Bible Question:

Recently, you asked the question, “Can a Christian stray from the faith and still be a Christian?” Your answer was “NO.” I agree! But then you write that a person who leaves the faith was never a Christian from the start. But I read that this is not so. For example, Romans 11:17 says that some of God's people, branches, were broken off. Also 1 Timothy 4:1 talks about Christians departing from the faith and 2 Thess. 2:3 says some will fall away. 2 Peter 2:15, 20 says that some have forsaken the right way and Hebrews 6:4-6 says Christians who fall away cannot renew their faith. It is man's free choice to live (grow) in Christ or to turn his back on Him. I know that almost all of the scriptures you gave were warnings to CHRISTIANS that they need to endure (conditional) to remain saved (in Christ). You are really touching the subject of predestination, aren't you? Praise the Lord for varieties in understanding or receiving revelation from His Word. Please let me know if I have overlooked something.

Bible Answer:

Many believers have asked, “Can a Christian stray from the faith and still be a Christian?” This question has been asked by parents about their children, and children have asked it about their parents and their siblings.

Can a Christian stray from the faith and still be a Christian?

God promises all believers will remain saved.

There are many important passages that teach once a person is a believer,  will always remain a believer in Jesus Christ. For example,  five times Jesus said He would raise up believers on the last day. See John 6 (v. 39, 40 44, 47, 54). For example, here is the last part of verse 44.

. . . I will raise him up on the last day. John 6:44 (NASB)

In this verse Jesus is speaking about those who believe in Him, and He promises that He will raise them on the last day. That is, a true believer will still be a believer at the end of their life. Philippians 1:6 says it this way,

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (NASB)

Here the apostle Paul says that once God starts a good work, that is the person is saved, He will perfect that work until the day of Christ Jesus. The Greek word for “perfect” is epiteleo. It means “to complete” or “to bring to a successful conclusion.” So, the translation of “perfect” is an accurate message. Once a person truly believes in Christ, they will always believe in Christ.

Another important passage is Luke 8:13, 15. It describes Jesus’ parable of the sower of the seed . It deals with this issue.

And those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away . . . And the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance. Luke 8:13, 15 (NASB)

The seed that falls on rocky soil is pictured as starting to grow. The person believes for a brief period of time, and then falls away; but seed that falls on good soil grows. Notice that this seed bears fruit “with perseverance.” It continues to produce fruit. The Greek tense tells us this person is constantly continuing.  They do not stop. They do not stop believing! This is the mark of a true believer in Jesus Christ. This is consistent with Jesus’ promise that He will raise “all that the Father gives Him.” Scripture teaches that a believer is “Saved Only Once — Once Saved Always Saved.”

Can a Christian stray from the faith?

1 John 2:19 explains why some who claim to believe in Christ stop believing in Him. Or, some would ask, “Why do some people stop being a Christian?” 1 John 2:19 answers the question.

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown tghat they all are not of us. 1 John 2:19 (NASB)

The answer is they were never a true believer from the beginning. They had a beginning. So, can a person stop attending a church and still be a true believer? The answer is maybe. But the fact that they left is not a good sign. It is possible they will return and make a true commitment to Christ, resume attending church, reading the Bible, confessing their sins, and praying. It is possible.

But read 2 Peter 1:5-10 which reveals that a person who has true faith will be continuing to grow spiritually. Their faith will increase and manifest various qualities. Then verse 10 says that if these are increasing, then we are certain that God called us. For more information read “Eight Essential Qualities of Spiritual Growth.”


In conclusion, 1 Peter 1:3- 5 teaches that once a person is a believer, that person is going to heaven. Verse 5 promises that our faith in Christ is protected by the power of God. That is, once a person believes in Christ their faith is protected by God Himself. This makes sense since God Himself gave us the faith in the beginning (Ephesians 2:8-9). So, Can a Christian stray from the faith and still be a Christian? The answer is maybe, but such behavior strongly suggests the person may have never been a believer in the beginning.

Suggested Links:

You Should Be Teachers
What is the role of man and God in salvation?
Temptation of Jesus
Searching For God
Saved Only Once — Once Saved Always Saved
Parable of The Sower and The Seed
What is the meaning of the parable of the sower?
Eight Essential Qualities of Spiritual Growth