1 Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, (2 Thessalonians 2:1–3, NKJV)
Then, as now, some were attempting to predict the return of Jesus. Some even claimed apostolic endorsement for their forecasts. The apostle had tried to calm the troubled souls of the Thessalonians about the Christ’s return in his first epistle to them (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). Now, Paul directly states the return of Jesus would not happen until “the falling away” occurred and the “man of sin…the son of perdition” was revealed. The rise of this pretender and usurper of divine exaltation would coincide with a falling away from the faith (1 Timothy 4:1). This falling away occurred over the next several centuries as Roman dominance flourished and persecution against Christians became severe. The predicted events have happened. That means Christ could return at any time – no man knows when. We must always be ready for His return by living holy lives, because when He comes the world will end, the dead will be raised, and we will be judged (2 Peter 3:10-14; Revelation 20:11-15). Are you ready?
24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, 25 to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24–25, NASB95)
Since God is able to “keep” (preserve) you stumbling, the possibility of stumbling necessarily exists (cf. Gal. 5:7). He will stand you blameless before Him, when you build up yourselves in the faith, pray in the Spirit, and keep (preserve) yourselves in the love of God (Jude 20-21). Eternal life, while provided by the power and authority of “the only God our Savior,” is not unconditional. “He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mk. 16:16); Belief and baptism are conditions that one must meet in order to be saved. “Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble; for so an entrance will be supplied to you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:10-11). Note the word “if” – “if you do these things…” That’s a condition the Christian must meet in order to have confidence of gaining entrance into the eternal kingdom. God has the “dominion and authority” to save you. He calls on you to be loyal to Him by remaining steadfast and faithful.
12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. (Hebrews 3:12–14, ESV)
The warning is clear and undeniable. A Christian can develop “an evil, unbelieving heart” that leads him or her to “fall away from the living God”. In spite of this clear language, theologians have convinced multitudes that this is false, saying instead that “once saved, always saved” is what the Bible teaches. The fact that a Christian can “fall away from the living God” does not indict God’s power to save (“the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save”, Isa. 59:1). Instead, it shows that Christians must be vigilant against sin (“your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God”, Isa. 59:2). Truly, God’s grace is greater than sin, but God’s grace does not remove one’s freewill to “abhor what is evil” and “cling to what is good” (Rom. 12:9). Do not be deceived by sin; it hardens your heart against God and His truth (Heb. 3:13). Be steadfast in your faith to the end, reject sin and obey righteousness.