Why Do Christians Fear Losing Their Salvation?

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The simple answer is that too often we let our faulty human perspectives cloud our clear understanding of Scripture. There are a few ways we let smoke get in our eyes and blur our understanding and assurance of salvation.

Reasons We Doubt Our Eternal Security

We sometimes doubt the security of salvation because of our experiences with others. I’m sure everyone knows a person who seemed to have a vital walk with the Lord Jesus, and then abandoned the faith. We wonder, What about them? They have gone so far from God, we think, that person must be absolutely, positively lost.

Some of us doubt the security of our salvation because we struggle with sin. Our persistent sin may be an addictive behavior, like drugs or alcohol, or persistent sexual sins. We may wonder why we continue to strive and strain without seeing transformation in our lives. Without the kind of growing obedience we believe should come with salvation, we may begin to wonder if we’re actually lost.

Still others struggle with difficult passages like Hebrews 6:4–6 or 10:26–27. Despite so many verses (like the ones pointed out in the question about whether or not Christians can lose their salvation) that seem to assure us of our salvation, these difficult ones are sticky and can strain our confidence in our security.

Finding Assurance of Salvation

Scripture, Not Experience

Here are some suggestions that have helped me clear my confusion about this issue and have given me assurance of salvation. First, we need to interpret our experiences through the lens of Scripture and not the other way around. Although we recognize that the Lord Jesus will never leave us or forsake us, that He holds us securely in His hands, and that nothing will ever separate us from His love, too often we say, “But what about Fred and Gina? They seem to have lost their salvation.” Rather than look to others as our source of proof, let’s always start with what the Bible teaches. We must look to God’s Word for explanations of our experiences instead of prioritizing our personal experiences and using them to interpret the Word of God.

Unclear in Light of the Clear

“God will never love us more or less than He does right now.”

Second, we need to interpret unclear passages in light of the clear teaching of Scripture. When I was a freshman student at Moody Bible Institute, I believed in the security of the believer, but I was tortured by Hebrews 6. I remember badgering one of my professors for an explanation and nothing he said would satisfy me. Finally, he taught me this crucial interpretive principle: we need to interpret the unclear verses of the Bible in light of the clear ones. That resolved the issue for me. I know the Bible is harmonious and clearly teaches the perseverance of our Savior. From then on I would always pursue the meaning of Hebrews 6 and other difficult passages in light of what the Bible plainly taught.

Loss of Rewards, Not Loss of Salvation

Third, we must remember that oftentimes passages that seem to refer to the loss of salvation actually refer to the loss of rewards. For example, when Paul says he disciplines himself so that, after preaching to others, “I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27), he actually refers to being disqualified from receiving a crown (or rewards). Paul is not saying that he could lose his salvation.

Not Genuine Believers

Finally, we need to remember that people who seem to abandon the faith may have never known the Lord at all. That’s why 1 John 2:19 says, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us.” It’s why the Lord Jesus will tell some at the final judgment, “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matt. 7:23, emphasis added) not “Depart from Me, you lost it.” As for those who really do know the Lord but have wandered, one day, before it’s all over, they will actually repent and be restored.

Final Thoughts

Too often we struggle because of our own human inconsistency. We have good days and bad days. On good days, we feel God’s love in a tangible way. But on a bad day, we wonder how anyone could love us, let alone God Himself. But God will never love us more or less than He does right now (Rom. 8:37–39). Claire Cloninger, a six-time Dove Award–winning Christian songwriter, expressed this beautifully, “On a scale of one to ten, God loves me ten on my best day and a ten on my worst day. There’s no way I can lose God’s love by what I do or don’t do. There’s nothing I can do to make Him love me less or more. Amazing!” She goes on to say it’s the best kept secret of the spiritual life, “The little understood mystery, we call ‘amazing grace.’”

For Further Reading:

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