Ask a Bible Teacher
By Jack Kelley
Question: My husband is convinced that you can lose your salvation. He believes we are saved, but once we know better, that if we continue sinning, we will not go to heaven. He relies on passages from Hebrews for this. Also, that if we are caught sinning when Jesus returns...that we will not go to Heaven. Please offer some help with this.
I believe that Jesus died for all of my sins; past, present, and future and that I will go to heaven because i have asked Him into my heart, asked for forgiveness, and help and I believe he was God's son, died on the cross, and was resurrected and because of this, he paid the price for me. I can't lose my salvation. I am very concerned, however, about my husband's views, and that he is teaching them to others, including our daughter. Please help me with this.
Answer: People who teach a conditional salvation have misunderstood several things. The first is the nature of time. Hebrews 10:12 says that the Lord's sacrifice was done once but that it covered all of time, past present and future. The first part of Verse 14 says that this sacrifice,this one event, made us perfect forever, confirming a similar thought in 2 Cor. 5:17-21. The old has gone, the new has come. God now chooses to see us not as we are but as we will be, as righteous as He is.
The second part of Hebrews 10:14 describes us as being made holy, implying a process. The sacrifice saved us, but didn't make us completely holy. That's the ongoing work of the Holy Spirit in our lives, which will never be complete as long as we're alive. This implies that we're still sinners, even though saved.
And that brings me to the second thing, the nature of sin. Sin is a terminal illness. A resurrection body is the only cure. While on Earth believers are in remission but the illness hasn't left us. It can flare up at any time. It only takes a surface reading of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt. 5-7) to understand that even our thoughts of anger, envy, or lust condemn us forever. If we could prevent ourselves from sinning, God wouldn't have had to die for us. But knowing that we couldn't He first died for our sins and then prescribed a remedy for our re-occurrences, 1 John 1:9. It's there so we can restore ourselves to righteousness, and there's no limit on its use.
The third thing they misunderstand is Hebrews 6. It was written to Jewish Christians who were trying to maintain both New and Old Covenant relationships. The writer explained that by trying to maintain their relationship with God through sacrifices and offerings they were in fact losing it because by their human effort they were declaring the Lord's work insufficient. Hebrews 6 is not about our salvation. It's about our fellowship. Here's a link to my study on Hebrews 6 to help you understand this tragic mistake.
In Hebrews 4:9-11 the writer had already explained the concept of the Sabbath rest for believers. Once the work of salvation is completed by asking the Lord to grant it, the believer enters a life long period of rest. Any further or ongoing effort to earn or maintain it is a violation of the Sabbath Commandment, the penalty for which is death.
And the fourth thing is grace. Grace is an unmerited favor. Anytime you interject any form of work into the equation, you nullify the effect of grace. It's like any other gift. It's given out of love, irrespective of merit. No effort is required to earn it, and none is required to keep it. No matter what happens in the future you never have to give it back. Your salvation is a gift of grace.
I've written a number of studies on the doctrine of Eternal Security. You'll find them here.