Can We Deny Christ and Still Go to Heaven?

IMGPeter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended. Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him, Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee. Likewise also said all the disciples.
Matthew 26:33-35 (KJV)

Ahh, our brother Peter. He was always so optimistic and ready to take on a challenge. When he saw Jesus walking on the water he was the only one to get out of the boat and try it for himself. Now that's faith in action. I identify a lot with Peter because I also get in over my head (no pun intended?) sometimes and start things I can't finish. But making a vow to the Son of God is a very different matter indeed, not to be taken lightly.

And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple. For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Luke 14:27-28 (KJV)

Did you ever make a promise to God that you didn't or couldn't keep for some reason? What if I told you that for a short period of time Peter had backslidden from his salvation? Let's examine Peter's actions during Christ's trial.

And Simon Peter followed Jesus, and so did another disciple: that disciple was known unto the high priest, and went in with Jesus into the palace of the high priest. But Peter stood at the door without. Then went out that other disciple, which was known unto the high priest, and spake unto her that kept the door, and brought in Peter.
John 18:15-16 (KJV)

As Peter lingered outside the palace of the chief priest another disciple came along. This one had accompanied Jesus to the high priest's palace. He came out to bring Peter in, likely believing that he would want to bare witness to the unfolding events inside. He heard the uproar of those present as Jesus affirmed that He was indeed the Christ, yet Peter played the part of the uninterested bystander warming himself at a fire with the servants and officers. He was close enough to make eye contact with Him.

The high priest then asked Jesus of his disciples, and of his doctrine. Jesus answered him, I spake openly to the world; I ever taught in the synagogue, and in the temple, whither the Jews always resort; and in secret have I said nothing. Why askest thou me? ask them which heard me, what I have said unto them: behold, they know what I said.
John 18:19-21 (KJV)

This was Peter's opportunity to step forward and shine as Stephen did in Acts 7 in a Holy Spirit inspired denunciation that utterly enraged all of the Pharisees. “Yes! He is everything He claims to be! He is the Christ and I am his disciple!”. But instead he remained silent as they spat upon and beat bloody the man who was not only his savior, but his best friend (John 15:15 KJV).

And Simon Peter stood and warmed himself. They said therefore unto him, Art not thou also one of his disciples? He denied it, and said, I am not. One of the servants of the high priest, being his kinsman whose ear Peter cut off, saith, Did not I see thee in the garden with him? Peter then denied again: and immediately the cock crew.
John 18:25-27 (KJV)

How many of us like Peter and the other disciples would tell Jesus we'll never deny Him? It is easy to judge him in this situation, but we are not experiencing the sheer terror that he was in that moment. Obviously he was not thinking rationally but 'in the moment'. We can only imagine the thoughts that were racing through his head. We can be sure his heart was racing, the adrenaline pumping. We can also be sure that Satan was right there witnessing this spectacle and enjoying it thoroughly. He was attacking Peter's mind even as he was inciting the crowd to beat Christ with thoughts like “You're going to die next Peter!”

But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 10:33 (KJV)

In Matthew 10 Christ is charging all twelve of His disciples and giving them fair warning. Now if you are an honest person you must admit that Peter did exactly what Jesus warned them not to, denied Him before men. There's no room for debate because it is a fact. Did He make an exception for Simon Peter? We have no reason to believe He makes exceptions for anyone.

And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is risen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him. But go your way, tell his disciples and Peter that he goeth before you into Galilee: there shall ye see him, as he said unto you.
Mark 16:6-7 (KJV)

Now take notice that the angel of the Lord made a distinction between the disciples and Simon Peter. That was no accident.

And as they came out, they found a man of Cyrene, Simon by name: him they compelled to bear his cross.
Matthew 27:32 (KJV)

I include the above verse in this expository simply because it seems to me it was no accident that another Simon was compelled to carry Christ's cross for Him. Do you suppose if Simon Peter had not denied Christ it would have been he that carried his savior's cross? Just some food for thought.

At this point I must point out that there are many out there who are '007 secret Christians'. They live according to their own hearts, but rationalize to themselves that if it comes to being challenged by some person or authority they will not deny Christ. They have a 'wait and see' attitude towards making a life changing decision for Christ. They make promises to God with their lips but are unwilling to stick their necks out for Him. I have some bad news for them. They have already in fact denied Christ; not in word as Peter did, but in deed. The old adage is true; actions speak louder than words. But in the case of Peter there was a mitigating circumstance.

And Peter remembered the word of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. And he went out, and wept bitterly.
Matthew 26:75 (KJV)

Peter understood he had screwed up, but he didn't know how to rectify it. Yes, theoretically speaking I absolutely believe that Peter had lost his salvation in denying Christ, scripture leaves no room for exceptions. But spiritually speaking, Jesus knew exactly the condition of Peter's heart. He knew he didn't really mean it. Yes, Peter put himself in a backslidden state when he denied his savior before men, but was Jesus actually going to allow His friend Peter go to Hell for this transgression without giving him a chance to be restored? I should say not!

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs. He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep. He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep. Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.
John 21:15-18 (KJV)

Notice that Christ asks not once, but three times if Peter loves Him? That's no accident either. What we are witnessing here is the redemption of Simon Peter from Satan's clutches! We can think of it as Simon was the old man, Peter the new creature in Christ. Of course Christ new that Peter loved Him, so why ask him three times? Because Simon Peter denied him thrice!

Of course we must remember that our loving savior is not only omnipotent and omnipresent, He is also omniscient (all knowing)! Jesus knew all along that Peter was going to deny Him and had already made provision for it by praying that Peter be strengthened. He had in fact warned Peter in advance that Satan wanted a piece of him:

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
Luke 22:31-32 (KJV)

You see, 'Strengthen thy brethren' is just a paraphrase of 'feed my sheep'! From the time Simon Peter denied Christ till he once again confessed his love for Him Satan and his minions were having a field day sifting him as wheat. He was attacked in his mind just as our brother Paul was (2 Corinthians 12:7-9 KJV).

But Jesus always knew that Peter loved Him in his heart. He made sure to pray for him that his faith would not fail, and it didn't! Did you know Jesus prays for us? If we don't have a soul on this earth praying for us we can be comforted in the fact that Christ Himself is doing it. Isn't that comforting?

Now to bring this back into the 21st century, how many of you have loved ones you are praying for? I know I have too many to count. But I have a word for you: don't give up! We never know which prayer is going to be the one that spiritually speaking 'breaks the camel's back' and they come to their senses and repent. We don't know which prayer is the one that causes the healing angel to be dispatched!

Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.
Mark 13:35-37 (KJV)

On the other hand, if you are not right with God you had better get right this very moment. Every breath, every beat of our hearts is a gift from Him, we don't know which one will be the last! You don't want to spend eternity weeping and gnashing your teeth in Hell, trust me.

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