Q. In 2 Peter 1:5-10, Peter says to make your calling and election sure by growing in your faith so one does not “fall away”. Does this mean I could lose my salvation?
A. There are too many verses that clearly say we can’t lose our salvation for Peter to be speaking about this. A careful reading of verse 8 shows that his warning is against being ineffective and unproductive in our Christian life. Verse 9 confirms this, saying it’s possible to actually forget we’ve been cleansed from our sins. This doesn’t mean we’ve lost the cleansing, but that we act like we never received it.
So 2 Peter 1:5-10 is not a warning against losing our salvation, but against falling back into the lifestyle we lived before becoming saved. According to recent polls over 90% of those who profess Christianity live lives that are indistinguishable from their unbelieving counterparts. By failing to add goodness, knowledge, self control and the other qualities Peter mentioned to their faith, they’ve become just like the people around them. They haven’t lost their salvation but their lives are devoid of any evidence of their beliefs.
Jesus spoke of these people in His parable of the sower and the seed. He said they’re like the seed that fell among thorns who let the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth make them unfruitful (Matt. 13:22). When they get to heaven they’ll have nothing to commend them. Like the one whose works are all burned up in the fire, they’ll still be saved but only as one escaping through the flames (1 Cor. 3:15).
Finally, the Greek wording of verse 10 does not include “apostasia” which means “to fall away.” The word used there is “ptaio” which means “to stumble” or “make a mistake”. Peter was admonishing us to be diligent in our walk with the Lord to guard against living an unfruitful life.