Within christianity, there are two camps of thought: those who believe that salvation is permanent, and those who believe that salvation can be lost. Which camp is correct?
That’s actually a trick question. The premise of the question, “within christianity,” is the trick. Because christianity largely teaches a counterfeit of salvation, it is typical, in that debate, that neither camp is fully correct.
Why is the salvation that christianity teaches so often false? It’s because christianity commonly peddles a salvation that is the decision and declaration of man. Altar calls, invitation hymns sung ad infinitum, getting people to pray a prayer or join a “church,” getting baptized in water, obeying commandments, doing all the things that christianity expects “saved” people to do—all these are typical elements of the counterfeit of salvation that is usually taught in christian circles.
BUT, salvation is not something man chooses. It is not something that man can decide. And, no amount of fleshly obedience can save a person, nor is it evidence that one has been saved.
Salvation is the end result of belief, not the beginning of it (1 Peter 1:9). Salvation comes AFTER a person has believed (Ephesians 1:13-14), and his belief has been tried—patiently enduring in belief to the receiving of the covenant (James 1:2-4, Hebrews 10:36-39).
And, once someone is given the covenant, he is confirmed, directly, by the Holy Spirit, that he is a child of Yah (Acts 2:17, Romans 8:16). It is an eternal judicial decree of adoption, and the child is given the evidence of his adoption. It is never something that is man’s decision, nor is it by man’s declaration.
The reason the aforementioned debate is wrong on both sides is that the common factor between them is the false belief that salvation occurs because man has chosen to be saved. They both wrongly contend that the point of salvation is when a human decision is made, and then they claim the proof of it is how the person subsequently lives.
Such a “salvation” is a product of man’s own power and authority that is evidenced by man’s flesh, and neither of those has anything to do with salvation, which is a product of the Father’s will, and is evidenced by the testimony of His Spirit.
Those who believe that salvation can be lost erroneously define salvation to be something man chooses for himself, and then, when he falls away, as Messiah said will often happen (Luke 8:13), they assert that such a person “lost his salvation,” when all he lost was his human belief—he was not faithful in his belief, and thus, never received the covenant.
Those who believe that salvation is permanent, but then also claim that it comes by man’s decision, often state that those who “got saved,” but who show no evidence of being saved (openly commit sins of the flesh), are merely “backsliding,” and they need to “get right with God.” As such a person never actually received the covenant, this camp is simply teaching that the lost person, who falsely believed he was saved, needs to do sufficient works to once again prove his salvation.
Both of these camps will likely be very surprised in judgment, since they thought their human decisions were salvation, but I suppose the camp that thinks salvation can be lost might be a bit less surprised in the end.
For more information: Once Saved Always Saved?