Losing One’s Salvation

Wednesday, Oct. 26                                                         

Can a person lose his salvation? There are N.T. passages that seem to support both sides of this issue.  The Greek word for “saved” has a broad meaning.  It is used for being converted to Christianity.  It can also mean physically being spared from some negative situation.  It can be translated saved, delivered, spared, or protected.  So context becomes very important.  Let’s start with the use of the word as meaning conversion to Christ.  It is used by Peter in his sermon on the day of Pentecost.  Acts 2:21.  “And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”  This is clear and needs no further comment.  Now, let’s turn to passages that are not so clear.  Mt. 24:13 and Mk. 13:13 use the same Greek word, but the context is different.  “But he who stands firm to the end will be saved.”  The “stand firm” of the NIV is rendered “endure” in the KJV.  Both of these might suggest the idea of losing one’s salvation.  But the most likely meaning is that those who survive the tribulation will enter into the millennium.  The word for “saved” here might be better translated “spared” or “delivered.”  Believers who died for their faith during that persecution are saved—as the word is used by Peter in Acts 2.  There are also two difficult passages in Hebrews—Heb. 6:4-6 and 10:26-31.  Both seem to be dealing with losing one’s salvation, which doesn’t agree with other passages of Scripture.   Efforts to reconcile these passages with other Scriptures result in three or four different interpretations.  The arguments are complex and involve nuances of Greek words, meticulous study of other passages, and theological terminology that make it very difficult to be dogmatic as to an interpretation.  For that reason I will concentrate on the results of these studies and dispense with the process.  Most evangelicals agree that it can’t mean a person can lose his salvation.  It’s worth noting that the word “saved” never appears in either of these two Hebrews passages.  I believe that these two passages describe people that had sufficient knowledge of the gospel to choose whether or not to accept Christ as Savior.  I think they made a confession of faith, but did not meet the repentance requirement.  They posed as Christians (deliberately or unknowingly) without really embracing it, falling short of trusting in Christ.  The parable of the sower (Mt. 13) is helpful here.  And I have respect for those who have a different view on these passages.

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