1 John 5:4 tells us that "whatever is born of God overcomes the world; our faith overcomes the world." When someone stops trusting in Jesus and following Him, we must allow for the possibility that their "faith" was only a superficial faith, a "faith" that "endures for a time" but doesn't "endure to the end" (see Jesus' parable of the sower - Mark 4).
John 6:66-68, we read about people turning back from following Jesus.
Jesus let them go away because they were never really His true
followers. Jesus asked His disciples, "Will you also go away?" Peter
replied, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life"
(see also John 6:37,40,44). Peter failed the Lord. He was restored.
What the Lord did for Peter. He can do for us. He can lead us on to an
obedient faith, a courageous faith and a fruitful faith.
We'd like to
think that everyone who has professed faith in Christ was really saved,
but we're warned of the possibility of an empty profession (Luke 9:62;
We have God's promise that He will complete His
good work in us (Philippians 1:6), but we can only pray for ourselves,
"Jesus, keep me near the cross." Our faith is not only about looking
back to the beginning of our faith - O happy day! that fixed my choice
on Thee, my Saviour and my God!" It's a faith for today and every new
day: "High heaven, that heard the solemn vow, that vow renewed shall
daily hear; till in life's latest hour I bow, and bless in death a bond
When it comes to other people, who have stopped
following Jesus, we can only say, "The foundation of the Lord stands
sure. The Lord knows those who are His. Let every one who names the Name
of the Lord depart from iniquity" (1 Timothy 2:19).
We turn to the
words of Jesus, in Matthew 24. He says that, in a time of "great
tribulation", "false Christs" and "false prophets" will do "signs and
wonders." "If it were possible, they will deceive even the very elect."
The words, "if it were possible" suggest that the elect will not be
deceived. They will persevere to the end because they are being
preserved for eternal life by the Lord. When we speak about God's
election, we must be careful what we say. We dare not say, "I'm one of
the elect. I can do what I like." When we start thinking like this, it
suggests that we're not one of the elect. Thinking about God's election
should fill our heart with praise to God and strengthen our will to
keep on living for Christ.
Let's stand on the promises of
God. The verses I mentioned earlier - John 6:37,40,44 - are very
precious, but let's remember that the real sign of being a true believer
- born of God - is overcoming the world while many others, who had
professed faith, are being overcome by the world. For us, let it be, "I
have decided to follow Jesus. No turning back", and let us always
remember, "This is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes"
When we see other people falling away, while we, by
the grace of God alone, are still going on with the Lord, we must never
think of ourselves as superior to them. We must always say, "Not to us,
Lord, not to us, but to Your Name give glory because of Your faithful
love, because of Your truth" (Psalm 115:1).
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