Is there such a thing as an ex-Christian?


Clarify Share Report Asked July 01 2013 Mini Anonymous (via GotQuestions)

For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.

Mini Larry Truelove

If Mr. Houdmann is correct, and he may be, he has offered arguments which are flawed.
1) with regard to 1 John 2:19, those who "went out from them" are not said to be apostates. Mr. Houdmann assumes it must be speaking of apostates, but verse 18 says the apostle is speaking of antichrists, not apostates. Isn't there a distinction between apostates and antichrists?
2) While Mr. Houdmann does't cite Hebrews 6:4 directly, his use of the term suggests he refers to it. The term "tasted" of the heavenly gift is not merely sampling but not receiving Christ. If it did, then Hebrews 2:9 speaks of Jesus tasting death for all men. Would we say with equal certainty that Jesus tasted death but did not really die? The argument is very weak.
3) Mr. Houdmann says that one who turns from Christ was not really a true Christian. But that argument begs the question and proves to be circular. It was not "seems to have been a Christian" but it is "can a real Christian do that?"

You cannot say one who does this is not a real Christ because it assumes what is actually the question under debate. That logic is circular.

If Mr. Houdmann has better answers I would like to see them because ultimately I favor his opinion but I cannot share in some of his logic.

March 27 2014 Report

Imag0495 Lynn Willis

As I began to read all the responses to this I thought to myself: I wish S. Michael Houdmann had responded to this and scrolled back up and he had!

He said it in a most fulsome way with this:

It is important to distinguish between a true Christian and an "in name only" Christian. A true Christian is a person who has fully trusted in Jesus Christ alone for salvation. A true Christian is a person who understands what the Bible says about sin, sin's penalty, who Jesus is, what Jesus did for us, and how that provides for the forgiveness of sin. A true Christian is a person who has received Jesus Christ as personal Savior, has been made a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), and is progressively being transformed into the image of Christ. A true Christian is a person who is kept a Christian by the power of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 4:13, 30 2 Corinthians 1:22). This true Christian can never become an ex-Christian. No one who has truly and fully trusted in Christ as Savior could ever deny Him. No one who truly comprehends the evil of sin, the terror of sin's consequences, the love of Christ, and the grace and mercy of God, could ever turn back from the Christian faith.

I did extensive research into this question when I was first born again... I had DOUBT that I was good enough or could follow Christ GOOD ENOUGH to be saved. I researched Calvanism and Armenianism... who believe that you can lose your salvation.

That DOUBT is of satan, not God. Jesus told us what was required to be saved....to believe that Jesus is the son of God, that He died for our sins, that He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow, and you claim Him as your LORD AND SAVIOUR. That's ALL.

God asks that we be baptised in the Holy Spirit, but even if you aren't, you don't lose your salvation, but I can honestly say that the day I was baptised was the FIRST time I felt I did ANYTHING that pleased the Lord, and what a glorious day it was!

You can not lose your salvation if you believe those things about your Saviour. Now, how you LIVE your life in Christ will determine how you are judged, for we are all judged, but you can not lose your salvation for it is a gift given freely from the Lord God Almighty to each of us with love, grace and mercy.

This I believe truly, fully and with much gratitude and humility.

BUT if you choose NOT to believe those things... to turn away from this freely given gift, then you rebuke God and may God show mercy on you for doing so.

in HIM,

July 08 2014 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Good points, Larry.

This topic and related is a matter of ongoing debate in the Church, precisely because scripture can be pulled to support several different views on it. That scripture is not always in context, taken in line with other scriptures, or without underlying assumptions, however. Unfortunately the tendency with this sort of topic is that assumptions/beliefs can set in before it has been fully researched, and then any contradicting scripture gets re-interpreted through that lens.



January 20 2015 Report

Mini Leon Penny

There is no such thing as an ex-christian. You might recall on the night before Jesus was executed Peter denied Jesus. Before the ascension Jesus had a heart to heart talk with Peter and Jesus commissioned him. One might ask why would Jesus do this? Peter was beating himself up for forsaking Jesus and rightfully so. He belived that he had lost Jesus as a savior. Christians often do this and forget that nothing can separate us from God. Not even sin. Jesus died as the propitiation for our sins. If God's grace is not available for us then why did Christ have to die for our sin? We may believe in the Christ and disavow like Peter; remember that Jesus will pursue even one lost one lost sheep from the flock.

Jesus came to us a God and man and he knows our hearts. We may give up on Jesus, but Jesus does not give up on us. He only desires to recover us when we stray. If we were ex-Christians he would not try to recover us. Why? Because we would not belong to him.

January 22 2015 Report

Stringio Chuby Chris

John 8:36 "Ifif the son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed."

Free indeed means no one can be ex-free. The problem is a lot of people are not set free by the son, and to them you have to work to earn grace.

Don't mix things up. Paul spoke of work, not to earn grace, but to reap the rewards of an evangelist.

Paul also said you can lose all these rewards but, you'll still dwell with Jesus for the grace you have received.

January 23 2015 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Chuby, I do not believe anyone here has proposed that work earns grace. Though I am sure many believe that, it is probably not what most people say when they mean 'ex-christian'. An ex-christian is not someone who hasn't done some work, or has done some sin, and so lost their salvation or some-such. Rather, an 'ex-Christian' is exactly what the term means: An ex-follower of Christ; someone who has defected from the faith. This has nothing to do with the doubts, sins, pitfalls, etc. that a Christian faces while walking by the spirit; rather it is speaking of those who no longer walk by the spirit and return once more to the world. I suggest reading through the answers in the links above (not just top answers) as many specifically address this misunderstanding.

The Holy Spirit is the down-payment/engagement ring of our future inheritance (Eph 1:13-14); but like an engagement ring or down-payment, one can still refuse to go through with the sale.

"But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved" Matt 24:9-14

The warnings are to continuously believe, continuously abide/remain, test ourselves (II Cor 13:5), overcome the world in faith (Rev 3:1-5), (Heb 6:1-8), etc. This has nothing to do with works and everything to do with the predestined plan of salvation God has given us: continuous faith in Christ alone (John 3:16-17).
[II Pet 2:20-22, Rom 11:17-24, Luke 12:42-46, John 15:1-8, 1 Tim 4:1-15, II Tim 2:12, Heb 3:12-19, Heb 6:4-6, Heb 10:23-39, James 1:2-12, etc]

January 25 2015 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

Jennifer, I do not believe Matthew 24:13 is a "salvation" verse. First, the word "save" is sometimes used in connection with physical life as when Peter asked Jesus to "save" from drowning when they walked on the water. Second, the context is the tribulation period when the life of many were in danger (verse 9). I would rephrase "endure" as "survive" long enough to preserve one's life. It sounds like a no-brainer but it makes more sense when everyone around you is falling dead like flies. "If you get through this time alive the rest of it will not be as dangerous--you'll live, your life will be spared."

January 25 2015 Report

Stringio Chuby Chris

Thanks Jennifer for your comment.

Jennifer all the race and running you've referred to has nothing to do with your personal eternal security but your rewards as an evangelist according to (1cor3:15). You can lose all this but still remain saved. Paul, in most of the verses you mentioned above, referred to ministers. The battle fight and race are the words he commonly used for the ministerial work.
Jesus is assuring anyone anyone who comes to him never to let them go in John 6:37
So he is saying if you truly give yourself in mind and in spirit there's no going back cause he won't let you.
All you should do is trust and believe in him and on the last day he will raise you (John 6:39-40). If you give your life he will always bring you back, even when you fall until you become perfect in him. Jesus loves you and won't let you go.

January 25 2015 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Larry, the verse cannot be speaking of physical life, for verse 9 specifically mentions that many of them will be put to death (physically). Matt 24:9-13. Applying it to physical life would be contrary to the point of the passage, which is to endure even unto physical death vs. be overcome by the world. The constant refrain in scripture that he who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life will keep it (John 12:24-25). The point of the passage is endure even unto physical death, vs. be overcome by the world. We endure by faith.

The context is dealing with the great tribulation, but it is highly relevant as scripture repeats the same points for lesser tribulation and trials.

"Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him". James 1:12

Chuby: The prize Paul is seeking is the imperishable wreath of eternal life. In context he is speaking of winning souls (I Cor 19:19-27). All Christians should run with such perseverance, eyes on Christ (Heb 12:1-12). This is done not by works, but by walking by the spirit (abiding faith).

The context of the passage he is speaking of winning souls; winning those under the law (Jew) and those not under the law (Gentile) to bring both Jew and Gentile to the gospel. (I Cor 9:19-23); and how Christians should run with perseverance, eyes on Christ. This is not by works, but by abiding faith/walking by the spirit.

January 27 2015 Report

Mini Larry Truelove

Sorry, Jennifer, But the contextual points you argue against my view actually support it. Some would be killed, that is true. But the "they that endure" would survive.

You presuppose what I am arguing must be proven. You cannot assume that it must talking one's eternal status to show that it cannot be talking about life and death matters. There is absolutely not contextual evidence that eternal status is under debate, but plenty in the context is already present concerning the subject of physical life and death.

The Armenians of centuries past abused the term "enduring to the end" such that people assume they know what it means because it has become a proof text out of context.

If you believe one can theoretically lose one's Salvation, as I suspect they can, it does not help one's cause to take something out of context.

January 27 2015 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

The parallel passage in Luke 21:12-28 shows that this is clearly speaking of eternal life, "You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death, and you will be hated by all because of My Name. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will acquire life". Luke 21:16-19

Those who physically die are among those who do not perish! This is the victor's crown won by enduring faith; eternal life. (Also see II Thess 1:3-10; relief from affliction is given when Christ is revealed in glory).

Matt 24: “Then they will deliver you to tribulation and will kill you, and you will be hated by all the nations on account of My Name. At that time many will be offended (I Pet 2:7-9) and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and cause many people to wander. On account that lawlessness is to be multiplied, the love of most will grow cold. But he that having endured to the end, the same shall be saved.

Endure does not mean "survived" or relate to the physical end of a trial. Rather hupomenó means to stand one's ground, to bear up against persecution, to remain under a load, to persevere. Jesus endured the cross unto death (Heb 12:2), the faithful endured persecution (Heb 10:32-39, James 1:12), even death (Heb 11:37-Heb 12:12, James 6:10-11).

January 27 2015 Report

Photo Anthony Clinton

It’s interesting that when a doctrine is unsound that some will go to great lengths to avoid the obvious and no matter how many times you repeat the truth they will not change their beliefs. They become guardians of the reformation believing that though the leaders had some revelation it automatically ratifies all they taught.
If a person could not be an ex-Christian Paul certainly disagreed in his discourse to the Roman Christians in Romans 11:20-23. Here is sound proof that a Christian though presently walking by faith and being upheld by their faith might end up cut off from the Church that they are organically a part of. Whether it is a fake believer a false hypocrite, a deceitful pretender that has crept in among believers, they cannot be a part of that Olive Tree (the Church) unless they are genuine Christians.

Paul says Salvation has come to the Gentiles and addressing the true genuine Gentile Christians he says
Romans 11:16-22

This is documented evidence that Christians can be ex-Christians and though some have gone to great lengths to create a different context for this passage, Paul is speaking to genuine Christians and warns them to fear that the severity of God, would also cut them off from their connection to the Church if they fail to continue to abide in His grace. This again is congruent with Jesus’ teaching on the True Vine in John 15.

January 28 2015 Report

Mini James Kraft

I cannot live up to Gods righteousness. Jesus is the only one that ever did. If his death and resurrection and perfect life is not good enough for me, then I will be in hell. There is no other way. No matter how righteous I live in my own eyes, I will never be able to live a perfect life. Jesus said "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No man commeth to the Father but by me. I cannot rely on myself to get me to heaven. Grace is a well that never runs dry. Thank God for that. Where sin abounded, grace much more abounded. If we say we have no sin we are a lair and the truth is not in us. All of my hope is bound up in what Jesus did on the cross for my salvation, and nothing else. As the old hymn says, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness."

That way I give Him all the Glory instead of me. He is everything, I am nothing. All of our boasting in ourselves is sin. I can only boast in the Cross. I have nothing to offer for my salvation, He paid the price and He deserves all of the Glory. Faith cannot save us. It is the object of our faith which is Jesus. By grace we are saved, not of works, lest any man should boast.

March 26 2015 Report

Mini James Kraft

Anthony; Lets take a worse case scenario from the bible in Corinthians. Paul said their was a believer in the church that was sleeping with his fathers wife, and said it was such a great sin that he should be thrown out of the church, turned over to satan so that his body would be killed but his spirit would be saved in the day of the Lord.

He was saying that this man would probably lose his life and his reward in heaven, but not his salvation. He did later repent and was welcomed back into fellowship with the church, but what Paul was saying was that he was saved even if he did not repent because Jesus paid for all our sins.

God will chasten those he loves, but he cannot deny himself. Those who have put their trust in Jesus finished work on the cross are saved for eternity. Not temporarily. But, a person who denies the faith that Jesus saves us to the uttermost was never a believer to begin with. If a person has trusted Jesus for their salvation and His finished work on the cross to save us, then we know that we are His.

No one in their right mind would stop believing in the only way of salvation from hell. It makes no sense. Why would anyone want to go to hell when you know the way to keep you from going there? Jesus is the way. Not believing is the only way to be lost. But once you have believed you cannot be lost even if you have doubts. We have the holy spirit of promise which you cannot lose.

March 07 2016 Report

Imag0495 Lynn Willis

Hi James.

I agree with most of your answer admittedly, but have to respond to "No one in their right mind would stop believing in the only way of salvation from hell. It makes no sense. Why would anyone want to go to hell?"

If you STOP believing, then you deny Jesus, salvation; this free, merciful, grace infused gift from GOD. I have had conversations with people who went to church, truly (so they said) BELIEVED in God and Jesus for years, and now? Now they do not. They have said to me "there is no God, of this I am sure." And these people were far from insane or mentally unwell. These are professional people with whom I used to work in the film industry.

So my addition to your answer is that Satan is very busy. He deceives, he affects, he influences, he lies, he steals, he misdirects, he works to BLIND us and he does EVERYTHING in his power and uses everything at his disposal - all our weaknesses and propensities - to separate us from God because he does not want us to find our salvation in Christ.

We need to endure, rebuke Satan in all his ways of this world and his spiritual attacks, and fight the good fight. If we do not always lean on the Lord, seek the Lord, work to KNOW the Lord in all things, then we are SO weak without Him! In our weakness HE is made perfect right?

Can you lose your salvation? I still think the answer is 'yes', IF you do not (or no longer) BELIEVE that LORD JESUS is alive and well and coming again.


March 07 2016 Report

Mini James Kraft

I know what you are refering to as I have witnessed it also. I cannot believe that these were ever saved to begin with. Maybe it is just because my own faith is so strong. Since Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith, I cannot believe that one can lose it. I am so convinced in my own heart and mind that even though some have departed from the faith, I just do not beieve they were ever true believers from the beginning.

I also understand your point of view and it is hard to reconcile at least for me. Like I said, I believe that those that Jesus has saved will never depart from the faith. They may not have much truth, or very little truth, but they are saved by the power of God and it is not from ourselves.

When Jesus saves some poor sinner, they stay saved forever and He will not leave them or forsake them. Walking down a church isle and saying a prayer never saved anyone. Salvation only comes to those that put their faith in Jesus finished work on the cross to save them. Repenting of sin will save no one. Doing good works will save no one. It is only trusting in Jesus that saves us. When the holy spirit lives in us he begins to change us. Can a leapard change his spots?

March 07 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

Scripture lists many cases of those who believed for a time, but then fell away. My answer under this topic goes into detail: See Answer: http://ebible.com/answers/24682?ori=167400

While it would be nice if all those who received the word, accepted Christ, partook of the Holy Spirit, used their spiritual gifts, and understood they were bought by Christ endured to the end in faith, it is not always the case that that is so.

While we can never truly know people's hearts, it is a leap to speculate that every single person who professes Christ for a time but then rejects him was never a believer to begin with.

I know of one man, in particular, who understood the gospel very well. He used his spiritual gifts and his growth in Christ was visible. The fruit he bore was such a testimony to Christ that at least one person that I know of (who believed God existed but thought God wasn't all-good) converted and accepted Christ. That same man later took a "Perspectives" course as he was thinking about becoming a missionary - but through that course decided that he could not intellectually defend the gospel. His faith faltered, and later he proclaimed he was no longer a Christian.

"Those on the rocky ground are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away." Luke 18:13

March 07 2016 Report

Imag0495 Lynn Willis

Yes, it IS perplexing to me too James!

1 John 2:19: They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

This is the scripture that everyone uses to say "They were never REAL Christians." Outwardly they were to me, inwardly well only GOD knows.

I guess the bottom line is this: You are right because Christ would FINISH what He began in us and we were called and heard His call, and answered. And once you reach out to Him with a contrite heart ... SEEK Him, He WILL answer:

Jeremiah 29:10-14: For thus saith the LORD, That after seventy years be accomplished at Babylon I will visit you, and perform my good word toward you, in causing you to return to this place. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart. And I will be found of you, saith the LORD:"

And when He does answer, like you, I find there is NO turning back. Why would I ever want to give up Jesus in my life? Heis my life. He is my everything. I love Jesus more everyday! Halleluyah!

I guess salvation isn't given for outward appearances, as it is inwardly that matters most to God.


March 07 2016 Report

Closeup Jennifer Rothnie

In many of these cases in scripture it is clear that these people were believers inwardly, not just outwardly. Many of the terms used for them are used only of believers, and never of unbelievers.

Some 'escaped the defilement of the world' through the 'true knowledge' of Christ (experiential knowledge coming from a personal relationship, not just head knowledge). Only believers escape slavery to sin through Christ. After washing in the word (baptism) they then returned to their former state. (II Pet 2:20-22, II Pet 2:1, Jude 1)

Some did not hold fast to their faith, and hence suffered shipwreck of their faith. One has to have faith to begin with for this destruction of faith due to not keeping it to happen. (I Tim 1:19)

"The Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to spirits and the deceitful teachings of demons" I Tim 4:1
One has to have faith to then later defect/depart from it.

Heb 6:5-8 warns of Christians who have seen the light (II Cor 4:6), ate of the heavenly gift (John 6:33), shared in the Holy Spirit (I Cor 12:13, II Peter 1:4, Eph 3:6, Heb 3:14, Col 1:12, Phil 1:7, Eph 4:4, etc), tasted the goodness of the word of God (Psalm 38:4) shared in spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:4), and repented (Acts 2:38), but then fell away. Unbelievers can do none of those things.

Heb 10:26-39 warns us to remain in the covenant and not to shrink back from our faith; John 15:5-17 warns us to remain in Christ.


March 07 2016 Report

Login or Sign Up to add your comment.

Upgrade and Remove Ads
Report Inappropriate Ad