Can a person lose their salvation?
If salvation is determined by one instant of earnest, complete believing, then perhaps salvation cannot be lost, but if salvation is understood to be an ongoing relationship between an earnest believer and his God, then it is possible to lose salvation by losing the relationship. The saved relationship is defined by a covenant between God and the believer. Once initiated the covenant continues by faithful fulfillment of the terms of the covenant by both parties. Such continuation yields the blessing that is one promise of the covenant. Failure in fulfillment invokes the curse that is also one of the promises.
At this point, perhaps, it is almost irresistible to dash to an extremity and declare that a single sin, the slightest stumbling, breaks the covenant, casting one into punishment, but such dashes must be resisted. Those whose yearning hearts make them want to have "a life in His name"(John 20: 31), to "walk in newness of life"(Romans 6: 4) and to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus"(Colossians 3:17) understand the need to shape the common course and habits of their lives by their submission to the risen Lord, but they also understand that faltering can occur and that God offers a means of restoration (I John 1: 9).
Metaphors of tabulations and of debits and credits, all of the paraphernalia of accounting, need to be resisted as well. God plans no simple adding and subtracting. He calls believers to a relationship with the creator of the universe, a relationship so powerful that lives cannot help but be transformed. Some, however, will choose to forsake that relationship, turning to satisfactions that end with the life of the body. When the clear pattern of a person’s life, its habits and its motivations, no longer show submission to the will of Jesus, then one may conclude that the covenant relationship has ended by the will of the one who no longer believes and seeks a life in His name. Nothing can take the relationship from a person (Romans 8: 35-39), but that person can let it go.
This recognition that a person can lose salvation by an act of the will does not require uncertainty as a consequence. Believers can know that they have a hope of heaven. John, who noted the prospect of confession and forgiveness, also declares his purpose to be a desire for his readers to "know that [they] have eternal life" (I John 5: 13). Yes, it is possible to stumble and recover, and, yes, it is possible simply to stop walking the way of the believer. It is also possible to join Paul in saying, "I know whom I have believed and I am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day" (II Timothy 1: 12).