Near 52 AD Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica, and said that in the Last Days, many who formerly claimed to believe in Jesus, would fall away and no longer believe. Twenty years before this, Jesus asked a rhetorical question: “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” ~Luke 18:8
Paul describes this event in the Koine-Greek, as a great “apostasia” when many will stop believing: “Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day (the Tribulation) will not come unless the falling away (apostasia) comes first…” ~2 Thessalonians 2:3
In the second letter that Peter wrote near 61 AD, he described a time in the future, just before Jesus returns, when people will scoff at the idea that Jesus will return:
“Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires. They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.” ~2 Peter 3:3-4
This Prophecy Has Been Fulfilled Today
We are currently in the greatest time of apostasy the Christian church has ever experienced. I have been watching this happen for over 47 years. In 1975 I was an atheist who could not have cared less about God or the Bible. I was a drummer in a touring Rock band, and like many young people of that day, I was thoroughly disillusioned with the world.
There have been four Great Awakenings in recorded history. These were significant events when the Spirit of God moved across the earth in a tremendous way, and millions of people turned to God and began to follow and trust in Jesus for their salvation.
The Fourth Great Awakening took place during my early life, when the “Jesus People Movement” began in the late 60’s and into the 70’s. All around me millions of young people were hearing about Jesus’ radical ideas in the New Testament and turning to Him for the New Life He promised.
In 1975 I went to Calvary Chapel at Costa Mesa, California, and heard Chuck Smith, teaching through the Bible verse by verse, explaining the scriptures to a large crowd of young people like myself. Most of us had long hair, beards, and no shoes. No other church would allow us to enter their sanctuary, but Chuck welcomed us with open arms. We came ready to listen, wanting to hear something that would give us purpose.
There were so many who wanted to hear the Bible taught during those days, that young people were sitting on the floor, in the isles of the church, staying for hours, just to hear about Jesus.
That was the beginning of a completely different life for me, and millions of other young people. Things were drastically different at that time. People today talk about the rebellion of young people in the world, but they are not even close to the rebellion of my generation, during the 60’s and 70’s. The unpopular war in Vietnam, corruption in Government, the hypocrisy of the religious, the decadence and arrogance of the rich and famous. We were sick of it all.
When we read the testimony of men and women who had seen and heard Jesus, we were blown away. Not only was Jesus a super-intellect, He was filled with love and compassion, and completely Holy and sinless. None of us had ever seen or heard a man like Him in this world. If the story was true, this was the person we wanted to follow and become like, in our own lives.
The New Testament has stood as a valid, reliable representation of the true facts concerning Jesus, for nearly 2,000 years. Not once during this time has anyone presented any evidence that impeaches the eyewitness testimony of the men who saw and heard Jesus.
In the 70’s we learned that church and religion are just window dressing—sometimes divisive, often political—but a transformed life by being born again by the Spirit of God, was revolutionary. We learned to tell the difference between the religions of man, and the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus never told anyone to join a religion, in fact, He often condemned the religious leaders of that time, stating that their words were merely pretense and hypocrisy.
Jesus introduced us to something completely new, something radical: a new life based entirely on Him and the words He said: “Follow Me,” and that is what we did. We followed Jesus and tried to become like Him in our own lives. I rejected religion, and I have followed Jesus and His Words, for 47 years.
Rebellious, But Honestly Searching
The backstory of our rebellion was hidden behind a longing for something meaningful. We had tried free love, drugs, protests, rebellion, challenging authority, living in communes together, and sitting for days in a grassy fields listening to Rock music. None of these things satisfied us. I don’t think that young people today are finding any satisfaction in this current world either.
I became a believer in Jesus in 1975, because of what the texts of the New Testament say about Him. This began a very long education for me in the texts of the Bible so that I could know for certain whether the 66 books it contained, were telling the truth. Not once in all my years of personal scholarship of the Bible, have I ever come to a place where I could not reconcile what the Bible was saying with the reality of this present world.
People who say that the Bible is the reason they are an atheist, are liars. No one who sincerely studies the Bible with the forethought that it is true, will ever arrive at a place where they reject the God it reveals. A basic rule for determining reliability for all ancient documents that assert eyewitness testimony is that every document should be assumed trustworthy, unless it can be shown unreliable through the burden of proof.
One of the techniques utilized in document analysis is that when an examiner uses the presumption that the subject is lying, the test will always be self-refuting. The presumption that a person is always lying, while performing any examination for truth, is pointless, since the conclusion is already made before the examination has begun.
Unless we assume a general presumption of truth in every testimony, we will never be capable of determining whether anything is actually true. The only effective method that actually allows a professional examiner to determine truthful testimony is the presumption of truth at the onset.
The methods that modern atheist scholars often use today in determining the reliability of the New Testament is the assumption that the text must not be true due to its supernatural references. If any examiner uses this method, even though the text specifies supernatural phenomenon, the result will aways be inaccurate. The examiner must let the textual evidence itself determine the conclusions, not their personal bias at the onset.
Persons who say the Bible is what caused them to reject Jesus, are disingenuous. I know that being confronted with the reality of our sins, and Jesus command to turn from those sins, is what people reject, and decide not to follow Jesus.
I have never found any evidence anywhere, that the Bible is not completely true in everything it teaches about the world, people, sin, suffering, evil, and death. I learned that the only intelligent and permanent solution to the world’s problems, is a real and personal relationship with Jesus, the Savior of the World.
A great number of us from the Jesus People Movement, became lifelong believers, and thousands like myself, became pastors, teachers, evangelists, professors, and leaders in Jesus’ church, teaching people about the love and hope that is in a living relationship with the Living God.
I have been grieved immensely by the number of young people moving in the opposite direction today. Instead of drawing close to God and the Bible, there is a great deception that has covered the world. People are convinced by many liars, that Jesus and the Bible are not true. Young people are choosing atheism, over God; hopelessness, over anticipation of an eternal life filled with complete joy.
Jesus Said There Is Only One Type Of Christian
In John chapter 3 Jesus tells Nicodemus that religion, or claiming to be a religious person, is not what God requires for eternal life and heaven. Jesus said that “unless you are born again,” by the Spirit, you cannot see or understand the kingdom of God (John 3:3). Seven requirements are described for genuine salvation:
- Sorrow over sins
- A desire to be forgiven
- Hear what Jesus has done
- Repent from all sin
- Trust in Jesus fully
- Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
- Continue to believe in Jesus for life
Jesus also said that there are many who claim to be a believer, but they are not. Why? They were never born again by the Spirit. It is possible to make an emotional decision to trust in Jesus, apart from salvation. It really depends upon the sincerity of the person making the claim. The people who claim to believe in Him, but their confession is false, Jesus calls these people, “zizanion,” a false or pretend believer. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus described these false believers as planted in Jesus’ church by satan. They act and sound just like a real believer, but they were never saved.
Salvation Is An Eternal Event: Only Those Born Again Are Chosen
- The truly saved are born again (John 3:3)
- They receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38)
- Jesus said these persons were “always His” (John 17:6)
- There can never be a time when they are not His
- This defines salvation as an eternal event
- People who say they no longer believe, never were His
- People who are truly His, never leave Jesus (because of #3)
Parable of the Wheat and Weeds
“Here is another story Jesus told: “The Kingdom of Heaven is like a farmer who planted good seed in his field. But that night as the workers slept, his enemy came and planted weeds among the wheat, then slipped away. When the crop began to grow and produce grain, the weeds (gr. zizanion) also grew.”
“The farmer’s workers went to him and said, ‘Sir, the field where you planted that good seed is full of weeds! Where did they come from?’ “‘An enemy has done this!’ the farmer exclaimed.
“‘Should we pull out the weeds?’ they asked. “‘No,’ he replied, ‘you’ll uproot the wheat if you do. Let both grow together until the harvest. Then I will tell the harvesters to sort out the weeds, tie them into bundles, and burn them, and to put the wheat in the barn.’” ~Matthew 13:24-30
The evidence these people are pretenders (zizanion), is that later they stop saying they are a believer, and instead, turn militant against Jesus and seek to turn people away from Him.
The purpose of this essay is to inform the true believer who has fallen away for a time, but can come back to Jesus, to return to Him now and continue your former relationship with Jesus.
Jesus Wants You To Remain With Him
In John’s Gospel Jesus writes specifically to people who once believed in Him, but later fall away. He warned that everyone will feel doubts, fears, experience persecution for being His followers, and sometimes feel like giving up. Many believers will be overcome by sin and feel the strong attraction of this world. Everyone who trusts in Jesus will have terrible trials that will test their faith. In all these difficulties, Jesus said we should not lose our trust in Him, but continue to do what He commanded; stay close to Him.
Jesus used a grapevine and its branches, as an illustration for how a person who believes in Him, must remain attached to Him for all of their life. If a branch is broken off it soon withers and dies, so also do those who detach themselves from Jesus.
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.
“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing. Anyone who does not remain in me is thrown away like a useless branch and withers. Such branches are gathered into a pile to be burned. But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for anything you want, and it will be granted! When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father.” ~John 15:1-8
When a person turns from their sins and determines to trust in Jesus, they become a part of Him. Jesus said that people who are truly His, are “born again,” by the Spirit of God (John 3:3). This means that when we decide that we have had enough of our sins; when we feel sorrow for the wrong we have done; when we want our guilt and shame removed—Jesus will take all these things away forever. The moment we come to the Lord and sincerely want to end sin and begin a new life following Him, He will accept us.
The Central Issue With God Is Sin
We live in a world where wrong is all around us. We are so used to the terrible things that people say and do that we have become desensitized to it. When God created us we were perfect in every way. He made us like Himself, and there was no sin, suffering or death on earth. It is sin that causes us to die; it is our immoral behavior that separates us from God.
“Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; the soul who sins shall die.” ~Ezekiel 18:4
At the moment we are sincere and turn from our sins and genuinely trust in Jesus, an event takes place that cannot immediately be seen externally: We are transformed on the inside, by the Spirit of God, into a brand new Creation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.” ~2 Corinthians 5:17-18
We acquire a new nature that wants to please God—earnestly desires to live a good and moral life.
At the moment we decide to turn from our sins and fully trust in Jesus, every sin, every wrong thing we have said and done in our life, is removed from our record, and we become perfect in the sight of God (Mt 5:48). Jesus’ death and resurrection are so powerful that they can cleanse us from all the wrong we have done—for our entire life—the moment we believe His death on the cross, paid for our sins.
Before this moment, we are all guilty and there is a future judgment awaiting us for our sins, that will happen at the end of our life (Heb. 9:27). Jesus took our sins and carried them in His body to the cross. He paid the penalty for our sins that we deserved. When Jesus died, our sins died also and they no longer exist.
The Stipulation: God will take away our record of wrong and make us perfect, if we are sincerely sorry for our sins, and are willing to cease the practice of sin in our life. At the moment we repent and trust Jesus’ death for our sins, God removes us from the future judgment that every person who has sinned, will experience at the end of their life (Rev. 20:11-15). If we stop believing, this becomes evidence that we never were truly saved because we did not turn from our sins and continue to trust Jesus for our salvation.
“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” ~Matthew 10:22, 24:13, Mark 13:13
God accepted Jesus’ death to take away all our sins. The evidence this really happened is proven by His resurrection from the dead. If Jesus had not risen, we would still be in our sins, and none of us could be saved. God sent Jesus on a final rescue mission to earth, to save anyone who would believe. There will be not future offer given to the people of earth.
The only barrier to having our sins removed and becoming a “New Creation,” is whether or not we really meant what we said when we asked Jesus to forgive us. We prove that we were serious when we continue to trust in Jesus and live our life for Him.
After Jesus forgave the woman who was caught in the act of adultery, He said that she was forgiven, and God no longer would condemn her for her sins. Jesus also said, “go and sin no more” (John 18:11).
Of course this woman would certainly make mistakes in her life and sin again, after she believed. Jesus is describing an attitude and determination that this woman who was forgiven by Jesus, never wanted to sin again. We will not be sinless after we accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, but we should sin, less, after we are forgiven. If we seek to live apart from sin in our life, this is evidence we were sincere, and evidence God has truly saved us.
Anyone who continues in their sins, or returns to their sins, never was saved. Sin in the central issue, and God has no tolerance for people who accept Jesus’ death for their sins, only to continue in those sins. “Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace?” ~Hebrews 10:29
When we determine to trust in Jesus, and later discover that we have sinned, the Lord will cleanse us of these sins, if we confess they are wrong, turn from them, and continue to follow Jesus: “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His word is not in us.” ~1 John 1:8-10
The Second Requirement For Our Salvation: We Must Never Leave Jesus
Everyone who begins to follow Jesus, suffers difficulties in their life. Jesus warned those who will commit themselves to Him that “in this world you will have trouble, but be encouraged, I have overcome this world” (John 16:33). Jesus never promised us that it would be easy to stay faithful to Him, but He did say it would be worth it:
“His lord said to him, Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your Lord.’” ~Matthew 25:23
The extent of our authority in eternity will be determined by our faithfulness to Jesus while on earth. This is the proving ground where the true followers of Jesus are separated from the pretend and false believers. It is a consistent theme of the New Testament that the reward of heaven is only for those who endure the trials and temptations of this life, and remain faithful to Jesus. God takes no pleasure in people who cannot endure, and fall away.
The truly saved sometimes fall away for a time, but they always come back to Jesus again and continue to trust Him for the rest of their life. If you were once a believer in Jesus, but stopped believing and are now far from Him, it’s not too late to come home.
Jesus’ love for you is so great that He will welcome you back again, if you come to Him now and begin to follow Him again. All you must do is tell the Lord that you are sorry for falling away, and you want to come back and trust in Him again. Jesus will accept you and you can continue with Him for the rest of your life.
Peter fell away from Jesus, denied Him and hid like a coward, after Jesus was arrested and crucified. Jesus warned Peter this would happen—before it took place. Peter boasted that he would never fall away from Jesus, and he was ready to die for Him. But Jesus knows us and He knew Peter. Just as He said, Peter denied that he knew Jesus, three times, before the rooster crowed twice the morning after Peter’s denial (Mt 26:35-38).
Before this happened Jesus told Peter: “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” ~Luke 22:32
Jesus knows that some of us will fall away, but this does not have to be the end of the story. While apart from Jesus, Peter learned a lot about himself. He realized that without Jesus in his life, he was nothing. Peter knew that there was no one in all the world who was like Jesus. When he realized a mistake had been made, Peter got up from where he had fallen, and came back to Jesus. The Lord accepted Peter, and allowed him to continue right where he left off.
What is equally important in Peter’s lapse of faith, is that when he came back to Jesus, he went to his fellow believers and shared with them that he was wrong, and he told the other believers that he learned many valuable lessons when he fell away from Jesus.
First, no one should ever leave Jesus, even if it becomes hard to continue. Even if there are doubts, fears, suffering, losses, unanswered questions, and persecution for following Jesus.
Second, It’s always wise to return to Jesus. He will receive us again because He understands how weak we are sometimes.
Jesus told the story of a man who had one hundred sheep and one of them strayed from Him. He went out and searched for that sheep, and brought him home. Jesus wants you to come back to Him. If you are willing, you can come home, right now, at this moment:
“What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” ~Matthew 18:12-14
If a person determines that they will no longer follow Jesus, they place themselves in an impossible situation. By denying the source of all life and light, they move themselves into an place of hopelessness. If we reject the one way that God has provided for us to have our sins removed, and gain eternal life, there remains no other way for us to be saved.
Whey is Jesus’ death on the cross the only way? Only Jesus is the Eternal God living in the body of a man. Only Jesus lived a sinless life, and then offered that perfect and eternal life, for all of us. There are no other sinless persons who are also God. A sinner cannot save another sinner. Only if God would become one of us, live a sinless life, and be willing to die for our sins, could any of us be saved. Since there has never been anyone with these important qualifications, except Jesus, only He can save us.
“I Used To Be A Christian”
I have been involved in Christian Apologetics for the past four decades. I have participated in thousands of conversations with people who claim they were once a believer in Jesus, but are now an atheist.
I think that people who say they were once a Christian, but no longer believe, are sincere when they say these things. I am also certain that from Jesus’ perspective, those who fall away, never were truly His. I know this because Jesus said that everyone who is truly saved, were “always His.”
We view events of our life in linear time, one after another. God views every event—from eternity, all at once—before they ever take place on earth. God is transcendent time, space, and matter; He is not limited by anything material as we are. God has the ability to see and know everything before they take place, and He makes His decisions, based upon His advanced knowledge.
The Following Chart Illustrates The Difference Between The True Believer And the False:
Believe In Jesus (chosen)
Repent from sins
Given the Holy Spirit
Remain with Jesus for life
Believe In Jesus (not chosen)
Not Born Again
Not Given the Holy Spirit
I no longer believe in Jesus
Believe, Don’t Believe, Believe (Chosen)
Repent from sins
Given the Holy Spirit
Fall away from Jesus
Return to Jesus
Remain with Jesus for life
In the first column, a person hears about Jesus, feels sincere sorrow for their sins, is willing to turn from their sins. These person are “born again,” by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3. These persons are given the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38). These persons who did what God commanded, and then remain with Jesus for all of their life, they were known to do these things, before God created the world.
The second column, these persons hear about Jesus, accept Him as their Savior. Because there was no sincere repentance, the were not born again. They were not given the gift of the Holy Spirit. These persons often think they are a Christian. These persons late fall away from Jesus, and never return. These persons were known to God before He made the world, He did not choose them for eternal life, because they did not repent, were born again, receive the Holy Spirit, or remain with Jesus.
NOTE: Many people do hear, believe, and repent, but they go back into their sins. True repentance is a willingness to turn from our old sins and not practice them again. All true believers who repent from sins, still make mistakes and sometimes sin. The difference is that the false believer, although they say they repent, they return to their former sins and begin to live as they did before. The true believer does not live in their former lifestyle of sin, they only sin on occasion.
The third column is the same person as those in the first column. They did repent, were born again, did receive the Holy Spirit, but fell away from Jesus. Later they return to Jesus and continued to believe in Him for the rest of their life. These persons were known to God and they were chosen for eternal life.
Hear, Believe, Repent, Born Again, Holy Spirit, Endure For Life
The central issues in whether a person is really a true believer is not claiming to believe in Jesus, but repentance from sin, which causes them to be born again. These person believe for all of their life—prove by remaining with Jesus—they are true believers.
The person who claims to believe, but later falls away and no longer believes for the rest of their life, never was saved, never was known to Jesus (Matthew 7:23), was not chosen for eternal life because their confession was not genuine.
God Knew These People Before He Created Anything—This Allowed Him To Choose The True Believer, Reject The False
We see an example of this advanced knowledge in John chapter 17. Jesus is praying to the Father and He thanks Him for all those who have been given to Him. Then Jesus says something extremely important: “the ones you gave me from this world, they were always yours.”
“Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son so he can give glory back to you. For you have given him authority over everyone. He gives eternal life to each one you have given him. And this is the way to have eternal life—to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth. I brought glory to you here on earth by completing the work you gave me to do. Now, Father, bring me into the glory we shared before the world began. “I have revealed you to the ones you gave me from this world. They were always yours. You gave them to me, and they have kept your word.” ~John 17:1-6
In order for someone to “always” belong to the Father, there never could be a time when they did not belong to Him. This is a statement made from an eternal perspective.
How is this possible? How could we belong to Jesus before the universe began? The reason this is difficult for us to understand, is that we are thinking as a human being, considering this statement from our perspective as earth-bound creatures, restricted by time.
The Lord who made time for us to live in, is not governed by time himself. God has the ability to see everything that will happen, all at the same moment. It appears that in the eternal realm of existence, events do not take place one after another, but every event has already happened. In the domain of eternity, your great, great, great, grandmother, arrives in heaven at the same time you do.
Theoretically: In the domain of eternity all those who will trust in Jesus and be saved, are already in heaven. We are simply living the linear occurence of these events on earth, bound by time. For everyone in heaven, everything has already taken place. When John is watching the church in heaven, fully redeemed by Jesus’ death and resurrection, he likely saw himself sitting there with all those who have been redeemed. Try to wrap your mind around that idea!
Notice how John records these events as though they had already taken place, and he is merely a spectator being shown these things. Notice that John speaks of these events in the past tense: “I saw; He stepped forward; when the Lord took the scroll; each had a harp; they sang a new song; you were killed; your blood ransomed; people from every tribe, language and people; you caused them to be.”
Then John describe all the redeemed in heaven, already singing their song of redemption: “Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders.”
“Then I saw a Lamb that looked as if it had been slaughtered, but it was now standing between the throne and the four living beings and among the twenty-four elders. He had seven horns and seven eyes, which represent the sevenfold Spirit of God that is sent out into every part of the earth. He stepped forward and took the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people. And they sang a new song with these words:
“You are worthy to take the scroll and break its seals and open it. For you were slaughtered, and your blood has ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation. And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”
Then I looked again, and I heard the voices of thousands and millions of angels around the throne and of the living beings and the elders. And they sang in a mighty chorus:
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.” And then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea. They sang: “Blessing and honor and glory and power belong to the one sitting on the throne and to the Lamb forever and ever.” And the four living beings said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped the Lamb.” ~Revelation 5:6-14 (NLT) 6
The Saved; those who truly turn from their sins and are counted among the redeemed of the Lord, were known by Him before the universe began. God knew who would exercise the right of choice that God gave us, and some would choose to believe in Jesus; others would use their choice to reject Jesus’ offer of salvation and eternal life.
We do not see in these texts, God choosing people for salvation without these persons first choosing salvation themselves. God knowing who will be saved, does not mean He removed their choice and made it for them.
Before Jesus arrived on earth the Father had already determined who He would give to Jesus. This choice was based upon His advanced knowledge of who would choose Jesus. The chosen, the elect, the predestined, are people whom God knew would obey His command to repent and believe.
Because God knew these things ahead of their actual occurrence, the persons He chose to belong to Jesus, were “always His.” This means that God had knowledge of who would turn from their sins and believe in Jesus for all of their life, before He created anything.
The Father chose people who He knew, would choose Jesus.
God’s Knowledge In Choosing People Who Chose Jesus—Removes The Possibility They Once Believed, But Later Do Not
God does not speak of people who claimed to once believe, but later do not, as being, “always His.” He knew they would not remain with Jesus, and for this reason, He did not choose them for eternal life. God only chose people who genuinely turned from their sins, and continued to follow Jesus for all of their life.
The claim, “I was once a believer,” is disproven by Jesus’ statement that the saved were “always His.” Only the truly saved are described in this manner.
The Excuses People State For Why They No Longer Believe
It is a consistent fact concerning people who claim to have once believed in Jesus, that they often say they no longer believe, due to an education in the true facts concerning Jesus and the New Testament. Whenever I hear this, I know that the “education” they are describing, came from the statements of atheists who also once claimed to be a believer.
As one who was an atheist 47 years ago and knew absolutely nothing about Jesus or the New Testament, it was my four decades of education in the true facts of the New Testament, that has made me a permanent believer. If at any time in the last four decades I had ever found any evidence the New Testament is not true, I would have immediately ceased following Jesus.
In 47 years of debates with atheists who claim to be former Christians, I have never found a valid intellectual barrier. I have found many alleged difficulties that are easily remedied with evidence. The New Testament narratives about Jesus, are historical, eyewitness accounts, that bear absolutely no evidence whatsoever of untruth or fabricated stories.
What we do find in the 24,593 extant manuscript copies of the New Testament, is a tremendous amount of literary forensic evidence, which proves the men who wrote these letters to churches in Asia Minor, are telling the truth.
It is quite easy to prove that the Synoptic Gospels were written and in use by 44 AD. When Paul departed for his first missionary journey to Asia in 45 AD, he was carrying with him, these written texts, certified by the men who had seen and heard Jesus. Paul cited the testimony of the men who had seen and heard Jesus, as his authority to prove Jesus is both God and Messiah.
These men state 134 times, they saw and heard what they are writing in the Gospels, and they are certain the facts they state are true. There is no impeaching evidence in the entire historical record to countermand the statements of these men. The disciples of Jesus state emphatically that He performed miracles that only God is capable of, even raising the dead, walking on water, turning water into wine, calming a storm with a command, feeding thousands with a few loaves and fish, and raising Himself to life after being brutally scourged, pierced in His side, and crucified.
The surviving manuscript evidence to validate Jesus as He is described in the New Testament, is the largest body of affirmation for one person, than any other event from antiquity.
Evidence That Proves Everything Written About Jesus In The New Testament, Is True
I have published 33 books on the reliable, historical, Jesus, and the evidence that proves the testimony about Him in the New Testament is absolutely true. The most concise book that I have written, which contains the 21 primary false assertions against the New Testament, is called: “New Testament Apologetics.”
The following are the primary assertions made by atheists and critics in their attempt to refute the reliability of the New Testament. In the 21 chapters of this book, I examine the evidence that exists to impeach every modern assertion leveled against the New Testament:
1. The New Testament was not written by eyewitnesses:
This is perhaps the easiest claim to impeach, because the actual text of the New Testament contains 134 statements by the writers in which they say they are eyewitnesses and saw all of the things they have recorded for us.
This evidence is presented throughout this book.
2. The Gospels were written late in the first century:
In many of the books written by atheist New Testament scholars, the idea that men who never saw Jesus contrived the narratives of the New Testament is a very popular argument put forth by atheists today. The problem for their side of this issue is that there is absolutely no evidence anywhere that this is true.
Once again, the internal texts, statements, and external secular events of that period impeached the idea that the Synoptic Gospels were written late in the first century.
3. The Gospels were written anonymously:
The idea that a literary work of antiquity is of no value, nor can it be trusted, simply because the author may not have placed their name on the document, is without merit.
There are hundreds of secular works of antiquity that do not have the author’s name, which have always been considered reliable.
I will present evidence in this book that we do know who the writers are and, if they did omit their names, this is forensic evidence that all of their testimony is absolutely reliable.
4. Paul never saw the risen Jesus:
Once again, there are 10 citations in the New Testament where Paul and others say that he saw the risen Jesus with his own eyes.
Beyond the evidence to prove that Paul saw Jesus, secular history and internal evidence within the texts proves that Paul was one of the eyewitnesses Jesus chose to tell the world in written form all that He said and did.
5. The New Testament is filled with contradictions:
You will learn in this book, that what atheists assert as a contradiction is not. This book presents evidence that proves that there are no contradictions in the New Testament.
First, you will learn what constitutes a genuine contradiction and how the writers of the New Testament, in their own statements, never wrote a single sentence that is in contradiction with any of the other writers.
Second, you will see how critics twist the scriptures to make them seem to be contradictions, when the clear reading of the texts demonstrates that no contradictions exist.
6. There are no contemporaneous, secular evidence for Jesus:
Whenever I hear an atheist state this, I am always amazed at how little knowledge they have of history.
This is one of the easiest assertions to overcome because there are over 130 secular, contemporaneous citations in the record of history that cite Jesus as crucified, risen from the dead, and present in Israel during the same period of history that the New Testament places Him there.
7. The texts of the New Testament have been changed:
When I show you what atheist scholars cite as changes to the texts, you will be amazed. Every allegation of an altered or abused text for the New Testament, which changes the narrative of Jesus from its original events, is nothing more than conjecture.
I will show you the actual texts that are asserted as changed, and you will immediately learn that this is a ruse created by atheists to cause unsuspecting readers to distrust the New Testament.
There is not a single place where the texts is changed in any way that would impugn the total narrative about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.
8. The New Testament is filled with errors:
When atheist New Testament scholars say that the New Testament is filled with errors, what they mean is that one word misspelled in several thousand manuscripts is several thousand errors.
Any person with absolutely no training whatsoever can see that these are all contrived claims made by disingenuous scholars for the purpose of maligning a text that does not have any genuine errors, which prevent us from understanding the narrative about Jesus.
9. The New Testament is not a valid historical narrative:
One of the unfounded claims that many atheists will tell you is that the narratives about Jesus in the New Testament are not historical, they are merely myths.
One of the first ventures I made in my education of the New Testament was to use the modern techniques of higher and lower literary criticism for the New Testament.
When these techniques and forensic methods are used to test the historical reliability of the New Testament, we find that the texts meet and exceed every requirement established to validate the texts as truthful and genuine historical events.
10. Jesus never claimed to be God:
Not a day goes by that I do not hear this claim both by atheists and modern New Age religionists.
I will present you with conclusive evidence, that Jesus made it a primary point in all four of the Gospels to teach the world that He is Yahweh-God from the Old Testament.
This is accomplished by a thorough examination of the Koine Greek texts, and the specific statements that Jesus made about Himself, as well as the statements of the men and women who knew Him well.
The entire Old Testament states that when the Messiah comes to earth, He will be Yahweh in the body of a man.
11. The disciples of Jesus were illiterate:
Mere logic and physical evidence is all that is needed to impeach this preposterous idea. If we read the New Testament that is composed primarily for the purpose of revealing to the world who Jesus is, this argument quickly fails.
It is impossible that the Old Testament prophets described men writing a testimony about the Messiah for the world, and Jesus commanding men to witness what He said and did, only to call illiterate and incapable men to do what He asked.
When you see the texts the atheist New Testament scholars use to try and prove that the disciples of Jesus were incapable of writing the elegant Koine Greek texts of the New Testament, you will be amazed.
This argument is completely ineffective and is easily impeached.
12. There is no historical evidence for Jesus’ resurrection:
Very early in my education concerning the New Testament manuscript evidence, I began to hear this unfounded assertion.
You will discover in this book that the resurrection of Jesus was one of the most talked about subjects amongst the Roman Emperors of that period of history.
The preserved historical, secular texts of both the Romans and the Jews prove that Jesus had risen from the dead.
13. The Gospel writers copied each other:
At one point in my own scholarship, I began to notice that atheist scholars do not study the actual texts of the Bible. They study what other atheist scholars have said, what secular works of antiquity say concerning the New Testament period; and these critics look for parts of the New Testament narratives that they don’t like, in order to make their comments and conclusions.
There is adequate unanimity between these witnesses to demonstrate corroboration, but sufficient variation in their details and particular differences in the accounts to eliminate the assertion of collaboration.
In other words, there is evidence in the texts that the writers of the Gospels corroborated with each other the true accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, but there is also tremendous evidence that they did not collaborate or fabricate their narratives based solely on what the other writers recorded.
You will see how the Synoptic Gospels tell the same story of Jesus, while the individual writers include, or exclude, specific details that others do not record. This is forensic evidence that the four Gospels are all independent narratives by four different writers, who all saw the same events.
14. A majority of scholars confirm that the New Testament is not true:
Whenever you hear or read this statement, remember one important point: the scholars these people are describing are atheist New Testament scholars.
Only about twenty percent of all New Testament scholars are atheists. The other eighty percent are fairly consistent in telling you many of the things I have included in this book.
Atheists, when they are talking to you, will make you feel like the entire community of scholars believe that the New Testament is not reliable. This is not true. It is only a small minority group of atheist scholars who hold these views of unreliability. You will see a list and the comments of the eighty percent of the scholarly community, who disagree with the atheist view of the New Testament.
15. Eyewitness testimony is not reliable:
I have heard this assertion on hundreds of occasions. Atheists pass this false information to each other, and they will tell you that even if the men who wrote their testimony about Jesus did see Him, their testimony as eyewitnesses is not reliable.
In matters of criminal law, eyewitness testimony is not considered reliable. However, in matters of historical events, the testimony of an eyewitness is one of the highest levels of confirmation for literary historical events.
16. Why Bart Ehrman is not a reliable scholar:
In this publication, I will provide you with numerous pieces of evidence which demonstrate that atheist New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, is not a reliable source for true information regarding the New Testament.
17. The Errors of Old Testament Criticism:
One of the tactics used by atheists and critics of the New Testament is the assertion that the first five books of Moses were not written by Moses. The tactic employed is the conjecture that there was no known alphabet in existence at the time Moses is alleged to have written these texts. This book presents the archeological evidence that impeaches this assertion.
18. The Errors Of Modern New Testament Criticism:
In this book, I will show you several examples of actual statements made by modern atheist New Testament scholars in an effort to overturn the reliability of the New Testament. These statements are made without evidence to support their assertions.
I will show you how the evidence that is available today impeaches all of these false claims made against the New Testament.
19. There Are Discrepancies In The Bible:
What atheists call “discrepancies” are actually evidence of ineptness or willing ignorance. There are no discrepancies in the New Testament.
I will show you examples of what atheist scholars assert are discrepancies, and demonstrate that their knowledge of the texts and cognitive bias is the true cause of their errors.
20. There Is No Evidence For God:
One of the reasons that I wrote this book, and several others in my career, is to demonstrate by evidence that God does exist. One of the primary proofs for the existence of God is the testimony of the men who saw and heard Jesus, who recorded that He is the Eternal God who created all that exists.
21. Atheists Who Claim: “I was Once a Christian.”
One of the claims made by leading atheist New Testament scholar, Bart Ehrman, is that he was once an evangelical Christian who learned, by education, that the New Testament is not true.
This claim is impeached by Jesus and Paul in the texts of the New Testament, where the test for a true Christian is measured by facts that fully impeach Ehrman’s assertions and all those who seek to use education as the reason for their atheism.
The Conclusions Of New Testament Criticism Are Final: The Text Is Truthful, Accurate, And Reliable
By the conclusion of this book, these 21 impeachments of the primary arguments put forth by atheists will convince you that the New Testament is the most beautifully written, most honestly recorded, most relevant narrative, in all the history of the world. Everything written in these 27 letters is all true, and the evidence I will present to you in this book is sufficient to convince any honest and reasonable person that these narratives are absolutely true and reliable.
This book is a compilation of several essays that I have written over many years on the fundamental errors of atheist New Testament scholars, and provides evidence to impeach all of the incorrect assertions that modern atheist scholars have published.
People who give up on Jesus and embrace atheism, often claim that they are now free, since they stopped believing. What I observe in their words and life is not freedom. These persons become slaves to sin, obsessed with the things of the world that are passing away, and are often vindictive and hateful towards anyone who loves Jesus and His Word.
Notice the words of Jesus concerning people who detach themselves from Him and no longer believe:
“I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch of mine that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more. You have already been pruned and purified by the message I have given you. Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me.”
If We Cut Off Ourselves From Jesus, He Cuts Us Off From Life
As a branch is detached from the grapevine, withers, dies, and is thrown away and burned, so also is the fate of everyone who cuts themselves off from Jesus. There is no life apart from Jesus; there is no light of revelation in this world and how things operate, without the wisdom of God that comes only by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. When a person falls away from Jesus, a hardness of heart sets in and most people are never able to come back and follow Jesus again.
For those who do believe and want to stay close to Jesus for all of their life, Jesus said that these branches will be pruned. I have several trees on my property and every year I must cut back some of the weaker branches. I do this because I love my trees and I know that removing the weak parts will ensure that the tree can produce even more fruit in the next year.
Jesus prunes us by trials, difficulties, losses, and persecution that we experience in the world. All of us have had friends who stay with us when we are at our worst, or when the trials we experience in our life are at their most difficult. There are also people who say they are our friends, but as soon as we fail and fall, they abandon us and then begin to say terrible things about us. It is the same with those who truly love Jesus: The true believer remains faithful to Jesus, even when there are overwhelming hurts, losses, and difficulties in their life. Faithfulness is the most important principle in the life of the true believer, for Jesus, and also in our own life; faithfulness, is the most important quality of friendship and love (1 Cor. 4:2).
The Fruit Of The Spirit: Evidence Of Genuine Salvation
Christians, people who have been born again and are filled with the Holy Spirit who lives inside every true believer, causes these people to produce good fruit. These persons will begin to live a life that is filled with the fruit of the Spirit: “The Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” ~Galatians 5:22-23
It is important to understand that sometimes the fruit is very small, but it is still fruit. Jesus does not measure our salvation by large successes in our life; He measures our lives for Him by faithfulness. We never quit, no matter what happens; even when it is hard, or the fruit is sparse or small.
People who fall away from Jesus, no longer produce the fruit of the Spirit, because they now live according to the desires of their flesh and the demands of this world: “When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” ~Galatians 5:19-21
There is a stark difference between the fruit of the Spirit observed in the life of the growing and continuing believer in Jesus, and the person who falls away and lives by their flesh. These differences are easily seen in the lives of those who deny Jesus, and claim to be atheists. I have not observed the fruit of the Spirit described in Galatians 5:22-23, consistently demonstrated in people who have fallen away from Jesus and are now atheists.
The move from trust in Jesus to atheism—never produces a good result. I base this on nearly 47 years of observing people who once claimed to believe in Jesus, who later said they are atheists. I was first an atheist, then I found faith in the testimony about Jesus in John’s Gospel. I fell in love with Jesus, and I never wanted to go back to unbelief again.
A Demonstration Of God’s Sovereignty And Knowledge Of All Things
One of the important principles of God is His ability to know everything. There is nothing that God does not know; there is nothing He must learn. This allows God to know ahead of time, what will happen concerning the universe, the earth, and every person who will be born on earth. Nothing catches God by surprise; there are no events that take place that God had not anticipated.
This includes the people who will sincerely turn from their sins and trust in Jesus for their entire life. Heaven is only given to the repentant, and those who continue to trust in Jesus till the end of their life. There is no reward for unfaithfulness. There are none who have a second chance after death (Heb. 9:27). God has given each one of us a single opportunity to hear what Jesus has done for us, and to make our own decision whether or not we will believe and be saved, or deny Jesus offer of eternal life, and be lost forever.
God’s Sovereignty And Our Choice
There are some who are confused over the sovereignty of God and whether any of us actually have a choice. It is the view of a few that God alone decides who will be saved, and who will be lost. This is solely God’s decision, and there is nothing we can do to change this destiny He has determined.
The problem with this view is that it is not found in the Bible. Some have taken the finality of salvation, as it was known to God before He created the world, who would be saved and who would be lost, as events that He manufactured in His will.
I read the comments of a former Christian, now an atheist, who said that John 3:16 should read as follows: “For God so loved the elect that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever he predestined would believe in Him, shall not perish like those He passed over but have eternal life.”
What is the error of this satirical view of salvation? The terms, “Elect, and Predestined,” are improperly defined.
Knowing what will happen is not the same thing as making these things happen. A part of God’s great power and sovereignty, is in restraining His power to not do certain things. In Philippians 2:6-8, Paul describes Jesus as the Eternal God, but restraining His rights and power as God, to humble Himself and lay down His life for us at the cross.
If God only wanted to save people He chose in advance, but did not include person whom He didn’t want to save, Jesus would not have suffered and died for us on the cross. Jesus said that God loved the world so much that He gave His only Son. It does not say, only those who are elected and predestined, were loved. It says, “the whole world.”
In this statement Jesus clarifies who the elect and predestined are: people who chose to believe. These persons are the elect and predestined. God can speak of people as elect and predestined in an eternal sense because only He knows everything that will happen in linear time, before it has actually taken place.
God knew who would hear about Jesus, feel sorrow for their sins, be willing to turn from their sins and fully trust Jesus for all of their life. Because God knew who these persons were, He could described them in an eternal sense as “always His,” always saved,” “elected and predestined for salvation.”
The disciples of Jesus understood this reality, that Jesus had come to give His life for the sins of the whole world, and each person will choose whether they want to. be included in God’s salvation: The Apostle John wrote: “Jesus himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins—and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” ~1 John 2:2
Even though God knew that most of the world would reject Jesus’ offer to save them, if they would turn from their sins and fully trust Jesus for all of their life, Jesus still died for the sins of every person. If Jesus only died for the sins of the elect and predestined, these statements by Jesus and John would read: “Jesus died for the sins of the chosen, elect, and predestined.”
There is no scripture in the Bible that say this. Consistently, it is stated that Jesus’ death was for all sins, even those who would never believe.
A person is known as chosen, elect, predestined, by God, because He knew from eternity that these persons would exercise their right of choice that God gave them, turn from their sins, and fully trust Jesus for all of their life.
People who claim to have once believed, but late deny Jesus, were not chosen, elect, predestined. In John chapter 17 where Jesus is praying to the Father, He thanks Him for those whom He gave Him, those who were, “always His.” In order for a person to be distinguished by Jesus as always belonging to Him, there never could be a time when these person were not His.
This defines God choosing people for eternal life, as based upon their decision and God’s knowledge from eternity.
Whether you are a true or false believer, you choice is what cause God to choose or reject you for eternal life. The good news is that you are reading this because you are still alive. This means its not too late to turn from your sins, trust in Jesus, be born again by the Spirit of God, and trust in Jesus for the rest of your life.
If you do this, at no time in eternity will you ever regret your decision. If you do not do this, at no time in eternity will you ever have the opportunity to change your mind and be saved. God has given you just one life to make up your mind. What you do with Jesus, will determine what God will do with you.
I hope you make the right choice!
 “Window Dressing:” an adroit (clever) but superficial or actually misleading presentation of something, designed to create a favorable impression.
 Professor of history, Louis Gottschalk, Understanding History, p.89.
 1. For an excellent treatment of the legal aspects of testing the trustworthiness of witnesses and the application of this testing to the New Testament, see John Warwick Montgomery Human Rights and Human Dignity (Grand Rapids: Zondervan,1986), pp.139–50.
2. Van A. Harvey surely errs when he says that it is required of a modern historian that he adopt a standpoint of methodological skepticism. See The Historian and the Believer (New York: Macmillan, 1966), 26.
3. For a general theory of evidence based on a prima facie burden of proof for skepticism, see Roderick Chisholm, “A Version of Foundationalism”, Studies in Epistemology, ed. Peter A. French et al., Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Vol.5 (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press,1980), pp. 543–64.
Categories: Agnostics and Skeptics, Anonymity of the Four Gospels, Apologetics, Atheists, Chosen/ Elected, Christian Progressives, Following Jesus, Forgiveness of Sin, How Salvation Occurs, How The NT Writers Remembered, Jesus is God, Must Be Born Again, New Testament Criticism, Not understanding salvation, Origin of the four Gospels, Pretend Believers, Religion vs. Relationship, Robert Clifton Robinson, Salvation, Salvation is a free gift, Same-Sex and Saved, The Claims of Jesus, The failure of religion, The Four Gospels, The Historical Jesus, Those who stop believing, Unpardonable Sin, We must repent, What happens after death?
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