I’ve known believers who for years seemed to have a genuine faith in Jesus, yet recently they have denied it. Also, some biblical passages seem to teach loss of salvation. How do you explain these issues in light of eternal security?
Eternal security is the doctrine that teaches that Jesus gives the assurance of salvation to all who come to Him in faith. Here are some suggestions that have helped me understand the difficulties posed by people who seem to deny their faith and helped me to keep assured of my salvation. First, we need to interpret our experiences through the Scriptures and not the other way around. Scripture says that the Lord Jesus will never leave us or forsake us (Heb. 13:5), that He holds us securely in His hands (John 10:28–29), and that nothing will ever separate us from His love (Rom. 8:38–39).
Second, often passages that seem to refer to loss of salvation actually refer to loss of rewards. For example, Paul says that he disciplines himself so that after preaching to others, “I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27). This refers to disqualification from either receiving rewards or the privilege of proclaiming the gospel.
Finally, we need to remember that people who seem to abandon the faith may have never known the Lord at all. Scripture notes, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19). It’s why the Lord Jesus will tell some at the final judgment, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matt. 7:23).