My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. I and the Father are one." John 10:27-30
Over the years, I have heard many debates as to whether or not you could lose your salvation. Some of these debates get so heated that both sides might possibly lose their salvation over it.
Some believe that salvation is completely God’s choice. If God chose you, then you have no choice but to be saved. Since there is no choice to be saved, then there is certainly no choice to reverse things.
Others hold that you make a decision to be saved, but once you decide, you can never go back the other way. I refer to this as the “Hotel California” theology: you choose to enter salvation, but you can never “check out.”
Still others hold that it is your decision to be saved, your decision to remain saved, and your decision to give it up should you choose. I call this the “Hokey Pokey” theology: “you put your whole self in, you put your whole self out…you get the idea.
When we read passages like this one from John, we get the idea that the assurance of our salvation is, well, rather assuring. In this passage, John actually uses a sort of double negative in the Greek: “they shall never, no not ever, perish.” It’s not bad grammar, but it is a very strong emphasis on God’s ability to keep us.
The confusion often comes when verses guaranteeing the believer’s security are paired with verses than warn us to “take heed lest we fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12). Many of us can give examples of folks who faithfully served God, then just went their own way. Did they lose their salvation? Were they ever saved? Are they still saved? Only God can really be the judge of that. We have to be careful not to confuse fitting into a church culture with salvation. I think we’ll be very surprised to see who is and isn’t in Heaven when we get there.
At this point in my life, I believe that our salvation is far more secure than I once did. Can we lose our salvation? I think that question misses the point of what these verses are meant to do.
God understands us. He knows what we need. God knows that there are days when we are down on ourselves and feel insecure. On those days, we need to hear that “nothing can separate us from the love of God” (Romans 8:38-39). We need a reminder of God’s assurance.
Then, there are other days when we are prideful, controlling, and self-righteous. On those days, we need to be reminded to “take heed” (1 Corinthians 10:12). We need to be motivated to surrender our self-will and depend on Him.
Can we lose our salvation? Well, let me put it this way: everyone who dies as a believer (Romans 10:9) goes to Heaven.