"Departing From The Faith"
Larry Ray Hafley
"In years past when I thought of those departing from the faith I thought in terms of denominations, cults, and various religions. Today as I write my heart becomes almost unbearably heavy to hear of my own preacher brethren who have departed from what I know they have been taught and what they once wholeheartedly accepted as their faith. I am told of some who have begun preaching for the Methodists, others have turned charismatic and are influencing others to doubt their faith, some have fallen by the way-side having renounced their call. They have gone back into the secular world. In some cases these have dropped to low moral standards in their living.
"I am reminded of the scripture 1 Timothy 4. In this chapter Paul, by the Spirit of God, warns, `That in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils.'
"Paul also instructed Timothy: `If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou has attained.'
"This teaches us that Satan has always been at the business of disturbing the faith of good men. Timothy had the responsibility of reminding men of the solemn truth of the danger of departing from the faith. Satan is still at work. He attacks men who have great potential in the Lord's service.
"I therefore beg men who on the verge of changing their faith or have already made some commitments, to reconsider and re-study these matters. Please be warned of Satan's methods. `For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places Jesus is.'"
Who Said That?
Sounds like a gospel preacher, does it not? Actually, the. above article was taken from the November 25, 1977, issue of the Missionary Baptist Searchlight, which "is owned by the Missionary Baptist Seminary in Little Rock, Arkansas." The article was written by the editor of that paper, L. D. Capell. Why the emphasis on who said it? Well, Mr. Capell is a Landmark Missionary Baptist. As such, he believes that it is impossible for a child of God to so sin as to be eternally lost in hell. With that in mind, consider the import of his words.
Consequences And Conclusions
Mr. Capell paints a realistic picture. He doubtless knows of some who have left their Baptist faith and are now preaching Methodism and Pentecostalism. He knows of those who "have dropped to low moral standards in their living." He says they "have fallen by the way-side." A question for Mr. Capell, "Are these brethren of yours who have `departed' still in a saved condition?" Further, "Should they die in their present conditon, would they be saved in heaven?"
Editor Capell cannot argue that they have never been saved, that they never have been truly "born again." Why not? Because he stated in the article that he knew some of his preacher brethren who have departed from "what I know they have been taught and what they once whole-heartedly accepted as their faith." He says they have departed from that which "they once wholeheartedly accepted." Surely, those who "wholeheartedly accepted" were saved. Baptists have always contended that the Ethiopian eunuch was saved before baptism because he believed with all his heart that Jesus was the Son of God. So, these Baptist preachers were saved according to their view. Now, in their present state, will they be saved? The "once saved, always saved" doctrine of the Baptists says they will be. A man can depart from the faith and live in "low moral standards" -and still be saved, according to Baptist doctrine.
But what of those whom these "departed" Baptist preachers have baptized? According to Missionary Baptists, one's baptism must be duly approved by a Missionary Baptist Church. If these Baptist preachers were never truly saved, what of the baptism of those whom they baptized? Again, though, these men- were saved as per Baptist doctrine. Else why would Mr. Capell have had an "almost unbearably heavy" heart? If they were not children of God in his view, he would have been glad to have them exposed as wolves in sheep's clothing. However, he was saddened because he knew that these men of whom he wrote had "wholeheartedly accepted" what he believes. Now, will they be saved should they die in their present condition?
These questions require an answer. They are asked so that honest hearts may consider the consequences of their doctrine. Yes, the "danger of departing from the faith" is a "solemn truth." But where is the danger if a man can do it and still be saved? "Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee" (1 Tim. 4:16).
Truth Magazine XXII: 9, p. 157