91. “Nevertheless, I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.” -Revelation 2:4-7
This is one of the focal passages used by those who say you can lose your salvation. But this is one of seven letters written to seven churches, and what is clearly in view here is the actions entire churches have taken. Back in Revelation 1:20 we see churches referred to as lampstands. Even though Jesus is speaking to a church full of people he uses the singular here, referring to the church in Ephesus. The world is littered with churches that used to be something they no longer are. No local church is promised continual existence where they are. Here is a prophecy for the church that if they don’t return to first love commitments as a church body, their lampstand will be snuffed out. And this has happened to numerous “used-to-be churches” in church history. We can of course use these verses for personal devotional benefit as members of local churches, but to make them a text for losing personal salvation completely misses the context they were given in. After the word to the church as a whole, the appeal is again made to the individual believer to hear the warning and and overcome, gaining the tree of life! Do not make the mistake of thinking of overcoming is a work we do in our strength! Remember that John also wrote in I John 5:4-5, “For whatever is born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that overcomes the world – our faith. Who is he who overcomes the world, but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?”
92. Therefore I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. This is a faithful saying: “For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him. If we endure, we shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. If we are faithless, He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” -2 Timothy 2:10-13
This is another text that some use to say a true believer can deny their salvation and thus lose it. Others try to say that the true believers denial will cause them to lose some of their rewards. I think that’s a stretch. I think the one who denies Him is the one who, having been among Christians for some time and even been thought of as a believer, openly rejects Christ when for whatever reason it is no longer to their advantage to identify with Christ. I think this happened with Judas, who after walking with Christ and His disciples for three years, went away from both Christ and the believers. I think this happened to Demas, who was with Paul for some time and then left him, because he “loved this present world,” as indicated in 2 Timothy 4:10. This is in contrast to true believers who struggle, fall into sin, make temporary denials of Christ when the pressure is on, but return to both Christ and His church. That includes people like Peter and Mark. In the moment, other believers might have thought of Peter and Mark as they did of Judas and Demas. We should never be over zealous to say someone who has identified with Christ is not really a believer. As we recall Jesus’ parable of the wheat and the tares from Matthew 13, we realize that God will take care of all the judging. If a true believers sin and temporary backsliding doesn’t result in their death (See I Corinthians 11:27-32), we can expect to see them return both to the Lord and to a church in due time. What grace filled words are at the end of this faithful saying, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful: He cannot deny Himself.” We come back again to the mysterious concept of God’s saving and keeping power toward those who believe, whom this and other passages call “the elect.” If you have been faithless, confess that as sin, and do what Peter and Mark did – return to Jesus, and return to His church!
93. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is past; and they overthrow the faith of some. Nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.” -2 Timothy 2:15-19
One of the unfortunate realities for Christians is that imposters do arise among churches who teach false doctrine. The Old Testament often warned of false prophets who said what men wanted to hear rather than what the Word of God truly teaches. The New Testament does the same, warning of false teachers and false preachers who teach unbiblical concepts and overthrow the “faith” of lost church members and attenders who have not become diligent Bible students. Here the apostle Paul challenges true believers to be diligent in studying their Bible and applying its teachings in their lives! AWANA is a wonderful scripture memory program. AWANA is taken from 2 Timothy 2:15 – Approved Workman Are Not Ashamed! For our purposes we want to highlight that last thought about how the solid foundation of God stands – the Lord knows those who are His, and let everyone who calls on the name of Christ depart from iniquity. Here we have both a strong eternal security verse AND a call for those who are trusting Christ to prioritize departing from sin. The two concepts go together! Anyone using the biblical truth about eternal security to justify sin should not be confident of their sin -they should be departing from their sin! The person who is truly saved does not say, “I am saved so I can do whatever I want,” they say, “I am saved so now I will seek to do whatever God wants!” They don’t say, “I’m saved so nothing I do matters,” they say, “I am saved so everything I do matters!”