Can I Lose My Salvation? By R.C. Sproul. Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust, 2015. 65 pp. Paper, $2.50.
R.C. Sproul is a gifted and clear theological writer. His booklet, Can I Lose my Salvation? concisely addresses the questions, “If I’m presently in a state of faith, if I’m presently embracing Christ, will that change? Will the status that I enjoy in the presence of God change? Can I lose my salvation?” (p. 8).
This booklet carries a personal and pastoral tone. Sproul mentions that he frequently receives correspondence from individuals concerned about the thought of losing their salvation.
He writes from a Reformed Presbyterian perspective, identifying eternal security with perseverance of the saints in TULIP (p. 5). He sees a tension within the Bible between passages that warn about losing salvation, and other passages that guarantee the saints will be preserved: “In the Bible itself, there are many passages that strongly suggest that people can indeed lose their salvation (e.g., Heb. 6:4-6; 2 Peter 2:20-22). And yet, on the other side there are also many passages that seem to be promises that God will preserve His people to the end.” Sproul seeks to address this tension.
In addressing apostasy, Sproul argues there is a “distinction between a serious fall and a total fall” (p. 14). He suggests believers can fall to some degree, but cannot totally fall away. David and Peter are set forth as examples that believers may fall terribly. The distinguishing mark between a serious fall and a total fall is whether one returns after a fall (p. 15). He writes, “The challenge, then, is to distinguish between a true believer in the midst of a serious fall (who will at some point in the future be restored) and a person who has made a false profession of faith” (p. 15). This view begs the question, what if Peter and David had died while in their sin, before being restored?
Chapter 3 deals with “the unforgivable sin” which Sproul believes someone commits “when he knows for certain through the illumination of the Spirit that Christ is the Son of God, but he comes to the conclusion and makes the statement verbally that Christ was demonic” (pp. 26-27). He says that if someone is concerned they may have committed this sin, they probably haven’t.
Sproul interprets Heb 6:1-6 as a hypothetical argument which amounts to an argument ad absurdum. This passage should strengthen our confidence in perseverance as the falling away spoken of is not possible for the believer.
In the final chapter Sproul argues the elect will not fall away because Jesus preserves them.
Sproul’s booklet is easy to read and concisely portrays a pragmatic Reformed view of perseverance of the saints. It is pragmatic in that it does not go into detailed theological discussion, but rather sets forth in accessible language the Reformed basis of assurance and security. It’s tone is “less” introspective than similar works.
Sadly, it leaves certainty of one’s eternal destiny inaccessible as one cannot know whether he may suffer a total fall in his life.
Social Media Coordinator
Grace Evangelical Society