The Righteous Are Scarcely Saved

There are a lot of verses in the Bible that should scare us. Seriously. I’m not even close to joking.

Terrifying verses have been explained away in most cases. One of the driving forces behind Theology is explaining away stuff we don’t like. Theology is a living thing. Societal change leads to moral change. Moral change leads to theological change.

We need theology to appease our guilty consciences troubled by bothersome verses we wish weren’t there.

1 Peter is an astounding book. The more I read it, the more depth I see in there. In chapter four, Peter talks about judgment beginning with the house of God. We should stop judging the sin of the world and take care of the sin in the church. Sin in the church is a bigger problem than sin in the world.

We’re already getting nervous, aren’t we?! Quick, think up a theology that will stop the flow of Peter’s thought.

Grace Abounds–God is grace. Sin doesn’t matter. God only sees Christ, not me.

The righteous–He’s talking about self-righteous people, like the Pharisees, not people who are actually righteous.

God is Love–God loves unconditionally, which means I can do whatever I want and God will still love me.

We all have the Spirit–I don’t like how you interpret this verse, I have the Holy Spirit too, and He told me this verse doesn’t mean what you say it means.

Peter was writing for other people–I only listen to Paul/Jesus/John/Apollos/Calvin/my dad/etc. Whatever Peter is talking about, he’s not talking to me.

Allow me to cut through the muddied waters of these “theological” excuses: none of them are legitimate.

Peter is talking to the Church, and he says sin is a problem. This isn’t even the verse that scares me though. It’s the verse after “judgment begins with the house of God.”

And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?


The context is speaking of trial and temptation coming to the believer. It’s going to be rough. One of my commentaries on this verse says, “The scarcely marks the severity of the ordeal, and the unlikelihood (in a mere human point of view) of the righteous sustaining it.”

It’s not easy to be righteous for at least two reasons. 1) Doing what is right is hard for us to do. 2) The results of doing right are hard to take–all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.

The life of faith is a fight and a race. It aint easy. It’s going to hurt. Most people won’t make it to the end. If we understood this truth, said several times in the Bible, we would buckle down in prayer and watchfulness, and we would also, no doubt, stop judging everyone else.

Feel free to simply deal with this verse. Maybe get a little fear for your soul. Perhaps we take the whole thing a tad too lightly.


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