Loss of Testimony
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

We might remind you of the subject of our discussion. An advertisement appeared in the local paper listing a number of verses of Scripture which, according to that advertisement, proved that you could fall from grace. Those Scriptures were supposed to prove you could lose your salvation after you have once obtained it, and there have been questions about those Scriptures.

We have suggested to you, and we would like to re-emphasize, that it is not necessary for you to know what everyone believes. It is not necessary for you to know what everyone teaches. All that is necessary for you to know is the Word of God, rightly divided, every verse in its context. If you are familiar with the Word of God, rightly divided, every word in its context, then when you hear anything, regardless of whether it is taught from the pulpit, in a book, or perhaps some idea that comes to you as you read the Word of God, you can examine it in the light of the whole Scripture. If it is not consistent with the clear teaching of the Word of God, you know that it cannot be accepted as fact.

We suggested to you when we began this discussion that there are approximately twenty-five verses of Scripture which, if taken by themselves out of their context and held up alone, would teach that you could lose your salvation. You say, “Well then, you must be able to lose your salvation if that is true.”

Our answer to that suggestion is this: The Bible never contradicts itself. You must keep that in mind. It might seem to, because you do not have all of the knowledge at hand, but the Bible never contradicts itself. If there are passages of Scripture which make definite statements related to certain truths, and then there are passages of Scripture that seem to contradict those statements, you should always interpret the unclear passage of Scripture in the light of the clear passage of Scripture.

Someone has said, “I think that we should never take these ‘verily' passages of Scripture in the Word of God and contradict them with the ‘if' passages of Scripture.” That is a thought to remember. Where the Word of God says, “verily, verily,” that means “truly, truly,” and that is making it as definite as it can be. You should not take the truth that is given in that verse of Scripture and reject it for what appears to be teaching in a verse of Scripture that has in it the word if . I think you will find those things are true as you go along.

We have considered a number of verses of Scripture already, and one thing we have tried to keep before you that we would like to re-emphasize is that if these verses of Scripture are interpreted in the light of the class in which they belong, there is never any contradiction.

For example, some passages of Scripture in the Word of God—not only related to the subject we are considering, but related to any subject—are never clear unless they are dispensationally interpreted. They belong to a certain dispensation. Unless you keep that in mind, they will never be clear when you try to understand the Word of God.

Then there are other passages of Scripture that are related to fruit-bearing, and if we try to make them refer to salvation, then we have confusion.

Power Given To Believers

I would like for us to notice the passage of Scripture that is given in II Peter, chapter 1, as an illustration that you can lose your salvation, as an illustration that you can fall from grace. Notice verse 1:

II Peter 1:

1Simon 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:
2Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
3According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:
4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
6And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;
7And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.
10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:
11For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Let's establish one or two facts about the passage of Scripture before us. First, let us establish that these people are very definitely born again. That becomes evident when we are told in the third verse that He has given to us all things that pertain to life and to godliness.

To whom has He given all things that pertain to life and to godliness? If you will look at the first verse, those who “have obtained like precious faith.” Would you say the Apostle Peter was a Christian? I think immediately you would say, “Yes, he was.” He said, “All right, I am talking about everyone who was saved just like I was saved. I am talking to everyone who has the same faith that I have.”

Exercise Of Available Power

I want you to notice the first thing that he said that God gives us from the moment we are saved—everything that pertains unto life. That is everything that pertains to eternal life, everything that pertains to a godlike life. In other words, you don't need to sit around and say you wish you had more power. All in the world you need to do is exercise the power you already have. You don't need to sit around and say, “If I just had more faith, I could be more Godlike. You don't need to sit around and wish that. God has given you all the faith you ever need. All in the world you need to do is exercise the faith that you have.

We have often used this illustration, but we re-emphasize it since we are on the subject. You will remember the disciples, when they were defeated in a thing they were attempting to do, cried unto the Lord, “Oh Lord, increase our faith, give us more faith.”

You will notice the Lord Jesus Christ did not say, “I won't give more.” Nor did He say, “I will give you more.” What did He say? He said, “If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed you could say to this mountain, be thou removed and be cast into the sea, and it would.”

Faith That Is Alive

We read that rather hurriedly, and so we say, “That means if you have just a tiny little bit of faith, faith just as little as a mustard seed, you could say to a mountain, ‘Be removed and cast into the sea'.” You say to yourself, “I know I don't have much faith, but I believe I have even more than that, and I have told mountains to be cast into the sea, and they are not cast into the sea.” So what does that mean?

Actually, if you examine the reference to the mustard seed as it is used in the Scripture, you will find that He was not referring to the quantity of faith. He was referring to the quality of faith. Mustard seed faith is living faith, and He was saying, “If your faith were just alive, you could say to that mountain, ‘Be thou removed and be cast into the sea'.”

So you see, everything that we need that pertains to eternal life, and everything that we need that pertains to godliness is given to us the moment we are saved.

Partakers Of The Divine Nature

Notice, please, verse 4, so we can be absolutely sure we are talking to saved people.

II Peter 1:

4Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

There is a lot of corruption in the world through lust. We've escaped that because we have been born again. I think there can be no doubt in our minds that this portion of the Word of God is talking about Christians. Now go to verse 10 and we read:

II Peter 1:

10Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:

The implication of that verse from a negative standpoint is that if you do not do these things, you will fall. If you do not do the things that are suggested in this passage of Scripture, you will fall. As soon as we see the word fall , immediately the wheel begins to work in our minds, and immediately it prints out “fall from grace.” So we turn to this passage of Scripture and say, “Here is proof of the fact that you can fall from grace.”

Lack Of Fruit-Bearing

Let's keep in mind that, though this is talking about Christians, it is not talking about their falling from grace. It is talking about their ability or lack of ability to produce fruit in a Christian experience. Notice what he says in verse 8:

II Peter 1:

8For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If this passage of Scripture were to teach that you could lose your salvation, if it were to teach you could fall from grace, then we would have to read the verse this way: “If these things be in you and abound, they make you that ye shall never lose your salvation, and you will always hold your salvation, but if these things are not in you, and if they do not abound in you, then you will lose your salvation, and you will not be able to hold onto it.” But, you see, I am reading into that Scripture something that is not there. This verse of Scripture says, “these things make for a fruitful life.”

Spiritual Blindness

Let's look at the negative side of it. What if these things are not in you? What if these things do not abound in you? What then? What is the result? Notice verse 9:

II Peter 1:

9But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

This may seem a little shocking to you, but I do not believe everyone when they tell me they are saved, particularly if they come to me with a spiritual problem. I always begin with problems where I think problems should begin—a person's relationship to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. So I always endeavor to find out whether a person is born again or not because if a person is born again, then you have a foundation to begin with. After I find out if he is born again, I always find out, if I can, if he is in the will of God. The Bible says, “When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” A lot of the trouble we have is due to the fact that we are out of the will of God. We say it is due to the people we are around, but God says it is due to the fact that we are out of the will of God.

Sometimes I say to a person, “Do you know the Lord? Have you been born again? Are you a Christian?” Sometimes he will say, “No, I am not.” Then I will say to him, “Are you sure? Are you sure you are not a child of God? Are you really sure?” He may do a lot of probing to find out in a number of different ways.

Why? Because of this passage of Scripture right here. It is possible that he is blind spiritually. He cannot comprehend spiritual truth. He has no far-reaching vision concerning the things of God. As amazing as it may seem, in the last part of verse 9, he has even forgotten he has been purged from his old sins. He has even forgotten he has had an experience of grace in his heart.

Notice, please, verse 5. I think this will help us to understand why we say this:

II Peter 1:

5And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;

Notice, “add to your faith.” This passage of Scripture suggests what other portions of the Word of God claim, that the moment we are born again there is implanted in our hearts faith—faith to believe that Jesus Christ is our Savior, faith to believe His Word. That is the original thing. That is the basic thing. The moment people are born again, that faith is there.

Building On The Foundation Of Faith

Listen carefully to what I say. The sad commentary on Christian experience is that no one ever does anything with that faith. It is there, and nothing else is ever done with it. That may be my fault. That may be your fault. New converts do not do any more with that faith they have, and they do have it. But if they will, they can do something with that faith. They can add virtue to it, and the word virtue here means “power.” Power comes from the Holy Spirit. To virtue add knowledge—that is, knowledge of the Word of God. To knowledge, add temperance—that is, a disciplined Christian life. To temperance, patience and God-likeness, and to God-likeness, brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness, love. If each one of these things is added in a great pyramid and spiritual experience is built up, then they have an abounding Christian experience, and they reveal their very relationship to God.

But if they stay with that basic faith and do nothing about it, they are blind spiritually. They do not enjoy being around the people of God. They read their Bibles, and their Bibles are dry to them. They have no advancement in their spiritual experience at all, and they even forget they have been born again, for it is possible for a person who has received the Lord Jesus Christ as his Savior to never grow spiritually to the extent that he does not even know whether he is saved or not.

Making Your Calling Evident

That is the reason verse 10, the so-called controversial verse, allows discussion if presented. “Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure.” The word sure here is not a word that involves the idea of guarantee. You do not guarantee your calling and election because you put forth all this effort, but you do make it evident. You make it abundant. You make it where people can see, and you do not forget it. No one else forgets it. Everyone knows.

I say sometimes, when I go away in meetings, that one of the most embarrassing moments I have is when some individual may come to my attention for some reason, and I say to the pastor, “Is that person a Christian?” And he has to say, “Frankly, I don't know. I just do not know. He says he is, but I don't know.” Now that is embarrassing, because it is embarrassing for the pastor, and it is embarrassing for me. It is a shame that we do not make our calling and election any more sure than that. The people do not even know whether we are Christians.

Sometimes I say to a husband, “Does your wife know the Lord?” if I have just become acquainted with them and haven't had time to know them really. “Well, I don't know whether she does or not. I sometimes think she does, but I don't know.” That's a shame.

Sometimes I say to a wife, “Does your husband know the Lord?” She says, “Well, I don't know. He is a good man, and I want to think he does. He says he does, but I just don't know.” Now, why is there the doubt? Because nothing has ever been added to the faith.

A Consistent Christian Walk

You will notice the last statement of verse 10. “…for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall.” The word that is translated “fall” in the original Greek is never translated “fall” anywhere but here. It is always translated “stumble.” Literally, it means you won't “stub your toe.” It is, if these things are living in you and abound in you, you won't “stub your toe.” You will keep on walking the way you need to walk.

So this verse of Scripture has nothing to do with whether or not you lose your salvation, but it has much to do with whether or not your life is the testimony that it should be.


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