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According to Christians who believe that salvation can be lost:

  • What is eternal life? Is eternal life attained now (in this life / before death) or at the resurrection?
  • What is spiritual rebirth? When a Christian is born again, does he/she attain eternal life at that moment?
  • If salvation can be lost, can salvation be regained? Can we be saved multiple times? If so, would that mean that we can have multiple "born again experiences"?

Related questions

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  • In Judaism, an apostate who repents is called a baal teshuvah, and he is considered closer to God's essence than a saint.
    – Fomalhaut
    Jun 23, 2023 at 1:14

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For mainstream Christians who believe that salvation can be lost (such as Arminians, Pentecostals, and Catholics), there is only one time conversion (born again) and one time corresponding baptism. That is the stage called "spiritual rebirth", receiving the indwelling Holy Spirit.

How salvation can be lost:

  • For Catholics, between conversion and death we can sin mortally and if we don't repent we lost the salvation.
  • For OSAS (once saved always saved) Protestants, if one is truly a member of the elect, they can backslide and even commit grievous sins WITHOUT ever losing salvation, but they will eventually repent. The trick is to know whether you are a member of the elect, hence the preoccupation with searching your hearts for the signs whether you're a member or whether your conversion is genuine (esp. the Puritans, see here).
  • For non-OSAS Protestants, once you are justified by faith it's not that there's an unknown list of sins and if you commit one of those, you're out. Rather you have to deliberately reject God/your faith. It's not that you've sinned so bad God can't forgive you, it's that you no longer want to be forgiven. (thanks, @IsaacMiddlemiss)

About regaining eternal life:

  • For Catholics the sacrament of confession will regain us back our "sanctifying grace".
  • For Calvinists, repentance is not strictly necessary because eternal life starts at regeneration (new birth) in this life (in this corrupt body that will still die physically) and this status can never be changed because they believe in the Preservation of the Elect (the "P" in TULIP) (which will convict the hearts of the elect the repent when they recognize their sins), hence future eternal life after resurrection is guaranteed.
  • For other Protestants, repentance will regain our "justified" status, which in turn guarantee eternal life.
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    Saying "We can sin mortally" is a bit of a broad stroke; those more Arminian-leaning would say it's not that there's an unknown list of sins and if you commit one of those, you're out, rather you have to deliberately reject God/your faith. It's not that you've sinned so bad God can't forgive you, it's that you no longer want to be forgiven Jun 17, 2023 at 23:07
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    I am not a Calvinist but I do believe eternal life starts at the new birth and is promised to never be lost unto condemnation. Feb 13 at 18:54
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    @MikeBorden Thank you for your input, updated the answer accordingly Feb 13 at 21:20
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    I'm not trying to nit-pick but I believe OSAS and am not preoccupied with searching my heart for signs to confirm anything. It happened on 06/12/2002 at around 7:00 AM...I went from death unto life. Feb 13 at 21:29
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    I have heard teaching from an OSAS Baptist pulpit that lack of suffering was reason to question whether one's salvation was real (also disagree). I think carnal success is tied more to Natural Law than a sign of salvation. The question "Why do the wicked prosper?" assumes that they do. Feb 13 at 21:59
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Spiritual birth is the moment one has received salvation. It is made available by God's grace, and is obtained through having faith alone in Jesus Christ:

Ephesians 2:8-9

"For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast."

God has promised at that time "to make in himself of twain one new man":

Ephesians 2:12-22

"That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit."

We are sealed by and with the holy Spirit upon belief. Our new spiritual being "in Christ" is His "purchased possession" and begins at the moment of belief:

Ephesians 1:12-14

" That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory."

We are "sealed" and "baptized" by the holy Spirit into the body of Christ upon belief. Our "seal" has been promised to be with us until the day we are redeemed by Christ. This means that it is not possible to lose our salvation (seal):

Ephesians 4:30

"And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption."

1 Corinthians 12:13

"For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."

Ephesians 4:4-6

" There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all."

CONCLUSION

If salvation could be lost and it comes through having faith alone (not of any works), and we are also "sealed" for eternity at the moment of our belief; how would one ever regain salvation if the means of obtaining it was through having only faith? Is it then possible to lose faith? Yes! Is that a means of losing salvation? No! God remains faithful to us even though our faith in Him may falter:

2 Timothy 2:13

"If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself."

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  • The previous verse in 2 Timothy says: "if we deny him, he also will deny us". How is this incorporated? Feb 13 at 19:03
  • Verse 13 confirms that verse 12 is not about salvation. What are we denied then? With this chapter being about "faithful men teaching others" (verse 2), the denying could be that of our post-salvation rewards. Believers work for God and are rewarded based on their works (teaching others the gospel accurately): 1 Cor 3:14-15 "If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. 15 If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire." Feb 13 at 19:18
  • Or verses 11-13 are not about believers only but humanity in general. Feb 13 at 21:22
  • Very well could be... Feb 13 at 21:39
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Read the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins, the Parable of the Talents, the Parable of the Prodigal Son, what the Lord mentions about those who commit Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, and what the Lord says about those who take the mark of the beast.

Using the mark of the beast as an example. If you are a truly born against spirit who is saved in Jesus Christ, according to the Lord's own words, you will be eternally damned and will not be allowed to repent and be saved again.

If you commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, you can never be forgiven.

And if you do not do the work the Lord assigns you in His house, you will lose your salvation as shown in the Parable of the Talents.

If you receive the annointing of the Holy Spirit, and don't keep the annointing topped up as the wise virgins did, but let it run out as the foolish virgins did, then you will be locked out of Heaven.

But there are times when you as a saved person can fall into temptation and sin, and you can still repent and be saved. Consider when Jesus was denied by Peter before the crucifixion, and after the resurrection, how Jesus asked him 3 times to feed His sheep!

You have to know the context of the sin and the conditions attached.

When you are born, you are born spiritually dead belonging to the devil and destined for Hell.

Once you are born again, you can sin and be forgiven depending upon what the sin is. But if you sin the sin that kills your spirit, then you can never be reborn into life again and will remain among the damned.

1 John 5:16 New International Version 16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that.

But when you invite Jesus into your life and accept Him as your Lord and Saviour, then at that point you have entered into eternal life because you become spiritually born of Jesus. At that point you are expected to repent and turn your life around. And once you are saved, you are expected to know God's will for your life and do it. See, Matthew 7:21-23.

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    Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life. Feb 13 at 18:59

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