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    Ask a Pastor - Thread: Apostate

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      Apostate

      Good afternoon. A short story about myself. I grew up christian as a child but in my teenage years i turned to witchcraft. For a short time in my late teens i came to know god once more and was baptised but shortly afterwards i denounced my faith and turned back to the devil. Very recently my heart seems to have softened and im coming to question my decisions and am looking back to god. Am i technically an apostate? I tasted gods love then turned back to evil. Can i still be forgiven or have i committed unpardonable sins against god? Am i an apostate!!

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      Quote Originally Posted by Ask a Pastor View Post
      Good afternoon. A short story about myself. I grew up christian as a child but in my teenage years i turned to witchcraft. For a short time in my late teens i came to know god once more and was baptised but shortly afterwards i denounced my faith and turned back to the devil. Very recently my heart seems to have softened and im coming to question my decisions and am looking back to god. Am i technically an apostate? I tasted gods love then turned back to evil. Can i still be forgiven or have i committed unpardonable sins against god? Am i an apostate!!
      Dear “Apostate,”

      The short answer to your question is, “No, you have not committed the ‘unpardonable sin.’” You would not be asking the questions you are asking if you had. Now, for the longer answer.

      It seems you have Hebrews 6:4-6 in the background of your question:

      For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

      In Lutheran circles, we would call this passage pure Law. Being able to distinguish properly between Law and Gospel is a major key to understanding the Bible. This distinction is not speaking of the Old and New Testaments but the distinction between God’s demands and God’s promises, and so forth. (To gain a good understand of the subject I recommend “The Proper Distinction between Law and Gospel” by C.F.W. Walther, first published in the 19th century but still available in an English translation from Concordia Publishing House.) God’s grace, his mercy, his forgiveness, his love for us in Christ Jesus, etc, is always more powerful than his threats, his punishment, his response to our sin,etc. In other words, Gospel trumps Law. (If you don’t understand that last comment speak to someone who knows how to play Bridge.) Let me give you one of many examples:

      Deuteronomy 23:3 we read, “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever”. However, we read in the book of Ruth the story of a Moabites who marries an Israelite man named Boaz. He and Ruth become the great grandparents of King David and also the ancestor of Jesus. How is it that Ruth, part of a “forever” prohibited people, can not only be saved but actually receive the great honor of being an ancestor of Jesus? The Gospel is more powerful than the Law. She was brought to faith in the promises issued to the Hebrew people and thus the sin that clung to her, either by her own doing or due to inheritance (whatever they might have been), were forgiven.

      One way to think of this is that the Law is what you have left if the Gospel is taken away. Without the Gospel there is nothing but condemnation, threats, death, and the like. With the Gospel, these frightening things are overpower with grace, mercy, forgiveness, hope, heaven, eternal life, and so on. Psalm 46 begins with powerful Gospel words:
      God is our refuge and strength,
      a very present help in trouble.
      Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
      though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
      though its waters roar and foam,
      though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

      Psalm 9:9-10 also has this Gospel message:
      The LORD is a stronghold for the oppressed,
      a stronghold in times of trouble.
      And those who know your name put their trust in you,
      for you, O LORD, have not forsaken those who seek you.

      That you are currently being troubled by the idea that you might be irredeemable, that you are an “apostate forever” means that you are currently in a time of “trouble.” The waters of trial, doubt, and so forth, are roaring and foaming about you. You are being oppressed by false ideas that God might not want you, might not love you. Remember the words of John 3:16 where we are told that God loves the world, not everyone in the world except you. When Jesus said, “Father forgive them” from the cross, the word “them” includes you.

      Saint John wrote:
      My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.

      Notice John is quite clear, Jesus paid for the sins of all people. That includes you. Do not be deceived into thinking Jesus will not welcome you back. He is calling you right now. He is seeking to renew your faith. You may feel like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32). Remember, though, the Prodigal was welcomed back by the Father.

      One final quick point (quick because this is already long): you might be concerned in general by what actually is the unforgivable sin. It is dying without faith in Jesus. In explaining his “impossible to restore” comment, the writer of Hebrews goes on to say, “

      And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. (Hebrews 9:27-28)

      After death it is impossible to repent and believe in Jesus. Before that, there is always hope that the Gospel will reach even the hardest heart.

      I hope this helps.

      Blessings in Christ,
      Pastor John Rickert

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