Christians, young and old, often ask, “Can I lose my salvation?” The question, in its various forms, is loaded with baggage and nuance. Perhaps my sensitivity to these is based on my history with the issue. Raised in an Arminian setting,  where a person had to constantly fear the loss of salvation, I learned the arguments against “Once Saved Always Saved.” In time, I realized these arguments worked better against the doctrine imagined by its detractors than against the actual doctrine expounded by its supporters. Many interpret “Once Saved Always Saved” to mean “Once a person repeats the Sinner’s Prayer they can live as they please with no fear of damnation.” Presenting as doctrinal Fire Insurance—you’ve secured your policy so you won’t burn—requires many unsupported assumptions.
The first assumption is equating the Sinner’s Prayer with salvation. The Sinner’s Prayer was formulated by crusade evangelists to keep track of respondents. Scripture never records a person praying a Sinner’s Prayer. Neither does it record a formula for such a prayer. If such were equivalent to salvation wouldn’t Jesus or his apostles have recorded it? Scripturally repentance, belief and confession are essential. It also tells us we must be “born from above.” Those attacking the “Once Saved Always Saved” doctrine in this way, assume salvation and reciting the Sinner’s Prayer are synonymous. This is as far from the reality of the doctrine as Margarine is from real butter—just because it spreads like truth, doesn’t make it true. However, because of the prevalence of this view, I never use the term “Once Saved Always Saved” in my own discussions. For theological discourse, I prefer, “Perseverance of the Saints”; for less academic discussions, “Security of the Believer.”
Another assumption of the question, “Can I lose my salvation?” is its portrayal of salvation as something we possess. It asks if there is an action that will either remove my salvation or remove my privilege of possessing it. It views salvation as similar to my keys. I have them and must be careful not to lose them. Lose them and I lose access to what they open. This is problematic because it views salvation backwards. Salvation is something God secures through the redemption of Christ and the action of the Holy Spirit. Salvation is based on His possession, not ours. Salvation means we have become His; it does not mean heaven has become ours—though in the end it gives us access to heaven. To ask if there is anything I can do to lose my salvation is actually to ask, “Is there anything I can do to discontinue God’s right to possess me?” Or, “Is there anything I can do to eradicate the work God has secured in me?” When viewed this way the question actually answers itself. Nothing I do can earn it; perfect it; secure it. To lose my salvation (becoming unsaved) would be to destroy the work God has wrought in me. The work is His, wrought in His power and secured by His Spirit. Most who attend church as children are taught Romans 8:38f “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us
from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” This passage is essential for the security of the believer, but leaves one possible question unanswered. The passage is often paraphrased as saying, “Nothing can remove us from the hand of God.” In stating nothing can remove us from God’s hand the question arises, “Even though nothing else can remove me, can I remove myself?” Most assuming this modified security do so because they want to be assured of their salvation, but fear the lack of any danger of damnation will lead to licentiousness and sin. Notice they usually assume this problem for others but not themselves. Most often they are asking, “I am good with being secure, but won’t that free my neighbor to keep sinning?” First, let’s assume this is true—which I do not concede. Do we build our doctrines and beliefs on practicality or on the revelation of God in scripture? The charge of “freedom to sin” assumes righteousness is only inspired by fear of damnation. But scripture says we are made righteous by the indwelling Spirit of God. Church history is replete with times when the Church lost its reliance on the Holy Spirit and turned to more coercive means to keep people in line. Threats of excommunication and damnation made people appear holy because the Church had departed from the only way to make them truly holy. Such use of human coercive force in the place of divine power has led to the many abuses that soil the name of Christ. Let’s return to the question about whether I can remove myself from God’s hand or not. When listing things incapable of separating us from the love of God, Romans 8:38f includes, “. . . nor anything else in all creation.” I’ll ask a question for this one. Are you part of creation? If so, you are included in this category. The passage says no power, nor anything else  in all creation, can take us from God’s love. If we could take ourselves out of God’s love then something in creation could remove us. In such a case, Romans 8:39 would be wrong.
Rather than asking if we can remove ourselves from God’s love (or hand), a believer should ask, “Would God ever let me go?” This is exactly the question that Romans 8:38f answers with a resounding “No!” You will notice, however, that we have only looked at a couple passages—mostly from Romans. There is an even better passage that I prefer to look at when asking these questions and, nicely, the words are those of Jesus himself. In John 6:38f Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” Jesus says the very reason he came was to do God’s will. Jesus never fails at fulfilling the will of the father. He then explains the will of God. The will of God, as defined here, is two-fold and impacts all who belong to Christ—those given to Christ by God. The will of God through Christ, for those belonging to him, is that none will be lost and all will be raised on the last day. Jesus keeps us, will not lose us and will raise us up on the last day. If you can “lose your salvation” then Jesus can fail to do the will of the father. Such a thought is anathema.
Another similar passage includes a statement on the true source of righteousness: 1 Thessalonians 5:23f, “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful, and he will do it.” God himself sanctifies us and makes us blameless. God makes us holy. The passage is worded leaving no action for you, but declaring holiness the action of God. He is faithful and will do it until Christ returns. How does this work with a passage like 1 Peter 1:15f? Which says, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (NIV). In this passage the action is performed by those addressed and is based in God’s holiness. This is not a declaration of God’s making us holy but a command for us to act or behave in a holy fashion. So, if it is God who makes us holy as is declared in 1 Thessalonians 5, why does Peter command us to behave in a holy manner? I think of it like something my father said to me when I went to Korea. He told me I represented the US while over there. What I did and how I acted would impact how Koreans viewed my people and country. He wasn’t telling me to become or make myself an American. That was already done by my parents’ citizenship and my birth on American soil. He was telling me to act according to what was already real about me. In Peter’s passage we are to act as the holy people we are already declared to be. God makes us holy, takes away condemnation and declares us righteous. He fills us with the Holy Spirit enabling us to be holy and live according to the bestowed holy status. Holy behavior is the outward sign of an inward reality.
Christ saves us because the Father has given us to him. Christ will never lose us and will raise us up on the last day. Until then God is actively instilling within us true righteousness and holiness through the power of His Spirit. We have also been declared righteous and blameless by God. Furthermore, nothing and no one can undo any of this. We can only conclude our salvation is secure—we can never lose it because Christ can never lose us. But why do some passages seem to imply otherwise? What about the warnings against falling away or against wandering off into sin and error? What about commands to overcome and the promises for overcoming? In discussing these I’ll look at the ones I hear most often.
Warnings about Losing Salvation
Ezekiel 3:20f, “Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning and you will have saved yourself” (NIV).
This passage is a common tool in the argument against the security of the believer. However, using it this way requires several underlying assumptions. According to this passage when a righteous person falls into sin he will die and his righteous acts will not be remembered. The assumptions here are that dying means damnation in the afterlife and that it is God who will not remember the righteous acts. Neither is stated in the passage. It is possible this could mean others will not remember the departed as righteous but will forget him as a wicked person stricken by God. There is no reason to assume death here implies eternal spiritual death in damnation. In the Old Testament the concept of the afterlife is not very refined and much is kept hidden. Many details are left unrevealed until the time of Christ and the apostles. Ancient Judaism was much more concerned with living life in this world, so the death spoken of could refer to physical death. Ezekiel is not addressing heaven or hell but physical death. The point being made is that God will put a stumbling block in the way of the unrighteous and their previous righteousness will not be sufficient to prevent it. The context here helps us to see this. Twice the Lord tells Ezekiel that by his actions he will have saved himself. But this does not mean saved as in eternity. It simply means he has saved himself from being held accountable for the blood of the unrighteous dead. Keep in mind, the Old Covenant had no provision for a universal individual indwelling Holy Spirit. Neither had there been a final sacrifice for sin. Sins were constantly paid for through sacrifices demonstrating the Messiah’s greater sacrifice. In the New Covenant we benefit from an imparted righteousness, the quickening of the Spirit and a Lord actively keeping us.
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 for the prize” (NIV).
The problem in this passage is the last phrase “disqualified for the prize” in the NIV and many English translations. Those of us growing up with the King James learned it as “should be a castaway.” When using this passage, it is claimed Paul is stating his own fear of losing his salvation and being cast out or castaway from heaven. There are problems with this interpretation though. This is one case where the KJV seems to follow more closely the Latin. In Latin the passage is reprobus efficiar, which can be translated as “produce rejection.” The Greek word, αδοκιμος, can mean ‘reject,’ but it literally means failure of a test. Is Paul worried that he will be cast out of heaven unless he beats his body into submission? This would disagree with the context of Paul’s message in this book and chapter—to “win as many [to Christ] as possible.” Paul is saying, “After all the work I have done in service of God I would hate to get to the end and find I failed to accomplish what I was called to do. So I beat my body into submission to make it continue working even when it wants to quit.” He does not fear loss of salvation, but disappointing His master.
Hebrews 6:4-8, “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age and who have fallen away, to be brought back to repentance. To their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace. Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned” (NIV).
This passage is one of the most frightening in scripture. Those who use it to support the loss of salvation must be aware it also says such persons as it addresses can never “be brought back to repentance.” If this passage supported loss of salvation it would also mean those who lose it are forever lost and without hope—they could never be saved again. There are several problems with this interpretation though. The context of Hebrews is first century Jews who see the signs of Christ as the Messiah and then return to or stay with Judaism. This allows us to understand what is meant by “they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to a public disgrace.” Every sacrifice offered in the temple was a picture of Christ’s sacrifice. Believers returning to the temple to offer sacrifice as an essential part of salvation were sacrificing Christ all over again. Of course, I’m responsible to explain how this works with Paul’s sacrificial offerings after his salvation. Did Paul make these offerings because he thought his spiritual condition needed them? Paul knew Jesus was enough and simply made these offerings in keeping with the culture of his people in order to “be all things for all people”? This is not condemned in this passage. Hebrews 6 is talking about those who, though understanding Christ and his sacrifice, declare it insufficient. As a result they continue to offer sacrifices of sheep, goats and cattle. They have “treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified them, and have insulted the Spirit of grace” (Hebrews 10:29b NIV). Unless you are in danger of turning to physical sacrificial offerings to make up for something lacking in the sacrifice of Christ then the warnings of Hebrews do not apply to you. One other passage from Hebrews makes this clear. The author says, confidently, “But we do not belong to those who shrink back and are destroyed, but to those who have faith and are saved” (Hebrews 10:39 NIV). He defines two groups: one shrinks back and is destroyed; the other has faith and is saved. One has been described as trampling the blood of Christ, or rejecting the sufficiency of Christ’s sacrifice. The other has been described as those who believe the full message of Christ and submit to it. He places himself and his readers in the latter group. Rather than warning them, he is explaining what happens to their people who reject Christ for the Old Covenant. They fail to realize establishment of the New Covenant eradicated the Old.
Hebrews 10:26, “If we deliberately keep on sinning after we have received the knowledge of the truth, no sacrifice for sin is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (NIV).
This sounds very frightening. It would appear that once saved there is no hope for any forgiveness if we continue to sin. Are we saved, only to be placed upon a precipice above hell with God ever ready to push? This is not the God nor the salvation described in the New Testament, so this must be what this passage means. 1 John 1:9 says to fellow believers, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” Hebrews 10:26 is actually saying something easy to see. After Christ, there were no more sacrifices a sinner could make to secure forgiveness for sins. There was no option to the sacrifice of Christ. One could not choose to accept Christ’s sacrifice or to continue the Old Covenant sacrifices. The latter were no longer effective—they were no longer of soteriological value. One was free to choose, but this choice was between moving from the Old Covenant to the New or placing oneself outside of the covenant people—there was and is only one basis for fellowship with God. Only one sacrifice secures forgiveness. Just as rejecting the Law of Moses made one an enemy of God, so today, rejection of his Son does the same thing. Notice he speaks of the punishment of all enemies of God. Those he defines as “keeping on sinning” are enemies of God. He further defines this as trampling the blood of the covenant that sanctified them and insulting the Spirit of grace. To demonstrate the justness of punishing these, he juxtaposes them to those rejecting the Law of Moses. This passage is addressing those among their people who hearing of the Messiah and understanding his message (after we received the knowledge of the truth) reject the efficacy of Christ and his sacrifice to stay with Judaism. They are rejecting the blood of Christ and denying every Old Covenant sacrifice because these were a picture of the Christ they are rejecting.
Revelation 3:5, “He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my father and his angels” (NIV).
Revelation 2:7b, “To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life” (NIV).
Both of these passages, but especially the first, is popular for arguing against the security of the believer. It was my favorite. As the argument goes, Jesus is saying if they overcome they will be able to eat of the tree of life and he will not blot their names out of the book of life. This is assumed to mean “if they don’t overcome they will not be allowed to eat from the tree and their names will be blotted from the book.” If they overcome they will be saved and if they don’t they will lose their salvation. There are two problems with this conclusion though.
The first problem is that the word “overcomes” is never defined and may even mean something different in each letter. Even the church of Philadelphia received a promise for overcoming, though they received no rebuke in their letter. However, the biggest problem is not the meaning of overcome.
The real problem with this argument is the unfounded assumption drawn from it. Those claiming “if you don’t overcome, I will blot you out of my book” as an equivalent to the passage have a serious hurdle to overcome. They actually commit a common logical fallacy—Denying the Antecedent.
Allow me to demonstrate Denying the Antecedent as a syllogism.
If Queen Elizabeth is an American citizen then she is human.
Queen Elizabeth is not an American citizen.
Therefore, Queen Elizabeth is not human.
One can be a human without being an American citizen. In the same way I can tell my daughter, “If you do this job then I will give you twenty dollars.” Even if she does not do the job I may still give her the twenty dollars without violating my statement. However, if she does the work and I refuse to give her the money then I am a liar. If I meant she would only get the twenty dollars if she did the job, then I would have made an ‘only’ statement.
These passages make no statement about what will happen if they do not overcome. To support this assumption the statements have to be redone. They would have to be made into only statements: “I will not blot your name from the book of life only if you overcome.” Then we would be right to conclude that one not overcoming would be blotted from the Book of Life, but this is not what the passage says. In the letter to the Ephesians we see a declaration of what will happen if they don’t do something, “If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.” This means they will cease to exist as a church, but says nothing about what will happen to the individual believers.
The formula of “overcome and this will happen” in Revelation is not a threat, but a promise. In this way Christ promises them reward for their obedience. Turning these promises into threats is based on assuming the possibility of being cast out from God’s people to support twisting the statements beyond any logical meaning. Taking into account the context along with an understanding of the New Covenant this interpretation of these passages is unwarranted.
“Fallen From Grace”
When speaking of losing salvation the phrase, “fallen from grace,” is often used. This phrase, so popular for the conversation, is used in only one place, Galatians 5:4. It is used of those who try to be justified by keeping the law. Paul uses it of legalists. The only danger to falling from grace is falling into legalism. In my experience those most fearing the loss of salvation are the most legalistic in applying the Word. Understandably, these two errors go hand in hand.
Salvation is a free gift bestowed by God, secured by Christ, and sealed by the Holy Spirit. According to scripture it is God who declares us holy and without condemnation and who works through the Spirit to make us not only declared holy but actually holy and blameless by practice. No action of ours saves us, so what action of ours keeps us saved? Some will argue they are not saying we must do certain actions to remain saved, but must refrain from certain actions. These are different sides of the same coin. If I have a choice of two directions and one must not be taken then the other must be taken. To refrain from something is itself an action. To refrain from some action is to actively refrain.
Does this mean I simply say some “magic” words and then live as I want? No. Salvation does not come through an incantation. Salvation comes through the indwelling presence of Christ changing what I want to do and how I want to live. If there has been no change wrought within, the question should not be “Can I lose my salvation?” but, “How do I know I am saved?” We know we are saved because of the Word of God and the action of the Holy Spirit removing old desires and giving new ones. This births within us a desire to love God through our actions and to love those around us. So we, like James, can demonstrate our salvation by our faith inspired works. Since salvation is entirely a work of God the only way for us to become unsaved would be for God to actively remove us. Since his Word promises he will never do that we are secure in our salvation. Our future is in keeping with the will of God.
John 6:38-40, “For I [Jesus] have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day” (NIV; emphasis added). If we were lost after being given to Jesus, he would have failed to accomplish the Father’s will. So answer the question of, “Can I lose my salvation?” with another question, “Can Jesus fail?” Your answer to one answers the other.
1 I prefer to ask the question as, “Can Jesus keep me saved?” This is how one should word the question.
2 I was raised in the Pentecostal denomination known as the Assemblies of God.
3 I often share a teaching of one of my childhood Sunday school teachers. “If a long time faithful Christian was hit by a bus while crossing the street, and this person’s last words were an oath of obscenity (as is common with fear) that person would go to hell, having had no chance to repent of their sin.” Can anyone explain to me how this is not “Works Salvation”?
4 Most arguments against the doctrine of Perseverance are actually straw-men designed to twist the doctrine beyond recognition, destroy the twisted version of the doctrine and then transfer that onus to the actual doctrine. Such practices are not appropriate for scriptural discussion among seekers of the truth.
5 If salvation is a silent work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of a person, how does an evangelist tell promoters (and donors) how many people were “led to the Lord”?
6 Even the Didache, complied sometime early in the second century or late in the first when the church was becoming more formulaic, does not contain such a prayer. The only instructions given to prepare for baptism (Didache 7) into the church was a review of the ethical instructions in Didache 1-6 and a time of fasting by both the baptismal candidate and Officiant.
7 Yes, it mentions baptism, but the issue of whether baptism is needed for salvation, or is administered in response to salvation is for another article. I believe the baptism that saves us is the baptism of the Holy Spirit which is symbolized by the water.
8 This is a better translation of the Greek than the usual term, “Born Again.”
9 While it is true that scripture does not give us the Sinner’s Prayer, neither does it forbid such. We should try to avoid legalism in any form. If one is more assured of the salvation message by a specific prayer then one should be free to use such a prayer. The problem comes with believing the prayer is what actually saves you. God’s action upon your heart is what saves you. Since this is not your work to do, how can it be your work to maintain?
10 Notice this way of putting the question involves the addition of the word “else,” changing the passage to something it does not say. The passage says nothing can do this, but the question assumes at least one something must be able to do it. How does this differ from Eve’s mistaken version of God’s command in Genesis 3:3. God had told them not to eat from the tree but she said they were not to eat from it or even touch it.
11 Of course this same fear is the inspiration for all rejecting the Security of the Believer.
12 The same assumption is used to defend the pre-tribulation rapture position. In this one the idea is that people will not be truly holy and righteous unless there is the danger of getting caught in the act and rejected by a returning Jesus.
13 Romans 3:22; 8:9; Philippians 3:9
14 Notice this use of the word “else” actually expands the definition of what cannot remove us. The earlier misuse of “else” wrongly reduced this definition to exclude something.
15 I was once discussing with a friend whether suicide would damn a Christian to hell. My point was that if my own actions could remove me from the love of God, all any power (demonic or otherwise) had to do was convince me to take the action. In this way it would be possible for them to remove me from God’s love. If God secures me through such attacks, then I must be secure even if personally overcome by the attacker.
16 Romans 8:1
17 This is why the ideas of death and afterlife in such passages as Ecclesiastes 9:4 are so alien to us, “Anyone who is among the living has hope—even a live dog is better off than a dead lion!” Consider this quote from the website Judaism 101 (http://www.jewfaq.org/olamhaba.htm), “Traditional Judaism firmly believes that death is not the end of human existence. However, because Judaism is primarily focused on life here and now rather than on the afterlife, Judaism does not have much dogma about the afterlife, and leaves a great deal of room for personal opinion.”
18 Ezekiel 3:19,21
19 The Douay-Rheims (an English translation of the Vulgate), like the KJV, translates this as castaway.
20 1 Corinthians 9:19
21 Hebrews 10:1-18
22 I can see Paul offering a sacrifice in the Jerusalem Temple and then saying, “Hey! Do you know what this sacrifice means? Let me tell you about Jesus.” No wonder they arrested him to get him out of the Temple!
23 The covenant in question here is the Old Covenant. Rejection of Christ is rejection of the whole purpose behind every Old Covenant sacrifice performed. In this way they have treated the blood of those sacrifices as unholy. They have also insulted the Spirit of grace that has called them to salvation by rejecting the Spirit’s testimony about Christ. By returning to Judaism they seek to follow their ancient religion, but instead have insulted and mocked the religion because, while claiming to hold to the faith, they have rejected the telos of their faith.
24 When someone argues something from scripture continue reading to see what they might be skipping over. In my first discussion with a Jehovah’s Witness I was given a passage that seemed to support their view. I didn’t notice until later the next verse actually countered their view. Remember the old adage, “A text without context is a pretext.”
25 Hebrews 7:18f; 8:13. Many will oppose my view that the Old Covenant is gone and point out that Hebrews 8 says it “will soon disappear.” They will say that when the writer of Hebrews spoke, the Old Covenant had not passed away because he said, “will soon.” They usually go on to claim this passing away is still future. However, this is not what Hebrews 8:13 says. It says the Old Covenant became obsolete and slated to soon disappear when God announced the New Covenant. This declaration happened in Jeremiah 31 (it is even referenced in
Deuteronomy30:6) . So at least since the time of Jeremiah and the captivity the Old Covenant was soon to disappear. This was accomplished with the change of priesthood and eradication of the old law in Hebrews 7.
26 Acts 3:23 says, “Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.” Peter seems to combine two passages (Leviticus 23:29 and Deuteronomy 18:19) into one here.
27 One illustration I like to give of this concept is a picture of my wife. In the military, soldiers commonly place pictures of a spouse inside their helmet to remind them of what awaits them at home. Upon returning home the picture loses its value because the wife is no longer distant—what man in his right mind would choose a picture over a real woman. The people being spoken of in this passage have spent millennia longing for the Messiah and have lovingly gazed on many symbols of the Messiah and what he would accomplish. Once he came, some properly laid aside the picture and went to the actual Messiah, but many preferred the picture and rejected their Messiah. Imagine how my wife would feel if I said, “Stay away from me, I prefer your picture.” This is exactly what those in the Old Covenant say when they reject Jesus as their Messiah.
28 Denying the Antecedent is demonstrated with: p->q / ~p // ~q.
29 If I don’t give it to her, I can guarantee her mother (my wife) will. Mom is such a pushover!
30 Such a statement flips the antecedent and consequent [Hurley, P. A Concise Introduction to Logic, 7th Edition, (Belmont, CA: Wadsworth) p. 305]. It would state, “I will give her twenty dollars if she does the job.” This time if she does not do the job then we have a case of Denying the Consequent which automatically (and properly) negates the antecedent (the payment). Formally: q->p / ~p // ~q. This is an acceptable argument structure known as Modus Tollens. We have said, in effect, “No job then no money.” If I give her the money, I lied. Of course her mother will veto this and give her the money anyways!
31 Some people errantly create from John 3:3 the following improper argument: “Those born again will enter heaven. You are not born again. Therefore, you will not enter heaven.” This is a classic example of Denying the Antecedent (a faulty argument) but if you look carefully you will see the first premise alters John 3:3 beyond recognition. John 3:3 means, “Only those who are born again will enter heaven” (paraphrase). In this statement the symbols for each part of the initial premise reverse: “You will not enter heaven unless you are born again. You are not born again. Therefore you will not enter heaven.” This conclusion comes naturally from what the premises actually say—the definition of logical.
32 Revelation 2:5b
33 The letter to Pergamum (Revelation 2:16) also mentions something that will happen in response to non-action. If those holding to the teachings of the Nicolaitans do not repent, Jesus will come and fight against them with the sword of his mouth. But we have no way of knowing if the Nicolaitans are Christians or not. We know they count themselves among the local church, but does Christ count them as such.
34 How is this any less onerous than one who hears what you say, but then adds meanings to your words never meant by you. Call it reading between the lines or whatever, but it is not logical. It is eisegesis, not exegesis.
35 The change may be as small as a strong desire to be saved. It may also be a change in behavior. For me it was a change in my tongue. I stopped cussing. Before salvation my mouth was foul and expletive infested. A couple years later I was shocked when I smashed my thumb and instead of cussing simply shouted, “Ouch!” Before Christ, I would have “turned the air blue.”
36 In James 2:18 he speaks of how one demonstrates faith, not how one attains it. He is not teaching works salvation, but a working salvation.
37 Many go further and ask about suicide. Is suicide any different from any other sin? Not really. If suicide were enough to take away your salvation then, once again, Jesus would have failed.