Can a saved person be lost?
No, but someone who thinks they are saved can be lost, which is different, and someone that you think might be saved can be lost.
The perseverance of the saints, or the perseverance of God’s elect, actually became the definitive doctrine of the seventeenth century. It certainly became the pivotal doctrine of the post-Reformation period. I remember just how startling that was the first time I read The Pilgrim’s Progress.
When you’re on the final page of Bunyan’s book, you’ve crossed the river, and then all of a sudden the camera lens goes to this hole in the side of the mountain that leads straight to hell. I think it’s saying that you may convince yourself that you’re good enough to go to heaven, but in the end, right at the point of death, you will discover that there is a pathway to hell. Therefore, I think Bunyan was evangelistically trying to say, “You need to make your calling and election sure” (2 Peter 1:10). You need to have a biblical assurance that you are a child of God.
This transcript is from a live Ask Ligonier event with Derek Thomas and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.