Hi everyone, Census data tells us that those in America who are claiming no religious affiliation is growing exponentially, yet God’s word tells us that the blood of Jesus continually cleanses us from all sin, and that by faith believers receive abundance of grace and the gift of righteousness, and will reign in life through Jesus Christ. The apostle Paul talked about the righteousness of believers, and that our sins and lawless deeds God would remember “no more.” I have heard this preached on TV, but never in any church I have attended. Why is this? It seems to be foundational teaching for “reigning in life,” and living a God honoring life. God bless you all.
I don’t know if in America they hold data on why people who maybe once labelled themselves as Christian’s have decided to no longer do so. I think it is easier to walk away from the faith if you had very little, if any, to begin with. Part of the problem may be the gospel that many hear preached. If we preach a gospel of saying a prayer that gets you into heaven, or that God is going to bless you and your family with the good life, then it wouldn’t surprise me if in time many walked away from Christianity. Whether they had a true belief or not is another question. I do not live in America, but in my experience with people walking away from the faith, in part, it is because of a falsely painted picture of Christ. We like that our sins can be forgiven, and we like believing we are going to heaven, but do we really want to be full-hearted servants/ followers of the King of kings. Is Christ really our Lord? Jesus says as much in Matthew 7:
Matthew 7:21-23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
We try to make the ‘Narrow Door’ far wider than it was ever meant to be. Jesus told us to make disciples. He wants us to fully surrender our lives to the will of God, even if it costs everything in this life.
Luke 14: 25-27: Now great crowds accompanied him, and he turned and said to them, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
I have often heard it said that the fastest growing churches are the ones that are the most persecuted. Many are giving their lives to Christ knowing that they have a good chance of suffering and dying for their faith. In the West, we tolerate far too many idols, be it our wealth, the health of our lives or family, our jobs etc. When our idols fail, we blame God for not being faithful. If we have a false image of God, then we are living in deception and our faith becomes shaky. This may be a reason some may walk away from Christianity.
I don’t know if my response will be of any help to you. Hopefully others with far greater insight into your questions will be able to give some further thoughts.
For me, Jim I tried to live a Christian lifestyle without really knowing Jesus in my heart. I could have given you the right answer as to the fact that Jesus died for my sins and that you have to accept Jesus into your heart. But He didn’t live in my heart and I didn’t understand about accepting Him as my king. The king of the Kingdom of God. I had to get to a point where I cried out to God in despair and when I did He answered me.
I believe that just like many topics people can give you the right answer without truly understanding the practical reality of what they are talking about. Many people say they are Christians but have no or at best a marginal relationship with God.
It is a curious question especially in today’s world. Many westerners believe that being born in a Christian country makes them automatically Christian, however with God being crowded out of society people do not develop a good spiritual taproot/plum line in themselves. The other gods and 21st century comfort keep us occupied. Brian has spoken of a truth: [quote=“Brian_Upsher, post:2, topic:43995”]
I have often heard it said that the fastest growing churches are the ones that are the most persecuted.
Westerners as a whole haven’t really experienced suffering or oppression like some other countries. We have a banquet of freedoms and gods to choose from in the spirit of tolerance and open mindedness, and yes Choice is good but without a tap root this also means we can fall for anything. When we don’t have an internal anchor (our believe/faith) we drift into Satans web of possibilities a
As a result, people fall away from their faith.
I personally have experienced some tribulation in life and God has proven Himself to me and carried me, I know He Is and besides him is none other!
This also is a truth.
Some people feel that God failed them when their loved one dies due to disease, or perhaps they wait for a sign of Life from God and don’t receive it. They end up straying from their faith. “Conveniently”, the Enemy introduces these eastern religious falsehoods (whose god doesn’t live) into their lives and the separation from God is complete.
Sometimes random people cross our mind, we must pray for their salvation, I am sure many a people prayed for you and me alike.
Sometimes our walk can be dry, but that doesn’t make the Lord any less real.
Jesus says when He is lifted up He will draw all men unto himself. A lot of churches have “strayed” into the “prosperity message”. I am not saying that we can’t have plenty possessions but it is clever distraction.
As Christians we must be vigil and alert for Satan will use the truth to distract us and we fall away from faith.
The shortest summary, that I can see, would be something like: People do not get their satisfaction from God alone, hence, they “fall away” because Jesus in and of Himself was never their prize.
What a great nutshell, it’s really packed with The Punch “Jesus in and of Himself was never their prize”.
Love it as Jesus is our prize indeed
@JimO Your statement, immediately, reminded me of a similar thought that was held by the prophet Elijah. “And he came thither unto a cave, and lodged there; and, behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said unto him, What doest thou here, Elijah?”
“And he said, I have been very jealous for the LORD God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken thy covenant, thrown down thine altars, and slain thy prophets with the sword; and I, even I only, am left; and they seek my life, to take it away.” 1-Kings-19:9 &10 kjv.
When the public perception is advanced that the people of GOD are faltering, I recall how much of what we perceived is dependent upon what our media outlets determine would make for good ratings. Or sell more copies.
But the Lord has never been bereft of witnesses. It would please the enemy to have the people of GOD perceive themselves as all alone or less than before. But mankind can only report from the logistics that confound our existence. GOD has never operated with disability or less than.
We are not more alone. We are not less then. Our stand is sure in the battle GOD has already won. Never you mind the naysayers.
GOD replied to Elijah;
“Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which hath not kissed him.” 1-Kings-19:18 kjv.
cer 7, I generally agree with your statement, but I think there is more to the story. For example, census date show that those in America claiming “no religious affiliation” is skyrocketing. My own experience with the messaging of the majority of preaching & teaching is a mixture of law and grace. I personally lived in that world for a few decades, and I never had sustained peace, joy or victory over sin. Several years ago that all changed when we wholeheartedly adopted the New Covenant. Many Christians are being told to DO: pray more, study more, volunteer more work harder and victory will be yours. That is a message that is easy to adopt; it is the message of the world. The education hammers us with that message. When we enter the working work we are hammered with it. It seems much of the church is stuck in a rut preaching the message of the world. It’s a message that is not working. Studies have shown for years that the majority of Christians are struggling in many ways: most don’t regularly read the bible, don’t often pray, rarely share their faith with another, struggle with pornography, and the divorce rate parallels our culture. Bible prophecy also tells us that the church will be shaken in the last days. Perhaps we are entering those days. Time will tell.
What we discovered is that the New Covenant is not about doing but about being in relationship with our God, through his Son, and being in relationship with others–especially other believers. For us that begins with praise and worship. It includes believing that God’s word is true. For example, Romans 5:17 tells that through Adam death reigned, but those who receive abundance of grace, and the gift of righteousness WILL reign in life through Jesus Christ. We were, until March, hosting a large prison bible study (45 men). We are using a grace centered curriculum, and we are seeing amazing cases of transformation. This grace message begins with the incredible love Jesus has shown us through his cross. As we mediate on his love, sacrifice, and all Jesus did for us, we can’t help but fall in love with him. The more we learn to love him, the more his love with transform us, and overflow from our hearts to touch those around us. We believe that Christians can reign in life. I John 4:17 tells us that, "in this world we ARE like Jesus. Jesus is without sin, and believers sins are declared to be forgiven–all of them. Believers are declared to be righteous in God’s eyes, but the tragedy is far too few believe it. The New Covenant is all about surrendering our heart & life to Jesus, and living in his love. He will lead us, walk with us through difficult times, and bless every area of our life if we do. Blessings to all!.
Thank you for your response. I did write a reply to my own question below. May you be blessed.
I couldn’t agree more. One popular author makes the distinction Christians as “posers and possessors.” I believe many fall into the poser category, meaning they never had a relationship of the heart with Jesus. I wrote a reply to my question below if you care to read it. Thanks for your response. Blessings to you.
I agree, the first step is absolutely all about Grace that we do not earn or have a right to… it is freely given to us from God through the Son’s life, death, and resurrection. Further, we do not merit our own salvation. This must absolutely be first understood before we every talk about doing “Good” or “God’s Will” or be able to repent even.
However, I would point out that once we can get to the point where we absolutely see that it is by and from God that we have any hope of salvation that we can begin to see the wise words of James. But before I quote James to talk about what our salvation leads us to do I want to look at what Jesus said about this.
John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” 30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” 32 Jesus then said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” 34 They said to him, “Sir, give us this bread always.” 35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe…
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me.
Here Jesus gives us a perfect picture of what it means to do the “work” of God and what the result of that actually is, namely, that those who believe in the Son and His Work will then in turn “eat his flesh and drink his blood” which is a euphemism for “eating” the Word (the Bible) and “drinking” from the River of Life (the Spirit).
So you are so right that it is absolutely by God’s grace that we are saved and not of any work of ourselves so that we might not boast in our own salvation. But the result of that is exactly what you said is happening in your church, namely, a “renewing of the mind” for those who are Trusting in Jesus the Son of God. So what might we say? Are works of no consequence? I don’t think so as James says this:
James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good2 is that? 17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
So it is through the “renewing of our minds” that we WANT to DO good works. It is only when the Spirit rests on us that we can actually do anything that is Good. For if I have faith, but the Spirit does not abide in me, I will have no works! But if the Spirit DOES abide in me, I will bear much fruit and that fruit is the result of salvation which produces Good Works.
Why does it seem so many Christians are struggling with their faith, and many walking away?
I’m not sure I understand the connection between the question in the theme title, and the first couple of sentences of the opening post. But I think there are a number of related issues that I can personally relate to. I’m not sure any of them answer the real question being asked though.
- Census data showing religious affiliation. “Religious affiliation” has always been a red-flag phrase for me. I was raised to see a very clear distinction between religion, faith, and relation. So these terms obviously mean different things to different people. I do not have a religion. I have a relationship with a person that is based on trust - sometimes called faith. For many people faith is much more or at least very different. That’s a different question…maybe
Religious affiliation may seek to differentiate between Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Animist, Hindu … etc. Or it may mean to some people to include a finer level of distinction between, Roman Catholic, Greek Orthodox, “Protestant,” Baptist, Mormon, Pentecostal, Sunni, Shiite, Ismailiya, Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana, Vaishnavism, Shaivism, Shaktism, and Smartism, etc…It might be thought in terms of formal membership, birth-related membership, or non-formal, non-registered affiliation.
You may call me a Chistian. What that means to you may be different to my understanding. I have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, based on my belief that God has reconciled me to himself through Christ’s death and resurrection. I seek the kingship of God and his righteousness, which among other things means an ongoing process of getting to know Jesus Christ better, and understanding the implications of what I learn for my daily life and behaviour in relation to other people around me. I try very deliberately not to label myself with any denomination, but consider all true “Jesus-believers” to be my spiritual syblings.
Christians struggling with their faith. Struggling with my “faith” has been an inherent part of my relationship with Jesus. It was very evident in the apostles’ response to him too. They followed him, because he drew them deeply to himself, his message touched them deeply, they were convinced he had the answers to their “life” questions. But they had a hard time figuring him out, and got some things dreadfully wrong for a long time, because they couldn’t square what he said with what they had been taught in the synagogue. As I get to know him better, I find out that many things I used to be sure of, don’t really match with my evolving understanding, and very very often don’t come close to what I was taught “in church” when I was younger (or even now at times). Much of the struggle is in fact a question of reasoning, rather than simply trusting, so somehow the phrase “struggling with my faith” is not really correct. It is more, I think, a struggle of letting go of my old way of reasoning, as the Spirit transforms my mind and understanding.
Walking away. Again my personal journey involves “walking away.” But not from Jesus. I have seen some pretty awful things done in local churches at a personal and group level. I have also witnessed the evils perpetuated through history in the name of God - of whatever religion, or denomination. I have experienced it myself as a young person, and for a long time I tried to distance myself from the formalised “church.” As with most young people, I was disgusted with the hypocrisy I saw and experienced within the framework of the church. But I never once wanted to end, or walk away from, my relationship with Jesus Christ. And eventually it was He who pointed out to me that 1) these people I had such difficulty with, were His followers too, and 2) I was every bit as hypocritical as the worst of them, if not more so. Slowly slowly His grace and guidance is changing me to get more alligned perspectives on many things relating to where I am, who I am (in Christ and His “Body”), and what I am progressing towards (in Him).
In terms of what I hear taught in churches and on TV (and in many books) it seems to me that there is need for a new vocabulary and possibly even imagery that touches people where they are. There definitely needs to be a clear alignment between what we say and how we live. “They will know you are my disciples because you love one another.” How obvious is it that believers truly love one another, and are constantly squabbling about the right way to worship, the right kind of music, the correct details of doctrine, etc etc etc. We let politics, ideology and life-style divide us. Grace and Truth came with Jesus Christ. Today many of us are more concerned with what we consider “truth” and much less showing true grace towards those with whom we disagree.
- Back to the Data. Statistics are deceitful, if only because they are always based on samples, and/or an agglomeration of different understandings of questions posed. We live in a world that we see, or think we see. And a lot that we think we see is not what we would like to see. Don’t be fooled. God is still in charge; God sees the true reality; God hears your prayers, knows your concerns about the world and about His honour in the world. Most of all, God is active whether we notice it or not. He is there, and He is not silent, nor is He immobilized. And He knows who are His! I am convinced that there are far more of “us” that we realise. It’s too sad that we are so poor at recognizing one another as His, and being thankful.
Because here in America the gospel has been reduced down to almost nothing and true conversion has been replaced with praying a prayer and asking Jesus into your heart. Easy believism has infiltrated the majority of churches. That’s why you don’t hear much preaching on righteousness and repentance, because most of the people believe that they are truly saved without bearing the fruit of repentance.