According to some, here is a scripture that says you can lose your salvation:
Therefore, dear friends, since you have been forewarned, be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of the lawless and fall from your secure position. (2 Pet 3:17, NIV)
Don’t panic. This scripture does NOT say you can lose your salvation: It doesn’t even mention salvation. Not even indirectly.
“Your secure position” is a not a reference to your unbreakable union with Christ. Rather, Peter is talking about “your steadfastness,” to quote pretty much every other Bible translation. He’s talking about the steadfastness of your mind.
Peter’s warning is about being swayed by “ignorant and unstable people” who distort the grace-based teachings of the Apostle Paul (see 2 Peter 3:15-16). We need to be on guard against unstable people lest we become unstable ourselves.
So this has nothing to do with losing your salvation and everything to do with not being “tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming” (Eph 4:14).
How do we become unstable?
One way is to heed those who say you can lose your salvation. Believe that and you’re on the path to dead works and worry. You’ll be susceptible to teaching that says “here’s a list of things you must do to maintain your salvation.”
No, no, and a thousand times no! We are saved by grace and kept by grace. The One who began a good work in you will carry it on until completion. Trust Jesus and let nothing move you.
“Gee, Paul, I dunno. That warning from Peter sounds scary.”
It really isn’t. Read it again. Note how his warning is addressed to his dear friends. In scripture, identity precedes exhortation. Before you read the rest of the verse you need to settle it in your heart that you are a dear friend. You are literally the beloved of God. You could not be beloved of God except his Spirit has poured the Father’s love upon you (Rom 5:5). When you know how much God loves you – when you are abiding in his love – you will not be unsettled by the graceless teachings of the ignorant and unstable.
“But what about a few verses before that when Peter says to ‘make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him’ (2 Peter 3:14). That sounds like you can lose your salvation if you aren’t spotless, blameless and at peace.”
Okay, so tell me your plan for becoming spotless and blameless. Tell me how you will accomplish what the Lord has failed to accomplish.
Do you see? This is foolish thinking that will make you unstable and insecure. Jesus alone makes us spotless and blameless. To “make every effort” is to “labor to enter his rest.” If you want to be found spotless and blameless, run to the Lord.
The theme of Peter’s message is, “Live holy and godly lives” (2 Pet 3:11). The apostle exhorts us to be holy not because there is some holiness test you must pass, but because you are holy. In Christ you are as holy as you can be, so act like it. Be who you truly are.
Sidebar: This may surprise you, but holy living is healthy and fun. Unholy living, on the other hand, will leave you sick and miserable.
So how do we become stable?
If you are anxious and unstable (have I done enough? am I really saved? can I fall from my secure position?), the remedy is found in the following verse:
Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18)
Boomfah! Right there is the key to life, maturity, freedom, health, and everything else.
So here’s your choice:
- Listen to ignorant men who are unacquainted with Paul’s gospel of grace, or
- Grow in the grace and knowledge of Jesus
To put it another way, your choice is to (1) follow every half-baked teaching that comes along to unsettle you, or (2) feed on the gracious promises of God’s word.
Or to put it even another way, your choice is to (1) listen to mixed-up teachers preaching mixed-up messages, or (2) fix your eyes on Jesus and be transformed as you behold him.
I recommend Jesus.
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