Are you perplexed? Do you wonder if genuine, born-again Christians can lose their salvation? Apparently, the apostles Paul and Peter didn’t wonder.
Paul and Peter wrote 59 percent of the New Testament’s 27 books. Paul wrote 14 (some people believe he also wrote Hebrews), and Peter wrote two. And both men were convinced salvation endures forever.
They believed Jesus, who said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (Jn. 10:28–29).
Paul taught that God has “sealed” true believers and “given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 1:22). In ancient times, a seal on documents or objects signified authenticity and a completed transaction. It also conveyed permanency and security. Metaphorically, the term seal refers to the seal of salvation, the seal of the Holy Spirit, and the seal of eternal security.
Seal of Salvation
Jesus is the seal of salvation (Acts 4:12), the certainty of which Paul declared in Romans:
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “For Your sake we are killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (8:35–39).
The seal involved Jesus taking our sin upon Himself and making us children of righteousness and citizens of heaven, and that position can never be lost. We belong to Him. Salvation is a gift from God. It did not come through any work of our own (Eph. 2:8–9).
Therefore, it’s impossible, unthinkable, and unscriptural for God to lose someone Jesus bought with His blood: “You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot” (1 Pet. 1:18–19).
Seal of the Holy Spirit
Our almighty God gives us the seal of the Holy Spirit in our hearts: “Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee” (2 Cor. 1:21–22).
Notice the four security affirmations: God (1) establishes us, (2) anoints us, (3) seals us, and (4) gives us the Spirit. There is no uncertainty or confusion regarding the permanency of salvation: “The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom. 8:16).
The sealing of the Holy Spirit reveals God’s faithfulness to fulfill His promise. God’s pledge to true believers is security in Christ:
In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory (Eph. 1:13–14).
Furthermore, “We also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body” (Rom. 8:23). The Spirit is referred to as our firstfruits. Israel has an annual harvest festival called Shavuot (Pentecost), which occurs seven weeks after Passover. On the Shavuot after Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Holy Spirit came (Jn. 14:25–26; Acts 2:1–4). Just as the early firstfruits offered during Shavuot anticipated a greater harvest to come, so, too, the Holy Spirit is God’s assurance of our greater blessing to come: eternity with Jesus.
Seal of Eternal Security
The apostle Peter also reminded believers of God’s sure promises and seal of security:
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time (1 Pet. 1:3–5).
Believers are kept by God’s power and have a sure reservation in heaven that is incorruptible, undefiled, and cannot fade. This everlasting inheritance affirms our sealed, imperishable salvation that is confirmed in heaven (cf. Eph. 1:11, 13–14; Heb. 9:15). We are constantly being kept by God’s omnipotent power until our salvation, or final redemption, is revealed in glorification (1 Pet. 1:5). Nothing can alter the certainty of our inheritance:
Whatever God does, it shall be forever. Nothing can be added to it, and nothing taken from it. God does it, that men should fear [reverence] before Him (Eccl. 3:14; cf. Heb. 6:17–18).
Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal (2 Cor. 4:16–18).
An old Jewish axiom says, “The seal of the Holy One, blessed be He, is truth” (Shabbat 55a, Babylonian Talmud). It indicates that God alone is the ultimate guarantee of all truth. Jesus said the same thing: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (Jn. 14:6).
God’s Word is always true. “God is not a man, that He should lie, nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good?” (Num. 23:19).
Those who trust in Jesus possess the eternal seals of salvation, the Holy Spirit, and eternal security. There is no reason for doubt or confusion. Instead, we should rejoice because, through faith, we are sealed and secured for eternity. As the great 19th-century hymn writer Fanny Crosby wrote:
Sweet assurance, Thou hast sealed me
With Thy precious blood divine;
And I know, for Thou hast told me,
I in life or death am Thine.
Sweet assurance, O my Savior,
How it cheers this heart of mine!
While Thy loving Spirit whispers,
I in life or death am Thine.