There seems to be a growing increase of people leaving their faith behind and expressing their freedom from Christ, not their freedom in Christ. Of course it’s most prominently seen from Christian musicians (or “celebrities”), but they’re not alone. However, after listening to some of their reasons, I can totally understand their departure – based on their reasons.
I don’t agree with them of course, and I think that the way they got to where they are is part of the problem. Their reasons sound good, but the reasons don’t line up with the truth. This leads to the questions of “what did they originally believe” and “how were they living it out?” This goes not for just former Christian musicians, but for anyone that has left their faith in Jesus Christ. If you continue reading, by the end, I think you’ll find out that there’s a good reason anyone leaves their faith and exactly how you can make sure you and those you love don’t.
But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. – Matthew 9:36
When Jesus saw that the multitude did not have anyone to lead them in their spiritual lives – you know, because the religious leaders of the day were crooked, He was moved with compassion. Jesus was saying here that people need someone to lead them in their spiritual lives. Everyone needs a shepherd. Everyone needs a pastor.
When we remove ourselves from the spiritual oversight of a pastor, things don’t go well. And I’m not talking about crooked pastors that aren’t following the Bible and using their position for evil gain. I’m talking about submitting to a spiritual leader, according to the Word of God, so that you can be taught what the Word says by someone who is called and anointed by God to do so.
I understand that for many musicians, they have a road chaplain so they can try and stay in the Word as much as possible when they’re away from home and the normal way of life. It’s a great thing. However, unless you’re continually feeding on the things that you need to as a Christian (whether on the road or always at home), this can be an inadequate substitute. Even if you have other people around you that are Christians as well, it will not replace a church family, who is supposed to support believers. That’s what a church is for.
Honestly, when new believers turn back to the world, it is the fault of the church for not supporting them and helping them grow. New believers are spiritual babies. They need to be raised up properly by mature believers. A mother does not give birth to a baby and just leave it at the hospital. Nor does she just leave it at the house while she goes and does everything else. She nurtures and cares fore it and raises it to become a mature person. That’s her job and that’s the job of the church. It’s not just the Pastor’s job. He’s only one man. It’s the entire church’s responsibility.
When somebody has questions about their faith and even doubts about it, it is up to the church and the pastor to answer those questions, to remove those doubts, as led by the Holy Spirit. But if a person has not placed themselves in submission to that spiritual leader, become part of that body, they have no authority over the person’s life. Besides, whatever council a spiritual leader could give, would not carry that much weight, and may not even be accepted because the person has already shown that they’re not in submission to it.
Don’t misunderstand me when I say submission. I’m not talking about doing everything that the person says. I’m talking about having an understanding that this person, or this body, is my leader, is my family, and what they’re saying is the truth, as long as it lines up with the Word of God. (There’s a whole other message about the proper role of submission in the church).
When Doubts Come
When doubts come, it is so easy to turn away from the thing that you have been taught because your faith is already on shaky ground. The devil is already coming to lead you astray. Jesus spoke plainly about this in the parable of the sower and the seed. The devil is already asking around like a roaring lion seeking someone to devour. When we start to put more faith in our doubts than in our faith, we become a good candidate for the devil to try and devour us.
The question is, what is your faith in? Is it in a message that some minister preached? Is it in a message some church taught you? Is it in something that your family raised you up in? Or is it is something that you have experienced yourself? Is it in someone you have come to know closer than a brother?
I remember clearly when I went to college, that I had questions about my faith. I didn’t “deconstruct” my faith. I investigated it. Even though I had questions, I still believed. Because my faith was not based on another person, aside from Jesus Himself. I wasn’t on any shaky ground.
I had questions about the accuracy of the Bible. I had questions about the validity of the stories in the Bible I had questions about the truth of the Gospel story. And I went to people who had the same questions, but honestly, did all the hard work for me. I didn’t trust people who wanted to be wrong. I looked to people who encouraged me in my faith – and then I double checked what they said.
I picked up books like “Evidence That Demands A Verdict” by Josh McDowell. I read “The Case For Christ” and ”The Case For Faith” by Lee Strobel. I looked at “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler. Instead of turning away from my faith, I gave it the benefit of the doubt. I researched it myself to find that any questions that I might have had when done were minor in comparison to the amount of evidence that pointed to the truth of what I believed.
But that’s not the only thing I did. All that fell within the realm of the logical. It was in the realm of the mind. God is not a mind. He is a spirit. And to experience our relationship the way we must, it must be done spiritually. There’s no telling how many times I have experienced the presence of God, not some feeling of emotion, or synapses triggering in my brain – all while doing the things that I’m told to do in the Bible. I’ve been in worship services, where the presence of God was so strong people couldn’t move. Things would happen without any logical explanation.
I know there are many that have not experienced that. You have to understand, I put myself in positions to experience those things. Others have put themselves in places to experience other things. I’ve taken time out of my “busy schedule” to spend time – even extended time – in prayer and worship. The presence of God isn’t something that God is going to give to someone because they’ve decided to spend two minutes waiting on Him. Moses had to wait seven days to be with God and talk with Him. But those seven days compared nothing to the 40 days He spent with Him on Mt. Sinai. Jesus’ disciples gave up everything they knew to experience God like no one ever had before, and they never complained about what they gave up.
Doing What The Bible Says
There’s a couple thousand different denominations of Christianity around the world. All of them can’t be right. In fact, probably none of them is 100% right. Don’t misunderstand me. At hate heart of most of them, if not all, is the simple belief that Jesus came, died, and rose from the dead to redeem mankind. It’s the details we can’t agree on. However, I have to question any denomination that says God doesn’t do miracles today. I honestly have to wonder about people that say they believe in Jesus as their Lord and then turn away from Him. Have you never experienced the miraculous? I’m not knocking them. I’m just wondering about them.
The Bible is more than commandments. It’s more than do this to be blessed, don’t do this to be blessed. If you haven’t figured that out yet, you really need a new church. It’s a book about how to have a relationship with the Creator of everything. It’s His story. It’s His guide book on how to live, how to be successful, how to do…lots of stuff.
Among everything else, God tells us how to receive from Him, based on what Jesus did on the cross. It tells us what He has provided for us. It provides us with instructions on how to be Christians. We receive from God by our faith. It’s not just faith in anything, but faith in His Word, faith in what He has promised. It’s faith in what He has done for us. Without that faith, we cannot receive from Him. It becomes impossible.
I wonder how many people that have walked away from their faith did so after only experiencing some good preaching, maybe the church culture, but not really the power of God. Sadly, one thing that is missing hugely in churches today is the power of God. Yet, that’s one of the things the Apostle Paul used to reach people. It wasn’t just preaching.
that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:5
The Apostle Paul not only preached the Word of God, but he demonstrated it. Through Paul, God healed, restored, and did things that many in the modern church wouldn’t even believe. Yet we’re supposed to be doing that today. Jesus told us that believers would do the same signs and wonders that He did, and greater ones. Our faith in Jesus isn’t just supposed to be in a good sermon, but in His power as well.
This didn’t just happen for Paul though. It happened for all of the believers. Mark 16:20 says, “And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.” Signs. That’s healings, miracles, and other illogical, miraculous events. They followed believers then and they still follow believers today. The key word there though is believer. You can believe that Jesus saves and still not believe that He does the miraculous. And that’s why it doesn’t happen – because it is based on faith.
Many churches believe that the “age of miracles” “passed away” when the last apostle died. You can’t find that in the Bible though. They would have a hard time convincing those that have experienced the miraculous that they have passed away. Rev. Tony Cooke has a great book about how the miraculous has not only not passed away, but has always been here. It’s called “Miracles and the Supernatural Throughout Church History.”
After I received Jesus as my Lord, I took a state-side mission trip to the inner city of Atlanta, GA. I remember seeing some terrible things there, but I also saw God at work. One thing that has always stuck out was when the group I was with prayed for a man that, by his own testimony, was “crippled.” One of his legs was shorter than the other and it didn’t work like it should. He could barely walk – again, by his own testimony. After we prayed for this man and talked with him for a few minutes, we had to walk back to where we were staying – about a six block walk. We were getting up to leave and he said he wanted to walk with us, so we helped him up. He got right up and walked the majority of the way with us. We only parted ways when we had to make a turn down the street. He was so thrilled to be able to walk that he told us that he was just going to keep walking. That was the power of God.
Over the years I have experienced that same power operate in me and my family for a variety of issues. I’ve seen blessings come to us because we did what God’s Word says. Money has come right when we needed it, when we’ve had faith and followed the Word. Things that no one could accomplish but God have happened to us. The impossible has been possible. My sons have experienced this same power – laying hands on the sick and seeing them recover in miraculous ways – just as God said would happen if we believed.
I believe that those who have walked away from their faith never really experienced it the way that we’re called to as Christians. If they would have, I believe the majority of them would have a faith not built upon what others say, but on the Word of God and on the power of God. That’s not to say they wouldn’t walk away from their faith. Your faith is just more concrete when it is developed as the Word of God says – based on the Word and on the power of God.
I find it amazing how Christians, struggling with doubt, especially those who have been saved for so long, will accept their doubts as truth and try to erode what they believe for so long. Instead, why not accept the truth and try to erode the doubts? For some, it may be that they want a reason to not believe. Whatever it may be, the force behind all of it is the devil. It’s not the people and by no means am I upset with any of them, even when they attack what I believe. This is not anything new. It’s the same things that Christians have been told since the New Testament was written.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places…above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. – Ephesians 6:12,16
You could include the entirety of Ephesians 6:10-120, but this boils it down to the point – the devil is the one behind it all. He comes against us with those fiery darts – thoughts. The Bible tells us how to deal with these things – cast down every imagination and thought that tries to rise above the knowledge of Christ. Many Christians, although sincere, are weak when it comes to their faith. They may love God, but when they are pressed, what comes out isn’t from God. We haven’t filled ourselves up on His Word, been led by His Spirit, fellowshipped with the Father. Instead we have taken in every form of entertainment the world has to offer, gone to church a few times a month, prayed a few powerless and faithless prayers, and think everything is okay – that is, until we’re pressed.
If we want to stay faithful, stay a Christian when other Christians are departing the faith, we must know the Word for ourselves, we should experience the power of God ourselves, we need to have a relationship with God ourselves – not through a pastor, parent, or friend.
The Apostle Paul has already told us that our faith should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God. If your church isn’t a church that believes in the power – find a new church. It’s that simple. Paul tells us something else though.
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, – 1 Timothy 4:1
Here he tells us that people are going to depart from the faith, but why? They are going to give heed (give their attention, their focus, their beliefs) to deceiving spirits and doctrines of devils. If you actually study this out in the Greek, it gives the understanding of a slow turning away. It’s like saying that you’re going to take a flight from New York to Los Angeles, and about 20 minutes into the flight, you divert just an inch. But that small, minute turning will eventually lead you completely off the map. That “giving heed to,” is a slow, gradual, unnoticeable turning away from your faith until it’s too late.
How do you stop it? How do you stop from being deceived? You know the truth. You know when something is counterfeit. People that investigate counterfeit money don’t necessarily study counterfeit money. They study the real thing. They know every mark and secret thing about money. And so when they encounter the fake, they can easily tell that it is a counterfeit. As Christians, we need to study the Word of God so close that when the counterfeit comes up against the truth, it is easily discernible. We need to become students of the Word of God, not just Christians who go to church on Sunday and Wednesday.
I encourage you to become a student of the Word, seek the Lord and His power. Put your faith in things that will last. Deconstruct your doubts. Stay with the Word and the Spirit.