Can Christians lose their salvation? I don’t believe a person can lose his or her salvation. However, the Bible does address what we can lose after we have been “saved.” For instance:
We can lose our reward
We were saved to do good works “which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:10). We will give an account of those works, or of our lack of them. There is a possibility of loss and gain regarding good works. 1 Cor. 3:12–15 is clear that fire will “test each one’s works, of what sort it is.” We will suffer loss if our works were not built on the foundation of Jesus Christ. Are our works done for personal glory or for God’s?
We can lose entrance into the kingdom
Jesus saved us that we may enjoy the kingdom of God. According to 1 Cor. 6:9–11, if we persist in sexual sins, thefts, covetousness, and other carnal pursuits, we will “not inherit the kingdom of God.” So will we strive against sins, or shrug them off because God is merciful?
We can lose a prize
Jesus equips us with everything we need to finish our course with joy and receive a prize. In 1 Cor. 9:24–27, Paul recognized this and labored mightily, disciplining his flesh lest “I myself should become disqualified” for a prize. Since a prize is awarded only to those who earn it, shall we practice mastering the requirement—a faith that works through love?
We can lose forgiveness
We are saved by the blood of Jesus that we may appear before God with all sins washed away. But this future is not guaranteed. Matthew 6:14–15 tells us that if we confess our sins, the Father will forgive us. But if we will not forgive the sins of others, “neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” The possibility holds that we may appear before the Father in an unforgiven state because we won’t forgive others. (See also Matt. 18:21–35.) Shall we be washed in the blood of the Lamb through confession, repentance, and living in the light, or shall we neglect this freely-given resource due to pride and resentment?
We can lose the Lord’s approval
We have been saved from this world to labor for the kingdom to come. However, some will not take their responsibilities seriously. In Matthew 25:21–27, we find that Jesus will commend those who do well, and denounce those who hid their talents in the ground.
The Scriptures address many important issues regarding our salvation, but when salvation is misunderstood, we might ask the wrong questions. What does salvation mean to you? If you are concerned only with escape from the Lake of Fire, you have been misled regarding the fullness of your salvation. Jesus died for our sins to set us free from their power—shall we continue in them? Jesus rose again that He might give us eternal life, which is knowing Him and His Father—shall we prefer possessions of wood and metal that cannot give life?
Our cooperation is crucial. God has given us everything we need to arrive before the judgment seat with joy, with hearts overflowing with love, triumphant over sin, and full of good works to recount. Is this is your vision of salvation? If so, you won’t sit around expecting to be freed from the Lake of Fire, but labor with the Spirit to be free from sin.