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What if you were never saved to begin with?

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If you believe Christians can never quit Jesus—that it’s impossible to reject God’s salvation, probably ’cause you believe God’s grace is irresistible or something—how do you explain the existence of ex-Christians?Because plenty of people identify themselves as former Christians. Grew up in church, said the sinner’s prayer, signed off on everything in their church’s faith statement, got baptized, got born again. Believed in Jesus with all their heart, same as you or I or any true Christian does. Even had God-experiences, saw miracles, did miracles. But now they’re no longer Christian. They left.So how do those who believe once saved always saved, reconcile their belief with people who say they were once saved and now aren’t saved? One of two ways:Those people only think they used to be Christian. But they never truly were.Those people only think they quit Jesus. In reality they’re still his; he’s still gonna save them. They’re just going through a period of rebellion. Give ’em time. T…

Once saved, always saved?

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Let’s start by getting this first idea straight: God saves us, by his grace. It’s entirely his work, done by his power; we don’t save ourselves; we can’t possibly. No number of good deeds, no amount of good karma, not even memorizing all the right doctrines, is gonna do it. We gotta entirely entrust our salvation to God. Period. Full stop.Since we can’t and don’t save ourselves, various Christians figure an attached idea—and they insist it’s a necessary attached idea—follows: We can’t and don’t un-save ourselves. If God saves us, the only way we can get unsaved is if God does it—and he’s not gonna. He’s chosen us, he’s elected us, for salvation. And it’s permanent. It’s a done deal. Nothing in our universe can separate ’em from God’s love. Ro 8.39Not even if they themselves later choose to quit Jesus. (So how do they explain ex-Christians? “Oh, they were never really Christian.” Which opens up a whole different can of worms… which I’ll get to tomorrow.)Sometimes Christians call this i…

“They were never saved to begin with.”

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Sometimes people who believe they’re Christian aren’t really.Sometimes people whom we believe are Christian aren’t really: They’re faking it for any number of reasons. Or they’re Christianists; they’re big fans of popular Christian culture, but have no relationship with Christ Jesus himself. Somehow we missed the fact they bore no fruit of the Spirit… or, more likely, we didn’t care they were fruitless. We were much too happy to consider them one of our own; we never bothered to ask real, penetrating questions for fear we wouldn’t like the answers. We get that way about celebrities, wealthy people, politicians, or on-the-fence friends and family members; we’ll take what we can get.So when these not-actually-Christian folks have a faith crisis, or God otherwise doesn’t come through for them in the way they expect or demand… they leave. Or when the only reason they pretend to be Christian is to make people happy, and they grow tired of making those people happy… they leave. Heck, even a…

Quitting Jesus.

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APOSTASYə'pɑs.tə.sinoun. When one leaves a religion.[Apostate ə'pɑ.steɪtadjective.]About half the pagans I meet say they used to be Christian. They grew up Christian, or at least grew up in church. Some of ’em even think they’re still Christian—though their nonchristian beliefs indicate they’re obviously pagan. Whatever their churches taught, they no longer follow. They left that behind. They went apostate.I know; a lot of folks think “apostate” is a bad word. It’s really not. It comes from the Greek ἀφίστημι/afístimi, “step away.” Lots of us step away from things. I used to ride a bicycle everywhere; I’ve since discovered I prefer walking, and gave away my bicycle. So I’m an apostate cyclist. (Nothing against cyclists though. Whatever works for you.)In the case of apostate Christians, they left Christianity. In my experience most of ’em no longer consider themselves Christian, nor consider Christianity to be valid. A minority quit God and went nontheist. Or joined another rel…

Are we free—or the devil’s children?

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John 8.30-47.Those who haven’t read the gospels, but only know of Jesus by reputation, often wonder why on earth anyone’d want to kill him… because Jesus is so nice. He only said nice things. He loved kids. He was so friendly to sinners. Why would anyone wanna kill such a nice guy?And they’re partly right. Jesus is kind. He has the traits of the Spirit’s fruit, and kindness and niceness overlap greatly: He’s gonna be nice more often than not. But even so, kindness and niceness aren’t the same thing. Sometimes when we tell the truth, we’re gonna say things people can’t handle. As kind as we might be, as tactfully and constructively as we might put things, they’re not gonna see them that way: They’ll read their own bad attitudes into it, and interpret us as cold or cruel.So in Jesus’s following discourse, that’s how many people have chosen to interpret him. They don’t look at him as accurately diagnosing the real problem with people who won’t listen to him, and warning us of it. They lo…