A headline this week has many people scratching their head: “Former Desiring God writer Paul Maxwell announces he’s no longer Christian.” How can this happen? Did he lose his salvation?
Below is my response about salvation that I’ve shared before. I also just released this short clip that goes into more detail on why Paul Maxwell may have fallen away.
A common question for many is, “Can I lose my salvation?” I’ve heard both sides of the argument, and only God truly knows a person’s heart—but I can share a few thoughts. The reason there is a debate is because the Scriptures teach that salvation is a gift from God that cannot be earned, but they also offer warnings about falling away.
There should be a healthy tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility. This issue should not create a spirit of division, elitism or theological superiority.
One school of thought suggests that salvation cannot be lost, as in losing your car keys, but that it can be left, as in walking away from it. This may be why Jesus spoke of the man who said in his heart “my master delays His coming; therefore, I will turn from living a godly life.” When the master returned unexpectedly, the servant was banished because he chose to turn from what he knew to be right (see Luke 12:45).
In another passage, Jesus said, “You have left your first love,” when speaking to the church in Ephesus (Rev. 2:4b, NASB). James 5:19-20 adds that if anyone wanders from the truth and someone turns him back, a soul is saved from death. If anything, these Scriptures, and many more, reinforce the fact that we have certain responsibilities.
Three Key Points to Consider
1. We must look at the context of such verses. For example, in James 5, the context is a believer who is sick because he or she wandered from God (a pattern of sin)—from alcohol and drugs to lying and slander, and from sexual sin to the sin of pride—the warnings, convictions and rebukes were all ignored. The elders become involved in hope that confession and repentance take place and that faith-filled prayer releases the person from God’s chastisement (see Heb. 12:5-7). The believer is heading toward physical death as the result of wandering from God, but if repentance takes place, they will be restored—the soul is saved and his ongoing pattern of sin (multitude) is covered, concealed and dealt with. This verse is not about salvation but disobedience.
We should never turn from what we know to be right. Jesus encouraged His followers to be watchful, prepared and ready for His return. Are we watchful? Are we prepared? Are we ready? (Read Matt. 24:45-51 and Luke 21:34.) The Scriptures offer a healthy tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility.
The other school of thought suggests that some passages are dealing with people who never fully surrendered to Christ. As a result, they fell away. They heard the gospel but never fully embraced it and turned from their sins; they only had “intellectual” knowledge of salvation. According to this view, the real question isn’t, “Can a person lose their salvation?” but, “Was the person really saved to begin with?”
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SOURCE: Charisma News