For my flesh is real food and my blood is real drink. Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in them. Just as the living Father sent me and I live because of the Father, so the one who feeds on me will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven. Your ancestors ate manna and died, but whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” He said this while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum.
On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?”
Aware that his disciples were grumbling about this, Jesus said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you see the Son of Man ascend to where he was before! The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you—they are full of the Spirit and life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.” For Jesus had known from the beginning which of them did not believe and who would betray him. He went on to say, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless the Father has enabled them.”
From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”
- John 6:55-69
There have been several posts in the past days about Marty Sampson, of Hillsong, who stated that he is struggling with his faith, then deleting the post, just to put up another post regarding the issues that he is struggling with. A few of these posts have also mentioned Joshua Harris, former pastor and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye, a book that I have not read. Harris renounced his faith, removed the book from publication, and announced that he was divorcing his wife. Odd, the book was about biblically-based Christian dating. Both of these men have expressing concern that they have led people astray.
When did you lead people astray? When you were active in Christian ministry or now, in rejecting the faith – or ‘struggling’ with it?
We are shocked, as a Christian community, when a pastor, someone who has preached of God and His Love can so easily discard the faith. While some can reference a few passages that speak of being fallen from Grace, Galatians 5:4 talks specifically to it. Those who reject Grace, and live by the Law, will be judged by it, thus fallen from the free gift that God offers. Being a recovering legalist myself – unwittingly, having accepted Grace in my late teens, but having strong legalist views hammered into to me about the same time – I understand the delicate balance. We could read Romans 7 and never reach Romans 8 and end up in the same dilemma.
Some denominations would simply say that these gentlemen did not have the Truth in them, regardless of what they said from the pulpit or stage.
My thoughts went back to the Scripture above when many followers turned away from Jesus. Jesus speaks of eating His flesh and drinking His blood, and the people thought, “We are not cannibals or vampires. Bye-bye!” Jesus returns to this teaching at the Lord’s Supper where, in context, we understand the meaning of His teachings in John 6. These people rejected Jesus right after the feeding of the five thousand. While rejecting Jesus, did any of them thank Him for the fish dinner? Were these followers among those who saw Jesus walk on the water, but they still rejected Him?
My thoughts also go to Lee Strobel’s book, A Case for Faith. In this book that tackles the big questions people ask against Christianity, Strobel starts with the story of Charles Templeton and an interview with him. Charles Templeton had once shared the pulpit with Billy Graham. Some said that Templeton was more charismatic and more effective. But then, per the interview, Templeton saw a woman in northern Africa dying because they needed rain. The question, that is asked over and over again, came to Templeton’s mind, ‘If God is good, if He loves us, if He is all powerful, why does He let this happen?’ Strobel addresses this question and so many more, among them, ‘Why does Jesus say that He is the only way?’ In Templeton’s point of view, it was awfully arrogant of Him.
In reading what Sampson was struggling with, it was the same questions. Were the same questions going through the minds of the deserting followers 2000 years ago in the Scripture above?
I have mentioned recently that the Devil has few tricks, anything that seems to be a new trick is really an old trick with a new coat of paint.
When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we accept the whole package deal. We accept that God is God and that we are not God. God’s justice is pure justice, yet His judgment of us has provision that He will forgive us, if we believe, trust, and worship Him. That is Grace, for we do not deserve it. God offers this alternate scenario for each of us. He offers it freely.
As for Jesus being the only Way to the Father, Jesus is God. None of the other religions make that claim.
But rather than address each argument made by those who have fallen away, let us look at the source of their doubt.
When Jesus comes into our heart, He sits at the throne. The Holy Spirit indwells us. The Holy Spirit counsels us, guides us, and directs us. When sin enters our life, we might push Jesus aside and sit on our throne, the control center, ourselves. This does not change the fact that Jesus is still within us. This does not change the fact that the Holy Spirit is whispering in our ear, directing and guiding our path. But because of the sin, we simply don’t listen. This carnal state is quite destructive, but we can right the ship by repenting of our sin and start listening to God’s guidance.
I am not judging these two men, or any of the others in the past who have publicly denounced their faith. They will stand before God. They will be judged. Are their names in the Book of Life or are they missing? That’s not my call, but when these ‘fallen from Grace” folks are famous enough for others to notice, people give them a stage in which to express their revised views.
When I hear those views, I pick up the Bible and study. I pray for guidance from the Holy Spirit during that Bible study, and God strengthens my faith. This old trick of the Devil will not shake my faith; it will make my faith stronger. There are many questions that I cannot answer, but God answers the important ones in His Holy Word. The others will become clear when I sit down with Jesus face to face.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.