If we can lose our salvation, does our regeneration become unregeneration?

by Matt Slick

If a person maintains his salvation with God by his voluntary, continuous act of believing, then we must conclude that he can lose his salvation by voluntarily not believing.  Is this even possible?  Can a Christian who is regenerate actually stop believing in God?  Regeneration is the work of God accompanied by the Holy Spirit's presence in the believer where the Christian is born again (John 3:3-8) and made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17).  Is it, therefore, possible for a true Christian to stop believing and trusting in God?  Some say yes; some say no.

If God is the one who performs the action of regeneration when we believe; and if we stop believing, then does God perform the action of making us unregenerate?  We do not perform the action of regenerating ourselves, so it would not make sense to say that we perform the action of unregenerating ourselves.  It makes no sense.  Therefore, we would have to say that it would be God who unregenerates us when we don't believe.  But that would mean God is making the person into an unregenerate sinner.  Does God actually undo what he did in the person?

Regeneration is the rebirth, being born again, being made a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17); and it is accompanied by the indwelling of God.  Please consider the following verses:

  • Ezekiel 11:19, "And I shall give them one heart, and shall put a new spirit within them. And I shall take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh."
  • John 1:13, "who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
  • John 3:3, 8, "Jesus answered and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God . . . 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit."
  • 2 Corinthians 5:17, "Therefore if any man is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come."
  • Ephesians 2:10, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them."
  • 1 Peter 1:3, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead."

The Scriptures clearly teach that Christians are changed internally.  This change is called regeneration.  So we have to ask the question again.  If a person stops believing, then how does he become unregenerate if it is God who regenerates him in the first place?  Those who teach you can lose your salvation would have to say that God would then choose to switch the person back to his old, unregenerate, sinful nature.  Does God do that?  Does God change people into sinners?  Is this concept found anywhere in Scripture?  No, it is not.

Now the issue becomes whether or not we can lose your salvation.  If we cannot, then it is necessarily true that God would never turn us back into our old, sinful selves.  But if we can lose our salvation, then it is necessarily true that God would turn us back into our old, sinful selves.  Which makes sense?


About The Author

Matt Slick is the President and Founder of the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry.