From the Pastor’s Study (5/19/19)
Early in my ministry a young lady who was a part of the same youth group I was back in high school visited my home. While I did not fully appreciate it at the time (I knew no different), when I was in high school the church I attended experienced something of a youth revival. A church averaging about 200 on Sunday morning had 50 or more teenagers attending! In addition to my brother and myself, there were several teens from unsaved homes that came to know Christ. Many went on to Christian colleges. Some, like me, studied for the ministry.
This young lady was a part of this. As we talked briefly, I asked where she now lived and went to church. She said, “Oh, I don’t believe like that anymore.” Like what? Christ died for our sins and rose again? You must be born again? Yes, like that.
It was both sad and confusing to hear someone who once professed to be saved say she no longer believed.
I wish she was the only person I have encountered with an experience like that. She is not. Recently an old friend with whom I had lost contact reached out to me via Facebook. We graduated from the same Christian university. However, his online messages have been hostile attacks on my Christian beliefs. What happened?
The earlier encounter with the young lady who turned from her faith left me sad and confused. This later encounter only made me sad. I am no longer confused. I Tim. 4:1 says, “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly (meaning, distinctly or clearly) that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith…” While the Bible plainly teaches eternal security (e.g., Jn. 10:28, 29), it also teaches that some who profess to believe will later turn away. I Jn. 2:19 explains that some depart because, in spite of their earlier profession, they never possessed genuine, saving faith.
True saving faith has certain essential qualities. It has the right object (Christ – Rom. 10:9). It manifests itself in good works (Js. 2:14). And it endures (Col. 1:23; Heb. 3:6). This is why the Bible encourages us to “examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith,” (II Cor. 13:5), and to “give diligence to make our calling and election sure.” (II Pet. 1:10)
Charles Templeton is a name you probably do not know, but in the 1940’s he was a well-known Youth for Christ evangelist. However, after nearly a decade in the ministry he publicly professed that he had become agnostic. In 1996 he entitled his memoir, Farewell to God: My Reasons for Rejecting the Christian Faith.
Lee Strobel, in A Case for Faith, recounts an interview he had with a then elderly Templeton. The conclusion of their conversation focused on Christ. Strobel records, “His voice, which at times had displayed such a sharp and insistent edge, now took on a melancholy and reflective tone. His guard seemingly down, he spoke in an unhurried pace, almost nostalgically, carefully choosing his words as he talked about Jesus.
‘He was,’ Templeton began, ‘the greatest human being who has ever lived. He was a moral genius. His ethical sense was unique. He was the intrinsically wisest person that I’ve ever encountered in my life or in my readings. His commitment was total and led to his own death, much to the detriment of the world. What could one say about him except that this was a form of greatness?’”
Strobel admitted surprise. “‘You sound like you really care about him.’
‘Well, yes, he is the most important thing in my life,’ came his reply. ‘I… I… I…,’ he stuttered, searching for the right word, ‘I know it may sound strange, but I have to say…I adore him!’”
Then Strobel wrote that Templeton uttered words he did not expect to hear. “’And if I may put it this way,” he said as his voice began to crack, ‘I…miss…him!’”
How sad and tragic it will be if the Lord misses any of us – misses you – when He gathers His own to Himself in that great day.
Examine yourself. Give diligence.