Can I lose my way to heaven?
Obviously, Paul thought that it was possible. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14). In another letter, Paul wrote, “Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified” (I Corinthians 9:24-27). Paul understood that if he did not give God his all, it was possible to be disqualified from inheriting eternal life.
Paul not only had concerns about retaining his own salvation, he also told us about those who had lost their right to eternal life. Paul told Timothy that “having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme” (I Timothy 1:19-20). Hymenaeus and Alexander were sailing the seas of faith, but they suffered a shipwreck – they had lost their faith. Peter warned that false prophets would arise from among the people of God in II Peter 2. He did not say they would enter from the outside, but that they would come from within the family of God. In II Peter 2:15, Peter states, “They have forsaken the right way and gone astray.” You cannot forsake a path on which you were never walked. Concerning these people and those they lead astray Peter warns, “For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them” (II Peter 2:20-21).
Often people will say about a fallen brother, “Well, he never was really saved in the first place.” Yet, it is clear that a person can know the way of righteousness and escape the pollutions of the world and then become entangled in the world of sin once again. This is why Christians must never let their guard down. “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour” (I Peter 5:8). If a Christian could not become lost, there would be no danger from Satan. But while we remain in this world, we must always strive to serve our Lord. We must not become complacent nor arrogant. “Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (I Corinthians 10:12).