Perseverance Is Better Than Apostasy: An Encouragement To Christians
A word of encouragement to my brothers and sisters in Christ...
I am compelled to write this post as I finish listening to yet another podcast interview where a “Christian” I once deeply respected gleefully announced they are no longer a Christian.
They no longer believe.
They no longer want anything to do with God...at least the God of orthodox, biblical Christianity.
On top of that, they now feel free and liberated. Almost as if they have been born again.
Now, I realize this story is nothing new. Once professing Christians falling away from Jesus has been commonplace since the Fall. But with the rise of social media, these stories are being highlighted and platformed, even celebrated, in yes, unprecedented ways.
And it makes me really sad...even sick to my stomach, if I'm being honest.
I hate these stories.
And yet, these stories shouldn't surprise us. They really shouldn't. Not if we know our Bibles.
Scripture is clear that many who once professed what appeared to be genuine faith and trust in Christ, will choose to turn and walk away from him. And they will do so joyfully, without one bit of regret. In fact, they will celebrate it and they will get others to join them in the celebration.
Just thinking about this sad state of affairs makes my stomach turn.
Of course, we read about this kind of "falling away," this kind of "apostasy," all through Scripture. For example, in John 6, we read of an episode where Jesus delivers a hard teaching to his followers and the next thing you know, “...many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.”
The Apostle Paul addresses this issue of apostasy many times throughout his letters. For example, he writes in 1 Timothy 4:1, “Now the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will depart from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”
And then in 2 Timothy 4:3-4, Paul writes, "For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths."
Or how about the Apostle John speaking of self-professing believers who ultimately chose to take a different path, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us (1 John 2:19).
You see, the Scriptures are clear: Not all self-professing Christians are truly Christians. Not all who "appear" to start the race of faith strong will finish the race of faith strong.
This is why the Scriptures, in particular the book of Hebrews, is so adamant in encouraging and exhorting God's people to persevere to the end! To not give up and to not let up. To not be misled. To not buy into false teaching when everyone around us is. To not get lazy in our thinking, but rather to stay diligent in our seeking after the truth. To not become arrogant or prideful, but rather to stay humble and soft before the Lord, sensitive to the Holy Spirit as He teaches us in accordance with God's perfect, authoritative Word.
So, here's the deal. In the face of so much glorified apostasy in our day, I am absolutely compelled to passionately and unapologetically encourage you, if you are a true disciple of Jesus:
Keep running hard after God, even if it feels like you're the only one!
Let me say that again with all the love in my heart: Keep running hard after God, even if it feels like you're the only one!
Even when those around you abandon Jesus, keep running after Him with all that you are. As those around you find another path, another way, another system of belief, another religion or spiritual philosophy, another distortion of true, orthodox, biblical Christianity...cling to Christ and His Word ever more tightly, trusting in His amazing, sovereign grace that will ultimately never let you go.
Following Jesus is not easy...it never has been and it never will be, not this side of the new heavens and new earth. He himself said so in Luke 9, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. “
And yet, this very same Jesus who calls us to die and follow him is the very One who died in our place in order to redeem us, make us new, and fill us with His Spirit that we might actually be able to do all that He commands. And to do so with joy! And passion! And deep, deep love for God and others!
What a kind and gracious Savior He is.
So, for the true believer, for the sold-out disciple of Christ...
...for the one who desires above all else to love Jesus, to keep in step with the Spirit, to glorify God, and to persevere in faith to the end...
...to the one who longs to follow Jesus even if everyone else chooses to turn their backs on Him,
...for you, Christian, remember these truths and preach them to yourself over and over again:
But the one who endures to the end will be saved. - Matthew 24:13
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. - James 1:12
But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. - Galatians 1:8-9
And you will be hated by all for my name's sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. - Mark 13:13
Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers. - 1 Timothy 4:16
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. - Hebrews 10:23
So Jesus said to (those) who had believed in him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples... - John 8:31
To those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. - Romans 2:7
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain. - 1 Corinthians 15:58
May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. - Colossians 1:11-12
Brothers and sisters, keep running hard after God, even if it feels like you're the only one!
Trust in His all-sufficient grace, submit to His Word, be led by His Spirit, surround yourself with other sold-out followers of Jesus, persevere to the end!
And never, ever forget the good news of Philippians 1:6 that "he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ."
Keep your eyes on Him. He will complete His Work in you.
He promises to do so. And He never breaks His promises.
What love. What grace.