THREE THINGS TO UNDERSTAND IN GOD’S WORD
Now let us spend some time to consider some portions of the Scriptures that seem to speak of perdition after salvation. Before this, we have to know a few things. First, the Word of God has absolutely no conflict with itself. On the one hand, God can never say that His sheep will never perish or lose their eternal life, and on the other hand, tell man that he will perish. Man can say wrong things, but God’s work is a work of glory. He can never say anything by mistake. If it is so clear on the positive side, it can never be contradicting on the negative side. The things on the negative side must be concerned with other matters related to God.
Second, we have taken the time to identify these passages. Among them we see both genuinely saved ones as well as false ones. The Lord Jesus had a false disciple, Judas. When Peter was baptizing people, there was a person named Simon who might not have been saved. Paul also met many false brothers. Peter said that there were many false prophets, and John said that many had departed from them and proved to not be of them. Hence, in the Bible, there are the genuinely saved ones and the nominally saved ones. Some are not saved at all. Of course they cannot pretend or cover up forever. If we can clearly differentiate between these few kinds of people, the problems will be solved. But if you mix these different kinds of people together, it is like mixing the tares with the wheat. The result will be much confusion.
Third, many places in the Bible speak of the discipline of Christians in this age and not of eternal perdition. Do not think that because we are eternally saved, there is no such thing as discipline. Indeed, there is discipline. If you fail and have become weak today, God will discipline you. There is a difference between discipline and eternal perdition. One cannot mix eternal perdition with discipline. Many verses, which seem to speak of Christians being lost again, actually speak of Christians being disciplined. Not only is there the question of discipline and the question of falsity, but also the question of the kingdom and of the reward. These few things are fundamentally different. Many times, we apply words for the kingdom to the eternal age, and words concerning the reward to the subject of eternal life. Naturally, this will produce many problems. We must realize that there is a difference between the kingdom and salvation, and there is a difference between eternal life and reward. The way God will deal with us in the millennium is different from the way He will deal with us in eternity. There is a difference in the way God deals with man in the restored world and in the new world. The millennium is related to righteousness. It is related to our works and our walk after we have become a Christian. The millennial kingdom is for the purpose of judging our walk. But in eternity, in the new heaven and new earth, everything is free grace. All who are thirsty may come and drink freely (Rev. 22:17). This word is spoken after the new heaven and the new earth have come.
(Gospel of God, The (2 volume set), Chapter 17, by Watchman Nee)