My Crossway colleague, Dr. Alan Stanley, has a good little book entitled Salvation Is More Complicated Than You Think: A Study of the Teachings of Jesus (London: Paternoster, 2007). In the book he looks at what salvation/deliverance means mainly in the teaching of Jesus but also in the epistles, and covers topics like who will be saved, grace and works, faith and salvation, bearing fruit, can you be saved without loving others, can the wealthy be saved, on perseverance, and will God’s judgment affect my salvation.
There are some very good pastoral reflections in the final chapter. On “losing” salvation, Stanley writes:
“Okay,” I hear you say, “granted the existence of false conversions, but isn’t salvation in its entirety automatic at the point of genuine conversion?” From God’s point of view the answer is a resounding “yes” for “those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified,he also glorified” (Rom. 8:30). Conversion is vital. That’s when we are “marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (Eph. 1:13-14). But Scripture never allows us the luxury of resting in our conversion. If id did, then John would have simply reminded his readers of their initial profession of faith in Jesus to assure them that they have eternal life. Yet he doesn’t do that. Rather he suggests that if certain things are not true of a person over the long haul they indicate that the person never came to k now God in the first place. They haven’t lost salvation; they simply never had it. This is the way John understands this issue, for he says that bogus Christians “went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us” (1 John 2:19). Hindsight indicates that these people were never Christians to begin with.
If you are interested in difficult questions on “salvation,” or want some tips on how to set up a sermon series on hairy questions about salvation, this is a good book to read.