Pastor John and I lately recorded a handful of episodes reside in Nashville in front of about two,500 pals who joined us early in the morning for the recording. There we addressed 1 of the most typical inquiries you have been asking. Have a listen.
As I study the emails that come in and hear from podcast listeners, there’s absolutely nothing that dominates the conversation appropriate now additional than the reality that a incredibly prominent leader inside our circles has “de-converted.” He’s calling it a “de-conversion.” You know him, and he was my pastor for 4 years — a beloved pastor. A lot of persons just do not know how to manage the news. On the internet, there’s a lot of hand-wringing and finger-pointing: Is this massive American evangelical celebrity culture gone incorrect? Is this the consequence of substantial Reformed conferences even like this 1? Is this the backlash of the “repressive purity movement” gone incorrect? Is this a leader who was provided also considerably duty also young? On and on. There’s lots of finger-pointing.
But I’ve noticed a various tone amongst self-reflective leaders. They recognize, “This could be me. If he could fall, this could be me.” So what would you say to these of us in this space who have a healthful distrust of our personal hearts, who appear at this man who has now walked away from the gospel, and we say, “Could this occur to me also? Could I 1 day stroll away from the gospel, stroll away from my spouse, stroll away from Christ?” What would you say?
The quick answer is yes. And the fascinating factor about that answer is that, for a lot of persons, it appears to contact into query the doctrine of eternal safety, which I think. It shouldn’t contact into query the doctrine of eternal safety to say, “Yes, I could commit apostasy this afternoon and go to hell.” I wonder if that is a jarring juxtaposition for you: I think in the doctrine of eternal safety, and I could go to hell this afternoon. Let me give some background and then attempt to possibly say 1 or two valuable factors about our present scenario.
‘Hold On to Me, God’
I just completed writing a book on providence and am just brimming with the sovereignty of God. I like the sovereignty of God. I see it on practically each web page in the Bible. It is a valuable doctrine to me, and 1 of the strategies to say it is this: Nothing at all you do originates the decisive act or impulse that saves you. I assume that is the wording I would use. Nothing at all you really feel, absolutely nothing you assume, absolutely nothing you will, absolutely nothing you do originates the act of the soul or the act of the physique that causes God to elect you, predestine you, contact you, preserve you, or glorify you. All of it is a free of charge present.
“You are safe in Christ, but your safety is entirely in the hands of God.”
So, no one should really have the mindset, “I can preserve this from taking place. I can.” No, you can not. God can. Now, as soon as you say that, it can throw you seriously off-balance. If you assume you are in charge of your salvation, and you hear somebody say, “You’re not God is,” it can make you really feel unstable. To replace your sense of self-stability with God’s stability demands some Bible know-how and some prayer and some deep soul operate. You want to go to texts like this 1:
These whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he could be the firstborn amongst several brothers. And these whom he predestined he also named, and these whom he named he also justified, and these whom he justified he also glorified. (Romans eight:29–30)
No one falls out. That is why I think in eternal safety. Involving foreknowledge, predestination, calling, justification, and glorification, no one will be missing — none. That is rock-strong safety and assurance. And there are additional texts:
- “He who started a excellent operate in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Philippians 1:six). He will.
- “He who calls you is faithful he will certainly do it” (1 Thessalonians five:24).
- “[He] will sustain you to the finish, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 1:eight).
More than and more than, we obtain these statements: You are safe in Christ, but your safety is entirely in the hands of God. If God is faithful to you, you will make it. If you do not make it, he didn’t trigger you to make it. So, that is the foundation to what I think and assume.
Now to him who is capable to preserve you from stumbling and to present you blameless ahead of the presence of his glory with terrific joy, to the only God, our Savior, by way of Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, ahead of all time and now and forever. Amen. (Jude 24–25)
Why that tremendous celebration of God’s maintaining energy? Simply because I’ll never ever make it. I will never ever make it. At 73, I go to my knees practically each day and say, “Hold on to me.” The remaining corruption in each human being’s soul is sufficient to make cash additional valuable than God at age 74 with 67 years in the faith. It is. Sin is that potent if you leave God out of the image. God keeps John Piper, and if God does not preserve me, if he requires his hand off me this afternoon, I will commit apostasy. So, it depends on him, not on me.
Press On in Faith
Now, here’s the second piece of it following that enormous truth about God. Alongside “those whom he justified he also glorified,” there is a complete variety of commands for us to persevere. “Work out your personal salvation with worry and trembling, for it is God who performs in you, each to will and to operate for his excellent pleasure” (Philippians two:12–13). So, be about it, Piper. Get this book open, get on your knees, cry out for maintaining, and immerse oneself in God’s word. “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing by way of the word of Christ” — each day, not just at the front finish of the Christian life (Romans 10:17). If I’m going to think, I got to have God’s word. That is how he keeps me.
Or we have a passage in Philippians three:12 that I like so considerably: “I press on to make it my personal, simply because Christ Jesus has created me his personal.” Is not that terrific? That is the way we assume about the Christian life: that there’s this enormous, sovereign God, who has selected us ahead of the foundation of the globe, who has named us to himself, who will preserve us, and the proof that that has occurred is, “Are you pressing on?”
“Unless you commit oneself to a life of perseverance and repentance, you also will commit apostasy.”
And then there are verses that clarify the pastors who do not press on. “They went out from us, but they have been not of us for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it could turn out to be plain that they all are not of us” (1 John two:19). I imply, there couldn’t be a clearer verse in the Bible on apostasy than that. Or Hebrews three:14: “We have come to share in Christ, if certainly we hold our original self-confidence firm to the finish.” We have shared if we continue. It is not that we will share we have shared — if we continue.
Nothing at all New Right here
So I’ve been pondering lately, in view of the present scenario — which occurs all the time this 1 just occurs to be a small additional public — that Jesus addressed physical calamities incredibly clearly in Luke 13. And I just wondered to myself irrespective of whether it applies effectively to spiritual calamities. Apostasy is a calamity — worse than a tsunami, appropriate? Worse than a shooting in Texas or Ohio is spiritual lostness.
Persons come to Jesus and ask about the persons that Pilate slaughtered in the temple. And they ask about the persons on whom the tower in Siloam fell. Eighteen innocent persons have been just walking along, and the tower fell on them, and they all die. They wanted to know what Jesus believed about that. And Jesus’s response was astounding. He mentioned,
Do you assume that these Galileans have been worse sinners than all the other Galileans, simply because they suffered in this way? No, I inform you but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or these eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you assume that they have been worse offenders than all the other folks who lived in Jerusalem? No, I inform you but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. (Luke 13:2–5)
That is not what we anticipate Jesus to say. I wonder now: Can you take that text and lay it on leading of spiritual calamity? Somebody comes to me and says, “Have you heard of the pastor who committed apostasy? Have you heard of all these persons who have been swept away by the false teacher?” Or in Jesus’s day, “Have you heard about Judas? Do you know what Judas did? Judas had been with us 3 years. He had committed all types of stunning factors with his companion in ministry. He sent us out two by two. Judas healed the sick. Judas preached the gospel. Did you hear what he just did?”
There’s absolutely nothing new right here. And Jesus, I assume, would say, “Do you assume Judas or any provided pastor was a worse sinner than the rest of us? But unless you commit oneself to a life of perseverance and repentance, you also will commit apostasy.” So, that brings us back to my 1st answer: yes.
Life Is Not More than
The 1 other factor I would say — and, seriously, it is the 1st factor I believed when I heard this — is that life is not more than. Life is not more than. And the cause that is not just of course correct to me but poignantly correct to me is this: My dad, Bill, was the youngest of 3 boys in his loved ones. He had a brother named Elmer and a brother named Harold. Bill and Elmer, my father and my uncle, have been lifelong, faithful evangelists all the way to the finish.
“It’s not more than, people. If you have a kid who has walked away from the Lord, it is not more than.”
But Harold created shipwreck at the front finish. Divorced. Ruined a lot of factors. And for at least thirty years, he was away from the loved ones. I hardly ever saw him. I saw Elmer all the time, but not uncle Harold. And in my college days, when my grandfather was dying, Harold came back to the Lord. It was the happiest day of my father’s life, I assume. And I’ve got photos. My wife and I have been searching at them the other evening — photos of Bill and Elmer and Harold and a dying father, reconciled.
It is not more than, people. If you have a kid who has walked away from the Lord, it is not more than. The prodigal son is a parable about leaving and returning.