Does 2 Peter 2:20 Prove Salvation Can Be Lost? Nope! – Once Saved.org
 

Does 2 Peter 2:20 Prove Salvation Can Be Lost? Nope!

| Posted in All Posts

Print Post

In this video, we’re looking at 2 Peter 2:20, one of the most often cited, go-to verses used by people who do not believe in eternal security to supposedly prove that a saved believer can lose their salvation. How about it? Does 2 Peter chapter 2 defeat the principle of Once Saved, Always Saved? Nope, and it’s not even close. In fact, I’ll show you how Peter’s consistent message across both 1 Peter and 2 Peter is one of eternal salvation assurance. Let’s look into it.

Here’s the passage from 2 Peter chapter 2, and I’ll include verse 21 as well:

“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21 KJV)

The key to understanding this passage is to correctly identify who Peter is referring to? Who is the “they” mentioned in verse 20? On the surface, it sure sounds like Peter is talking about a saved Christian, which is why so many people mistakenly come to the conclusion that this verse is saying that a saved believe can lose their salvation. 

There are two phrases in particular that lead to this error. The phrase:

“…they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ…”

and 

“…it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.”

Is this talking about a saved believer? Hasn’t a saved believer escaped the pollutions of this world through the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ? And isn’t a saved believer one who has known the way of righteousness? Aren’t these verses, therefore, talking about saved believers?

This is the danger of skimming over verses in isolation and not connecting them to the entire passage. You can be pulled in an entirely different direction than what the author intended. I’m going to explain these two phrases, but first I want to look at the word, “they,” and determine who Peter is really talking about. Then we’ll define what these two phrases mean in relation to Peter’s subject.

This entire chapter is a warning from Peter about false prophets and false teachers. So, is the word “they” in verse 20 referring to false prophets and false teachers or is it referring to saved believers? I’m going to prove to you why it is the former and not the later. From beginning to end, chapter 2 is about one thing: false prophets and false teachers.

In this video, we’re going to reveal 4 things:

  1. The correct identity of who Peter is referring to in 2 Peter 2:20-21
  2. The characteristics and fate of false prophets and false teachers
  3. The characteristics and fate of those that they lead astray
  4. Peter’s consistent message of salvation assurance across both of his letters

Let’s start with the first one: the identity of who Peter is referring to in 2 Peter 2:20-21. I want to start by looking at the word, “they.” Who is the “they” in verse 20?

As we look across chapter 2, Peter uses the word, “they,” 15 times and he is unswervingly consistent in how he uses it. In verse 1, we see the topic for this chapter: a warning about false prophets and false teachers.

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” (2 Peter 2:1 KJV)

These false prophets were bringing in “damnable heresies” that Peter said, “denied the Lord that bought them.” This denial can take two forms: First, denying the very Gospel itself: denying that Jesus’ blood shed on the cross actually paid for all our sins and that, through His sacrifice, we have been purchased or redeemed by God, and eternally saved. 1 Corinthians 6:20 says that “you are bought with a price,” that price being the very lifeblood of Jesus, and through this purchase, we are set free from the power of sin to condemn us or control us. So, this denial could be that of saying, “His sacrifice was important but wasn’t enough. You have to also do some other thing.” We see this in Galatians, where false teachers came in and told those in the church that, in addition to believing in Christ, they had to be obedient to observe special days, or they would not be saved.

Or secondly, the phrase “denied the Lord” could mean that they were teaching that, after you are saved, it doesn’t matter how you live, that it’s ok to sin because it’s covered by the blood of Christ. As true disciples of Christ, we know that it is never ok to sin. Either of these is denying the Lord.

So, the topic of chapter 2 is false prophets and false teachers. As we look at the verses that follow, I want you to notice each time the word, “they,” is used. I also what you to notice connecting words. Connecting words are words that begin a paragraph or phrase which connects that paragraph or phrase to the previous statement. Verse 2 is a good example, for it starts with the connecting word, “and.”

And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.” (2 Peter 2:2 KJV)

From this connecting word, “and,” we can clearly see that this verse is a continuation of the same topic as verse 1, meaning that Peter is still taking about false prophets and false teachers, saying that many will follow their pernicious ways.

In verse 3, we see the first use of the word, “they.”

“And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” (2 Peter 2:3 KJV)

Notice the connecting word, “and,” which begins the verse, showing that this verse is a continuation of the same topic, that of false prophets and teachers. So, we can see that the word, “they,” here refers to false prophets and false teachers. This is also shown in that these false prophets and teachers want to “make merchandise of you,” those in the church. 

In verses 4-9, Peter gives examples of how God will surely judge these false prophets and false teachers, just as surely as He judged the angels that sinned, the unrighteous people in the days of Noah, and the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. All of these verses are in reference to the judgment of false prophets and false teachers.

In verse 10, we then see the second and third uses of the word, “they.”

“But chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government. presumptuous are they, selfwilled, they are not afraid to speak evil of dignities.” (2 Peter 2:10 KJV)

Again, we can see the word “they” here refers still to the false prophets and false teachers.

Then, in verse 12, we have the fourth use of the word, “they:”

“But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption;” (2 Peter 2:12 KJV)

Clearly, “they” refers again to the false prophets and false teachers.

The next verse, verse 13, begins with the connector word, “and,” showing that it is a continuation of the same topic, where we see the fifth, sixth and seventh uses of the word, “they:”

“And shall receive the reward of unrighteousness, as they that count it pleasure to riot in the day time. Spots they are and blemishes, sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you;” (2 Peter 2:13 KJV)

Clearly, in all three instances, the word “they” refers to the false prophets and false teachers. We also see this with the last phrase, where Peter says “they” sport “themselves with their own deceivings while they feast on you.”

Continuing on to verse 14, which begins with the connecting word, “having,” we see the eighth use of the word, “they,” showing that Peter is still referring to false prophets and false teachers. 

“Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:” (2 Peter 2:14 KJV)

Are you detecting a pattern here?

Then, after comparing false prophets and false teachers to the way of Baalam in verses 15-17, Peter begins verse 18 with the connecting word, “for,” showing that the verse is a continuation of his discussion about false prophets and false teachers. This is the ninth and tenth uses of the word, “they:”

“For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.” (2 Peter 2:18 KJV)

Those false teachers were tremendous orators who could speak with great swelling words, luring people in the church into their teaching. But deep down, they were filled with and motivated by worldly lust.

Then, in verse 19, we see the eleventh and twelfth uses of the word, “they,” and the verse begins with the connecting word, “while,” showing that Peter is still talking about false prophets and false teachers. 

“While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” (2 Peter 2:19 KJV)

These false prophets and teachers were promising liberty, but they themselves were servants of corruption. We also see the next phrase begin with the connecting word, “for:” “for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.”

Who is brought into bondage in this verse? Peter just said that the false prophets and teachers were servants of corruption. In other words, corruption is the master, and the false prophets and false teachers are the slaves. Peter is painting the picture of false prophets and false teachers preaching liberty and freedom, while they themselves are enslaved. It is the false prophets and false teachers who are in bondage. The subject of this entire verse is false prophets and false teachers.

Finally, we get to verses 20 and 21, where we have the last 3 uses of the word “they,” and we immediately see the connecting word, “for.” 

“For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2 Peter 2:20-21 KJV)

For 19 verses leading up to verses 20 and 21, Peter has unswervingly used the word, “they,” to refer to false prophets and false teachers. We also see a connecting word, the word “for,” connecting verse 20 to verse 19. So, is Peter now, all of a sudden, shifting gears, changing directions and using the word “they” to mean saved believers? No. This word “for” connects verse 20 to the previous verse, which is all about false prophets and false teachers. Peter hasn’t changed subjects. He’s continuing through the very end of the chapter to talk exclusively about false prophets and false teachers. 

The subject of verses 20 and 21 is false prophets and false teachers, no different than all the previous verses. Peter is uniformly consistent and that is the plain reading of the text. 

But there are two phrases in verses 20 and 21 that throw people off and make them think these verses speak about saved believers. The phrases are:

“escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”

and

“it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment”

Let’s now look at each of these phrases and show how the subject is still false prophets and false teachers, and not saved believers.

First, let’s look at the phrase, “escaped the pollutions of the word through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” What does it mean to escape the pollutions of this world?

This simply means a lifestyle change, going from living like the world lives to living a godly lifestyle. It’s talking about pursuing moral excellence.

Who can do such a thing? Can only saved believers pursue moral excellence? No. Anybody can. Both saved believers and unbelievers can pursue moral excellence. There are many unsaved people who are living moral lives, who are not stealing, not committing adultery, not abusing alcohol or drugs, or not doing any number of moral sins. And that’s often one of their problems: They even think that God will see them as good.

This phrase is talking about moral reformation, not inner transformation. Anyone can become morally reformed. And in the case of false prophets and false teachers, that’s the most alluring thing about them. People in the church see them as Christians who are to be admired and emulated, who should be followed. People see them as having escaped the pollutions that many of them are still struggling with and they want to be more like them. That’s why people follow false prophets and false teachers. The false prophets and false teachers have come out of the world and entered the church. They are not living like the rest of the world. They are living moral, upright lives, having escaped the pollutions of the world, at least on the outside.

How did they do this? Peter says they escaped “through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” Notice that it says, “knowledge of,” and not, “faith in.” Peter did not use any words that mean salvation. 

The reason these false prophets and teachers changed their lifestyle away from the way the world lives, was because of what they learned about Jesus. They received “knowledge of” Jesus without ever placing their faith in Jesus. That knowledge of Jesus was enough to bring them into the church, where they learned that they should clean up their lives. But that’s all they did. And that was enough to attract other people to them. 

What we learn from this is that: The phraseKnowledge of” does not equal the phrase “belief in.” They had cleaned up their lives, escaped the pollutions of the world, but remained unsaved in the church.

So, verse 20 is consistent in speaking about false prophets and false teachers. In fact, it would be inconsistent to say that verse 20 is about saved believers, because that would mean Peter abruptly changed subjects, broke grammatical rules regarding the use of connecting words, broke his consistent pattern of using the word, “they,” without any notice, and as we’ll see later, would have contradicted other verses in his two letters where he speaks repeatedly about salvation assurance. No, in verse 20, Peter is only talking about false prophets and false teachers.

Then, in verse 21, we see the second phrase we need to explain:

“For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment”

What does the phrase, “known the way of righteousness” mean? It simply means knowledge of the way of righteousness. This is head knowledge gained through reading and teaching. This can certainly lead to salvation, but it doesn’t mean salvation. It just means an awareness or knowledge of the way of righteousness.

Who can know this? Both saved believers and unbelievers. There are plenty of unbelievers who know what the Gospel says. They know the way of righteousness that the Bible teaches. They just don’t believe it, don’t want it and reject it.

So, this phrase, “known the way of righteousness” is talking about acquiring knowledge and awareness, not inner transformation, not salvation. Peter is speaking of false prophets and false teachers, how it would be better for them to have not known the way of righteousness, then to know it and turn from it. He’s saying that God will hold them and us accountable for what we know. The more we know about God’s plan of salvation and His righteousness, the more we will be held accountable for what we do with it. God’s judgment of these false prophets and false teachers will be greater because of this very reason, that they knew the way of righteousness but turned from it and even taught others against it.

Also, there’s one other phrase I want to point out in verse 20. It’s the phrase:

“the latter end is worse than the beginning.”

What does this phrase mean? Peter wasn’t speaking on his own here. He was quoting Jesus from Matthew 12:43-45, where Jesus said:

“When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.” (Matthew 12:43-45 KJV)

Jesus was speaking of an UNSAVED person, not a saved person! Notice also in this passage the word, “empty.” When the unclean spirit returns, he finds the person or house empty, swept clean. After the unclean spirit left, the formerly possessed person cleaned up his life. He became morally reformed, just like the false prophets and false teachers. But he was empty. There was no indwelling Holy Spirit inside him. He wasn’t saved. Plus, a saved believer cannot be indwelt by demons because the Holy Spirit indwells us and forever lives within us. My point is that Jesus was speaking about an unsaved person.

So, in 2 Peter 2:20, Peter’s quote from Jesus about how the last state is worse than the first fits perfectly with that of false prophets and false teachers, but it doesn’t fit at all if the topic is saved believers. This also shows that Peter is not referring to saved believers in verses 20 and 21. Every phrase in verse 20 and 21 refers to false prophets and false teachers, not to saved believers.

To show this even more conclusively, look at the last verse of the chapter, verse 22:

“But it is happened unto them according to the true proverb, the dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:22 KJV)

What does this phrase mean? It’s talking about unsaved false prophets and false teachers having reformation without transformation. They had cleaned up their lives, but they weren’t saved, and their reformation didn’t last. And so, the dog returned to its vomit. The sow or pig returned to the mud. These false prophets and teachers had cleaned up their lives and looked really good on the outside, but they never changed on the inside. They never changed who they really were and, eventually, who a person really is on the inside will come out.

It looks like this:

False prophets and teachers have outward moral reformation. They appear to be Christians outwardly. That’s the bait, the lure that attracts people in the church to them. But inwardly, these false prophets and teachers are unsaved, unchanged. They are still dogs, still pigs. They are still the same people they were before. 

Why couldn’t verse 22 be speaking of a saved Christian? Because when we truly place our faith in Christ and are saved, we are changed from the inside out. We are born again. We are no longer a dog or a pig. Or, as Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 5:17:

“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.” (2 Corinthians 5:17 KJV)

When we look at 2 Peter 2:22, we see it is clearly talking about an unsaved person who had never been changed through faith in Christ. “They,” the false prophets and teachers Peter wrote about across the entire chapter, where never changed inwardly. The dog was still a dog. The pig was still a pig. There was no inner transformation. There was no salvation that could be at risk of being lost. They were never saved.

From 2 Peter verse 1 all the way through to the end of verse 22, Peter is addressing one and only one subject: False prophets and false teachers. There is no discussion whatsoever of a saved believer at risk of losing his or her salvation. This entire chapter is exclusively about false prophets and false teachers.

So, we’ve just proven that false prophets and false teachers are the ones Peter was referring to in 2 Peter 2:20-21, and really throughout the entire chapter. Now, let’s look at the characteristics and fate of these false prophets and false teachers. Peter gives us a long list of their characteristics, saying that they:

  • Bring into the church “damnable heresies” (v. 2:1)
  • Deny “the Lord that bought them” (v. 2:1)
  • Cause many to follow their “pernicious ways” (v. 2:2) – The word, “pernicious,” means “having a harmful effect, especially in a gradual or subtle way” (they were subtle). In the Greek, “pernicious” means “bringing ruin and utter destruction.”
  • Cause the way of truth to be spoke of as “evil” (v. 2:2)
  • Use “covetousness,” “feigned words” to “make merchandise of you” (v.2:3)
  • “Walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government (despise authority)” (v. 2:10)
  • Are self-willed, presumptuous and without fear (v. 2:10)
  • Are “beasts” who “speak evil of things they do not understand” (v. 2:12)
  • “Count it pleasure to riot in the daytime” (v. 2:13)
  • Are deceptive, “while they feast on you” (v. 2:13)
  • Have eyes full of adultery, cannot cease from sin, exercising covetous practices (v. 2:14)
  • Know the way or righteousness (v. 2:20), but have forsaken the right way (v. 2:15)
  • Speak great swelling words of vanity, appealing through lusts and wantonness (v. 2:18)
  • They promise liberty, though they themselves are in bondage to corruption (v. 2:19)
  • Ultimately, their true wicked self is exposed (v. 2:22) but not until after they’ve caused great damage.

Peter tells us of the fate of these false prophets and false teachers. He says they:

  • Will “bring upon themselves swift destruction” (v. 2:1)
  • Will be judged and damned (v. 2:3)
  • Will be taken and destroyed (v. 2:12)
  • Will “utterly perish in their own corruption” (v. 2:12)
  • Will “receive the reward of unrighteousness” (v. 2:13)
  • Are those for which “darkness has been reserved forever” (v. 2:15)
  • Their latter end will be worse than the beginning (v. 2:20)

“For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.” (2 Peter 2:21 KJV)

This says that they will be judged more severely because of what they knew. They knew better but still rejected God’s Word.

And then third, let’s look at the characteristics and fate of those they lead astray. These are the victims of false prophets and false teachers and there are three main characteristics that Peter reveals about them:

First, in verse 14, Peter says that they are “unstable.” The Greek word for this means, “unsteadfast, unfixed, vacillating in their faith.”

Second, in verse 18, Peter refers to those who follow these false prophets and false teachers as being morally reformed. He says they have “clean escaped from those who live in error.” They no longer lived like the world but sought to be godly in their moral conduct. This does not mean that they were saved. The fact that they were unstable, vacillating in their faith, could mean they were not saved.

Also, the word “clean,” as in “clean escaped from those who live in error,” does not mean clean in the sense that their sins were forgiven. It is the word “ontōs” in the Greek, which means, “indeed, truly, in reality, as opp. to what is pretended.”
This word does NOT mean washed clean, as in sins washed away or being saved. In fact, if you look up the word “clean” in the Bible, you’ll find a totally different Greek word being used where it refers to sins being washed away. Here, it just means that they had indeed or truly changed their moral lifestyle, as opposed to just pretending to do so. So, don’t think the word “clean” means saved. The victims of these false prophets and teachers could be both unsaved in the church, or newly saved believers still immature in their faith.

 Let’s now look at the fate of those who are led astray by false prophets and false teachers. Here’s where it gets interesting.

First, if the person who was led astray was unsaved to begin with, the fate for them is that they could end up never becoming saved and could be lost forever.

But if the person who was led astray was saved, they could only lose their steadfastness, their assurance of salvation, not their salvation itself. How do we know this? Because Peter tells us this in chapter 3, verse 17, where Peter gives his last words of warning to the church:

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17 KJV)

In his final words, Peter didn’t speak at all about believers possibly losing their salvation. His biggest concern was that they might fall from their own steadfastness. That’s a HUGE difference from losing salvation. To lose your steadfsatness means you lose your assurance that you are saved. This Greek word is used only one time in the New Testament. It means “firm certainty,” “steadfastness of mind.” It’s not talking about salvation. It’s talking about assurance, the sureness of your salvation in your own mind.

When you lose assurance, you begin to doubt whether God will really save you. That was Peter’s biggest concern as he ended the letter. Don’t you think losing salvation is a much, much bigger issue than losing assurance or steadfastness? But Peter didn’t mention anything about possibly losing salvation. His biggest concern, his final parting word of warning, was that they not lose their steadfastness.

What could happen to a Christian who loses steadfastness? What is the danger?

A Christian Who Falls From Steadfastness

 Will still be saved (because salvation is by faith in Christ alone), but…

  • Will live in fear instead of having assurance, peace and strength
    (They’ll be worried, unsure, asking “Will God really save me?)
  • Will struggle against sin, instead of walking in Christ’s strength to conquer it
  • Will not progress into becoming a strong disciple of Christ
  • Will not be used as much by God to accomplish His will – How can we be useful to God if we’re fearful and not really trusting Him to save us? Those things God would have used you for and rewarded you for will have to be done by someone else, because you are not walking in faith. As a result:
  • Will lose blessings in this life / may even experience God’s discipline 
  • Will lose eternal rewards in heaven
  • Will set a bad example before others (Who would want to be like you, if you are unsure of your own salvation?)

So, why isn’t the loss of salvation also on this list? Why is it exactly that salvation can’t be lost if you lose steadfastness? After all, we’re saved by faith and losing steadfastness means you are losing faith, right? The answer is that a saved believer can vacillate in their faith, losing assurance, losing steadfastness, to where they become ineffective for Christ, but no saved believer will ever become an outright apostate and abandon the faith altogether. The reason for that is the indwelling Holy Spirit, Who indwells us forever from the moment we are saved.

“…after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of His glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14 KJV)

The moment we believe in Christ, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit until the redemption, until we are given our eternal bodies in heaven. 

Jesus said the Holy Spirit abides with us forever:

“And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever;” (John 14:16 KJV)

If you are wondering about this word, “may,” as in, “He may abide with you forever,” making it sound conditional, like “He may or He may not” – This word, “may,” is not in the Greek text. It was added by English translators to make the sentence flow better in English. In the Greek, the phrase literally reads, “And I pray the Father and give you another Comforter, that abide with you for ever.” There is no conditional element of the Holy Spirit abiding in us. Once He is there, which happens the moment you believe in Christ, He is there forever.  

The Holy Spirit indwells us forever and has one primary mission: to testify to us the truth about Jesus:

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of Me:” (John 15:26 KJV)

So, think about it. As a saved believer loses steadfastness and starts to vacillate in his or her faith, the Holy Spirit is still right there inside that believer, testifying the truth about Jesus, making it totally impossible for that believer to fall into outright apostasy. God is a good Father Who will not sit idly by while His children drift off into apostasy and destruction. He won’t let that happen. You can’t fall back into total unbelief while the Holy Spirit is inside you, constantly revealing the truth about Jesus. There’s not even one example in the New Testament of a saved believer falling back into total unbelief.

Listen to this verse of assurance:

“…waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm (establish) you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 1:7-8 KJV)

Who is it that confirms or establishes us in our faith? Is that something we do by our own obedience? Do we establish ourselves? Not according to this verse. It is God Who confirms or establishes us so that we remain in the faith and are blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is God Who keeps us, His children, from falling into unbelief. He does this through His Word, through warning verses (that’s why those warnings are there), and through many means, but mainly through the indwelling Holy Spirit Who constantly testifies to us the truth of Jesus.

Believers can lose steadfastness, becoming uncertain and unsure of their salvation. But they will never fall back into condemnation, into total unbelief. 

That is why the Apostle John said that those who had left the church, who appeared to be saved but then fell back into total apostasy, did not lose their salvation. He said they were never saved. They were like the false prophets and false teachers who had morally reformed their lives on the outside to where they looked saved, but had never been transformed inwardly.

“They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.” (1 John 2:19 KJV)

According to John, those who left the church were never saved and there was “no doubt” in his mind that all saved believers will remain in the faith. A saved believer will never fall into total apostasy so as to lose salvation. But a saved believer can lose steadfastness, their confidence of their standing before God and their certainty that God will save them. And when that steadfastness begins to waiver, they become ineffective and unable to serve Christ. At that point, all of these consequences on this list come into play. On of Satan’s main strategies against saved Christians is to destroy their steadfastness, so that they become ineffective in serving Christ. Satan can’t rob you of your salvation, so he does the next best thing, which is to destroy your steadfastness, your assurance, leaving you powerless to serve Christ.

Bottom line: The saved believer who loses steadfastness will still be saved but will not become a strong disciple of Christ, nor be as useful in the Master’s hands. 

They say a man’s last words are his most important. In 2 Peter 3:17, Peter didn’t say a word about saved believers losing salvation. His most pressing concern was about them possibly losing steadfastness. If he had meant salvation, he would have said it, but then that would contradict so many other verses he said about salvation assurance.

In fact, let’s conclude this video by showing Peter’s consistent message of salvation assurance across both of his letters. Far from being someone concerned about a believer possibly losing salvation, Peter was a champion of how salvation could never be lost. 

Starting in 1 Peter 1:3-5:

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to His abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively (living) hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Peter 1:3-5 KJV)

If our inheritance is incorruptible, that means we cannot corrupt it or mess it up. If it if undefiled, that means we cannot defile it though our sin. The word “undefiled” is in the present tense, meaning it is ongoing, always continually undefiled. Peter says our salvation will never fade away but is reserved in heaven for us. It is God Who is holding that reservation for us. Peter says we are kept by the power of God unto salvation. We’re not keeping ourselves saved. God is.

If we are protected by God unto salvation, then we can’t lose it or forfeit it by falling away. That’s why He gave us the Holy Spirit inside us, indwelling is forever, so that we will never fall away, back into unbelief. There is no such thing in the New Testament as a saved believer who falls back into unbelief. You can’t, with the Holy Spirit inside you, constantly teaching you the truth of Christ.

When you look at this verse, does this sound like a person who is worried that a saved believer could lose their salvation? Just the opposite, right? He’s declaring that salvation cannot be lost.

1 Peter 1:9:

“Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1 Peter 1:9 KJV)

Notice that we are saved by faith in Christ alone. We’re not saved by anything we do.

1 Peter 1:18-19:

“…ye were … redeemed… with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:” (1 Peter 1:18-19 KJV)

We are saved by the precious blood of Christ alone! Our obedience doesn’t save us or keep us saved.

1 Peter 1:23:

“Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1 Peter 1:23 KJV)

We are born again of incorruptible seed that will never perish, by the Word of God itself, not by what we do or don’t do. Our obedience or disobedience plays no role in our salvation. In discipleship which follows salvation, yes, but not in salvation itself, which is a free gift of God’s grace through faith in Christ alone.

1 Peter 2:4, 9:

“To whom …chosen of God, and precious, … ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous light:” (1 Peter 2:4, 9 KJV)

Speaking of those who have placed their faith in Christ: You ARE chosen. You ARE a royal priest before God. You ARE holy. These are spoken by Peter in the present tense, meaning they are always ongoing, never ending.

1 Peter 2:21, 24:

“…Christ also suffered for us…by whose stripes ye were healed.” (1 Peter 2:21, 24 KJV)

Our obedience doesn’t save us or keep us saved. We have already been healed by Christ’s suffering on the cross! When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He really meant it. So, we cannot lose our salvation.

1 Peter 3:21:

“…baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:” (1 Peter 3:21 KJV)

It is the resurrection of Jesus Christ that brings us eternal life. This is what Paul said in Romans chapter 4:

“But for us also, to whom it (God’s righteousness) shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; Who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification.” (Romans 4:24-25 KJV)

Jesus’ death on the cross pays for our offenses. His resurrection is what justifies us to where God can give us eternal life.

2 Peter 1:1:

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ:” (2 Peter 1:1 KJV)

Again, we are saved by God’s grace through faith in Christ alone, and salvation comes through God’s righteousness, not our righteousness. 

2 Peter 2:9:

“The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished” (2 Peter 2:9 KJV)

What keeps us saved? 1 Peter 1:5 says we are kept the power of God unto salvation. Here we see how God knows how to deliver us from temptations so we will not fall away or be condemned. We see this also in Jude, how it is God Who keeps us secured in our salvation:

“Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,” (Jude 1:24 KJV)

We don’t keep ourselves saved.

And then finally, 2 Peter 3:17, Peter’s last and final words, where his biggest concern was not that any believer could lose their salvation but that they could lose their steadfastness:

“Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.” (2 Peter 3:17 KJV)

Does Peter sound like someone who is worried that a saved believer could lose their salvation? Just the opposite. Through both of his letters, Peter presents a consistent message of salvation assurance, that our salvation is secure, incorruptible, undefiled, will never fade away, reserved in heaven for us, who are kept, protected and held secure by the power of God. You know what that means? 

Once Saved, Always Saved!

That’s the Gospel. That’s what the Bible teaches. That’s what Peter taught.

So, in conclusion, regarding 2 Peter 2:20-21:

These verses are NOT saying that a saved believer can lose salvation. This entire chapter is about false prophets and false teachers who are not saved.

Nowhere does Peter even imply that salvation can be lost. Think about it. What does it mean if salvation could be lost?

  • You become spiritually unborn (John 3:3)
  • You pass back from life to death (John 5:24)
  • You are removed from heaven where you’re already seated (Eph. 2:6)
  • Salvation actually IS a result of YOUR works (Ephesians 2:8-9)
  • The gifts and calling of God ARE revocable (Romans 11:29)
  • The Holy Spirit’s seal inside you CAN be broken (Eph. 1:13-14)
  • The indwelling Holy Spirit WILL leave you (John 14:16-18)
  • God WILL forsake you (Hebrews 13:5)
  • You WILL face condemnation (John 5:24, Romans 8:1-2)
  • It’s impossible to KNOW that you are eternally saved (1 John 5:13)

Nowhere in Scripture are ANY of these things taught!

I could go on for page after page of Scripture verses that would be violated if salvation could be lost. It can’t be lost or forfeited because it is a free gift from God through faith in Christ. If you think you have to obey commandments to keep your salvation, you are not trusting in Christ to save you and you are in error. You are mixing a requirement for discipleship into salvation.

What 2 Peter IS saying is that believers need to heed the warning and beware of false prophets and teachers who deny the Gospel, the allsufficiency of Christ (“denying the Lord that bought them” v. 2:1), or they might be led astray and thereby lose their steadfastness, preventing them from becoming mature in Christ.

Peter’s message to them and to us is to strive toward maturity in Christ and, above all, to stand fast and believe the Gospel, that:

Salvation = God’s Grace Alone Through Faith Alone In Christ Alone

Believing the Gospel means placing your entire trust in Christ for your salvation, believing that He:

  1. Died for our sins
  2. Was buried 
  3. Rose from the dead

As it says in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4.

Nothing more. Nothing less. There are no other requirements to be saved than to believe in Jesus. The question is: do you believe this? Or are you like those who are not trusting in the finished work of Christ but are trying to prove yourself worthy through your own obedience. Well, you’re not worthy! You never will be. None of us are. It is Christ who is worthy. We stand in His obedience by faith, not our own. We stand in His righteousness by faith, not our own. He makes us worthy. He makes us righteous.

Once you believe in Him, you are born again, and you are forever a child of God. Our Father is a good Father Who will never abandon you but will preserve you in the faith and never let you go. 

If you are not certain about your salvation, time is getting very late. Don’t take the chance of missing out on God. Prophetically, the current “Age of Grace” where God is giving people time to turn to Him for forgiveness is almost over. When it ends, it will be too late. God’s judgment is coming. Those who are not saved will be separated from God for all eternity. Don’t take chances with God. Don’t play with Him. Take Him seriously.

If you are not 100% sure you are saved, don’t put it off any longer. 

Making Sure You Are Saved Is As Easy As ABC

Admit to God that you have sinned.

Believe that Jesus, God’s Son, died to pay for
your sins 100%, was buried and rose from the dead.

Call upon Jesus and ask Him to forgive you and save you.

If you make that decision to call upon Him, God gives you this assurance:

“For whosoever shall call upon the Name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Romans 10:13 KJV)

Thank you for watching.


Once Saved.org ©2024. All Rights Reserved.