Many in the church have been hurt and confused in recent weeks as a prominent pastor and leader in the homeschool community renounced his faith in Jesus Christ. It begs the question: “Can a person who has professed faith in Jesus lose His salvation?” Simply? The answer is “no.” Listen is as I answer this question and more today on Mailbox Monday.
Transcribed version of the podcast will be added below, shortly
Today’s Scripture Writing Challenge Verse
- Romans 13:1-5
Resources Mentioned in Podcast
- Bible Quest Classical
- Can a Born-Again Christian Lose Salvation?
- What is the meaning of the Parable of the Sower?
- The Tragedy of Joshua Harris: Sobering Thoughts for Evangelicals
- [WORKSHOP] Homeschool for Rookies (this event was a LIVE ONLINE workshop held on 8/19 at 11am PST. THE LIVE EVENT HAS ENDED BUT MANY HAVE REMAINED INTERESTED IN PURCHASING THE REPLAY. SALES WILL OFFICIALLY CLOSE ON AUGUST 20TH AT 11AM PST. EVERYONE WHO HAS PURCHASED A TICKET WILL GET THE REPLAY EMAILED TO THEM.)
- Heidi St. John Events
Join us at MomStrong International for our newest Bible Study and Scripture Writing!
This podcast is brought to you by our friends at Bible Quest Classical
Hey everybody, welcome to the show. Thanks for joining me today. My name is Heidi St. John and you have found me at my little corner of the Internet. Today is Monday the 19th of August. It’s Mailbox Monday and we’re going to answer your questions.
Stick around. I think you’re going to be encouraged.
All right, so before we get started today, wanted to let you guys know I am doing a live webinar today at 11:00 AM. Now I realize some of you are going to be hearing this after the fact, but I’m going to leave the link for it in the show notes today and I think you can still get access to it, so check it out at the show notes at HeidiStJohn.com/podcast.
If you’re listening to this before 11:00 AM PST, I’ll link to it obviously in the show notes today, but come and join me. I’m going to be doing homeschooling for rookies, so if you know anyone who needs encouragement and can use some direction in their homeschooling, a little bit of nuts and bolts, we’re going to talk about really the heartbeat behind homeschooling and why our family chose it and why I think it’s good for you. So check it out today at 11:00 AM Pacific Time.
All right, today is mailbox Monday— woot woot! I love hearing from you guys. Thank you so much for writing in and thank you. Thank you. Thank you for leaving reviews for the podcast over at iTunes. I got another favor to ask of you today. If you have never left a review for Becoming MomStrong, which is the book I put out in 2017 boy— I would love it if you would do that either at at Amazon or at Barnes and Noble or Books-A-Million, wherever books are sold. I’d love it if you could leave reviews for those books. It really helps us to get them in the hands of other people and we’d love to see those reviews grow. So anytime you guys can take about two or three minutes out of your day and just leave those reviews, whether it’s for the podcast or for the books I’ve written or whatever, it really does encourage us and it helps us to get the books into the hands of people who need them.
All right. Today is Mailbox Monday and I want to thank you guys for sending questions and to me, this is one of my favorite things to do here at the podcast—sort of go through your questions and hopefully give you answers from a biblical worldview, but more importantly than anything else that we do at the podcast, it really is to point you to Jesus. We’re going to do that today. We’re going to talk about a couple of difficult things and as we do it, I think it’s appropriate to come before the Lord in prayer.
Father, I thank you that Your Word has the answers to the questions that this generation is asking. Lord, thank you that there’s nothing that’s happening outside in culture right now that’s outside of Your ability to intervene and ability to heal. Lord, I thank you that Your Word says that if we need wisdom, we can ask it from you and so are we need wisdom right now. We’re going to be talking about some things that are difficult. We’re going to be grappling with some of life’s more difficult questions. Would You just illuminate Your Word for us? Would you give me the strength, Lord, and the wisdom to encourage those who are listening today and encouraged me to buy the power of Your Spirit? Lord, I love You and I thank You for intervening in our lives on a daily basis in Jesus name. Amen.
Speaking of intervening, I know that a lot of you guys follow me online and I wanted to say thank you for praying for me. A couple of weeks ago I threw my back out and when I say threw it out, all I really did was bend down and pick a pencil and it just tweaked it out. I could not walk. I’m talking crawling like from my bed to the bathroom for like two or three days straight. I wasn’t even sure I could podcast. And by the end of last week I was able to get back into the studio again. So thank you. Thank you for praying for me, for everybody who sent me all your good ideas. I am doing a lot better. I really would appreciate your prayers. We’re going to be in Kansas City as you guys know, for my women’s event coming up really soon. And we really would love your prayers just for that. That’s actually the end of this week. This is a great week at the podcast I’ll be doing at Mailbox Money obviously today. And then on the 21st we’re going to be diving into the week three study for MomStrong International. And then on Friday Priscilla Shirer is coming on the podcast with me and you guys are not gonna want to miss that. And then the 24th I’ll be speaking at Abundant Life in Kansas city. So really big week for me. Also the repipe of my house is happening. Boy you guys, I don’t normally ask for prayer for myself, but I would really appreciate it. We’ve had a lot of water issues at our home and so our entire house is having to be repiped. It’s frustrating for me. I don’t really love the idea of people coming in and just cutting holes in all of my walls and taking all the pipes out and replacing them. And yet, that is where I am. So if you guys could pray for us, I’d really appreciate that. We leave for Kansas City on Thursday, the 22nd in the morning and then we’ll be there all day Friday setting up and just boom. I can not wait to come out of the gate on the 24th at Abundant Life. So check it out at HeidiStJohn.com/events and we would really appreciate your prayers for us in the meantime.
All right, I’m going to jump right into your questions today because it is mailbox Monday. This one comes in from a mom who did not give me her name and she says: Heidi, we have five children ranging in age from five to 17. The youngest is autistic. I was able to homeschool our three girls for one and a half years, and then two of them wanted to go back to regular school. Now one of my girls wants to come back to homeschool and my husband says— no way. Is there help for me when I want to homeschool her again and my husband is not on board? Thank you for your support and all you do for families.
All right, so a couple of things right off the top of my head. First of all, when people come to me and they say— my husband’s not on the same page. Or a husband will say to me— why am I just no way does she want to do this? You guys, we should care more about our marriages. I would never say to somebody—oh yeah, totally, your husband’s not on board? Yeah, make him really angry and just do this. Even though you know it’s going to bum them out. I will always turn your attention back to the Word of God. The Bible teaches us that if we lack wisdom, we can ask for it. The Bible teaches us to take our questions to the Lord in prayer. You want to pray for your husband, pray for him that that the Lord will open his eyes and then love him like crazy. This is not something for you to be fighting about with him. I think it’s worth talking to your husband about the way that your kids seem to be manipulating you. I think that might be a bigger issue.
I’ve told this story a whole bunch of times and I only have about 30 seconds to do it justice, but a long time ago when our oldest daughter was getting ready to go to high school, I had told her when she was in seventh grade that if she wanted to go to public school when she got into high school, I would let her make that choice. Well that was a bad thing for me to do because she wasn’t equipped emotionally or spiritually and she hadn’t been given the authority to make that kind of a decision. But I was being a chicken and I didn’t want to bum her out. I didn’t want to tell her what I knew that God wanted us to do, which was to homeschooler. I thought, well, if I give it a couple years, she’ll change her mind. Well, she didn’t. When the time came and she was like— but mom, you said I could go to school. I had to go back to her and so did my husband. We went to her and we said— we are so sorry. We gave this decision to you because we were too cowardly to tell you that the answer was no. We know that God doesn’t want us to put you in school. This was the beginning of a new conversation with our daughter where we asked her questions like— why don’t you want to homeschool? How can we make it better? It was the beginning of a turning point in our relationship with her that turned out to be very, very good. So that part I think is very important for you—to talk to your husband about what it is that you want for your kids and if you are going to homeschool them, homeschool them. These are not decisions for your kids to make. Can they have input? Absolutely. But you are the parents and we live in a very child centered society here in Western culture. I just want to encourage you to get back in the driver’s seat and drive the parent car—because you are the mom. I’m not gonna encourage you to argue and fight with your husband and I’m certainly not going to encourage you to go behind his back or just defy his wishes and homeschool them no matter what—because that’s going to cause strife in your home and strife in your marriage. My goodness, that’s not worth it. So, take it to the Lord in prayer. Talk to your husband about the direction of your family, talk to your kids about what their responsibility is and what your responsibility is. Then I would say pray together as a family.
Next question comes from a mom who says: Dear Heidi, I would like to know about having kids in church. Our church does not encourage kids to be in the service. As soon as we get to the service, our kids are taken down to kids church and that is where they stay for the next two hours. We have been longing for something different and feel discouraged and separated from our kids at every front. Please give me your advice. Alright, sweet mama. Here’s the thing. This is also a phenomenon of the Western church where we have decided that kids are not capable of sitting in Church with their parents. And I disagree. I think nurseries are great. I think having children’s church for little kids— one, two, three, four, maybe five. But certainly when your kids are six years old, they can sit in church with you. My grandma used to bring coloring books for us. She would bring crayons and things that we could hold in our lap, quiet things that we could do. She never required us to be taking notes at six years old and looking terribly interested. She wanted us to be with her. At the time I didn’t understand it and now I do— because I learned so much just by listening when I was in church as a little child, even though I was coloring my Mickey Mouse coloring book or whatever it is the grandma brought for us to do. She made sure that we were quiet, but she also made sure that we knew that we were loved and wanted in church.
I think churches have made a grave mistake. By separating kids from their parents on the basis of age and what we consider to be maturity level. We send the kids too to their “age appropriate class” and the parents go to theirs. Yes, there’s a time and a place to separate parents and children and I’m not down on necessarily on Sunday school classes. I do not like this habit that we have gotten into as a church of saying that kids do not belong in church with their parents, or they’re too immature, they just can’t handle it. I don’t think that’s true. I think that our kids can handle a whole lot more than we give them credit for. My encouragement to you is just let your kids sit in church. Even if you’ve got a Sunday school in church, it doesn’t mean your kids need to go.
You can make it a joyful thing that your kids look forward to and they’re sitting with you in church and this is what we do as a family— think that’s a good idea. This is not necessarily a sin issue, but just sort of a personal preference in my opinion on the matter— so, do with it what you will.
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Next question comes from a mom, and I’m getting a lot of these, so I’m going to camp out on this for just a minute. It comes from a mom who was asking about the Josh Harris situation and she says: Dear Heidi, I am discouraged. I’m discouraged by the way that we idolize Christian leaders. I’m discouraged by the way that we idolize the culture and I’m worried about my children staying grounded in their faith. How can I stay grounded in my faith in light of what’s happening with Christian leaders all around us?
All right, this is a wonderful question and on the 6th of August I posted about this situation. Like many of you, my heart is terribly grieved by the recent news of Josh Harris and his so called deconstruction, a departure from his faith in Jesus. This is a sobering time for Christians. We are being attacked on every front as Jesus said we would be, and the pressure to conform or turn away from our faith entirely will be and is enormous. Al Mohler wrote a very thoughtful piece which I would encourage you to read, I’ll link back to it in the show notes today, but the bottom line is that Christians must know the Word of God. If we’re going to be able to sustain a biblical ethic and grow in our faith amidst a whirlwind of apostasy and pressure from the world to do otherwise. We need to study and know the Bible. There is no substitute. Only in studying the Bible can we learn how to love others and follow Jesus. We have lived too long as lazy in both our study and our application of the gospel. This is just a quote from that was what Al Mohler wrote. He wrote the headlines Concerning Joshua Harris:
Indeed concerning both Joshua and Shannon Harris are deeply humbling to American evangelicalism. They should be very sobering. They should make us pray for the Harris’ and for our churches. They should lead us to a deeper understanding of the gospel and exultation of the gospel of Christ and simultaneously, an introspection concerning our biblical fidelity and the depth of our commitment to Christ and to biblical Christianity. But this heartbreaking headline also reminds us that we can place our trust in no sinful human being, but in Christ alone, the one who alone is worthy of our trust. Evangelicals should ponder what this tragic headline news tells us about our susceptibility to consumer culture and also to a celebrity culture. There is always a danger. It is impossible to have some level of influence without some level of celebrity, but we must test everything by the Scriptures. And we also have to understand as the early church had to come to know that there are some who appear to be believers and even have influence, even pastors, but eventually fall away. That has to be acknowledged. There’s something of extreme importance in this case, and I say this as a president of a theological seminary and or Christian college, but this is just as emphatically important. There has to be a theological depth. The only way we’re going to be able to sustain a biblical sexual ethic and the truth of the gospel of Jesus is by serious biblical content, serious biblical knowledge, deep theology, apologetics, (which is the defense of Scripture), biblical theology, a deep understanding, celebration of, and embrace of the gospel of Jesus. Understanding that gospel, the true gospel, the biblical gospel, the gospel of Jesus Christ against all superficial pretenders and against also false theologies including any form of legalism that can creep in.
I spoke about the legalism and the homeschool movement years ago when I saw a very damaging teaching coming out of the homeschool movement that wasn’t based in the Bible, it was based in human wisdom and human reasoning. And that ended up being very damaging. Josh Harris unfortunately was a part of that. But the question that comes out of this now— is it possible for a believer to unbelie? Is it possible? Is it possible to walk away? And that’s what this mom is asking. And so the question of whether or not a believer can walk away from the Lord, it always comes up in an attempt to explain these kinds of situations which involve people that we know.
Over at Got Questions— this is one of my favorite places to come for biblical answers. He addresses it this way, not just the Josh Harris thing, but he’s talking about other people who are prominent skeptics, but they started out as professing believers. So check this out. Dan Barker, atheist and president of the freedom from religion foundation. You guys are familiar with that, right? They are a pain in the side of churches everywhere. He started out as a minister and a Christian musician. Did you guys know that? Charles Templeton, who has died now, was an evangelist who toured at one time with Billy Graham, but then later became an outspoken agnostic. Bart Erman is a New York Times bestselling author and a well known skeptic who continually cast doubt upon the reliability of the New Testament. Erman describes himself as a former born again fundamentalist. He studied at Moody Bible Institute and graduated from Wheaton. So aside from these high profile cases— are thousands, perhaps millions of people who have made professions of faith often as children, but in later years maintain no faith in Jesus. And whether they call themselves agnostic or atheist or simply uninterested, they have left the faith.
So then the question remains, what do we make of these people? Were they born again believers at one point and now they’re not born again? Well, if we want the answer, we need to look to the Bible. We need to go to God’s Word. We can’t know the human heart. Only God can know the human heart. So the first possibility is that—well, these people were saved and they’re not going to lose their salvation. We see an in-working of the Holy Spirit in their lives, they’ve been indwelt and sealed by the Holy Spirit. And since God’s salvation is irreversible, and this is what I was taught as a child and what I continue to believe— once a person is saved, he’ll always be saved. That’s what my grandparents taught me. This is what I studied in school. This is what I still believe.
I will say this: as we talk about whether or not a person can lose his salvation, it’s very important to remember that the Bible and history— they’re filled with examples of people who came to know Christ and then later on they fell away. Have you guys ever read the parable of the sower and the seed? This is one that we used to listen to the donut man’s. I know I’m dating myself right now, but some of you guys will listen to the donut man. Do you remember the parable of the sower? It talks about the dude who scattered the seed and the seed fell on four different types of soil. There was the hard ground by the wayside that prevented the seed from sprouting at all. And so the seed became nothing more than bird food. The stony ground provided just enough soil for the seed to germinate and begin to grow. But because there was no deepness of the earth, the plants wouldn’t take root and then they withered under the sun. The thorny ground allowed the seed to grow, but the competing thorns all around it, and I see this everywhere, this is how this is how I would call it, this is what I would call the culture today. There’s the stony ground, which is the modern church providing just enough soil. This is the seeker sensitive church. Just enough soil for the seed to germinate and grow. But because there’s no depth to the earth and no depth to the teaching, the soil is about a half an inch thick and 3000 miles wide. This is the seeker sensitive church. We’re not creating disciples. We’re just bringing people in with our amazing music and our fog machines and all that, but we’re not discipling them. Churches that disciple are rare today. I would say the stony ground really describes what the modern church has come to be a part of.
The thorny ground is the culture. The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the competing thorns all around it chokes the life out of the plants that are good. The good ground is the one that receives the seed and produces fruit. So Jesus’ explanation of the parable of the sower is talking about four responses that we can have to the gospel. So the seed is the word of the kingdom. The hard ground represents somebody who’s hardened by sin. He hears it, but he doesn’t understand the Word, and Satan plucks the message away and the guy’s heart is kept from understanding. It prevents him from believing in the Word, prevents him from coming to the Lord.
The stony ground shows us a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed, and when trouble arises, this faith that he said that he had— it goes away. The thorny ground is depicting the one who seems to receive the Word, but whose heart is full of riches and pleasures. This is the person who just loves the spotlight. He loves the followers he’s got an Instagram. He’s instagramming our Bible study times. We’re talking about how we’re growing in the Lord. But ultimately the things of the world take our attention away from the Lord and we end up not having ever grown in the Word at all. The good ground portrays the one who hears, understands, and receives the Word—and then allows the Word to accomplish its result in his life.
The man that’s represented by the good ground is the only one of those four who is truly saved because salvation’s proof is in the fruit. In Matthew 3:7-8— But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. In Matthew 7:15-20 says— “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.
We’re looking for a fruit in the lives of our kids. We should be looking for a fruit in the lives of our pastors, in the lives of the people that we follow. Fruit does not equal money. Fruit does not equal followers on Instagram. Fruit does not equal Facebook followers, or if you’ve made the New York Times best selling list. I got to say, there are a lot of Christians out making the New York Times bestseller list who I am concerned for the condition of their heart. I’m not trying to be a jerk, I’m serious. We are going to fall into disobedience. We are going to sin. We’re going to struggle with doubt—but if we really believe the Lord and we’re really walking with Him, we will never renounce Christ.
A person who has renounced Christ—this is what I get from Scripture: The person who renounces Christ, either by his words or his actions, and I have had people like this in my life, in my family who I love deeply— I would not say that a person has lost salvation. I would say that that person never had genuine faith in the first place. This is the reason why knowing the Bible is so important. This is the reason why church discipline is so important. This is the reason why as believers, we follow Matthew 18. If you see somebody who claims to know Jesus on there and they are not controlled by the Spirit and they are living in sin and we are unwilling to address it, we’re unwilling to bring it up, we’re unwilling to call that person out— I’m telling you what: it will reap a terrible fruit in the long run.
There’s a reason why Satan is after these so-called shepherds. There are good people, good men and women who are falling the Lord Jesus and are genuine in their faith and are drawn into sin. And then there are people who have never been genuine in their faith in the first place, and they’d been given a platform before they were ready for it. And they never really believed in the first place. They may have even thought they believed, but they never did because a genuine believer cannot renounces faith because it’s the Spirit of God that regenerates us. A born again person has the Spirit of God in them and that is what never leaves you. That’s why I say that if you are a believer, you are sealed because you have the Spirit of the living God.
It’s not our faith that keeps us safe from what this mom called renouncing, or deconstruction, or whatever the popular term is right now. It is the power of the Spirit of the living God in us that enables us to walk in faith in Jesus. This is why we started MomStrong International. This is why I keep telling people it’s not enough for you guys just to go to church and raise your hands and sing the songs. We have to know the Word of God and we’ve got to be talking to each other about what it means to walk in right relationship with God. So these are difficult questions, but we need to be talking about them as believers. We need to be honest about where we are. People can fake it for a long time, but they can’t sustain it forever. Truth will come out.
1 John 3:9 says— No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God. So a genuine believer is kept from falling into continuous sin because he’s been born of God. God keeps him safe. That’s the Holy Spirit inside that says— no, no, no. Stop. I love you. You’re close to the edge. You’re walking away from me. This isn’t what I want for you. A person who is born again is going to listen to the voice of God. It doesn’t mean that we don’t sin. We all struggle with sin, but it means that we are listening to and indwelt by the power of the Spirit of God. It’s the power of God that enables us to walk out our faith in our everyday lives.
I hope this has been an encouragement to you. I realize I went over a little bit today. There’s never enough time to get to all your questions here at mailbox Monday. So thanks for listening everybody. We sure appreciate it. We love you so much and I’ll see you back here on Wednesday.
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Heidi St. John
c/o Firmly Planted Family
11100 NE 34th Cir, Vancouver, WA 98682
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