It is impossible for a Christian to lose or forfeit their salvation. Once God has adopted someone into His kingdom, He will not ‘un-adopt’ that person. Having accepted Jesus Christ, II Corinthians 5:7 tells us that “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things become new.” The next verse tells us that we have been reconciled to God through Christ.
If old things are truly passed away and we are new creatures in Christ, our disobedience doesn’t suddenly resurrect the old carnal man that has passed away. We are still the new creature. However, we may engage in activities that disappoint God and are counter to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. A person can certainly stray from the Father as the prodigal son did in Luke 15. Regardless of how far the son wandered, his legal status as his father’s son never changed. Certainly, he was out of fellowship with him as he caroused and partied. The man looking longingly down the road for the return of his son never ceased to be the young man’s daddy.
In Ephesians 1:5 we are told of an “adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself”. Having shed His blood on the Cross that enabled our adoption, Jesus Christ is not going to appear before the Father and cancel the adoption. We weren’t adopted due to privilege. We were adopted through the grace of God that reached down to save us. Our sins and carnality will disappoint God many times through our life. However, our legal status doesn’t change because of our actions anymore than our status of being saved changed because of actions we took when accepting Jesus Christ.
As Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus, it may be helpful to understand the concept of adoption as a first century Christian would. In Jewish life, there is no difference between a child who has been adopted and one who was born by birth. We know that David’s wife Michal was childless in 2 Samuel 6:23. Yet, in II Sam 21:8 she was attributed as having 5 children. They had certainly grown up in David and Michal’s company. Michal in caring for them became identified in Scripture as having been their mother although she wasn’t their mother by biological birth.
A child who has painted a smiley face on his father’s automobile may help to illustrate the point. The father discovers the deed and is very disappointed in the actions of his son. That act of defacing the car door has created some emotional distance between the father and son. For the immediate future, the father may send the child to his room to consider his actions. For at least a short while, the father and son will not be likely throwing a baseball or sitting together watching cartoons and laughing. But, as the child sits in his room contemplating his actions he will feel the conviction of what he has done wrong. With tearful eyes, the boy goes to his father and tells him he is very sorry, will never do it again and asks for forgiveness. The father embraces the boy and after a short while the little boy laughs with glee over his father’s teasing.
The boy never ceased to be the father’s son due to his actions. It did however cause some strain in the relationship. Similarly, when we stray from God’s word the Holy Spirit continues to convict our hearts of the sin. The Spirit attempts to woo us back into fellowship with God. As a believer, we have the Holy Spirit indwelling us. When we stray He works to bring us back into fellowship. But, for a true believer salvation can never be lost. Although our relationship with God may grow stale, our legal standing as an heir of salvation never ends.