Losing my salvation

John MacArthur has famously said on more than one occasion, "If I could lose my salvation, I would." His comment is a succinct but devastatingly incisive statement about the fallenness of man. The fleshly part of man wants to be in control. It wants to be king of our lives. Even Christians who understand our own depravity and desire to work FOR God soon find that if they do not carefully reign in the flesh, that we are not participating in our own sanctification, but we're bossing God around and replacing Him with the idol of works.

MacArthur wasn't guessing when he said what he said. It's grounded in the bible. There is biblical precedent for his statement.

God instituted a Doctrine of Works. Don't bristle. Stay with me. In Genesis 2, God told Adam,

The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. 16And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, 17but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2:15-16).

As Martyn Lloyd Jones said of the Doctrine of Works in his sermon "The Covenant of Grace in the Old Testament", the Genesis verses are obviously a doctrine of works. God told Adam to--

--work the Garden
--keep the Garden
--not eat of the fruit.

The inheritance of the reward from God was entirely dependent upon what Adam did or did not do. This is works.

It failed.

It failed immediately and utterly. Adam failed to work correctly for his reward from God. Since we are all in Adam from the moment of birth, from the moment of conception even, (Romans 5:12, Psalm 51:5) we, too, will fail to please God with our works. (Hebrews 11:6).
Once again Lloyd Jones, "If man in a perfect position didn't keep the covenant of works, then what is the point of God making a new Covenant of Works? And indeed He didn't. He then made a Covenant of Grace."
We cannot, cannot, inherit any reward from God based on our own works. We have proved this. It was tried, it failed, it's done. God made a Covenant of Grace which is that we receive a reward from Him based on HIS choice, HIS will, HIS election, HIS grace. Our reward is all based on faith, and guess what? The faith we have is also a granted gift from Him. (Galatians 3:22). It is a faith that HE keeps for us and in us. It's sealed. (2 Corinthians 1:22, Ephesians 1:13).

This knowledge of works v. faith has import for those who are in a works-based religion - which is to say everyone else in all other religions, even atheism. Mormons try to reach god through their covenant of works. Catholics try to pile up works so as to acquire enough to please God. Islam teaches "To those who believe and do deeds of righteousness hath Allah promised forgiveness and a great reward," (Surah 5:9). And so on. And so on. And so on...

Our working out of our salvation through fear and trembling is a result of the sovereign choice of God to dispense faith and repentance to us. It's based on our knowledge of the above, that our works while in the flesh count as filthy rags. It's all Jesus, from start to finish, including His reward to us. We receive a glorified body so that we may no longer sin against Him. We become sons, adopted to His family, and thus co-heirs. We receive manifold and eternal mercies in heaven. Most of all we receive HIM. Jesus is our treasure. In His grace he shared Himself with us, gladly, voluntarily.

Praise God for the Covenant of Grace. Because, if I could lose my salvation, I would.


  1. Yet there's preaching. If there are no chosen variables, then why would anyone need reminding? Everything is either under control -or- the choice in the Garden had the consequence of Free Will.

  2. God's sovereignty and man's free will are not mutually exclusive. Man can choose his actions. However given man's sin nature, man can only choose sin. We never choose God. Therefore, we have the free will to sin.

    Yet we are responsible for our actions. Judas chose to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. No one forced him. He decided. Yet his actions were ordained and prophesied. Read John MacArthur on Judas' choice and God's prophetic ordination of Judas' actions.

    "Divine Sovereignty and Human Choice"

    "Understand, Judas's part was not apart from his own will. Even though God ordained that Judas would be the one of the Twelve who would betray Christ, it was not apart from the desire of Judas. Judas was no robot. Our Lord did not simply allocate to an unwilling Judas the part of the villain in the crucifixion. Such a thing would be inconsistent with the character of Jesus Christ. It is also inconsistent with the historical record. Throughout the ministry of Jesus, He endeavored to drive Judas to repentance, time and time again, with His love, His pleas, and His rebukes. So although Judas's treachery fit into the plan of God, God did not design him as a treacherous man. He became a traitor to Christ by his own choice. God merely designed his treachery into the divine plan. He took Judas, wretched as he was, and fitted him into His plan. If God was responsible for making Judas what he was, Jesus would have pitied him rather than rebuked Him."

    "Judas Iscariot, then, was the chosen instrument of God, not apart from his own will, to betray Christ and bring about His death. This wretched man—evil as he was, by his own desire—was designed into God's plan. And to show that it was not God's will apart from Judas's will, all the way along and at every opportunity, Jesus gave him warnings and pleas to bring him to repentance and salvation. And at every point he turned it down. We see that clearly in John 13."



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