Consider the following sermons by Dr. Caldwell to help deepen your understanding of apostasy and strengthen you as you seek to encourage and exhort others to remain faithful in their walk with Christ:
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Can We Remain Friends With Those Who Apostatize?
Apostasy is the unthinkable tragedy of someone walking away from Jesus, away from the Christian faith, in denial of the truth. Apostasy doesn't just happen to people or persons we don’t know. Sometimes, that someone who walks away was someone we once walked with in our journey as we came to know Christ. Sometimes, it’s someone we’ve grown up with, someone we’ve gone through a lot with, someone we know very well, someone we love very much. Apostasy is a grave matter, literally a matter of eternal life and death. What can we do when this happens with people we know well and love? What do we do when it’s a good friend who doesn’t go to our church? Can we remain friends with those who turn away from the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints? Join us this week to listen to this discussion on the Straight Truth Podcast between Dr. Josh Philpot and Dr. Richard Caldwell. They consider and explain the seriousness and sobering truth regarding apostasy and what we can do for those we love and care about who go out from the Christian faith.
Dr. Caldwell shares that the passage that comes to mind is from Jude, so he shares verses 17 to 23, commenting as he goes along. Jude writes to believers, appealing to them to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. In the verses Dr. Caldwell shares, Jude addresses three kinds of persons who are drifting and three different ways believers should respond when we see them straying from this. The first is to have mercy on some who are doubting. These are expressing some form of doubt but haven’t yet strayed away. We are to come alongside to encourage and exhort them. The second is to save others by snatching them out of the fire. These individuals are on the brink, on the edge of the precipice, and we need to take immediate action, grabbing hold of them to snatch them out of their nearness to destruction. Thirdly, Jude tells us to have mercy on some with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh. This third kind of person is dangerous, and they are a dangerous influence. And if they're a church member where church discipline is exercised, then that process will be pursued. But even as this is undertaken, as Jude says, we have mercy with fear, loving them and longing to see them delivered out of their error.
In any of these three situations where we might have someone we love and care about who is drifting or has already strayed, and they don't attend our church, we want to try to maintain contact to have opportunities for speaking into their lives with the truth of God’s Word. Apostasy is not final until someone is dead. We just need to be careful because the nearness of that relationship can be dangerous on multiple levels. As we remain friendly with them, we cannot act as if consequential things are not consequential. We cannot continue to hang out and do stuff with them, treating them like nothing has happened and as if it’s no big deal. Those who apostatize can be very influential as they share their story of ‘deconstructing’ and how they’ve emerged with a new perspective on their once-held faith. When we place ourselves in close proximity with someone who denies the tenets and doctrines of the Christian faith, it can negatively impact us. We are all not as mature as others, and this can be especially dangerous to a young believer in the faith, whose foundations aren’t very deep yet. Another thing to consider is there are also consequences with respect not just to us individually but to the people associated with and tied to us. Therefore, we want to tread very carefully around those who apostatize.
As we think about that last kind of person, whom Jude says to have mercy on with fear, he also says we are to do this, ‘hating’ even the garment polluted by the flesh. When we think about caring for and loving those who have apostatized, we want to remember that our friendship and any loyalty we might have to them is not just identified by our love but also by hatred. We need to have a hatred for what will destroy them. Our love for Christ is not just identified by our love for Christ Himself and the things that are true regarding Him; there also needs to be a holy hatred for what attacks Him and dishonors Him. So even if our friend or family member says, this is all you talk about when we see each other, we must be willing to stand our ground. We want to be able to explain to them that there is nothing more important to us regarding them than their soul and that the choices they’ve made will damn them. These individuals have heard the truth, and they know the truth. Having casual discussions about the weather, baseball, politics, or anything else when they might be one breath away from eternal damnation is to not love them. Their greatest need is for Christ.
We want to be cautious, merciful, and loving, but not to the degree that we put ourselves or anyone else in a spiritually harmful position when we associate with apostates. Should this person be a friend of ours who's been put out of our church fellowship through the discipline process, we want to be faithful in our actions toward them, reflecting the church's judgment regarding their spiritual condition. They, too, need to be evangelized - needing Christ, and our relationship with them needs to reflect that.
About The Straight Truth Podcast
The Straight Truth Podcast: Christian Opinions in an Increasingly Secular World. Join Dr. Richard Caldwell, Dr. Josh Philpot, and their guests as they discuss news events, current affairs, and cultural issues from a Biblical point of view. Find the truth at www.straighttruth.net
The Straight Truth Podcast is a weekly opinion show hosted by Dr. Richard Caldwell and Dr. Josh Philpot. Straight Truth is available as an audio podcast on iTunes or as a video podcast through YouTube or Vimeo. The duration of the podcast is approximately 10 minutes. We release new episodes every Thursday.
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