If you are anguished by the state of your Christian faith and are trying to find your way back to Christ, the good news is, there is hope.
Whatever caused you to wander from your faith, your relationship with Christ can be restored. If you are yearning for Christ again, it doesn’t matter what you have done.
There are any number of reasons people fall away from Christ.
For some, the reason is devastating, greatly and negatively impacting your life, perhaps for years.
Just know that whatever you have been through, it breaks God’s heart too. Evil happens in a broken world. It is a consequence of the existence of sin. God does not take any joy in seeing any of us suffer. Yet we will suffer because we live in a world filled with pain and suffering (Romans 8:35-37).
For others, it is because you chose a different direction, or let a different direction choose you. It can be difficult to think you can find your way back to Christ if you casually let Him go. But you can – read on!
There are two truths we need to consider if you hope to find your way back to Christ.
First, no matter how long you have been away, how badly you have acted, or how lost you feel, there is a path back to Christ. And more than a path; Jesus wants you back.
Jesus went to death on a cross, paying the price for your sins, proving His great love for you (Romans 5:8). If Christ went to those lengths to reveal His love to the world, why would He stop short now if you fell away and now realize you need to come back to Him? Christ’s forgiveness is available to anyone who repents of their sin and follows Him. That includes those who have fallen away from the faith.
Second, if you have fallen away from the faith, either deliberately or through apathy, your past decision to follow Christ is not a “stay out of hell” insurance card. God’s promise of salvation is secure for all who stand to inherit it. But you can give it up.
So it is important that if you do believe Jesus is who He said He was, that you reconcile yourself to Him. He wants to restore you to full fellowship with Him, so you can experience Christ’s love intimately, not just generally. He wants to give you peace from your wanderings and replace your sadness with joy.
Turning to the Old Testament
You may find it surprising we’re going to look to the old testament to help find your way back to Christ.
We need to remember that the God of the Old Testament is also the God of the New Testament. In your previous state of fellowship with Christ, perhaps you came to believe that the Old Testament and New Testament revealed God in different ways.
This is not as true, however. We need to keep in mind that God is steadfast and consistent throughout eternity (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 102:25-27; James 1:17). Here are just a few of His attributes described in both Testaments:
- God desires obedient followers (1 Samuel 15:22; John 14:15)
- God requires a blood sacrifice for the atonement of sin (Leviticus 17:11; Ephesians 1:6-7)
- God calls His people to repentance (2 Chronicles 7:14; 2 Peter 3:9)
- God keeps His promises (Joshua 21:45; Hebrews 10:36)
- God’s desire is that everyone would accept His gift of salvation (Isaiah 45:22; 1 Timothy 2:3-6)
So it comes as no surprise that we can understand salvation and the need for restoration in the Old Testament. Here is the passage we will examine:
“Son of man, give your people this message: The righteous behavior of righteous people will not save them if they turn to sin, nor will the wicked behavior of wicked people destroy them if they repent and turn from their sins. When I tell righteous people that they will live, but then they sin, expecting their past righteousness to save them, then none of their righteous acts will be remembered. I will destroy them for their sins. And suppose I tell some wicked people that they will surely die, but then they turn from their sins and do what is just and right. For instance, they might give back a debtor’s security, return what they have stolen, and obey my life-giving laws, no longer doing what is evil. If they do this, then they will surely live and not die. None of their past sins will be brought up again, for they have done what is just and right, and they will surely live. (Ezekiel 33:12-16)
A key phrase here is that if a person “turn from their sins and do what is just and right”, they will live. This is a description of repentance followed by a life of obedience.
For a person to be able to repent, they must have something to repent from. For a person turning from sin or turning to sin, they were previously in the opposite state.
With that said, we will circle back around to the two truths we mentioned earlier.
The Consequences of Choosing Sin
Let’s deal with the second one first, that God gives you the freedom both to choose Christ or to reject Him. Since we were all born into a state of sin, we all start out in a state of rejecting Him. So to make no decision regarding Christ is also rejecting Him (John 3:16-18).
Therefore, in the Ezekiel passage above, the description of the person who started out righteous is a person who at some point repented of their sins and walked in a path of holiness through obedience to God. Then they later began to live a sinful life, apart from God.
This section could become extremely difficult to read but it is so important for you to take this information in. Finding your way back to Christ is not just a good idea. You need to understand there are eternal consequences at stake.
This passage says it explicitly; if you were in a previous state of being saved and in obedience to Christ, and turned away from it, your past decision will not help you. Even if you felt justified in your turning away, if you say “no thanks” to God’s gift of salvation, He will not come calling after you, saying “take it anyway”. If you reject Christ, there is no hope for salvation for you.
Jesus tells us that He is the only way to Heaven (John 14:6). There are only two destinations for our souls in eternity, and once we have taken our last breath, our path is locked in.
He holds everyone accountable for their choices.
Even those who hurt you.
If it was pain that drove you away, whatever or whoever was the cause of that pain, God did not create that pain. He wants us to bring everything to Him, even our hurts. When someone or something claims to be representing God and then does something to a human being that God would call evil, it was not God’s idea and it is not God’s fault.
That person or institution was either willfully sinful or at the very least was self-deceived. When that happens, trust in that person or that organization is damaged, perhaps beyond repair.
God, however, is love. God’s law is love. Jesus tells us the entirety of God’s commands can be summarized in loving God and loving others (Matthew 22:36-40).
God is also just. If someone sinned against you and they are unrepentant, there will be justice one day, although you may never see it. Because God’s law is love, He tells us not to seek revenge, but rather leave that to God (Romans 12:17-19).
If it was apathy or the concerns of this world that led you away, then over time, the longer you were separated from God’s presence, the more the enticements of this world had influence over you. Maybe you sought distractions you once considered sinful, but you thought would bring satisfaction. Or perhaps you were trying to numb yourself from pain and loneliness.
Either way, you lost your way. Without a closeness to Christ through abiding with Him, you had no means or desire to confess and repent of your sins and receive cleansing. And you continued to live for your own self and seek solace in this world.
Although it would be nice to believe that God would let us come into Heaven anyway, again, He holds everyone accountable for their choices. If Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the cross does not have any value for you in this life, then it will have no value for you in the life to come.
So you see, dear wanderer, this decision has deadly serious, eternal consequences. If you are reading this and feeling a tug at your heart, do not ignore it. God is calling you back to Him. Please make a good decision and find your way back to Christ.
God Will Always Accept a Repentant Heart
Thankfully, there is another side to this story. This now brings us back to the first truth: it doesn’t matter what you’ve done or how long you’ve been gone, you can be restored to fellowship with Jesus Christ.
Let’s look again at the Ezekiel passage. Consider the phrase “suppose I tell some wicked people that they will surely die”. This may sound terrifying at first but take a minute to reflect on this.
This is saying it is never too late to turn back to God. He will accept your repentance even if it means cancelling His declaration of judgement to do it.
To examine this a little further, consider the story of Jonah the prophet. He was called on to warn the people of Nineveh of their impending judgement from God. Jonah did not want to go because He saw the Ninevites as his enemy. It was his attempt to escape this directive from God that resulted in the famous incident with the great fish.
After Jonah survived, he answered God’s call to warn Nineveh. He went through the city telling everyone that in forty days Nineveh would be destroyed (Jonah 3:4). There was no “unless you” attached to Jonah’s decree. If you were a Ninevite that day, you might have been tempted to pack up and leave.
Instead, they stayed. The people of Nineveh immediately took the message seriously. They took on an attitude of repentance, praying to God and turning from wickedness. Everyone, from the king on down – even the livestock reflected the attitude of mourning (Jonah 3:5-9).
God was moved by the Ninevites reaction and changed his mind (Jonah 3:10). He withheld His judgement.
It is true that God, in his nature, never changes. We can trust Him to do what He says He will do. Both Ezekiel 33 and Jonah 3 prove His nature is to forgive anyone who repents. Yes, even when He has declared judgement. I believe God keeps the door open to restoration as long as there is a chance. God, in His love, will even remove the warning of judgement to accept a repentant soul with open arms.
So again, I say to you, dear wanderer; it is never too late to repent and turn back to a life in obedience to God. You can still find your way back to Christ.
And when you repent, according to this passage, your past sins will not be brought back up again. This is another commonality we find between the Old and New Testaments. When God forgives our sins, He no longer counts those sins against us (Ezekiel 33:16; 2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Find Your Way Back to Christ
It is our sincere prayer that what you have read here today has stirred your heart. We hope we have shown you both the necessity and the possibility to be find your way back to Christ. Please allow us to pray for you as you consider what you are going to do next.
Deciding to find your way back to Christ works similarly to your original decision to choose Christ. It is about believing in Him, repenting of your sins, and following Him in a life of self-surrender and obedience.
Perhaps you made an initial decision for Christ without fully understanding the implications, and were not discipled well afterwards. We would like to help you with that. Go back and look at Jesus Christ: The Way of Salvation. Once you have understood that, read The Secret to Discipleship and The Mark of a True Disciple of Jesus Christ to get your renewed faith journey off to a solid start.
If you are ready to find your way back to Christ, right now, then praise God! We still advise you to go back and read through our materials to help ensure you get started back on the right footing. However, if you want to make your decision known to God without delay, pray something like this:
Dear Jesus, it has been so long since I have been a committed, obedient disciple. I have committed so many sins against you and against other people during that time. There was a time when I realized you were God come to earth, and died on the cross, paying for my sins by the shedding of your blood. There was a time when believing that had a daily impact on my life. Lord Jesus, please, I ask you to forgive me of my many sins. I repent of my sins and desire to follow you again in obedience and holy living as Your disciple. I ask you to please take me back into your family again. Please revive Your Holy Spirit within me so that I may be strengthened to know the truth that sets me free. Guide me in walking daily with you. Introduce me to faithful, loving disciples to teach me how to walk in Your ways. Please give me the strength to endure to the end. Amen.
Friend, if you prayed that prayer, welcome back into the fellowship of our Lord Jesus Christ. Please use the same link for prayer to let us know of your decision to reconcile with God. But remember – this is the beginning of your journey back. Your prayer was the beginning. We hope you will avail yourself of this site for encouragement. You more than anyone know that if you don’t do what it takes to maintain fellowship with Christ, that fellowship can fade away.
In fact, it might be helpful to go back and look at some of the things a new believer should be thinking about, to get your road back to Christ on the right track. Check out I Just Accepted Jesus Christ – Now What?
One final note: if you are unfamiliar with or have not read the Parable of the Lost Son, you may wish to do so (Luke 15:11-24). Pay special attention to verses 20-24. They contain just a small hint of the incredible love Jesus Christ has for you. There is truly a celebration in Heaven going on because of what you have chosen to do today.
And for those who are still wrestling with finding your way back to Christ, again, let us know how to pray for you.