“if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant” (Colossians 1:23).
This passage quoted above contains a small word with big implications: “if.”
While the preceding verses of Colossians 1 have discussed our reconciliation with God through Christ, Colossians 1:23 goes on to say this: “This reconciliation assumes, of course, that you maintain a firm position in the faith, and do not allow yourselves to be shifted away from the hope of the Gospel” (Phillips). That qualification raises the important question of eternal security.
We can summarize this question in the following manner: “If a person accepts Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross as the payment for his or her sins, does he or she ever have to worry about losing that salvation? Colossians 1:23 appears to leave room for that possibility by saying, “…yet now He has reconciled… if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel” (Colossians 1:21, 23).
We can begin our consideration of this question with several Scriptures that should inform our thinking on this subject.
The first is John 3:18: “Whoever believes in (Jesus) is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (NIV). Another important Scripture is found in Romans 10:9: “…if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
With these passages in mind, we can say that those who place their faith in Christ need not worry about losing their salvation. We also have Jesus’ word in this regard…
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand” (John 10:27-29).
“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life” (John 5:24).
We’ll consider the nature of genuine faith and its impact on this question next.