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Mission Impossible: Deconversion from Saving Faith in Christ

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman
The Truth Network Radio
January 29, 2024 1:00 am

Mission Impossible: Deconversion from Saving Faith in Christ

Beacon Baptist / Gregory N. Barkman

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January 29, 2024 1:00 am

What does the Bible say about those who profess faith in Christ but later -deconvert- or recant their faith-- Pastor Bob La Tour preaches from the scripture about this important subject.

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Well, if you would, once again, turn in your Bibles to the book of Jude. And as you're turning, let me read part of the introduction of this book that Dr. John MacArthur had in his study Bible. He said, John MacArthur states that Jude is the only New Testament book devoted exclusively to confronting apostasy, meaning defection from the true biblical faith. He wrote to condemn the apostates and to urge believers to contend for the faith. He called for discernment on the part of the church and rigorous defense of biblical truth. Beloved tonight, the title of my message is Mission Impossible, Deconversion from Saving Faith in Christ.

I think the title lets you know what my opinion is of deconversion, mission impossible. And I hope tonight that we'll share through the word some principles that can give us joy and confidence if we're in Christ. If there are any here who are hearing this message, or we'll hear it later, who think that you can deconvert from a saving relationship with Jesus Christ, I hope they'll seriously reconsider. And I trust that the Lord will use this.

I mentioned in my Sunday school class, and I try to have this attitude every week, for me to fail to realize the need for power, and to rest content in just preparation is pretty foolhardy. I have prepared, but I would like you to pray that the Lord will empower the message that would go forth in ways that would please him. I want to reread the text that we read earlier, beginning with verse four of Jude, Jude a bond-servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James to those who are called, sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ. Mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you. Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith, which is once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation. Ungodly men, who turned the grace of our God into lewdness, and deny the only Lord God and Lord Jesus Christ, as we did before, if you would, drop down to verse 20. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life, and on some have compassion, making a distinction, but others, saved with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh. People denying the faith is nothing new.

The faith refers to the whole body of revealed salvation truth, revealed in the scripture. In our day, this affection by once professing Christians from the teachings of the Christian religion is being referred to as deconversion, and I put that in quotes. This so-called deconversion is preceded by what is labeled deconstruction. In her book, another gospel, Elisa Childress states, quote, deconstruction is a postmodern process of rethinking your faith, but not regarding scripture as a standard. According to postmodernism, there is no objective reality, there's only human will and a meaningless world, God, science, reality, truth, nature, and knowledge are all names for oppressive systems of power relations. She goes on, all norms of behavior are merely one group's preference imposed on others. None have any more validity than any other. In other words, there is no absolute truth.

Do what you think is right for you. John MacArthur states in relation to this, let me find it, John MacArthur states that the word apostasy comes from the Greek word translated falling away. Apostates are those who fall away from the true faith, abandoning what they formerly profess to believe.

The term describes those whose beliefs are so deficient as to place them outside the pale of true Christianity. True Christians do not apostasize. Those who fall away in apostasy demonstrate that their faith was never real to begin with. My prayer is that this message will make it abundantly clear that true conversion entailing repentance and faith is irreversible because it is fundamentally and essentially a work of God's grace for his glory. Let me say that last part again. True conversion entailing repentance and faith is irreversible because it is fundamentally and essentially a work of God's grace for his glory.

I want to define some terms, conversion, deconstruction, and deconversion. Before I do, let me say this. This is the next great battlefield in spiritual warfare. I was amazed at listening to a blog after I had prepared the message that this movement, and it is a movement, has coaches, deconversion coaches. The author that I quoted earlier said that she got on a blog and was listening to people talking back and forth, and this one person ended up saying, I'm finally free from belief in hell, and the response of the several other people on the blog were words of encouragement and cheering.

It is mind-boggling that we've come to this, an open assault to try to get professing Christians to deny what they professed to believe. Definition of terms, conversion is a spiritual turning away from sin and repentance to God and to Christ by faith. You find that in Acts 20, verse 21, Paul spoke of testifying to Jews and also to Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. Conversion results in the person being born from above or becoming a new creation in Christ as God's workmanship. So it's of God. Reconstruction is a process of critically rethinking one's understanding of what it means to be a Christian. From the website Graceful Atheist, I get the following. Deconstruction is often the process of becoming less fundamentalist in one's faith. It usually entails the rejection of scripture being inerrant or authoritative. Then one's theology is liberalized to accommodate the modern world. Typically, but not always, the person is still a person of faith. When I read that, I would ask this question, faith in what or in whom, if not in the scriptures and in Christ. To reject the printed scriptures as the inspired, inerrant, authoritative word of God is to reject the personified scriptures in the Lord Jesus Christ. The word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. Beloved, true Christians do not interpret and apply the Bible based on accommodating the modern world.

We don't do that. We bring the unchanging word of God to bear upon our interactions with the world that's in a moral fall. Every day that goes by, the moral decline becomes greater and greater.

And also, the world at large is becoming more and more intolerant of true Christianity. I want to give a clarification here under this word deconstruction. A Christian using scripture to interpret scripture to address honest questions is not deconstructing.

Let me say that again. A Christian using scripture to interpret scripture to address honest questions is not deconstructing. He or she is seeking to rightly divide the word of truth.

I think anyone in here tonight, in your Christian development, you will question different things and that can be very healthy. We use scripture to interpret scripture. Scripture is central in that and it's, from my perspective, part of my sanctification.

I'll give you an illustration of that in the message a bit later. So conversion is a spiritual turning away from sin and repentance to God and to Christ by faith. Deconstruction is a process of critically rethinking one's understanding what it means to be a Christian. That usually entails the rejection of scripture, being inerrant or authoritative. And then this last word, deconversion, and I put that in quotes. Deconversion is the notion that a person who once professed to be a Christian can reject all that he once believed and can stop being a Christian.

Listen carefully to this statement. Verbal profession of faith in Christ is not the same as vital possession by Christ. Verbal profession of faith in Christ is not the same as vital possession by Christ. First Corinthians 6, 19 and 20, believers are reminded, we're not our own. We're bought with a price. First Peter 2, 9 tells us what that price is.

It's the precious blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Graceful Atheist website also had the following. And this is mind boggling, but the author of this says, deconversion is when one is no longer capable of believing in a transcendent theistic God whether one wants to or not. It may be time to retire doctrines that no longer work in the modern world, like inerrancy of scripture, creationism, or ancient social morality, ancient social morality. Just use that as a backdrop of the morality that you see in our world today.

You can see why they put the term ancient there. This stage is an embracing of science, education, and modern ethics. And we have to ask the question, how is that working out? How is it working out by embracing science, education, and modern ethics? And the answer is pretty dismal.

Here is a problem. In this excerpt that I had, it had this, no longer capable of believing. The problem is this, the notion of no longer being capable of believing in a transcendent theistic God whether one wants to or not reveals an ignorance of the condition of the natural man. Turn to 1 Corinthians 2, if you would.

And as you're turning, let me read that again. The notion of no longer being able of believing in a transcendent theistic God whether one wants to or not reveals an ignorance of the condition of the natural man. 1 Corinthians 2, and I want us to look at verses 11 through 14. And in this text, it's abundantly clear that faith and repentance are foreign to the heart of natural men and their gifts of God. Faith and repentance cannot be generated by the capabilities of sinful men. Look at verse 11, just the first part of it. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of man which is in him? What does that mean? It means a physically dead person is not indwelt by the spirit of life and therefore cannot and will not respond to physical stimuli.

Make sense? Put another way, a body without a spirit is a physical corpse. Now we look at the second part of verse 11 through 14 and notice Paul says, even so, just like a person without the spirit of life is dead, even so, no one knows the things of God except the spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit who is from God that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man's wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

Now notice this, but the natural man does not receive the things of the spirit of God for they are foolishness to him, nor can he know them because they are spiritually discerned. In other words, a spiritually dead person is not indwelt by the spirit of God, therefore cannot and will not respond to spiritual stimuli in a saving way. Put another way, a heart without the indwelling Holy Spirit is a spiritual corpse. If you don't have the spirit of life, you're a physical corpse. If you don't have the spirit of God, you're a spiritual corpse. The natural man has never been able and capable of believing unto salvation because the depravity that permeates every fiber of his being. I'll just give you three of many texts. Jeremiah 17, 9, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked.

Who can know it? Genesis 8, 21, the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth. And Ephesians 2, 3 states, believers were by nature children of wrath, just as the others.

And we're all well aware that there is such a thing as non-saving faith. In the parable of the soils in Matthew 13, Jesus said, as for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while and when tribulation or persecution arises on the account of the word, immediately he falls away. And those words falls away mean to distrust and desert one whom he ought to trust and obey. Stephen Lawson says the following, the most stark example of a false conversion we have in scripture is that of Judas Iscariot. In a counterfeit conversion, there is no death to self, no submission to the lordship of Christ, no taking up a cross, no obedience in following Christ, no fruit of repentance, only empty words, shallow feelings, and barren religious activities.

Well said. A shallowness that is not true conversion. First John 2, 19 is written to believers and it refers to false teachers whom John calls into Christ who deny the Father and the Son. Listen what it says, First John 2, 19. 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 they might be made manifest that none of them were of us.

That word of refers to inclusion in a number, class, or whole. Bottom line, these individuals were not part of this group of believers. In John chapter 10, verses 26 to 28, Jesus told some Jews in the temple this, but you do not believe because you're not of my sheep as I said to you. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me and I give them eternal life and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone snaps them out of my hand. Notice what he did not say. He did not say you are not of my sheep because you do not believe.

I'm going to read that again so we don't miss it. First of all, he said you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. He did not say you are not of my sheep because you do not believe.

That's huge. That is God-centered versus man-centered. And we believe because we are, if you do believe, it's because you are one of God's sheep. So many scriptures make that clear. Point two that we want to look at, we've looked at the definitions and fleshed them out, but the determining factor in the conversion and perseverance of individuals is God's will, not man's. Conversion is dependent upon God and not determined by man. Conversion is dependent upon God and not determined by man.

Remember what conversion is? It's a turning from sin into God. On 1, 12 through 13, familiar verses, but as many as received him, to them he gave the right to become the children of God. To those who believe in his name, who were born, notice this, not of blood, nor the will of the flesh, nor the will of man, but of God.

It's not heredity. It's not the will of natural man. It's not the will of other believers. It's the will of God that saves a person. Few Christians persevere in the faith because God preserves them from their initial predestined conversion to their eventual glorification. He keeps us.

He preserves us from the start to the finish. Turn over to Romans 8, if you would, please. Familiar verses that I'm going to share, but we're going to add some to it that I think will give a new light on this. But Romans chapter 8, in a moment, I will read 28 through 30, but listen to this if you would. It always pays for us to find out to whom is a book written. Romans is written to those beloved of God, called to be saints.

Let me repeat that. Romans is written to those beloved of God, called to be saints. And I want to make this statement now as we go forward from this point on, have your radar turned on to be able to pick up the word love because it'll permeate the rest of the message. Verse 28, and we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his son, then he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover, whom he predestined, these he called, whom he called, these he also justified, and whom he justified, these he also glorified. I once believed that the word foreknew simply meant that God knew beforehand who would choose to believe in Christ. The problem with that is it made man's choice the deciding factor and it relegated God to be a divine reactor. Man acted and God reacted. And I swallowed that for some time, hook, line, and sinker. But in study and in hearing messages as well, I came to realize the importance of the words whom he foreknew.

Whom refers to people, not to decisions. Drop down to verses 38 and 39 and listen to the word love again. Paul declares, for I am persuaded that neither death nor life nor angels nor principalities nor powers nor things present nor things to come nor height nor depth nor any other created thing shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. I came to realize that the word foreknew means to love intimately before or to love like Adam knowing his wife Eve and the result of him knowing his wife Eve, she conceived Cain, Abel, Seth, and others. It is an intimacy.

It is an intimate relation. We become one with Christ as his bride. Romans 5-8, but God demonstrates his own love toward us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 1 John 4-10, in this is love, not that we've loved God, but that he loved us and sent us unto be the propitiation for our sins. There are numerous other texts in John, Ephesians, Galatians that speak of God loving and giving.

Loving and then giving. 1 John 4-19 is also written to believers and it says this insightful truth. We love him because he first loved us. We react, not God.

He initiates and we react, we respond. Conversion is dynamic. God is the initiator and completer of salvation from start to finish. It involves, in it being dynamic, it involves a change of mind concerning God and self and sin in Christ. I would, without hesitation, state that anyone here who's truly converted has had a change of mind concerning God and listen, it isn't a one time change. It's an ongoing change as we go from glory to glory and we have a greater awe for who God is and a greater adoration for what God has done in his grace and mercy on our behalf. It involves a change of mind concerning God, self, sin and Christ. It involves a change of will.

It's not a partial change when you're able to straddle a fence between two worlds. Beloved, biblical conversion is not one of many options that you can discard if it doesn't work for you and that's the problem with people who think they were converted. I wanted to be doing right in doing this, but in my spiritual immaturity, I was doing something very unbiblical.

After I got out of college, I took driver's education classes, probably one of the dumbest things I've ever done in my life, but I took driver's education classes at Towson State. I wanted to be a testimony at that secular college. The church that I attended at the time had about 1,200 people, it was high pressure, bus ministry, carnival atmosphere, I'm ashamed of some things that I was involved in, to get people in. My wife worked in the office and it was very obvious they'd have the same kids baptized every six to seven weeks until you got the big picture, you didn't realize this was happening when you got 1,200 people there.

They had buttons that they gave out and some of them were good, you could put a button on and the button, like we would have today, might have a good message to it that would cause people to think. The one that disappoints me and myself now was just a couple of words, it says, try Jesus if your God is dead. What word is the problem? Try. You don't try Jesus if your God is dead. And that's what I mean when I say biblical conversion is not one of many options that you can discard if it doesn't work for you. And then finally, not only a change of mind and of will, but a change of affections and of feelings that include a sorrow for sins committed against a holy and just God and gratitude, increased gratitude for his long suffering grace. We sin daily, folks. We sin daily. Praise God for his gracious long suffering.

A note of caution is in order here. Religious experience is not the same as personal conversion. Religious experience is not the same as personal conversion. I'm going to read Hebrews 6, 4 through 6. That is a tough passage that Pastor B will be expositing in the weeks ahead. That is a tough passage. I'll give you an explanation from commentaries at the end of this. But let me explain, let me give you a couple of examples of religious experience. People could come into Beacon Baptist Church and I would like to think, and I have had people say this, that they sense a different spirit. Does that make sense?

Why? Because we are locked into being true to the word of God. This is not a show. This is declaring the word of God, knowing that we will receive the greater condemnation, knowing that to whom much is given, much will be required. But we don't come in here poker faced. We are eternally secure in Christ.

That's cause for rejoicing. They can have a religious experience. Boy, those people are the most loving, giving, welcoming people I've ever seen. They get this second hand religious experience. Two weeks later, they're not even attending here anymore.

It's just a revolving door, okay? So that's what we mean by religious experience. I think it's great that our kids go to Christian camp.

I do. But if you're not careful, you can confuse true conversion from a religious experience. And I love the camp that they attend, I do. But if you're not careful, you can confuse a religious experience with conversion. And when you come down off the mountain, reality hits. And I've seen that. You could go to a concert, you young people perhaps, and get a religious experience. And I'll guarantee you, a frightening percentage of that audience is getting a religious experience. If you listen to the lyrics of some of the songs, they are not just blah, they are unbiblical. Not all of them.

I'm not throwing the baby out with the bath bomb. Just giving you an example of the religious experience. Now listen to Hebrews 6, 4 through 6. The writer says, it is impossible for those who were once enlightened and have tasted the heavenly gift and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit and have tasted the good Word of God and the powers of the age to come if they fall away to renew them again to repentance. Of this text, Sinclair Ferguson warns, quote, the truth and power of the gospel were experienced, but experience in itself is not regeneration unless gospel grace penetrates into the heart. Hebrews 6, 4 through 6 makes no mention of the crucified one being trusted and sin being rejected. Rather, despite rich spiritual experiences, heart unbelief and rejection of Christ are grimly possible. John MacArthur's helpful notes in his study Bible also debunk the notion that this text refers to converted people. What did we just go over? Beware of religious experience at the expense of true conversion.

That's what we're referring to. We go on. How does conversion take place in the will of God? How does it take place? Theologically speaking, regeneration and conversion are two sides of the same coin.

What do we mean? Regeneration precedes and produces conversion. It's a cause and effect relationship between these two. Regeneration is the cause, conversion is the effect.

Put it another way. Regeneration is the root and conversion is the fruit. God must do a work in dead hearts before dead hearts will do anything spiritually significant, before they'll do more than play religion.

Regeneration defined. It's a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit granting spiritual life to dead sinners. This is not a work in which man contributes, but it's a work of God alone.

Much as an infant receives no credit for being born, man receives no glory from being regenerated by God. I want you to turn at this point to Ephesians 1, if you would. And let me say this as we get into this section of the message tonight. Those of you who attend Beacon on a regular basis know that we have a, I think, an exemplary missions program.

We are missions minded. Our faith promise program is evident of that, so keep that as a backdrop of what we're going to share next. Ephesians 1. Ephesians was written to the saints who are in Ephesus, so it's written to believers. It says to the saints who are in Ephesus and faithful in Christ Jesus. And as we share several texts under how conversion takes place, I want you to ask yourself this question. Listen to this, if you would. As we go through these texts, ask yourself if the message of these verses is the language of merely possible, likely probable, or sovereignly providential.

Can I read that again? Ask yourself the question, is the message of these verses that we are reading, is it merely possible, likely probable, or sovereignly providential? And you'll see what I mean as we read these. Four things under this that I want us to get in the first is God intends the regeneration of those he predestined and chose for adoption.

He intends it. Notice Ephesians 1, four through six. Just as he chose us, who is us, the saints and the faithful in Christ Jesus. Just as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, why?

That we should be holy and without blame before him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, to the praise of the glory of his grace by which he made us accepted in the beloved. Ninety-nine percent of the pronouns refer to God in those verses. Paul speaks of God choosing his elect before the foundation of the world.

That is a mystery and that is mind-boggling. Paul says though, beloved, before Christ was even conceived, the angel Joseph said that Mary will bring forth a son and you shall call his name Jesus for he will save his people from their sins. That's not possibility.

That's not probability. That is predestined. He will save his people from their sins. John 6, 44, no one can come to me unless the father who sent me draws him and I will raise him up at the last day.

That word draw means to draw by inward power to lead. In John 17, a wonderful passage, Jesus says, glorify your son that your son may also glorify you as you have given him authority over all flesh that he should give eternal life to as many as you have given him. And finally, Acts 13, 47 and 48, Paul and Barnabas spoke of Gentile conversion at this.

Listen to this. The Gentiles heard this. They were glad and glorified the word of the Lord and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.

That word appointed is the same root meaning of ordained or to assign a place. So the first thing I want us to remember under this is God intended the regeneration of those he predestined and chose for adoption. The second thing I'd like us to look at is God initiates their regeneration. Turn over a page probably in your Bible to chapter two of Ephesians and remember again that this is being written to the faithful in Christ Jesus believers. Verse four, we're going to read four through seven, but God who is rich in mercy because of his great love of which he loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses made us alive together with Christ by grace you've been saved and raised us together up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus that in the ages to come he might show the exceeding riches of his grace and his kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.

And again, us refers to those who are in Christ. God initiates their regeneration. He intends it, but he also implants new life in their soul to regeneration.

He intends it, initiates it. He implants new life in their soul to regeneration and let's not lose the forest for the trees. This is all about God. Salvation is of the Lord. God intends, God initiates, God implants. What does that mean? Well, Ephesians two, four through seven, like I said, he initiates, but he implants the regenerated individual has been made a new creation in Christ, a new man in whom God has planted a desire for himself that wouldn't otherwise be there.

Let me repeat this. We're made a new creation, a new man. He has made us second Corinthians five 17 therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

All things have passed away, behold, all things have become new. In Christ, the phrase in Christ is Paul's favorite expression of union with Christ, oneness with Christ. John three, three, Jesus said to Nicodemus, unless one's born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.

The words born again literally mean born from above. Romans eight, nine, but you are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, if indeed the spirit of God dwells in you. If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he is not his. No spirit, no spiritual life. If anyone does not have the spirit of Christ, he is not his.

The spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And then finally under this, these four things, God not only intends it, he initiates it, he implants it, he imparts the gifts of repentance and faith. Romans concerning repentance, Romans two, four, again, Romans has written to the called of Jesus Christ. So Romans two, four, do you despise the riches of his goodness, forbearance and long suffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance. Luke wrote in Acts 11, 17 and 18, if therefore God gave them, the Gentiles, the same gift, the Holy Spirit, as he gave us saved Jews when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. Who was I that I could withstand God?

When they heard these things, they became silent. They glorified God saying, then God has also granted to the Gentiles, also the Gentiles repentance to life. Faith and repentance are gifts of God. Man's faith does not cause regeneration.

Everything causes man's faith. Ephesians two, eight through 10 are familiar verses when it comes to the faith side of this coin. For by grace you've been saved through faith and that not of yourselves. It's the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. For we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Religion in general, beloved and faith in particular are gifts of God.

Our final consideration before we make application tonight is this. Is it possible for one who has truly been converted to become deconverted? Is it possible for one who has truly been converted, turning from sin and to Christ to become deconverted? Deconversion can only be from temporary mental ascent to the Christian religion and not from a saving relationship with Christ the Redeemer. Let me read that again. Deconversion can only be from temporary mental ascent.

Yeah, I believe that. I have known of pastors, and this is frightening to me. I have known of pastors who deconverted. I listened to a blog of a pastor deconverting and the freedom that he had found in his deconversion. He's going to find out one day that it's not freedom but bondage.

He's going to find out one day he never knew the real thing. What is frightening to me is that someone could dare to exposit the word of God while deconverted or unconverted, not deconverted, unconverted. The more I think about that, the more I think of what goes in to prepare a message, it blows my mind.

It blows my mind. I will never forget standing on the steps of Alamance Christian School 30 years ago talking to a local pastor, and I can almost quote him verbatim. He ended up saying, well, concerning a sermon that he was going to preach on Sunday, I'll get me a text from three points and let the Holy Spirit take over. I'll get me a text, come up with three points, let the Holy Spirit take over.

I'll do the black line drawing and God can color it in whatever way he wants to. That's a frightening thing. Be not many masters knowing we will receive the greater condemnation. Is it possible for one who has truly been converted to become deconverted? Matthew 7, 21 through 23 makes it clear that talking like a believer and even acting like one doesn't make it so. Jesus said, I never knew. Have we heard that word before tonight?

Yes. And it refers to intimacy. Jesus knows the hearts of all men, the Bible tells us. So he's saying, I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.

This word knew, again, is intimate knowledge. And if we want examples of this, go back to Judas earlier, we could add Simon the sorcerer, we could add those who were caught up with Jesus' miracles. They did not have a sincere faith. 2 Timothy 2, 17 through 19, Paul addressed false teachers who caused some to stray from the truth and overthrew their faith. And I'm quoting, quote, nevertheless, the solid foundation of God stands having this seal, the Lord knows those who are his.

And let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity. The commentators that I used consistently state that the faith of those who strayed was not genuine. Genuine saving faith cannot be finally and completely overthrown. Conversion is permanent because of the preservation by God of those he's given to Christ. Conversion is permanent because of the preservation by God of those he is given to Christ. And again, as I read four or five verses, beloved, does the language of the following verses sound like possibility, probability, or providential?

It makes all the difference in the world. Ephesians 1, 6, being confident of this very thing, that he who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ. John 6, 36 through 40, but I said to you that you have seen me and do not believe. All that the Father gives me will come to me. And the one who comes to me, I will by no means cast down. John 17, 11 through 12, Jesus prayed, Holy Father, keep through your name those whom you've given me, that they may be one as we are.

While I was with them in the world, I kept them in your name. Those whom you gave me, I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition that the scripture might be fulfilled. And you know that's a reference to Judas.

The writer of Hebrews, in Hebrews 12, too, says, looking unto Jesus, the author or founder and finisher or perfecter of our faith. And finally, 1 Peter 1, 3 through 5, refers to an inheritance incorruptible and unafiled that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time. That speaks of predestination. That speaks of permanence. From Ligonier Ministries about saving faith, and this is a little quip that I think is very good. They say, if you have it, you never lose it, if you lose it, you never had it.

If you had it, you never lose it, if you lose it, you never had it. And the pronoun it is referring to saving faith. If you had saving faith, you never lose it. And if you lose saving faith, you never had real saving faith. That's that works without, faith without works.

that is not demonstrated through works. The idea that one can deconvert from being born from above by God's grace defies the clear teaching of scripture. A person brought up in the Christian religion or an adult giving the Christian religion a try can choose to reject the Bible's teaching. They can reject the Bible's teaching, but if they do, they make it clear that he or she is not regenerate and is headed for a Christless eternity. Beloved, there is a big difference in rejecting the teachings of Christianity and the Christ of Christianity. There's a big difference in rejecting the teachings of Christianity, because if you're a natural man, you could care less anyway. The Bible makes that clear. Big difference in rejecting the teachings of Christianity than rejecting the Christ of Christianity.

Four applications, and we close. Those who embrace the gospel of grace alone by faith alone and Christ alone can rejoice anew that God will continue to work in your life to make you more like your savior. You should also heed the admonition in 2 Peter 1 and other places where those who have been given like precious faith are admonished to make their call and election sure.

How do you do that? Deed your faith by growing in the grace and knowledge of Christ, and I would ask you to remember the seed that fell on stony ground. If there's no fruit, there is no root.

If there is no root, there is no fruit. Are you rooted, and are you being built up in Christ? Secondly, those who question whether you've personally been born from love need to plead for the grace to believe and to grow. Plead for the grace to believe and grow. Your attitude toward the Bible, your attitude toward corporate worship or church attendance, your attitude toward consistent prayer says much about the status and the reality or lack thereof of your faith. So you need to ask yourself the question, all of us, what is my attitude toward the word of God, the church of God, praying to God, what is my attitude, am I growing? Number three, those who claim that they have deconverted have tragically rejected something that they have never truly been, a new creation in Christ as evidenced by the indwelling Holy Spirit and preservation by God.

Let me read that again, because it's scary. Those who claim that they have deconverted have tragically rejected something they have never truly been, and that is a new creation in Christ as evidenced by the indwelling Holy Spirit and preservation by God. And finally, tonight in closing, those who know someone for whom you're burdened must consistently go to the throne of grace to intercede for them. Ask God for opportunities to share the gospel with them, earn an audience with them by demonstrating the living hope that you have in Christ, encourage them to flee to Christ. If they show no interest, graciously ask them to explain their faith alternative to God when it comes to origin, purpose, and destiny. Let me read that last part again.

If they show no interest, I don't want to hear it. I don't believe that book, so let's just set that aside. They show no interest, ask them graciously to explain their faith alternative to God when it comes to origin, purpose, destiny. Why do you have faith alternative? No one was there in the beginning but God. So if you want to believe that something came from nothing and expanded into this universe, and pop goes the weasel, life came from non-life and through genetic malfunctions or abnormalities, a slug became a man eventually. In my Bible class, I will ask 15 to 20 questions like, how did the more complex intelligent, where did the more complex intelligence come from for things to evolve into higher organisms?

Where did you get the information, the new information? And I give them illustrations by a model car kit and it's got Camaro on the side. You can work till you're blue in the face, you will not make that Camaro into a Mustang. It's only what's inside the kit that you're going to get. And my point being, they have to believe in something. And this last question, does existence end with death?

Does existence end with death? What do you believe about destiny? And folks, I believe it's very critical, like I said earlier, to demonstrate the living hope that you have in Christ. I close with this. I trust that those who are in Christ can gratefully sing our final hymn, and that those who are not a believer will give serious consideration to what has been shared. And our final hymn is, I Know Whom I Have Believed.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-20 16:48:57 / 2024-02-20 17:06:26 / 17

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