On the Loss of Salvation
Arminianism teaches that one can lose their salvation. In response to this, they adopt a taste not/touch not religion in order to “not fall away” or “backslide.” They have no rest or assurance of salvation because they genuinely believe that they have to be good enough to maintain their salvation. This thought process is corrupt to the core. It denies unconditional election and effectual limited atonement.
Personally, I feel like the perseverance of the saints is directly tied to the effectual atonement, so much so, that when properly understood, it is not necessary to mention perseverance of the saints because salvation is tied to Christ and His finished effectual work on the cross. The saints do not persevere of their own ability or volition, but rather because God’s decree to bring His elect to glory will succeed.
Arminians believe, at bottom, no matter how much they protest to the contrary, that works save. If you have to work to maintain your salvation, then Christ’s death is somehow qualitatively insufficient to bring the elect of God to glory, and thus requires a human contribution. May it never be!!
Salvation is secure because of what Christ has done: In Him [Christ] also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This He set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities2 and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in Him. Colossians 2:11-15 ESV.
This passage teaches us that Christ’s death canceled the legal record of debt against the elect. If that record of debt was truly set aside as scripture clearly teaches, on what basis then would God condemn His elect? Christ’s death actually satisfied the wrath of God against the sins of the elect. Therefore, God no longer has grounds to have wrath against His elect, because Christ has met the demands that God did have of them prior to Christ’s propitiation. As a matter of justice God forgives the elect and grants them faith to believe the gospel, thereby imputing the righteousness of Christ to the elect sinner. This is a matter of justice because Christ’s death fully accomplished or purchased the redemption of the elect. As such, the elect are entitled to the benefits procured on their behalf by that death, namely, the forgiveness of sins, the gift of faith and the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ.
All of the sins of the elect were borne by Christ on the cross. Every single sin, past, present and future, of the elect sinner was placed on Christ and punished at the cross. Full Stop. Read the words of Isaiah 53:4-12–
Surely he has borne our griefs
and carried our sorrows;
yet we esteemed him stricken,
smitten by God, and afflicted.
5But he was pierced for our transgressions;
he was crushed for our iniquities;
upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
and with his wounds we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the LORD has laid on him
the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,
yet he opened not his mouth;
like a lamb that is led to the slaughter,
and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent,
so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away;
and as for his generation, who considered
that he was cut off out of the land of the living,
stricken for the transgression of my people?
9And they made his grave with the wicked
and with a rich man in his death,
although he had done no violence,
and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him;
he has put him to grief;
when his soul makes an offering for guilt,
he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days;
the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;
by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,
make many to be accounted righteous,
and he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many,
and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
because he poured out his soul to death
and was numbered with the transgressors;
yet he bore the sin of many,
and makes intercession for the transgressors.
Christ is the prophesied Messiah who actually bore the sins of His people and was crushed by the Father on their behalf in order to reconcile them to Himself. These are beautiful words-“upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” God the Father imputed the sins of the elect to Christ, Christ bore them on the cross and suffered for them until He died. In that offering, God’s righteous wrath against the elect was satisfied and many are made to be “accounted righteous.” That is an amazing truth. God is worthy of praise for His wisdom revealed to us in Christ.
Because God’s wrath was satisfied, God now counts the elect as righteous because He has imputed the righteousness of Christ to them. This righteousness is external and alien to the elect. It comes from Christ and the merit of His work alone. God imputes it to them, they have not earned it in any way. 2 Corinthians 5:21 says: God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
The elect are sinners just as much as the non-elect. It is God who makes the elect to differ from the non-elect. Arminians implicitly deny this when it comes to salvation. Sure, they can admit that God deals with people differently in material ways, such as making some people to be poor and others to be rich, some to be white and others to be black, some to be tall and others to be small. However, they do not believe that God distinguishes between humans on any basis concerning salvation. Because they refuse to acknowledge the biblical teaching of unconditional election, they believe that all men have equal and relatively solid footing before God. What I mean by that statement is that they treat faith as a latent but inherent ability that all men possess. Sure, they will acknowledge that faith is a gift, but they cannot apply that fact to the larger analysis. At bottom, in spite of what they say, they truly believe that faith is a matter of ability and will, not purely a gift from God.
There are so many underlying problems with the belief that one can lose their salvation that it is hard to know where exactly to start. I suppose the logical place is the beginning. Believing that one can lose their salvation reveals that one does not see the death of Christ (read=effectual atonement) for the elect of God as God’s Plan A. God’s plan was ALWAYS to reveal and establish His righteousness in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation for everyone who believes, and in it, the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith (paraphrase of Romans 1:16-17). The righteousness of God is revealed in Christ. No other righteousness was ever intended to be established. God never intended for men to establish their own righteousness under the law. In fact, Paul tells us that if righteousness could come by the law, then the death of Christ was in vain (Galatians 2:21). God’s eternal plan was to bring His elect to glory, and He never intended for man to establish his own righteousness under the law.
Where am I going? Well, we know from John 6 that Christ’s mission was to actually save all those whom the Father gave to Christ before the foundation of the world. Jesus tells us that the will of His Father is that every one who looks on Christ (the elect) and believes in Him shall have eternal life, and that Christ WILL raise him up on the last day. The fulfillment of the will of the Father involves the actual salvation of the elect of God. If Christ fails in saving even one of the elect, then He has disobeyed the will of Father, making Him a sinner and worthy of death. The false christ of the Arminians is a sinner worthy of death and hell because he has failed to save all that the father gave him and will continue to fail to obey the will of his father. Further, he is even more of a failure because once having saved someone, he is impotent to keep them saved.
The Lord of Lords revealed in Holy Scripture doesn’t ask His people for permission to save them-He does it. The King of Kings revealed in the Word of God doesn’t ask His people if they want to elect Him as their God-He makes Himself their God.
Teaching that one can lose their salvation means that one trusts in oneself to complete salvation. For the Arminian, the cross is merely a starting point to thereafter adopt a taste-not/touch-not religion in order to gain favor with God. They fail to understand that the law of God requires their death and so they treat the death of Christ as a reset button to the status of the garden. However, their inconsistency is as apparent as a wart on a witch’s nose-they always figure that whatever sins they have sinned since they “got saved” haven’t been enough to re-separate them from God. How they decide or negotiate this is unclear. It is purely subjective.
The biblical answer is that their standard is not God’s standard, because if it was, then they would have to admit that every single time they sinned post-salvation, they would lose their salvation. However, I suspect that they merely adopt the mentality of the average moralist-I haven’t killed anyone, I haven’t robbed anyone, etc…As long as I don’t commit those really grievous sins, then I’m ok. The other little sins are forgivable, but one of the big sins will put you in jeopardy of hell fire. Even if they do believe that they have lost their salvation previously, they believe that they can merely re-pray the pray and get re-saved.
This is works religion, self-righteousness. Plain and simple. Seeing oneself as having any role in salvation, including its maintenance post-conversion, is evidence of spiritual death and not to be treated as minor mistake or immaturity. Believing that salvation is in any way conditioned on oneself or one’s obedience reveals that one does not believe the gospel of God’s free and sovereign grace.
To say that one can lose their salvation is deny the effectiveness of the atonement. Christ was set forth by God to be a propitiation for the sins of His people, not a hypothetical propitiation for all men. A hypothetical propitiation is an utterly absurd concept. I’m not sure that it can be logically explained without drifting off into absurdities about free will and choice. Christ’s death either satisfied the wrath of God against His elect or it didn’t. There is no such thing a partial propitiation (a debt is either paid or it is not paid and there is a remaining balance) in which man comes in to take over. The Bible clearly teaches that Christ’s death is the sole condition of salvation for the elect. Christ’s death was effective for all it was intended to cover. It was never intended as a universal atonement. To say that there was a universal atonement which did not actually save and requires the intervention of men is to spit on the cross of Christ and reveal oneself to be an enemy of God.
To say that one can lose their salvation is to deny that God was satisfied with Christ and His work. Christ was raised from the dead because no sin was found in Him. If God had not been satisfied with the work of Christ, then He would not have been raised from the dead. Additionally, Christ Himself, who is one with the Father declared that His work had been completed when He stated that “It is finished.” God agreed with Him and that was demonstrated in His resurrection. Again, if Christ had failed in His mission in even a single point, He would have disobeyed and become a sinner. The Arminian accuses his own false christ of being a sinner because he openly acknowledges that his “savior” will fail in saving all people-. Of course, they dress this up by changing the perspective and making salvation about the choices of men rather than the death of Christ. This is Jedi-hand waving, nothing more than a trick.
To say that one can lose their salvation is to say that one must obey the law to complete the righteousness of Christ. Spiritually dead men are compelled to work for righteousness because they cannot see Christ. They have not been given eyes to see Christ, and so they set about building false idols that they convince themselves can save. All the while, they are doing the very thing that God despises–attempting to establish their own righteousness outside of Christ. This is an to attack the core of the gospel, because it seeks to mar the righteousness of Christ by adding to it the filthy and putrid works of wicked hands. It denies that He has a perfect righteousness.
To say that one can lose their salvation is to call God a liar. It is to call the testimony of God about Christ as propitiation a lie. It is to say that the recorded scripture is fallible. It is to look at Christ and say that He is insufficient, in spite of His resurrection. It is to disagree with God in rebellion about what He has said.
Claiming that one can lose their salvation is blasphemy. It is an attack on Christ and the sufficiency of His work to save the elect. People who believe that one can lose their salvation have not trusted the Christ of Scripture for salvation and are still in their sins. They are self-righteous moralists under the wrath of God.
The true believer looks to Christ as both justification and sanctification. The true believer rests in Christ fully because they have been given faith to believe that the testimony of God about Christ is true (1 John 5:10). The true believer has assurance that Christ’s death will save Him because he has been given faith to believe that Christ’s death satisfied God’s demands against him. What a glorious truth! God can save His people because His justice has been satisfied. Thus, He truly is both a just God and a completely effectual Savior.