“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.”
Can you lose your salvation? Can you sin so much that your salvation is invalidated? And, if that’s possible, can you earn it back? Perhaps you were never saved in the first place. What if you decide one day that you are just done with God and renounce your faith? There have been several prominent Christians in the last few years that have done just that, including a few pastors. How do you explain that? They were teaching, preaching, and even leading others to Christ. Could that have happened if they were not actually Christians in the first place? Can you simply “turn in” your Jesus card and be done with it?
This can be a confusing and dangerous subject.
Confusing…because some people (and a few denominations) take verses out of context to make it appear as if you can cut the cord that binds you to Christ, but today’s verse begs the question: Who is stronger than God? If God has you “in his hand,” then who is strong enough to overpower God? Is the devil? Are you? Of course not.
Dangerous…because it can throw you into turmoil and fear as well as putting you right back onto the treadmill of works asking, “How much do I have to do in order to keep my salvation” or “How much do I have to mess up in order to lose my salvation.” In both cases, your salvation depends on YOU rather than GOD and that is clearly unbiblical.
But what about Christian leaders/influencers that renounce their faith? That act is called Apostasy and it’s the Greek word apostasia which means: defection, departure, revolt, or rebellion. It is a serious matter indeed, but one that the Scriptures tell us about in Matthew 7:15; 24:11;Acts 20:29; 1 Tim. 1:18; 1 Jn. 2:19. In short, these are people who were in the stands but not actually on the team, so to speak. False believers ultimately show their true colors. Tares are eventually identified as being different from the wheat.
One final thought that is actually a warning.
Every professing Christian needs to beware of the complacency that can set in as a result of the “once saved, always saved” reality. There are innumerable people that claim Christ—claim they “said the prayer”, go to church regularly, try to do the right thing, etc.—but have never actually been born again. They comment but are not committed. They know Jesus is the Lord but He is not Lord of their lives. Referencing Romans 11:17-21, Pastor J.D. Greear wrote, “If we see that God was willing to cut off branches from his own original tree because of their unbelief, why would we (who have been grafted somewhat unnaturally into this Jewish tree) ever think we can get away with the very things that got them removed?” In short, you can play at being a Christian, but you can’t fool God.
J.D. wraps this up well:
Saving faith is staying faith. You see, the evidence of saving faith is not the intensity of emotion at the beginning but its endurance over time. Think of it like a marriage: You don’t judge the sincerity of a marriage vow by the lavishness of the wedding ceremony but by the faithful commitment that follows it. When it comes to God, a lot of Christians are all ceremony, no marriage.