Tabernacle Cardiff

» Letters to the Soul » Dear Backslider


I wonder if you are willing and have the patience to read this message. Very few of us like to be told where we have gone wrong spiritually yet, at the end of the day, we know that we have to face up to this fact. However far we have wandered away from God and from things that were once dear to our hearts, deep in our souls there remains faith in our Lord Jesus Christ. My hope is that you will read these few words and that you will benefit from them, for they are aimed at your heart, with the clear intention of bringing you back to God and to fellowship with His people. A Christian can often experience a period of coldness and discontent. However long or short this period may be, I feel sure that the backslider can never be entirely happy.

The fact is, nothing can destroy the relationship that you have with the Lord Jesus Christ. I am aware that a person can experience a false or a temporary conversion, but I doubt if he or she will experience the concern that I am speaking about. I sincerely believe that, in the backslider’s soul, there is a longing to return to God, but the pressure of friends and distractions of the world have a firm grip. It will always be difficult to make that break with the sins we both love and hate. You can probably identify with the hymnist, William Cowper, who wrote: ‘Where is the blessedness I knew when first I saw the Lord?’

In this sad and fallen word in which we live, it is no easy task to live a life of grace that is well-pleasing in the sight of God. Christian people go through many experiences of sorrow, disappointments and a host of other things. It may well be that your heart grows cold because of one of these circumstances and you fail to draw on the vast resources of God’s grace. It is so easy to become spiritually cold and indifferent, if not antagonistic, to the guidance and sympathy of God’s people. It is possible to go very far from the gospel of God, but not so far that God cannot reach you. If you are truly a backslidden Christian, you will inevitably come back into the fold of God’s presence. So why waste time?

I cannot believe that a Christian who has experienced the grace of God in our Lord Jesus Christ can ever forget that time in his life, when his sins were removed and the perfection of Christ’s life was counted to him. The memory is indelible. Consider how this verse speaks of you: ‘For He (God) hath made Him (Jesus Christ) to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him’ (2 Corinthians 5:21). Can you easily lay aside such things? Never!

Now the question arises: do you want to come back? Or to put it another way – do you want to be sure that God will receive you as a child in the day of Judgment? Be honest with yourself in the matters of your soul, and ask yourself – is your present state going to be the story of your life? Is this what you want? If this is so, I can assure you that there will come a time when doubts and fears will flood your heart at the very thought of an encounter with a Holy God. Do you wish to die trembling, not sure of your acceptance or a welcome by your heavenly Father? This is no way to face your end. Come back, my friend, and listen to the hymnist once again, talking of his experience: 
Return, O holy Dove! return,
Sweet messenger of rest! 
I hate the sins that made Thee mourn                            
And drove Thee from my breast’.

Let us now consider how to come back. Consider the story of the prodigal son, in which the younger of two brothers wanted his share of his father’s inheritance in advance. This was in order that he might go away and live a careless, immoral and selfish life. He wished to gratify all his desires and lusts. This he did until his money had gone and he found no pity amongst his new-found friends. He was eventually reduced to the lowly task of feeding swine and partaking of their food. Then there is a sentence which I find very telling: ‘when he came to himself’ (Luke 15.17). At this point, he set out for home, and as he approached his home, his father who saw him from afar, rushed to meet him and embraced him, exclaiming, ‘My son  was dead and is alive again’ (Luke 15.24). It was a happy reunion.

Now, although it is true that it is God who is working in our souls, this is balanced with our own responsibility. A miracle takes place from what seems to be a little flicker that flames into a burning desire to come back to God. My dear friend, He is longing for you, and waiting with great expectancy to see you again. Respond to His promptings. Consider what is holding you back. Is it one of these? Is it the love of sin, bitterness of heart, the fear of unpopularity or the pain of admitting that you have wasted much of your life? This is the time to call on God to help you.

In North America, there is an insect called the fiery ant which can cling to your body. To get rid of it, it has to be prized away which is a very painful process. Sins and hindrances cling to us, and our foolish idols, like fiery ants, are not easily removed. You have no choice; you have to have help from the only One who can help you. Do not go to friends, however well meaning, to reassure you that you are a nice, harmless person who is really good company. Turn to God. Once again, let us listen to the hymn writer, William Cowper :

‘The dearest idol I have known
Whate’er that idol be,
Help me to tear it from Thy throne,
And worship only Thee’.

The compassion of God is beyond our comprehension, and His love towards us, through His Son, passes knowledge. Do you understand that He has paid dearly for you?

Is it not true that a parent grieves over a child that has gone another way and who never, ever writes a letter or picks up the phone to ask how they are? Can you imagine the pain of the parents? Stop hurting yourself, stop grieving the Holy Spirit. Come to your senses and rise up and make your way to your Heavenly Father. My dear friend, I do not wish to offend you but I do wish to bring you to your spiritual senses, sooner rather than later. Let us go back to Cowper’s hymn that ends triumphantly:

‘So shall my walk be close with God,
Calm and serene my frame;
So purer light shall mark the road
That leads me to the Lamb.’

Take the step and you will find a greater joy than you have ever known before. Never forget that you are an heir of God and a joint-heir with Christ. Heaven awaits you. Do all that you can, by God’s grace, to show evidence in your life that His grace is in your heart and one day He will lead you to glory.


Letters to the Soul