Can Salvation Be Lost?

The Issue: The discussion had to do with soteriology. A person who holds to Arminian doctrine had declared that, as a consequence of backsliding. a saint might lose his salvation. There was disagreement from others, some of whom espoused the classic fundamentalist (Calvinist) teaching that salvation, once granted by God, is eternal. One of these wrote:

I believe that salvation can never be lost, because it is not given to us for us to hold onto. Christ holds onto us.

The Response: I have often asked Arminian apologists to provide Scriptural support for the false doctrine that salvation can be lost. I have yet to read any proffered verses that satisfied these requests. Occasionally, a verse or two would be cited—-often from the Old Testament and always out of context—-but seldom did the writer attempt to explain how the verse applies.

Given the absence of supporting Scripture, I invite those who believe that salvation may be lost to thoughtfully consider what follows.

Salvation is by grace through faith, both of which are gifts from God. (Ephesians 2:8,9). It must be that, in the Arminian understanding, God also withdraws His gifts of grace and faith when He calls back the salvation previously granted. Given that man is weak and may frequently yield to temptation, with the mortal effect that his salvation is withdrawn, how many “second chances” does God afford those who frequently fall short of His–dare I suggest it?—arbitrary requirements for continuation in the saved state? Is there a set number of failures that will result in the permanent loss of salvation?

Once a sinner responds in faith to God's grace and is saved, he becomes a son and heir of God through Christ. (Galatians 4:4-7). By virtue of losing salvation, is the adoption cancelled and is he disinherited?

We are redeemed by Christ, Who paid our sin debt by His blood. When one loses salvation, must Christ then be again crucified in order to pay the new sin debt? How many times shall Christ be nailed on the tree in order to satisfy the blood debt due to God?

Scripture tells us that Jesus' final utterance, spoken just moments before He died, was “It is finished.” (John 19:30). The Greek term translated as “It is finished,” is Tetelestai. It cannot be translated in a single word. In English, it must be rendered as a phrase; “It is finished.” In translation, the term loses some of its power. In the Greek, the implication is that something has come to an end; that it has been completed, perfected, accomplished in full. Whatever that something is, it has consequences that will endure on and on. Given the fuller meaning of the Jesus' final pronouncement, are we to believe that He lied; or that the consequences of His blood sacrifice were not enduring, but limited in time and application?

Given that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:33), are we to believe that our all-knowing God is playing some perverse game with His creation? Why else would He, in the Arminian understanding, grant the gifts of grace, faith and forgiveness to those He knows will yield to sin again? I cannot imagine God gloating in His glory as He alternately dispenses forgiveness and salvation to hapless man and then withdraws it. Can you?

Just some things to think on.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. John 5:25 --John 5:24, KJV

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