What Does the Bible Say About Falling From Grace?

“You have fallen from grace.” Galatians 5:4

You often hear this quote from church groups that believe that it is possible for people to lose their salvation. They will tell you that this means that a person can live like a believer for many years, attend church, tithe, and perform all the outward works of a good Christian. At some point, the person “backslides” and loses his or her salvation. They either commit some egregious sin, or perhaps a large number of lesser sins, and they fall from grace. In all the years that I have discussed this topic with those who believe in falling from grace, no one has ever been able to tell me what that point is. How does a person know when he or she falls from grace and loses his or her salvation?

One of the major themes of the Book of Galatians is the conflict between the doctrine of grace and works. Paul wrote Galatians in response to the movement of the Judaizers. This false teaching arose from a group of people who felt that it was necessary for people to become Jewish before they could become Christian. This meant that males would need to undergo the ritual of circumcision, which had been a standard mark of being Jewish or an Israelite for centuries going back to the time of Abraham.

The question of circumcision was one of the first controversies of the early church. The record of the Jerusalem Council is found in Acts 15. Verse one explains the controversy. “And certain ones came down from Judea and taught the brethren, ‘Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.’” Paul and Barnabas “had no small dissension and dispute with them” (verse 2). The question went to the Apostles and elders in Jerusalem to deal with it.

The Apostle Peter testified at that council about his dealings with Cornelius, the centurion of the Italian (Gentiles) Regiment (Acts 10). He gave as evidence the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Gentiles without their being circumcised. Peter concluded, “God shows no partiality” (verse 34). The Jerusalem Council rendered their decision and wrote a letter to the Gentiles: “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.  If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well.” (Acts 15:28-29).

Notice they said nothing here about circumcision, Sabbath worship services, animal sacrifices and Jewish feasts. This would have been a good time to have said, “Look guys, if you want to be good Christians, you must be circumcised as we are. You must do church on Saturday as we do, and you must observe the Passover and all the other Jewish feasts as we do. If you do these necessary things, you will be good Christians as we are.” Remember Peter’s question at the Jerusalem Council: “Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?” (Acts 15:10). Not even good Jews could be good-enough Jews. Why then demand that Gentiles become Jews first?

We cannot keep the law. That is the point that Paul is making in the Book of Galatians. In Galatians 4, Paul compared the Law to a guardian to have authority over the son until he matured. The guardian took the son to be trained. He pointed the way to his teachers. The Law was never meant to save. It was only meant to point out our need for a Savior. Dealing with a similar problem in Colossians 2, Paul pointed out that laws regarding festivals, New Moons, and Sabbaths were “only a shadow of things to come, but the substance is of Christ” (Colossians 2:17).

For Christians, trying to be saved by observing the Law is very dangerous. The Apostle James wrote: “For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all” (2:10). If you are going to emphasize going to church on Saturday, then you are obligated to keep all the Sabbath law, not just Saturday church attendance. The Commandment reads: “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God” (Exodus 20:8-10ff). Notice it does not say to work five days and have a two-day weekend. You must work six days. That is the commandment. If you fail in one point, you are guilty of breaking it all.

These same principals can apply to many man-made requirements today. Acts 15:1 “Unless you…, you cannot be saved.” You fill in the blank. Unless you get baptized, go to church, take Communion, speak in tongues, wear certain clothing, read the Bible, tithe or whatever you want to add to it, you cannot be saved. That is what Paul meant by falling from grace. It means the exact opposite of what groups use it for today. They say unless you keep our list of rules, you will fall from grace as though we maintain grace by our own ability. In fact, Paul wrote that ones who are fallen from grace are precisely those who come up with lists of saving activities.

The rest of Galatians 5:4 reads: “You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.” In verse 1, Paul referred to the observance of the Law as a yoke of bondage”. He wrote that if anyone submitted to circumcision as a basis for salvation, that person was obligated to keep the whole law (verse 3), “which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear” (Acts 15:10).

“Falling from grace” is a club that is often used to beat people into submission to a group’s distinctive marks. It compels people to regular religious activities and compliance with group standards, but it leads to a yoke of bondage. Christ’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. Stop trying to please people. Relax in Christ. “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

FEEDING THE SHEEP OR ENTERTAINING THE GOATS?

After Christ’s resurrection, he met his followers on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. One morning he asked them if they had any fish. Peter told him that they had been out all night without success. When Jesus told them to cast the net on the other side of the boat, they hauled in a large number of fish.

Peter realized who it was on the shore and jumped overboard to swim to him. After eating breakfast, Jesus turned to Peter and asked, “Do you love me?” Each time when Peter said yes, Jesus told him to feed and tend his sheep. That is what a shepherd is to do.

At Pentecost when the church was born, Peter preached the first sermon. He explained to the crowd what was happening at Pentecost. Then he proceeded to talk about the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. At the end of his presentation he pointed out, “Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). He squarely blamed them for crucifying Christ. They asked what they should do. Peter responded, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (v. 38). He did not sugar coat the reality of their crime and their need. That is how you feed the flock. You give them the word of God even when it is unpleasant.

In the 1970’s, however, a shift began to take place. In an effort of make church “relevant,” pastors tried different techniques to get people to come in the doors. One pastor went so far as to do a survey where he asked people what kind of church they would want to attend. Using that information, he set out to build a church that unchurched people would attend. Rather than call them to repentance as Peter did, this built the church  on the principles and desires of unregenerate people. The goats started coming in to the churches and crowding out the sheep.

Churches began all kinds of activities to keep the goats coming in so that they could pay the bills. This is not new to our time. Charles Spurgeon recognized this trend more than a century ago. “An evil is in the professed camp of the Lord, so gross in its impudence, that the most shortsighted can hardly fail to notice it during the past few years. It has developed at an abnormal rate, even for evil. It has worked like leaven until the whole lump ferments. The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the church that part of their mission is to provide entertainment for the people, with a view to winning them.” (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_cbaMBoDac).

Churches today go to great lengths to get people to come into their buildings trying to win them. They have contests and entertainment, concerts, clowns, drama, motivational speaking, life enhancement sermons, and entertainment evangelism where they discuss popular television programs from the sixties, but they are afraid to preach the gospel for fear of offending the goats. Spurgeon said, “Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the church.” Christ said to go into the world and preach the gospel, not to placate the goats so they will feel comfortable. Spurgeon commenting on the crowds leaving Jesus in John 6: “I do not hear him say, ‘Run after these people, Peter, and tell them we will have a different style of service tomorrow, something short and attractive with little preaching. We will have a pleasant evening for the people. Tell them they will be sure to enjoy it. Be quick, Peter, we must get the people somehow.’”

Using carnal means to attract people only attracts carnal people. Watch Paul Washer’s video. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6w3qZjp3jYU) Whatever you use to get people into your church, you will have to top next time to get them to come back. You will continually have to outdo yourself to keep entertaining the goats, because they are not coming for the right reasons. The church cannot compete with the world on the same level, because it lacks the financial resources that the entertainment world has, so we come off as a cheap imitation.

Pity the poor sheep of the church who languish and go without food as the pastor runs off trying to amuse the goats so they will come back. Sheep need feeding and tending, but many are starving spiritually. Pastors need to return to tend the flock that God gave them and quit trying to appease the goats who will only be separated from the sheep at the judgment. Remember Paul Washer’s words, “If you use carnal means to attract people, you will only attract carnal people.

 

 

Living By Faithfulness

One frequently misunderstood Bible passage is Romans 1:17, which states: “The just shall live by faith.” Some interpret that to mean that you do not need to plan for the future, you just have faith and everything will work out. The summer before I entered seminary, I found myself in the living room with some sales prospects to purchase insurance products. Since I was in training as an insurance salesman, I simply observed the whole process. The conversation turned to me as the mentor was explaining to the prospects that I was about to enter seminary. They asked me why I was learning to sell insurance if I was going to enter seminary. I told them that I needed to make a living somehow while attending class. They literally asked me, “Can’t you just live by faith?” I said, “I have to live like everyone else. The money has to come from somewhere.”

Several years later as I was conducting a Bible study class for young married couples, one of the young men asked me, “Why don’t we all sell everything we have and just live by faith?” My answer was the same. The money has to come from somewhere. People think that if you just “live by faith,” money just somehow magically appears in your bank account allowing you to pay your bills. So, what is faith? Just believing something and hoping it comes to pass?

Imagine farming by faith. A farmer lies in his hammock every day believing that one day he will reap a harvest. He actively visualizes his crops. He does not cultivate; he just farms by faith. He does not plant; he just farms by faith. He does not irrigate; he just farms by faith. It does not matter how strong his faith is or detailed his visualization is; he will still not reap a harvest if he skips all the steps necessary for a harvest.

Romans 1:17 quotes a passage from Habakkuk 2:4. There the prophet says, “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” Psalm 96:13 uses the same Hebrew word, but translates it as “faithfulness.” Living by faith is not living with no cares, and hoping that circumstances will somehow work themselves out. It is not living by emotions, passions, or impulses over which you have no control. It is not capricious living doing only what you feel like doing. It means being faithful despite feelings. In Sentimentality or Spirituality, I wrote about persons who were driven by feelings and passions. If they do not feel like doing something, they simply do not. They only do what they feel passionate about.

Living by feelings can lead to depression. For example, Christians may struggle with feelings of acceptance by God. Since they do not feel close to God, their feelings lead them toward sadness. Rather than trusting by faith what God has said in His word, they rely on their own feelings. Believing your feelings rather than God’s word is calling God a liar.

If you feel that God has not accepted you, you are not living by faith. Ephesians 1:6 says that God has called us to be adopted as his children, “to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” His word said that he has made us accepted in Christ. We are accepted in Christ. If I do not feel accepted by God, then I am the one at fault, not God or his word. I am not a child of God, dearly loved and accepted by him because of what I feel is true. It is so because his word says so. To follow my feelings and feel depressed is to call God a liar.

Living by faithfulness means living according to God’s word and promises regardless of how I feel about circumstances. When you begin to feel depressed or anxious, go to God’s word and find a truth to trust. If you feel anxiety, for example, go to First Peter 5:6-7, which says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you” (NKJV). Focus on the meaning of these words. You are to humble yourself before God, casting all your anxiety on him. Trust what it says, then go to God in prayer and do that.

If you feel guilty about sins you committed in the past, turn to First John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (NKJV). Focus on what it says. If you have confessed your sins to him, he has cleansed you from all sin. This should eliminate guilty feelings. Believe what these words say and act accordingly.

Living by faithfulness means living to please God despite how you feel. Rather than following your heart, or your emotions, focus on the facts of God’s word. Several years ago, Campus Crusade for Christ put a diagram in one of their tracts. It was a drawing of a steam engine train with three parts. They labeled the locomotive Fact, the coal car Faith, the passenger car Feelings. They said that the engine could run with or without the passenger car.

Another book used a similar drawing. It showed three people walking along the top of a brick wall. The first was Fact, the second was Faith and the third was Feeling. The book said that if Faith kept his eye on Fact, he would not fall off the wall, but if he looked over his shoulder at Feeling, he would fall off the wall. Remember that Christians are to live by faithfulness, not feelings. If you look to feelings for assurance, you will be derailed. You can always trust God’s word no matter how you feel.

 

 

 

 

Do You Have “the Gift”?

Part of my role as pastor is to teach my people how to do evangelism. Many times, they respond by telling me that they do not have the gift of evangelism. They feel as though that excuses them from doing “the work of the evangelist” (2 Timothy 4:5).

Not long ago, a vocational evangelist asked me if I had “the gift.” He said that if I had the gift, I would not be content to be just a pastor, but that I would have found a way to speak in front of crowds at crusades. I told him that God had not opened those doors for me.  If I really had “the gift,” he reasoned, I would make a way.

Similarly, I have been told that I do not have “the calling.” A little more than twenty years ago, I was the pastor of a small, struggling church in south Texas. Because the church was not growing very much, one of the deacons implied that I did not have “the calling.” If I did, he reasoned, then the church would be growing. Since the church was not actively growing, apparently I was not called to the ministry.

At an Evangelism Conference of the Baptist Convention of New Mexico in Albuquerque in 2011, one of the speakers addressed the group of pastors. He said, “Pastor, if you can’t get at least one person to walk down the aisle of your church and get baptized each year, you should question your calling.” It did not matter what kind of spiritual climate your church may be in, you are only effective if you are producing numbers.

Obviously, the gift is evaluated numerically. If your church is growing, and people are coming in (especially if they are getting baptized) and your church budget is expanding, then you must have “the calling.” If you speak at crusades and large numbers of people make decisions, then you have “the gift.” In some denominations, it is also called the “anointing.” You will hear church members say, “My, that sermon sure was anointed,” or “had the anointing on it.”

So, how do you know if you have “the gift?” Most would say that if you are not producing numbers, i.e. new converts, new church members, or dollars, you are not called, gifted or anointed. Biblically, none of these factors indicates calling, gifting or anointing.

Look at some of the Old Testament prophets, for example. Jeremiah did not have a large following. He found himself at the bottom of a cistern, and ultimately in exile. Isaiah had a dramatic encounter with God. God definitely called him for service, but in Isaiah 6, he asked God how long it would be as the people would not listen. Even God’s response sounds like a lament. God answered Isaiah’s question: “Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant, The houses are without a man, The land is utterly desolate, The Lord has removed men far away, And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. But yet a tenth will be in it, And will return and be for consuming, As a terebinth tree or as an oak, Whose stump remains when it is cut down. So the holy seed shall be its stump.” (Isaiah 6:11-13). God had promised that the people’s hearts would be dull and their ears deaf, certainly not the testimony of a widespread revival in the land. Yet God did not say that Isaiah was not “called” because he did not produce large numbers of converts.

At Christ’s ascension, he only had 11 followers with him. Judas was gone and Mathias had not yet replaced Judas as one of the Apostles. If Jesus had tried to build his church today, the sending agency would have given him three years to make it. They would have evaluated the effectiveness of his ministry by looking at the numbers. They would have said, “Well, we have funded you for three years, with a decrease in funding each year, hoping you would become self-sustaining. It has been three years, and you have only made eleven converts, so we are going to de-fund you.” That is modern church planting, so, apparently, Christ did not have the calling, the gift or the anointing.

A quick search of the scripture will not reveal the phrase of the gift of evangelism. The Bible refers to the gift of the evangelist in Ephesians 4:11, but the gift of evangelism. All believers are commissioned to be disciple-makers, which involves the task of evangelism. Paul commanded Timothy to do the work of the evangelist (2 Timothy 4:5). He did not say, “Don’t worry about it, Timothy, you don’t have the gift.”

While we may not have the “gift, the calling or the anointing,” we all have the task of evangelism. Christ commissioned all his followers in Matthew 28:18-20, among others, to do that job. Do your task and leave the numbers to God.

 

 

 

From Darkest Night to Brightest Morn

“Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness.” (Hebrews 9:22). The greatest problem in all the Bible is how can God be just and righteous and still forgive sin? God cannot simply pardon us and still be righteous. That would make him corrupt. He is holy and cannot allow sin into his presence. Sin demands punishment, for the “wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23). Because we all have sinned (Romans 3:23), we all deserve God’s judgment for that sin.

How, then, can God love if all humans must die? There had to be an answer to satisfy God’s love without compromising his holiness and justice. A life was necessary, and the life is in the blood; for “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul” (Leviticus 17:11).

Beginning with the first animal sacrifice to make clothing for Adam and Eve, to the ram caught in the thicket that took Isaac’s place on the altar, to the Passover lamb of Exodus, the Old Testament teaches the concept of substitutionary atonement, that an innocent die for the guilty.

When John the baptizer saw Jesus walking near the Jordan, he said, “Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). John knew that one day, Christ would be that Lamb foreshadowed by the sacrificial system. At the first Passover while the Israelites still lived in Egypt, every house slaughtered a year-old lamb without defect, spot, or blemish and placed some of its blood on the sides and tops of the door frame. The when the angel came to slay the first born, he saw the blood and passed over the house leaving the first-born son alive. Again, an innocent lamb died to spare the life of the son.

The Last Supper took place at Passover. After finishing the Passover meal, Jesus took bread and wine and established the Last Supper to be a memorial of the sacrifice he was about to make. Later that night he was taken captive and forced to stand trial. The next morning, He was beaten and whipped. Then the soldiers forced him to carry his cross to the place of the skull. Having forced a crown of thorns upon his head, they drove spikes into his hands and feet. He struggled on the cross for six hours while God turned his back on him. There in utter darkness, Christ bore your sin and mine, and paid the ultimate price for the wages of sin. He became the Passover Lamb.

Two other men were crucified with Christ that day, but another man often forgotten in the Easter story is Barabbas. Mark 17:7 described him as a murderer and a rebel. Surely, he was guilty. Matthew 27:16 called him a notorious criminal. The crowd that day, however, demanded his release and Jesus’ execution. Christ carried Barabbas’ cross to Calvary that day. Again, the Innocent died in the place of the guilty.

That is how God can be holy and just and punish sin, and still be loving and offer forgiveness to all who repent and believe in Jesus. How do we know God accepted that sacrifice? Once Christ was taken down from the cross, his body was placed in a tomb. The Jews demanded that the stone that covered the tomb be sealed so that no one would steal the body of Christ and claim he had risen from the dead. Even they knew that Christ had said he would rise from the dead.

That was the darkest moment in human history. The Son of God who had promised to establish the kingdom of God was now dead and buried. The Sabbath passed and Christ remained in the tomb. The next day as some women went to the tomb, they wondered who would move the stone away. Even they did not believe Jesus when he said he would rise again on the third day (Matthew 16:21 and others).

Matthew 28 gives the account of the women on their way to the tomb as dawn was breaking. They experienced a great earthquake as the angel came down to move the stone away. Verse 3 said the angel’s face was like lightning and his clothing was white as snow. That terrible darkness caused by the crucifixion now gave way to the brightest day. God had accepted Christ’s sacrifice and he came out of that tomb alive! The angel told them that Christ they were seeking was alive.

That is the gospel story of Easter. Paul wrote: “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time” (1 Cor. 15:3-6). Christ’s death did not take God by surprise. He had foretold it in the scriptures and through the sacrificial system.

The writer of Hebrews states: “There remaineth no more sacrifice for sins” (Hebrews 10:26). God no longer expects animal sacrifices. They never washed away sin anyway. Only Christ’s death could do that. Paul also preached in Athens, “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31). There is no sacrifice you can make except “the sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, A broken and a contrite heart” (Psalm 51:17).

When each of us stands before God in judgment, we will not be compared to others. We will be compared to Christ. Compared to others I may think I do fairly well; but compared to Christ, I fall way short. All I can do is repent and call upon him to have mercy on me and save me.

How will you do? Will you measure up compared to Christ? Or will you accept Christ’s substitutionary atonement for your soul?

 

 

 

 

SORROW WITHOUT REPENTANCE?

Sometimes the world shouts at God, “Leave us alone!” yet down deep they experience a sense of guilt and shame they cannot assuage. Thinking about God may make people feel worse since they already know what they are doing is wrong. They may even feel a kind of sorrow about their behavior, but it does not bring about any lasting changes in behavior.

The apostle Paul called this “the sorrow of the world” (2 Corinthians 7:10). This sorrow may bring a sense of regret. It may make people feel sorrow because they got caught doing something wrong, but rather than bringing about repentance, such sorrow leads only to death. It may even cause them to redouble their efforts not to do it again, but they continue to fall into that action because they are relying on their own strength. “I can be good without God,” they reason.

On the other hand, Paul also spoke about the “godly sorrow” that “worketh repentance to salvation.” So, there are two types of sorrow, but each one brings different results. One person could feel sorrow over an act, and that sorrow causes the person truly to repent. Another person senses sorrow over an act, but for some reason does not repent. The outcome is different in each case. One truly repents and finds salvation. The other feels sorrow, but does not repent.

As we prepare for the Easter season, let’s see how this worked out in the Bible. On the night before Jesus was crucified, Judas led a mob to capture Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. With a kiss, he betrayed Christ to the authorities who ultimately had Christ crucified. That same night when Christ had been taken into custody, Peter followed as far as he could, even into the court area to warm himself near a fire built by the enemies of Christ. Three times people accused him of being a follower of Christ. Three times he denied it. Then the rooster crowed, and he realized that he had done exactly as Christ said he would do.

Now let’s look at the actions of these two men. Both of them sinned against Christ. Both of them sensed regret. Matthew 27:4 records Judas as saying, “I have sinned…for I have betrayed innocent blood.” Notice the guilt he felt. He even confessed his sin and admitted that he betrayed Christ. His reaction was that “he went away and hanged himself” (27:5) instead of seeking Christ’s pardon. Paul calls that “the sorrow of the world” that “worketh death” (2 Cor.7:10). Judas’ sorrow did not lead him to true repentance, salvation, and life, but rather to his end.

On the other hand, when the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Christ’s words regarding his betrayal, and he went out and wept bitterly (Matthew 26:75). He realized what he had done. He experienced the godly sorrow that Paul wrote about. That sorrow led Peter to genuine repentance, and he found salvation. That sorrow “work[ed]repentance to salvation” (2 Cor. 7:10). We can only speculate what must have gone through Peter’s mind between the time of the crucifixion and the resurrection. In John’s gospel, however, we find Peter being restored to fellowship with Christ. John 21:15-19 shows Christ tenderly bringing Peter back into the fold and commissioning him to tend Christ’s flock.

Several weeks after that restoration, Peter preached the first sermon of the Church at Pentecost, and three thousand came into the church that one day. Christ accomplished a great feat through Peter’s sorrow and repentance, but when people think of Judas, they only feel disgust. No one names their son Judas, but many have named their sons Peter.

When Paul gave his defense before King Agrippa, he told the king how he preached to the Gentiles that they should repent and do works which give evidence of repentance (Acts 26:20). Repentance should bring about change of actions. When you feel sorrow for your sin, which way will you run, to Christ, or away from Him?

 

Leave Us Alone!

One Sabbath day while Christ was teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum, a man possessed by an unclean spirit began to cry out loudly, “Leave us alone! What do we have to do with you, Jesus of Nazareth?” (Luke 4:34). Although this man found himself among the religious at a synagogue service, he himself was still unclean. He was morally corrupt and ceremonially unclean. The authority of Jesus’ teaching elicited a response from the unclean spirit. The spirit cried out for Jesus to go away. Instead of leaving, Jesus rebuked it and told it to leave the man. It obeyed instantly.

The demon recognized Jesus as “the Holy One of God.” It recognized Jesus’ authority to destroy it. The demon also recognized the authority of Christ to cast it out, and it had to leave on Christ’s command.

“Leave us alone!” is the cry of the world today in response to preaching the gospel. It is the cry of morally corrupt people when they sense presence of Christ and it makes them feel uncomfortable. “Don’t tell me how to live. Don’t tell me whom to love!” Rather than changing their corrupt behavior, they scream for Christ to go away. They do not recognize his authority to demand repentance. They do not recognize his authority to obey him. They simply want Christ to leave them alone.

As Noah was constructing the ark in his day, he preached to the people to repent. That preaching lasted one hundred and twenty years. No one repented, and the flood came and took them away (Matthew 24:38-40). In the end, no one was saved except Noah and his family (2 Peter 2:4-6). In the end times, great disasters will come upon the earth, but people will not repent (Revelation 16:9, 11). They will curse God instead. They will say, “Leave us alone!”

In John 3:19-20, Jesus said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” People react to Christ in one of two ways. Sensing his presence may bring a sense of conviction that causes them to repent and turn to Christ in faith. Others feel conviction, but rather than repenting, they scream out for Christ to go away. They hate his light because they love their own darkness.

They may not be literally shouting at Christ, but they often shout at his followers. They want nothing to do with Christ. They would prefer to wallow in sin rather than repent. So, they want the church to go away. They want Christians to stop preaching the gospel because it induces guilt. They want to silence the church. In effect, they are saying, “Leave us alone!”

They want the church to remain silent, not to speak on political or moral issues. They like the church as long as it feeds the poor, shelters the homeless, or cares for children. They believe in Christ as long as he promises to give them health or wealth, but they want to be left alone when it comes to moral and ethical demands on personal behavior.

The time will come when they will get their way. People who cry out, “Leave us alone” will one day be left alone. Hebrews 9:27 states, “it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment.” All those people who wanted God to leave them alone will find themselves left alone for eternity. Rather than being in God’s presence with their loved ones, they will find themselves separated from God, friends and family for eternity. They will be utterly alone.

How will you respond to Christ? Will you say, “Leave me alone!” or “Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner”? Will you come into the light? The choice is up to you.