“I have a question regarding Matthew 6:15. I know many people who believe that it is possible for a Christian to be saved, and then lose their salvation by continual sinning. They used Matthew 6:15 as primary evidence of this”

Matthew 6.15 says: “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

A fundamental aspect of Christianity is forgiveness. It is the basis of how we are brought into this family. The Christian understands that they bring nothing to God in terms of merit and that they are wholly dependent upon grace and mercy to receive a full and complete forgiveness. I believe that it is out of this understanding that Jesus is speaking here, if we have been forgiven and understand forgiveness we will forgive others. And conversely if we do not forgive others we do not understand what forgiveness is all about and this give evidence that we are probably not recipients of the life changing divine mercy that God lavishes in his Son. This is similarly taught in Matthew 18.21-35; Mark 11.25-27; and Ephesians 4.32.

As far as loosing your salvation that is usually sourced in a faulty understanding of grace and an inflated view of personal merit. As unbelievers we are utterly alienated (Col. 1.21), depraved (Eph. 2.1), and unable to do anything to merit divine favor. Therefore, we are wholly dependent upon grace to draw (Jn. 6.44), regenerate (Jn. 3.3-5; Tit. 3.5; 1 Pet. 1.3), and keep for Jesus (Jude 1.1). There is no more human merit, striving or works divorced from grace in sanctification than there is in justification or regeneration. It is the God of all grace who calls a dead sinner unto himself, awakens them, justifies them, begins to grow them into the image of his Son, and will one day ultimately conform him into that same image. There is not one step along this plan that is divorced from grace…it is all of grace.

Romans 8:29-30 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified.

God is for us in Christ because God is for Christ. The union of the believer to Christ Jesus is inseparable. For God to reject a believer he would have to reject his Son which is preposterous. This of course does not give a believer license to sin, for legitimate believers hate sin, and do not persist in it, for they have been born of God (1 Jn. 2.4; 3.3-10) so we walk in these works which God has prepared (Eph. 2.10) for his own glory.

Therefore, to believe that you can lose your salvation is to think that you have earned it in the first place and are somehow keeping it. I thank God that I did not earn it and am not now keeping it, but rather that Jesus did earn it and is now keeping me! And that he is able to “save completely those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7.25).


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