Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. (Revelation 3:11, NKJV)
The Christians in Philadelphia are highly commended by the Lord (Revelation 3:7-13). He had confidence they would use the opportunity He had opened for them to persevere and to prevail in their faith despite faithless opponents (Revelation 3:8-10). Christ would come with quick and complete justice upon their enemies. For their part, they were to “hold fast” what they had “firm unto the end” (see Hebrews 3:6). Their steadfastness was necessary in order that “no one may take your crown.” Jesus is crystal clear here. If they did not hold fast it would be possible for someone to take their crown (to prevent their victory). The doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy is absolutely obliterated by this passage. Why hold fast your faith if no one can take your crown? Why anticipate the coming judgment of the Lord against evil as an incentive to remain steadfast in the face of enemies of the faith? The truth is, if Christians abandon holding fast their faith, then they are not victors. They are among those who fall from grace (Galatians 5:4; Hebrews 6:4-6). Let us hold fast to the strength of faith, keep Christ’s word and not deny His name (Revelation 3:8). This is the victory of faith in Christ (1 John 5:4). Be warned. There is no victory in unfaithfulness.
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. (2 Peter 2:20–21, NKJV)
Without a doubt, this passage warns Christians against falling away from Christ. The ones described here had escaped sin through knowing Christ; they had been untangled from sin’s snare by the power of the Lord (Romans 6:17-18). They had known the way of righteousness and the holy commandment of God, but now they had returned to sin’s filth and were overcome by it (2 Peter 2:22, 20). The Scriptures reveal the way of righteousness as the pathway of life (Proverbs 12:28). Wisdom travels its byways (Proverbs 8:20). Truth is spoke by its travelers (Matthew 21:32). The Lord knows those who walk its path (Psalm 1:6). He also knows those who turn aside to the right or to the left, leaving its holy commands for the unholy, sinful allurements of the world. Protect yourself against sin. Walk the path of righteousness in faith, guided by truth and strengthened with wisdom, and you will have life. If you have turned from its way, repent and return to the Father. He is ready and able to forgive you (1 John 1:8-9).
31 Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Oh, these people have committed a great sin, and have made for themselves a god of gold! 32 Yet now, if You will forgive their sin—but if not, I pray, blot me out of Your book which You have written.” 33 And the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.” (Exodus 32:31–33, NKJV)
God has a book. This means that God knows the names of those who are faithful to Him and obtain eternal life, and He knows those who commit sin against Him and lose their souls. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire” (Rev. 20:15). Some say once a person is saved, that person can never be lost. This is false doctrine. God had saved Israel from Egyptian bondage, and now, because of their sin with the golden calf, they were in danger of being blotted out of God’s book. It was about Israel (His own people) that God said, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book.” Dear Christian friend, do not be complacent about your salvation. “Therefore, let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Cor. 10:12). Like Israel, we too can commit sin. When we continue in sin, refusing to repent to be forgiven, our names will be removed from God’s Book of Life. Be faithful to follow Jesus and do not walk in darkness, “but have the light of life” (Jno. 8:12).
3 And I testify again to every man who becomes circumcised that he is a debtor to keep the whole law. 4 You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. (Galatians 5:3–4, NKJV)
Binding any portion of the Old Testament Law of Moses upon Christians is totally incompatible with the gospel of Christ. The Law of Moses was only given to the nation of Israel; it was never a universal law given to all nations (Deut. 5:1-3). Paul was addresses a false doctrine being advanced by some Jewish Christians, which compelled Gentiles to be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses in order to be saved (Acts 15:1ff). This teaching perverted the gospel being preached by the apostles (Gal. 1:6-9). The result of believing and advancing this false doctrine was that Christians were severed from Christ; they were “fallen from grace.” This clear statement by the apostle Paul shows that it is possible for Christians to lose their salvation. This happens, not because Christ does not have the power to save the Christian, but because the Christian chooses to believe and follow error instead of truth. Sin will not be rewarded with heaven. The belief that Christians cannot fall away and be lost is a false, deceptive doctrine.
8 But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods. 9 But now after you have known God, or rather are known by God, how is it that you turn again to the weak and beggarly elements, to which you desire again to be in bondage? (Galatians 4:8–9, NKJV)
It brings us to tears to see Christians, who have tasted heaven’s gift of salvation and freedom from sin, turn back to its bondage and spiritual death. Before your conversion, you did not know God. Like the idolaters of Galatia, you served the false gods of worldliness, materialism and self. Yet, God acted with great love for you, and gave His Son as the ransom for your sins and the whole world (1 Tim. 2:6). Freedom from sin and death came to you when you believed and obeyed the gospel of Christ. Now, fellow Christian, do not be enticed by sin’s attractions to abandon God and turn back to the impotent and contemptible things of the world. God knows you, and you have experienced His goodness. There is no good reason to turn again to what held you in bondage. Instead, remain faithful and true to God.
20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. 21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: “A dog returns to his own vomit,” and, “a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire.” (2 Peter 2:20–22, NKJV)
This passage clearly describes a person escaping the sinful filth of the world through knowing Jesus Christ the Savior, then returning to and being overcome by sin. Yes, it is possible for a Christian to turn away from Christ and by doing so, be lost. This verse does not suggest Christ lacks the power to protect the saved. It shows that a Christian can rebel, return to sin, and consequently be lost. This verse does not teach degrees of punishment. It notes the greater privileges and responsibilities one has to God by having been saved, and then abandoning Jesus by returning to sin. The picture is horrible. The possibility is real. Therefore, strengthen yourself in the Lord and give no place to the devil (Eph. 4:27).
3 I will set nothing wicked before my eyes; I hate the work of those who fall away; It shall not cling to me. 4 A perverse heart shall depart from me; I will not know wickedness. (Psalm 101:3–4)
We learn in Acts 1:16 that “the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David” in the psalms he wrote and sang. David was inspired by God. How then, by the Spirit of God, could David speak of “those who fall away” if it is impossible to fall away? His statement is prima facie evidence that people can indeed fall away from God. To avoid this tragedy, David would be careful not to fix his eyes (his desires) upon anything that was wicked. He would abhor the sins by which others fell away. When David found sin in himself he would not let it cling to him. He would choose to completely reject sin. He would cleanse his heart, lest by becoming acquainted with sin he would love it instead of God. There were certainly times in his life when David fell into sin and away from God. But in his repentance the joy of salvation was restored. May it be so for all who have fallen. And may we keep from falling by abhorring evil and clinging to what is good.