Facts About a Believer's Security
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Introduction

This essay deals with the question: "Can a Christian lose his or her salvation?"

Other names for this topic include:

  • Perseverance of the Saints
  • Eternal Security
  • Shipwreck of Faith

In this study we will look at three hypothetical cases...

  • Case "A" -- Terry quits church
  • Case "B" -- Lila the adulteress
  • Case "C" -- Marty the stiff-necked

Each case presents information that is essential to explaining the security of a Christian's salvation.

Case Study "A" -- Terry quits church
Someone says...

"I know a Christian named Terry who faithfully attended church for many years. Then one day Terry quit the church, renounced Jesus, and has sold crack cocaine for the past 8 years."

Question #A1 - Is Terry a Christian?
Given the above information, some might conclude, "Terry lost his salvation."

If so they would be assuming that going to church meant that Terry was saved. However...

  • Standing in a garage doesn't mean you're an automobile.
  • Neither does going to church mean you're a Christian.
   

When someone goes to a good church, he or she hears and is taught the Word of God.

But the verses alongside make it clear that a person may learn about the way of righteousness but never receive Jesus and be saved.

In these verses, notice that...

  • The dog never stopped being a dog
  • The sow never stopped being a sow

Thus, people who learn about righteousness and Jesus, but do not truly embrace them, are not Christians who fell away.
They were never saved in the first place!

 

It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.

Of them the proverbs are true...

  • "A dog returns to its vomit"
  • "A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud." 2 Pet 2.21-22

On the other hand, a person who truly embraces Christ is born again and becomes a NEW creature...

  • No longer a "dog" or a "sow"
  • But a true child of God
  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Cor 5.17

Seed on stony places
For more information on this point, I suggest you open your Bible and read all of Matthew 13.3-23. On the right I have extracted a couple of key verses from that passage...

  • Mt 13.20-21 makes it clear that there are APPARENT Christians who have "no root."
  • Apparent Christians may be rooted in "churchy stuff" but they are not rooted in Jesus Christ.
  • There are those who love the "church part" of Christianity. The singing. The friendly people. The exciting preaching. But their root is in church activities, not in Jesus.
  • Those who are merely church-lovers quickly fall away when tribulation or extreme temptation arises. So they "leave the faith" but they never really had it in the first place.
 

(Jesus said...) But he who received the seed on stony places...

  • This is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy
  • Yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while.
  • For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Mt 13.20-21

Question #A2 - If Terry IS a Christian, has he LOST his salvation?
We have shown that...

  • It is Biblically INCORRECT to assume that attending church means Terry was a Christian.

But (if we assume that Terry WAS a Christian)...

  • Does the fact that Terry has fallen away into deep sin mean he has LOST his salvation?
   
What God says in First John
The book of First John is a letter written to Christians, NOT to the world in general...
  That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. 1 John 1.3
  • 1 John 1.8 makes it clear that Christians DO sin.
  If we (Christians) say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. ...If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him (God) a liar, and His word is not in us. 1 John 1.8, 1.10
  • The fact that Christians DO sin is the very reason why God put First John 1.9 and First John 2.1 in His Bible.
  If we (Christians) confess our sins, He (God) is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. ...And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.
1 John 2.1b, 1 John 1.9

Thus, the fact that Terry is sinning...

  • Does NOT prove that Terry isn't a Christian
  • Does NOT prove that Terry has lost his salvation

In summary...

  • If someone goes to church, that doesn't prove she or he IS saved.
  • If someone turns to sin, that doesn't prove he or she is NOT saved.
 

This completes the discussion of Terry's case...

Our next short case -- "Lila the adulteress" -- will give you further insights into the security of believers in Christ.

To read about Lila, CLICK HERE

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