Fall Away vs. Wandered Away
Perhaps you are noticing a theme in these weekly bible studies ... language matters. Language for us carries meaning, definition and power (Jam 3:1-12). For most of my readers, the church culture has defined some things incorrectly. Take for example the term “fall away”. I believe this term has been quite misconstrued as it has come to mean primarily someone who left a specific church fellowship. But is that really what the bible teaches? Day 1. How do you currently think of the concept of someone 'falling away'? Day 2. Falling Away: Heb 6:4-6 The bible teaches us here that when someone 'falls away' (using this biblical language here) it is technically impossible for them to be restored to repentance and return to God. Of course, the natural question is begged; when does that happen. The bible is not clear on that, and I think for good reason. I believe God might not want to give us clarity on exactly where the line of no return is, because it is quite likely we would try to get as close to it as possible. The point is that there is a line, and we should have a healthy fear of that, "seeing to it that we do not have a sinful unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God". (Heb 3:12) *Is there someone that you have witnessed leaving the fellowship? Have they fallen away? How do you know? We would be wise to leave this judgment to God, and yet try to win our bothers and sisters over back to the Lord. (cf. Jd 1:22-23) Day 3. How do you currently think of the concept of someone 'wandering away'? Day 4. Wandering: Jam 5:19-20 The bible teaches that someone can wander away from the truth, but still be brought back (presumably to repentance). I believe this to be reminiscent of Jesus' parable on the lost son in Luke 15:11-32. God is a gracious God, willing to forgive and to show mercy, yet the question begs again; how do we know when we have 'wandered' and when we have 'fallen away'. To me I think a person's desire to be brought back, or not, is a key indicator. *Do you know someone that has wandered away from the truth? How are you trying to be involved? (cf. Jd 1:22-23) Day 5. Contemplate how these two differing (but equally true) concepts play into your own understanding of sin and repentance in your life, as well as how this shapes your approach to those around you in the varying places of their spiritual journeys. *Consider how your own language needs to change to reflect a more accurate "biblical language" in these matters.