Can You Lose Your Salvation? The DEFINITIVE Answer From Scripture

Can you lose your salvation?

It was a question that haunted me. Tormented me. Sent me into an existential panic. Not only did I struggle to find assurance of salvation, but I was also terrified of losing my salvation.

And it didn’t help that I grew up in the 90’s evangelical world, where every youth conference contained at least one opportunity to “rededicate” your life to Christ. Behind this “opportunity” was the assumption that some people had, presumably, lost their salvation and needed to regain it.

Music would be playing softly and the speaker would be earnestly pleading with all the “backsliders”, inviting them to be on fire for Jesus again (there was a lot of fire in the 90’s). Tears would be shed, hands would be raised, and kids would stream to the front for prayer (and usually some sort of group hug).

To top it all off, in answer to the question, “Can you lose your salvation?” Hebrews 6 seems to say, “Yes.”

What was I supposed to make of these spiritually terrifying words? Can you lose your salvation? Would it slip from my grasp, like a gem covered in grease (I think that analogy works)?

Maybe you can relate to this. Maybe the question of, “Can you lose your salvation?” torments you. Or maybe you know someone who struggles like I did.

So what does scripture really say? It there any biblical proof that you can lose your salvation, even if you’re a genuine Christian?

Can You Lose Your Salvation? Not If It’s All From God

The Bible makes it clear that you can’t lose your salvation because it’s all from God. We are not saved because of anything good in us. Rather, when we are dead in our transgressions and sins, God causes us to become alive to him. God chooses us to be saved even though we would never choose him.

As Ephesians 2:4-5 puts it:

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved…

Being chosen in Christ and made alive together with Christ is the first link in the unbreakable chain of salvation. From start to finish, salvation is ALL of God. It starts with him choosing us in Christ to be saved.

Can you lose your salvation? Not if salvation is all from God.

Can You Lose Your Salvation? Not If God Will Preserve You

lose your salvation

Again and again, God makes it very clear that he will keep and preserve every true believer. In John 6:39-40, Jesus speaks these sweet words of comfort:

And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.

God has given believers to Jesus. I belong to him, he owns me, and he is very possessive of me. He doesn’t play fast and loose with his people.

Jesus himself has promised that on that final day, when he returns in staggering glory, I will be raised up to eternal life. Nothing can stop Jesus from fulfilling that promise. If Jesus has said that he will hold me fast until his return, I can be absolutely sure that he will.

In other words, I won’t lose my salvation.

Notice that this passage is all about what God will do. It’s not about my ability to persevere or hold fast to Jesus. It’s not about my ability to make it through intense suffering.

It’s not like a spiritual Hunger Games, with Jesus saying, “Only the strong will make it to the end.”

The reason you can’t lose your salvation is that Jesus himself is holding you fast and has promised to keep you till the end.

R.C. Sproul helpfully puts it this way:

[Christians] persevere not because they are so diligent in making use of the mercies of God. The only reason we can give why any of us continue on in the faith is because we have been preserved…My confidence in my preservation is not in my ability to persevere. My confidence rests in the power of Christ to sustain me with His grace and by the power of His intercession. He is going to bring us safely home.

In other words, Jesus will hold me fast in his invincible, unbreakable, unstoppable grip until the final day. I won’t lose my salvation because Jesus is holding on to me.

So can you lose your salvation? Not if God is the one who is preserving you.

Can You Lose Your Salvation? Not If God Will Finish What He Began

can you lose your salvation yes

In Philippians 1:6, Paul says, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”

There was more dysfunction in Paul’s churches than most reality television shows. The Corinthians were getting pasted at the Lord’s Supper, the Galatians were on the verge of abandoning the gospel, the Colossians were tempted to worship angels, and two women were duking it out in the Philippian church.

And yet, Paul could confidently say that God would finish the good work he started in them. They would not lose their salvation or fall away from God. God would continue working in them and keep them as his children.

How could Paul be confident that any of these people would persevere until Christ’s return?

Because God was the one who started the work of salvation and God would be the one who would complete it.

Can you lose your salvation? No, because God himself is the one in charge of completing what he began.

This gives me an incredible amount of peace. If my final salvation were up to me, I wouldn’t make it. I’m sure of that. I’m no spiritual Superman or hero (to paraphrase Dave Matthews). Without God holding me fast, I would be prone to wander and eventually fall away.

But God is the one who is working in me. He caused me to be born again and he will continue to work in me until that final day when I’m fully conformed to the image of Christ.

This is the glory of the new covenant in Christ. Israel was unable to consistently follow God. They constantly wandered into idolatry and wickedness, fundamentally lacking the power to keep God’s law. They could, and often did, “lose” the salvation God offered. Despite all their best efforts, Israel couldn’t remain faithful to God.

And so God promised to do something new and revolutionary: to write his law on the hearts of his people. In Jeremiah 31:33-34, the Lord speaks these breathtaking words:

For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.

In answer to the question, “Can you lose your salvation?” this passage (and others like it) give me great peace. One of the central promises of the New Covenant is that God writes his law on my heart. He gives me both the desire to obey and the power to do it. The reason I won’t lose my salvation is because he has burned his laws upon my heart and is giving the strength to obey.

God the Father ordained my salvation in eternity past.

God the Son purchased my salvation through his life, death, and resurrection.

And God the Spirit now dwells within me, convicting me of sin and compelling me to follow Christ.

From beginning to end, my salvation (and yours) is all of God.

can you lose your salvation scriptures

If you fear losing your salvation, these passages are your peace. Your comfort. Your rest.

What About The Warnings In Hebrews 6 Regarding Losing Your Salvation?

Of course, this does raise a rather sticky question: what about the passages of scripture that seem to warn against falling away?

For example, Hebrews 6:4-6 says:

For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance…

That sure makes it seems like I can fall away from Christ after being saved. It sounds like I can lose my salvation. So what am I supposed to make of these passages?

First, I have to acknowledge that there is a real tension between these warnings and the promises noted above. I need to avoid the common mistake of rounding off the sharp edges of the passage and I need to feel the full weight of its meaning.

So how am I to interpret these passages?

They are passages of severe warning meant to push me to persevere in Christ.

This is where the mystery of God’s providence and my responsibility collide. Does God promise that he will keep me to the end? Yes. Does he assure me that nothing can separate me from the love of God in Christ? Absolutely. Does he ease my fears when it comes to losing my salvation? Yes.

But also…

Does God also call me to put aside every sin and to run hard after him? Yes. Does he warn me against the danger of rejecting Christ and embracing sin? Absolutely.

Do I have to reconcile these things so that they fit perfectly together? Nope.

I like how Ardel Caneday says it:

The preacher [in Hebrews 6] expects us to take to heart both the urgent warning against a final departing from Christ (6:4–8) and the admonition to assured confidence in God’s promise (6:9–20) without any whisper of contradiction. He doesn’t admonish us to doubt the inheritance that God assures us by his sworn oath and promise. God regularly uses warnings and consolations or threats and promises together to secure us in the way of salvation.

In other words, I’m called to heed the warning of Hebrews 6 without doubting that God will also keep me to the end. I’m called to fight sin diligently, knowing that God himself is working in me.

Additionally, the warning passages themselves function as a means of God helping me to persevere to the end.

I don’t have to somehow make everything fit together. If I do that, I’ll end up minimizing either the promises of perseverance or the warnings against falling away. Instead, I need to embrace both and let the tension exist.

Paul lays out this tension beautifully in Philippians 2:12-13:

Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

Yes, I am to work out my salvation, knowing that if I don’t fight against my sin there will be serious consequences. But I fight from a place of peace, knowing that God himself is working in me, making me like Jesus.

He Will Hold Me Fast

Are we called to work out our salvation with fear and trembling? Yes. But can you lose your salvation? No.

That’s such sweet news to me, because if I could lose it, I already would have.

Charles Spurgeon helpfully puts it this way:

I think few doctrines more vital than that of the perseverance of the saints, for if ever one child of God did perish, or if I knew it were possible that one could, I should conclude at once that I must, and I suppose each of you would do the same. And then where is the joy and happiness of the gospel?


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38 thoughts on “Can You Lose Your Salvation? The DEFINITIVE Answer From Scripture”

  1. Stephen, It’s true that a Christian can’t lose salvation because God has promised eternal life to those who have accepted Jesus’ atonement for our sins. However, a person can stop being a Christian, reject Jesus and, in that way, lose salvation. Don’t confuse us with an absolute “no” when the truth is “no if you remain a Christian”. Be very careful to tell the whole truth.

    • Hey Steven!

      I agree with you…mostly. This is where it gets into the issues of our free will and God’s sovereignty. I believe that God will keep his people from rejecting him, and that those who do reject Christ will be punished for their sins.

      “Christians” who turn from Christ would fit into 1 John 2:19 which says, “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.”

      In other words, God will keep all of his people until that final day. Those who depart from Christ were never actually of Christ. Does that make sense?

      • 1 John 2 does rightly describe some folk. But the Calvinistic approach that salvation is only proven by the fact someone remains is works theology. It’s God starts it you finish it.
        What this doesn’t account for is genuine Christians, who through reasons, like manipulative religion which spiritual abuses its followers produce wounds and bitterness that cause some to walk away. I have seen this happen. Grace is eternal. If the wounded never return are they doomed to hell? No. You can’t take one passage and formulate a dogmatic doctrine from it. John is speaking of people who were never saved. I am speaking of those who were genuinely saved. Fruit was clearly seen but through hurts, oppression and life in a fallen world they fell away.
        I just believe the Calvinistic one size fits all response isn’t accurate or applicable in all situations. Eternal life isn’t potential life. Eternal life isn’t temporal life until you get off probation by persevering until you die…either once saved always saved period or its conditionally saved…

    • Steve, Salvation cannot be lost based upon what you may or may not do.The seal of God never removes itself from you.Ephesians 1:13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Ephesians 4:30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. The only time the seal of God is removed is when the day you been redeemed. you are incorrect to say salvation can be lost because I no longer serve him or stop believing in him. When you learn that salvation is based on God not man, you will walk in Grace not by sight.

    • Of course you can lose your salvation. Judis raised people for the dead and he now burns in hell. One mortal sin will condemn you to hell. I’m sorry that protestants have lost the truth so greatly but you must strive everyday to live as Christ. But if you have no life in you as John 6 speaks of how will you ever find salvation. You must eat His flesh and Drink His blood. HE ONLY FORMED ONE CHURCH. Convert and be saved. God bless you and the Virgin protect you.

      • Virgin protect me? Wow she was married and had children. Convert to the cult of Catholicism? No thanks you need to convert? Your current pope is a heretic. Your cult puts tradition on par with scripture. There at least 62 places where the catechism says one thing and the bible says something else.

  2. I believe God’s Word is clear that true salvation cannot be lost. Jesus warned us of the difficulties that would follow if we choose to carry His cross. Jesus, absolutely, understands the troubles and tribulations of this earthly journey. That we will experience depression and sadness in the difficult times. That’s the test: In the worst of times, we lean closer into Him……trusting and growing in His love relationship with us. Those who say the words but truly fall away and reject Jesus…..were not saved to begin with. Nothing was lost. Salvation was not there to begin with. God reads our hearts and knows our thoughts…He will not be mocked! Prayers daily for the lost because time is running out! Ellen

  3. Stephen, I’m in the hand of God and nothing or no one can pluck me from his hand; including myself! I concur with you completely! When Jesus saves, He saves completely! MARANATHA

  4. Thank you for settling that question in my mind once and for all. I have always believed that once saved, always saved, but deep in my heart Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 v 22 and Matthew 25 v 31 – 46 always worried me and niggled at me. We pass so many hungry, destitute people every day as we go about our business and it is impossible to heed them all. However, your article has reassured me that God has me safely in His care until Jesus comes back. Thank you!! GOd bless you.

  5. Hi Mr. Altrogge,
    I have come to realize how truly slow I am to understand many (most) of God’s truths, but I do know that I belong to Christ. Forever. I don’t understand why He’d want be because…well…MAN! But still, He does. I will not turn away because there is nowhere to turn that does not lead away from Him and because I am SO looking forward, one day, to being somewhere near Him in His kingdom. Daily I fail, but I will strive to continue and to grow, every prayerful and thankful that He has never lost even one that He called.
    Thanks for your thoughts. This is twice today that this Jeremiah chapter has come to my attention. I need to give it much more consideration.
    Sincerely,
    Dawn

  6. Hello Stephen,
    In my church we were taught that you could lose your salvation. So I focused on not going to hell. After I got married the Lord called my husband to preach and when he shared what the Lord reviled to him, I had trouble believing . But one day as I was doing some ironing, the question came to me, which one of your children cease to be your child, no matter what. Since that day I am confident in God and am free to lead others to Christ.
    God bless and keep up the good work,

  7. Hebrews 12. For the joy set before Him, endured the cross. The JOY of securing for all who would believe, Eternal life, peace with God. Enduring the cross was not in vain, no. Reflecting on Jesus’ sacrifice daily should help us persevere due to making our hearts be filled with gratitude, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. We deserved to die, but he, ungrudgingly, joyfully, went instead. Can we believe this to the end? If so, fear not, be filled with the joy of the Lord.

  8. I came from a Pentecostal/Charismatic background. They were a little extreme on the holiness fringe. At least they were consistent. One sin, you’re out. Truth, the wages of sin is death. Not unanswered prayer, not broken fellowship, death. That is hardly good news. It’s still truth, so what are Christians to do? Either we are lost and saved and lost and saved over and over or Jesus took upon Himself all the sins of man. There is no more death for those who received Christ’s free gift of Grace. Because once saved, we are forgiven once for all time.
    As for the Calvinistic approach to security, I disagree. Perseverance of the Saints is actually sad, bad news. It’s not Grace. It is pure works. Salvation becomes God starts it but we finish it or perfect it. My eternal salvation isn’t based upon my ability to persevere. It’s all on Him. He preservers me to the end, for it is written we are sealed with the Spirit until the day of salvation, not until the day we burn out and quit persevering. Because salvation is by Grace through faith, the moment we believed we are eternally secure. Unconditional eternal security is the Gospel of Grace. 🙂

  9. Is it possible to get a copy of this article? I teach Bible Study to the women at Huron Valley Women’s Prison in Ypsilanti,
    Michigan and I am constantly reminding the women that you cannot loose your salvation. I then stress that your salvation experience must be a heart changing experience and not just a head changing experience. I believe this article would help me reinforce the fact that you cannot loose your salvation if you have truly had a heart changing experience and the Holy Spirit, a gift from Jesus has come to reside in your heart.
    Thank you for your consideration.
    One of God’s servants
    Sandra J Ellis

  10. I thinking of this matter as in a marriage. You know, love and relationship are both necessary factors in a marriage and in Christianity. I can truly say that , as for me, I will always love my husband. If he divorces me in the future I can assure you two things. Firts, that I have always fell loved by him. He really cares for me and wants me by his side. Second, that I don’t want a separation, but I would have to accept it. As part of my love for him I could never force him to be by my side. You know, coldness and lack of interest could kill the most intense love. That’s what happen when people leave God. Some were never interested at heart. But some really get tired of waiting for God or starts meddling in the business of sin. I have seen many kids that really loved God and when becoming adults leave Him. I have seem preachers leaving God because of adultery, but when with the Lord, seems in a deep relationship with Jesus. How this could happen? Because the gates of sin were not opened for many years. So as I understand our salvation can be lost. But is not up to God but we indeed are responsible to keep the gift of salvation pure. It is never up to God to loose a soul. Ins’t this referered in the Bible as an anathema? A person who was in the way but depart from it? Please coreect me if I’m wrong.

  11. There is a lot of misunderstanding of the doctrine of “The Perseverance of the Saints” here. Reformed Christians do not believe it is up to you by works. Some commenters have this completely backwards. “Calvinism” is quite misunderstood by many people. The true saint perseveres because God does the work. Perseverance is just what happens, and the evidence of God’s promise.

  12. I really appreciate your ministry Stephen, especially this feature which I came across some weeks ago. As I’am writing to you there are a couple of things on my mind that have been weighing on my spirit. I recently have come across several testimonies on Youtube and in the past also books of people including Christians who have been show visions of Hell.

    My main concern is that some if not all of the testimonies spoke of Christians in hell for everything from erroneous teachings to complacency,including pastors for not tithing, that even the once saved always saved teaching was in error, with one former Calvinist asserting that he saw some of his church members in hell because if believing this. And one even spoke of people with tattoos as being damned to hell and whereas one can give up the practice of sinning as one listed them from the occult to smoking even football! I don’t see how one can undo a tattoo and I have a couple.

    Now I know full well to contrast all these accounts with scripture as we are admonished to test all spirits, I for one find this very provoking even disconcerting. So I opened up the dialogue with my wife and brother-in- law who both have tattoos as well and would like to pursue this concern with you too. At the end of the day I’am encouraged that God is good and surrender to His will whatever the case. I would like however to proceed with a little more caution and better understanding that I may also help other who may find themselves in the same despair at this possibility, if I may put it that way.

  13. We don’t do good to BE saved, we do good because we ARE saved. If we are truly saved it’s not about perseverance it’s
    about God indwelling our hearts. Phillipians 2:13 “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

  14. I have been on a journey where God has really shown me the debts of His love as a FATHER. I truly believe he will never leave me because of the Spirit of Adoption. A decent father will never leave or take back his inheritance because his child struggles with rebellion. Anyone with children knows that first hand. Its all a process and about growth. Some who have been saved for years are still 1 years olds in Christ so to speak. He does expect growth, and the Bible is the manual for growth, maturity, and going deeper in God. But once again it is a process. Here is where the tug is. This journey for me all started because I have been saved for many years. I cut off the tv, threw out the music, raised high standards and became very self righteous. I honestly became a Pharisee. Every time I would fall into any kind of sin I would have extreme terror that I wasn’t saved, because my salvation had somehow become bases on my works. Now fast forward….I had something very painful happen recently that shook all of that. My life seemed to be falling apart, and on top of that I realized I was a Pharisee putting God in a box, and the pendulum swung the other way. I never stopped talking to God and still believe I hear His voice, but went completely worldly. But my tug is that verses about being lukewarm, and Francis Chan and other very influential Pastors saying that Lukewarm Christians are not actually saved, really tries to bring fear again. Because now I know I’m lukewarm, I’m definitely entertaining things I shouldn’t, but have just been in a cold season willfully medicating on the world so to speak. So here I am trying to find what that balance really is. Because ultimately, I do love God and believe in everything He has said and that his foundation of Christ IS ENOUGH no matter what is true. But I also know that in recent times I went head first back into the world thinking it could satisfy a pain, and I haven’t really known how to get fully back out of it. I found that I’m not the self righteous person I thought I was. In fact I found that I actually love sin and desire it. So now its the question of truth. I genially got saved, but became so self righteous it wasn’t about Christ at all. Painful life events happened, eyes were open to my self righteousness, became extremely Luke warm. Both sides produce fear. My prayer is: where is that balance? How do you truly live? Some very influential leaders teach that majority of the “church” isn’t saved. I don’t want to believe that because given my actions, I would have to lump myself in with that. Without Jesus, I am absolutely nothing. Without Jesus I deserve every punishment that should have come to me. Its all about Jesus. But I can humbly admit that most days in my current season, I struggle to be in but not OF this world. And if there is no redemption through Jesus, I really have nothing. I feel like Paul, “who can save this wretched man? Thanks be to Jesus”. Because I fail and I fail and I fail. I truly hope that I’m never one who is deceived, but genially don’t know what the exact Christian life should look like in this modern world. Sorry for the rant! Im glad I found this post.

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  16. Can you please explain the story of the 10 virgins. How was it Jesus only let 5 in?

    According to John Piper it’s because 5 of the virgins prayed and watched while the other 5 waited to the very end then wanted to do whatever they could to get in

  17. This is one of the controversial Questions out there being answered.

    Salvation is a gift, which I don’t think can be lost.

    But sins can send one to hell.

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