Part 10 of 22
More on the Apostate “Falling Away”
Definition: “apostasy” from the Greek, means “revolt”; apo- (away from, off) + -(hi) stanai (to stand)] defection; abandonment of what one once held, stood for or believed. It's usually used when someone makes a clear break with an orthodoxy or established belief or doctrine they once held dear.
The apostate churches are those that have forsaken the pure “gospel of the grace of God” that the ascended Christ gave directly to Paul for us today (Eph 3:1-3), after the time
was set aside. Israel
As noted earlier, within the church at large today we witness the apostate “falling away” that was predicted by the Apostle Paul as being characteristic of the “last days.” This “falling away” refers to the apostasy we see among us whereby many formerly so-called Christian churches have become liberal/progressive, humanistic social organizations operating under the pretext of being an expression of the Christian church.
Paul here below writes prophetically to Timothy concerning the prevailing character of people in “the last days” of this age. Note here the utter self-interest, self-serving and self-loving character of the people. He also describes and the kind of false, empty “form (Gk. morphosis, appearance) of godliness” that would prevail. There is little doubt in my mind Paul is describing a time such as ours today.
“Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a FALLING AWAY (GK APOSTASIA) first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thessalonians 2:3)
“This know also, that in THE LAST DAYS perilous times shall come. 2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, 4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; 5 HAVING A FORM OF GODLINESS, BUT DENYING THE POWER THEREOF: from such turn away. (2 Timothy 3:1-5 (KJV)
Paul describes not only the terrible fallen character of the masses of people of the coming “last days,” but also “the apostate church.” These are churches that only keep the outward “form” of so-called Christianity – having services, singing, referring to Jesus as on a par with other notable men, as simply a great teacher, etc. They do not believe in the “power” of God to save and change lives; they “deny the power (of God)” (v5). They may construct “philosophy” from the words of the Bible to fit their interest and tickle the ears of their adherents, but they have no real reliance upon God as there refuge. They deny God’s grace and power, which then is absent because grace only works “through faith” (trust) in Christ. They rely upon man and man’s methods to “fix the world” - humanism, psychology, social engineering, politics, and ecumenism through compromise. They try to make the world “just,” “fair,” and “nice” through their effort to promulgate their versions of a social gospel, which is not “the gospel of the grace of God.” Their faith is in man, not in God, and this is the core of humanism; their faith in man is an evil substitute for reliance upon God. Just as Satan did, they are essentially declaring we “will be like the most high God” (Isa 14:14). Actually, the true church is not “like Christ,” it consist of the actual incarnation of Christ in “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a) on earth today.
The true Church today possesses His life and power to overcome sin and death by faith in His cross-work. The grace gospel is only enjoyed by faith in God’s love and provision by Christ’s cross for the hopeless and helpless race of fallen humanity. But the apostates embrace the “progressive” liberal humanistic beliefs formed of manmade erroneous “doctrines of devils” (1Tim 4:1). They erroneously hope and believe in man’s basic goodness, while the Bible makes clear that man has an inner problem. “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,” Mark 7:21 (KJV). Man is conceived “in sin” (Psa 51:5) and sin is man’s inherent indwelling fallen nature (Rom 7:17-25). The fallen man worships the creature more than the creator (Rom 1:25) and their issues form a man-centered religion. Striving for human rights, animal rights, and the “environment” become more of a concern to them than God’s eternal plan of the ages (Eph 3:11). Having their minds blinded by “the god of this world” (2Cor 4:4), the apostates have corrupted views on such matters as justice, abortion, and sexual morality; they oppose the simple truths of the Bible. This “falling away” has permeated the great portion of the so-called church at large. Paul warned of these traits of religion as a sign of “the last days.”
But how did this apostasy or falling away and compromised mixed gospel occur? We see the same issue prevailed from the time of
, in the heart of its leaders and of the people. Church leaders themselves today seem to be mimicking what occurred in Israel in Jeremiah’s day. Israel
“The prophets prophesy (speak) falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so…” (Jeremiah 5:31a)
Amazingly, here the Lord says of
deviant leadership “…my people love to have it so…” Sadly, oftentimes certain Sunday church attendees prefer having an intermediary class of religious leaders; a clergy serving between them and the Lord. The clergy/laity system that prevails today is a distortion of God’s structure that was designed for the pure edification (building up) of the members of “the church, which is His body” (Eph 1:22b-23a). Many people desire a clergy as a “mediatorial religious class” so they will not have to endure a personal, one on one, heartfelt relationship with the Lord; thus they accept these corrupted church leaders we see among us today. Of course Paul says we today have no intermediary except Christ Jesus Himself (Rom 8:34). “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;” (1Timothy 2:5 (KJV) Israel
A widely accepted version of apostasy from Paul’s grace gospel and salvation message has reached beyond the obvious clearly liberal, humanistic, social, apostate “church” organizations. Over the past century the so-called Bible believing churches have also strayed from Paul’s pure “gospel of the grace of God.” Many, which at one time were properly conservative and fundamental in their theology based upon pure grace, have now become infected with a corrupted version of the gospel that consists of a mixture of both law and grace. When we consider the issue of the “mixed” gospel that seems to prevail today, which is not the gospel, we can understand why there are so many unregenerated and “still born” souls sitting in the pews. “The law is not of faith” (Gal 3:12) and cannot save. The law binds one to “the curse of law” (Gal 3:10), which is “having to keep the entire law.” This of course is impossible (1John 1:8). Ones who have been subject to this false mixed gospel may attend church services weekly without any sincere interest in the things of the Lord, and not be saved at all; yet they may call themselves Christians since they attend a so-called Bible believing and Bible preaching church that preaches many of the right words.
Many people have truly come to know Christ as Savior after having been sincere, religious "church members" for years. Though faithful supporters of some earthly church organization they had never experienced the truth of 2Cor. 5:17: “If any man be in Christ he is a new creation.” It is possible to be a member in good standing of some church organization, yet be outside of the one true Church of which the Bible speaks.
Once we understand the gospel for today – the gospel of the unadulterated “grace of God,” it’s plain to see that the majority of the church at large has forsaken Paul’s pure “gospel of the grace of God” to some degree or another. Nevertheless, receiving the pure grace of God is the only means of salvation today. Many souls have never really heard the pure grace gospel of “the faith,” as the ascended Christ delivered it to Paul for us today. Having only heard a false, compromised, mixed gospel, many of the pew sitters have not necessarily heard the clear uncompromised word of the truth of key elements of the genuine “saving faith.” Many then live under the illusion that they are fine without having come to a personal spirit-union with the Lord. They think they’re saved by their good works, their weekly church attendance and their faith in the mixed (law& grace) gospel that they hear preached from the pulpits of their fallen away apostate churches, and this even in many evangelical and fundamentalist churches.
I trust that the outcome of this series will be a clarification of “the gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) for those who would believe, and also for those who now count themselves as believers. I trust that in seeing the pure “gospel of the grace of God” all would be provoked to make a firm commitment to an uncompromised faith in Christ alone as their savior and Lord. As Peter said “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). It’s only by trusting in Paul’s gospel that we come to “the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16), which then is able to enlighten us and renew our lives now and for eternity.
As you can see, in writing this series I’ve felt led of the Lord to be quite frank. It is not my intention to attack individuals, denominations or groups. Yet, in declaring the truth it cannot be helped but to expose the corrupt teachings of the religious organizations of men that is not the truth. We cannot compromise the truth of “the gospel that is the power of God unto salvation” (Rom 1:16). Many today claim to be speaking as the so-called church, while in fact they’ve fallen away from the pure “gospel of the grace of God.”
“I AM NOT ASHAMED OF THE GOSPEL OF CHRIST: for it is THE POWER OF GOD UNTO SALVATION TO EVERY ONE THAT BELIEVETH… (Romans 1:16a)
I pray that this series will heighten the key truths that are the core elements and doctrines upon which we stand in “the faith.” I trust that this series may be a blessing to the members of “the body of Christ” who value the truth of God as He has declared it through His Moses for “the dispensation of the grace of God” – the Apostle Paul. The truths of “the faith” declare the effectual way of salvation that is only found “in Christ.” The truth of the power of faith in Christ’s cross, as being absolutely sufficient for salvation and life, is the sole basis of the salvation and eternal security. His cross makes us to stand before Him as “holy and without blame… in (His) love” (Eph 1:4). “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who HATH BLESSED US WITH ALL spiritual blessings in heavenly places IN CHRIST: 4 According as HE HATH CHOSEN US IN HIM before the foundation of the world, THAT WE SHOULD BE HOLY AND WITHOUT BLAME BEFORE HIM IN LOVE: (Ephesians 1:2-4).
Thus far I’ve have written about the apostate protestant church, which once held true to Paul gospel and has now for the most part forsaken the truth of Paul’s pure grace gospel. We might now ask; what about the Roman Catholic Church? Having been raised a Catholic, I have some basis for the observations I will offer. Beside the apostate protestant churches, we have the rigid, “religious,” Roman Catholic Church (the RCC). The RCC believes in much of Christ’s cross-work for salvation, but then they add many requirements that serve to negate the sufficiency of God’s grace given to us in Christ’s fully sufficient cross-work. The RCC adds things such as; blind obedience to papal authority and the teaching authority of the Magisterium. The RCC adds requirements such as; adhering to church tradition, Maryology and reverence of the canonized saints, idols, and relics; then also they promote the forbidden abominable practice of necromancy through communion and prayer to these “dead saints” (Deuteronomy 18:9-11, see necromancy v 11,), the keeping of seven sacraments, observing “holy days of obligation,” and confession of sins to an intermediary priest. After all the RCC teaches that no person, including its popes, is fit for heaven directly after death, so all the faithful must pass through an intermediary state called Purgatory and endure there for an unspecified period of time before heaven can be achieved. The RCC requires “penitent works” and offers the opportunity to exercise “indulgences” such as paying money to the church to achieve reduced time in Purgatory. RCC doctrine says these indulgences are a supposed means to achieve a reduced sentence, or time-off, from the unspecified and unknowable time to be spent in Purgatory (not yet heaven). By all this, the RCC essentially is saying the offering of the sinless life of Jesus Christ as sacrifice for the sins of mankind at
Calvaryis inadequate or insufficient for man’s salvation… so men must add these works to Christ’s cross work, under the terms of the RCC’s authority, in order to be saved. What a heresy and what an offense this must be to God who gave His “only begotten Son” for the sins of the world. Jesus said; “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in (trusts in) him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16). (I have entirely devoted Chapter 13 to Roman Catholicism to offer greater detail.)
Religion’s requirements of good works are obviously not at all in accord with Paul’s message of the pure grace gospel for today. Paul says any degree of works “to be justified the law” makes God’s “grace… that came by Jesus Christ” (John 1:17) “of no effect,” void, useless.
“CHRIST IS BECOME OF NO EFFECT (NO BENEFIT) UNTO YOU, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace” (Galatians 5:4 (KJV)
Paul would call these apostate and religious practices and doctrines “anathema” (to be banned, Gal 1:9); as “another gospel,” which is not the gospel. Paul says there is but one requirement for the forgiveness of sins, to be “justified from all things”… that is to “believe,” to “trust in” Christ cross work for us.
“Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that THROUGH THIS MAN (CHRIST) is preached unto you THE FORGIVENESS OF SINS: 39 And by him ALL THAT BELIEVE ARE JUSTIFIED FROM ALL THINGS, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.” (Acts 13:38-39 (KJV)
To all this that I’ve noted above, Paul would warn the apostates and those religious and legalistic Christians who are bent upon “meritorious works,” as he did here to the Galatians. “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into THE GRACE of Christ unto another gospel” (Gal 1:6).
The vast majority evangelicals have fallen to apostasy to win the world with the world’s methods and by compromise; they misuse of the Word of God, not knowing what they do. Paul calls us to still stand in the truth in such a time as we live today.
On standing in the time of apostasy, Cornelius Stam wrote this. He sights the well known story of the three Hebrew children who stood to suffer in the time of test under
’s Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon
“When the Babylonian multitudes prostrated their selves in worship before the golden god which Nebuchadnezzar had erected, three young Hebrews refused to bow and remained standing, erect and alone.
When called before Nebuchadnezzar to answer for their impudence and threatened with death in a fiery furnace, they answered:
“Our God whom we serve is able to deliver us... but if not, be it known unto thee, O King, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up” (Dan. 3:17,18).
This is the stand every believer should take for God and His truth. He is able to deliver us from persecution if we stand true, but even if He does not see fit to do this we should still stand alone, if necessary, for the light He has given us from His Word.
Many have suffered temporary loss for standing for their convictions. Hebrews 11 lists among the heroes of faith some who were “tortured, not accepting deliverance,” and others who suffered “trial of cruel mockings and scourgings ...bonds and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword; they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented” (Heb. 11:35-37).
But we read that these all “obtained a good report” before God and looked forward to “a better resurrection” (Verse. 35, 39).
As the apostasy rises all about us and those who stand for God’s truth are often ridiculed and despised, may God give us the grace to stand true regardless of the cost, remembering that any sufferings for Christ are only temporary while the rewards will be eternal.”