Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them,
because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.
1 Timothy 4:16 (NIV)
Hello Dear Family of Rockport!
As you receive this, I am spending a few days in Arkansas with my mom. This week was the first chance I’ve had since Dad’s funeral to go and help her out on a few things (and she has, indeed, come up with a few things she wants me to do, so it works out!) Any way, I will certainly miss being with all of you. But this is where I needed to be this week.
I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, of the tragedy of some high profile people who have walked away from the Christian faith. Apostasy (turning away from Christ) is a serious thing, but it is not a new thing (2 Tim 4:10). Nor does it happen “all at once” in a person’s life. There are steps that lead down from Christ to a life that denies him. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, warned about these steps back in 1678. What he said then, is still very much applicable to us today. He said, apostasy begins when . . .
1. You draw away your thoughts from the remembrance of God, death, and judgment to come.
2. Then, you slowly stop private duties like closet prayer, curbing your lusts, watching for temptation, sorrow for sin, and the like.
3. Then, you turn away the company of lively and warm Christians.
4. After that, you grow cold to public duty, as hearing the word preached, reading the bible, godly fellowship, and the like.
5. Then, you begin to pick holes in the coats of some of the godly; and do it maliciously, that you may have a seeming excuse to throw [the Christian] religion behind your back (for the sake of some sin you have seen in others).
6. Then, you begin to adhere to, and associate yourself with, carnal, loose, and immoral men and women.
7. Then, you give in to carnal and immoral conversations in secret; and you are glad if you can see such things in anyone else that is called Christian, that way you can commit your sin more boldly through their example.
8. After this, you begin to play with little sins openly.
9. And then, being hardened, you prove yourself to be as lost as they are. Thus, being launched again into the gulf of misery, unless a miracle of grace prevent it, you perish forever in your own deception.
May the Lord refresh our hearts in Christ and keep us from taking this path!
With love and constant prayer for you all,