There are some theological issues I won't debate with other Christians because I believe they are of little consequence. An example is the question of predestination (aka, election). God clearly commands us to share the gospel so I will share the gospel. What's the use of debating whether a person has the free will to respond or if God gives him the ability to respond?
There are some issues, of course, where I take a definite position and this includes the question, can a person lose his salvation? In my opinion, what a person thinks about losing his salvation reveals how he thinks a person is saved. If someone thinks a person could lose his salvation by sinning, for example, it may be because he thinks salvation is earned by good works. What's more, if it is possible to lose my salvation, I want to be sure I know if mine is at risk.
Concerning losing salvation, one website offers this analogy:
Suppose a friend gave me a brand new car which he paid out of his own money, and simply gave me the title and keys and said, "It's yours, Tom. Enjoy it." All I can do is reach for the keys and title and say, "Thank you!" Let me ask you a question. Is the car a free gift to me or did I have to earn it? It's free, right! But let me ask another question. Is it going to cost me money to keep and maintain the car? Sure it is. I'm going to have to put gas, change the oil, give it tune-ups, wax the car, and so on. The car is costly to keep, but it was free when I received it. Salvation works the same way. I can't earn it. God freely gave me my salvation since Jesus paid for it through His sacrifice on the cross. But once I receive it, I must take care of it.
Really good analogies are scarce. I think this analogy fails one a single point: If the car represents salvation, at the end of the day, would he still have the car or not? If he didn't put gas in the car, he may not get the full benefits of it, but he still owns the car, doesn't he? Suppose the person who gave him the care said, “I'm going to give this to you but if you don't take care of it, I'm taking it away.” In that case, did he ever really own the car? It's more like the true owner is just letting him drive it for a while. Rather than demonstrating how a person keeps his salvation, I believe this analogy better illustrates the misunderstanding people have over the issue.
I want to make a short series about the subject where I present my argument against the possibility of a Christian losing his salvation and then rebut some of the more common arguments in favor of it.
This subject came up once in my Sunday School class when we were studying Hebrews. The verse that prompted the discussion was Hebrews 6:4-6:
For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.
Many people cite this passage as Scriptural support for the idea one can lose his salvation. However, I believe the passage is vague. Read the passage again carefully and consider what it is saying. 1) It clearly says, “if they shall fall away,” it would put Christ's death on the cross to open shame. 2) It clearly says “if they shall fall away,” it is impossible for them to become saved again. What is not clear from the passage is whether or not it is actually possible to “fall away.” I can see how one might have the impression it's possible but it isn't overtly stated from a straight reading of the text.
I admit some passages in the Bible are a little difficult to understand and I think it's dangerous to build doctrine on passages that are difficult to understand. In order to understand a difficult passage, we need to seek out other passages that discuss the same subject and aren't difficult to understand. We can then use the clear reading of the other passages to help us better understand the more vague ones.
For the record, based on my understanding of the clear passages in the Bible, I interpret Hebrews to mean something like, “If a saved person could fall away from the faith, it would make a mockery of Christ's death and it would be impossible for them to become saved again since Christ only died once on the cross.” Over the next few posts, I intend to offer clear, Scriptural support for what some have called, “eternal security.” Please stay tuned!