If we knew who those people were who had so hardened their hearts that they had committed what Jesus calls blasphemy against the Spirit (Matt. 12:32) so that God gives them over to their depravity (Rom. 1:24, 26, 28), we could stop praying for them, knowing it was pointless. But we don't have such knowledge.
I was reminded once again of how evangelicals even in the comparatively prosperous nations of Western Europe (and Ireland had the fastest growing economy in the world at one point in the last decade until the recent financial downturn) still lag noticeably behind even the average middle-class American Christian.
I remember being shocked as a young adult by some Hollywood wedding (a true story) in which the traditional vows were replaced with promises to be faithful “until the death of love parts us.” It’s time to return to basics. Love is a commitment, not a feeling. Feelings follow from godly actions, not vice-versa.
Middle knowledge is a proposed solution to predestination vs. free will, to divine sovereignty and human responsibility, going all the way back to the medieval Jesuit priest Molina (so sometimes it's also called Molinism).
It’s here in the U.S., in the Western world more generally, where so much less is at stake that we offer up such pathetic reasons (at least I suspect God considers them pathetic) for not joining together with fellow believers on a regular, weekly basis. And almost all of the excuses are anthropocentric rather than Christocentric.
Paul gathers together three key terms here that most people don’t naturally think of as belonging with each other. Any one of them by itself is usually not enough. Two of them together are much better. But all three are necessary for a full-orbed personality of godly leadership.
The fairly newly coined term for such abandonment of apparent faith that seems to be most popular among those traveling that road is “deconversion.” Studies of deconversions find three fairly consistent factors or kinds of experiences that trigger such rejection of Christianity.