Mike Kruger delivered a message at TGC’s 2021 Women’s Conference titled “Can I Lose My Faith? Understanding Apostasy.” Susan Pevensie, of Chronicles of Narnia fame, serves as the jumping off point of the message, having been so central to the beginning of Lewis’s storyline, yet so glaringly absent from its conclusion. As her brother Peter explained, she was eventually “no longer a friend of Narnia.” Her story is reminiscent of many believers who seem to be strong in their faith but eventually walk away from Christ and his kingdom. “Apostasy,” as it is known, is a difficult and touchy subject.
Kruger addresses the topic, first clearly defining what it is (and isn’t), pointing to biblical examples, clarifying truths about apostasy, and finally denoting how Christians should respond to it.
The following is an uncorrected transcript generated by a transcription service. Before quoting in print, please check the corresponding audio for accuracy.
Mike Kruger: Well, good afternoon, everyone. Great to see you here. Let me begin by welcome you to this session. My name is Mike Kruger. I’m the president of reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and you’re in a session entitled, can I lose my faith? Understanding apostasy. And this session is actually sponsored by my own seminary. So that’s easy enough, right? So reformed Theological Seminary is a sponsor grateful for them. And just such a wonderful place that I’ve loved working out for the last 20 years, we have a booth here, you can come say hello to us, check out our website, rts.edu. But just want to thank them for sponsoring this session. Let me also begin by commending you for actually just being here today. I thought when I looked at the schedule, like I wonder what slot I have, and I found I’m in the very last slot of the day. And then I’m like, and so I’ve got this very difficult, weighty, heavy topic of Apostasy. I was thinking to myself, there’s gonna be like eight people here. But you showed up so well done. In fact, I was talking to my wife, Melissa, who, you know, was the director of women’s initiatives and sort of is behind this whole conference. And I said to her, I said, Well, you know, I don’t know how I got asked to do apostasy. And then I don’t even know how I got put in the last slide. How did that all happen? And she goes, Well, I did that. So
I thought, well, wow, we need to talk more something.
I thought we’d pay off more than those someone in charge, but apparently not. But here we are. But I’m excited about this topic, because it’s a light, fluffy topic. But because it’s an important, weighty topic for us to consider. I trust that you’re here because you agree with that. And I think there’s a lot on our plate than I am eager to get to. So thanks for being here. I hope your brains aren’t jello yet. Because we have some important things to get through. Because it’s so weighty, though I felt like I should open in prayer. So let me do that. Join me as we pray and just ask God to bless our conversation.
Or we’re so grateful to have a chance to ponder. Not just light things, but weighty things that your word brings to our attention. So Laurie asked her blessing. Now as we ponder some of these things. Help us understand this theme of Apostasy encourage us today, even in the midst of many reasons to be discouraged, as we see it happen all around us, and reassure us that you love us and at the spirit is in our own hearts. So we pray all this in Christ’s name. Amen.
So when I start with a rather unusual question, this afternoon. Now, of course, you recognize the name Susan Tappan Zee, she is part of the family in The Chronicles of Narnia, part of four children, right? The sons and daughters of Adam and Eve, so to speak, they are the four kings and queens of Narnia. And Susan is one of those. And maybe you like me, are fans of the books. And maybe you like me love the last battle, right, which is the consummate, and to the entire series for Louis. But did you notice? And I’m sure you did, because everyone did what happened to Susan.
Because when you get to the end, she’s not there. In fact, it’s this jarring omission in the story, one that everyone sort of notices and think how could someone so central so core to the whole story of Narnia, and as land, one of the kings and queens themselves not be there. In the end? What happened to Susan, Peter picks up the story, as Lewis tells it, my sister Susan, answered Peter, shortly and gravely, is no longer a friend of Narnia.
Yes, said Eustace, whenever you try to get her to come and talk about Narnia, or do anything about Narnia. She says, what wonderful memories you have fancy you still think about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.
Now, here’s what happens. You read the story of the last battle, and you see that part and you don’t really know what to do with it. So you sort of skip over it and just pretend you didn’t read it. But it raises important theological questions, it raises questions about our own understanding of salvation and about heaven and about who’s going to be there when we get there, just like that seen in the last battle. And of course, it raises this very important truth that we all know, which is that some people start out seeming like they’re Christians. They seem like they’re following Jesus and at some point, they stop.
And they regarded now all as silly and ridiculous and no longer worthy of their attention. So they seem to be on the trajectory of faith, but at some point along the way, for whatever reason, they stop going down that pathway.
And they change directions. That is the story of Susan pevensey. I mean, you can’t imagine anybody more in the inner circle of aslin than hers, he’s going one way. But then somewhere she decides, you know what, that’s all just silly stories. I’m not sure I believe that anymore. Now in the theological world, we have a word for that, where we don’t use that much and sort of our normal parlance, around church and in the Christian world, but that word, of course, is apostasy. And I’m going to get to the definition in more detail in a moment. But in the short version, apostasy is just referring to an individual that was once in and then later out. And when I say and what I mean is inside the visible church inside the body of believers, they seem to be a Christian and later prove themselves, not to be. And that is the theme, of course before us this afternoon. Now, I would imagine that everybody in this room probably as I told that definition of Apostasy, I imagine you have someone in your head.
Every single one of us specifically speaking probably know someone who would count as an apostate, maybe a family member, or maybe a friend, a co worker, or maybe someone you went to college with, that you thought was a Christian, and they seem to believe what you believe. And then later they turned and went an entirely different direction, and it raises questions in your mind. I can still remember my own life. I’ve known several people that would probably count in this category. But most notably was my own youth pastor growing up, taught us the Bible and preach the Word of God to us and lead us on youth retreats, and was there as our shepherd and teacher and seem like an all around good guy, and off to college, I win. And as I went off to college, I heard later that he had decided he didn’t believe any of that anymore. And he rejected the faith and turned away and I found out he left his wife and left his kids in a brave to whole new direction of life and became effectively an apostate. Now, as you think about that theological category, I know what Christians are, in your mind, because of the same questions in my mind. And everybody’s mind, who knows somebody who’s gone through that, and their questions like, Well, why didn’t I see it coming? How do I didn’t? How is it that I didn’t know this person wasn’t a true believer? Or maybe you’re wondering how did they not know whether they were a true believer? Or did they know and they just suppressed it? How do I handle all of this? And then there’s another question that usually pops in your mind after that, which is okay, I have all these questions about my friend to apostates or plasticize. But, but what about me? How do I know if I’m a true believer? If they could be mistaken, maybe I could be mistaken. We think about it for a moment, apostasy can sort of rattle, you’re a little Christian world that’s usually nice and tidy. You can shake it up pretty rapidly. And then add to that, that in our modern day now we have a whole cottage industry popping up of former Christians. Now apostates who seem like it’s now their life missions, to tell their story of Apostasy to just about everyone who will listen. And now you have a whole sort of world out there of people who will have D converted, if you will, and are now trumpeting it in social media for all to hear. When we could tell story after story of a famous author, a famous Christian pastor, a well known speaker or musician who wakes up one day and sends out something on social media, and says, You know what, I don’t believe that anymore. Just like Susan pevensey. Those are all funny childhood stories. And now I find silly and ridiculous. And imagine if we wanted to, and this time, we could probably name all the names that I know in your head right now of stories you’ve read online. It’s remarkable that some people who didn’t seem that concerned about being evangelistic, when they were professing Christians, now that they’re professing non Christian seem a very evangelist about that. And seem to want to bring as many people with them as they possibly can. That’s a rather new phenomenon. By the way, it’s not like deconversion is new that’s been around since the beginning. What you realize though, is it now there’s this sort of evangelizing the found problem, right, where people now want to bring as many people down the deconversion path as they possibly can. So this is why this room is filled today with you because I’m sure you’ve experienced all these same questions and challenges and issues. And we all want to sort of cut through the confusion and bring some clarity to the matter. So how are we going to do that? Here’s what I want to do in our short time. Today, I want to walk through this issue of Apostasy and sort of three steps with you first, I want to talk about definition a little more precisely in a moment. Want to make sure you’ve got it right I’ve got a right we know exactly what we mean we talk about apostasy and then after laying out a definition Secondly, I want to give some clarifications, some nuance some talk around it and how that affects our lives. And then thirdly, I want to talk about how we respond to the whole phenomenon of Apostasy both out there and more importantly, perhaps In here, okay, let’s dive right in starting with a definition of Apostasy. And I’ve given you one a little bit already. But I want to bore down a little more deeply into this. And one of the things I’ve noticed over the years when you define things is that sometimes it’s most useful to start by saying what they’re not. So I want to start by saying what apostasy is not. And there are several things that I think we confuse apostasy with, but I just want to make sure we’re not doing that in our time together today. So what is apostasy? Not first, an apostate is not just a non Christian. This is something that sometimes people get confused by there’s plenty of non Christians in the world. There’s plenty of people in the world out there that don’t believe in Jesus. Maybe it’s your neighbor, maybe it’s your co worker, perhaps it’s a person just in a foreign land that’s never even heard the name of Jesus Christ. There’s plenty of unbelievers in the world, people that don’t trust in Jesus for salvation, but we don’t call them apostates. Yes, they’re non Christians. Yes,
they’re unbelievers. But that’s the category they belong in. They don’t belong in the category of Apostasy. As we’ll see. That’s a separate, distinct phenomenon. So an apostate is not just a non Christian out there somewhere. Second thing an apostate is not is this not just a non Christian inside the church? Now, here’s the reality that we all know. Yes, there’s not a Christian sort of out there in the world. That’s obvious. We also know that even inside the church, there’s non Christians. What I mean by that is there’s people in the church that think they’re Christians, but in fact, are not Christians. And they don’t find out until judgment day when we think of a passage like Matthew seven where Jesus says, I never knew you. Now those people we also do not call apostates. There’s a reason we don’t call them apostates because we don’t know who they are. Right? If there’s a person in your church that that thinks they’re a Christian and professors a Christian, you don’t know
that they’re not in fact, a Christian so you have no way to know that they’re not and it’s not until they die and go to heaven and face judgment that they may even themselves realize they’re not. Okay, so an apostate is not just a non Christian inside the church that’s unaware of it. Now, of course, once they become aware of it and leave the church, as you’ll see, that’s when they become an apostate. But they’re not apostate just simply by being a non Christian inside the church. Here’s a third thing an apostate is not an apostate is not just a struggling Christian. We’ve plenty of those too. I’m sure all of us in this room at some level or another struggle in the Christian life, we struggle with what we believe sometimes we doubt, sometimes we’re caught in sin. Sometimes we’re really doing things we know we shouldn’t do. And so this is what we would call sort of the backsliding christian right. But just because there’s a Christian who struggles or doubts or questions or is caught in sin, that does not make them an apostate. I mean, King David’s A good example of this right King David, of course, had a very, very serious time of backsliding if we can even use that word, which included adultery, murder, other things, of course, in his life, but again, is deeply sinful of all as all those things were David still, from what we can tell was genuinely a believer in God and later ended up coming to grips with all those awful things that he had done, but he was not, in fact, an apostate. Okay, so if those are all the things that apostate isn’t, as we still think about this first point of definition, then what is an apostate? Here’s where I want to give you a more concrete definition something you can sort of, hopefully wrap your eyes around or your mind around a little more concretely. So an apostate is this someone who seemed to be a believer, who is part of Christ visible church, participated in the community of faith, probably even was baptized and takes the Lord’s Supper, and then later rejects Christ turns away from sound teaching and leaves the Christian community. Now when you think about that definition, you can whittle it down to one basic idea, and that is an apostate is someone who was once inside and then later is outside. And this is the essence of Apostasy. apostasy is someone who was once in and by and I mean, inside the visible church, professing faith seeming to be a believer, they were once part of the community of faith, and then left the community of faith. And this is why all those other people don’t count as apostate unbelievers in every part of the community of faith, right? A person who just is a non Christian who doesn’t know it never leaves the faith. A person who’s just simply backsliding.
Well, he’s still part of the face just hasn’t come to grips with his own sin yet, but that’s not what an apostate is. And a positive someone who was once on the outside wakes up like Susan Pattinson and says, this is all kind of silly. I don’t think I believe this anymore. And they leave. Now of course, as you know, the Bible has examples of Apostasy, not of time, of course, to go through them in this talk. I’ll mention a couple obvious ones here. As we think about this definition, the most obvious example the poster child of Apostasy we all would know is the person of Judas. There’s perhaps no better example of an insider who became an outsider. How do you get more inside than the 12? You’re Jesus’s closest circle, you’re his best friends, you receive all his teaching all his counsel, all his ministry, all his love all his care, and yet, at some point, you decide, I will have nothing to do with this man. In fact, I will sell him down the river for 30 pieces of silver. How does that happen? But it’s the perfect example of Apostasy. It’s someone who was in and then is later out, who seemed to be a believer, and prove not to be. Now we’ll talk more about Judas as example later because he raises other intriguing questions about these sorts of things. But for now, you just know that is the classic example of Apostasy in the New Testament. Of course, we all know his his life ends up tragically in suicide. The Old Testament I imagine we could look at King Saul as a good example of Apostasy. Right? Talk about your consummate Insider, the king of Israel, how do you get more inside than that, and he had all the credibility, all the pedigree, all the lineage, all the credentials, you could possibly want to prove that he would be the great, perfect King even looked the part tall, imposing, handsome, good looking, he was the guy surely he would take Israel down the path, it would go and God knew all along. That despite all those outward things that saw was not a man after his own heart. And of course, you know, the story, eventually, there’s cracks in the facade, and you begin to realize something isn’t right here. And Saul goes off the rails to and ends up ironically, in a place just like Judas committing suicide.
Now, the classic example here of Apostasy in the New Testament, in terms of a statement is probably from first john to 19. You’ve heard it, maybe you’ve read it and just went right past it. But here’s what it says john is writing about these people who were once in and then we’re out. And they were heretics. And he says basically, this quote, they went out from us, for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. In other words, he doesn’t use the word, it’s our word, but the word is again, apostasy. Okay, so there’s our definition. And the whole point there is to round out what it isn’t what it is. But now I think and you have it in your head, there’s all these circulate circulating questions in your mind like, well,
I’ve still got 50 more questions, Mike. I mean, are we going to get to those? Yes, a little of them anyway. And that’s our second point here. The first point was definition. Now some clarifications. And I know what’s in your mind, because it’s in my mind to, it’s in everybody’s mind who thinks about this issue. And let me just walk through some important nuance, and clarifications about apostasy so that we make sure that we’re understanding that rightly, and I’m going to start with this first clarification, just to get it on the table. And I think we all know, but it just needs to be said, and it’s simply this true, believers cannot lose their salvation. And I want to start with that clarification, because it’s so important. You’ll notice that we’re using language like, leave the faith inside outside falling away these sorts of things. And I understand how confusing that can be, you might think, are, are we suggesting that someone can be really converted and really regenerate it and really save and then later somehow not be I mean, aren’t we people who believe that if you’re really genuinely in God’s hands, that you stay there and are forever safe? And the answer is resoundingly Yes. Make no mistake about it. apostasy is not someone losing their salvation. Upon apostasy is not someone losing their salvation, it’s someone who reveals that they were never saved in the first place.
And this is an important clarification, to grasp what apostasy is, is a revealing, okay, it’s a it’s an exposing of what was always true. It doesn’t change something from being true to untrue, it reveals an expose something that always been true and you didn’t know it. Because the true believer cannot be taken away from Christ. The true believer is safe in his hands. You know, the passage, john 10, verses 27 through 28. Christ says this, My sheep hear My voice. I know them, they follow me and listen to these encouraging words. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one can snatch them out of my hand. So right out of the gate, the first clarification here is to be reassured that if someone is truly saved, they cannot then be unsaved. But you probably wonder in the back of your mind like well, oh, Fine, then then why is the Bible filled with all these warnings about apostasy? mean? Why warn someone of something that’s impossible? If someone can actually lose their salvation and fall away, then why is it the book of Hebrews, for example, filled with all these warnings to not fall away if it can’t really happen. But I think that’s a misunderstanding of what’s happening in the book of Hebrews. I don’t have time to get into that I just released a commentary on Hebrews, which actually just came out of this conference. And I deal with that in there more detail, but I argue there that the warnings don’t prove you can lose your salvation, but rather, the warnings are the means by which God keeps his true believers on track. In other words, basically, the warnings are a tool, a means by which God’s keeps his true followers in the race and continuing to run and not stopping. Putting it yet a different way, true believers will heed the warning.
And those who are not true believers will not heed the warning. But just because true believers heed the warning does not make them more the morning irrelevant. warnings are a mechanism by which God can encourage you spur you challenge you keep you in the lanes of running the Christian life. Okay, so first clarification, if you’re a true believer, you cannot lose your salvation. Here’s a second clarification. And I know this is in your mind too. And that is that apostates don’t know they’re apostates. I think you also just need to reckon with this reality. apostates, at some point, at least thought they were true believers, of course, eventually get to the point where they realize they’re not. Okay, fair enough. But at some point they thought they were. So it’s not like apostates when they joined the church say okay, I’m going through the new members class, and I’m taking the vowels and I’m getting baptized, but I’m looking at my watch the whole time going, Well, I’ve got about three years here till I apostatize. Now, they’re not saying that right? They don’t know they’re going to apostas eyes. If we had time we could go through even the recent stories. You’ve seen them in the news won’t go through these more famous authors and speakers who apostatize but they had spent their whole ministry’s whole careers devoted to speaking the truth. Why do all that you didn’t actually seem to think you’re a Christian at the time? So here’s the reality is there’s people who basically think they’re believers, and they’re not apostates don’t know, they’re apostates. Now that does raise an important reality that I think we need to remember as we think about this issue today. And that is, some people think they’re Christians, and they’re mistaken.
And that’s not something that we discuss enough in our churches today. I don’t know all the historical reasons why but we’ve gotten into a place in our church today that if someone professes to be a believer, if someone says they’re a believer, we just grant it, assume it’s true, and never raise any comments about it. And we also on top of that, rarely ever asked someone to reflect on their own spiritual condition. What happens then is weeks go by and churches where people preach to a congregation assuming that everyone’s a believer, and never realizing that maybe some aren’t. Now, historically, you might be insured. No, that’s not been true. Historically, in the church, they were more well aware that the people in their church there was at least a percentage, we never know what the percentage is. Obviously, if you knew that, well, then you’d have special glasses. You could see everyone to know whether we’re Christian or not, you don’t know the percentage we just know, statistically speaking, there’s a chunk of people in the room who aren’t really Christians and think they are. And historically, people used to preach with that in mind. Class example, this is the Puritans when they preach, they just had that that category. They knew that, okay, there’s a chunk of people here that need to hear this to think they’re Christians, they need to be they need to be woken up to the reality that they may not, in fact be. And I would suggest to you that this is probably a place that the modern church needs to grow. We need to ask, are we really shepherding our flocks if we’re not asking those probing questions, and challenging people to reflect on their own spiritual condition, and I’m going to come back to that also at the end.
Okay, here’s a third category of clarification. We’re talking about clarifications, and we’ve made a couple already that if you’re really save, you can’t lose it. apostates don’t don’t know they’re going to be apostates. And here’s the third clarification. You can’t predict who will be an apostate. I cannot predict who will be an apostate. So here’s the reality. It’s not just that apostates don’t know they’re going to be apostates.
You and I don’t know they’re going to be apostates. Imagine if we did well, we’d have a lot of explaining to do. Right?
Well, if you knew they were going to be an apostate. Well, Then why’d you hire them? If you knew they’re going to be apostate? Why did you give him a book contract? If you knew they’re going to be an apostate? Why do you do what you don’t know? That’s the whole point. But here’s the reality, even though we don’t have such No glasses, we can look out into a room and know who’s really saved. And not. Oftentimes we think we know. And I want to take a moment to challenge this today, we think, oh, but I could tell you no, I can just tell. Really. I’m not suggesting that there’s never warning signs, don’t misunderstand. Lots of Apostasy apostasy cases, sometimes there are warning signs, sometimes there’s not. And so you could theoretically look back retrospectively and say, oh, now with hindsight, 2020, I could have seen it coming. Okay, we can grant all that. But the reality is, we tend to be overconfident in our ability to know somebody is really going to apostatize before they do it. And I want to challenge you on that score.
Because the reality is you don’t know. And even the disciples didn’t know was going to be Judas. You remember what happened in the last supper? Right? Jesus said something amazingly bold. One of you one of you will betray me. You know, what didn’t happen? They all didn’t just say all we all know it’s Judas. Let’s just get it over with already. We’ve been playing this game for six months, which is obviously stealing money out of the coffers, right? He’s He’s, he’s someone who’s got it. You know, he loves all these other you know, which, obviously Judas, let’s just get this up with no, it’s so unclear who it was, or what the disciples did. They said, his Lord, is it me? It was so unclear, that they even wonder if it was themselves. Here’s the reality. We can’t see it coming. We could see it coming. Why would we do things differently. And that tells us something about apostasy. And that is that it’s something that we have to reckon with is a category that we can’t in, in sovereignly, prevent in advance. Here’s the other thing that we need to realize. And this is the payoff of that knowledge is that you need to realize that someone can look very spiritual and be completely unsaved. They can look like they have all the giftedness and all the abilities and all the passions and not know Jesus at all. In fact, if you look to the Scriptures, you’re going to find yourself rather disturbed at how spiritual someone can be improved to be unsaved.
I mean, think about Judas for a moment, you know, what you never think about is that the disciples were sent out by Jesus to cast out demons and they came back rejoicing that the demons obeyed. Presumably, Judas participated in this. The Judas go out and somehow participate in the casting out of demons. I mean, there’s no indication that when he came back from one of these, you know, exorcism trips, that he said, Well, you know, what didn’t work for me I was trying and the other 11 we’re having a good day and I just what I tried to do it and not know and that never comes up. From all we can tell, somehow mysterious as it is, Judas was participating. Think about King Saul is another example of this, about how you can look spiritual, very, very spiritual and not be saved. We’re told in the Old Testament that King Saul prophesied. The Spirit was on him in some way that a lot of the prophesied so much so that they said, even though I was among the prophets, yet proved to not have a heart that love God. And then the passage in Matthew seven that we always read, that strikes fear in our hearts, honestly, what does it say? Listen to listen closely again. Now with this topic on your mind, this is what Jesus says, Matthew 722. On that day, Many will say to me, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, cast out demons in your name, and do mighty works in your name? Probably a reference to miracles. And then I will declare to them I never knew you. Don’t think you can know that that person because of all the privileges and all the externals is definitely got it together with God. Sometimes it’s just not true. And also, by the way, don’t make the opposite mistake, which is to say, that person will never become a Christian. That person could never know Jesus, because of all these things. Know that God has a way of breaking our expectations. So the person we think will never become a Christian becomes a Christian. And the person we’re absolutely convinced is holy and spiritual, and certainly a Christian may be proved not to be. And then God reminds us that he is sovereign over the salvation of humans. One last clarification as we look at these nuances, and this is an important clarification, too. And that’s this clarification. People can apostatize in different ways.
Not every apostasy situation is identical. It’s not a one size fits all. Now, of course, you might think that I mean, everybody seems to now do it on Instagram, right? So it’s like, well, maybe that’s the way you apostatize you go on Instagram and you make some statement. And you, you know, you look out at a sunset and you say I’m starting in a new direction now and, and you have a like a little playbook you run right? And that you think, well, that’s how apostasy works. But you know, that’s not necessarily how it works. Not all apostasy is the same. Some apostasy is very blatant, very, very plain, like I no longer believe anything, it’s all rubbish, I’m done, I’m going this way.
And that would be the most obvious kind of Apostasy. And I’m sure we can think of examples in the world of people who did that it’s a 180, and every every sense, but you can also a pasta size and other ways. Some people still call themselves Christians. Even though they’ve effectively a pasta sized, they still retain the label. In other words, what they’re really saying is, I’m no longer that kind of Christian. Now I’m this kind of Christian. Now, those are complicated scenarios, because it always depends on what they mean by this kind of Christian. But if the new this kind of Christian is so different from any historical definition of Christianity, then even though they verbally still say they’re Christians, they’re now following a version of Christianity. It’s not actually Christianity. And that too, is a form of a plasticizing. And then you could also apostatize morally. Some people insist they’re Christians still claim to be Christians still talk like a Christian, and they’ve chosen a life that’s so radically unchristian, that you have sort of no choice but to say, I know you’re saying this, but your life morally is showing that you have now rejected any reasonable definition of the Christian faith. That’s also a way to a pasta sighs. Okay, so what are we done in these first two points? We’ve laid out a definition, right.
And then I’ve given you some nuances, some clarification, some rounding out so that we’re understanding this issue better now? How do we respond to this? Wow, wish I had a whole second talk, which I don’t fact, even as I look at my clock, this talks winding down. Let me just suggest a couple of ways to think about responding to apostasy in your lives. Sort of one way to think about it is how to respond to apostasy out there. And then the second way is how to respond to apostasy in here, so just a few reflections First, the apostasy out there, how do you handle it? What do you do? Well, you had that person in your head a minute ago? And I’m sure you’re wondering, how do I What do I do, they’ve they’ve, they’ve betrayed the faith, they’ve they betrayed me, you might be frustrated, might be angry, you might want to lash out. And some of that is understandable, especially if it’s a person you were close to that seems to have completely turned their back, not only on Christianity, but effectively also, therefore on you and your whole world and all your friends and so on. It’s always tempting to think that that is a little pride that seems and when we see it happened, we’re like, Well, you know, if they had just been more like me, they wouldn’t have a plasticized, right? Or if they just had been, you know, better at those spiritual disciplines, and I, you know, kind of like I do, then they would been fine. Or, you know, I saw I’d come in, we give ourselves that credit to write like, Well, you know, if we resolve this a mile away, and we sort of take that sort of superior ground as if, you know, we kind of knew it all along. But let me suggest another course of action for you. One word that just needs to be used with the past states is the word compassion. You know, is apostasy the right thing to do? Of course not. I think that’s clear. But what is true of Apostasy, it’s very sad, very difficult and very painful for the people who are enduring it. Even if you could say, Oh, it’s their own fault, you might want to go back to that position of pride again. Well, they’re to blame. They’re the ones that did it. Why should I feel bad for them?
No, that’s not the Christian way. Does Christ not show natural compassion on us even when we do things we shouldn’t do? So in one sense, compassion. Sympathy is certainly appropriate for those we know who are plasticizing another thought as you think about or respond to those who are out there plasticizing is is my encouragement to don’t give up on them. Sometimes we have the sort of, you know, wash my hands of it, you know, okay, that’s it, you know, I you know, they betrayed me betrayed in the whole world. That’s it, you know, it’s their own fault. Not going to feel bad about it out you go, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. But I would suggest you that also is not the Christian response. The Christian response is to do what Paul did is he wept over what effectively was an unbelieving Israel who had rejected the Messiah. And you could argue in one sense had exhibited a form of Apostasy and Paul says, oh, what I would give for my own countrymen determine belief.
And that we need to think about how we pray for intercede for long for repentance, and those that apostasy us calling them back repeatedly. To the cross, calling them back to the gospel that they now seemingly have rejected. Now, of course, you might think, well, it’s a waste of time. They’ve apostatize they made their mind up. But God can do all not all mighty things. And there are amazing stories of how we can turn hearts. So you keep praying, knowing that the hearts of humans are always in the hands of God, not in our hands. Of course, on a human level, it’s impossible. That’s an obvious point, right? on a human level, good luck change in a person’s heart, but there’s not out of God’s plan and his power. Don’t give up. What about in our own life? Here’s a few thoughts for you, on how to respond to apostasy in your heart. And notice that this is a key category. The mistake would be to hear a talk like this and think about everybody else. That’s either a pasta sized or that you think probably well, then and how much they needed to have heard this talk, and maybe you’ll send them the link later. Ah, but isn’t it true that we need to reflect on this theme? Some suggested reflections on this theme First, take the warnings seriously. Here’s the number one mistake I get all the time people hear the warning passages in Hebrews about apostasy.
They say, Well, I don’t have to heed the warning passages or listen to the warning passages because they don’t apply to me because I’m a real Christian. Of course, I make the point that the apostate could have said the exact same thing before they apostatized. No, the warnings apply to you, even if you’re really saved, because God will use them if you take them seriously as a way to keep you on track. And to keep you running the race. So don’t dismiss the warnings under the rubric of well, I you know, it doesn’t really matter. Because it’s all determined and I’m either saved or not no, heed the warning. It’s a means that God uses to preserve His saints. Second, reflection for you or response for you and your heart is take some time to seriously reflect on your spiritual condition. It’s weird to say that, isn’t it at a conference like this? Isn’t the gospel coalition mean? Who’s gonna pay all the money and take all the time to go here? That’s not a Christian. And I would say generally, I agree with you, but it’s no different than a church. Everybody here are listening online would would would think well, you know, obviously, if I’m going to do all this, I must be saved. Well don’t think so. A lot of people go to church and aren’t saved while people go to colleges aren’t saved. Take some time to reflect on your spiritual health. If I asked you today what your blood pressure was, or your cholesterol, or what your latest doctor report is, you probably know those facts. But do you know what your metrics are and your spiritual health? I’m amazed how introspective we are about just about everything, but that Paul won’t let us off the hook so easily. Second Corinthians 13, five, just let these words sink in for a moment, examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith.
And that is something that we all probably need to do better. And here’s my final encouragement as a response to all of us as we think about apostasy. And this is really the antidote. If you will do apostasy. How do you keep running the race, you keep your eye on the finish line. Worst thing when you run is to look around you. The worst thing when you run is to look to the runner next to you. Even in the Greco Roman world, when you ran you looked at the finish line. And who is waiting for you at the finish line, Christ Himself. The wonderful thing about the book of Hebrews and of course, the National Conference in a couple days is all about the book of Hebrews. But as you know, because you’ve read the book, The wonderful thing about the book of Hebrews is it lays out that finish line wonderfully. The antidote, the cure for apostasy is a consistent deep apprehension of the beauty and reward that is Christ. He is your great reward. If you talk about how much your side hurts and how much you can’t breathe and how your ankle hurts as you run the Christian race, you’re probably gonna end up stopping but you keep your eyes on the glories, the beauty, the magnificence of your reward, and your reward is not just heaven. reward is not as to place your reward as a person. And once you realize that, that is what’s key is focusing on a person that will revolutionize the way you live the Christian life. You know, what’s interesting about Judas is that his relationship with Jesus was so impersonal. I’m here ever noticed that before? He never sees Jesus as a person. Jesus is an idea. Jesus has a messianic claim that Jesus is a pathway to the kingdom and the riches and the sitting at your right hand and all the things you might want.
He wants what Jesus can give him. There’s no indication he wants Jesus. How do you not stop running? You got to keep your eye on the finish line.
So even today, and I trust that everyone in this room really loves Jesus and is genuinely a follower of him but even if that’s you, and you Do love Jesus, keep focusing on him as you run, as I draw this to a close, a recent book I just wrote is actually in a weird sense about this about not losing the faith. Some of you might have heard of my book, this rapture was released this week called surviving religion 101. The subtitle is letters to a Christian student on keeping the faith in college. It’s how this isn’t in the title, of course, how it’s a it’s basically a natural plasticizing college right? Here’s the effective title of it. But I’m, I’m excited about this because I do a lot of the same themes in there about how to keep your focus on truth. In the Christian life, the RTS book table was kind as, as I walked away to this talk today said, Tell everybody the talk that the first 10 people at the RTS booth after the talk that say they were at the talk, since you’re here, you can do that. You can get a free copy a free signed copy, actually of the book. So just don’t trip over someone on the way over there. But 10 copies if you’re interested in that. So thanks for being here. I’m going to stay up front for those who want to chat but let me close us in a word of prayer. Lord, grateful for this theme grateful for these men and women who love you, Lord, keep us focused on the glories of Christ, that that might keep us running. Help us understand and have compassion on those who struggle with apostasy. And Lord just encourage us that you do keep those you love. We pray all this in Christ’s name, amen.