Why do believers worry that they can lose their salvation? If the Scripture is so clear that we can't, why are so many concerned about it?
We sometimes doubt the security of our salvation because of our experiences with others. I’m sure everyone knows a person who seemed to have a vital walk with Jesus, and then abandoned the faith. Some doubt the security of salvation because we struggle with sin. Still others struggle with difficult passages such as Hebrews 6:4–6 or 10:26–27. Despite so many verses that assure us of our salvation, difficult ones can strain our confidence.
Here are some suggestions that have helped me have 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, start with what the Bible teaches.
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. He taught me that we need to interpret the unclear verses of the Bible by referencing the clear ones. That resolved the issue for me. The Bible is harmonious and clearly teaches the perseverance of our Savior. I would always pursue the meaning of difficult passages with what the Bible plainly teaches.
Third, 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 “I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:27*), he refers to being disqualified from receiving a crown (or rewards). Paul is not saying he could lose his salvation.
Finally, people who seem to abandon the faith may have never known the Lord at all. It’s why the Lord will tell some at the final judgment, “I never knew you; depart from Me” (Matt. 7:23), not “depart from Me, you lost it.” 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).
*All Scripture references in this column are taken from the New American Standard Bible.