“Can we lose our salvation after we have received it and end up lost?”
Can I really get to heaven just by believing that Jesus died for me? Don’t I also have to live a good life? It doesn’t seem fair that someone can live however they want, and then just say, “I believe in Jesus” to get to heaven
The Pharisees, religious leaders of Jesus’ time, believed that salvation could be earned by strict observance of the Law of Moses (the Ten Commandments plus the other Old Testament rules). Jesus rejected that belief and stressed that we will be judged on the purity of our motives, not just on the outward observance of rules.
Jesus said we must strive to go beyond the Ten Commandments in our practice of love for all people. What He asks is true concern and caring, not mere compliance with a set of rules. Not only must we not murder (Exodus 20:13), we should avoid even holding a grudge:
“You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Do not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’ But I say, if you are angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the high council. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.” (NLT, Matthew 5:21-22)
Not only must we not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14), we should avoid entertaining even the thought of it (Matthew 5:27-29). Not only must we not steal (Exodus 20:15) and not envy what others have (Exodus 20:17), we should focus our lives on God, not on earthly possessions (Matthew 6:19-21). Not only must we not give false testimony (Exodus 20:16), we should even avoid evil thoughts and speech (Matthew 12:35-37). Not only must we be considerate to the poor (Deuteronomy 15:7-8), we should treat them as we would treat Jesus, Himself! (Matthew 25:31-46).
• Love God. Nothing should get in the way of our total devotion to God. We must be humble, not arrogant or self-righteous. In ancient times, people were tempted to worship pagan gods and idols. In modern times, we are tempted to let “idols” like money, power, prestige, careers, hobbies and pleasure become our primary goals and concerns. (See III. A. 1., III. C. , III. D. , III. E. )
• Love your “neighbor.” In other words, be kind and respectful to other people. Jesus put this commandment on par with the commandment to love God. As Jesus defined it, all people of the world are our “neighbors,” regardless of race, religion, nationality, etc. (See III. A. 2., V. C. )
• Put your faith in God and Christ. In Biblical usage, “faith” means more than just believing that God exists and that Jesus is His divine Son. Trusting our lives to God instead of worldly things is even more important. (See III. D. , IV. A. , V. A. , V. B. , V. D. )
• The heart is more important than rules and laws. In Jesus’ time, people believed they would be saved if they followed about 600 rules and laws. But Jesus pointed out that people could observe all those rules and still find ways to live wicked and greedy lives. Jesus and His disciples taught that God sees everything and will judge us by what is in our hearts (our attitudes, intentions and motives). (See III. B. , IV. B. )
• Live a moral life. Avoid sins like murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, slander, idolatry, hostility, greed, envy, jealousy, quarreling and drunken behavior. (See IV. B. , VIII. A. )
• Repent and forgive others. No one can completely live up to God’s standards. When we fall into sin, we must repent (sincerely turn away from sin and toward God). Just as God is willing to forgive our sins, we must be willing to forgive other people. (See III. G. )
• Do God’s work on earth. It is not enough to just avoid evil. We are also commanded to use the wealth, talents and abilities God has given us to serve God and other people. (See III. F. )
the process of Sanctification
All Christians, however, agree we can be saved only by the grace of God; we cannot save ourselves or determine our own fate after death. But, is salvation available to all, or are some people predestined to be saved while others are condemned to hell, even before they are born? Are we justified by faith or doing good works or both? Can only Christians be saved? Once saved, always saved? Can salvation be lost? These and many more questions have been the work of countless theologians over the past 2000 years. Nevertheless, despite obvious differences, the various beliefs about salvation have much in common, and most of them come from the Bible.
Mark 10:24-27 introduces the idea that salvation is a gift from God, not something we earn by our own efforts. In the same chapter, we are introduced to the idea that, through a mystery we can’t fully understand, salvation comes through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus. Jesus said,
For even I, the Son of Man, came here not to be served but to serve others, and to give my life as a ransom for many." (NLT, Mark 10:45)
It seems strange to us today, but the concept of sacrifice for atonement (reconciliation between God and humans) was very familiar in Jesus’ time. Lambs and other animals were routinely sacrificed in the Jewish temple to atone for sin. God accepted the death of the sacrificial animal as a substitute for the death that the sinner actually deserved. Against that background, we can understand that Jesus was the ultimate sacrifice to redeem us from the penalty for the sins we have all committed. Through Jesus’ death on the cross, we are freed from the deadly grip of sin. Although we do not fully understand the how or why of Jesus’ sacrificial death, it offers us a chance for salvation, and that is the central belief and hope of Christianity.
However, salvation is not a gift given to all (Matthew 7:13-14, Luke 13:23-27); the Bible lists many requirements for salvation. Matthew, Mark and Luke emphasize high moral standards, love for one another, and commitment. We can never measure up to God’s standards, but we must put forth our very best effort, and when we fail, we must repent and resolve to do better. The Letters of Paul also emphasize moral uprightness. Paul also says we can be justified (made acceptable to God) only by putting our faith in Christ, not by observing the Old Testament Laws. The Gospel of John emphasizes the importance of believing in Jesus Christ and putting our trust in Him.
There are many clear scriptures that tell us a person can lose their salvation but there are also scriptures that tell us that no man will take us out of His hand – no man shall pluck you out of My hand, and that’s true. Other people cannot cause you to lose your salvation but, you can do things that would cause you to lose your salvation. For example, the last chapter of Revelation, chapter 22, it says if you add to the things that are written in the book of Revelation, God will add to you the plagues of the book. If you take away from the book of Revelation, God will take your name out of the Book of Life. Now if you can’t have your name taken out of the Book of Life, why does it say in the last chapter of the Bible that if you take away from the things of Revelation, your name will be taken out of the Book of Life? Also, in Hebrews chapter 6 it states there that there are principles of the doctrine that we should leave and go on to perfection, and then it goes on to say, for it is impossible for those who have once tasted the heavenly gift have been made partakers of the Holy Ghost and of the Word of God and the powers of the world to come. If they shall fall away it’s impossible to renew them again to repentance seeing that they have crucified the Son of God afresh and put him to an open shame. So it specifically says there, those who once tasted of the heavenly gift, those who were made partakers of the Holy Ghost; if after they’ve had a mature established walk with God, if they then shall fall away then it is impossible to renew them to repentance because they have crucified the Son of God afresh. Now there are a lot of questions about, okay what does that mean? Does that mean that anybody who’s ever been saved and then they backslide, they can never be saved again? No, that’s not true because we have other stories such as the prodigal son that clearly teach a person can fall away and can be restored. The Bible also says, if your brother has been taken in a fault rebuke him, if he repents restore him. So restoration is possible, however, to those of you who are mature, that really understand the scriptures, that really understand the plan of salvation; don’t play loose with your soul because it is a very dangerous thing to walk out on Jesus Christ and turn your back on Him and say I don’t believe this anymore. That is a very dangerous thing. So, can you fall away? Yes, but God promises as long as you continue to stay with Him, He will not cast you away, He will stay with you; that’s where everything hinges. You cannot lose your salvation without your own fault but, if you choose to walk away and start living after the flesh then you can lose your salvation.
Here is one answer: Read your Bible. All the way through. Then read it again. All the way through. Don’t skim it, read it for understanding. Then keep reading it. If you still do not understand 1) Who God is 2) who we are - then I can only pray that God will help open your eyes. It is NEVER said in the Bible that we can give lip-service and live however we “wish” (sin) and accrue anything but judgment and damnation from a Holy and Righteous God. If the Old Testament does not convince you of this (hundreds and hundred of years of God’s chosen Nation, Israel, tried the same thing and was taken into slavery by foreign nations over and over again) I don’t know what will. Once you understand that God is Holy and we are nothing but creatures of evil hearts with no hope of salvation, the New Testament will make sense and that sense you mentioned of it not seeming “fair” will disappear, and you will find yourself agreeing with God, instead of trying to make God agree with you!
Great discussion of this here: