— By Greg Albrecht
Q. My sister says that we can lose our salvation. I say that once we are saved we can’t lose our salvation. She refers to Revelation 3:5 which seems to say that your name will be blotted out of the book of life if you don’t “overcome.” But that would mean that we are saved by works. What do you think? Can we lose our salvation once we are truly saved?
A. There is an ongoing Christian debate about this issue. I believe as you do. Why?
When we are saved, the New Testament tells us that we are given eternal life now (John 5:39; 6:54; 1 John 5:11, 13, 20). We are saved now (Ephesians 2:5,8; Titus 3:5). We are now seated with Christ in heavenly places (Ephesians 2:6). Since we are now saved, and now given eternal life, how can we lose what is eternal? Wouldn’t God call it “conditional” life if we could lose it? As for Revelation 3:5, it says the opposite of what your sister claims it does — Jesus says that he will never blot out from the book of life the names of those who overcome or conquer (and the way that we conquer is through Jesus and by him, not by our works — see Romans 8:37-39).
The book of life? What is this book? Read Revelation 20:11-15. Two books are mentioned. One is the book of life — the life that is only available in the Lamb of God. The other is a book based on “what they had done” (vs. 12 and 13). There are two books — two ways by which we might be judged. We can choose. If we choose life, if we choose the Lamb of God, we choose to accept him, trust him, follow him implicitly. That means that we surrender any notion that our works are worth anything — we absolutely and totally trust in faith alone, grace alone and Christ alone. Being in the book of life is not easy, for it involves the humility (itself a gift of God) of accepting that we are powerless to do anything of merit that will save ourselves.
The other way is to attempt to earn our salvation, or to contribute to it in some meaningful way. Religious legalisms beguile us into thinking that Jesus needs our help in saving us. Religion often deceives us into thinking that Jesus initially saves us, but once he gives us a head start, once he pays the down payment, then we need to keep up the monthly payment for salvation. According to many religious teachings, failure to keep up the monthly payment will eventually mean that God will evict us from the house of salvation. This idea appeals to human nature for we like to think that we can take care of our own problems, we don’t want to completely depend on free handouts, even God’s unbelievable grace. So many fall for the notion that their deeds are part of their salvation. If we choose to be judged by what we are able to accomplish, we are lost. We can never do for ourselves what Jesus alone can do for us.
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