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About three years ago, one of my friends admitted to me that he believed that true Christians could lose their salvation. I remember going home that evening quite dismayed that someone with whom I served in ministry actually believed that God was not powerful enough to keep His children from falling away permanently.

I also have to admit that I once briefly toyed with this idea as well. But unlike my friend, I am convinced by God’s Word that true believers will never lose their salvation. The numerous promises of God regarding the security of the believer (i.e. John 10:27–28; Rom. 8:38–39) convince me that the true children of God will always remain His.

It should not be surprising that many Christians believe that their salvation is in danger. All of us have known people who have fallen away from Christ never to return. When we see this happen to someone who seemed to love God truly, it can become easy to doubt the security of our own salvation.

Though our experience tends to shape our theology, we know that our final authority must be Scripture. The problem is that some passages in Scripture seem to support the contention that salvation can be lost. Perhaps the most famous and most difficult passage of all is Hebrews 6:1–8.

Hebrews, which seems to question perseverance in some places, affirms the believer’s security when it states that Christ saves His people to the uttermost (7:25). But troublesome texts still remain. These isolated texts are easier to understand if we keep two things in mind.

First, the Bible is written in the context of covenant. The group of people with whom God covenants always includes both true and false believers. Passages like Hebrews 6 have those who falsely profess faith in mind when they warn of finally falling away.

Second, when God speaks to us, He cannot say everything, at least not all at once because we could not handle that. That is why we have 66 different books of the Bible. Every passage has to be read with every other passage of Scripture in mind. We cannot go only to one proof text and ignore the rest of Scripture.

In the end, those who deny the believer’s security deny not only texts that affirm perseverance, but also even clearer biblical truths. If our salvation is not secure, then it is really up to us to keep us in God’s favor.

Apostasy and How It Happens

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From the April 2004 Issue
Apr 2004 Issue