Can a truly converted Christian ever lose his salvation?
The writer of the book of Hebrews said, “For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sin, But a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries” (Hebrews 10:26).
The “we” of verse 26 includes both the writer and the readers of the epistle.
Notice the author’s use of “us” and related terms: “Let us draw near…Let us hold fast…let us consider one another…Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves…” Then, after all this admonition, he says, “For if we sin willfully….there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins.”
A few chapters earlier, the writer states unequivocally that loss of salvation is a very real possibility. He writes:
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Spirit, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, if they shall fall away, to renew the again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame” (Hebrews 6:4-6).
While the truly converted Christian should have a sense of assurance about his salvation, he should also recognize the fact that salvation can be lost!
Paul encouraged the churches to rejoice in the assurance of salvation. He wrote: “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” (Romans 8:38,39).
Yet, he also warned of the possibility of loss of salvation. Speaking of converted Gentiles, Paul said: “Be not high-minded, but fear [i.e., the people of Israel who rejected Christ], take heed lest He also spare not thee.
“Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they [unbelieving Israelites] also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again” (Romans 11:20-23).
Paul was not speaking of merited “rewards”; he was speaking of unbelievers becoming believers and believers becoming unbelievers! He acknowledged the possibility of loss of salvation!
If Paul thought loss of salvation an impossibility, why did he write, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27)? Does becoming a “castaway” have to do only with loss of “rewards,” but not loss of eternal life?