How a Christian can Lose Salvation
The 14 step plan.
By Pastor David F. Reagan. Used with permission from Learn the Bible.
Definitively answers the question: "Once saved, always saved?"
So... you want to lose your salvation. Well, you don’t really want to lose it—but you think you have, or could, or that someone you know certainly has lost theirs. They used to go to church every service and teach a Sunday School class, but now they cuss and drink and won’t step inside a church door. They were obviously saved before. They are obviously lost now. So, they must have lost their salvation. It’s as simple as that... or is it?
The idea of losing your salvation is simple. All you have to do is lose everything you gained when you got saved. Since you could never go to hell with anything you received when you were saved, then everything you obtained through salvation must be either reversed or destroyed. Then you can go to hell. So your next move is to find the source which can tell you how to reverse these steps.
Well, if you are going to lose your salvation (just bear with me if you want to keep yours), then you must lose it according to the rules. The rule book is, of course, the word of God. You must not rely on feelings, or common sense, or human reasoning. Feelings can be wrong. Human thinking may not be God’s way (Isaiah 55:8-9). Only God’s Word is the absolute authority.
This brings us to the fourteen easy steps for losing your salvation. Since every one of these steps represents some great blessing you received when you got saved, then all of these steps must be completed without fail in order to lose your salvation. You cannot miss any of them and become lost. You must accomplish them all. Now It’s time to tackle that first step!
Step 1: Declare God's Grace as Insufficient
This first step involves the basis of your salvation. When you accept Jesus Christ as Saviour, you are saved totally by the grace of God.
Ephesians 2:8-9 teaches: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.
Grace is defined as God's unmerited favor. It is God doing for you what you cannot do for yourself. Since you cannot save yourself, God offers His gift of grace as the basis of your salvation. This means you cannot save yourself by good works. Water baptism, church membership, church confirmation, loving your neighbor, and even the keeping of the ten commandments are all unable to give you or anyone else a place in heaven.
Romans 3:20 states: Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Titus 3:5 declares: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Now, since good works can do nothing to earn salvation (see also Galatians 2:16 ; Philippians 3:9 ), then evil works can do nothing to remove salvation. You are saved in spite of your sins; you cannot become lost because of your sins. Since you are saved by grace, you can only become lost by declaring God's grace as insufficient for you. That is the first step.
Step 2: Find the Faith of Christ to be Faulty
Whereas the first step removed the basis of salvation—grace, the second step is necessary to reverse the method of salvation—faith. Contrary to popular belief, you are not saved by producing enough faith so that God will accept you. Oh yes, you must believe. But your belief is completed by the faith of Christ. Again, the Bible must be the authority.
Look once more at Ephesians 2:8: For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
You are saved by grace and through faith. But that faith is not of yourself; it is the gift of God. Does this mean that we are saved apart from our own decision to believe? Not at all!
Read carefully Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
You cannot be justified by the works of the law. But you can be justified by the faith of Jesus Christ. This is not faith in Christ, but the faith of Jesus Christ. But in order to be justified by the faith of Christ, you must believe in Him. Sound confusing?
Look at Romans 3:22: Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:
Notice the wording carefully. The righteousness of God is received on the basis of the faith of Jesus Christ. The faith of Jesus Christ is given "unto all and upon all them that believe." (See also Philippians 3:9.)
Although you must believe to the best of your ability, the perfect faith which provides for you a perfect salvation is the faith of Christ. This means that there is no need to "pray through" or "hold on" in order to get saved. We come to God in simple belief, and He completes our faulty faith with the perfect faith of Christ. This also means that you cannot become lost by losing faith. Although your faith may waver at times, your salvation is based on the faith of Christ. Therefore, the only way to lose your salvation is to find the faith of Christ to be faulty. That completes the second step.
Step 3: Get Christ to Take Back His Righteousness
This third step has to do with one of the great products of your salvation—imputed righteousness. This imputed righteousness (that means righteousness placed on us from an outside source) involves the most uneven swap in the universe. When you get saved, you trade the rags of your sin for the robes of Christ's righteousness. Let's consider this trade one part at a time.
When Christ died on the cross, He took our sins upon Himself and paid for them in full.
Galatians 3:13 reads: Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:
2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches: For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
God the Father made God the Son (Jesus Christ—the One who knew no sin) to be sin for us. That is, Christ took your sins upon Himself when He died on the cross, so that you could take His righteousness upon yourself when you accept Him as Saviour. When you are saved, you are clothed in the righteousness of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 1:30). When God the Father sees you, He sees you through the blood of His Son. Therefore, you will never have to stand before God in your own righteousness (Philippians 3:9). You are truly complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10).
This also means that you cannot become lost by losing your own righteousness. Though your righteousness may fail from time to time, the righteousness of Christ can never fail. In order to lose your salvation, you must get Christ to take back His righteousness, and you must take back upon yourself the sin for which He died. And so the third step is completed.
Step 4: Have The Pardon Removed From Your Sin
You receive something very special when you accept Christ. You receive a pardon for your sin greater than the pardon any criminal ever received from any governor or president. This pardon is based on none other than the shed blood of Christ.
Ephesians 1:7 declares: In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;
When you are quickened (made alive) together with Christ, you are forgiven all trespasses: not just some or most, but all! This is why the forgiveness which saved is a completed act of the past and not a repeated act of the present.
Ephesians 4:32 reads: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
We are to be "forgiving" (present tense) others as God "hath forgiven" (past tense) us, not as He "forgives" (present tense) us. God forgave all of your sins at salvation: past, present, and future. Therefore, there is no need for a continual forgiving of sins in order to go to heaven.
(NOTE: Of course, such complete forgiveness does not remove the need to repent from sins committed after salvation. But this daily cleansing of sins has no effect on salvation.)
Since you receive a full pardon at salvation, you cannot become lost by committing unpardoned sins. There can be no such thing for the saved person. Although you may sin and displease God after your salvation, God knew when He saved you what you would do and forgave you of those sins also. The only way out is to have the pardon which you received at salvation removed from your sin. And so ends step four.
Step 5: Convince The Father To Fail In His Commitment
The fifth step has to do with the safekeeping of your soul. Before you are saved, you are the keeper of your own soul, and you cannot do anything but fail in its keeping. But when you get saved, you turn your soul over to the protection of another—God.
In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul says: For the which cause I also suffer these things: nevertheless I am not ashamed: for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.
In salvation, you gave up control of your own soul, and turned its safe keeping over to God the Father. God is now committed to the keeping of your soul to the end.
1 Corinthians 1:8 declares: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Also read Philippians 1:6: Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:
Your confirmation unto the end and the performance of the work in you until the day of Jesus Christ is in the hand of the Lord.
Therefore, you cannot become lost by failing in your commitment to Christ. Since your salvation is based on the commitment of God, the loss of personal commitment would not affect your eternal destiny. No, the only way to lose your salvation is to somehow get God to fail in His commitment. This completes step five.
Step 6: Break The Father's Seal of The Spirit
Step six has to do with one of the guarantees of your salvation. When you are saved, the Bible teaches that you are sealed by the Spirit of God.
Ephesians 1:13 teaches: 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,
2 Corinthians 1:21-22 reads: Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.
These verses teach that you are sealed with the Holy Ghost by the Father at the time of salvation. The Holy Spirit is not your sealer; He is your seal. A seal is something that fastens securely and which must be broken in order to be opened. Your salvation is secured by the Spirit of God. And not only are you presently sealed, but you are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Ephesians 4:30 states: And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
The seal of the Spirit is guaranteed good unto the day of redemption, that is, the day when Christ takes us up to be with Him.
This means that you cannot become lost by breaking your promise to God. Since your security is based on the seal of the Spirit, no promise or commitment broken by you can void your salvation. The only way to lose your salvation is to break the Father's seal of the Spirit. That is step six.
Step 7: Change the Meaning of "Everlasting"
When you accept Christ as Saviour, you receive the gift of eternal, or everlasting, life.
Romans 6:23 explains: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
John 3:15-16 further states: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
Please notice that Romans 6:23 and John 3:15 speak of "eternal life," while John 3:16 speaks of "everlasting life." When you are saved, you receive both. And while "everlasting" and "eternal" both mean without end, there is a difference in emphasis. "Everlasting" is a term of quantity and emphasizes length of life: everlasting as opposed to temporary. "Eternal," on the other hand, is a term of quality and emphasizes the kind of life you receive at salvation: eternal as opposed to temporal or earthly. As Christ taught, He came that you might "have life" and that you might "have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
Probably the greatest thing about eternal life is that it is given as a present possession.
John 5:24 reads: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.
When you hear the word and believe on Christ, you have (present tense) everlasting life. Nothing is ever said in scripture about receiving this life in the future. You have everlasting life as a present possession from the point of salvation.
This means that you cannot lose everlasting life. Think about this: if your life has ending today (you are going to perish), then it could not have been without ending (everlasting) yesterday. To lose everlasting life would be an impossibility. Therefore, since to lose everlasting life would be a contradiction of terms, there is only one way to lose your salvation. You must change the meaning of the word "everlasting." That is the completion of step seven.
Step 8: Unbirth Yourself from the Family of God
When you are saved, you are born again. This is the doctrine of regeneration.
Titus 3:5 states: Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;
Notice that you are saved by the washing of regeneration. The word "regeneration" means to be reborn. You are said to be born again because your salvation is your second birth.
Read the teaching of John 1:12-13: But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
While your first birth was physical, your second birth is spiritual ("of God"). By this new birth you become one of the sons or children of God.
Since you have been born into the family of God, you cannot become lost by denying your birth. A child naturally born cannot cease to be the father's child, no matter what is said or what separations are made. So, an individual born into the family of God cannot simply cease to be the Father's child. In order to lose your salvation, you must somehow unbirth yourself from the family of God. That is step eight.
Step 9: Nullify Your Adoption by the Father
Another benefit of salvation is your adoption by the Father. A saved person belongs to the Father by creation (He made us), by redemption (He bought us), by regeneration (we were born to Him), and by adoption (He adopted us).
Concerning adoption, Galatians 4:5-6 teaches: To redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.
In salvation you receive the adoption of sons. Therefore, through adoption, you also become one of the children of God (see also Romans 8:15-16).
You cannot become lost by simply ignoring your adoption. Adoption is a legal and binding change of parents whereby you lose your old parentage ("of your father the devil," John 8:44) and gain a new Father. You cannot lose your salvation by turning from your heavenly Father. You must somehow nullify your adoption by the Father. And so step nine ends.
Step 10: Separate Yourself from the Love of Christ
At the very moment any person accepts Christ as Saviour, another wondrous blessing takes place. They are placed within the center of Christ's love. The love of Christ, which is beyond human comprehension, becomes your strong refuge.
Read here in Ephesians 3:19: And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.
To know Christ is to know a love which is unknowable. This is one of the miracles of salvation.
This love into which you are placed is not only beyond human comprehension, but it is also the greatest power in the universe.
Romans 8:35-39 states: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Notice that one by one those things which might separate you from the love of Christ are eliminated. And then, lastly, all other possibilities are at once denied by the phrase, "nor any other creature." To be in the love of Christ is to be eternally safe from all the dangers which your soul might encounter.
In fact, you cannot become lost by denying Christ's love. When you give yourself to the love of Christ, He takes you into His bosom of love. This love is so powerful as to deny any other thing to come between His love and the Christian. Yet, to lose your salvation, you must somewhere find the strength to separate yourself from this great love.
Step 11: Remove Yourself from the Premises of Heaven
When you are saved, you are spiritually translated to heaven. That's right—at the point of your salvation, you are translated into heaven. Now this is not the physical catching up which is promised to come later, but it is a Biblically taught translation.
Look at Colossians 1:12-13: Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Notice that you have been (past tense) translated into the kingdom of God. To translate means to bear across and is used in the Bible in reference to a taking up into heaven. Enoch was not found "because God had translated him" (Hebrews 11:5). This translation puts you spiritually into heaven. Still skeptical?
Read Ephesians 2:5-6: Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:
When are you raised up and made to sit in heavenly places? This occurs when you are saved. And where are these heavenly places? In Ephesians 1:20, Jesus Christ is sitting at the right hand of God "in the heavenly places." The heavenly places are the abode of God. They are heaven itself. You see, the wonderful truth is that since you are "in Christ" and Christ is in heaven, then you are positionally and spiritually already in heaven. You are only waiting for your body and soul to catch up with your spirit.
Now, for the problem. You cannot become lost by failing to go to heaven. In Christ, you are spiritually already there. You cannot simply lose out on your chance to go there. To lose your salvation, you must leave the premises of heaven and remove yourself from your position in Christ. That completes step eleven.
Step 12: Commit Sins Worse than Incest and Blasphemy
If salvation is to be lost, then it must be lost through disobedience to God. Most who teach an unsure salvation would agree with this. Yet, what degree of sin brings this loss of salvation? Evil thoughts? Bitterness? Murder? Failing to attend church? Failure to pray? What sin or sins cross the line of no return? Again, we must let Scripture be the measure of truth.
In 1st Corinthians, chapter five, a man in the church had taken his father's wife as his own. Paul states that this is "such fornication as is not so much as named among the Gentiles" (1 Corinthians 5:1). One could hardly imagine a worse category of sin than this.
Yet Paul's instructions concerning the treatment of this man are as follows:
1 Corinthians 5:5 To deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Only his flesh was to be delivered to Satan. The spirit was still saved. This matches the description in 1 Corinthians 3:15 of the man whose works will be burned:
1 Corinthians 3:15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.
You can lose every reward you could have had and yet go to heaven. Why? Because your salvation is based on the work of Christ, not on your own works. Your works, good or bad, neither gain nor lose salvation.
Another heinous sin is blasphemy. Surely if evil sins could remove salvation, this one could.
Yet, in 1 Timothy 1:20, Paul states: Of whom is Hymenaeus and Alexander; whom I have delivered unto Satan, that they may learn not to blaspheme.
The pattern is the same as that found in 1st Corinthians, chapter five. Their flesh is delivered to Satan so that their spirits may be saved in the day of Christ.
You cannot lose your salvation by committing these or other terrible sins. You will be judged. You will lose heavenly rewards. But a human spirit once quickened by God must remain quickened. So, in order to lose your salvation, you must commit sins greater than these.
Step 13: Take the Holy Spirit with You to Hell
Although this may at first seem odd, in order to lose your salvation and go to hell, you must take the Holy Spirit with you. Let me explain.
Ephesians 1:13-14 states: 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, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
According to the strict order of the passage, you hear first, then you trust (or believe), and lastly, you are sealed with the holy Spirit. The sealing of the Spirit occurs at the moment of salvation because "if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). Therefore, to have Christ in your heart is to have the Spirit. And when you are sealed with the Spirit, the Holy Spirit becomes your earnest: the earnest of your inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession.
What is an earnest? In buying real estate, you give earnest money to show that you are earnest or serious about buying a house. If you decide to back out of the purchase, the seller still gets to keep the earnest money. In other words, an earnest is a payment which cannot be taken back.
The Holy Spirit is the earnest of your inheritance. He is the guarantee that you will receive the rest of the purchased possession. And the Spirit, as your earnest, cannot be taken back, even if you were to become lost. Therefore, in order to lose your salvation, you must take God's Spirit with you to hell.
Step 14: Take the Son with You to Hell
The last of the steps toward the loss of salvation does not get any easier. This step is based on your relationship to Christ at the time of salvation.
Romans 8:16-17 states: The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.
At salvation, you become a joint-heir with Christ. To be a joint-heir means to inherit together; to share in the same inheritance with which the Father will bless the Son. This is a promise of God.
Yet, what if you lose your salvation and go to hell. As joint-heir, not only do you share in Christ's inheritance, but He must also share in your inheritance. The only way for you to inherit hell and its horror is to take the Son of God with you to that awful place. That completes the fourteen steps toward loss of salvation.
You have read through fourteen steps which would be necessary if you were to lose your salvation. Obviously, to attempt these steps would be utterly foolish. God's wondrous gift of salvation is eternal in every way. But, if you are still not convinced, check your reasons. Are they emotional? "It just doesn't seem right." Or rational? "It doesn't make sense." If so, then you need to surrender your emotions and thought to the truth of God's word.
Perhaps you have been shown two or three proof texts which seem to teach possible loss of salvation. This is not the place to discuss individual proof texts, but rest assured that there is an answer to them. Check with the person who gave you this booklet. Very likely they or someone they know can give you an answer. Even so, scriptural doctrine must be taken as a whole, not as scattered proof texts. One or two scriptures we do not understand must not be used to deny one or two hundred passages which are very clear.
Maybe you have trouble accepting eternal security because you have watched the sinful lives of those who claim to have once been saved. They cuss and drink or "live like the devil" and yet expect to go to heaven. But rest assured, God's salvation is not to be taken lightly. There are many who may have once had "religion" but they did not have Christ (1 John 2:19). They never were saved. There are others who were truly saved and have backslidden. Yet, God teaches that He deals strongly with His own children (Hebrews 12:5-8). They cannot leave God without chastisement unless they are not God's children. They key is to allow God to settle these problems. "So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:12).
But what about you? Eternal security means nothing to the person who has never been secure in the first place. The way of salvation is both plain and simple. You must first realize that you are a sinner. Sin is displeasing God: doing the wrong you ought not and failing to do what you should.
Romans 3:23 states: For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
All men are sinners and therefore, you are a sinner. And this sin leads to death and hell.
Read Romans 6:23: For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
But notice that all men do not have to pay the wages of sin in eternal death. Some receive God's gift of eternal life. To do that, you must repent, or turn away from your sins, and confess them to Jesus Christ.
In Acts 20:21 we read: Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ.
Now you must believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, and that he was buried, and arose from the dead the third day.
Notice the words of Romans 10:9-10: That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.
But this belief cannot simply be a head belief. No, you must now accept Jesus Christ personally as your Lord and Saviour and ask Him to come into your heart.
Romans 10:13 states: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
If you have never been saved, call on the name of the Lord right now. Confess to Him that you are a sinner. Trust in the death of Christ on the cross as the basis of your salvation. Ask Jesus Christ to save you and to come into your heart.
As a saved person, you should now glorify and praise God for His eternal gift to you. Lose your salvation? Not on your life, and not on the life of Jesus Christ!