I have already stated that we at Acts 20:24 Ministries believe it is possible for a Christian believer to forfeit their salvation. (I encourage you to read this series in its entirety if you haven’t already for a full explanation.) I would like to close our discussion of the doctrine of eternal security with two illustrations.
The first illustration is that of the nature of covenant in the Bible. A covenant is an agreement between two people or bodies. In the Bible we find many examples, such as those with Noah, Abraham and David, where God made a covenant with men. Probably most distinctly is the covenant between the Lord God and the nation of Israel. The covenants always followed a formula: If this, then this. If not this, then this is the consequence.
Covenants were always optional, and always conditional. They were optional because the person always had the choice to enter into the covenant or not. They were conditional in that they had conditions to be followed. If the covenant was kept, then blessing would flow from God. If the covenant was broken, then judgment would fall.
Covenants could be broken, and had dire consequences when they were. Salvation in Jesus Christ works in the same way. We enter into Christ, and receive his blessing as abiders in him (see John 15). However one can chose to break away from the salvation offered, and in that case, judgment and condemnation follows (Hebrews 10:26-31).
Secondly, God uses the picture of marriage to illustration Christ’s relationship with the church. The Lord Jesus says that the only grounds that one has for divorce in a marriage is if the other partner has been unfaithful (Matthew 5:22). Likewise in God’s covenant with the nation of Israel, the covenant was broken when Israel was unfaithful to God and worshiped idols instead. If we are unfaithful to Christ as his bride, he has legal grounds for divorcing us from being a part of his body.
This unfaithfulness in following Christ is what ultimately causes one to forfeit their salvation. It is a conscious act committed by a believer in which, in word or in deed, they turn away from trusting in the Lord Jesus Christ. They instead choose to follow the desires of their flesh and live their lives completely for this. When this happens, that person has just severed themself from Christ, and gone back to the way they were before they were saved. The Lord says, “If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and witheres; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned… If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love” (John 15:6, 10).
The assurance of the Christian is found in remaining in Christ. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit…” (John 15:5).