Post Author: Bill Pratt
Once a person is justified (saved), can they lose their salvation? This seems like an important question, but there are differing views within Christendom.
Calvinists, both moderate and 5-point, affirm eternal security. Eternal security is the idea that once a person is truly saved, he can never lose his salvation. Calvinists point to many verses that seem to teach eternal security, such as 1 John 5:13, John 6:37, John 6:39-40, and John 10:27-28.
Arminians, both classical and Wesleyan, believe that a person can lose his salvation. Classical Arminians believe that a person who apostasizes (denies that Jesus is the Son of God) loses his salvation. Wesleyans believe that there are several (the number varies) serious sins, that if willfully committed, cause a person to lose his salvation. This position is similar to the Roman Catholic view.
I happen to agree with the Calvinists on this issue, that once a person is truly saved, it is forever.
But there is another question to consider. How does a person know he was ever saved in the first place? According to Norman Geisler, a person can know they were saved if they “manifest the fruit of the Spirit (cf. Gal. 5:22-23). He adds,
Throughout his first epistle John lists ways we can know that we are one of God’s elect:
(1) if we keep His commandments (2:3);
(2) if we keep His Word (2:4);
(3) if we walk in love (2:5);
(4) if we love the brethren (3:14);
(5) if we love in deed, not only in word (3:19);
(6) if we have the Holy Spirit within us (3:24);
(7) if we love one another (4:13); and
(8) if we don’t continue in sin (5:18; cf. 3:9).
I’ve discussed this issue with my Catholic friends and they always point out that when someone apostasizes or appears to be living in egregious sin, Calvinists like to say, “He was never saved in the first place.” This seems like a convenient way to never allow a person to lose his salvation! They have a point. We truly do not know about other people’s salvation and we shouldn’t be making judgments about that. We can judge their fruit, but never their salvation. God just does not give us that information.
However, with regard to our own salvation, I think we can be sure if we examine ourselves, as suggested above. I can’t imagine going through my Christian walk, wondering every day if I was really saved. I settled that issue a long time ago. Have you?