Written by Paul J. Bucknell on November, 15, 2019
Can Christians Lose Salvation? (2 Timothy 2:12)
The Question on Losing Salvation
Can a Christian sin and so lose his salvation (2 Tim 2:12)?
If we endure, we will also reign with Him;
If we deny Him, He also will deny us. (2 Tim 2:12)
A genuine Christian cannot lose his or her salvation. But there are professors of faith who are not believers. They profess to believe (i.e., Pharisees) and have the right doctrine, but they do not possess saving faith.
There are verses like 2 Timothy 2:12, which, at first, looks like it shows that a Christian can lose one’s salvation. But from the outward, we do not know they are genuine believers. It is only later, at a point in their lives, that we know they are not genuine believers because they refuse to follow Christ.
Explanation of 2 Timothy 2:12
In 2 Timothy 2:12b, Paul speaks about those who, at one point, professed to know and follow Christ but now deny Him. Their denial does not make them lose salvation but only reveals that they never really believed (1 John 2:9,19).
The Apostle Peter, who denied Jesus, stands as a backdrop to this verse. The “deny” in 2:12 mentioned does not speak of a one-time or thrice denial but a life that has turned from God. God is not saying that anyone who has denied the Lord has lost salvation or become unacceptable. Peter cried and repented. He believed but was caught off guard by the Tempter and failed. If a person, however, persists in denying the Lord, then it becomes apparent they don’t believe. They never genuinely believed but were like tares.
2 Timothy 2:12 appears to be teaching embedded in a song or chant. It became a standard saying for believers. Instead of questioning whether we could lose our salvation (we can’t), we should determine by God’s grace to persevere to the end.
Study Questions on Losing Salvation (2 Timothy 2:12)
1. What makes one think that one can lose one’s salvation from 2 Timothy 2:12?
2. Does this verse say that a person can lose salvation?
3. Read Matthew 13:24-40. Were the tares comparable to the wheat?
4. Were the tares ever really wheat?
5. What does Jesus warn us of in 2 Timothy 2:12 about denial?
6. Can a person deny the Lord but then turn back from their sin and follow Jesus? Upon what do you answer this?