The phrase “Indian giver” is an interesting phrase that we sometimes use. It’s what we call someone who gives a “gift” and later wants it back, or who expects something in return. The expression itself has its own unique history that shows how it has changed over the years. It is thought to have originated around the 15thcentury when there was a cultural misunderstanding between European settlers and Native Americans. Th new settlers thought they were receiving gifts from the native Americans, while the Native Americans believed they were engaging in more of a trade type deal. Since then this phrase has morphed into more of a negative term in which we specifically use to describe someone who takes back a gift they themselves gave to somebody else. Is this how our God works when it comes to the great gifts He has given to us? In particular, is the gift of salvation that one receives from God a gift in which He will take from us? Maybe you have heard these questions asked before but, in the wording, “Can I lose my salvation?” or when discussing the idea of “once saved always saved.” After God’s Word is examined and studied one can clearly see the answer to these questions.
First, let us examine the gift being given itself. Paul in Romans 6 goes into great detail explaining just what God has given to us by offering us salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. His point culminates near the end of the chapter, “22But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. 23 For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of Godis eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Paul describes salvation given to us by God as a gift that He has extended our way and that leads to eternal life. Personally, what helps me see this gift in light of our question today is to see it as something placed on a table. By looking at scripture, there is no denying that God has extended to all of mankind this amazing gift where we find salvation through Jesus death, burial, and resurrection. That gift has been placed before us and God will never remove it from “the table”. The writer of Hebrews alludes to this thought multiple times but specifically in 10:10 when he says, “10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.” There is no need for another sacrifice to be made on behalf of man’s sins, Christ has come & taken care of that once and for all. This sacrifice that makes up the foundation of the gift of eternal life will not be renegotiated, taken back, or ever exchanged. God will never take back this gift, but what we do with it is where our question from earlier comes into play.
Next let’s go back to the question itself, “can I lose my salvation?” where we need to identify who is asking the question. Who is the “I” in this question? There are only two simple answers to who could be asking this. Either it’s a non-believer or one who does believe and follows God. If the person asking the question fits into the former category, then the answer to “can I lose my salvation” is a no! How can someone losea gift they have never accepted? Going back to the table illustration, how could one lose a gift that they never took off the table? They cannot loseit, but they certainty can reject it. Now, when we look into the second group (those who believe) we find much debate among men on whether they can lose salvation. This group are those who have taken the gift “off the table” by accepting it by being obedient to God’s Word. Paul writes in Galatians 3:27-28,“For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.” Can those who have at one time “clothed themselves with Christ” lose their salvation? Many believe that once the gift is accepted, once we have clothed ourselves with Christ, this act can never be undone. Once saved, always saved. Jesus Himself addresses this issue.
In Matthew 10 we see Jesus preparing His disciples for their first solo missions. It is in the speech to them that we find clarity on the question at hand. Matthew 10:21-22,
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. You will be hated by all because of My name, butit is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.” We see that there is importance or value being put on those who endure. Furthermore, we can look to various other passages that continue to emphasize the importance of “…keeping the faith…”, “…holding fast to the faith..”, “…keeping the word you heard in the beginning abiding within…” (1 Timothy 1:18-20, Hebrews 3:6, 1 John 2:24.) Why would God’s word and Christ Himself keep stressing the importance of keeping our faith strong and ongoing if when we put Christ on in baptism, we could never fall from saved state? Perhaps no verse is clearer than Galatians 5:4 when Paul addresses a group of believers who have perverted their faith, “You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.”
God has given us an incredible gift by placing salvation on the “table” before us. Those who ignore it and never accept this gift will have consequences to face someday. Also, those who have once accepted it but have now neglected it or rejected it will have consequences to face as well. Too many Christians today do so by their actions, attitude, and the lifestyle they live. God is no Indian giver when it comes to the gift of eternal life, but man himself can walk away from the amazing opportunity laid out before him.
Once again, we look to Hebrews for a final encouragement in chapter 2:2-3, “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. For if the word spoken through angels proved unalterable, and every transgression and disobedience received a just penalty, how will we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?”