A Question I Was Asked:

Is There Such a Thing as an Ex-Christian?

The Question:

Is there such a thing as an 'ex-Christian'? I heard of a preacher who once came to our church. I was told, "He was a fine Christian back then but he later gave up his beliefs. Today he is not a Christian." To me that does not compute correctly. Can a Christian give up their beliefs? If they can, was that person ever truly a Christian?

UK Apologetics Reply:

Firstly, let us go to John the Apostle. He wrote,

They went out from us, but they did not really belong to us. For if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us; but their going showed that none of them belonged to us. (1 John 2:19).

Okay, the first thing we should understand there is that John is not talking about somebody leaving any particular local church fellowship in order to attend another one, he is talking about people no longer walking as Christians at all. So there we have rather a clear biblical statement on this matter. A truly called and converted believer comes under the grace of God, He or she becomes a new creation in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17), and is gradually transformed into the image of Christ. A true Christian is also kept by the power of the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 4:13, 30). Moreover, Jesus stated,

My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand. (John 10:27-29).

The reader is recommended to read John 10 in its entirety for confirmation of the security of the elect, that is, the truly called and chosen. Finally, we may consider a promise in Ephesians, chapter one:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession - to the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:13-14).

Now there we have a cast-iron promise: if we have truly received the Holy Spirit and are walking in the true Faith, our salvation is assured, our inheritance "guaranteed"! No ifs or maybes anywhere there, nor, indeed, in Romans 8 where Paul strongly 'majors' on the perseverance of the saints. Neither is any of this saying that perfection is required, for one of us are perfect, we simply must stay on course for God's kingdom.

So how come that some apparently walk away from the true Faith? The key word in that last statement is 'apparently.' Truthfully none walk away from the Faith, there are just two possibilities to explain what we (very rarely) witness:

And I think that is it. There are no ex-Christians! Like it or not (and some don't like it), this is the teaching of the New Testament. A faithful and careful reading of the entire 8th chapter of Romans - which we have not even quoted here - will confirm that the above is plainly the New Testament teaching on what theologians call 'the eternal perseverance (or, security) of the saints.'

Robin A. Brace. May 24th, 2013.