Can Christians Fall From Grace?

The quick answer to this question is given by Paul, who says, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace” (Gal. 5:4).

The Bible plainly tells us that Christians can fall from grace. But this doctrine is widely disputed in religion today. Therefore it’s helpful to consider additional Scriptures on this topic, to help us answer this question.

Christians Must Take Heed. Paul tells us to take heed, lest we fall (1 Cor. 10:12). We must beware, lest we have an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God (Heb. 3:12). “For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame” (Heb. 6:4-8).

“For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries” (Heb. 10:26-27). “Therefore do not cast away your confidence, which has great reward. For you have need of endurance, so that after you have done the will of God, you may receive the promise” (Heb. 10:35-36).

Christians Can Stray From the Truth and Lose Their Souls. James cautions us, saying, “My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (Ja. 5:19-20).

There are some important points to notice from James 5:19-20:

Christians can stray from the truth. The truth is God’s word (Jn. 17:17).

A Christian who strays from the truth is a sinner. His soul is lost. If he turns from his sin, he will be saved from death.

Christians Can Come Short of God’s Grace. Christians can come short of the grace of God (Heb. 12:15-17).

Esau is an example of one who came short of God's grace, when he sold his birthright for a single meal (Heb. 12:16). If we come short of God's grace and we're lost in hell for eternity, we cannot repent and be restored to God (Heb. 12:17).

Some People Strayed from the Faith in the First Century. Paul tells us that some people had “gone astray from the faith” in the first century (1 Tim. 6:21). The expression “gone astray from the faith” means that they were no longer obedient to the faith, and thus lost in their sins (Rom. 1:6; 16:26; cf. Acts 6:7).

Paul also tells us why some people depart from the faith:

They give heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods (1 Tim. 4:1-3).

They love money (1 Tim. 6:9-10).

We are not immune from sin in the twenty-first century. We must be careful not to depart from the faith, turning from God to entertain the passing pleasures of sin.

Paul Knew He Could Be Lost. The apostle Paul lived, knowing that He could turn away from God and be lost for eternity. If the apostle Paul could be lost, every Christian can be lost.

Paul used himself as an example to encourage the brethren in Corinth to work hard and be diligent in their service to God, saying, “but I discipline my body and make it my slave, so that, after I have
preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified” (1 Cor. 9:21).

Therefore he says, later in the epistle, “I affirm, brethren, by the boasting in you which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily” (1 Cor. 15:31).

Like Paul, we shouldn’t take our salvation for granted. Rather, we should recommit our lives to God, every day.

Be sure. . . . Be sure you are humbly obeying God, knowing that you can turn from the truth and lose your soul.

Peter says it like this, “Therefore, brethren, be all the more diligent to make certain about His calling and choosing you; for as long as you practice these things, you will never stumble; for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you” (2 Pet. 1:10-11).

Be sure to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling (Phil. 2:12). And by all means, don’t take your salvation for granted — “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Pr. 16:18).

by Allan E. McNabb

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