On losing salvation

This was written on May 12, 2015, on my other blog, quixotic faith.

This is something that has been highly debated in Christian circles for centuries on whether or not a person who has accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior could ever become “unsaved” or lose their salvation. I have nothing new to add to the discussion, but I will say I’ve always been in the camp that once you become a Christian you cannot become un-Christian unless you were truly not saved to begin with.

Having now read lots of stories on the internet of people who have left Christianity it is my belief that perhaps I was wrong. Or maybe I was always right. Either way, it’s sort of irrelevant to me at this point, yet it feels very relevant to evangelical Christians and since those were “my people” I feel as if I must respond. It’s like when the defenders of the faith respond to those who’ve had bad experiences with Christians by saying those Christians who hurt them were never TRUE believers because TRUE believers would never do such a thing (engage in such horrible behavior). That is the very same thought process I always went by previously. A person who knew Jesus as I did and was sealed by the Holy Spirit’s promise of eternal life could never reject such a thing. Why would they?

My apologist mother-in-law and many Christians I have met would object because they have seen people walk away and reject Christ. As I said, this was previously incomprehensible to me, so it was not an option I could accept. Then when I began to think that people might possibly be able to reject Christ after becoming saved I thought for sure it was an issue of pride that they just wanted to do their own thing which usually involved continuing to engage in their pet sin. In my mind it was always an issue that someone just didn’t like what the Bible had to say about their own life and heart and that is why they were rejecting Christ after having found him. Could be, could be. But perhaps we have been a bit arrogant and fail to recognize there may be other legitimate reasons why someone would walk away.

The more and more I have expressed my doubts the more I have seen Christians question my salvation. At least in evangelical Christianity the most important question you need to discern about a person is whether or not they are “saved.” If they are not you are to witness to them, whether overtly or manipulatively. If they are not at all interested you might leave them alone but continue to pray for them, of course. These potential converts (or re-converts) are not idiots, though (usually). They know your true intentions. Your goal is to win them to Christ.

Let me present a challenge to you if you are still in Christ and looking to show people Jesus. Stop looking at others as either being “in” or “out.” As either meeting the “saved” or “unsaved” criteria. As being part of the “eternal-life with Jesus” or “hell-bound with Satan” categories. I get why it’s important to you, but if you are truly concerned with people’s souls you will love them. If you really love them you will not convert them and then abandon them. You will not fail them and then when they walk away brush them off as if they were never “saved.” No, that behavior is not like Jesus. Not at all.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.” — Jesus in the Parable of the Lost Sheep (Matthew 18:12-14)

Come to think of it, just read the whole chapter of Matthew 18. Seriously. READ IT.

When I was in college I went to a summer camp which “equipped” me in how to be a spiritual leader. One of the key lessons was in how to evangelize to the “lost.” This involved going around to people on campus and flat-out asking “Where do you think you’ll go when you die?” And “What would you say to God when he asks you why he should let you into heaven?” My answers of course would have been with full confidence “Heaven” and “Lord, I have accepted your Son’s sacrifice for my sins.” or something of that nature. That would be the “correct” answer.

Now I would say, “I don’t know” and “if God exists I don’t think he would ask me that question.” If I actually got before God I don’t think I’d do much of anything else besides fall on my face. Because if there is a God who created the whole freakin’ universe how in the hell would I even be able to speak if I was right in front of him? There is no “right” answer. We don’t get a magic ticket into heaven. If I were able to speak at all I would say, “God, you know my heart and you know I tried to pursue truth with all I am and I followed my conscience through to the end.”

Of course, that is not the “right” answer.  Oh well. God knows my heart. It’s between us, isn’t it? Other people really get no say.

These other leaders who were being trained with me during this summer camp were upset with me for my questioning this cold-sale evangelism. “I’m not an evangelist,” I would argue when they criticized me for my not having brought people around to the Lord (or at least to church). I was told I needed to work on my technique. I told them I just wanted to love people and that they would see Jesus through my love. They didn’t like that, believing we were all supposed to evangelize. They’d give this verse to me:

Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. – 1 Peter 3:15

Actually, they’d leave out the “gentleness and respect” part. Of course I would argue back that giving others a reason for my hope is very different from the cold-sale evangelism and I would point out that we were neither being gentle nor respectful. In my opinion, it is very disrespectful to go up to someone you don’t know and try to stump them up so that you can prove that your way of thinking is correct. Hmm, maybe that’s just me. Plus I would throw out this verse:

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. — Matthew 28:19

Disciples, not converts. What are disciples? They are people who follow Jesus’ teachings. How many disciples do we have in the Church today? I’d say not many. Not many at all. So, all you evangelists are failing, aren’t cha?

So, back to the issue of losing salvation. Have I lost my salvation? That may be what you want to know. But I would tell you that is the wrong question. The right question is I have for you is “Do you love me?” and “Do you trust that I am seeking the truth no matter where it leads me?” If you cannot answer affirmative to both of those questions then your question does not matter to me.

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About Quixie

Hi! I go by "Quixie." Quixie is a shortened version of "quixotic," which means: "exceedingly idealistic; unrealistic and impractical." It's how I described my evangelical Christian faith when I started blogging 7 years ago. Now I'm an agnostic atheist who is trying to find a balance between idealism and reality. I write about my mental health journey with bipolar disorder, my loss of faith (deconversion), parenting teens, reading, exercise/health, work-life, and my marriage separation/divorce.