A few days ago I was at our weekly study group just before morning church service. I don’t recall specific details that were said which caused me to share my thoughts, but all through the lesson I could not help but think about the idea of rededication.
The word continued to ring in my mind as if it has some vital importance to the lesson. Finally, the gentleman leading the study said a word that triggered action. Deceived.
It has become the common norm in many evangelical communities to support the concept of rededication. In most cases, if not all, it begins with an individual who claims to be a Christian though some years ago for various reasons they fell away from the faith. The person stopped going to church, stopped spending time in prayer, fell back into old sinful lifestyles of fornication, alcoholism, or just simply careless faith.
Some time has passed, it has been years since they have been to a church. But for whatever the reason may be they found themselves back in the pews or online listening to the latest sermon. They have claimed to repent of their past sins and the church community gives God praise for this individual.
Don’t get me wrong, it is a beautiful thing when not only does one repent of their sin, but they repent of their sinful lifestyle and call upon God for cleansing and a new life. I would certainly agree with Jesus when He says “there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance” (Luke 15:7)
First we must keep in mind, nobody is saved by any work of their own. We come to redemption found in Jesus only because the Father chose us first. (John 6:44). Anything outside of this is nothing more than a superficial faith, a person seeking for a god to suit their needs and desires. We can see examples of this all through the scriptures. People want a faith for what it can do for them rather than for who God is. To close this point, Romans 3:11 Paul makes it clear that there is not a single person on earth who seeks after God.
Upon a true spiritual regeneration we become new creatures. We are like dead bones given new life (Ez. 37:5). We are no longer a dead rotten corpse but now having a heart of flesh, a body filled with a new spiritual life. As the Lord tells us through the words of Paul “If anyone is in Christ, they are a new creation, the old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All of this is from God…” (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
When God says He is going to do something, He does it. When man says he will do something, he can and will sometimes turn away
How should we explain the one who falls away from the faith and falls back into their past sinful lifestyle? I would argue that John makes this perfectly clear within his epistles.
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us. But they went out, that it might become plain that they all are not of us.1 John 2:19
To be fair, John speaks of false teachers, deceivers of the Christian faith. But we should not limit to just that. When we look at the Parable of the Sower we will find difference kinds of soil, but only one produces true fruits. The others under the heat of trials will fall away, proving they are not true believers.
Jesus has made it clear to us that He not only knows who are His sheep, but that He will not lose a single one of them (John 6:39) While this does speak of our relation to Christ as our savior, I am convinced that we could also apply it to our faithfulness as well.
Who are we argue something in which God has done?
Sometimes we may be quick to defend the possibility that this person was truly saved all those years ago. We invoke the sovereignty of God, who dare shall come against that!?
I will admit, when God makes a degree, you don’t want to be the one to try and fight that. The real question comes down to this, Did God even make the decree in the first place?
I think the best way to answer that question would be to go back into the ministry of Jesus. He has just taught His most historic Sermon on the Mount, taught us proper judgment of others, encourages us to petition to the Father, how we should treat others and seek the narrow gate, and now Jesus warns against false prophets. How will we know them? We can identify these false prophets by their fruits (Matt. 7:16). Likewise, we will know a true believer by their fruits as well. For the same Spirit gives the same fruits. (Gal. 5:22-23; Eph. 4:4).
It is important that we do not confuse Rededication with repentance. This Christian is one who constantly repents of their sins, something that we will struggle with every day we breath. However, the modern concept of Rededication is usually a recomitment after living a time of rebelion.
My concern with this concept is that if and when we believe this false idea, we really miss what it means to be a Christian, we miss what awesome power the gospel of Jesus really has on our lives. We may even diminish the work on the Cross. If Christ is to set us free, then we must remember we are free (and changes) indeed. Not just in a philosophical way, but a spiritual change that is evident in how we live.
I am reminded of the Seven Woes to the Pharisee Jesus gives in Matthew 23. One “Woe” in particular can be found in (Matt. 23:15). Jesus affirms that Pharisee were missionary. They would travel the land to convert others to their religion. But Jesus condemns them for making the new convert “twice as much a child of hell.” Why? To the new convert, they were convinced that they are saved. They are now in the Kingdom of God because they have performed the necessary rituals taught by the Pharisee. What Jesus is making known is they have a false gospel that does not truly save but traps people in a false sense of faith.
If we recognize rededication as biblical (it is not) we are guilty of taking the false believer and redeeming them into hell. Rather than honoring a rededication, I believe we must pull the individual aside, explain the true gospel of Jesus to them. The true gospel brings a true change and if they continue to fall into a continuous lifestyle of sin, they only prove to themselves that they never truly repented in the first place.
Finally, after this new conversion has taken place, I believe we need to dedicate our time to the individual as a Spiritual Mentor, guiding and teaching them in the faith of the Lord (Matt. 28:20)