I had a conversation with a gentleman recently, who is a self-proclaimed “Wesleyan.” I told him that I really appreciate the Wesleyan tradition for a number of reasons, but I specifically think they have a good grasp on pursuing “holiness.” Now, I’m not here to dispute this, that is, whether you can obtain holiness on earth (even though, I hate how that sounds), but we can’t deny the Bible’s teaching on holiness, such as, “But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: ‘Be holy, because I am holy’” (1 Pt. 1:15-16 TNIV). Let’s move on from this point.
Many evangelicals (perhaps, Protestants, in general) struggle with this since they believe that this preaches works-based salvation. I have a few problems with this struggle:
- “Holiness” is generally a term used for those after they have begun to follow Christ
- It seems to me that holiness (and even salvation for that matter) has much to do with the community of believers. We often make things like this too individualistic.
- Many do not preach holiness since they believe it to be the same thing as sinless perfection (which there is much discussion about, and I, in no way, tend to settle it here), but I’m not sure that’s the case.
Along these lines, it is true that Wesleyans often do preach that one can lose his or her salvation. Many evangelicals jump up in anger against this – “Why would God treat such a thing as one’s eternal destiny so trivially?” or something along those lines. But here’s my thing:
Why are you so worried about it?
Let’s say for argument’s sake that you can lose your salvation. Aren’t you likely to keep on top of holiness? At least, you’re likely to attempt to run from sin. On the other hand, let’s say you can’t lose your salvation. Even so, shouldn’t you be just as worried about staying on top of holiness as one who believe he or she can lose his or her salvation?
My fear is that we often say (what was once intended for good reasons), “You can’t lose your salvation” because we are truly afraid (in some way) we will. Yes, it may be biblical. Yes, you may be right. But are we working towards holiness? Or do we throw around those lines just so we can be lazy?
As for me, no, I don’t think you can lose your salvation, but why are you so worried about it?