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Bible Study Can A Christian Lose Salvation and sin of apostasy

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Question:  "Can a Christian lose salvation?"

  

Answer:  Before this question is answered, the term “Christian” must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer, or walked down an aisle, or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what “makes” a Christian. A Christian is a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).

            So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? Perhaps the best way to answer this crucially important question is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation, and to study what losing salvation would therefore entail. Here are a few examples:

            A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse speaks of a person becoming an entirely new creature as a result of being “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be canceled and reversed.

            A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19).

The word “redeemed” refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase that He paid for with the precious blood of Christ.

            A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1).

To “justify” means to “declare righteous.” All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and undeclare what He had previously declared.

            A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).

Eternal life is a promise of eternity (forever) in Heaven with God. God promises, “believe and you will have eternal life.”

For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be taken away. If a Christian is promised to live forever, how then can God break this promise by taking away eternal life?

            A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30).

As we learned in Romans 5:1, justification is declared at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification is guaranteed for all those whom God justifies. Glorification refers to a Christian receiving a perfect resurrection body in Heaven.

If a Christian can lose salvation, Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.

            Many more illustrations of what occurs at salvation could be shared. Even these few, though, make it abundantly clear that a Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says occurs to a person when he/she receives Jesus Christ as Savior would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation cannot be reversed.

A Christian cannot be un-newly created. Redemption cannot be undone. Eternal life cannot be lost and still be considered eternal. If a Christian can lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and change His mind - two things that Scripture tells us God never does.

             The most frequent objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation are: (1) what about those who are Christians and continually live an immoral lifestyle? – and – (2) what about those who are Christians but later reject the faith and deny Christ?

The problem with these two objections is the assumption “are Christians.” (1) The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle (1 John 3:6). (2) The Bible declares that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he/she never truly was a Christian (1 John 2:19).

            No, a Christian cannot lose salvation.

Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39).

Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28-29).

 God is both willing and able to guarantee and maintain the salvation He has given us.

Jude 24-25, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

Question: "If our salvation is eternally secure, why does the Bible warn so strongly against apostasy?"

 APOSTASY — a falling away from the faith.

Some of the noted apostates in the Bible are: King Saul, who turned back from following the Lord (1 Sam. 15:11); Hymenaeus and Alexander, who “suffered shipwreck” of their faith (1 Tim. 1:19–20); and Demas, who forsook the apostle Paul because he loved this present world (2 Tim. 4:10).

Apostasy is generally defined as the determined, willful rejection of Christ and His teachings by a Christian believer (Heb. 10:26–29 10:25 then we should continue to meet together and not desert the local fellowship, as some do. This may be considered as a general exhortation for all believers to be faithful in their church attendance. Without question we find strength, comfort, nourishment, and joy in collective worship and service.

It may also be looked on as a special encouragement for Christians going through times of persecution. There is always the temptation to isolate oneself in order to avoid arrest, reproach, and suffering, and thus to be a secret disciple.

But basically the verse is a warning against apostasy. To forsake the local assembly here means to turn one’s back on Christianity and revert to Judaism. Some were doing this when this Letter was written. There was need to exhort one another, especially in view of the nearness of Christ’s Return. When He comes, the persecuted, ostracized, despised believers will be seen to be on the winning side. Until then, there is need for steadfastness.

10:26 Now the writer introduces his fourth grim warning. As in the previous cases, it is a warning against apostasy, here described as a deliberate sin.

As has been indicated, there is considerable disagreement among Christians as to the real nature of this sin. The problem, in brief, is whether it refers to:

1. True Christians who subsequently turn away from Christ and are lost.

2. True Christians who backslide but who are still saved.

3. Those who profess to be Christians for a while, identify themselves with a local church, but then deliberately turn away from Christ. They were never truly born again, and now they never can be.

No matter which view we hold, there are admitted difficulties. We believe that the third view is the correct one because it is most consistent with the over-all teaching of Hebrews and of the entire NT.

Here in verse 26 apostasy is defined as sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth. Like Judas, the person has heard the gospel. He knows the way of salvation; he has even pretended to receive it; but then he deliberately repudiates it.

For such a person, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins. He has decisively and conclusively rejected the once-for-all sacrifice of Christ. Therefore God has no other way of salvation to offer to him.

Answer:  The reason the Bible warns us so strongly against apostasy is because true conversion is measured by visible fruit.

 When John the Baptist was baptizing people in the Jordan River, he warned those who thought they were righteous to “bear fruits in keeping with repentance” (Matthew 3:7).

Jesus warned those who were listening to Him while He was giving the Sermon on the Mount that every tree can be known by its fruit (Matthew 7:16) and that! every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire (Matthew 7:19).

The purpose behind these warnings is to counter what some people would call “easy-believism.”

In other words, following Jesus is more than saying you are a Christian. Anyone can claim Christ as Savior, but those who are truly saved will bear visible fruit.

Now one may ask the question, “What is meant by fruit?”

The clearest example of Christian fruit can be found in Galatians 5:22-23 where Paul describes the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There are other types of Christian fruit (such as praise, winning souls for Christ), but this list provides us with a good summary of Christian attitudes.

A true believer will manifest these attitudes in their life to an increasing degree as they progress in their Christian walk.

It is these true, fruit-bearing disciples who have the guarantee of eternal security, and they will persevere to the end.

There are many Scriptures that bear this out.

Romans 8:29-30 outlines the “Golden Chain” of salvation by pointing out that those who were foreknown by God were predestined, called, justified, and glorified—there is no loss along the way. Philippians 1:6 tells us that the work God began in us, he will also finish.

Ephesians 1:13-14 teaches that God has sealed us with the Holy Spirit as a guarantee of our inheritance until we possess it.

John 10:29 affirms that no one is able to take God’s sheep out of his hand. There are many other Scriptures that say the same thing—true believers are eternally secure in their salvation.

The passages warning against apostasy serve two primary purposes. First, they exhort true believers to make sure of their “calling and election.”

 Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 13:5 to examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith. If true believers are fruit-bearing followers of Jesus Christ, then we should be able to see the evidence of the fruit.

…Now, Christians bear fruit in varying degrees based on their level of obedience and their spiritual gifts, but all Christians bear fruit; and we should see the evidence of that upon self-examination.

…Now there will be periods in a Christian’s life where there is no visible fruit. These would be times of sin and disobedience. What happens during these times of prolonged disobedience is that God removes from us the assurance of our salvation. Note he doesn’t remove our salvation, but the assurance of it.

That is why David prayed in Psalm 51 to restore to him the “joy of salvation” (Psalm 51:12). We lose the joy of our salvation when we live in sin. That is why we must examine ourselves. When a true Christian examines himself and sees no recent fruitfulness, it should lead to serious repentance and a returning to God.

The second primary reason for the passages on apostasy is to point out apostates.

An apostate is someone who abandons his religious faith. Now it is clear from the Bible that apostates are people who made professions of faith in Jesus Christ, but never “sealed the deal,” so to speak.

Matthew 13:1-9 (the Parable of the Sower) illustrates this point perfectly. In that parable, a sower sows seed onto four types of soil: Hard soil, rocky soil, weed-choked soil, and freshly tilled soil.

These soils represent four types of responses to the gospel.

…The first one is pure rejection, whereas the other three represent various levels of acceptance.

…The rocky soil and the weed-choked soil represent people who initially respond favorably to the gospel but when persecution comes (rocky soil) or the cares of the world bear down (weed-choked soil), that person turns away.

Jesus makes it clear! with these two types of responses that though they initially accepted they never bore any fruit.

Again, Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount “not everyone who says, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom” (Matthew 7:21).

There are a lot of people who are willing to identify with Jesus.

Who doesn’t want eternal life and blessing?

 However, Jesus warns us to count the cost of discipleship (Luke 9:23-26, 14:25-33).

True believers have counted those costs, whereas apostates have not. They are people who when they leave the faith, give evidence they were never saved in the first place (1 John 2:19).


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