When It Seems Impossible

The last two articles I wrote have focused on Joshua Harris falling away from the faith. Last week I laid out how scripture teaches it is impossible for someone to lose their faith. This leads to many questions when applying this truth to someone like Joshua Harris. If he was never saved, then how do you explain his faithful work for God over the last three decades? What about him writing many books that were biblically accurate? And how about those that were led to Christ for salvation because of Josh? These are valid questions. To help navigate through this shocking event we need to keep a few things in mind...

  1. The parable of the seeds
In this parable Jesus teaches us how people will react differently to His word. I want to focus on the seed that fell on the rocky ground in relation to this topic. The parable says that the plant sprang up immediately. Jesus, in His explanation of the parable, says that the person this is referencing receives the word of God with joy. Yet, because there is no root, they endure for “a while” and when persecution comes, they fall away. What is interesting in this parable is that Jesus does not define what he means by “a while”. We read this quickly in our bible and assume this just means a few days or weeks or possibly months. But this could be referring to years or even decades! This is a great explanation for what we have when people fall away from the faith when they appeared to be saved. There was a plant! There were signs of life, but it wasn’t real conversion i.e. it did not take root.

  1. God Is The One Working
When thinking over the work that someone does for God, we tend to lose sight of who is doing the work. When a pastor preaches, is the audience hearing from  him or God? When someone is led to Christ, is it the evangelist that saved them or Christ? All that Joshua Harris “accomplished” was done by the power of God. Just because he wasn’t truly saved doesn’t mean God couldn’t use him. Did he not use a donkey to speak to Balaam? Even Paul said as long as the Gospel is preached it doesn’t matter who is saying it; “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Philippians 1:15-18) We are inflating the self when we say, “He had to be saved, look at all the great things he did for God”. Do we really think God is so weak and limited that He can only work through Christians?

  1. The Consequence of celebrity
The other element that we cannot ignore in this is the popularity of Joshua Harris. In our current society pastors have a certain celebrity about them. They are famous and known well beyond their local community. With TV, internet, social media and ebooks, it is very easy for a pastor to get his name out there. Over a century ago a great pastor would only be known to his congregants and not to someone on the other side of the country. If Joshua Harris lived in 1719 instead of 2019, would many have known of his departure? Would it have been “newsworthy”? Would it have been such a big deal? Apostasy has been happening since the church began and has never stopped. We should not be surprised this is happening. Could it possibly be that it appears Joshua Harris had a steep fall because of how high we propped him up?

It is very sad to see anyone leave the faith. Regardless of their popularity or position, anyone who departs is still a lost soul. We should pray for Joshua Harris and his family. And at the same time we should take comfort in knowing that you and I can not possibly do anything to jeopardize our faith. Instead of being puzzled or scared by the events in Josh’s life, we should feel peace, confidence and security. Because a choice like Josh’s is not strong enough to pull someone from our loving Father’s arms.

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