The Possibility of Apostasy

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One of the more damaging doctrines that is being taught today is the doctrine that an individual cannot apostatize or fall from grace. Many of the major religious bodies of the world are teaching this erroneous doctrine. If one is willing to carefully examine this doctrine from the New Testament Scriptures, they would soon find that it cannot be sustained. In this brief article, let us note some New Testament examples of the possibility of such.

Acts chapter 5 provides us with a classic example of a Christian husband and wife who fell from grace. Carefully consider Acts 5:1-5, 10. Should the question arise as to whether these were actually Christians, one needs only to read beginning at Acts 4:32. It is also evident from Acts 5:1, 2 that both Ananias and Sapphira were active members of the church.

If one were teaching the doctrine of the impossibility of apostasy it would seem the words of Paul found in 1 Corinthians 9:27 would be problematic to them, "But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway." At the time this letter to the Corinthian church was written, Paul had been a faithful follower of Christ for many years. During all these years, he had served as the apostle to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13). He had preached and taught in most of the known world at his time, yet he found it very much possible that he might do that which would cause him to be a "castaway."

The apostle Peter, in 2 Peter 1:4-11, indicated the necessity of continued obedience in order to keep one from falling from grace. From verse four we note those to whom Peter was writing had escaped the corruption of the world, thus they had become Christians. Yet, as we see from verse 10, it was very much possible for them to fall from grace. It is easy to see that their eternal security was conditioned upon the necessity of their continued faithfulness as you read the words, "…for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall:…"

In Acts 8:18-23 we are provided with another example of one who had become a Christian, but who later fell from the way of truth. In verse 13 of Acts 8 we see that Simon had believed and was baptized and, as such, was saved, as per the words of Jesus in Mark 16:16, "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; he that believeth not shall be damned." When looking at Acts 8:23, we see that according to Peter, Simon had fallen "into the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity." If this was not an indication that he had fallen away, I would love to see how God described one who did so! In verse 22 we note that his forgiveness was conditioned upon his repentance and prayer. Suppose while he was in "the gall of bitterness and bond of iniquity" he refused to do as directed in this passage. Could we possibly suggest that he was still faithful to God and, as such, still eternally secure?

In Revelation 21:8 we have a list of sins that would cause souls to be lost for eternity. It is easily seen that all who commit such sins as listed within this passage will be eternally lost. Since Christians can commit these sins (1 Corinthians 5:1; Ephesians 4:25), it is very much possible for those who at one time had been faithful Christians to fall under condemnation for having committed them. Due to the fact that the Book of Revelation was written to Christians, we have proof that it is possible for one to fall from grace in Revelation 2:4, 5.

Also, according to Paul, the one who thinks he stands is to be cautioned "lest he fall"     (1 Corinthians 10:12). If this individual is not actually standing (i.e. a Christian), he cannot fall, and the admonition makes no sense at all. If he is standing, and cannot fall, the admonition makes no sense. It would be rather foolish for Paul to warn the Corinthian Christians to be careful so they would not fall, if it were utterly impossible for them to do so. It would show ignorance on the part of the Holy Spirit in guiding Paul to write these things, if it were impossible for them to fall and I, for one, would not want to be guilty of such an implication! 

Paul, in Galatians 5:4, writes to the church at Galatia and informs them that if they believed they were "justified by the law," then they would have "fallen from grace" in order to do so. How much more plainer could Paul have made it? A certain segment of the religious world says, "you cannot fall from grace." An inspired apostle says one who seeks to be justified by the works of the Law of Moses had "fallen from grace." Who do you think one should listen to?

One can fall from grace. Eternal security is found within a constant obedience to God's Word. Those who reject His word after having submitted themselves to it have "fallen from grace." 

 

 

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WEARING THE NAME CHRISTIAN…

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WEARING THE NAME CHRISTIAN           

 

The name “Christian” is found three times in the New Testament (Acts 11:26; 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16). In these passages, it was used to refer to those who were adherents of Christ. The modern denominational world wears the name, but contrary to the prayer of Jesus (John 17:20-23); the pleas of Paul (1 Corinthians 1:10); and the plan of Paul for unity (Ephesians 4:4-6). To be true to the Scriptures we must direct our attention to the true sense of the word. Although we may know that the name “Christian” is the right and only name that we should wear, many do not realize the full significance of what it means to wear this name. Many who wear the name today do not do so as they should. A “Christian” is more than one who has been baptized; more than one who is a church member, and more than a weekly worshipper of God. There are many of these, but fewer true “Christians.” In view of this, let us first consider what wearing the name “Christian” means.

 

Wearing the name Christian involves the honor of doing so. We know there is both dishonor and honor attached to names. During New Testament times, being a Gentile, a Samaritan, or a Nazarene meant dishonor. The name Christian is the greatest and most distinguished name of all (Isaiah 56:6; 62:2). Early Christians were proud to wear it (1 Peter 4:16; Acts 5:41). Vines Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, page 193, states, “From the second century onward the term was accepted by believers as a title of honour.” As true Christians, we wear the name not out of an ordinance, but do so in view of God’s Son in whom we glory in his name (Galatians 6:14).

 

Wearing the name Christian involves the reward for doing so. The New Testament teaches there are numerous blessings from a benevolent Father that belong to the Christian. There are both  material (Matthew 6:33; 7:11; James 1:17) and spiritual blessings (Ephesians 1:3) that come from God. The promise of heaven is given only to Christians. It is not promised to unbelievers (John 8:24) or the disobedient (2 Thessalonians 1:8). It can truly be said that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people (John 14:3). As such, only Christians are making preparation for heaven.

 

The responsibility of wearing the name Christian. Wearing a name of honor brings with it certain responsibilities. For example, wearing the name “American” involves the duty to believe in the Constitution, practice democracy, being patriotic and displaying good citizenship. Wearing the name “Father” carries with it certain responsibilities that cannot be pushed aside and still be viewed as a good father. Likewise, wearing the name “Christian” means assuming the responsibilities of being a disciple to learn; as a follower, to imitate; as a child, to obey; and as a servant, to be loyal. The Christian life is a life filled with duties (Ecclesiastes 12:13; Luke 17:10). 

 

The difference between being a Christian and merely wearing the name. The Bible speaks of  different kinds of “Christians”, and between the following extremes there are various degrees or shades. For example, Romans 15:1 speaks of the strong and the weak, while 1 Corinthians 3:1 draws a contrast between those who were spiritual and those who were carnal (worldly minded). Jesus, in Revelation 3:15, spoke of the distinction between those who were “hot” and those who were “cold.” In between, there were those he referred to as being “lukewarm” (Revelation 3:16). Paul wrote of those who were stable, and those who were unstable, in Ephesians 4:14-16. In each of these cases we note various truths concerning the differing kinds of “Christians.” The first kind wears the name well, while the second does not. The first are those who would bring glory to the “cause”, while the second would bring reproach. The first would be those who are truly converted, while the second would represent those who are half or unconverted altogether. The first are going to heaven, while the second are going to hell.

 

How do I determine if I am really a Christian, or merely one who is wearing the name? Ask yourself the following questions, and be honest with the answers you provide. “Did I become a Christian from conviction or convenience?” If for family, prestige, etc., then you are merely    wearing the name. “Am I separated from the world in my recreation, language, literature, etc.?” If I am more like the world than Christ, then I am just wearing the name. “Am I really devoted to the church?” “Does it come first in my life (Matthew 6:33)?” “Do I love the brethren, or have no time for them (John 13:34, 35)?” “Do I attend the maximum or the minimum number of services (Hebrews 10:24-26)?” “Do I give liberally or miserly to the church and her efforts (2 Corinthians 9:6, 7)?” “Do I appreciate strong preaching, or am I offended when truth and error are kindly, but plainly differentiated (Galatians 4:16; John 6:66)?” “Am I growing in the Christian graces (2 Peter 1:5-9) and in knowledge (2 Peter 3:18)?” “Am I trying to save the lost according to my  opportunities and abilities?”

 

Three facts regarding the wearing of the name Christian. (1) We wear it voluntarily. As such we serve gladly and willingly. (2) We wear it incessantly. Christianity is a daily matter (Luke 9:23).  (3) We ought to wear it intelligently. We should wear the name being mindful of our influence (Matthew 5:13-16).

 

 

 

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