Readers Question / Comment - Does a prodigal lose his salvation?
Hello, I found your website and I must say, it has started turning me away from the life I have been living and has begun to put me back in the direction that I should go. I read your study on the "Grieving of the Holy Spirit". I have to say that it really put things into perspective concerning my personal relationship with Jesus. I now understand that by living the way that I have, God has made it known to me why I have lived the way I have that I find myself in my current situation.
Now that I have said that, I have a question for you. Some, actually alot of Christians say "Once saved, always saved". Now, I have a problem with that statement. Just to give you a little background on me, I accepted Jesus Christ when I was 15 or 16 years old. I am now 43. When I first received Christ, I was like most "On Fire" for him. But it didn’t take long and I guess you could say that my flame burnt out quickly. I soon gave into the desires of the flesh and began to live my life the way I wanted to live it since. I fell away from God and continually "Quenched the Holy Spirit". To make matters worse, when I turned 21, I received a sizeable inheritance, and that really put my sinful life into overdrive. Over the years, I have continually tried to do it my way, and now, like the prodigal son, I have pretty much lost everything. Including my wife of 20yrs who is now married to someone else. Fortunately I still have my home and my health. Now that you know a little of my story, let me get back to it. I believed that a person could lose his salvation if they continued to live in sin. Then the thought crossed my mind that if that person continued to live in sin, that maybe they never received Jesus in the first place.
Now here I am. A person who has pretty much lived in sin the majority of my life even after I accepted Him as my saviour. I know that I am a Christian and am Saved by His Grace because He has been giving me a spanking for a very long time. And now, "FINALLY" (Im sure that is what Jesus is thinking) He has gotten my attention and has shown me the result of my actions. But, is it possible that a person can lose his salvation? Or was that person saved in the first place. Also, here is another question. If someone comes to Christ Jesus and accepts Him, but still lives in sin, would it be fair to say that since they continue to live in sin and have a negative "witness" for Christ, would it be fair to say that God would kill that person, taking them home early, so they would not continue to be a bad witness for Jesus? What do you think?
I appreciate your email and your openness to share where you've come from. It reminded me of a couple of quotes about sin that I read recently. Here they are:
"Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you’re willing to pay." Adrian Rogers
"Sin wouldn't be so attractive if the wages were paid immediately." Unknown Author
You asked about salvation and whether it can be lost. My personal belief is that a true born again believer cannot lose their salvation. I have written a lot about the reasons I believe this on the site so I'll include some links instead of writing them again. If I could boil it down to one point it is this - Jesus has said that He will lose none of those that the Father gives Him but will raise them all up on the last day. And I believe He will do this. If salvation came down to us then we all have a great deal to worry about because none of us can say that our lives before being a Christian or after becoming a Christian warrant salvation and eternal life.
Having said that I agree with you that there are large portions of "Christians" that put their hand up or go up the front but have never truly been born again. Jesus Himself said that "many" would come on the day of judgement saying "Lord, Lord, did we not do this and that..." And He will have to say to them "Depart from me - I never knew you". He NEVER knew them. Not that they were once known by Him and then fell into sin and lost their salvation. No, He never knew them. You spoke of yourself as a prodigal son. There are also what we could call "prodigal pigs" - ie those that come into the church for a little while but still having an unchanged nature they eventually go back to the much which they like. I should also say that if a person is truly saved then there should be evidence of that in their life. Yes, Christians can slip back into sin. But there will NEVER be peace in that and a truly saved person will come back to God. If you want to read more I have quite a bit on the topic in these links:
(there is a section on this page concerning eternal security with various links)
As to your other question, will God take the life of someone who is a bad witness for Him...? We can't say that He 'will'. But we can say that he can. There are examples of it in scripture but it is the exception, not the norm. God is amazingly patient and gracious. There are plenty of Christians that give a bad example and witness through the deceptiveness of sin. God doesn't take them home. Not in general. He works on them to draw them back. Though, as mentioned, He can. Have a look at the follwoing link which gives some examples:
Hope this helps. It is good that you have come back even though it took losing so much. You've still got plenty of time should the Lord not return. So, in the words of the apostle Paul:
Php 3:13-16 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, (14) I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. (15) All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. (16) Only let us live up to what we have already attained.
All the best