Among Arminians there is this notion that men can “fall away” – that is that once a person is saved they can, somehow, lose their salvation, if they choose to walk away from God (Whether one “choosing to walk away from God” is how all Arminians see this issue of how losing salvation is brought about, I know not; this is merely how it has been explained to me by them). And while they’ve been able to at least somewhat articulate their belief, not once have they ever quoted scripture to me concerning this matter; regardless, I wish to dive into this matter and really explore this matter without labels i.e. I do not intent to say, “I’m a Calvinist therefore Perseverance of The Saints,” because while that is true (I am a Calvinist’s Calvinist and adhere to all the Doctrines of Grace) I don’t wish to give the typical response. I wish to give everyone who reads this a (possibly) new perspective on this issue that I myself just came to the realization of. Now with that said that does not mean I will not use “proof-texts” such as John 10:27-29, on the contrary I will examine the scriptures that uphold the biblical truth concerning salvation. But enough introductory words, let’s get into this topic.
Now some may say that it is possible to fall away, to lose their salvation. They say this because they see people who seem to be followers of Christ, who go to church, who know scripture, and then go off to college and come back an atheist. Or who fall into certain life styles and such. And these real-life examples are what they generally use – as I stated earlier, I have not once been quoted scripture in favor of this Arminian notion – to support their position. And while these “real-life” examples may seem hard to argue against I must remind us all that scripture trumps all life experiences that we may have; I would further remind people reading this that taking our own life experiences above the authority of scripture leads to one end: believing a lie, whether that lie be free will, Catholicism, atheism, agnosticism, or relativism, or any other lie. So while those “real-life” experiences may seem to be over scripture I call you all to remember that it is not “scripture” but rather “Scripture”. This is the very word of the sovereign God, and therefore what it says overrides whatever we’d like to think about anything. Now this notion of people losing their salvation: what does this whole issue rest upon? Many will point to the sovereignty of God in salvation, and they are right, the sovereignty of God in salvation is part of this whole controversy, but I’d wish to call your attention to the very core of salvation: atonement. Truly this is the core of salvation: for only with the atonement of Christ there is salvation, but without the atonement of Christ there is absolutely no salvation. And because of that fact, the losing of salvation heavily relates to atonement. So let’s look at atonement.
How are we justified in God’s sight? Through what is atonement accomplished? Divine scripture is very clear on this:
23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus. – Romans 3:23-26
Here Paul says that we are “justified by his grace as a gift,” through what? “Through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” We see clearly that through Christ we are justified, by his redemption which is a propitiation of his blood, not by works or anything that we do, as the apostle more clearly states: “20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20). Very clearly it is not by our works, but by grace as he says in another place: “8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Thus it is not our own righteousness that saves us, and why is that? Well quite simply, because our “good works” are like filthy rags before the eyes of a holy God.
So then if not by our own righteousness, then by who’s righteousness are we justified before God? We know they by faith we are justified, but by faith in what? Faith in a guy who died on a cross? No there’s more to it than that. You see as scripture says, God will not justify the guilty (“keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.” – Exodus 34:7) so therefore there must some sort of transferring of righteousness between two parties to make us righteous in the sight of God. We have faith upon Christ to supply that righteousness that is given to us through faith as the prophet says:
1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by. – Zechariah 3:1-5
We are Joshua in this passage, and the clean robes that we (those that are in Christ) wear are not our own but they were given to us. And the wee given to us from Christ, and he took our filthy clothes and bore the punishment that is rightfully ours for us, as it is written: 4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. 5 But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. (Isaiah 53:4-5).
Clearly we see that Christ’s death, His holy life, and his resurrection are the things that justify us. Now you are probably asking yourself, “What does this have to do with whether or not one can lose their salvation?” But consider, my dear brothers and sisters in Christ, what the implications of Christ’s righteousness, Christ’s death and resurrection, being the thing that justifies you is. Consider these questions: if it is by the righteousness of Christ and by the punishment that He endured for us, how then can we lose our salvation? If we can lose our salvation by anything that we do, that would mean that we can make the righteousness of Christ and the payment of Christ on our behalf defective. Tell me, o man, how can we make Christ’s righteousness unrighteous? How can we nullify what He has done? Does not Paul say, “3 What if some were unfaithful? Does their faithlessness nullify the faithfulness of God? 4 By no means! Let God be true though every one were a liar, as it is written, “That you may be justified in your words, and prevail when you are judged.” ” (Romans 3:3-4)? If God is true even thought every man be a liar, then must not Christ be righteous though every man is a sinner?
As you can see, nothing we can do will ever make the righteousness of Christ any less righteous than it is, how then can we lose our salvation if it is based on Christ’s righteousness, which we cannot affect? We cannot affect Christ’s righteousness, therefore we cannot affect what our salvation rests upon, therefore we cannot affect our salvation.
And that is why Calvinists say: If saved, always saved. Why? Because how can we make the righteousness that saves us, which isn’t ours but Christ’s, unrighteous? Simply we cannot do that, it is literally impossible.
And furthermore, Christ says:
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. – John 10:27-29
When Christ says that “no one will snatch them out of my hand” he mean it. “No one” means no one, nobody, no one! When he says that “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand,” it means NO ONE has the power, the ability, to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. And if no one means no one, then that includes the sheep, the redeemed. Therefore it is impossible for us to lose our salvation.
Once held, never lost.
Blessings to all my brothers and sisters in the faith,