Tim Johnson, editor
December 21, 2008
that Leads to Salvation
It Would be So Hard to be an Apostate
I've known the pain of watching a beloved brother or sister in Christ abandon the Lord. I've wept as I pled with a young Christian, whom I'd treated as a daughter, not to turn her back on heaven. I had to hear her defiantly declare that she no longer loved the Lord and intended never to serve Him again. If I live to be a hundred, I'll never understand how one who was bought by the blood of Christ can make such a choice.
I've known some who said that it was just too hard to be a Christian and they simply couldn't do it anymore. But, I think they are trying desperately to sell themselves a bill of goods. The truth is they know on some level that their lives will be miserable after they turn their back on the Lord. There is just too much knowledge that they must forcibly bury in order to abandon God.
The apostate must bury his knowledge that Jesus died for his sins. It must be hard work to wall off one's heart from the memory that Jesus humbled Himself and took the form of a servant, and then humbled Himself to the point of the death of the cross (Philippians 2:6-8). And He did this all for the very one who so callously turned his back on Jesus.
The apostate must forcibly bury his sweet memory of the love of God. God loved the apostate enough to send His only Son to die for his sins (John 3:16). How do you distract yourself from that memory, especially when you love your own children and would die for them?
The apostate must bury the yearning of his heart for fellowship with God. "And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father" (Galatians 4:6). It can't be easy to ignore the knowledge that such fellowship is available, but it's being pushed away by stubborn rebellion. The apostate is wounding himself for all eternity. Try as he might, there is just so much one can lie to himself - no one made him leave the Lord. He alone bears the blame.
The apostate must distract himself from the memory of heaven. Oh, no one has seen heaven, but we've read plenty about it in the Bible. It must be exhausting to wish for the pain and sadness to be dispelled while knowing that heaven promises all tears will be wiped from our eyes of the faithful (Revelation 21:4).
The apostate must try to somehow forget that eternity is real. How do you remove from your mind the haunting fear of the fires of eternal hell or the worm that does not die (Mark 9:44)? There's not a well of whiskey deep enough to permanently erase the horrors of hell.
The apostate must fight the growing terror that there is no salvation in apostasy. The world constantly assaults our hearts with the lure of sin's carnal pleasures. It appeals to our pride, offering a "better" life outside of Christ. The world screams that we've been lied to - "You shall not surely die!" (Genesis 3:4). No matter how bitter the apostate may grow, or how fiercely he proclaims his liberty from Christ, he simply cannot shake the knowledge that he has chosen the avenue of his eternal doom when he left the Lord's side.
No thank you. I won't abandon Christ, my Savior. I simply couldn't bear it. I'm not strong enough to live my life without Him.
In Paul's second letter to Timothy, Paul warns Timothy of the difficult times that he (and all of us who are living in this, the last, dispensation or "days" of time) would face as a teacher of Jesus Christ (chapter 3). The primary obstacle to overcome is people who have a form of godliness but really are not godly. Read verses one through nine for a full description. Perhaps the most dangerous aspect of these evil men and impostors is that they are not only deceived themselves, but that they are deceiving others (verse 13).
How could Timothy and how can we keep from being deceived by false teachers who sound like they are leading us to God, but are in reality leading us to everlasting destruction? Read carefully and meditate on verses 14-17. The key, Paul said, was for Timothy to continue in what he had learned and had become convinced of since his childhood. We know from chapter one, verse five, that Timothy had been taught in the faith by his mother and grandmother. But what had they taught him? What had Timothy learned and become convinced of? From childhood, Timothy had learned "the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (v.15). Timothy needed to continue in that salvation and faith if he was to keep himself and others from being deceived by false teachers.
But what is the source of this knowledge of salvation and faith in Christ? Did Lois and Eunice come up with this faith out of their own minds? Did Timothy make it up? Did any man? No! Paul states in verses 15-16 that the source of the knowledge or wisdom of salvation and faith is the scriptures which are inspired (i.e. God-breathed). Many people are deceived in these last days about their salvation because they turn to other things for wisdom and instruction. Many turn to other men and their opinions about what God has said to us. Many others rely on subjective feelings to determine God's will for us. Others still are deceived into listening to preachers who claim God speaks directly to them. Deception, not salvation, is the result when we look to anything but the written words of God. It is only the written word of God that is profitable for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in what is right. It is only the written word of God that can adequately equip us for every good work (verses 16-17).
-- Kevin A. Sulc
Via The Berean, Vol. 5, No. 4, June 1996