noun, plural a·pos·ta·sies.
a total desertion of or departure from one’s religion, principles, party, cause, etc.
In our nation we have many apostates. Apostates is someone who is in the state of apostasy. Okay Okay I crossed a line I labeled someone. The truth is still the truth. There are many in our nation who have deserted their religion or faith. They always seem to have a reason. They can come up with many reasons such as Christianity is a myth just like other myths. They say if their is a God then why is this world so hurting. They say that they just can’t live by the standards that Jesus proclaims (what those standards are of mostly misunderstood but that is another post) so they chose not to. They say many many things but in the end they have deserted their religion or faith. That makes them apostates.
This brings many questions the foremost to many is “Can an apostate ever return?” This is a much debated question. There are two main arguments that have dealt with this for a long long time. The first one is Calvinism which simply states that once you make a decision for Christ there is no turning back and you can not become an apostate. While the other extreme is Arminian where once you have become apostate there is no coming back. Wesley had a different view that is you chose to become apostate then you can chose to come back under the grace and mercy of Christ.
Here is where I stand on this topic first I think that to be saved we need to make a choice to serve Jesus.
that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;
This is clear that you must confess and believe then Jesus forgives you and saves you. I think often we are to quick to use sales techniques on getting folks to pray the sinners prayer. I find that Jesus never did that. He was hard and not easy. What he said was so hard that at one point almost all those large crowds that seem to follow Him everywhere left Him and He turned to His disciples and said to them are you also going to leave Me.
Once that choice is made I believe we are able to un make that choice and turn our backs on Christ. We can choose to leave Him. I do not believe that God wants to force folks to serve Him who do not want to serve Him. Thus the whole reason for Faith and it is not just about believing that God exist (as the Bible says the demons believe and tremble) but it is more about submitting ourselves to His absolute authority. This is hard pill to swallow. I have noticed that when someone is first saved it is easy for a bit to follow Jesus and all He wants. It quickly gets harder though. Everything starts to go south and life sucks. So we turn to Jesus and find that we do not get our expectations met. This is where many people leave and go their own way then becoming apostate.
If someone makes it through these initial troubles and learn something about living for Jesus and what that actually means and how He has decided to work in someone then the next challenge is often when someone has worked hard doing the correct thing and they expect a reward or recognition from God and they either do not get it or even if they do they find that it falls short. The reason for this is because in their heart that is what they wanted. They wanted the recognition or the reward. God says that is all they will get then. At this point many people get discouraged and become depressed. This is hard battle for Christians. The basic reason is because they believe that Christians should not have these struggles. This of course is not true. Read the Bible many great men and women of God struggled with emotions the ups and downs and everything in between. If they allow this disappointment to continue in time they get discouraged and quit being part of a body of believers and grow cold. There is often a point after this that they reject Christianity because it did not meet their expectations. In doing this they also become apostate.
There are many such instances where someone can do this the questions is there redemption is there a chance to return or a chance to repent or a chance to come back. YES.
Now that being said I also think that there comes a point where there is no return. On both sides. I mean I think there is a point where someone has made such choices where they will never want to come to Christ and a point where one has such a true relationship with Christ where they will never even think of going back (not perfect but true). This is a topic for a different discussion. I just wanted to set the stage now I am going to discuss the next part the part about child like faith. Then I will tie it all together.
13 And they were bringing children to Him so that He might touch them; but the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw this, He was indignant and said to them, “Permit the children to come to Me; do not hinder them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.
15 Truly I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it at all.” 16 And He took them in His arms and began blessing them, laying His hands on them.
There are many other passages that go along the same lines as this passage. The basic concept here is believing as children believe.
Let me state an example so that it will be clearer. When you were a child and your mom said “Do not touch the stove it is hot and you will burn your hand” as a child you believed her. Even if you still had a desire to do it you still believed. You did not question is it hot or is she lying to me you simply believed. Lets take it even deeper now. When you were a young child and you mother said “I love you.” you believed her. This was not a philosophical debate in you whether your mom loved you or not. (I realize that as folks get older they may go through this debate). The simplicity and innocent core of a child means they trust and they believe with out having to understand without having to have everything explained to them or without having a flow chart on the wall explaining the properties of physics as to why the stove is gets hot and how the heat burns your hand as well as what the next step should be or will be depending on how long you left it on. All the child needs to know and expects to know is do not touch the stove or my mom loves me.
As we get older we start to add all sort of things and barriers to believing anything told us. We start to question everything and even, in many cases, throw out all traditional ways for completely new ways. We oft think that new ways are better simply because they are new. We have lost the simplicity of children.
Ask any 6 year old and they will tell that most things in life really are black or white, right or wrong, good or bad. They are blunt about it and they understand. Far to many adults have lost the ability to take things at face value and believe.
We call this maturing and adult. We call this good. God does not in fact He so does not that He says if you can not come to Him as a child does (just believing) then you have no part in Him. This is tough to swallow for most. They believe their reasoning abilities should be taken into consideration. As if they have something to add to the situation. As humans we want to be more important then we are. Maybe a better way to say this is we want to do things that are above us like a child does. Children always want to do things they are not old enough to do and by the time they get old enough to do them they no longer want to they want something else they are not old enough to do.
God says our value comes not from what we do but from Him and Him alone. That is also a hard pill to swallow. How are we to set aside our own ideas and our own way of being? Job answers this well. After Job’s friends come around and condemn him over and over again based on their knowledge or their wisdom God steps in. He shows them that they are only mere children to Him. He challenged them in their understand and no one could stand before Him even Job could not who God found blameless. The reason is this earth is only a stage to prepare us for the real life that comes once we leave this earth. The problem is many do not understand this and their life is one that they want and not God. I think of our time here on earth like a child in the womb of his/her mother. The child may very well think they are masters of their realm. They have no idea in anyway what is about to happen. They could not know. They have no way of seeing the outside until the outside sees them. The only clues they could have would be the sounds they hear but they have no reference so they are not able to tie the sound to anything. In the same way the earth is our womb and Heaven is real life. If God had not revealed Himself to us then we would have no way of knowing who He was. We could not have known that the earth is created or that people have some place to go after our time of growth in the womb. Even though there are things in creation that scream out Creator with out having the knowledge revealed to us that there was a Creator they would only be like white noise to us. They would have no meaning. We are only able to understand them because of revealed knowledge that God gave humanity. Here comes the problem with this. Many folks once they are out of the womb they are born into either heaven or hell. So many like heave but many of those same folks dismiss hell as figurative. The Bible is clear that both are real. Our time in this womb of earth prepares us for one or the other. If we want heaven then we need to believe Jesus like a child does. Then we can truly start to mature and learn what is real. Remember the Bible states that this earth is only a shadow of what is to come. What we see here reflects similarities to what we will see in heaven but is in no real way the same out side of the reflection as in a mirror.
Our own intellect will never prevail our own wisdom will never prevail our pragmatism will never prevail we will never prevail. The essence of coming to Jesus as a child is just that. We are still in the womb and anything that is truly enduring and real can only be done when Jesus does it with us. That is like a child being helped by his Parent to fix a car that the child could not even attempt if he was to do it by himself.
Now I want to tie this all together. A bit weird putting these two subjects together but I strongly believe they are antithesis to each other.
Most apostates would consider themselves mature and adult while most Christians would consider themselves like little children. I think the reason apostates become apostate is because they look to God using their own expectations their own reasonings or their own wisdom. They think they know enough and can reason well enough to figure out God and when they can’t they figure there could be no God and this must be emotional, myth or some sort. They can not imagine they may be actually wrong. Think of Job’s friends they could not be wrong, as they sat their accusing Job over and over again. The sad thing is even Job figured they had to be correct but he knew they were not so he was faced with a dichotomy and was not sure how to solve this problem. Most apostates are stuck in this same dichotomy but they have decided and they decided that God is not their or if He is He can’t be how the Bible states it He must be aloof and uncaring. I will not start this argument in this post. I want to stay on how these tie together but I will most definitely do this discussion some time.
I want folks to really think (especially if you are apostate) why we have such a hard to believing like children do. This will go a long ways to coming back to God from where ever you are.
I am dangerously close to the magic 2500 words our post should not pass. I will stop then because I do hope to have someone read all this LOL.