Can We Lose Our Salvation?


Q. Can we lose our salvation once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior?

A. Yes it certainly is possible. There are hundreds of NT verses that warn the faithful. These warnings are often found first affirming the salvation of those who are being written to and then there is an “IF” followed by one or more requirements in order to remain in friendship with God.

John 15:1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. 2He 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. 3You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. 4Remain 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.
5″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. 6 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. 7 IF you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. … 10 IF you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love. 11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. 12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. 13Greater love has no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends. 14You are my friends IF you do what I command. … Love each other.

Romans 11:22 Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, IF you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.

Hebrews 6:4-6 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5who 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.

2 Timothy 2:12 IF we endure,we will also reign with Him;
IF we deny Him, He also will deny us;

Hebrews 10:26 For IF we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins,

And there are many many other “IF’s” related to the promises of God. These warnings and those below are for a purpose. Those who believe that once you are saved you are always saved ignore hundreds of warning verses in the NT.

Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.

This exhortation to endure to the end or overcome is repeated over and over again in Revelation.

Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling,

Why does the apostle say “fear and trembling” if there is no possibility of losing salvation?

1 Corinthians 9:27 No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.

In context this prize is eternal life. If Paul mastered his body to avoid disqualification how much more should we?

Luke 8:12-14 Those along the path are the ones who hear, and then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. 13Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away. 14The seed that fell among thorns stands for those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by life’s worries, riches and pleasures, and they do not mature.

2 Peter 3:17 Therefore, dear friends, since you already know this, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position.

Why the warnings NOT to FALL AWAY if it is not possible?

This I John verse supports the Catholic doctrine that there are two types of sin–mortal/deadly and venial. And many of Paul’s epistles also mention deadly sins which deprive one of attaining Heaven or eternal life. Through willful and full knowledge a person who commits a mortal sin/grave sin loses their salvation and is dead in their sin.

1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a mortal sin; I do not say that he should make request for this.

Through repentance and confession to a priest they will be restored to friendship with God and salvation.

You might find these posts interesting:

Do Catholics Have to Work their Way to Heaven?
Works Salvation/Works Righteousness
Do You Have to Be Baptized to be Saved?
Confession to God Alone? Scripture Alone?
Atonement, Salvation, & Temporal Punishment

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17 Responses

  1. There are a few verses that seem to indicate that we are secure once we are saved but you have to view them in context. I think what you said here is right on track.

  2. A question I would have then is this: for which sins did Jesus die?
    If the blood of Christ is an infinite payment, what sin has it not covered, other than the sin of disbelief in the efficacy of that blood?

  3. Travis,

    Jesus died for all sins, but they must be “repented-of sins” before they are forgiven.

    Jesus even died for the sin of “disbelief in the efficacy of that blood,” and will forgive a person of this sin, as soon as he repents of it.

    Jesus does not promise to forgive sinners who persist in their sins. We are expected to repent daily and ask forgiveness for our sins. The power of His blood potentially forgives all our sins (past, present, and future), but that forgiveness is applied only when we repent and comply with His provisions for salvation, which we can only do by His abundant, never-ending grace. It is Jesus who offers us the invitation, and it is we who must accept it.

  4. Dear Travis James,

    Jesus died for all sin past, present, and future. However, this gift of salvation is available to each person because God desires all men to be saved, but it is not automatic.

    Salvation must be received by each individual through acts of FAITH. The specific and normal acts of FAITH that obtain salvation are:
    Baptism
    Repentance, confession and rejection of sin
    Communion in the Body & Blood of Christ
    Dying in the friendship of Our Lord.

    Click for my other posts on:
    Baptism:

    How do Catholics get to Heaven?

  5. “Can a Christian lose salvation?”

    Answer: Before this question is answered, the term “Christian” must be defined. A “Christian” is not a person who has said a prayer, or walked down an aisle, or been raised in a Christian family. While each of these things can be a part of the Christian experience, they are not what “makes” a Christian. A Christian is a person who has, by faith, received and fully trusted in Jesus Christ as the only Savior (John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Ephesians 2:8-9).

    So, with this definition in mind, can a Christian lose salvation? Perhaps the best way to answer this crucially important question is to examine what the Bible says occurs at salvation, and to study what losing salvation would therefore entail. Here are a few examples:

    A Christian is a new creation. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!” (2 Corinthians 5:17). This verse speaks of a person becoming an entirely new creature as a result of being “in Christ.” For a Christian to lose salvation, the new creation would have to be canceled and reversed.

    A Christian is redeemed. “For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:18-19). The word “redeemed” refers to a purchase being made, a price being paid. For a Christian to lose salvation, God Himself would have to revoke His purchase that He paid for with the precious blood of Christ.

    A Christian is justified. “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). To “justify” means to “declare righteous.” All those who receive Jesus as Savior are “declared righteous” by God. For a Christian to lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and undeclare what He had previously declared.

    A Christian is promised eternal life. “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Eternal life is a promise of eternity (forever) in Heaven with God. God promises, “believe and you will have eternal life.” For a Christian to lose salvation, eternal life would have to be taken away. If a Christian is promised to live forever, how then can God break this promise by taking away eternal life?

    A Christian is guaranteed glorification. “And those He predestined, He also called; those He called, He also justified; those He justified, He also glorified” (Romans 8:30). As we learned in Romans 5:1, justification is declared at the moment of faith. According to Romans 8:30, glorification is guaranteed for all those whom God justifies. Glorification refers to a Christian receiving a perfect resurrection body in Heaven. If a Christian can lose salvation, Romans 8:30 is in error, because God could not guarantee glorification for all those whom He predestines, calls, and justifies.

    Many more illustrations of what occurs at salvation could be shared. Even these few, though, make it abundantly clear that a Christian cannot lose salvation. Most, if not all, of what the Bible says occurs to a person when he/she receives Jesus Christ as Savior would be invalidated if salvation could be lost. Salvation cannot be reversed. A Christian cannot be un-newly created. Redemption cannot be undone. Eternal life cannot be lost and still be considered eternal. If a Christian can lose salvation, God would have to go back on His Word and change His mind – two things that Scripture tells us God never does.

    The most frequent objections to the belief that a Christian cannot lose salvation are: (1) what about those who are Christians and continually live an immoral lifestyle? – and – (2) what about those who are Christians but later reject the faith and deny Christ? The problem with these two objections is the assumption “are Christians.” (1) The Bible declares that a true Christian will not live a continually immoral lifestyle (1 John 3:6). (2) The Bible declares that anyone who departs the faith is demonstrating that he/she never truly was a Christian (1 John 2:19).

    No, a Christian cannot lose salvation. Nothing can separate a Christian from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing can remove a Christian from God’s hand (John 10:28-29). God is both willing and able to guarantee and maintain the salvation He has given us. Jude 24-25, “To Him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy – to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.”

  6. Jeronie,

    All of your arguments are based on a false premise. That premise is that all Christian truth can be found in Sacred Scripture and ONLY sacred scripture. The irony is that this Protestant Doctrine of Scripture Alone or Sola Scriptura cannot be found anywhere in Scripture.

    You base your beliefs and criticism of the Catholic doctrine on Protestant interpretation of scripture which is actually Protestant Tradition.

    Click the links for more posts on Catholic TRADITION

  7. I agree that it is possible for a saved person to become unsaved, but I disagree with bfhu about how that is done. Technically, one can’t “lose” his or her salvation, but one CAN throw it away.

    The only sin that the Blood will not pay for is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit, which is refusing salvation, which in effect is the sin of not ALLOWING that Blood to atone for you.

    So, the only way a saved person can become unsaved is if he or she willfully and fully rejects Christ after having first trusted in Him, totally repudiating the faith and the confidence he or she once held.

    Also, if a person does fully make that ultimate step, then according to Hebrews 10:26ff, he or she can never be saved again (…there remains no sacrifice for sins…)

    (Btw, for Hebrews 10:26ff…the context is wavering in faith, so the “willfully” part refers to willfully rejecting Christ and throwing away one’s faith. It does not mean one becomes unsaved if he or she commits a “normal” sin. Otherwise, who could be in heaven?)

  8. FM,
    I know that this is what you may have been taught but it does not align with the scriptures at the top of this post. Salvation is secure IF:

    IF We bear fruit
    IF We remain in HIM
    IF We obey His commandments
    IF Continue in His Kindness
    IF we don’t fall away
    IF we endure to the end
    IF we don’t deny HIM
    IF we don’t go on sinning willfully

    Of course, if we repent from any of these we can be restored to salvation. It is not true that in order to lose our salvation we must willfully reject Christ. All it takes is to commit a mortal sin with full knowledge and will, uncoerced.

    1 John 5:16 If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask and God will for him give life to those who commit sin not leading to death There is a mortal (deadly) sin; I do not say that he should make request for this.

    1 Corinthians 6:9-10Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.

    Galatians 5:19-21 Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality,idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions,envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

    Yes, by these deed God and Christ are repudiated but we both know people who do these things but still consider themselves Christian. They would not admit that they have rejected Christ.

  9. Pam,

    I appreciate the lengthy reply, but I would like to clarify and comment on a few things.

    “Salvation is secure IF:

    IF We bear fruit
    IF We remain in HIM
    IF We obey His commandments
    IF Continue in His Kindness
    IF we don’t fall away
    IF we endure to the end
    IF we don’t deny HIM
    IF we don’t go on sinning willfully”

    I stated that I did agree that a saved person could become unsaved. BUT, that happens ONLY if one willfully rejects Christ, because he or she is taking himself or herself out of the realm of forgiveness.

    A true believer WILL do all those things that you listed in the “Salvation is secure if” part. Remember, a true believer loves God. Someone who loves God will naturally bear fruit and obey His commands and remain in His kindness. The parts about denying Jesus and falling away refer to rejecting Jesus. So I can’t really see how those verses rebut my position.

    About 1 John 5:16…I think there are some sins that, if committed, causes one to PHYSICALLY die, or have his or her life taken away from him or her (an example might be that of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5).

    About 1 Corinthians 6:9-10…I quote 1 Corinthians 6:11 (And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.) 6:9-10 seems to parallel the Galatians verse. I’d like to point out that Galatians 5:21 says those who PRACTICE those things won’t enter the KoG. True believers will not practice those things.

    One last note: you said 1) “It is not true that in order to lose our salvation we must willfully reject Christ. All it takes is to commit a mortal sin with full knowledge and will, uncoerced.” So you’re saying that if you commit a mortal sin, you become unsaved. You also said 2)”…if we repent from any of these we can be restored to salvation.”

    But…if you use those passages from Hebrews to prove 1), then you refute your point 2). Hebrews 10:26 says that “…there remains no more sacrifice for sins…” How, then, can one be “restored to salvation?”

  10. FM: A true believer WILL do all those things that you listed in the “Salvation is secure if” part. Remember, a true believer loves God. Someone who loves God will naturally bear fruit and obey His FM: commands and remain in His kindness. The parts about denying FM: Jesus and falling away refer to rejecting Jesus. So I can’t really see how those verses rebut my position.

    BFHU: OK, then. Very good. But you are in the minority among most Protestants.

    FM: About 1 John 5:16…I think there are some sins that, if committed, causes one to PHYSICALLY die, or have his or her life taken away from him or her (an example might be that of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5).

    BFHU: OK that is your interpretation. And certainly some sins do cause physical death. But, we interpret it as death of the soul just like in the Garden of Eden.

    FM: About 1 Corinthians 6:9-10…I quote 1 Corinthians 6:11 (And that is what some of you were. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.) 6:9-10 seems to parallel the Galatians verse. I’d like to point out that Galatians 5:21 says those who PRACTICE those things won’t enter the KoG. True believers will not practice those things.

    BFHU: OK but when you teach that the ONLY way to lose salvation is to consiously repudiate Christ some may blithely go their merry way in these sins comforting themselves that they still love Jesus.

    FM: One last note: you said 1) “It is not true that in order to lose our salvation we must willfully reject Christ. All it takes is to commit a mortal sin with full knowledge and will, uncoerced.” So you’re saying that if you commit a mortal sin, you become unsaved.

    BFHU: Yes.

    You also said 2)”…if we repent from any of these we can be restored to salvation.”

    BFHU: Yes.

    But…if you use those passages from Hebrews to prove 1), then you refute your point 2). Hebrews 10:26 says that “…there remains no more sacrifice for sins…” How, then, can one be “restored to salvation?”

    BFHU: By repentance and confession to a priest of the Catholic or Orthodox Church and as for others sincere repentence to Christ and turning from sin in all cases. Christ is the only sacrifice.

    Let’s look at the verse in Hebrews in a bit more context:

    Hebrews 10:26 For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. 28 Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 29 How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?

    We say any sin that is repented of can be forgiven and eternal life obtained. We interpret this verse differently to mean that the one who ‘keeps on sinning” is one who commits apostacy. After receiving instruction and baptism etc. IF they then reject Christ and “trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace?” Then there is little hope that they will repent when they know all that they need to know and turn away and reject it.

    But this is not absolute. How many times do we hear of people raised in the church who leave and reject it but at some point see the error of their ways and return to Christ with much zeal. I myself am an example of this.

    Am I just living in Fantasyland? Am I really still going to Hell and I just don’t know it yet?

  11. Pam,

    Just a minor comment…I read part of your conversion story. I understand that commenting on one’s personal life, is sort of controversial and politically incorrect, but…

    You said that you “asked Jesus into your heart” when you were eight years old. I must note: eight years old? I don’t want to sound insulting or anything, but I’m not sure people at that age fully understand such things.

    You may have had faith in Jesus then, but I unfortunately, from my own observations of children and understanding of the development of the human mind, think there’s a good chance that that faith may have been a rather shallow faith. Again, I don’t want to sound insulting or anything, but…eight years old. That sounds kind of…young. So, you may have later turned atheist briefly, but I don’t think you went anywhere near a deliberate, full, rejection.

    Btw, have you ever heard of Dan Barker or Farrell Till or Bart Ehrman? Barker is an atheist, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, and is one of the most anti-Christian men out there. He is a former Assemblies of God pastor, and went from worshipping and preaching about Jesus and God to declaring that Jesus never existed.

    Till used to be a Church of Christ minister, and now writes for a publication called The Skeptical Review, which focuses on biblical errancy. He also writes for the Internet Infidels, one of the most anti-Christian websites out there.

    Ehrman became a Christian in his high school years, but then lost his faith while studying at college. He, like Barker and Till, now goes around debating Christians. Ehrman has also been noted for writing a best selling book called Misquoting Jesus, where he attempts to undermine the Bible as the word of God.

    My point is, you said you returned to faith, but you had that faith as a very young child. Those three men I mentioned, though, put their faith in Jesus as men, when they were very likely old enough to fully understand everything, and thus very likely to have FULLY put their faith in Jesus. And sadly, Barker and Till and Ehrman don’t look like they will ever return.

  12. FM: In genera,l age 7yrs old is considered to be the age of reason when a child can know right and wrong. Of course, at the time I had a child’s faith. But Jesus welcomes children:

    Matthew 19:14
    Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

    I did not become an atheist at the age of 9 (then your point would be logical) but at the age of 19->21. My faith matured along with me. It did not remain an 8 yr. old’s faith. In fact, I had such a well-formed conscience that I knew that my Christianity was not compatible with the sins I became involved in. So with integrity, I renounced my Christianity. A sinner yes. A hypocrite, never!

    I did completely reject it. Your assertions of exactly what qualifies as rejection of Christ or not is merely your opinion I hope you understand. No detailed parameters are given in scripture.

    I believe that Barker, Till and Ehrman are still able to attain eternal life if they repent and believe. They may never return but they are able to return to Christ–just like the prodigal son. All the damage that they may have done to the faith or the souls of individuals can be rectified by Our Omnipotent and Merciful God.

  13. Pam,

    Part of this will be a response to something you said in an earlier post.

    You said: “…when you teach that the ONLY way to lose salvation is to consiously repudiate Christ some may blithely go their merry way in these sins comforting themselves that they still love Jesus. ”

    I refer to what Paul wrote in Romans 7. Someone who truly loves God will strive to do good works and obey His commands and not sin, BUT we unfortunately have to fight the desires of the flesh. True believers will struggle against sin, hating it.

    • True, but some could be led astray by misinformation before they are strong believers.

      James 3:1 Let not many of you become teachers, my brethren, knowing that as such we will incur a stricter judgment.

      Teachers are obligated to teach the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. We can’t kick back and just rest on the idea that “true believers will.struggle against and … hate sin.”
      Those who teach must take care of the weak as well.

  14. Pam,

    Here’s my continued response.

    Hebrews 6:4ff declares that for those who fall away, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be restored to repentance. Thus, if “falling away” refers to “losing” salvation after committing a mortal sin, then that’s it. One would have no hope left.

    If you read the previous parts of Hebrews, you’ll see that the writer of the epistle is concerned about people and FAITH. The writer is concerned about defection from the faith. Also, Hebrews 10:29 includes the phrase “insulted the Spirit of grace.” We know that “Spirit” refers to the Holy Spirit. We also know that the word “insult” is very closely related to the word “blasphemy.” We ALSO know (Matthew 12:31-32) that the BLASPHEMY of the HOLY SPIRIT is the unforgivable sin.

    Now, if you look at the context of Matthew 12:31-32, you’ll see that the Pharisees had CLEAR evidence that Jesus was from God (match that with “…those who have been enlightened…shared in the Holy Spirit…tasted the goodness…). In the cases of Matthew and Hebrews, both people mentioned could not honestly deny the clear fact that what Jesus says is true. And yet…what happened after that? The Pharisees tried to explain it away. They were in effect refusing salvation, and thus were saying to the Holy Spirit, “We don’t want you!”

    Likewise, for Hebrews, they had seen irrefutable proof of truth in Jesus, and then in effect said to the Holy Spirit, “We don’t want you!” This is also a case of refusing salvation. We also thus see WHY the sin is unforgivable: because those who’ve committed it have taken themselves outside the realm of forgiveness.

    So, the people in Hebrews 10 seem to have committed THE unforgivable sin, like the Pharisees. And if so, I don’t think this unforgivable sin can be forgiven.

    One more point (more of a question, though it’s not really intended to be a stumper): if a person was in friendship with God, and then committed a mortal sin one second before getting killed (so he never had time to repent of it and confess to a priest), where would he be?

  15. FM:

    I guess you can interpret it the way you do. We don’t.

    Many pharisees who rejected Jesus later came to believe in Him.
    The warning of the unforgivable sin is that it is unforgivable ONLY if one never repents. As long as a soul is alive he is able to repent and be saved. It is also saying in Heb 10 that someone who fully knows what he is rejecting is less likely to return. But, what if he rejects Christ b/c he wants to sin or out of pride does not accept teachings. But then as he lives his life he realizes how empty and futile seeking his own way is and repents and returns to Christ. These things happen. I don’t think anyone ever crosses a line where God forbids their return.

    As for your last question, theoretically he would go to Hell. Committing a mortal sin after a life in friendship with God is all the more traitorous . But only God knows the answer. One could repent at the last instant before death and save his soul. Our loving Father knows how to give graces to the soul in danger of damnation. He will do all He can do to save him.

    Have a Blessed Holy Thursday as we celebrate the institution of the Eucharist and Holy Orders.

  16. FM:
    You said that you “asked Jesus into your heart” when you were eight years old. I must note: eight years old? I don’t want to sound insulting or anything, but I’m not sure people at that age fully understand such things.

    You may have had faith in Jesus then, but I unfortunately, from my own observations of children and understanding of the development of the human mind, think there’s a good chance that that faith may have been a rather shallow faith. Again, I don’t want to sound insulting or anything, but…eight years old. That sounds kind of…young. So, you may have later turned atheist briefly, but I don’t think you went anywhere near a deliberate, full, rejection.

    Just throwing this in but I think you are way way off on that. I think people that age and under have an understanding that you are not acknowleding. Sure it grows as we grow and mature(hopefully). I wonder if you are a parent? I remember Jesus in my life and dreams when I lived in my very first house and that was at age birth -4.
    Happy Easter … Ally 🙂

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