CAN SALVATION BE LOST? (PART I)
“Bishop David Oyedepo vs Dr Abel Damina on Eternal Security”
By Akin Ojumu
Is it possible for a genuinely born-again Christian, saved by grace through faith, to lose their salvation? Can a Believer in Christ, who has been redeemed and has accepted the finished work of Christ in redemption, become unredeemed again?
If you are wondering where that came from, well, that was the question I woke up to on this beautiful Saturday morning. It was a question posed to me by someone who wanted my opinion on a video clip showing two popular and highly regarded Nigerian pastors espousing contrary views on the subject of eternal security.
On one side of the argument is Bishop David Oyedepo, one of Nigeria’s leading pastors and an elder statesman in Christian ministry. He believes strongly that Christians can certainly lose their salvation. In the video clip, Bishop Oyedepo was perplexed to hear another preacher hold a contrary view.
Here’s what Bishop Oyedepo said:
“I caught a preacher saying on the television that no one can lose salvation. I said, ‘What…what…what a word! What a word!!’ Did Judas preserve his salvation? He was among the twelve when He said, ‘Your names are written in the Book of Life. You will sit on the twelve thrones when the twelve tribes.’ Will Judas sit on a throne? Burning hot in hell, Sir. Judas is burning hot in hell. When Christ told them that, ‘Ye are they,’ he was among the twelve.”
Meanwhile, Pastor (Dr) Abel Damina plants his doctrinal flag on the opposite side of the argument. It was him Bishop Oyedepo saw on television saying Christians can’t lose their salvation. Upon hearing the rebuke from such an eminent man of God, Dr. Damina pushed back in righteous indignation. Adamant that he is on the right side of the debate, he took issue with Bishop Oyedepo’s characterization of Judas Iscariot’s salvation.
According to Pastor Damina:
“Judas Iscariot was never saved…never. He was never born again. The Bible calls him, ‘The son of perdition.’ Jesus said, ‘All of you are clean, minus one…minus one.’ So, Judas was never saved. If Judas was ever saved, he wouldn’t have lost salvation because, once you are saved, you don’t lose salvation because salvation is God’s work.”
Now that we’ve heard these two men of God express conflicting views on the subject, it’s time to seek the truth directly from God Himself. We must now open the Bible, the final arbiter of all truth, to find out what it says.
To make this easily understandable, I'd like to spend time discussing a few relevant Bible passages that specifically address the subject of salvation and eternal security.
We’ll start with what Jesus said about His sheep in John 10:27-30.
“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”
The context of this Bible passage was the Temple in Jerusalem. It was winter, during Hanukkah i.e., the Festival of Dedication. As Jesus was walking through Solomon’s porch, the people swamped Him. Repeatedly, they pressed Him to declare Himself the Messiah openly and publicly so that everyone may hear Him say it. The reason they are asking Jesus to do this is not because they cared or wanted to know. They were simply setting a trap for Jesus, to get Him to say something incriminating that they could then use as a legal cover to attack Him.
In response, Jesus told them the evidence they are looking for is in the work that He was doing in the name of His Father. He then went on to describe those whom He considers to be His sheep, i.e., those who are truly saved, and those who aren’t.
We’ll take it from there next time.