The Restoration Principle

8 — Individual Apostasy

“Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:11,12).

CONTRARY TO WHAT MANY PEOPLE BELIEVE, THE SCRIPTURES TEACH THAT A CHRISTIAN CAN END UP BEING LOST. Surely, nothing would be sadder. As tragic as it is when a person rejects the gospel initially, it is even more heartbreaking when a person who has obeyed the gospel begins making choices that will, if not reversed, separate him from Christ in eternity (2 Peter 2:20–22).

Freedom of will means that we can change our minds, and some utilize that freedom to revoke their decision about the truth of the gospel. They may decide they no longer believe there is a God, or they may decide the gospel is false and adopt one of the other world religions. More often, a person may apostatize by hypocrisy, moral corruption, doctrinal heresy, divisiveness, lack of love for the Lord and His people, or other spiritually destructive things.

However, one of our greatest temptations today involves something our first-century brethren did not have to deal with quite as much because it only began to take shape toward the end of the first century, and that is the worldwide body of “Christendom,” the apostate form of Christianity which is the modern descendant of the defection from the faith which the apostles predicted (2 Timothy 4:3,4). Today, apostate churches boldly discard any first-century practice which they consider passé. Can it be denied, then, that for a Christian to leave those who want to honor apostolic authority in a serious way, and having left, to embrace the world of apostate Christianity, is to take a large step, not toward Christ but away from Him?

No matter which kind of apostasy may threaten us, the greatest danger is that we will drift into it. Without admitting that the progression of our thinking has, by slight increments, led us further and further away from the first-century faith, we often deny that anything has changed — and the devil loves to have it so. So let us be vigilant. May we draw a line in the dirt and let the devil know for certain that we will not submit to being led into apostasy.

Renew the courage that prevails,
The steady faith that never fails,
And makes us stand in every fight
Firm as a fortress to defend the right.
(Henry Van Dyke)

Gary Henry — +

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