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This post will explain what is apostasy? And how you can make sure you’re not an apostate.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’m sure you’ve seen that Joshua Harris (Author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and Marty Sampson (Hillsong Writer) are “leaving the faith”.
What does that even mean?
Is this possible?
Why yes, yes it is…if you were never a Christian to begin with.
We are seeing a lot of apostasy in the church in 2019.
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My heart is full of gratitude. I wish you could see all the messages people sent me after the announcement of my divorce. They are expressions of love though they are saddened or even strongly disapprove of the decision. I am learning that no group has the market cornered on grace. This week I’ve received grace from Christians, atheists, evangelicals, exvangelicals, straight people, LGBTQ people, and everyone in-between. Of course there have also been strong words of rebuke from religious people. While not always pleasant, I know they are seeking to love me. (There have also been spiteful, hateful comments that angered and hurt me.) The information that was left out of our announcement is that I have undergone a massive shift in regard to my faith in Jesus. The popular phrase for this is “deconstruction,” the biblical phrase is “falling away.” By all the measurements that I have for defining a Christian, I am not a Christian. Many people tell me that there is a different way to practice faith and I want to remain open to this, but I’m not there now. Martin Luther said that the entire life of believers should be repentance. There’s beauty in that sentiment regardless of your view of God. I have lived in repentance for the past several years—repenting of my self-righteousness, my fear-based approach to life, the teaching of my books, my views of women in the church, and my approach to parenting to name a few. But I specifically want to add to this list now: to the LGBTQ+ community, I want to say that I am sorry for the views that I taught in my books and as a pastor regarding sexuality. I regret standing against marriage equality, for not affirming you and your place in the church, and for any ways that my writing and speaking contributed to a culture of exclusion and bigotry. I hope you can forgive me. To my Christians friends, I am grateful for your prayers. Don’t take it personally if I don’t immediately return calls. I can’t join in your mourning. I don’t view this moment negatively. I feel very much alive, and awake, and surprisingly hopeful. I believe with my sister Julian that, “All shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”
What does apostasy in the Bible mean?
Apostasy: “a falling away, a withdrawal, a defection.” (Biblestudytools)
I’m so glad you asked because once you know the answer, you’ll be able to spot it a million miles away!
There are four types of man (we’ll get into this a little later), and an apostate is one of them.
The apostate looks walks and acts like a Christian.
But they never let that message travel the 18 inches from their head to their heart.
They never truly gave their lives to Christ.
There is only one way to tell an apostate away from a real Christian (someone who is sealed with the Holy Spirit Ephesians 1:13-14)
What is that one way?
They walk away from the faith.
Which means either they leave the faith or join a different religion.
Is it Biblical?
Yes, yes it is!
Where is Apostasy in the Bible?
A classic example of Apostasy in the Bible is the story of King Joash in 2 Chronicles chapter 24.
I’d recommend you read the entire passage but I’ll summarize it:
Joash became king when he was only seven years old and reigned for forty years. He became king right after Athaliah reigned and turn God’s people towards the worship of idols. She was slain and the temple of Baal (a foreign god) was torn down.
While Joash reigned he restored the house of God, lived for God and seemed to be on fire for the Lord.
But then when the main priest (Jehoiada, the same priest that helped people return to God when Athaliah was reigning) died, Joash turned and worshipped idols.
God sent prophets to try to get Joash and His people to repent but to no avail.
When Jehoiada’s son, Zechariah called out among the people to repent Joash conspired with the people to stone and kill him.
In the end, Joash was murdered by his own servants after the Syrians came and wounded him.
(I remember my pastor always said that reading the Bible is better than any gossip magazine, I mean…that was all in one chapter…)
How was Joash an Apostate?
He looked like he was following God right?
Doing and saying all the right things.
But he never submitted his life to Him.
And the only way we would have ever known is by him falling away from the faith and chasing idols.
An apostate can only expose themselves.
Since we cannot see if Christ lives in them.
What are the four types of man according to the Bible?
There are 4 types of man according to the Bible:
A man who does not know God.
1 Corinthians 2:14 “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” NKJV
A Christian who is spiritually immature and who usually does not live according to God’s word.
So the carnal Christian and the natural man usually look the same.
1 Corinthians 3:1 “And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ.” NKVJ
Paul is writing to the church of Corinthians here and he is disappointed that they are not growing in their faith and submitting their lives to the Lord.
A Christian who is saved, and acts Christlike.
2 Corinthians 2:12-13 “Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.” NKJV
Ephesians 1:13-14 says that once you receive the Holy Spirit you are sealed and that is “the guarantee of our inheritance”.
You can’t just ask the Holy Spirit to leave so that you can walk away.
The apostate never had the Holy Spirit to begin with.
Examples of Apostasy in the Bible:
2 Chronicles 24 (see above)
Another classic example?
He walked the walk and talked the talk.
I mean he literally walked beside Jesus.
But was his heart transformed?
And how do we know?
Because he walked away and sold out Jesus.
How can one be an Apostate?
In this day and age, especially in America, people think “Christian” is someone who goes to church.
Or does good deeds.
But going to church doesn’t make you a Christian.
Doing thing’s in Christ’s name doesn’t make you a Christian.
Do you remember a day or a time when you ever gave your life to Christ?
When you became aware of your sin?
And confessed that sin and asked God to become Lord of your life?
Romans 10:9-10 says:
“That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth, confession is made unto salvation.”
There is only one way to become a “real” Christian.
That is Salvation through faith.
Understanding that we are sinners, that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose on the third day conquering death and proving that He is Lord.
Can apostates be restored?
Are you wondering “I am guilty of apostasy?” Or “Am I an apostate?”
I don’t think restored is the word we’re looking for.
Because restoring would mean that they were once a part of God’s family.
Can an apostate repent?
Apostates can always come to know God at any time.
The only sin that God will turn you away for, is rejecting Him.
What is our duty to apostates?
As the church, we should always be praying for them.
If I knew Joshua Harris, or Marty Sampson personally, I would lovingly speak to them about their faith.
I would pray that God would open their eyes to the truth that He loves them no matter how they feel.
The Bible says in James 5:19:
“Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.”
That verse is speaking about apostates.
Know how I know?
The Bible never calls someone that is saved in the new Testament a sinner. Those who have salvation are referred to as saints.
These men are surrounded by believers, let’s pray one of them can get through to them.
There was a common thread in what they both said.
The church had failed them.
It’s hard for us to not see the church as a reflection of Christ. Because the church is led by man, who is wrapped in fallen flesh and man will fail us.
We have to look at Christ as the perfect example. And keep our eyes on Him.
Many people walk away from the faith. Our duty is to pray and be vigilant that when we give the gospel, the message is focused on Christ and the truth.
We never need to sugarcoat God’s word or make it relatable to 2019, it already is.
Josh and Marty, if you’re reading this. I’m praying for you. And I can only hope that this will be turned around for God’s glory and your salvation.