Can a Christian Really Fall From Grace?

How can we believe otherwise if we are honest enough to take the Scriptures for what they actually say? Not only do they give us warning after warning after warning concerning the matter, but they also give several examples of apostates who did turn aside, died a spiritual death, and lost their salvation! It has happened over and over throughout the course of Christian history. Listen to what Jude says:

“Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. … I will therefore put you in remembrance, though ye once knew this, how that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed them that believed not (did not continue on believing). And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.” Jude 3, 5, 6. (In reference to what Jude is speaking of, see Hebrews 3:16-19; 4:1-11, which gives us warning lest we also as Christians “come short” and “fall after the same example of unbelief.”)

Jude also, in verse 12, speaks of those “whose fruit withereth,” have become “without fruit,” and are “twice dead.” How can anyone be “twice dead?” The answer is really very simple. They were once dead in trespasses and sins but then were resurrected to life in Christ Jesus through the Spirit and Word of the gospel. But later, they sinned again unto death! How else can a person be “twice dead?” What else would cause one’s fruit to wither and then to become fruitless?

Let us now turn our attention to the teaching of Jesus in John, chapter 15. Here Jesus says, “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. … Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. … If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love.” John 15:1-2, 4-6, 10.

Here Jesus tells us exactly how Christians can become “withered,” “without fruit” and “twice dead.” It is simply by failing to “abide” in Him, the true Vine. This word “abide” comes from the Greek word “meno,” which means, “to stay (in a given place, state, relation, or expectancy): continue, dwell, endure, be present, remain, stand, tarry.” This is what Jesus admonishes His followers to do. The Apostle John also tells us in 2 John, verses 8-10, “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed.”

So we see clearly that Jesus Christ, His apostles, and the primitive Christian church were very firm in this doctrine regarding the Christian’s personal responsibility of “abiding” relative to eternal salvation. The Apostle Paul reaffirms it in Romans 11:16- 23: “For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou (a Gentile Christian), being a wild olive tree, wert grafted in among them (the believing Jews), and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The (natural) branches [the Jews] were broken off, that I might be grafted in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shall be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.”

The Churches of Asia

Let us now turn our attention to Christ’s messages to some of the seven churches of Asia, as recorded in Revelation, chapters two and three. It is obvious that Christ is longsuffering and faithful to show His people their errors and give them “space to repent” before He cuts them off.

To the lukewarm church of Laodicea, He said, “As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.” Rev. 3:19. He said this after warning them that He would spue them out of His mouth for their lukewarmness (verse 16).

To the church of Ephesus, that had lost its first love, He said, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”   Rev. 2:5.

What does the removal of the candlestick indicate? Darkness, of course! What is darkness? The absence of God, who is light, and in whom is no darkness at all (1 John 1:5). In the absence of God and light there is no salvation, for God alone is our salvation.

God divided the light from the darkness; therefore, if the “fallen” neglect to repent, to the point that Christ becomes obliged to remove their candlestick, they have transferred from light to darkness. Those who walk in darkness are not saved. Only those who are walking in the light with Christ possess salvation. “If we say that we have fellowship with him and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth.” 1 John 1:6.

To the church of Pergamos, that had the fault of fellowshipping some who were holding “the doctrine of the Nicolaitanes,” which Christ proclaimed He hated, He said, “Repent; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth” (Rev. 2:15-16).

To the church of Thyatira, that had the fault of allowing a false prophetess, whom Christ called “Jezebel,” to teach and seduce His servants, He said, “And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her [this is, no doubt, the same kind of adultery James speaks of in James 4:4] into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

And I will kill her children with death; and all the churches shall know that I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I will give unto everyone of you according to your works. But unto you I say, and unto the rest in Thyatira, as many as have not this doctrine, and which have not known the depths of Satan, as they speak; I will put upon you none other burden. But that which ye have already hold fast till I come. And he that overcometh, and keepeth my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations.” Rev. 2:21-26.

Notice how Christ’s words, “that which ye have already hold fast till I come,” agree with the Apostle John’s admonition in 2 John 8-9: “Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God.” Those who enter into this condition enter into a state of spiritual death – unsaved. Again, remember, God is our salvation, light, and life. On the other side is darkness and death.

To the church of Sardis, that had a name to be alive, but was mostly dead already, Christ said, “Be watchful and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die: for I have not found thy works perfect before God. Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee. Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.” Rev. 3:2-5.

To the faithful and faultless church of Philadelphia, Christ said, “Hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.” Rev. 3:11. What reason would Christ have for giving them this exhortation if it were impossible for any man to take their crown, or that their status should ever change? Or what reason would there be for the Apostle Paul giving the Colossian church a similar admonition? “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” Col. 2:8.

We would all do well to ponder these words of Jesus very deeply! If He does not blot names out of the book of life that were once written there, what is the reason for such statements? If it is indeed impossible for us to ever lose our salvation, once we have been saved, as some so passionately teach, then Jesus was talking nonsense! He was promising those who would overcome that He would NOT do something that He would never do anyway, according to those who teach it is impossible to lose salvation. Ah friends, the truth is, there have been many through the ages, whose names were once recorded in the Lamb’s book of life, but the Lamb was obliged to blot them out later because of choices they made in life, AFTER their names had been recorded there.

Revelation 22:19 says, “And if any man shall take away from the words of the book … God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city…”

Another important point to observe is how Jesus’ exhortation to the church of Sardis, “Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard” (Rev. 3:3), corresponds with the words of the Apostle Paul in 1 Cor. 15:1-2. Paul says there, “Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved, IF ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.”

The Apostle John also agrees with this sentiment, exhorting the children of God to “Let that therefore abide [continue] in you, which ye have heard from the beginning. If that which ye have heard from the beginning shall remain in you, ye also shall continue in the Son, and in the Father.” 1 John 2:24. By “if,” he clearly implies that you shall not continue in the Son and in the Father if you fail to hold that which you heard from the beginning firm to the end.

This is also in agreement with Hebrews 2:1-3: “Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was stedfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompence of reward; How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” There are multiple exhortations throughout the New Testament to “hold fast,” “stand fast,” remain “steadfast,” “faithful,” etc. Such exhortations would be pointless if, by our initial believing and trusting in Christ, we are securely fixed with no danger of being lost.

Is it really possible for us to “neglect” our salvation by failing to take earnest heed to the gospel of our salvation, which we have heard, and by which we are saved? Certainly it is! “And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight: IF ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel…” Col. 1:21-23a. Just as we are initially saved by grace through receiving and obeying the gospel, we will be saved in the end by our continual obedience to the things which we have heard, never letting them slip, and not being moved away from them. It is our obedience to the gospel that presents us “holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.” We must continually walk in the light of the gospel. If we allow ourselves to be “moved away” from it, we go into darkness, outside of God and outside the realm of salvation. The truth of the Bible is so clear regarding this that even a small child can readily comprehend it. There is nothing complicated about this Bible truth!