In short I take a different approach to this subject, as most people are on the extreme ends of the debate. Some say its easy to lose salvation and others that salvation can’t be lost at all. I believe salvation can be lost but is extremely difficult, and I discuss this in depth more at the link above.
But this teaching I am about to share here, supplements that teaching as it will describe how many lose or never obtain their wedding garment. This is not a loss of salvation but a loss of a place within the Lord’s Kingdom, or more specifically entrance into New Jerusalem.
Lets get into the heart of the matter with the parable where we see the wedding garment discussed:
Math 22:2 The kingdom of heaven is like unto a certain king, which made a marriage for his son,
3 And sent forth his servants to call them that were bidden to the wedding: and they would not come.
4 Again, he sent forth other servants, saying, Tell them which are bidden, Behold, I have prepared my dinner: my oxen and my fatlings are killed, and all things are ready: come unto the marriage. 5 But they made light of it, and went their ways, one to his farm, another to his merchandise:
6 And the remnant took his servants, and entreated them spitefully, and slew them.
7 But when the king heard thereof, he was wroth: and he sent forth his armies, and destroyed those murderers, and burned up their city.
8 Then saith he to his servants, The wedding is ready, but they which were bidden were not worthy.
9 Go ye therefore into the highways, and as many as ye shall find, bid to the marriage. 10 So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests.
11 And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment:
12 And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless.
13 Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
14 For many are called, but few are chosen.
Here we see someone who did not have their wedding garment. I think it’s a serious stretch to assume this is someone meant for hell, but rather someone else. Remember Jesus spoke about such people here as well:
21: Not every one that says unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that does the will of my Father which is in heaven.
22: Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name done many wonderful works?
23: And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity.
Here we see people who call Jesus Lord and even do works for Him, yet Jesus did not know them.
At what point can a child not know his father? When they are still in the womb. An infant in the womb is still a child of the father, but cannot have a relationship with the father, for they are not born yet.
So saying I believe salvation is separate from being born again, just as conception is separate from birth. To believe otherwise is to mock God and the pattern He gave us. But I discuss this angle in more depth here:
Jesus actually discusses those things that keep someone from obtaining the wedding garment or from keeping it.
We can find how they got this way in Math 13. This is a lot of scripture so I won’t quote the parables, Math 13:3-8, 24-30. Only the interpretations.
Math 13:20 But he who received the seed on stony places, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; 21 yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles.
This represents many many saved believers. At some point in their life, they accepted the truth of Jesus as dying for their sins. It may have been as a child, in Sunday School, or older in church, or even at an evangelical crusade. But they never fed the truth or accepted any teachings to allow the seed to produce any fruit. These “believers” or “christians” are pretty much fruitless, the only thing separating them from the unbelievers is that they believed and a plant began to grow, but it died, before bearing any fruit. But they retain the incorruptible seed of Christ. These are baby christians, or those who are yet to be Born Again.
I was such a believer once. Somewhere about the age of 8 years old, I believed in the work of Jesus. I went to a Lutheran church which taught me a lot of the Bible, but I was given no teachings that helped my faith grow. Or I failed to see them. Eventually, my faith became bankrupt as a teenager. You can read my story here:
This kind of believer is full of carnality. I had scripture, and so many of these may have scripture too, but it will be taken from them, including any false doctrines, which killed their faith, many of which may be teachings from Jezebel. But these folk probably have a lack of teaching which encourages sin, rather than bad teaching that allows sin.
I believe a major portion of the saved nations are these type of “christians”. But Jesus will save them:
John 6: MKJV
39 And this is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all which He has given Me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes on Him should have everlasting life. And I will raise him up at the last day.
Back to Math 13:
22 Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful.
This group is very similar to the last group discussed. But these perhaps are worse, because they have heard the Word, but allowed their faith to fall through sin. It is often these kinds of christians that make up many liberal churches or are the “backsliders” from conservative, charismatic, or evangelical churches. They feed on their lusts and sin, and defend themselves with teachings from Balaam, the Nicolaitans, or Jezebel.
Rev 2: MKJV
14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the teachings of Balaam, who taught Balak to cast a stumbling-block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit fornication.
15 So you also have those who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.
20 But I have a few things against you because you allow that woman Jezebel to teach, she saying herself to be a prophetess, and to cause My servants to go astray, and to commit fornication, and to eat idol-sacrifices.
2 Tim 4: MKJV
3 For a time will be when they will not endure sound doctrine, but they will heap up teachers to themselves according to their own lusts, tickling the ear.
4 And they will turn away their ears from the truth and will be turned to myths.
It is very difficult to reach these folk, because they have closed their ears and hardened their hearts. The best thing I can say to them is to ask: are you prepared for the Lord’s coming? If they don’t repent of Jezebel, they will be left behind:
Rev 2:22: Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.
Jesus speaks more about this in the middle of Revelation, almost seemingly interupting the narrative of the Tribulation here:
Rev 16:15 Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is the one who watches and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame.
Those who do not keep their wedding garment, will be in the Tribulation. Thus the Lord shows this in the middle, once again to warn the believers who are reading and hearing the words of Revelation. He also states near the beginning of Revelation:
Rev 3:3 Remember then how you have received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.
4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments. And they will walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.
5 The one who overcomes, this one will be clothed in white clothing. And I will not blot out his name out of the Book of Life, but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.
I discuss the Book of Life and it's implication here:
I use the Old Testament example of these Tribes of Israel who did not cross Jordan, as likened to with my natural example have not broken the birth water.
Back to Math 13:
23 But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.”
These christians are fruit bearers. Some do not produce 100% fruit of the spirit. Many only produce 30 or 60 fold. The 30 and 60, as well as the 100 fold believers are not the saved nations outside New Jerusalem, but are those in the city.
I would say a vast majority of those without a wedding garment, are those in these 2 categories, who had never obtained one in the 1st place. But there are ways for those who have been born again, who have lost it. And Paul discusses them here:
19: My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
20: I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you.
21: Tell me, ye that desire to be under the law, do ye not hear the law?
Paul was in doubt of them being born again, and wanted to travail again, to have them born again.
I think perhaps the greatest and clearest example of this truth was shared by Jesus here:
Luke 14: NKJV
34 “Salt is good; but if the salt has lost its flavor, how shall it be seasoned?
35 It is neither fit for the land nor for the dunghill, but men throw it out. He who has ears to hear, let him hear!”
They are not fit for the land which is the Kingdom, nor are they fit for the dunghill which is Hell or the Lake of Fire, so they are cast out. Out where?
Some people claim my interpretation is incorrect, but none other has been given!
I got more understanding from Spiro Zodhiates, a Greek scholar. In the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, he speaks on this issue. He discusses the Outer Darkness where the man who did not have wedding clothes was thrown. The term is actually used in 3 places.
The expression “outer darkness” in Matthew 25:30 occurs at the end of the parable of the talents which emphasizes the necessity of serving Christ faithfully. However, the “outer darkness” of Matthew 25:30 may not refer to Ge’ena… Others say that this parable does not refer to all to be unbelievers or hypocrites but to the believers who neglect to exercise their God-given talents. The Lord calls such a servent (wicked …4190) (Matt. 25:26) and (cursed 2672) (Matt. 25:41) despite the fact that he is one of the Lord’s servants. This is similiar to the instance where the Lord called Peter “Satan” (Matthew 16:23). Hence, these terms may also be applied to believers who have failed the Lord in their service. The words of Paul in I Corinthians 3:10-15 are in full support of the fact that the works of faith as servants will be tried by fire. Therefore, in this instance, the “outer darkness” may be a reference to a place of position of far less rewards for the servants who proved themselves less diligent than those who used who used and exercised their talents to the fullest. The expression would then refer to degrees of the enjoyment in heaven rather than referring to hell. This teaching of varied rewards is part and parcel of the inherent doctrine of the NT that neither heaven nor hell are experienced equally by all because this would anull the justice of God. Entrance into heaven in gained by accepting Christ’s sacrifice for justification but a person’s rewards in heaven will be determined by what he did for Christ on earth (Matt 5:3-12, 7:21-23, 10:15, Luke 6:20-26, 12:47-48, Acts 10:4, 31, Romans 2:1-16, 14:10-23, I Cor 3:13, 4:5, II Cor 5:10, I John 4:17, Revelation 20:11-15). The Christian’s faithfulness to his tasks and responsibilities in the world is considered of such paramount importance that the same metaphor, the “outer darkness,” that was used by the Lord to indicate the punishment of the unbeliever for his rejection of God’s salvation is used of the believer who does not live in obedience to the light he has received. In the case of the non-believer, it will be punishment of fire and burning (Matt. 13:30; John 15:6). In the case of the believer, it will be weeping or expressing sorrow over not having used the opportunities God provided… he will nonetheless suffer a loss of reward. The phrase “gnashing of teeth” indicates anger at oneself for ignoring the marvelous opportunities that he had on earth. The same emotional attitude will be expressed by the unbeliever, but in his case, he will be weeping about the lost opportunity and genuine and true repentance followed by works of repentance. “Gnashing of teeth,” in the case of the unbeliever, refers to being angry at oneself because he did not decide to go through the narrow gate and live in the straight way when he had the opportunity.
Jesus gives us even some more information about all of this in Rev 3:
14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodicea… (these are Christians in the church!) 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I would that you were cold or hot.
16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (3 groups: hot, cold, and luke warm = kingdom sons, saved, unsaved) 17 Because you say, I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing, and do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, (no garment) 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold purified by fire, so that you may be rich; and white clothing, so that you may be clothed, and so that the shame of your nakedness does not appear… (white wedding garments!) 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with Me. (be Born Again and have a relationship with Christ) 21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me in My throne, even as I also overcame and have sat down with My Father in His throne. (access to the kingdom!)
We have seen numerous times the 3 groupings of people, it is not a fluke, it is a truth!
Some would say, either you are saved or you are not. Some would say there is no such thing as a carnal christian. Let’s what see what Paul said:
1 Cor 3: MKJV
1 ¶ And I, brothers, could not speak to you as to spiritual ones, but as to fleshly, as to babes in Christ.
2 I have fed you with milk and not with solid food, for you were not yet able to bear it ; nor are you able even now.
3 For you are yet carnal. For in that there is among you envyings and strife and divisions, are you not carnal, and do you not walk according to men?
4 For while one says, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are you not carnal?
We know that they were christians because he said in verse 1: “babes in Christ”. Carnal, is fleshly, opposite of spiritual. Being ruled by the body or mind rather than by the Spirit. So that scripture shows the difference between spiritual christians, carnal christians, and baby christians.