What does it mean to fall away or depart from the faith?

PART 13 (2)

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We’ve established in this series that salvation is eternal.

Now, if salvation is eternal, why are we talking about the possibility of someone falling away or departing from the faith?

Well, we have to talk about it because is mentioned several times in the Bible, especially in the new testament. And it is to our favor and freedom that we know and understand the truth.

First, it is important to understand that salvation is a finished work. It is a work that God planned, predestined, began, finished, and rested from before the foundation of the world.

Hebrews 4: 3-4, 9-10

“And yet his works have been finished since the creation of the world. For somewhere he has spoken about the seventh day in these words: “On the seventh day, God rested from all his works…There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his.”

It is finished. What we experience now is simply a manifestation of finished work.

That been said, God will not lose any of his children unless they were never his.

John 10:28-30

28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

Now, that we have this assurance and confidence, let’s dive into understanding what it means to fall away or depart from the faith.

 1 John 2:18-19 

18 Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour. 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 it might become plain that they all are not of us.

Let’s dissect this scripture:

They went out FROM us:  This means somehow someway they were amongst us but they went out.

BUT they were NOT of US: Even though they were amongst us, they were not OF us. They were not truly a part of us.

How do we know this?

For IF they had been of us, they would have CONTINUED with US.

BUT they went out, that it might be made PLAIN that they all are NOT of US.

You may then ask, who are “They?”

They refer to the antichrists.

Who is an antichrist?

The next verses in 1 John 2 tell us who is an antichrist.

“22 Who is the liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, he who denies the Father and the Son. 23 No one who denies the Son has the Father. Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.”

The antichrist is he who denies the father and the son. If you deny the son, you don’t have the father and vice versa. The antichrist is he who is against Christ. The antichrist is he who does not believe in the name of the Lord, Jesus Christ. Neither does he believes in his gospel.

Verse 1 John 2: 24-25 then goes on to give a great admonition to us who are believers of Christ Jesus.

“24 Let what you heard from the beginning remain in you. If what you heard from the beginning remains in you, then you too will remain in the Son and in the Father. 25 And this is the promise that he made to us —eternal life.”

We are encouraged to hold on very tight and remain in the message we first heard. What is this message? What is this truth? This is the gospel of Christ Jesus. Jesus Christ is the son of God. He came to earth to save sinners. He died for our sins, was buried and rose on the third day as an assurance of eternal life for all who believe in him. This is our hope. This is our faith. This is the source of our love. We must hold on to this message and faith till the very end. This helps us to remain, persevere, and continue in the son and in the father. Any other gospel or message is false (Galatians 1:6-9) and it is indeed no gospel (good news) for us but death.

We must hold on to the faith and eternal life we have in Christ Jesus.

Parable of the Sower & Parable of the weeds.

These two parables can be found in Matthew 13. For the sake of condensing this post, I’ll ask you to personally look up and read Matthew 13: 1-8 on the parable of the sower. But Jesus goes on to explain this parable in verse 18-23. Read with me:

18 “Listen then to what the parable of the sower means: 19 When anyone hears the message about the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in their heart. This is the seed sown along the path. 20 The seed falling on rocky ground refers to someone who hears the word and at once receives it with joy. 21 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away. 22 The seed falling among the thorns refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful. 23 But the seed falling on good soil refers to someone who hears the word and understands it. This is the one who produces a crop, yielding a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”

Pay close attention to verse 20-21. Talks about the rocky ground. The seed (word/gospel) that falls on such ground is received with joy but the seed has no root and is short-lived, endures for a while (this can be weeks or years). When distress or persecution comes along because of the word, he FALLS AWAY. There are “Believers” like this among the body of Christ. They vainly believed (1 Corinthians 15: 1-2). Their faith in Jesus is circumstantial. Their faith changes with times, situations, troubles, and persecutions. Again, they are the type that looked like they are of us, but they aren’t because if they were of us, they would have continued with us.

Now, let’s consider the second parable of the weeds (tares) in Matthew 13: 24-30. It also explains this.

24 He put another parable before them, saying, “The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field, 25 but while his men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ 28 He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ 29 But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest, and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, “Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.”

Let’s dissect the above passage (Explained in Matthew 13: 36-43).

Good seeds (Children of God) were sown by a Farmer (Jesus) in the field (World). The enemy (The Devil) came and sowed weeds (Children of the Devil) among the good seeds (the children of God). When the wheat grew and produced, the weeds grew too.

Do you want us to pull out the weeds? Said the workers (Angels).

No! Said the farmer (Jesus).

Because when you pull out the weeds (Children of the devil), you might also uproot the wheat (children of God). So let them both grow together until the harvest time (end time). At harvest, they will be separated. The weeds will be burned in the lake of fire and the wheat will be gathered into the barn.

Not all are children of God. Time will tell who is.

Unfortunately, some of the weeds will not be able to continue until the harvest time. They will fall away and depart from us along the way, this making plain who exactly is a child of God.

This leads us to consider two very important doctrines for our walk as believers of Christ Jesus.

  1. Perseverance of the Saints
  2. Preservation of the Saints

Who is a saint? A believer in Christ Jesus is a saint. God’s people are saints (See Romans 1:7, 1 Corinthians 1:2, Revelation 14:12)  We are saved by faith. We are also righteous and saints by faith too. It’s not earned by anything we do. It’s a gift.

So, my dear brother and sister in Christ, my fellow saints in Christ Jesus, this is an edification for you.

The Perseverance of the Saints

Perseverance (endurance) till the end in the faith shows who truly is in Christ. Whoever apostate or falls away was not truly a part of us if not they would have continued with us.

Hebrews 3:14 says: For we have come to share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end.”

Notice that it says that we have come to share not that we will come to share. Perseverance is a proof and verification of our faith in Christ, it does not earn us participation in Christ. It is indeed because we are already in Christ that we can persevere and hold on to our original confidence to the end.

Isaiah 7:9b (NIV) says, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.” The Good new translation says, “If your faith is not enduring, you will not endure.”

What does this mean for you as a believer? You must examine yourself as Apostle Paul admonishes us to do in 2 Corinthians 13:5. “Am I truly in the faith? Is my faith enduring? Does my faith in Christ Jesus change with circumstances? Does my faith in Jesus change with every “gospel or doctrine” I hear? Am I resolute and unwavering in my convictions and faith? Am I prepared to suffer for Christ’s sake or am I playing it safe?

Examine yourself. Question yourself often. Make certain of your calling (salvation – 2 Peter 1:10-11).

Severally, in the scriptures we are encouraged & admonished to stand firm in our faith, endure with patience and joy (Please see these scriptures and be encouraged – Colossians 1: 9-14, Colossians 1: 21-23, Colossians 2:6-10, 2 Thessalonians 2: 13-15, Hebrews 10:36-39, James 1:12, 2 Peter 3: 14-18, Revelation 13: 8-10).

A truly saved Christian has firm faith, patience, steadfastness, endurance, and perseverance till the very end and they do not abandon or fall away from the faith. But those who are not of us (never saved and never in Christ), will fall away (from the façade and deception of being in Christ) and leave us to make plain who truly is a child of God and who isn’t.

However, be rest assured that this perseverance till the very end is not by own power or strength. This working out of our salvation is not by our own power. Philippians 2: 13 tells us that, “it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” It is God who had called us and will keep us from stumbling to the very end (Jude 1: 24-25). You are not alone.

Hebrews 4: 14-16

“14 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Grace is available unto you to help you stand firm in your faith till the very end. Approach your father for help.

This leads us into the second doctrine we must hold on to as we walk and endure on this pilgrimage.

 The Preservation of the Saints.

One of my favorite attributes of God that I hold dearly is his faithfulness.

God is faithful. And indeed, great is his faithfulness. God’s faithfulness is a blessing and a display of his boundless love for us.

God will preserve (keep) his children until the very end. I’m asking you to simply trust and have faith in God’s faithfulness.

In John 3:16 he promised us eternal life if we believe in his only begotten son. He will not go back on his word.

In John 10:28-30, he said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”

In 1 Corinthians 1:8-9 : [The Lord] will sustain you (keep you) to the end, blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, who has CALLED into the fellowship of his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”

Philippians 1:6 says, “I am sure of this, that he who started a good work in you[a] will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Romans 8: 38-39 says, For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

So, I’m asking you to have faith in God’s faithfulness and not in your strength to persevere (endure). It is indeed because God preserves (keeps) us that we are able to persevere (endure).

A believer may still fall and sin such as David, Peter, and many of us do today. But we never fall from the faith or depart from it. We never and should never blaspheme against the Holy Spirit, which is the sin of unbelief in Jesus Christ, This is the only sin that is irredeemable and alienates a man from God.

How can we persevere in our faith?

  • Study the word of God. (2 Timothy 3:16-17All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work). Know the truth and be set free.
  • Yielding to the pruning of God. Partner with God, grow in your faith, work it out, and bear fruits that remain (John 15).
  • Communication with God (Prayer). Boldly approach God’s throne of grace with confidence and receive mercy and find grace to help you in times of need. (Hebrews 4: 16).
  • Encouragement from fellow believers. (Hebrews 10:25Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.) Faith sharpens faith. Also, see Hebrews 3:12-19.
  • Stand FIRM in your faith (Isaiah 7:9 – If you do not stand firm in your faith, then you will not stand at all). The message of the gospel should forever be in your heart and on your lip. Don’t get tired of hearing it. Don’t get tired of rejoicing in it. Stand Firm and work out your salvation with reverential fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12)
  • False prophets and doctrines are real. They are amongst us. Be on your guard. Guard your heart and ears. They are so deceptive and distortive of the truth. They make a blatant lie sound so pleasing and convincing that if you are not guarded and firm in your faith, you will be deceived. Matthew 24: 24-25 says, “False messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible even the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” If it were possible, they will lead even the elects astray, but we are assured that nothing can snatch us out of God’s hands and his love for us. But as believers, we are not called and elected to be stupid and careless. We are still admonished and warned to stay alert, be on guard and be careful (Acts 20:28-32; 1 Corinthians 10:12)

Again there is the perseverance of the saints and the preservation of the saints. But darling, the only reason we can even persevere (endure) is because God is preserving (keeping) us. It is never by our own power. Because he is working in us, we can work out our salvation.

Salvation is eternal because God is faithful. We can rest.

Hallelujah!

In the next part, we will admonish ourselves and talk about, “Why we must share the gospel.”

God Bless You.

You are Eternally Loved.

Author: Esther Ademiju

Esther Ademiju is founder and teacher of Growing God's Eternal Family. She is a growing student of the Bible under the teachings of the Holy Spirit and yearns to share what she learns with simplicity yet undiluted to all people. “God’s love is dynamic in dealing and one of the ways it can be shown through us to one another is by sharing, teaching & preaching His Word & Truth.”

2 thoughts

  1. Thanks for this exposition. It really makes a lot of things simple. It reassures of the perfect work God in us, already finished. Then emphasises the understanding in which we should walk. God bless you!

    Liked by 1 person

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