Can You Lose Your Salvation?

I believe the Bible shows that if someone is truly a believer, sealed with the Holy Spirit, then it's not possible for them to lose their salvation.

It's no secret that I disagree with and just about hate Calvinism - the idea that God predestines who goes to heaven and who goes to hell.  CALVINISM IS NOT BIBLICAL!  It's full of twisted Scripture, "secret" word meanings, presumptions about how God acts, etc., all so it can try to support its own misconceptions of God and salvation and the Gospel.

But there is one area that we can agree on: a true believer cannot lose their salvation.

However, I see it much differently than they do.


Calvinism believes that God picks who goes to heaven, that He causes us to believe in Him, and that He will help believers "persevere" to the end.  They find security in this because "If God made it happen, then there's no chance of falling away."  

However, Calvinism actually leads to major insecurity about your salvation- because a person can never know for sure that God picked them until and unless they "persevere" in the faith all the way to the end.  

[And yet they accuse free-will believers of "working for salvation" when we say we "accepted" Jesus as Lord and Savior!  They say, "You can't 'ask Jesus into your heart' or believe in Him on your own because that's working for your salvation!  And you can't work for your salvation!"  (And I say, "Huh!?!)  But then they go and "work for their salvation" the rest of their lives, to make their election sure, yet never knowing till the end if they truly were elected or not.  And for the record, Arminians believes that a believer is always at risk of losing their salvation, so they have to work to keep it too.  That's not right either.] 

Calvinists have to worry all the way to end, wondering if they just feel saved but really aren't.  

Since they believe man cannot do anything to acquire salvation - not even believe in Jesus on their own or accept Jesus - then it's all up to God.  He has to give them the faith to believe and keep them in the faith to the end.  They can never point to anything - not even their decision to give their lives to the Lord, to make Him Lord of the life - as "proof" that they are a believer.  They can't rest in God's promise to save those who call on Jesus's name.  They can't cling to anything to give them assurance of their salvation other than "I really hope God elected me and keeps me faithful till the end!"  





Evanescent Grace
Want to hear something delightful about the Calvinist God?

According to John Calvin (the founder of Calvinism), our righteous, loving Father sometimes causes unelected people to think they are truly saved - He makes them feel secure in their "fake salvation" - just so that He has even more reason to damn them to hell.

Did you get that?  Do you really hear what that's saying?  

Our God - who is supposed to be just and righteous and loving - tricks unelected people into truly thinking they are elected.  He gives them a fake, temporary, non-saving grace that causes them to feel saved all the way till the end, just so He can punish them more "justly" in hell!  

All for His purposes and good pleasure and glory!

What kind of a God is that!?!  And how then can any saved person ever be assured of their salvation!?!  

I don't know if most Calvinists hold to this view today, or if they even know that John Calvin taught it.  But it would totally fit with Calvinism because, according to Calvinism, God causes everything that happens and makes our decisions for us.  So if a person is unelected but thinks they are saved - if someone "falls away" - it would have to be all God's doing, since He controls all.  And it would be for His glory and purposes and good pleasure - because Calvinists believe everything that happens is because God caused it for His glory and purposes and good pleasure, even pre-choosing people to damn to hell with no chance of being saved because "Jesus didn't die for them anyway."  According to Calvinism.

And that's a God that Calvinists think is worthy of trust and praise and glory!?!



Could you imagine being God, loving people so much that You left heaven to come down to earth to live in a mortal body among the people You loved, to help them find the way to Life and Truth, and then You died a horrible death on the cross so that You could pay for mankind's sin so that anyone could find eternal life in You if they wanted to, and You even wrote it all down in Your Word so that all men can know the Truth and find salvation ... 

And then along comes some guy in the 1500s who starts altering the Bible, adding and subtracting things, spreading the teaching that You don't really love all people, that Your death didn't pay for all sins but only for a few people's sins, that You deliberately created most people to go right to hell without giving them any chance to be saved, that You trick some of the hell-bound unelect into believing they're saved so that You can punish them more fully in hell, and that You do it all for Your glory and good pleasure.  And before You know it, there's a whole huge group of people believing this and teaching it to others, never questioning it or challenging how different it is from the Word.

Can you imagine how you might feel if your sacrifice and love and grace and Truth were distorted in such a horrifying way!?!

I wonder how God must feel to hear His sacrifice and love and grace and Truth distorted in such a horrifying way! 

And I wonder what kind of spirit dreamed up Calvinism.  Because it sure doesn't sound Holy Spirit-inspired to me!



And if you think I am making this up, look at John Calvin's own rambling words on this, from his Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book 3, Chapter 2, Section 11:

"I am aware it seems unaccountable to some how faith is attributed to the reprobate, seeing that it is declared by Paul to be one of the fruits of election; and yet the difficulty is easily solved: for though none are enlightened into faith, and truly feel the efficacy of the Gospel, with the exception of those who are fore-ordained to salvation, yet experience shows that the reprobate are sometimes affected in a way so similar to the elect, that even in their own judgment there is no difference between them.  Hence it is not strange, that by the Apostle a taste of heavenly gifts, and by Christ himself a temporary faith, is ascribed to them.  Not that they truly perceive the power of spiritual grace and the sure light of faith; but the Lord, the better to convict them, and leave them without excuse, instills into their minds such a sense of his goodness as can be felt without the Spirit of adoption."

He is saying that the unelect sometimes feel saved, that they are sometimes affected as much as the elect are and so they end up truly thinking they are saved.  And he goes on to say that this is because they have been given a sort of temporary faith, from Jesus, not a real faith that saves but just enough of this "temporary faith" to convict them in hell more.



And there is more in Book 3, Chapter 24, Section 8:  "The expression of our Savior, “Many are called, but few are chosen,” (Mt. 22:14), is also very improperly interpreted (see Book 3, chap. 2, sec. 11, 12). There will be no ambiguity in it, if we attend to what our former remarks ought to have made clear—viz. that there are two species of calling: for there is an universal call, by which God, through the external preaching of the word, invites all men alike, even those for whom he designs the call to be a savor of death, and the ground of a severer condemnation. Besides this there is a special call which, for the most part, God bestows on believers only, when by the internal illumination of the Spirit he causes the word preached to take deep root in their hearts. Sometimes, however, he communicates it also to those whom he enlightens only for a time, and whom afterwards, in just punishment for their ingratitude, he abandons and smites with greater blindness."
So it's not enough that God predestined the unelect to hell, just because He wanted to, because He hate them before He even made them ... but now He wants to have even more reason to condemn them to hell, to make their damnation even more justifiable!  

So condemning them to hell for the unbelief God created in them and the sins He made them commit isn't enough!?!  Now He has to make them feel securely saved before sending to them to eternal torment, as if that justifies God predestining them to hell, as though they somehow "earned" it more!?!

Fabulous! 

And here are some posts from other people on it, too.  (I don't know what else is on these blogs.  I am not evaluating anything else they say or believe, other than looking at this issue at hand):


Beyond Calvinism: On Assurance Of Salvation And Calvin's "Evanescent Grace"

Assurance Of Salvation And "Evanescent Grace"  (This is a Catholic website.  And I don't agree with much of a Catholic's theology/practices, but I am looking only at this post, at this issue of "evanescent grace.")

Talk about eternal insecurity!  


Calvinists claim they can be more secure in their salvation because if God has chosen you, He can never lose you.  

But ... that's a big "IF"!  

IF God chose you!?!  And they can't know till the end of their lives, by way of "persevering to the end," if God truly chose them or not.  And they can't know if the grace God gave them is the real saving kind or the evanescent kind.  

Oh yeah, Calvinism is wonderful, isn't it!?!  

But no!  Calvinism breeds a lifetime of fear, never knowing for sure if God chose you (or your family members).  Having to work all the way to the end to keep your faith to prove that you were chosen.  Never knowing if God is tricking you into thinking you are saved, just so He can have more reason to damn you to hell.  

Oh, yeah .... Calvinism's great!



[Not that there's not good and truth in it ... but to me, after briefly skimming it, Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion reads more like philosophical ramblings than Holy Spirit-inspired truth.  And Calvin seems to build his theology more on his own presumptions/misconceptions than on Scripture.  He builds his ideas on his own ideas.  And then he simply finds and twists the Scriptures to fit what he wants to say.

And, while there is a lot I could point out that I think he got wrong, let me at least point out this one thing that bugs me:  In his Institutes Book 2, Chapter 2, Section 27, Calvin tries to support his idea of "total depravity" - that men are so depraved and fallen that we are incapable of having any good thoughts or desires or actions unless God causes us to - by quoting two verses.  One is "every imagination of man's heart is only evil continually" (Genesis 8:21) and "we are incapable of thinking a good thought" (2 Corinthian 3:6).

Umm ... here's the thing ... 2 Corinthians 3:6 says "He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant - not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life."  Okay, so maybe someone just got his Scripture reference wrong, but I can't find the "incapable of good thoughts" verse anywhere.  Does anyone else know where it is?  And I am not talking about a verse that says we tend to think bad things, but one that says we are "incapable of thinking any good thoughts," as Calvin asserts.  I even tried looking up "incapable" and "think/thinking" and "good" and "thought/thoughts" in my concordance, and I can't find any verse in the New Testament that seems to fit what he's saying.

And on top of that, Calvin goes a bit above and beyond what Genesis 8:21 says.  In the NASB Bible, it simply says, "the intent of man's heart is evil from his youth."  Not "every ... only ... continually."  It's simply that our natural tendency is towards evil, not - as Calvin and Calvinists say - that we are completely incapable of doing, thinking, or wanting anything good (even wanting God in our lives), unless God makes us do it.  That's adding things to the verse that aren't there.  In fact, no version I checked said it like Calvin did.  I'm not sure what version of the Bible he used, but why don't any of our other translations say it the way he did, if he is right in the way he's saying it?  And if you have to add words to the Bible that aren't there, could it be because you are trying to support a teaching that isn't there?  Just because we have a tendency towards something, doesn't mean it has to happen and that we are incapable of doing anything else.  We can have intentions to do one thing, but choose to do another.  

(However, Genesis 6:5 does say something like what Calvin said:  "The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continuously."  Maybe that's the verse he was referring to.  But it is important to keep in mind whom God was referring to.  He was referring to those on the earth at that time, the people who were demonic offspring of the sons of God and the daughters of men.  A demonically-inspired generation that was so wicked that God chose to flood the earth to cleanse it, to start over.)             

The fact that his Institutes is so huge and complex and confusing probably makes it that much more appealing to intellectual/theological people.  I wonder if they find some pride in reading it, in being able to say they understand it.  And the intellectual challenge to understand it and the pride of understanding it blinds them to the errors in it.  They are swayed by the delusion that Only the smartest people can understand such deep, heavy, confusing theological writing, and only the humblest people can accept it.  

And yet, the New Testament is so much shorter and clearer and more understandable.  And if Calvin's Institutes teaches something different than God's Word (which it does), I'm siding with God's Word.  No matter how "intelligent" Calvin sounded.]





So how then can we be sure of our salvation?
Calvinists believe security is in God's choice to elect us and make us persevere.  But, as I said, that's a big "IF"!  Which doesn't bring security at all!

So then, how can we be sure of our salvation?  Where is our security?  

I believe, like the person in the first link above, that our assurance isn't found in our "persevering till the end."  It's not found in hoping God really elected us.  Our assurance is found in the promises of God, in trusting Him to do what He said He would do, if we did what He said we need to do.  That is how we can be assured of salvation!


"...'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'  They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved...'"  (Acts 16:30-31)


"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus in Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.... Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  (Romans 10:9, 13)

Have you accepted Jesus's death on your behalf, for your sins?  Have you made Him your Lord and Savior?  Have you willingly decided to follow Him, to be obedient to Him, to believe He is who He says He is?

Then you can trust that God has forgiven your sins and has given you eternal life in Him!  (And our lifestyle will be the evidence of if our faith is real or not.)

(For more on this, see "Starting Your Own Relationship With Jesus  (And Why We Need Him!)".)




But what about obedience, about persevering to the end?
Calvinists believe that if you are truly saved, God will cause you to persevere to the end, proving that you are saved.  And if you fall, it proves you only had "fake, temporary grace."  Arminians believe that you have to work to maintain your salvation because you are always at risk of losing it.

I, however, believe the Bible shows that true believers can't lose their salvation.  If a person has willfully, genuinely chosen Jesus as Lord and Savior, God has given them the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit helps us along on the path of a true believer - to grow to be more like Christ.

We don't "persevere" in order to prove our salvation or to earn our salvation, but persevering is a natural result of our salvation.  If you are a true believer you can't "fall away completely" because you have the Holy Spirit in you, and He will guide you, challenge you, convict you, give you wisdom, etc., to help you on the path God calls all Christians down.

Ephesians 1:11-12 (RSV):  "In him, according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will, we who first hoped in Christ have been destined and appointed to live for the praise of his glory."

The "destiny" of a true believer is to live for the praise of God's glory, to grow to be more like Christ.  And this happens because of the work of the Holy Spirit in a believer's life, the result of willingly placing our hope in Him.

I believe some "predestination" verses, like the one above, are simply about God having predetermined where the path of a believer leads to: it leads true believers to being more like Christ and to bringing God glory.

And so if you are not growing in your faith, living obediently, reflecting Jesus more and more, bringing God glory, convicted when you sin, etc., then you should seriously consider if you really made Jesus Lord of your life.  Or if you just said you did.  

We don't try to grow to be more like Jesus to earn or keep our salvation.  We don't have to work to keep our salvation.  We grow to be more like Jesus because of our salvation, because God has determined that all true believers will grow to be more like Jesus, with the Spirit's help.





But what about John 15?
But, Calvinists say, doesn't John 15 show that believers who don't remain in Jesus will be thrown into the fire?


John 15 talks about the vine and the branches, how we have to remain in Him and how dead branches are gathered and thrown into the fire.  And many people believe that this means that a true believer can fall away, that if they fail to remain in Jesus, they get thrown into the fire (into hell).  



However, if "remain in Me" was a warning to keep from falling away from salvation, then you would have to conclude that when Jesus said that He "remains in the Father" (verse 9), it must mean He is at risk of falling away from the Father.  And we know this isn't possible!



I do not think this is a passage about losing your salvation, about being at risk of being thrown into hell for not remaining connected to the vine.  I think it's a passage about our usefulness as believers, not about eternal security.  (The other way to look at it is to cross-reference it with Matthew 7:15-20.  This passage also talks about "branches that don't bear good fruit will be thrown into the fire."  BUT ... verse 15 specifies that they are "false prophets, wolves in sheep's clothing."  They were never true believers to begin with.  Either way, it's not about losing your salvation.)    

A believer who remains vitally connected to Jesus - through the Word, through obedience, through prayer, etc. - is useful and will bear fruit.  But those who don't are like worthless, dead branches.  Good for nothing.  And while they won't lose their salvation, they can lose their heavenly rewards.



"But each one should be careful how he builds.... If any man builds on this foundation [Jesus] using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light.  It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work.  If what he built survives, he will receive his reward.  If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames."  (1 Corinthians 3:10-15)  



I think this is the worst case scenario for true believer.  They will be saved, but they will have nothing to show for it if they have wasted their lives on frivolous pursuits and temporary pleasures, if they stored their treasures on earth, instead of in heaven (Matthew 6:19-21).  

Of course, I think we will all be relieved to be in heaven, to be with Jesus, but our eternity will be affected by what we do for Christ here on earth.  That's why we are commanded so many times in the Bible to work for God's glory, to use our time wisely, to store our treasures in heaven, and to work on building the things that matter, the only things that will last.  Eternal things!  People's souls!  God's Kingdom!  His work!  All other temporary rewards and pleasures will burn up in the end.  


Work for what matters and what will last!






But how can I work for the things that last?
But, you might be wondering, how do I do that?  How do I work for the things that last?


I think we Christians can complicate the spiritual life and cause ourselves stress by running around trying to find grand, huge things to do for God, trying to find God's Will for our lives.  But I think living the faithful life and finding God's Will is much simpler than that.



“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. . . . Love your neighbor as yourself.”  (Matthew 22:37, 39)


“Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.”  (John 14:21)


“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  (Matthew 6:33)


“I am the vine; you are the branches.  If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”  (John 15:5)


“ . . . whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  (1 Corinthians 10:31)


"Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord you are serving."  (Colossians 3:23)


“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.”  (Psalm 46:10)


I think the most faithful way to live is simply by doing whatever your job is - whatever task God places in your path today - to the best of your ability, with a godly attitude, for His glory.  It's by being a good family member, neighbor, friend, employee - treating others as Christ treats us, with love, grace, forgiveness, compassion, truthfulness, etc.  It's being a good representative of Jesus to others so that others might want Him in their lives too.  It's cleaning up your life, getting rid of things that don't glorify Him and replacing it with things that do.  It's remaining connected to Him - through prayer, His Word, and daily obedience, in the small things and the big things.  And it's being still in Him, knowing that He is God, trusting Him to be the big, loving, gracious, faithful God that He is.


Don't worry about running all over finding bigger things to do for Him; just do whatever you are doing right now for Him.  Remember that He is the God of the small things and ordinary things too.  He has you where He wants you, for a reason.  You're the only one that can do your job the way He wants you to.  Others have their own jobs, so focus only on yours, no matter how big or small or visible or overlooked it is.  He has you where He wants you.  Glorify Him wherever you are.  And when He's ready for you to move on to something else, He'll move you.  Till then, remain in Him - through the Word, through obedience, through prayer.  If you do this, He will guide you in the path He wants you on, one step at a time, and you'll always be right in the center of His will for you.   





What about backsliding?
So I believe that a true believer, because of their decision to follow Jesus and because of the Holy Spirit's work in their life, will slowly, over time, grow to be more like Jesus and to glorify God more and more.

But it will be a more bumpy journey for some believers than for others.  Life isn't easy.  Life isn't made perfect and smooth just because we became a Christian.  Life can still be hard and complicated and messy, full of ups-and-downs and twists-and-turns and highs-and-lows.  That's just life.  And it's the life of faith, too.  And if you understand that it's going to be this way at times, it won't crush you so much when the hard, dry, discouraging times happen.  It's just a part of the journey.  For all of us.  But thankfully, God walks the journey with us, and the Holy Spirit is in us to help us get through it all, to help us grow in our faith during the hard times.   

So a true believer will never fall away completely.  

But they can backslide during the hard, dry, discouraging times.  There might be times when life is so hard that they sort of "give up" for a time, where they feel like walking away from the Lord, where they look like they have walked away from the Lord.    

Think of King David, when he went through the whole "sleeping with Bathsheba and then killing her husband" thing.  When I read that, I can see how David backslid terribly.  But I never get the sense that God left him.  I see that David left God for a time, but God never left David.    

In a believer's life, sin doesn't remove our salvation, but it does hurt our relationship with the Lord.  And it will continue to hurt us until we get right with the Lord again.  If we are a true believer, we have the Holy Spirit in us.  And the Holy Spirit won't let us be comfortable with our sin and rebellion and backsliding.  Maybe for a time, we will ignore the Holy Spirit or resist Him, but He will keep working on our hearts, challenging us, convicting us, calling us to make things right again.

A true believer might "walk away" from God for a time, but God never walks away from them, for the Holy Spirit is in them constantly calling them back again.




What about those who seem like Christians for a time but later fully reject it?
Yes, there are those who walk like a Christian, talk like a Christian, live like a Christian, and have all the Bible knowledge of a Christian.  But if they don't have the Holy Spirit from a true conversion to Christ, then they are not truly a Christian.

Those who truly seem to "lose their faith" never really had real, saving faith to begin with. 


"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.  But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth."  (1 John 2:19-20)


Do you know what this "anointing from the Holy One" is?


I believe it's the Holy Spirit in us.  And the Holy Spirit is only given to true believers.  He is the "seal" that we get, God's seal of ownership over us, our guarantee that Jesus will come back and take us with Him on the day of redemption.  And if we are truly a believer with the Holy Spirit in us, we will remain in Him.  

But if we do not remain in Him, it shows we were never a true believer, that we never had the Holy Spirit.

Notice John says "But you have an anointing from the Holy One..."  He is making a differentiation between those who do have it and those who only act like they have it.  You either have the Holy Spirit or you don't.  And the Holy Spirit only comes to those who truly believe, who truly make Jesus their Lord and Savior.

"And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation.  Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory."  (Ephesians 1:13-14)



"Now it is God who makes both of us and you stand firm in Christ.  He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come."  (2 Corinthians 1:21-22)  What event is "to come"?  Jesus is coming back to take us with Him.  And the Holy Spirit is our guarantee of that.  His seal marks those who belong to Him.



"And do not grieve the Holy Spirit, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption."  (Ephesians 4:30)  The day of redemption?  The day Jesus comes back to get us!  



"As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you.  But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit - just as it has taught you, remain in him."  (1 John 2:27)



A true believer can never fall away because God has sealed us.  He has given us the Holy Spirit in us as His seal of ownership over us and as a guarantee of what is to come, a promise to come back and get us.  And even if we fall away for awhile or struggle with our faith, the Spirit will always be working on our hearts to call us back into a right relationship with God.  






God knows who His people are, from the very beginning
Personally, I believe that God, in His foreknowledge, knows from the beginning of time who His true children are, those who will choose Jesus as Lord and Savior.  He is not fooled into giving the Holy Spirit to those who make some sort of false proclamation of faith, to those who only convince themselves that they are saved, to those who are using "faith" merely as "fire insurance" but who then go back to living as their own gods, to those who honor God with their lips but not their hearts.

God is not fooled into giving the Holy Spirit to just anyone.  From the beginning, He already knows who will genuinely come to Him and who won't.  And when one of those whom He foreknows as His own does finally come to Him, He gives them the promised Holy Spirit.

But I do not believe the Holy Spirit pops in and out of people, based on whether they want to follow God today or not.

It's not "Oh, look, she prayed a prayer of salvation today, so I will give her the Holy Spirit."

"Oh, now look, she just fell away from Me, so I am taking the Spirit back."

"Oh, now she is feeling guilty and wants to come back, and so I guess I'll give her the Spirit again."

"Ugh!  Now she decided to try another religion (or no religion at all), so I guess I have to take the Spirit back again."


No!  It's not like that!  What kind of foreknowledge would that be?  How omniscient-less would that make God?



God knows from the beginning who His people are.  And only those whom He foreknows as His own - the true believers - will receive the Spirit.  And the ones who haven't truly made Jesus Lord of their lives - even if they think they did or if they feel secure because they know all the right things to say or do - will not receive the Spirit.  Not until they choose to truly, fully give themselves to the Lord.





God doesn't trick people; they trick themselves
As I pointed out earlier, John Calvin believed that God sometimes tricks people into thinking they are saved when they really aren't.  But they don't find this out until the end of their lives.


I DO NOT think this is how God operates at all!  It is a horrible misrepresentation of God!


I do not believe God tricks people into thinking they are saved ... but I do believe people can trick themselves into thinking they are saved.


If a person thinks they are saved but really isn't, it's not because God made them do it.  It's because they chose to believe this.  They chose to not really see the truth of God.  They chose to not really accept the truth of God.  They chose to replace the Gospel with their own ideas of salvation and God and Jesus, instead of accepting what the Bible says.  They chose (maybe even a bit unconsciously) to maybe acknowledge Jesus with their minds, but not to give Him control of their hearts and lives.



But ... contrary to the Calvinists who believe the unelect have no chance of being saved ... the truth is always available for people to see and to believe.  God doesn't trick anyone into believing in lies.  (However, I do think the Bible gives examples of God allowing demons to present a lie to people, giving them the chance to choose to believe in it or to reject it.  Basically, if the people want to believe in lies, God allows them the opportunity to do it.  It's God giving the people what they want.  He lets the demons give them the lies they want to believe in.  But this is much different than God lying to them or causing them to believe in lies.  It's somewhat like a parent allowing a child to make their own mistakes, but not causing them to make mistakes.)  God doesn't choose anyone to go to hell, with no chance of salvation.  God doesn't withhold His saving grace from anyone.

His Truth is always available so that they can see it and choose to believe it, if they want to.  They can find a true saving faith in Jesus, if they want to.

And if they don't accept God's truth, it's because they wanted their lies instead.

So their "fake salvation" and their eternal punishment is on them, not on God!



"For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind ..."  (Romans 1:21, 28)

"Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God's righteousness."  (Romans 10:3)


"But they were broken off because of unbelief ... And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in..."  (Romans 11:20, 23)


The people willingly let themselves be led astray.  They refused God's truth and replaced it with something that sounded better to them.  They saw the truth but chose not to believe.

But God did not trick them into it or cause them to believe lies, to sin, or to rebel.

The people chose it for themselves.  

God just let them have what they wanted.

"When tempted, no one should say, 'God is tempting me.'  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."  (James 1:13-15)



Jesus is always calling to us, trying to gather us to Him.  And if we don't come to Him, it's because we are not willing to.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing."  (Matthew 23:37)



Calvinists believe that God blinds people to the truth, so that He can put them in hell for His glory.  (Wicked, wicked teaching!)  But God doesn't blind people so that they can't see the truth.  Satan blinds people.

"The god of this age [Satan] has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ."  (2 Corinthians 4:4)



But Jesus will open the eyes of anyone who turns to Him:

"But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."  (2 Corinthians 3:16)




God doesn't trick us into "fake faith/fake salvation" but we can trick ourselves into it.  God doesn't make people feel secure in fake faith, but we can convince ourselves that we are truly saved when we are not.  Just look at all the religions and churches out there that deliberately deny the Bible and the things God has said, and they make up their own religion that suits them better, and they convince themselves that it's good enough, that they are really believers.  

But they aren't.  They deceive themselves because they want to be deceived.  They stiffen their necks to God's rebuke, close their eyes to God's truth, and let themselves be led astray by messages that tickle their ears ... because they want to.  

And someday, much to their surprise, they will hear, "Away from Me; I never knew you."

But it won't be God that caused them to be that way.  It will be their own desires that caused them to be that way - their desire to be their own god, to reject truth, to follow their own hearts instead.

"For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths."  (2 Timothy 4:3-4)



If someone is blind, it's because they chose to be.  If someone is tricked into thinking they're saved, it's because they tricked themselves, choosing something other than genuine faith in the Lord.  

And yes, in the Bible, God sometimes does blind people and harden hearts.  But He blinds and hardens those who have chosen blindness and hardness.  He doesn't make them that way; He simply confirms their decision to be blind and hard-hearted.  If they don't want to believe, He gives them what they want.  Unbelief!  But always after much long-suffering, many calls to bring them back to the truth, and many warnings about rejecting Him and about being disobedient.  

He has given us so many chances to find Him, has revealed Himself so clearly in nature, and has spoken truth to our hearts through the Holy Spirit ... and so there is no good excuse for rejecting Him.  And so if we do, it's on us!



But the truth is always available to us, to find and to understand and to believe.  If we want to.  The offer of genuine salvation is still always available to us, even to those of us who don't want it right now or who have wrongly convinced ourselves that we already have it.  The Holy Spirit is still calling to all the lost people, pleading with them to see and accept the truth.

God's offer of eternal salvation is comparable to the Passover, when God sent the Angel of Death to kill the firstborn of the Egyptians.  God instructed the Israelites to put the blood of a sacrificed lamb on their doorframes so that the Angel of Death would pass over their house and not kill their firstborn.  God provided a way of salvation, to be spared from the judgment He was going to pour out on the resistant, rebellious Egyptians ... but the Israelites had to accept it.  They had to obey His instructions if they wanted to be saved.  He didn't force them to obey; He called them to obey, He made His instructions clear, and then He left it up to them to accept His salvation or to reject it.

Likewise, God has provided the way of eternal salvation, by sacrificing Jesus as our "perfect lamb," whose blood pays the price for our sins.  And God has made the way of salvation clear in His Word, to believe in Jesus and accept His sacrifice on our behalf, putting the "blood of the lamb" on the doorframes of our hearts.  But He doesn't force us to do it or prevent us from doing it, as Calvinism would say.  He leaves it up to us to accept Him or reject Him.

He has made the way.  Will we trust Him and follow Him in it? 





So how can we know we are truly saved?  How and when do we get the Holy Spirit?

Calvinism distorts God's nature so badly that there is no way anyone can be assured of their salvation, no way that anyone could feel secure in their faith, no way that anyone would want to trust and love a God like that!

Such a shame - the damage done by Calvinists to God's good character and His Gospel truth!

But thankfully, Calvinism isn't the Gospel Truth!

And you can know you are saved.  You can have assurance of your salvation if you have done - and truly meant - the things God commands us to do to be saved.


"...'Sirs, what must I do to be saved?'  They replied, 'Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved...'"  (Acts 16:30-31)

"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.  And you will receive the Holy Spirit."  (Acts 2:38)


"That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus in Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.... Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."  (Romans 10:9, 13)


"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal live."  (John 3:16)


Do you believe that?  Do you trust God to do what He said He'd do, if we do what He told us to do? 



Contrary to Calvinism, you can know for sure that you are saved, because God wrote the truth out for us in the Bible, because He promises to save those who will turn to Him and accept Jesus's sacrifice on their behalf, and because He can be trusted to keep His promises!  



God doesn't trick us.  God doesn't want us to miss the Truth, to miss out on salvation.  God wrote the Gospels down specifically so that we could know the Truth and be saved!



"But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name."  (John 20:31)



And our security is found in the character of God - His trustworthiness, His faithfulness, His love, His goodness, His holiness, His righteousness, His graciousness, His forgiving nature, etc.



If you truly want Jesus as Lord and Savior, all you have to do is ask, to tell God this, to commit your life to Him.  Faith is a gift that He offers to all of us, but it's up to us to accept it.  And if we do, the Holy Spirit will come into us and will help us along on our journey of faith, as bumpy as it may be sometimes.  


The God of the Bible can be trusted!

The God of Calvinism cannot!


Which God do you want to believe in?  Which God are you going to stand up for?  






So are Calvinists truly saved, when they have such an unbiblical view of God and salvation?

Like all who call themselves believers, some truly are and some truly aren't.

I think there are many good, godly, God-honoring Christians who have gotten caught up in Calvinism because they've been led to believe it's the truth, and they want to be good Christians, so they believe what they're told.  And they've been told so many times that since they can't truly understand Calvinism, they just have to accept it.  (That's brainwashing hogwash!)  And so they don't even know to doubt it.  They've been taught it's "unhumble" to question it or to dig deeper for answers.  They've been manipulated and shamed into Calvinism, into not questioning it.

But if they ever decided to really look into it, they would be horrified.  They would disagree with it and find many biblical arguments against it.  But they don't ever look that deeply.  In a way, they are simply nominal Calvinists, because they don't really know what it is about.  They call themselves Calvinists by default.

I think, in general, Calvinists have the "what" right - that Jesus is the only way to eternal life - but they get the "how" wrong, by believing that God determines if we have faith or not, that He has already decided our futures and there's nothing we can do about it, when the Bible actually teaches that we are responsible for our beliefs.

But then there are the Calvinists who - like any other believer who has convinced themselves they are saved when they aren't - have willingly chosen blindness to the truth of the Gospel, who suppress the truth and substitute their own ideas.  Because of their own desires, their own pride, their own "intellectual superiority."  They are the ones who need to seriously consider if they are saved or not.  God doesn't "elect" us.  So they cannot have security in that idea, or in the fact that they seem to have a lot of Bible knowledge or that they appear to be so "humble."

If they never made a conscious decision to make Jesus Lord of their lives, if they simply "let God do it," convincing themselves that they must be saved because of their Bible knowledge, are they really truly saved?  Only they and God can know that.  And if they are not, it's because they chose their own way over God's way.     




Additional Verses to consider:
Here are some passages that people use to show we can lose our salvation.  There are more, but I am only going to briefly respond to a few of these.  Just enough to show that things aren't always the way we think they are, that there are other ways to read Bible verses that fit better with the overall message of the Bible and with God's revealed character.:  

1.  Hebrews 6:4-6: "It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance ..."  Check out this post for two possible ways to understand this passage, neither of which supports the idea that a true believer can lose their salvation.  

The first is that it's basically talking about people who know the truth well enough, who are as close to the truth as you can get, but who reject it anyway, in full knowledge of what they are rejecting.  Think of Judas, who saw the truth up close, and yet rejected it anyway.  And this idea would also fit with John 12:37,39 which says that the people saw Jesus's miracles but still would not believe in Him, and because they would not believe in the truth they so clearly saw, God hardened their hearts so that they could not believe.  He gave them what they wanted.  Unbelief.  (And Hebrews 10:26-31 is along the same lines.  Note that Hebrews 10:26 says they received the knowledge of the truth, not necessarily salvation or the Holy Spirit or eternal life.  But full knowledge of the truth.  It may just be that these were not true believers, but those who knew the truth that could save them, but they rejected it anyway.)

And the second possibility is that it's setting up a hypothetical situation, showing how ridiculous it would be if it could happen, emphasizing how much better it is that it can't happen.  It would be like saying, "It would be bad if people could fly using their own two arms because then there'd be millions of people flying all over, crashing into each other, and falling out of the sky and slamming into the ground."  

IF we could fly, it would be bad and lead to chaos.  So thank God we can't.  

And IF genuine Christians could truly fall away, it would be bad and lead to chaos, such as having to crucify Jesus over and over again.  So thank God we can't.    

I believe both interpretations fit well!


[However, if - and that's a big "IF" - if it is possible for a person to be a genuine believer and then to lose their salvation, I would have to say that the only possible way that could happen is if someone who truly knows and has lived the Gospel Truth makes a deliberate, conscious, fully-knowledgeable choice to reject it, in favor of something else.  

I don't think it's possible for a genuine believer to lose salvation - because "if they went out from us, they never really belonged to us" - but if it is possible, it would only be by conscious, deliberate choice.  So I do not think a believer who is concerned about their salvation has to be worried that they might end up backsliding or sinning their way into "losing salvation."

Believers will still sin from time to time.  But our sins have already been paid for on the cross.  They are forgiven.  And the Holy Spirit will convict us when we've done wrong and will help us make it right and will help us grow in righteousness over our lifetimes.


A genuine believer might struggle - WILL STRUGGLE - but their life will be a slow, steady march towards the Lord, even though there will be twists and turns and setbacks.  Their life will show fruit.  It will show a tendency toward obedience, conviction when we sin, a desire to make things right with the Lord and to deepen our relationship with Him, a desire to live more and more like Christ.  

But we don't do these things to earn or keep our salvation, we do them because we are saved, because the Spirit guides us in these things.  It is the natural outworking of our salvation, of the Holy Spirit living in us.  So if someone claims to be a believer but shows no fruit, no obedience, no concern for reflecting Jesus, then they should seriously ask themselves if they are truly a believer, if they truly want Jesus more than their own sin.]    




2.  1 Peter 1:3-5:  "In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade - kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God's power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed at the last time."  

Some people (Arminians, for sure) believe our full "salvation" isn't acquired until a later date, because this verse says our "salvation" is coming and will be revealed at the last time.  Therefore, they conclude that we have to keep working for it, because it's not fully here yet.  And until it is, we can lose it by falling away.  

However, in this passage, "salvation" is not about "eternal salvation."  According to the concordance, it's about God promising to spare people from the end times wrath He will pour out on unbelievers.  I believe this is a reference to the rapture, to God promising to spare His people from the wrath He will pour out on the staunch unbelievers during the tribulation.  

And notice that our faith "activates" God's shield.  If we have genuine faith, we have the Holy Spirit and are shielded by God.  The Holy Spirit is the seal, guaranteeing that we will be taken out of here on the day of redemption, which I believe is the day of the rapture.

So this passage isn't about having to maintain  salvation or work for some future salvation.  It's simply about God promising to get us out of here before He unleashes His wrath in the end times.  (It is so important to use a concordance when reading the Bible.  It is eye-opening!)



3.  Colossians 1:22-23:  "But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation - if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel."  

This might not be saying you have to continue in the faith, as in "working to keep your faith," as those who believe that we can lose salvation would say.  But it might simply be saying that your continuance in the faith will be a sign that you are truly saved.  Like saying, "If you are a true believer, as evidenced by continuing firmly in the faith, then you have nothing to fear when you stand before God in the end."

Or it could be a warning not about losing salvation but about losing "holiness" in God's sight.  It could be saying that if we live faithfully in Him, we will be able to stand confidently before Him in the end, with nothing to be ashamed about.  But if we don't, then we will have things to be ashamed about when we stand before Him.  Yes, we will get into heaven "by the skin of our teeth," but we will be ashamed if we have nothing to show for it because we failed to live faithfully.  

I think the point of Colossians is that because we are saved, we should be putting our faith into practice, living as God wants us to live.  We don't practice our faith to maintain our salvation; we live in faith and faithfulness because we are saved.  

Besides, if Calvinism is true, there's no need to instruct us to do all these things, if God has already determined what we will do and whether or not we will continue in faith to the end.

Notice Colossians 1:10-14"And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.  For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."

I think if Paul's point of Colossians was that believers are at risk of losing their salvation, he would have said something about praying that they (true believers) wouldn't walk away from truth.  Instead, he is praying about them growing in their faith and being fruitful and having the endurance to keep living the way they should.  Not because they will lose their salvation if they don't, but because there is an inheritance waiting for faithful, fruitful believers.  Heavenly rewards.  And he is warning us not to lose those rewards.  

(If you define "inheritance" as "salvation," then you'll be afraid that losing your inheritance means losing your salvation.  But the concordance doesn't say this "inheritance" is eternal life.  It says it's about the condition and possessions the believer will have in the new order of things, after Christ comes.  It's the rewards and lifestyle a believer receives for living a faithful life.)



4.  James 5:19-20:  "My brothers, if any of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover a multitude of sins."  

People often say this is talking about a true believer turning from the truth and being brought back again.  Because, as they point out, James addresses them as "brothers," which means it has to be talking about true believers.  Right?

And while, according to the concordance, this word - "brethren" actually - can be used to mean believers, it can also be used to refer to biological brothers or people who are unified by a common interest/calling or to mankind in general.  It doesn't have to always mean "true believers."  

And notice that the verse talks about turning a "sinner" from his ways, not a fellow believer.  This passage could simply be saying that if any of our neighbors drifts from truth - strays into falsehood - and we bring them back to the truth of the Gospel (helping sinners find the truth in Jesus), we will have helped save them from eternal death.

And if it is talking about true believers, "wandering from the truth" doesn't have to mean "abandoning truth."  It could just mean entertaining falsehoods, allowing falsehood to seep into your theology.  And we need to help keep other believers on the straight and narrow, grounded in biblical truth, pointing out to them how the lies distort the truth.     



5.  1 Corinthians 9:27"No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified from the prize."  

People say this means that Paul was afraid of losing his salvation and so he had to keep working to earn/keep it.  

First off, they are assuming that "prize" means "eternal life/salvation."  If it did, then Paul - by comparing the life of faith to "running the race to get the prize" - would also be saying that only one person can get salvation, because only one runner gets the prize.

But I don't think the prize is salvation.  I don't think Paul is saying we are at risk of losing our salvation if we don't keep running hard and fast, if we don't "work" for it.  I think the "prize" is the reward a believer gets in eternity for living faithfully and obediently.  (And this is exactly what the concordance says too.)  And Paul is saying that after he has preached the truth to others, he doesn't want to get lazy in his faith.  He doesn't want to lose the spiritual rewards he has worked for.  He has been building up his treasures in heaven, and he doesn't want to stop doing that once he's finished doing the job of preaching to the people God sent him to.  He wants to live faithfully and fruitfully until the end.



6.  Romans 11:21-24:  "For if God didn't spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.  Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness.  Otherwise, you will be cut off."

Some people say this shows that people lost their salvation or are at risk of losing their salvation.  But there are three things going on here.  

One, this is about Israel losing their place with the Lord because they hardened their hearts, and so God grafted in the Gentiles.  God turned His focus from Israel because they rejected Him, and He chose to extend salvation to the Gentiles instead.  He chose to give the Gentiles the offer of salvation, not just the Israelites.  He chose to allow them to be adopted into His eternal family if they would believe in Him.  

Two, it's not about someone believing and then falling away and losing their salvation.  It's about the difference between those who believe and those who won't believe.  Those who won't believe are broken off, they are separated from the Lord because of their resistance to Him (particularly about Israel rejecting Jesus, verse 20) ... but if we don't persist in our unbelief, if we choose to believe in Jesus, we will be grafted in to God's family (verse 23, particularly about God promising to draw the Israelites close to Him when they are willing to accept Jesus).

And three, I think he's warning the Gentiles that God doesn't owe them anything.  He is not required to focus on them and to extend His blessings to them.  If they reject Him like the Israelites did, then He can turn from them just like He turned from the Israelites.  But if they "continue in His kindness" - if they remain responsive to Him in gratitude for the blessings and salvation He offers them - then He will continue to show His kindness to them.

Essentially, this is about groups of people, not about individual people.  It is about how our response to Him determines how He responds to us.  

I believe the Bible shows that God has predestined that there would be a group of people with Him in heaven, a family of believers, and that Jesus's death would be the only way they could get to heaven ... but the offer is extended to all individual people to become part of that family, to accept Jesus's sacrifice on their behalf.  If they want to.  If they choose to.   




[I like this person's view of assurance of salvation, how it is different from the Calvinist's "perseverance of the saints."  (Look for it in Chapter 5, under the heading "Preservation Of The Saints.")]



Here are some more posts I have written on Calvinism:

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