A Cry For Justice

Awakening the Evangelical Church to Domestic Violence and Abuse in its Midst

Can someone be saved, yet remain immature, lazy & eventually lose that salvation and return to their sinful ways?

 

I really thought when we were young that my husband became a Christian, and he really seemed to try….even now sometimes I find him reading his Bible, etc. Yet after having been married to him for decades, I’ve seen so much of his pattern of behavior that I no longer doubt that he is narcisstic and abusive. I think back to the early days and I wonder if he ever was really saved or not. He seemed to be. If I had to pick a time when things began to change I’d have to say it was after we had a couple of babies. Since then it’s been a roller coaster. Is it possible for someone to be saved, yet remain immature, lazy, and eventually lose that salvation and return to their sinful ways?
— a paraphrase of the question our reader ‘Breathe Again’ asked here.

It is a common question. Here are two excellent sermons which speak to it:

Doing the Impossible  – Hebrews 6:4-12.  Ps Liam Goligher 

Working out our Salvation –  2 Peter 3:1-11; Romans 6.  Ps Jeff Crippen

I (Barb Roberts) have listened to both sermons more than once. I encourage you, dear reader, to do the same if you have the time.

On the post where Breathe Again asked her question, I replied to her as follows:

I do not think it is possible for a person to be effectually saved (regenerate/ born again) and then lose their salvation. Both Jeff and I subscribe to the Baptist Confession of Faith (which is quite similar to the Westminster Confession of Faith). In those Confessions the term ‘effectual calling’ is use quite specifically — you can read about that in the Baptist Confession chapter 10 “Of Effectual Calling”. In paragraph 4 of chapter 10 it says:

Others not elected, although they may be called by the ministry of the Word, and may have some common operations of the Spirit, yet not being effectually drawn by the Father, they neither will nor can truly come to Christ, and therefore cannot be saved: much less can men that receive not the Christian religion be saved; be they never so diligent to frame their lives according to the light of nature and the law of that religion they do profess.

So people like Breath Again’s husband (my first husband was another example) are “called by the ministry of the Word, and have some common operations of the Spirit” so for a while it may appear that they are saved.

In my husband’s case, he heard the Word preached, he responded to an altar call and said the sinner’s prayer and in the next days, weeks and months he had quite a few experiences of the Spirit speaking to him in dreams and in his waking mind. He told me that he had a dream in which Matthew 18:3 was highlighted — “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” In prayer one evening he received an image which showed how he had treated me in the marriage before then: he was a big tree overshadowing me the little plant and his shadow prevented me from getting enough light.

And in the early weeks he loved reading the Bible, he was drawn to the Word and wanted to keep reading it… which is one of the marks of conversion.

But it all fell away. Bit by bit, gradually, he became more and more emotionally and verbally abusive to me. Many months after he had been supposedly ‘born again’— but was by that time regularly swearing at me and raging at me and manipulating me to feel guilty for anything and everything — he was at work one day and he heard God’s voice telling him that he was treating me very badly and God told him “When you go home you must apologise to Barbara and ask her forgiveness and ask her how she wants you to treat her.”

He came home that evening, aplogized, asked how I wanted him to treat me.  I told him, “Don’t swear around the house. And treat me with respect.” …. Needless to say, his abuse of me moderated for a little while, but it crept back up to where it was before and eventually escalated even higher…

I now look back on that and I think he was NEVER saved. He had ‘some common operations of the Spirit’ but he was never saved. The Spirit was calling him, pricking his conscience, pointing him to the need to humble himself… and he in his own sin resisted the Spirit. I marvelled at how God gave him so many opportunities. It was clear that God was urging him to change. And my husband was declining to follow God’s urgings.

Simon the Sorcerer is another example of a person who appeared to be saved initially but was not saved… and it became apparent when his besetting sin of covetousness was spotlighted (Acts 8:9-25).

And Song of Joy responded:

Jesus’ parable of the sower comes to mind…some people really do seem to receive the Word with “joy” and change for awhile…but then fall away when their old nature figures out it is *not getting any worldly advantage* from the “conversion” and wants to reassert itself (they want to avoid having cares, responsibilities, challenges and go back to their pursuit of materialism and domination).

Matthew 13:20-21 (NASB)
The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.

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For Further Reading

Seeds sown on rocky ground: Lessons about the abuser’s mentality

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Churches are sinfully honouring reprobates—Eli and his reprobate sons. The unpardonable sin.

What is a “reprobate”? Esau was a reprobate. Pharaoh was a reprobate. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, were reprobates. Scripture tells us that there are indeed people who are beyond God’s mercy, for whom it is in fact too late, for whom repentance is now impossible. Let us consider how they ever got to such a point and why their sealed condition serves as a sobering warning to all who are continuing to reject Christ.

We can find numerous examples of anemic, erroneous theology in people who claim to be teachers in Christ’s church. It is a repeated refrain – “No one is beyond God’s mercy. It is never too late for anyone.” These kinds of falsehoods are frequently presented to us when some person who has claimed to be a pious, model “saint” is found out to be what they really are – a wicked, evil, deceiver guilty of the most horrendous sins.

What does the reprobate look like today?

  • He claims to be a Christian.
  • He has heard the gospel and the truths of Scripture for years and years.
  • He is often quite “religious” in appearance.
  • But behind all of this lies an evil, unbelieving heart as evidenced by his real life of walking in evil, of refusing to repent, of having no fear of the Lord.

Hophni and Phineas, Eli’s sons, were reprobates.

What were the sins of Hophni and Phineas?

  1. They were “pastors.” Ministers. Priests. Church leaders of their day.
  2. They did not know the Lord.
  3. They stole from the offering plate (by force).
  4. They fornicated with women who were at the tabernacle, apparently setting up a kind of temple prostitution ring.

And so it was the will of God to put them to death. Not to redeem them. Not to plead with them to repent.

Eli the priest was the father of Hophni and Phineas. Eli’s guilt was in pleading with his sons to repent. Many pastors and Christian counselors today would want to “fix” Hophni and Phineas. Many, many church leaders and professing Christians today are guilty of Eli’s sin.

Reprobates, sinning with a high hand and the sin that leads to death (the unpardonable sin)

Ps Jeff Crippen explains about reprobates and the sin that leads to death in his sermon Today if You Hear His Voice, Do Not Harden Your Heart. The main text of the sermon is 1 Samuel 2:22-36 but it also discusses Hebrews 3:17-19; 6:1-8; Numbers 15:28-31; Matthew 12:31-32; Jeremiah 7:13-16; 14:10-12. It is an excellent coverage of the doctrine of the reprobate, what it means to sin with a high hand by intentionally and persistently resisting the Holy Spirit, and how that is the sin that leads to death — the unpardonable sin.

1 John 5:16-18  If anyone sees his brother committing a sin not leading to death, he shall ask, and God will give him life—to those who commit sins that do not lead to death. There is sin that leads to death; I do not say that one should pray for that. All wrongdoing is sin, but there is sin that does not lead to death. We know that everyone who has been born of God does not keep on sinning, but he who was born of God protects him, and the evil one does not touch him.

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The text of this post is a shortened version of  Part 1 of this 2-part sermon series by Jeff Crippen:

Today if You Hear His Voice, Do Not Harden Your Heart, Part 1.

Today if You Hear His Voice – Do Not Harden Your Heart, Part 2  this discusses the doctrine of the reprobate more, and explains the difference between an apostate and a reprobate.

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This is What Enables Evil to Hide in Our Churches

This post is difficult for me to write because I have lived it so many, many times. The subject gets my blood pressure, dander, ire and anger “up” big time. I hate this stuff. It is soooo prevalent in our churches and there is no excuse for it. This time, as is so common, it comes from a pastor.

Now, I do not know Pastor Brian G. Najapfour, pastor of Dutton United Reformed Church in Michigan. I did however read his recent article in The Outlook magazine entitled “Reflections from My 16 Years of Experience as a Pastor.” I am not trying to do him harm here, but I am attempting to keep his words from doing harm to others.

First of all, let me say that 16 years is not very long. I have been a pastor now for 34 years and it seems like it has only been in the last six or so that I really started to grasp real wisdom, especially wisdom about wickedness parading in the church in a Christian disguise. Perhaps in another 20 years Pastor Najapfour will see the nature and tactics of evil more clearly. I hope so.

But listen now to what he wrote in this part of his article:

In the ministry you will encounter someone who will dislike you for no good reason. And that person can be one of your church leaders. I remember talking to a fellow pastor of another congregation. He told me that one of his elders just doesn’t like him and he did not know why. This elder treats him unfairly and negatively. When dealing with people like this elder, seek by God’s grace to always take the high road. Don’t pay these people back with evil for the evil they do to you (1 Pet 3:9). Instead, pray for them and show more the love of Christ to them.

Why does this kind of thing get me so riled? Because for years and years as a pastor I was told this stuff by people who were supposedly eminent holy wise ones in Christendom. I read it in their books. I heard them say it in sermons. Some of them told me these things in person. And all the while it kept me in bondage to evil.

There is no excuse for a minister of the gospel to teach such things. Why? Because God’s Word is so very, very clear and what Pastor Najapfour says is absolutely contrary to Scripture. What he is doing is teaching as Scripture what is really the tradition of man. Let me bullet-point what he is saying:

  • A Christian can dislike another Christian for no good reason
  • Such a Christian can even be a church elder
  • A Christian can treat another Christian unfairly and negatively
  • A Christian can do evil to another Christian
  • And a Christian can do these things habitually, in an ongoing pattern, with no repentance
  • The Lord’s command to us is to pray for such a person and show them the love of Christ

Now, what does God’s Word really have to say on this? Here you go:

Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes. (1 John 2:9-11)

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him, and he cannot keep on sinning because he has been born of God. By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother. (1 John 3:9-10)

See it? There is nothing unclear about God’s Word and there is everything unclear about man’s traditions parading as Scripture. What this pastor is saying is exactly opposite of what the Apostle John writes here. The result? An evil man parading as a Christian is allowed to remain in church leadership, continuing in his abusive ways for his own glory as he lusts for power and control. How should he be dealt with according to Scripture? The Apostle John has the answer to that question to, in the second paragraph of this passage:

Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth.

I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first, will not welcome us. So when I come, I will call attention to what he is doing, spreading malicious nonsense about us. Not satisfied with that, he even refuses to welcome other believers. He also stops those who want to do so and puts them out of the church.

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. (3 John 1:5-11 NIV) 

Now, what do these words of Pastor Najapfour accomplish in regard to an abuse victim and her abuser in a local church? Most all of you know the answer because you have lived it. The abuser is going to be most certainly enabled, allowed to go right on parading as a Christian, his salvation never, ever challenged and in fact he is not even going to be confronted. His victim? Well, Pastor Najapfour gives the same common and terrible counsel to her ‘ “suck it up, be a better Christian yourself, love him more and pray for him.”

Do you see why what he has written makes me so angry? I lived it. For decades I lived it as a pastor in three local churches. I was in bondage to this very same false teaching until ultimately, after over 25 years in that condition, the Lord turned the lights on for me. I saw these kinds of people Najapfour tells us we must love, pray for, and be sooooo patient with, for what they truly are. Wolves in wool. Children of the devil parading as sons of righteousness. And we are to deal with them as such, not as Christian brethren who sometimes sin.

That is Christ’s truth. And it really does set us free.

 

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A Typical Line by an Abuser — “I Just Don’t Know Why She Left Me”

Recently we have been watching the reality series “Life Below Zero.”  One of the couples featured in the episodes is a clear example of an abuser and victim — Andy (abuser) and Kate (victim). If you want to see an abuser in action, just tune in and watch. Kate was in denial in earlier episodes but long about season three she left after coming to see the abuse for what it was. And Andy? Well, he doesn’t know for sure. Sometimes in life you know people just move on and we go our different ways. He sure wishes her the best. Yeah, right.

Seeing him in action reminded me of abusers I have had to deal with over the years in the church. And more than once I have been the target of this very same kind of line — “I don’t know why, but suddenly Jeff just left and ended our friendship. We are at a loss to know why.” Yeah, right.

In every single one of these cases myself and others confronted the abuse, specifically identified it to the guilty party, and told them their continuance in sin and unrepentance were the reasons we could no longer have a relationship. Oh of course they denied any wrongdoing at all, but they went on to tell people that they just had no idea why we had treated them “so shoddily.”

It is crucial for all of us to be wise to this very common deception. Just take a step back and think about it. It makes no sense at all. An abuser’s victim separates from him after years and years of abuse in most cases. And he would have us believe that he has absolutely no inkling as to why she left? That is an obvious lie and we need to reject it right at the get go. I mean, come on.

Let me give you a biblical example of this kind of thing:

A son honors his father, and a servant his master. If then I am a father, where is my honor? And if I am a master, where is my fear? says the LORD of hosts to you, O priests, who despise my name. But you say, ‘How have we despised your name?’ By offering polluted food upon my altar. But you say, ‘How have we polluted you?’ By saying that the LORD’s table may be despised. When you offer blind animals in sacrifice, is that not evil? And when you offer those that are lame or sick, is that not evil? Present that to your governor; will he accept you or show you favor? says the LORD of hosts. (Malachi 1:6-8)

And again —

And this second thing you do. You cover the LORD’s altar with tears, with weeping and groaning because he no longer regards the offering or accepts it with favor from your hand. But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. (Malachi 2:13-14)

See it? In both cases these guys were trying to pull this “gee, I just don’t know why the Lord isn’t blessing us” business and they were trying to put it over on God! Talk about stupid. They knew full well they were sinning left and right, breaking His law daily and then when He chastised them they were like, “What? How have we polluted you? How come you aren’t accepting our offerings?” This is out and out deception.

So don’t buy it the next time you hear it. Abusers know. They know full well why their victim left and the blood is on the abuser’s hands.

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Related posts:

Crocodile Tears

Truth Torments the Wicked: Insight into an Abuser’s Mind and the Real Nature of His Tears

 

The Gospel and Your Marriage — sermon by Ps Sam Powell

To help dispel some of the false ideas that many women were taught about marriage, we encourage you to listen to Pastor Sam Powell’s sermon The Gospel and Your Marriage which expounds on Corinthians 7:3-6. This sermon follows on from Sam Powell’s first sermon on 1 Corinthians 7—The Immeasurable Goodness of God.

Pastor Sam Powell

 

In The Gospel and Your Marriage, Ps Powell rejects the notion that the husband is head of the wife means the husband has authority over her. But he doesn’t say that ‘head’ means source. So what does he say? Listen to the sermon and find out!

 

 

Two caveats before you listen:

  1.  The prayer at the end is spoken as if all the listeners to the sermon are married and are married to genuine Christians. Ps Powell has explained:
    In the contexts of both sermons, I was addressing Christians who are married. I spoke of dysfunctional marriages, and mentioned that this text doesn’t address them. I also mentioned at the end that if intimacy is dreaded, then something is wrong – and begged the congregation to seek help. But I wanted to speak to married Christians in that sermon, and show them the difference between sex as God created it, and sex as corrupted by the world. I understand your point, but the prayer was a prayer of application of that particular sermon – directed towards the Christians who are married. BTW, I also distinguished between Christians and those who say they are Christians but are liars – known by their works.
  2. Ps Powell says at one point in the sermon that the Corinthian church had been thinking that since sexual intimacy was wrong outside marriage, it was best to eschew sexual intimacy within marriage as well. This is a very common interpretation made by commentators and teachers. We (Jeff and Barb) don’t really see scriptural evidence that the Corinthian church was practicing and lauding celibacy. But there is evidence from Scripture and from extra-biblical literature that many people in the city of Corinth  — and some Corinthian churchgoers — were getting into sexual immorality.

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Woman as Owned Property —A Prevailing Mentality in the Church

I have mentioned in past articles that I have known professing Christian men (and women who have bought into it) who really believe that a wife is the husband’s property. Owned. He sees his children that way too, even when they grow up. His. Mine. Holds the title deed to them.

One such man — probably the most notorious I have ever known — evidenced this thinking numbers of times. He said things like this:

  • If another man is flirting with my wife, I am going to fight for her. She is mine.
  • “You must obey me,” says this guy to his wife.

The first statement sounds noble, right? It isn’t. What he means is “my wife is mine just like my truck is mine and no one is going to take her away from me.” When “fighting for her,” he will not only fight against the other man (who may really not have been making advances to the wife at all, maybe only talking to her), he will launch his assaults against her as well.

Property owned, you see.

And I suggest (no, really I just flat out say it) that this property-owned mentality is prevalent in many if not most churches today and explains why abuse victims are treated so shabbily in those places. Husbands own their wives. Therefore, husbands pretty much have the right to do whatever with them. Yes, once in a while you will run across a woman who treats her husband in such a way. I’ve seen it. But it is far more common for the husband to think he holds title. EnTITLEment, you see.

Dr Josie McSkimming is a clinical social worker and an Australian Christian. On this recent ABC TV program about domestic abuse in the church, she said:

How can it be that when an abused woman goes to her church leaders for help, she is accused, spurned, disregarded, yada, yada. You know the routine. How is that? Well, the men of the church, including the leaders, reinforced by various celebrity “christian” authors, see her as a slave owned. Her duty, like a slave owned by a cruel master with no way of escape, is to submit quietly. In the end, if the victim leaves her abuser, she is spurned for having defied her owner like some runaway slave. He on the other hand, is excused of his cruelties (yes, in many such cases the pastor and church leaders KNOW how he has mistreated her) because after all, he is her master. And shucks, none of us are perfect, ya know.

What do you think is going to happen on that Day when Christ comes and judges the world? What is it going to be when men like this who claimed to be His undershepherds, are called to give accounts to Him for the abuses of His flock? I can tell you.

It’s going to be hell.

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