Years ago, I went skydiving.
It isn’t something I’ll likely do again, but those few times jumping from that airplane will always be remembered. It was awesome, but I will never, ever forget falling away from the plane that first time.
The first few jumps require the diver to drag himself out on a bar hanging underneath the wing and hold there with their feet dangling 3000 feet above the earth until the jump master says they can fall away.
That same concept can be applied to the Christian life.
Can a person let go of Christ and simply fall away from salvation like a skydiver taking the dive? Even worse, can someone who has walked with Christ willfully reject Him and consciously forfeit their salvation?
The book of Hebrews discusses this subject and offers subtle imagery that needs to be understood to ensure the interpretation of the book is accurate and honest.
What is apostasy?
If one were to look this word up in a dictionary, they would find a definition something like, “A formal disaffiliation or abandonment from a religion by a person.”
For twenty-first century America this would seem like a reasonable definition. If a person joins a gym and later wants to exercise somewhere else they just cancel their membership and stop paying the bills.
The same applies for just about everything in life including church. If you don’t like the church you’re attending, find a new one.
How many Christians get angry, frustrated or hurt each year and just leave the church?
As not only a minister, but a very loyal guy, I have a hard time understanding this reaction.
If God gives someone a ministry, they can’t just leave because their feelings get hurt or because they felt they were wronged. If the Lord places someone in a position, they must use the gifts He’s given them to show His love to others and bring Him glory until He moves them on.
As my wife often says, “A call to something is not the same as a call away.” God never tells you to leave because of your anger, hurt or bitterness.
The most growth in our lives and churches often comes through disagreements among Christians – think of Peter and Paul in the Galatians 2. All too often in America, we just move on – whether God asked us to or not.
Probably everyone reading this article has either left a church for the wrong reasons or knows someone who has. So it’s important not to belabor this point except to say that God never intended His people to regard His work and church so lightly.
Love for God and others, dedication to following Christ in your daily actions and commitment to the church are integral to the Christian life.
Again we must remember, when reading God’s word, to see through the eyes of the first-century Christians. A Jewish person would always be loyal and rigid in following God’s laws.
When they became followers of Christ they continued this level of dedication. When a non-Jew accepted Christ, they gained an new identity – giving them a purpose and direction.
The structure of the church ensured that everyone used their gifts and stayed active within the body. The viewpoint of the first century Christian was very different than that of their twenty-first century counterparts.
Contemporary Americans often believe in relative truth that changes with perspective and emotion.
However, while God’s word was written to a specific people, for a specific reason, at a specific time, the solid, unchangeable truths they received can be applied to the contemporary life.
In the next four Hebrews studies, four words will be discussed: pararreo, apostenai, parapipto, and apostrepho.
These words are used throughout Hebrews and lead to the many sects and denominations believing in the concept of either falling away from their salvation or simply rejecting it.