.  However, when we are saved, the Holy Spirit comes and lives in us.  When we continuously and deliberately sin, we “insult the spirit of grace” and we “trample on the blood of Jesus.”  In that case, “no sacrifice for sins is left.”  (all quotes from Hebrews 10:26-31).   If we deliberately, rebelliously turn our back on God, then the Holy Spirit will depart, leaving us in a position of being “fallen away” (Hebrews 6:6).

This is not a matter of politics.  It is a matter of biblical teaching.

About salvation, you describe the salvation event as “accepting Jesus.”  The Bible does not use this terminology.   You will not find the phrase “accepting Christ” in the New Testament.  What you find, instead, is being baptized into Christ.  Baptism is the point in time when we are saved, when we receive the Holy Spirit and when we are forgiven (Acts 2:38).  There is some confusion about this doctrine as well.   Once we are baptized into Christ, it is possible for us to lose our salvation, although I believe that God is wonderfully gracious and patient with his children.   If you are saved and are doing your best to be faithful, you do not need to fear losing your salvation.  I suggest you read Hebrews carefully so that you can understand this  biblical teaching.

John Oakes

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