This past week I was sent me an email which had the term “post-Christian” included. The writer was conveying some thoughts from a third party about a funeral service where they thought the gospel challenge was missing for ‘post-Christians.’
I must say I had never come across this term before so I was wondering what was meant by it. When I enquired a little further, it soon became apparent that this term wasn’t referring to someone with a post-millennium position, but to someone who had previously professed their faith in Jesus Christ, yet now no longer seems to do so. My heart goes out to those who are concerned about loved ones who have either never professed or seemed to have walked away from the Christian faith.
Some Christians suggest that those who have walked away from the faith never possessed true faith. Although we need to ensure as best we can that a profession of faith is truly genuine, it is too simplistic to suggest that they didn’t profess their faith genuinely at the time. I have known people who have experienced a personal tragedy or serious illness that has caused them to question God’s love for a season in their lives and then after many years, through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit, to be brought back to repentance and again profess a genuine love for the Lord.
Yet, to be a ‘post-Christian’ does leave us with a conundrum. Can someone at one time be a true Christian yet over time, leave the faith all together and therefore become a ‘post-Christian?’ For those of us who hold the doctrines of grace dear as taught in Scripture realise that once a person has been brought to faith through the working of God’s Word and Holy Spirit, they cannot fall from grace (John 10:28-30; Rom 8:28-39; Phil 1:6). Once saved, they are forever safe. If this were not the case, then who can really be sure of their salvation? Furthermore, our confessions, which align with Scripture, also teach that God preserves us in the faith so that we will persevere until He calls us into His eternal presence (cf: The Canons of Dort – The perseverance of the Saints.”)
So how can we encourage those we know who seemed to have publicly professed a genuine love for the Lord and His saving work, yet are now living in denial of that wonderful biblical truth? Without doubt, the first thing we should do is to keep praying for them. The second thing we should do is to present the gospel in a winsome way to them.
Sadly, some Christians would like to have the minister get up and tell people off for their lack of faith and commitment and warn them about the perils of hell, hoping to somehow ‘scare’ people back into loving the Lord. This approach may work for some, but I am not convinced that it is very winsome telling people that if they don’t believe, they are going to hell. It seems to me that bringing the message in this fashion is mostly bad news, for you have not even mentioned the love of our Creator God in giving us life and especially what He has accomplished for us through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.
Surely a more winsome way is to highlight the blessing of God as your loving Father and having Jesus as your Saviour and reminding each other of all the benefits we have in Him as Christians. One of the greatest benefits which is listed first in Psalm 103 is forgiveness of sins. Indeed, who could stand if our Creator kept a record of sins? No one, for all have sinned.
So perhaps when we speak to ‘post-Christians’ or even non-Christians, we could begin by mentioning the positives of having a loving relationship with Jesus as Saviour and be seen to praise Him for all those benefits we possess with our inmost being being. Who knows, it may be more catching and more winsome than focusing on the negatives of unbelief in today’s world. JZ
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