Can A Person Lose Their Salvation?

By: Rev. Joseph R. Kramer April 21, 2004 “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.” – Hebrews 6:1-6 (NIV) Can a person lose their salvation? This is a question that has caused much confusion and has often been debated about. I will attempt to first define what Salvation is and how to attain it. I will then attempt to give an overview of each viewpoint, Calvinism and Armenianism, and some scriptures that seem to back both sides on this subject, and in my conclusion I will attempt to relay my conclusions on this subject. All scripture quoted in this paper are from the New International version (NIV) of the Bible. Our first job in this process is to define salvation. Salvation is used 122 times in the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible. The Hebrew word for salvation is “ysûuaœh” and the number for it is 3802 in the G/K numbering system, it means “salvation, deliverance, help, rescue from a dangerous circumstance or harmful state by a savior; divine salvation usually has its focus on rescue from earthly enemies, occasionally referring to salvation from guilt, sin, and punishment” (NIV Study Bible). The Greek word for salvation is “soœteœria” which is number 5401 in the G/K numbering system, it means “salvation, rescue, deliverance, the state of not being in grave danger and so being safe; this can refer to ordinary dangers and conditions on earth, but it usually refers to the

Kramer 2 state of believers being safe from righteous wrath in a proper relationship with God” (NIV Study Bible). Salvation is when we accept, through faith, what Christ did on the cross for us. Jesus is the only begotten Son of God who came to the earth to die for our sins. Jesus was born of a virgin named Marry. He lived Thirty years and then did miracles for three years before he died, which included raising the dead, healing the blind, and restoring limbs. He was perfect in every way, he did nothing wrong, which is being sinless, he then was accused of a crime he did not commit and sent to a Roman Cross to die for all of our sins. He was dead for two days and on the third day he rose again. Believing and accepting this through faith is the only way we receive his sacrifice and this is salvation. What Jesus Christ did on the cross was objective for all of human kind; “However, it would also be a serious mistake to view the work of reconciliation and redemption as becoming effective without our participation. This is far from the truth. God has done everything on His part, but you must receive it, else we are still in our sins” (Williams 13). Salvation cannot be apart from the calling of God for a sinner to receive Him, this is often called effectual calling. The calling of God is “sometimes described as ‘effectual calling,’ that is to say, the calling of God that is effectual unto salvation. This is the most frequent use of the word ‘call’ in the New Testament” (Williams 14). This can be seen by the writings of the Apostle Peter in 1 Peter 2:9 which states “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” Paul writes in 2 Timothy 1:8-9 “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of

Kramer 3 me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life — not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time,” and Mr. Williams states, “Both [verses] are expressions of [the] calling of God wherein salvation comes about” (Williams 15). In these two paragraphs we see the message of salvation and what it is, then we see that we cannot receive salvation unless God first calls us and then we make a decision to give our hearts to Jesus Christ. As has been seen from our word study, salvation in its context is the cleansing of sin from a person, and being brought into right relationship with God. We are saved out of the sinking boat of sin, and brought into the warship of Christ Jesus. Our Second job in this process is to show the viewpoint of the Calvinists on this subject, known as eternal security. The Bible teaches us that we are to rejoice in our salvation. Is it truly possible for me to “go on my way rejoicing if there be doubts in my mind whether God will continue to deal graciously with me and complete that work which He has begun in my soul? How can I sincerely thank God for having delivered me from the wrath to come if it is quite possible I may yet be cast in Hell” (Pink 16)? This position also holds that if it were possible to lose your salvation, then it would “entail a defeated Father, who was balked of the realization of His purpose: a disappointed Son, who would never see the full travail of His soul and be satisfied; and a disgrace Spirit, who had failed to preserve those entrusted to His care” (Pink 17). These are excellent common sense/thought arguments.

Kramer 4 In Mr. Pink’s book he shows that there have been many misconceptions and many errors when writing about the eternal security doctrine and he quotes Spurgeon on page twenty-two of his book, which states, “The scripture does not teach that a man will reach his journey’s end without continuing to travel along the road; it is not true that one act of faith is all, and that nothing is needed of daily faith, prayer and watchfulness. Our doctrine is the very opposite, namely, that the righteous shall hold on his way [Job 17:9]: or, in other words, shall continue in faith, in repentance, in prayer, and under the influence of the grace of God. We do not believe in salvation by a physical force which treats a man as a dead log, and carries him whether he will it or not towards heaven. No, ‘he holds on his way’, he is personally active about the matter, and plods on up hill and down dale till he reaches his journey’s end. We never though that merely because a man supposes that he once entered on this way he may therefore conclude that he is certain of salvation, even if he leaves the way immediately. No, but we say that he who truly receives the Holy Spirit [gift of salvation], so that he believes in the Lord Jesus Christ, shall not go back, but persevere in the way of faith…We detest the doctrine that a man who has once believed in Jesus will be saved even if he altogether forsook the path of obedience.” Some of the more popular scriptures are 1 Samuel 2:9 which states, “He will guard the feet of his saints, but the wicked will be silenced in darkness. “It is not by strength that one prevails.” Psalms 37:28 states, “For the LORD loves the just and will not forsake his faithful ones. They will be protected forever…” Romans 8:27, which says, “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” 2 Thessalonians 1:10 “on the

Kramer 5 day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed. This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you.” These are just a few of the scripture if I were to give all scriptures this paper would end up being much longer than it need to be to prove their point. The Calvinists also take the scriptures that are quoted by the Armenians and say they use them out of context, such as the scripture opened with in this paper, they say Paul is talking about a theory not actuality, or that if you take the scripture and put it back into the context of Hebrew chapter six and Hebrews chapter five that you will see that he is talking about ministry, and not our salvation, but our work for Jesus Christ in evangelism in this life. Our third job in this process is to show the Armenian, or conditional security, position. Mr. Jessop in his book gives a good overview of this position. He states, “…the Armenian interpretation is far from the thought of being ‘Saved today and lost tomorrow’ as some of our Calvinistic friends so sneeringly charge. We cannot conceive of any soul consciously born again and sanctified wholly being so fickle as that. The soul most fully aware of the awful possibility of backsliding is the one who is least likely to do it. None but a fool positive would want to walk deliberately out of light into darkness, out of the glorious liberty of the sons of God into the awful bondage of sin; there are, however, those who have done it, therefore we need to take heed. There is no place this side heaven from which a saved soul may not fall, and if remaining unrepentant that soul will be finally lost” (Jessop 36). Some people of this persuasion believe that God will never override humanities free will. An example they will use is Romans 8:38, which states, “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future,

Kramer 6 nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” They say none of these things can separate us from God, but one thing that is not listed in this list is the one who has received salvation. They believe that we as humans can walk away from Christ if we choose to do so. Another verse they will use is John 6:66 which states, “From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.” Mr. Anderson outlines three points: “(1) They had ‘walked with Jesus’ for some time. Walking in the scriptures implies fellowship. ‘Enoch walked with God’ ‘Can two walk together except they be agreed?’ ‘We walk by faith.’ (2) At a certain time they ceased to walk with Him. They broke fellowship. (3) They never returned, ‘they walked no more with him.’ It cannot be proven that none of these was converted, but it is plainly stated that they forsook Christ and never returned” (Anderson 55). One of the main scriptures used for this point of view is John 15:2-6, “He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.” The last scripture I will cover is Romans 11:21-22 which states, “For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also

Kramer 7 will be cut off.” These are just a few of the scripture if I were to give all scriptures this paper would end up being much longer than it need to be to prove their point. Just like the Calvinists the Armenians say that the Calvinists take the scriptures that they use and ignore the plain meaning of scripture as well as use them out of context. In conclusion, this paper was not designed to be a thorough understanding of the eternal security debate; rather it is to give a brief look at each point of view. From my personal study of scripture I must say that I tend to lean toward the Calvinists point of view. I must say that historically and in contemporary society each side has its own followings because they both have good points. So the question must be asked, “will there ever be a solution to this debate?” I must say that there will be no solution to this debate. The only way to solve this debate is to get to heaven and ask God Himself. My hope is that those who read this paper will see the content and it will spur that person on to do their own study, and to go much deeper than what is presented.

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Works Cited
Erickson, Millard J. Christian Theology: Second Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1998. Graham, Billy. How To Be Born Again. Waco, TX: Word Books, Publisher, 1977. NIV Study Bible: Complete Library for Macintosh. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 2001. Rhodes, Ron. The Complete Book of Bible Answers. Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1997. Salvation. 4/10/2004. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. <http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=salvation>. Table 1 Subject Category: Salvation. July 14, 2002 <http://www.leaderu.com/wri-table1/salvation.html>. Williams, J. Rodman. Renewal Theology Volume II. Grand Rapids, Michigan 49530: Zondevan, 1996.