Confused About Apostasy

Q. I’m confused about apostasy. In the book of Timothy and other places, it speaks of those who depart from the faith and fall away. Are these real believers who fall and lose their salvation? Or are they people who only professed to believe with their intellect didn’t really believe in their heart? I believe those truly saved will not fall or be lost again by departing from the faith, but these passages sure sound as if believers actually depart from believing the truth. I thought I knew the answer, now I’m not so sure. Thanks for your faithfulness.

A. Some people are really saved but look like they’re falling away because they got hurt or became fed up with things at church and stopped going. Others get in with the wrong crowd and “behave like sinners” or do something “bad” and feel too guilty to go to church or be around their Christian friends. The Lord has promised that He won’t lose any of those the father has given Him (John 6:39-40) but will pursue them like a shepherd who searches for a lost sheep until he finds it and brings it back (Luke 15:3-7).

But people who really fall away do so because they were never truly saved in the first place. They’re called Christians in name only because while they appeared to believe, they never really gave their heart to the Lord. Where they’re concerned, John said;

“They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” (1 John 2:19)

John was talking about false teachers who had previously been members of the church, but the verse applies to anyone who “falls away”. This verse confirms that the falling away Paul spoke of is the departure of Christians in name only from the body of Christ in advance of the Rapture. Ephesians 1:13-14, 2 Cor. 1:21-22 and others tell us true believers cannot fall away.

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