Saturday, May 8, 2010

Seeds choked in thorns…

From Chapter 1 of The Backslider by John R. Rice:

Dear reader. will [sic] you test yourself by this simple rule? Was there ever a time when you were nearer to God than you are now? Was there ever a time when you read the Bible more, or enjoyed it more than now? Was there ever a time when you prayed more, when you had your prayers answered more frequently? Was there ever a day when you won more souls than you have won today? Was there ever a time when you were more completely absorbed in the Lord's business? If there was ever a time when you were nearer the Lord than today, you are a backslider. You have slid back from that close intimacy with God, from that high place of blessing which you once had.

Remember that our text in Proverbs 14:14 says, "The backslider in heart shall be filled with his own ways." Backsliding is not necessarily getting drunk nor committing adultery, nor any outward course of sin seen by the public. Backsliding is in the heart!

This page also has very good notes on the term "apostate" in Scripture. Of the highest pastoral value is this question, "'Will I ever be an apostate?' Each of us should ask ourselves this vital question, and insure against the potential loss of our salvation." It goes on:

We have already touched upon one major antidote to apostasy, standing fast in the traditions you have been taught, II Thessalonians 2:15.

There is no need to fear, for when apostasy or falling away is mentioned in the Scriptures, the way to avoid the problem is also given. It is found in "ministering to the saints" Hebrews 6:10 in the context of 6:1-8, and pulling others out of the fire (not standing back and saying they are apostates and deserve it)….

These clear passages show that we must take an active part in combating apostasy. We cannot just condemn apostates, without making an attempt to rescue them from their impending fate. This is our labor of love, Hebrews 6:10, the work that we must be about at this time, when so many have indeed apostatized.

What is an apostate? It is one who has totally renounced his faith, awaiting certain execution, unless he is rescued from the coming fire. He is awaiting our help, and with our prayers, the mercy of the Almighty.

"Keep yourselves in the love of God, all the while awaiting the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life. Convince some who doubt, but save others by snatching them from the fire; on still others have pity mingled with great caution, loathing even the clothing that has been polluted by their sensuality. Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling [apostatizing] and to present you faultless in the presence of His glory with abounding joy . . . Amen." –– Jude 21-25 (Modern Language translation)

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