If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled by it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning. It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them. (1 Pet. 2:20-21)
Peter’s strong words here clearly apply to apostates – people who have fallen from faith in Christ into unbelief despite grace. Peter continues, Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud.” (v. 22). Strong words! In conjunction with the multiple passages about apostates from Hebrews studied in Part 4, Paul’s words about them in Romans 11 studied in Part 3, and Jesus’ words about them in both His Parable of the Sower and John 15 studied in Part 2 and Part 1, respectively, we understand that Christians can indeed fall into this horrid spiritual state just as the people of God’s first covenant, Israel, did.
Again, “once saved, always saved” (OSAS) is exposed to be one of many false teachings prevalent in the Church in these dark last days that virtually every NT writer warned us about. These false doctrines are thus understood to be the yeast Jesus warned about being mixed into a large amount of flour until it worked all through the dough in His Parable of the Yeast (see Matt. 13:33).
Yeast (leaven in some translations) is always undesirable in the Scriptures. Click here to view Jesus’ and Paul’s NT words on the matter, and click this link to review the OT Scriptures giving the history behind it.
Peter ends his second epistle exhorting dear friends… be on your guard so that you may not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from your secure position. But grow in grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen. (3:17b-18). Again, we note and emphasize God has graciously given us both a secure position in Christ and the free will to abandon it. This is why a large portion of the NT encourages us to persevere in the faith! Here are just a few of these exhortations from our Lord Himself:
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. (Matt. 10:22; Mark 13:13 emphasis added; emphasized portion is also part of His Olivet discourse in Matt. 24:13)
To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations— that one “will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery”—just as I have received authority from my Father. (Rev. 2:26-27 quoting Psalm 2:9, emphasis added)
Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. (Rev. 3:10 emphasis added) This key Scripture is Jesus’ promise of keeping His overcomers out from (Greek: ek, Strong’s G1537) the Great Tribulation. Note His implication therein to the churches that those Christians alive at the time of His rapture who do not endure patiently will have one more opportunity to be tested along with all others who do not yet live according to the Word: the Jews and the Gentiles (see Part 8 in the series Our Exalted Position.)
These Christians are the five foolish virgins in our Lord’s Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matt. 25 whom the bridegroom excludes from the wedding banquet. They are virgins (born again) with lamps (ditto) awaiting the bridegroom (Christ) alongside five wise virgins, but they lack sufficient oil reserves (infilling with the Holy Spirit during times of submission to Christ). Despite having been born again, they are not sufficiently God-reliant to be saved when He comes for His Bride; when they knock at the door He tells them, Truly, truly, I don’t know you (v. 12).
Having chosen NOT to die to self and rely on God sufficiently, they foolishly set themselves up to experience the Great Tribulation, for the Bridegroom came like a thief in the night (they were not prepared as they should have been – see Christ’s warning in Rev. 3:3 and contrast it with Paul’s encouragement in 1 Thess. 5:1-6). If they finally repent during the Great Tribulation and refuse the mark of the beast, they WILL be saved along with a great multitude of other Tribulation saints from all nations, but they must literally die to self then as martyrs…
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Echoing Peter’s strong exhortation to avoid apostasy by persevering in the faith, here are similar encouragements from three other apostles:
Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4)
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord’s coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop, patiently waiting for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near. (James 5:7-8)
We have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original conviction firmly to the very end. (Heb. 3:14 emphasis added)
We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. (Heb. 6:11 emphasis added)
As for you, see that what you have heard from the beginning remains in you. If it does, you also will remain in the Son and in the Father. And this is what he promised us—eternal life. (1 John 2:24-25 emphasis added)
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Lastly, we should know that in His Parable of the Weeds, our Lord taught that people who will never be born again (never be regenerated by the Spirit of God) will be planted alongside believers in the Church by the devil. Just as darnel appears very similar to wheat until the heads of the grains are produced, church-going unbelievers can appear similar to believers before harvest time:
Jesus told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. But while everyone was sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. When the wheat sprouted and formed heads, then the weeds also appeared.
“The owner’s servants came to him and said, ‘Sir, didn’t you sow good seed in your field? Where then did the weeds come from?’
“‘An enemy did this,’ he replied.
“The servants asked him, ‘Do you want us to go and pull them up?’
“‘No,’ he answered, ‘because while you are pulling the weeds, you may root up the wheat with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest. At that time I will tell the harvesters: First collect the weeds and tie them in bundles to be burned; then gather the wheat and bring it into my barn.'” (Matt. 13:24-30)
Jesus then told the Parables of the Mustard Seed and the Yeast (vv. 31-33). The former describes a tiny mustard seed growing into the largest of garden plants, a mustard tree, with birds (which have negative connotations in Scripture) perching in its branches. The latter parable describes false doctrine spreading throughout the Church, as was already explained above. Matthew describes that the disciples asked the Lord later in private to explain the Parable of the Weeds.
He answered, “The one who sowed the good seed is the Son of Man. The field is the world, and the good seed stands for the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one, and the enemy who sows them is the devil. The harvest is the end of the age, and the harvesters are angels.
“As the weeds are pulled up and burned in the fire, so it will be at the end of the age. The Son of Man will send out his angels, and they will weed out of his kingdom everything that causes sin and all who do evil. They will throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” (13:37-43)
I believe these unregenerate weeds Jesus describes in His Parable of the Weeds – NOT the born-again seed that fell on rocky places in His Parable of the Sower (Matt. 13:20-21) – are the antichrists John warned us of in his first epistle:
Dear children, this is the last hour; and as you have heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come. This is how we know it is the last hour. They 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 2:18-19)
Not understanding Jesus’ teachings, some people mistakenly believe that passage supports the false doctrine of OSAS. The context is antichrists, however, and the Scriptures clearly teach that antichrists are not plantings of the Lord, but of Satan, as illustrated by the Parable of the Weeds.
Lastly, I believe the godless men that Jude warns of in his epistle are also these unregenerate weeds in Jesus’ Parable of the Weeds, and not the born-again believers turned apostates in His Parable of the Sower. I base this on Jude’s words, These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit (v. 19, emphasis added).
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This concludes the series. Please feel free to ask heartfelt questions or comment if you have revelation to contribute on this important matter. As Paul taught Titus, we should …encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it. (Titus 1:9b)
Addendum: A compilation of some of the Scriptures addressed in this series may be viewed here
Exposing false doctrine and encouraging others in the faith alongside you, your sister deanna