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Q. Is Apostasy Fatal/Final?

Question: When I Was Saved, I Became An Enthusiastic Follower Of Jesus. Then I Came Across The Writings Of A False Teacher And Was Persuaded That Jesus Was Not The Promised Messiah Of The Old Testament. I Have Come To See That I Was Wrong, And Desire To Follow Jesus Again. Have I Committed The Unpardonable Sin, So That This Is No Longer Possible For Me?

Answer

Thanks for your question. I know it is vitally important for you.

The first question I would ask (and I think you should too) is this: “What part did your works play in your salvation?” In other words, did your salvation depend completely upon Christ’s work on the cross of Calvary, or partly on your works? The gospel makes that quite clear:

But “when the kindness of God our Savior and his love for mankind appeared, 5 he saved us not by works of righteousness that we have done but on the basis of his mercy, through the washing of the new birth and the renewing of the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us in full measure through Jesus Christ our Savior. 7 And so, since we have been justified by his grace, we become heirs with the confident expectation of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7, NET).

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 it is not from works, so that no one can boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Although you began with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? (Galatians 3:2-3)

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, (Col. 2:6 NAU)

The point to all of this is that you are sanctified (made holy) in the same way you got saved, and that is by trusting in the person and work of Jesus Christ, rather than in your works. It is true that you drew back for a time, but you have repented and renewed your faith in Christ. This being the case, I would say several things.

First, God blinds those who have committed the unpardonable sin, so that they won’t believe in Christ for salvation (and you are not blind):

When he was alone, those around him with the twelve asked him about the parables. 11 He said to them, “The secret of the kingdom of God has been given to you. But to those outside, everything is in parables, 12 so that although they look they may look but not see, and although they hear they may hear but not understand, so they may not repent and be forgiven” (Mark 4:10-12).

The arrival of the lawless one will be by Satan’s working with all kinds of miracles and signs and false wonders, 10 and with every kind of evil deception directed against those who are perishing, because they found no place in their hearts for the truth so as to be saved. 11 Consequently God sends on them a deluding influence so that they will believe what is false. 12 And so all of them who have not believed the truth but have delighted in evil will be condemned (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12).

God blinds the eyes of those who have rejected Him, so that they cannot see (grasp) the gospel, and believe, and be saved. You do see the gospel, and desire to be a child of God through faith in Jesus, so that should indicate that you have not committed an unpardonable sin.

Second, I don’t see that you are greatly different from Peter, who denied his Lord, but later returned and became a leader of men for Christ:

“Simon, Simon, pay attention! Satan has demanded to have you all, to sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you, Simon, that your faith may not fail. When you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31-32).

Third, as I look back at the sins of the nation Israel, an appeal was never made to God, based on the fact that Israel would do better, but rather on the fact that God had committed Himself to save this people, and thus His reputation and glory were at stake. It was on this basis that God continued His saving work with this stiff-necked and rebellious people:

But Moses sought the favor of the LORD his God and said, “O LORD, why does your anger burn against your people, whom you have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians say, ‘For evil he led them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger, and relent of this evil against your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel your servants, to whom you swore by yourself and told them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken about I will give to your descendants, and they will inherit it forever.’” 14 Then the LORD relented over the evil that he had said he would do to his people (Exodus 32:11-14).

Fourth, consider Paul’s words here:

This saying is trustworthy: If we died with him, we will also live with him. 12 If we endure, we will also reign with him. If we deny him, he will also deny us. 13 If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, since he cannot deny himself (2 Timothy 2:11-13).

At first glance you may think I picked the wrong verses. But I believe otherwise. First, the word “endure” (v. 12) does not mean that we never fail, but only that we press on, if and when we fail. Second, the word “deny” is the word that is twice used to describe Peter’s “denial” of Jesus in Matthew 26:70, 72 and Mark 14:68, 70. Peter repented of his denial, and Jesus restored him to fellowship, and even to leadership in the church. But that third word, “faithless” is so often descriptive of the believer at various moments in his or her spiritual experience. But even when we are faithless, our God remains faithful. Thankfully, our salvation rests on His faithfulness, not our sinlessness and good works.

Fifth, your question brought to mind Paul’s words to the Corinthian church (in both 1st and 2nd Corinthians). We see at the beginning of 1 Corinthians (chapter 1) that there are divisions in the church, based upon the saints following particular men as their leaders. (Paul uses the names, Paul, Apollos, and Cephas, and even Christ, to refer to the leaders they follow, but later in 1 Corinthians 4:6 he makes it plain that these are not the leaders, but are merely apostles’ names used figuratively to refer to the various leaders who seek a personal following.) By the time we reach 2 Corinthians 11, we learn that these teachers, who claim apostolic authority, are really “false apostles,” appearing as “angels of light.” They are really Satan’s servants (2 Corinthians 11:12-15). Paul’s purpose in writing these epistles is to expose these false apostles as being false apostles, so that the Corinthians will turn again to the truth, and cease following false apostles. I see this in Paul’s concluding words in 2 Corinthians 13:

Put yourselves to the test to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize regarding yourselves that Jesus Christ is in you– unless, indeed, you fail the test! 6 And I hope that you will realize that we have not failed the test! 7 Now we pray to God that you may not do anything wrong, not so that we may appear to have passed the test, but so that you may do what is right even if we may appear to have failed the test. 8 For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the sake of the truth. 9 For we rejoice whenever we are weak, but you are strong. And we pray for this: that you may become fully qualified. 10 Because of this I am writing these things while absent, so that when I arrive I may not have to deal harshly with you by using my authority– the Lord gave it to me for building up, not for tearing down! (2 Corinthians 13:5-10)

I believe this is also what we find in Revelation 2 and 3. These churches had false teachers among them. Our Lord’s words of warning were meant to warn these saints, so that they would return to the truth. I believe that God’s Word is saying the same thing to you. You followed a false teacher, and then came to recognize this, and returned to Christ. Hold firm to that!

Finally, this incident just came to my mind:

As the night was ending, Jesus came to them walking on the sea. 26 When the disciples saw him walking on the water they were terrified and said, “It’s a ghost!” and cried out with fear. 27 But immediately Jesus spoke to them: “Have courage! It is I. Do not be afraid.” 28 Peter said to him, “Lord, if it is you, order me to come to you on the water.” 29 So he said, “Come.” Peter got out of the boat, walked on the water, and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the strong wind he became afraid. And starting to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” 31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him, saying to him, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” 32 When they went up into the boat, the wind ceased. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God” (Matthew 14:25-33).

My friend, I think you are “looking at your feet” (your faithfulness), rather than at Jesus (on whom your salvation rests).

Bob Deffinbaugh

Related Topics: Assurance, Christian Life, Soteriology (Salvation)

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