Can I Fall From Grace?

Most would agree that the Apostle Paul was “saved” as he scribed his epistles through the Holy Spirit.

2 Timothy 4:7-8 (ESV Strong's) 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. 8 Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.

With that being said, Paul was fairly clear in his letters to to the Corinthians that he could find himself at some point, disqualified - that is, failing the test and rejected. In other words, a reprobate. That is, one who arguably falls from grace should he fail in his obedience to God under the New Covenant.

Paul believed he could be disqualified from receiving an imperishable wreath unless he kept himself disciplined. Compare 2 Timothy 4:7-8 with 1 Corinthians 9:24-27.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 (ESV Strong's) 24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. 25 Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. 26 So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

Peter also joins the chorus in explaining how one can loose his or her salvation through disobedience to God. Compare the blessing in 2 Peter 1:4 with the curse in 2 Peter 2:20-22.

2 Peter 1:4 (ESV Strong's) 4 by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

2 Peter 2:20-22 (ESV Strong's) 20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”

The Apostle John adds color to how one can fall from grace when comparing one’s prospective blessing in Revelation 3:5 with the risk of condemnation in Revelation 20:11-15.

Revelation 3:5 (ESV Strong's) 5 The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

Revelation 20:11-15 (ESV Strong's) 11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. 12 And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. 13 And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, Death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. 14 Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. 15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Lastly, the Hebrew writer helps us understand that those under the New Covenant are at risk of losing salvation should they choose a practice of disobedience over obedience after receiving the Truth.

Hebrews 10:26-31 (ESV Strong's) 26 For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The Hebrew writer makes the argument that there is no sacrifice or forgiveness for the high-handed, willful practice of sin. This idea is nothing new, as it was addressed generations earlier by Moses in Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Numbers 15:30-31 (ESV Strong's) 30 But the person who does anything with a high hand, whether he is native or a sojourner, reviles the Lord, and that person shall be cut off from among his people. 31 Because he has despised the word of the Lord and has broken his commandment, that person shall be utterly cut off; his iniquity shall be on him.”

Deuteronomy 17:12-13 (ESV Strong's) 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die. So you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people shall hear and fear and not act presumptuously again.

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Eugene Schreder