“Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.”
– 2 Corinthians 13:5
Last month I had the privilege of being at the bedside of a friend during his final moments here on earth. I remember a few years earlier, Carl asked to talk with me after one of our prayer meetings. So, we sat down in the front row and had a heart-to-heart talk. Carl had a burden on his heart. As a young man he had sewn his wild oats and had done some things that he deeply regretted. So, Carl wanted to know if God could possibly forgive him—or, if God had forgiven him, could he possibly lose his salvation?
Can you relate to Carl? Many, many Christians wrestle with the same concerns. You might say, “I’ve heard a hundred times about God’s love and grace and forgiveness. But at the same time, I know the Bible says that God will punish us for our sin. So, will God take away my salvation because of what I’ve done? Can I lose my salvation?”
This is actually a two-part question. That’s because, if you’re a follower of Jesus Christ, there are two parties in your salvation: God and you. So, it stands to reason that if you could “lose” your salvation it’s either because God takes it away from you, or you choose to walk away from it. Let’s look quickly at the first side of the coin: “Could God take away my salvation?”
I’ve got some good news for you. The Bible’s answer to that question is an emphatic: “No!” The Bible tells us that God never drives someone away who is saved: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away” (John 6:37). And in John 10:27-29, Jesus tells his followers that no one can snatch one of God’s sheep from his Father’s hand. With these Biblical insights in mind, we can say with certainty that God will never take away someone’s salvation. God’s word guarantees it.
Isn’t that a relief? Your screw-ups will never cause you to “lose” your salvation. Like the Prodigal Son’s father, God will never give up on one of His children. But on the other hand, could you or I be saved and then walk away from God’s grace? In other words, “Could I choose to walk away from my salvation?”
That question is a lot tougher to answer. Here are some verses that might help. In 1 Corinthians 15:2, Paul writes: “By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.” As he talks about the life-saving gospel of Jesus Christ, he includes that big two-letter word: “If.” The gospel ultimately will save us in eternity—“if” we hold firmly to God’s word. If we don’t, our shallow belief in Christ won’t save us. And Hebrews 3:12-14 warns us: “See to it, brothers, that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God…. We have come to share in Christ if we hold firmly till the end the confidence we had at first.” Notice that important word “if” being used once again.
So, you can’t “lose” your salvation in the sense of “Oops! Where’d it go?” But there are Scriptures that seem to say you can choose to walk away from your salvation. But if that’s the case, I believe it’s very rare. What is much more common is for someone to walk away from God who was never really saved in the first place. So, if you are asking the question today: Have I lost my salvation? Let me encourage you to ask a better question: Was I ever saved in the first place? Am I really a born-again Christian?
In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the Apostle Paul writes: “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” God’s word tells us to examine ourselves—test ourselves—to see whether or not we are truly saved, born-again Christians. So, I encourage you to humbly and honestly take the spiritual exam. Here are six ways to test yourself:
#1: Belief Test: Do you believe that Jesus is the Christ and the Son of God? (1 John 2:21-23)
#2: Repentance Test: Was there a definite point in your life when you turned from your sins, got baptized and put Jesus Christ in charge of your life? (Acts 2:38-39)
#3: Obedience Test: Do you obey God’s commands on a daily basis? (1 John 2:3-6)
#4: Love Test: Do you love God and people? (1 John 4:7-8)
#5: Hunger Test: Do you hunger for God and the things of God (for example, reading His word, prayer, worship, fellowship with other believers, holiness, and serving God and others)? (Matt. 5:6)
#6: Holy Spirit Test: Is there evidence of the Holy Spirit in your life? (John 16:7-11) Do you feel convicted and unhappy when you sin? Do you have and use at least one spiritual gift? Is the fruit of the Spirit-- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control—growing in your life?
If you failed any one of these six tests, you need to make some serious decisions about putting Jesus in complete charge of your life today. Once you are saved, God will never take your salvation away from you. But you and I have a responsibility to take our faith seriously and live it out. If we’re not doing that, chances are that we were never saved in the first place. You see, Jesus’ salvation is transformational. Because I am saved, I will never be the same again. And neither will you.
Dane Davis is the Pastor of Impact Christian Church. Please join us for our online worship service Sundays at 10 a.m. at Live.GreaterImpact.cc or on our YouTube channel (Impact Christian Church) or on Facebook.