Is There A Such Thing As An Ex-Christian?

born-again-athiest

Here is an excellent article from GotQuestions.org (reprinted in entirety and my emphasis in bold):

Question: “Is there such a thing as an ex-Christian?”

Answer: This is a question for which there is definitely a clear and explicit biblical answer. First John 2:19 declares, “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” This Scripture makes it abundantly clear—there is no such thing as an ex-Christian. If a person is truly a Christian, he/she will never depart from the faith “…for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us…” If a person who claimed to be a Christian denies the faith, he/she was not truly a Christian. “They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us…their going showed that none of them belonged to us.” No, there is truly no such thing as an ex-Christian.

It is important to distinguish between a true Christian and an “in name only” Christian. A true Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. A true Christian is a person who understands what the Bible says about sin, sin’s penalty, who Jesus is, what Jesus did for us, and how that provides for the forgiveness of sin. A true Christian is a person who has received Jesus Christ as personal Savior, has been made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and is progressively being transformed into the image of Christ. A true Christian is a person who is kept a Christian by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:13, 30; 2 Corinthians 1:22). This true Christian can never become an ex-Christian. No one who has truly and fully trusted in Christ as Savior could ever deny Him. No one who truly comprehends the evil of sin, the terror of sin’s consequences, the love of Christ, and the grace and mercy of God, could ever turn back from the Christian faith.

There are many in those world who claim to be Christians, but are not. Being a Christian does not mean being an American or having white skin. Being a Christian does not mean recognizing that Jesus was a great teacher or even seeking to follow His teachings. Being a Christian means being a “little Christ” (the meaning of the word Christian) and a servant of Christ. There are people who have had some connection to a “Christian” church and then later renounced that connection. There are people who have “tasted” and “sampled” Jesus Christ, without ever actually receiving Him as Savior. However, there is no such thing as true ex-Christian. A true Christian will never, and could never, renounce the faith. Any person who claimed to be a Christian, but later rejects the Christian faith, was never truly a Christian.

This is highly relevant teaching, particularly in these last days. Many pretend to be Christians and yet participate (or endorse) all manner of AntiChrist activity and beliefs. The bible is explicitly clear – you can not renounce your allegiance to Christ and His Gospel if you are a true Christian. Those who can “take off Jesus” have never formally “put Him on” in the first place.

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4 Responses to “Is There A Such Thing As An <em>Ex-Christian</em>?”


  1. 1 Kyle February 1, 2009 at 10:11 pm

    From the Reformed perspective NO!

    As a Monergist the answer is pretty simple in light of Perseverance of the saints. I can attest to my own life and walk with the Lord that even when I had backslid in the past the Lord was there to correct me and continually change me more and more into the likeness of his Son which will one day come true once I have a glorified body and will be with Christ forever. In the meantime the Lord is continually molding this lump of clay. If you have been born again how can you keep dying and being born over and over again? IMPOSSIBLE! If you are a “new” creature you are something other than your former self. If you believe that you can lose your salvation then you are not a new creature, but rather more akin to the creature of Jekyll and Hyde.

    Furthermore, just as YOU didn’t decide when you were going to be born because it was of your parents doing, likewise your Father(Heavenly) decided when you would be born again. What God has accomplished CAN’T be broken by feeble man.

    Kyle

  2. 2 holland February 2, 2009 at 9:05 am

    Excellent post, ST.

  3. 3 anon February 4, 2009 at 3:44 am

    It is important to note that there is a diversity of views on this subject amongst Christians.

    The article quoted basically gives the Calvinist position, a doctrine known as perseverance of the saints, which states that Christians cannot fall away, and those who do were never Christians in the first place. I do not share this approach, and I don’t feel the Bible supports it. For example, the first verse mentioned(actually 1 John 2:19) is not taken in context and seems to be referring to antichrists. The authors exegesis is completely inadequate to support his conclusions.

    I believe that Christians can definitely fall away, and this is supported by the Bible, but I don’t think we can say for certain that losing your faith also means you lose your salvation. So I don’t really subscribe to the Arminian position either.

    In the end, many books have been written on this topic and the Bible is used to justify a range of contradictory opinions. So let’s stop arguing over something where the Bible isn’t clear and accept that we will never know for certain what the actual situation is (until we get to heaven).

  4. 4 speaking truth February 4, 2009 at 12:00 pm

    Anon,

    The article at Gotquestions.org is written in cursory form in order to encourage the reader to further study on their own. For the true context of 1 John 2:19, one must read 1 John 2 in entirety to see the Apostle John’s full discourse. The entirety of 1st,2nd,and 3rd John is a restating of the fundamentals (the basics, if you will) of Christian doctrine.

    You are correct in referencing that the Apostle is referencing antichrists (or enemies of the faith) when he mentions “they went out from us” in v.19. In context, he is referencing false teachers (who fellowshipped with true believers) who challenged the fundamentals of the faith, and departed (swaying others to join them). Dr. Hall Harris has a more detailed exegesis of 1 John 2:18-27, but regarding v.19, he notes (my emphasis in bold):

    2:19 They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us, because if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But they went out from us to demonstrate that all of them do not belong to us.

    Summary

    Here the author describes the departure of the opponents. They went out from the congregation or Christian community he is now writing to. Their departure shows that all of them never really belonged in the first place.

    Exegetical Details

    The second occurrence of the phrase “they went out from us” in this verse is not found in the Greek text but has been supplied in the translation in order to clarify the understood repetition of the phrase ejx hJmw’n ejxh’lqan (ex Jhmwn exhlqan, “they went out from us”) at the beginning of 2:19. For further explanation of the ellipsis, see below on the syntactical function of the i{na (Jina) in this verse.

    The significance of the statement ejx hJmw’n ejxh’lqan (ex Jhmwn exhlqan, “they went out from us”) in 2:19 in relation to the situation within the Christian community the author of 1 John is addressing. How one understands the significance of this statement is very important in understanding the background and setting of the dispute with the opponents reflected in 1 and 2 John. It seems clear from the statement that there was once a time (before the present dispute arose) when the opponents considered themselves members of the Christian community to which 1 John is being written (and of which the author considers himself a part).220 Now the opponents have withdrawn from the community in a dispute over christological doctrine, a dispute which has every indication of being a bitter split. As Schnackenburg observed, these opponents were secessionists—they left of their own free will; there is no indication in the text that the author’s community took the initiative in expelling them.221 Houlden noted that this division appears to be a new development within the New Testament.222 Although there are plenty of examples of doctrinal disagreements within Paul’s congregations (e.g., 1 Cor 15:12) there does not seem to be much indication of complete separation from fellowship on the part of a group (1 Cor 5:1-5 appears to deal with a specific individual case).

    I do not consider myself a “Calvinist”, though I am a Reformed Christian, and I do believe in the Perseverance of the Saints. I believe that Christians can doubt their faith and “backslide” into sinful activity, but true Christians repent and abide in the faith with endurance, no matter what comes their way (2 Timothy 2:12; Mark 13:13; Hebrews 3:14 and so on). The tares may grow alongside the wheat, but they become evident over time (1 Corinthians 11:19). God’s sheep are His sheep, and no one can change that (John 10:28-29; 1 Peter 1:5-9).

    As you said, we will not be certain until we meet Him, but we must find comfort in the Word that He already gave us.


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