When a Christian Falls

Scripture: Romans 3:23, Proverbs 16:18, John 10:28
Date: 07/28/2018 
The devil attacks stragglers, those who are on the edge of living a Christian life.
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Doug Batchelor: On Christmas Eve 1971, 17-year-old Juliane Koepcke boarded Lansa flight 508 with her mother in Lima, Peru. After crossing the Andes Mountains, dark thunderclouds surrounded the aircraft, causing severe turbulence. Suddenly, a bolt of lightning struck the plane's engine, tearing off a wing. As the doomed airliner spiraled towards the earth, the cabin disintegrated, and Juliane found herself strapped to a row of seats falling silently through the stormy sky. Plummeting over 10,000 feet, she struck the jungle canopy and slammed into the forest floor. Incredibly, Juliane survived the two-mile fall with a just a broken collarbone and a gash in her arm. Failing to find other survivors, Juliane hiked for days to reach civilization and was eventually reunited with her father.

You know, the Bible talks about when Adam and Eve fell through the devil's temptations in the Garden of Eden, it brought down the whole human race. But Jesus came to help us survive this great fall into sin and to make it back to the Father's house. Do you ever think that maybe you have fallen too far or too many times? Join me now for some encouragement as we talk about what the Bible has to say on this important topic.

Doug: Our message this morning is dealing with When a Christian Falls, and the Bible has a lot to say about the subject of falling. There's actually a somewhat famous report that has made the rounds, it's also a little bit humorous, about a bricklayer who sent in a report to an insurance company that was asking for more information regarding an accident. This is, dates back several years, but it's a masterpiece. I'd like to share this with you. "I'm writing in response to your request for additional information. In block number three of the accident reporting forum, I put 'poor planning' as a cause of my accident. You said in your letter that I should explain more fully. I trust that the following details will be sufficient.

I am a bricklayer by trade. On the day of the accident, I was working alone on a roof of a ten-story building. When I completed my work, I discovered I had about 500 pounds of bricks leftover. Rather than carry them down by hand, I decided to lower them to the ground in a barrel by using a pulley which fortunately was attached to the side of the building at the 10th floor. Securing the rope at ground level, I went to the roof, loaded the 500 pounds of bricks in the barrel, then went back down to the ground to untie the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the 500 pounds of bricks. You'll note in block 11 of the accident reporting form that I weigh 135 pounds. Due to my surprise, it being jerked off the ground so suddenly, I lost my presence of mind and forgot to let go of the rope. Needless to say, I proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the building.

In the vicinity of the fifth floor, I met the side of the barrel coming down. This explains the fractured skull and broken collarbone. Fortunately, by this time, I regained my presence of mind and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of my pain. I continued my rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of my right hand were lodged two knuckles deep in the pulley. At approximately the same time, however, the barrel of bricks hit the ground, and the bottom fell out of the barrel. Devoid of the weight of the bricks, the barrel weighed now approximately 30 pounds. I refer you again to my weight in block number 11 of the accident reporting forum. As you might imagine, I began a rapid descent down the side of the building. In the vicinity of the fifth floor, I met the empty barrel coming up again. This accounts for the two fractured ankles and lacerations of my legs and lower body. Fortunately, the second encounter with the barrel slowed me enough to lessen the injuries when I fell into the pile of bricks, and only three vertebrae are cracked. I'm sorry to report however, that as I lay there on the bricks in pain and unable to stand, forgetting the empty barrel ten stories above me, I lost my presence of mind and I let go of the rope."

That's sort of funny. Sometimes people laugh when others fall, they've got a special type of comedy, it's called physical comedy and some comedians are known for their acts involve a lot of falling Dick Van Dyke, Jackie Gleason, and Charlie Chaplin, and The Three Stooges, and Jerry Lewis, and they're always trying to invoke a laugh by falling. And people sometimes think it's funny when they see someone else fall. They've discovered that even some animals, chimpanzees, for example, will laugh when they see another chimp trip or fall. Kind of sinister that you're glad it's not you, I suppose.

But biblically falling is not a funny matter. It can be very serious. All of the pain, and the death, and the misery that we see in the world today is a result of a fall. There in the Garden of Eden man was given a simple test of loyalty to God and His Word, or they could choose to follow the rebel, which involved really self-worship. And because Adam and Eve did not trust the Lord, and maybe they wanted the God-like powers the serpent promised, they fell. Romans 5:12, "Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin--" So, death spread to all men because all have sinned. Romans 3:23, for how many have sinned? All have sinned, and fallen short of the glory of God. We've all experienced that because of the fall of Adam and Eve.

Pastor was talking to his five-year-old son about Adam and Eve, and the temptation in the garden, he said, "Now, what can we learn from that?" And the boy said, "Don't play with snakes." And it's still good advice, do not listen to the devil. Now, that brings us to our story that was in our Scripture reading about a person that's in church that falls. And it's a story of Eutychus that you find in Acts chapter 20, and I'd like to take you back there again very quickly. Paul is preaching in this region of Asia. He's gonna leave the next day, and he doesn't know if he'll ever see him again. And so, the whole church has gathered for the Sabbath. They close the Sabbath together.

Now technically, it's the first day of the week, and he preaches, and he preaches, and he preaches. And back then at night, they didn't have LED lights. They didn't have incandescent bulbs or fluorescent lights. They used lamps, and these oil lamps tended to put off a little bit of oil, and it says that there were many lamps in the upper chamber. And the reason they mentioned that is if there's a lot of lamps, there's often some smoke residue. You ever choke when someone puts out all the candles on a birthday cake? And it got hard to breathe. And so, this young man thought, "Well, I'm gonna sit a little closer the window." The building's full of people, so it's short on oxygen. It may have been a warm night, and the lamps are filling the place with smoke and so Eutychus thought that he had a good seat, and he leaned down in this stone window sill three stories up, tried to keep some fresh air, and still he had one ear on the sermon.

Paul was long in preaching. And Eutychus, overcome with sleep, not realizing the precarious place, don't sleep in the edge of a window. And he flinched, but he flinched, and he fell out the window. He fell down from the third story, and he was taken up dead. Parents and people ran downstairs, and they embrace them, and he died from the fall. It was fatal. But Paul feels really bad because he knows partly it's because he preached too long. And he went down. It's interesting, the word that's used. Eutychus fell and Paul went and fell on him. And he's praying as he's hugging him, and he tells the crowd gathered around, "Trouble not yourselves, for his life is in him."

Now, this point, you're in Acts chapter 20. Paul's faith is pretty strong. He's already affected some miracles, including maybe his own resurrection when he was stoned. And not the Paul resurrected himself, but God raised him up and a miracle takes place. The boy was dead. Paul goes and he embraces him. You know, when Elijah and Elisha resurrected a boy, maybe Paul was thinking back on this story, they both did it through physical contact. In one case, Elisha put himself on the boy and embraced him. "Trouble not yourself, his life is in him." And so, there was great rejoicing.

Now, how is it that he fell? Here he's a member, he's in church, he's listening to a sermon and he fell. Where was he sitting? He's sitting near the edge. You know how people fall out of church? They stay on the edge. If he had been in the room, it might have been a little tougher, but he wanted to stay on the edge. And you know who it was the devil attacks? Those on the edge. Who does the wolf go after? It's the lambs that are on the edge. And a lot of people that are sort of on the edge of church, now I'm not speaking specifically to young people who are sitting on the outside of the building right now, but I'm talking about those who, in their lives, they sort of go to church once a week. They want to stay connected, but they're living on the edge, and they are kind of have one foot in the church, and they've got one foot in the world.

So, if you want to be safe, you want to be right in the middle of the flock, amen? Get involved, get in the middle of it. Get in the thick of it. You're a lot more-- you're a lot safer. You're more inclined to survive as a Christian if you stay involved in a church. That's one of our goals here in Granite Bay is you'll notice that we try to involve the young people in the music, in the Scripture reading. Some of them volunteer with the media, they help with the sound. And I think it's so important that we keep the young people engaged, and we keep them involved. They're a lot more likely to stay with the faith. If they sit near the edge and all they hear is long-winded preachers, there's a chance they can fall.

That's not only young people that fall, but it happens to all of us. The Bible says the apostles fell. Jesus foretold that that would happen. Matthew chapter 26, verse 31 Jesus said, and I'm reading this from the English Standard Version. He said, "You will all fall," I think King James says, "You will all stumble." But that's the word. "You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, 'I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'"

How is it that Peter ended up denying Christ? Have you read there in Mark chapter 14 it says Peter followed, after Jesus was arrested, "Peter followed from a distance." And because he was following from a distance, and when Jesus went into the judgment hall, Peter stayed on the edge, hanging out with the enemies of Christ. And when he was hanging out with the enemies, eventually he denied them. So, you want to stay in the middle of it. Says, "They all forsook him and fled."

One of the ways that people fall is you can fall through pride. This is how the devil fell. Notice, 1 Timothy 3:6, "Don't exalt a novice as an elder, lest being puffed up with pride he falls in the same condemnation as the devil." A way to keep from falling is through humility. Proverbs 16:18, "Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall." And you can read in 1 Corinthians 10:12, "Therefore lead him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall."

So, how do Christians fall? They can fall through thinking too much about themselves, just like the devil, fall through pride. I think this is really where Judas fell. Judas just had such confidence in himself. He was so sure of his abilities. He thought that he was gonna manipulate circumstances that would force Jesus to be proclaimed King, and he was gonna get all the credit for it. He didn't, he didn't want Jesus washing his feet, but Jesus washed the feet of the other disciples. They all humbled themselves. Judas had his feet washed, and he went out and he betrayed Christ. And so, it's through pride.

Doug: Don't go anywhere, friends. In just a moment, we'll return for the rest of today's presentation. Do you sometimes feel like your faith is a little lukewarm? Do you struggle with motivation when it's time to go to church? Does it seem lately like you're being more easily overcome by temptation? Well, friend, don't despair. You're not alone. Millions of Christians struggle with the same challenges. They want to keep their experience vibrant and strong. If you're longing to renew your passion for Jesus, there are some very real practical steps you can take to experience a spiritual revival. So, to help you reignite that spark of faith in your life, Amazing Facts would like to send you a special free gift called "12 Steps To Revival." In this short but faith transforming book, you'll learn the 12 must-have keys to reignite your spiritual life, and to help you have genuine lasting revival in your church. I promise that your faith will come alive when you rediscover a vital connection with God. So, don't wait, friend. To get your free copy, call the number on the screen and ask for offer number 780 or visit the web address. And after you read this incredible resource, make sure and share it with a friend. Well, let's return to today's presentation and learn some more amazing facts from the Word of God.

Doug: Hebrews 6:4, now you gotta be careful. You know, we are so thankful that God is merciful, God is forgiving. If it wasn't for his persistent mercy, where would we be? If we only had ten years of mercy, those of us that are 20 would be all out. And God's merciful is so great, but there is a risk you can presume on God's mercy. There's a verse, we get questions on this verse in our Bible program on a regular basis because it almost seems like it leaves no hope. Notice, Hebrews 6, verse 4, it's in the Bible. You gotta look at it, difficult verse. "For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and they've tasted the heavenly gift, and they have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, and they've tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame."

Here he's telling us that he says it's impossible for people who've had all these benefits. If they fall away, in other words, if they turn away from every one of the best gifts of God, what more can God do? And Peter describes that and he said, "It's like a pig who is washed that were turns to wallowing in the mire, or a dog that turns to its vomit again." Some who fall can't get up again and because they had all the benefits, and they turned their back on all the benefits.

Now, I don't want to discourage you. Some are thinking, "Does that mean that if a believer turns from God, they cannot be saved?" Now, of course, it's not teaching that. What would you do with the story of the prodigal son? What would you do to the story of David, or Peter, or even Moses when he lost his temper? And so, Christians fall, and God is very patient. The apostles, they, like I said, they denied the Lord. And we're so thankful for God's mercy, but you take a lot of risks. If you live near the edge, it's kind of like riding a motorcycle. If you keep wondering how far you can lean on the turns, eventually you'll find what that point is by falling, and you may not survive. You never know when you're gonna get to that point where you think you've got your balance, and you don't. You don't want to find out the hard way what that point is, right? But you can learn from your falling.

How many of you, by show of hands, think you fell when you were learning to walk? That should be every hand, isn't that right? And so, there's a lot to be learned by falling and a certain amount of falling is expected. And you know, even for baby Christians, I used to think, you know, in a perfect world, when someone comes to Christ and they accept Jesus, if they really have enough faith, they never need to sin again. You know, I've come to believe that's not very realistic. It seems like when a person first comes to Christ, there's never a good excuse for sin. Don't misunderstand. But typically, when we are learning the new way of walking in the Lord, you're gonna make mistakes. The Bible says in Isaiah chapter 1, "We've got to learn to do good." That's a learning process. That means you don't know everything about it, you have to unlearn a lot of mistakes. So, you may learn along the way.

You know, baby eagles, now humming birds and eagles are different. Hummingbirds, the babies, when they first leave the nest, they're flying. It's just like they know. No lessons, they don't get a license, a medical, anything, they just fly. Eagles are a little different. They have to sort of get the hang of it, and some eagles do not survive. I think I've heard one out of five eagles does not survive its first flight because, you know, eagle nests are usually very high. They need to learn. Sometimes they'll wait until they're up there in the nest. And they wait until the the wind picks up, and they'll just hover over the nest and then pull their wings in. And they'll hover and they'll pull. And they get the hang of it. Sometimes when they're making their first flight, the mother or the father goes underneath them and when they realize they're dropping out of control, they kind of catch them and either lower down easy, or lift them back up again. That's why God uses that phrase when he talks to Israel. Says, "Like an eagle, I bore you on my wings." Because there's a learning process involved, and sometimes it takes time for us to learn. So, don't be discouraged. Sometimes we learn through our falls, and through our trials.

Now, you can survive a fall, and that's one of the most important things I want to tell you. We've already established-- I won't ask for a show of hands. I expect if you're honest, every hand would go up. How many of us have fallen in seeking to walk with the Lord at some point along the way in varying degrees? We've disobeyed. We've done what we knew we shouldn't do. And then we repent. But it's not always easy. How do you survive? You, first of all, if we sin, what are we told to do? Confess our sin to the Lord, repent, go to the Lord in prayer. Claim the promise that if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all on righteousness. Then does God forgive us? How do we know? Because he said so. "What if I don't feel forgiven?" You don't go based on how you feel. "But I have problems forgiving myself." Are you setting yourself up as a higher tribunal than God? You think that your judgment is more important than God's judgment? If God says, "I forgive you," if we were repent-- well, what is repentance? Well, it's been sorry for your sin, not just sorry you got caught but remorseful, and you don't want to do it again. You don't want to hurt Him.

And this is a very important teaching you don't hear a lot about, but it was a primary teaching in the Bible. The Bible says Jesus began preaching repent. John the Baptist began preaching repent. The disciples began preaching. "Men and brethren, what should we do?" Peter said, Repent. Repentance is a genuine sorrow for sin, and the desire to stop doing that which hurts God, hurts your neighbor, and hurts yourself, and will ultimately end in your eternal loss.

So, if you fall, repent, confess, and then believe, because you cannot be saved without faith. He says, "I will forgive you, and if you do these things, you repent and confess, and I will cleanse you from all on righteousness." So, He's not putting on probation. He says, you are forgiven. You're freely forgiven. David confessed his terrible sin and God said, "Your sin has been put away." When he repented, he forgave him. Isaiah said, "Woe is me. I am undone. I'm a man of unclean lips and I dwell in the midst of them." People with unclean lips, and God touched a coal to his mouth and said, "Your sin is purged, your sin is taken away." Zaccheus said, "If I've taken anything from any man by false accusation," God said, "Salvation has come to this house." As soon as they repented and confessed, thief on the cross. "Lord, remember me when you come into your kingdom." What did Jesus say? Here's a guy, he's a thief, a rebel, and in one passage, it says guilty of murder. And God said, "You'll be with me in paradise."

Believe that God forgives you. And when you know that you're forgiven, you don't want to jeopardize that, you want to live-- walk in the newness of life, amen? Now, I want to illustrate something here. I'm looking for a couple of volunteers. I'd like a couple of young people that would help me. There in the back as, of course, all right, come on up, two of you, yeah. I saw two hands go up. There you go. That'll work. That's perfect. Come on up here. I want to illustrate something. All right, let's see here. You can come here, over here. Young lady here, you go on the other side of her. Can you stand on one foot? Now, while you're standing on one foot, I want you to take one finger, push her shoulder and see if you can push her over, one finger. Okay, all right, you're enjoying this, aren't you? Okay now, I want you to hold my hand. Now stand on one foot. Is that a little harder? You're gonna hurt her. You know what the point is? It really helps if you got a hand to hold when you're trying to stand up and keep from falling, amen? Thank you very much. You did a good job.

So, it's not just that you fall, we want to learn how to not fall, amen? Does somebody offer us a hand? John 10:28, "And I give them eternal life," Jesus speaking. "I give them eternal life and they will never perish, neither will anyone snatch them out of my hand. My Father who has given them to Me is greater than all and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand." Jesus will never let go of you. He will not lose His grip, amen?

The Bible says you can't keep a good man down. Proverbs 24:16, "For a righteous man may fall seven times and rise again, but the wicked will fall by calamity." Psalm 37:23, "The steps of a good man or ordered by the Lord, and he delights in his way. Though he fall, he will not be utterly cast down. For the Lord upholds him with His hand."

And there's one fall that you should deliberately perform that will help prevent the fatal fall. The Bible says that we must fall upon Christ, and we will be broken. Peter went out of the garden after he denied Christ, he went out to the Garden of Gethsemane, he fell on his face and he wept bitterly. Matthew 21:44, "Whoever falls on this stone will be broken, but on whoever it falls, it will grind him to powder." If we cast ourselves on Christ, if we fall upon Christ, and we completely surrender to Him, that's what gives us the strength and the power to keep from falling.

I remember reading about the great Blondin, he was the greatest of the tightrope walkers. And Karen and I were recently at Niagara Falls, and he was the first one who walked across Niagara falls on a tightrope. And he did some amazing things. They don't even know how many times he walked across Niagara because he did it so many different ways, and he did so many different theatric variations of it. Once he did it in a wheelbarrow. Once he pushed someone across in a wheelbarrow. Once he carried a man across Niagara Falls on his back. By the way, he started tightrope walking when he was five years old, and he was just so gifted at--in his balance. Someone asked him one time, "Don't you get nervous when you're walking across the Niagara Falls or one of these great precipices and you see the raging water down there and the steam, and the power of it all, and the wind starts to blow?" And he said, "No, he says, "Those things never scare me." He said, "I don't look at all of that." Said, "Before I cross a chasm," he says, "I fix a silver star at the opposite end." And he said, "I keep my eyes on the star and I know if I do that, all I've gotta do is put one foot in front of another because the rope is straight.

And you know, that's the secret to avoiding a fall is we keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, amen?

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