Is it possible to 'give back' salvation?
Some believe that a person cannot lose his or her salvation but can "give back" salvation or reject Christ's salvation and turn away from the Lord. In other words, those who hold this view believe Christ will never leave a Christian but that a Christian can leave Him. Is this true?
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The Bible provides ample evidence that a genuine believer will never "give back" salvation. First, it is clear that a person would never seek to believe in Christ without God calling the person to Him. Romans 3:10-11 teaches, "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God." It is only by God's grace a person comes to faith in Jesus (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Second, a person who truly has God's Spirit living within them will not turn against Christ. While every Christian continues to struggle with sin (Roman 7:24-25), those who have been changed by God's grace cannot be separated from His love. Romans 8:38-39 uses strong terms to reflect this truth: "For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Third, a person's salvation does not depend on his or her works, but on the finished work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, salvation cannot be earned by good works or lost by sinful actions. Instead, believers can rest in what Christ has done on the cross and live in service to Him as an act of worship.
But what about those who claim to follow God and then later leave the faith? While only God truly knows the heart of a person, based on the biblical information, only two options are possible. First, it is possible the person is a believer who is living in sin and struggling with doubts about salvation. Second, it is possible that the person who claims to "leave the faith" never had genuine faith at all.
In fact, Jesus predicted this when He taught, "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'" (Matthew 7:21-23). Despite calling Jesus "Lord," being known for prophecy, exorcisms, and miracles, some people who claim to know Jesus are truly unbelievers. It should not surprise us, then, when some today who claim to be Christians and later leave the faith were never truly Christians at all.
A Christian cannot "give back" salvation because this gift rests upon God's power, not our own. Instead, those who leave the faith are either those struggling who need our help or are those in need of genuine faith and the true gospel of Christ.
How can a believer have assurance of salvation?
Is it possible for a Christian to lose salvation?
Do the Bible's warnings against apostasy imply that salvation is not eternally secure?
Does the Bible teach eternal security?
Is salvation by faith or works or both?
Truth about Salvation