So I was recently asked a question by a friend and coworker that I was originally going to answer on my FAQ page. However, as I was looking into verses from the Bible dealing with this issue, I found myself thinking too deeply about this topic to make it simply an entry on that page, so I’m making a whole new blog instead.
Anyway, the question essentially was, “Can you lose your salvation?” Now I live in the Baptist belt and I currently go to a Baptist church. From what I understand Baptists don’t believe that this is possible. I tend to disagree. I believe that the only way to gain eternal life is to believe that Jesus died and took all your sins – past, present, and future – and removed them from you, leaving them buried in the empty tomb, hypothetically speaking. Believing in this gift and having faith that it is the only way you will get into heaven is in itself the only way you can get into heaven. Because after this, there is nothing you can do to gain eternal life – Jesus already did everything for you. Pretty amazing right? Well, don’t let it go to your head. You can’t just start sinning, because God’s forgiven you of everything you’ve done and are going to do. That’s not how it works. In fact that’s a very good way to lose that very precious gift for good.
When I was about 10 years old, my Uncle Bubba (no this name in no way makes my family a redneck. My mom’s passion for NASCAR however…) bought me a pocket knife for Christmas. I was so happy to have this pocket knife. It made me feel all grown up and responsible. I remember at lunch time I was showing off the knife to my Cousin Daniel (Uncle Bubba’s son). I flicked the knife part open and pointed it near is head and told him to turn and look. …..in hindsight this is probably one of the most idiotic things I ever did as a child as it was extremely dangerous and could have severely injured my wonderful cousin. Thankfully it didn’t, but Daniel’s father saw this occur and immediately removed the knife from my possession. These events are very similar to the way God might remove His Gracious Gift of eternal life from us. Now I got my knife back a few months later, but God doesn’t return His gift so readily. so I encourage you to listen up to what the Bible says about this and make sure to stay away from these things with a ninety-nine-and-a-half foot pole.
Upon being asked this question, I immediately was reminded of multiple verses from the Bible. One of them comes from Hebrews – one of my favorite books, and it gives a general answer to this concerning question:
“It still remains that some will enter that rest, and those who formerly had the gospel preached to them did not go in, because of their disobedience.” Hebrews 4:6
The “rest” being talked about in this passage is God’s Eternal Sabbath, also known as eternity in heaven. The passage specifically states that disobedience from people who had received the gospel removes them from this gift of everlasting rest. Yikes. Disobedience to God is a sin – any sin. And we’ve all committed sins, so does that mean we’re all going to hell? Well, yes. But Jesus’ sacrifice already covered our sins. We know this, and that is why we have faith in an eternity with Him. So this must mean that there actually are some cardinal sins that are without forgiveness from God. But what are they?
“And so I tell you, every sin and blasphemy will be forgiven men, but the blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or the age to come.” Matthew 12:31-32
This is straight from the mouth of Jesus Himself. He goes so far to say that He would even forgive someone who spoke poorly of Himself, but if they blaspheme the Spirit, there will be no forgiveness for them. So the question now is, how do you blaspheme against the Spirit? I want to know so I stay as far away as possible from ever committing that sin. I’ll admit, I needed a little help figuring this one out myself. So a quick Google search later landed me on this website. You can check it out for yourself if you want, but essentially the article is saying that these verses need to be taken in context with the rest of the passage. You see, Jesus had just healed a blind, mute, demon-possessed man of all three of these infirmities. The Pharisees were scared, because they realized these actions confirmed His teachings that He was the Son of God, so in order to dissuade the people, they blamed these miraculous events on the power of demons. This sparked a thorough and well-deserved chastisement from Jesus which included these verses. Basically, what Jesus was saying was that taking the work of the Spirit, who was at the center of Christ’s ministry, and blaming it on demonic powers was an unforgivable offense against God.
Is this applicable for us today? Can we still commit this sin? Well, yes. I mean, technically, we could go around telling people that the miracles performed by Jesus were done through demonic powers. That would be the same thing now wouldn’t it? But who would do that? I don’t know a Buddhist, Muslim, Christian, Jew, et cetera who would ever say such a thing. It’s just ridiculous. Now are there more practical ways that we could blaspheme the Holy Spirit in this way? I don’t know. There are so many different extraordinary things being done by people in so many different names that it’s kind of hard to tell them apart sometimes. However, I can tell you that it is highly unlikely any exorcism might be done under demonic powers, for Jesus says Himself in this same passage, “If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand?” After my own inspection, this type of cardinal sin would be highly difficult for a Christian to achieve.
Now there is another cardinal sin that Paul talks about and it is of much more importance to us. Again in Hebrews, he speaks of a more likely, yet just as dangerous, blasphemy against God:
“If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge truth, no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of the judgement and raging fire that will consume the enemies of God. Anyone who rejected the law of Moses died without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God under foot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, and who has insulted the Spirit of grace. For we know him who said, ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ and again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ It is a dreadful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:26-31
This is rather unpleasant to think about. If we “keep on sinning”, will we lose our salvation? Is there a limit on God’s grace?
My Ryrie Study Bible couples this verse with God’s command to the Israelites in Numbers 15:30-31, “But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD and that person must be cut off from his people. Because he has despised the LORD’s word and broken his commands, that person must surely be cut off; his guilt remains on him.” Here we see that this is yet another kind of blasphemy, this time against the LORD.
The key to figuring out what these passages mean exactly lies in the adverbs “defiantly” and “deliberately”. This continuous sinning isn’t merely giving into temptation. That’s the kind of sin that God has forgiven us for. No this sinning is defiant – not just knowing what is right and wrong and doing the wrong thing, but purposefully doing the wrong thing like in an act of rebellion. God is unforgiving if you take His gift and throw it in His face, by sinning against Him just to sin against Him. The wrath of a just God is fearsome and I pray that He have mercy on your soul if you ever sin against Him defiantly.
This sinning is deliberate – knowing what is wrong and purposefully performing that action anyway, thinking that God will just forgive you later. Nope that’s not how it works. Giving into temptation is one thing. Knowing what is right but succumbing to temptation and doing the opposite is something that Jesus has forgiven us for. But Paul says that their is no sacrifice available for those who sin against God just because you think that He’ll forgive you for these sins later. This is as Paul states “trampling the Son of God under foot.” It’s just a show of utter disrespect to God and His merciful gift to use it at your whim. I completely understand God’s unwillingness to forgive such a person.
Don’t be discouraged though. These cardinal sins I have mentioned are extreme cases. They are not common sins that can easily be committed by someone. They are all conscious choices to be disobedient and disrespectful to God by taking advantage of His mercy. This is essentially mocking God and His gift of Jesus’ sacrifice and we all know how God stands on being mocked.
There is one more thing I’d like to point out here.
“It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who 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.” Hebrews 6:4-6
This holds true for all the aforementioned cardinal sins. Paul is saying that once you have lost your salvation, you cannot regain it, for it would be like crucifying Christ a second time. Now just think about it – Him dying once for you was much more than enough. If you are going to make a mockery of that gift of sacrifice, you do not deserve to receive salvation a second time.
This also holds true in another facet. Say a man were a true Christian, and after years of weakly walking in this faith, he finally gave up and identified himself with another belief. That man cannot re-receive salvation if he ever decided to return to Christianity. This is for the same reasons as above. If you decide to hold God’s gift up to Jesus, pointing it at Him and telling Him to turn and look, you are taking advantage of that gift to the harm of God’s Son and He will take it away, never to be seen again.
Alright, I know this is kind of a dark blog, so I’ll stop now. I apologize for this, but I really wanted to make sure I answered the question to the best of my ability. I’ll be honest, I had been working on a Palm Sunday blog, but couldn’t seem to find anything that inspired me. So when my coworker asked me this question, I kind of abandoned that blog and began researching this one. If you have any questions or arguments, make them known. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My Twitter page is on the side bar to your right, and here is my facebook page. Please let me know if you have anything you’d like to discuss, have me write about, or pray for.
Now with Easter right around the corner, we have a lot to celebrate – the death of Jesus which gives us the ability to live with Christ for eternity, and His resurrection which…did what exactly? I hope to tackle that question this weekend in what promises to be a much happier and lighter blog about the joy in Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. Until then, I pray that all of you stay safe and have a wonderful Easter weekend with your families.