Part 9 of 22
The Apostates Have Fallen Away from "The Faith"
“Faith” can be a verb, an action word. “Credo,” the Latin word for faith, is also a form of the verb usually translated as “I believe…” We see this in “The Apostle’s Creed,” The Nicene Creed,” and other religious creeds that begin with the words “I believe...” According to Padraic O'Hare, a Professor of Religious and Theological Studies, the verb can also be interpreted as “to give one's heart to.” Here then faith is not an estate to be attained or a stage to be realized; rather, faith is a way of being and moving.
Often though, “faith” is a noun, the object. Paul thus uses the term… “the faith,” to describe the set of core beliefs and doctrines that grace believers are to hold today while we live under “the dispensation of the grace of God.” Believers can say we place our “faith” (our belief) in the core set of beliefs that we call “the faith.”
We as members of “the body of Christ” are those who have received Paul’s “gospel of grace of God” (Acts 20:24); thus we stand in and stand for “the faith.” Paul, the Apostle who the ascended Christ saved and sent specifically to the predominantly Gentile “body of Christ,” was given the unique doctrine of “the dispensation of the grace of God” (Eph 3:2) as the elements of “THE FAITH.”
Paul gives us these verses that describe some of the core beliefs of “the faith.” “Be on the alert, stand firm in THE FAITH, act like men, be strong.” (1 Corinthians 16:13 (NASB)
1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you THE GOSPEL which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and WHEREIN YE STAND; 2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain. 3 For I (Paul) delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that CHRIST (THE SAVIOR) DIED FOR OUR SINS according to the scriptures; 4 AND THAT HE WAS BURIED, AND THAT HE ROSE AGAIN THE THIRD DAY according to the scriptures:
Romans 6:14 For sin shall not have dominion over you: for YE ARE NOT UNDER THE LAW, BUT UNDER GRACE.
Eph 2:8-9 For BY GRACE ARE YE SAVED …THROUGH FAITH; … AND THAT NOT OF YOURSELVES: …IT IS THE GIFT OF GOD: …9 NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast. (emphasis added)
2 Corinthians 13:5 Examine yourselves, whether ye be in THE FAITH; prove your own selves. KNOW YE NOT YOUR OWN SELVES, HOW THAT JESUS CHRIST IS IN YOU, except ye be reprobates?
Colossians 1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of glory:
Galatians 2:20 I AM CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST: NEVERTHELESS I LIVE; YET NOT I, BUT CHRIST LIVETH IN ME: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Paul’s epistles warn us of a “falling away” (apostacism) from the faith that would appear “in the latter times” (1Timothy 4:1). Now note these sobering words as our Apostle describes “the latter times.”
1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that IN THE LATTER TIMES some shall DEPART FROM THE FAITH, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
1 Timothy 1:19-20 … Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
2:6-8 As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: 7Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in THE FAITH, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. 8 BEWARE lest any MAN SPOIL YOU THROUGH PHILOSOPHY and VAIN DECEIT, after the TRADITION OF MEN, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. Col
2 Thessalonians 2:3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a FALLING AWAY first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
2 Timothy 4:1-3 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when THEY WILL NOT ENDURE SOUND DOCTRINE; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
Titus 1:13-14 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in THE FAITH; 14 NOT GIVING HEED TO JEWISH FABLES, and COMMANDMENTS OF MEN, that turn from the truth.
Our faith is built upon hearing the truths of “the word of God,” uncompromised. Rom 10:17 …FAITH COMETH BY HEARING, AND HEARING BY THE WORD OF GOD. Paul says we have the written “word of God” and warns us that we should not honor “the tradition of men” in its place. “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men… (Colossians 2:8a) Jesus Himself here warned the religious Pharisees of their traditions that negate “the word of God.” “Making the word of God of none effect through your TRADITION...” (Mark 7:13)
The apostate’s are the so-called Christians and religious organizations that have fallen away, from “the faith. We might ask; how shall we preserve “the faith” among believers? Paul calls for the separation of the true believers of “the faith” from the perpetuators and perpetuators of the corrupted false gospel of the apostates. Being in union with Christ, believers are to be those who live in the word but are not of the world – our real source is outside “this world” (John 8:23). Paul warns the believers of those who will depart from the “sound doctrine” of “the faith” in “the latter times”; saying, “from such (people) turn away” (2Tim 3:5). I personally believe we today live in those “latter times.”
Actually, Paul says God has given all men a measure of faith (Rom 12:3), so the issue is who or what we place our faith in. We all live by faith every day; i.e., we live by faith in ourselves for so many practical things. We live by faith in others, believing they will not drive their car across the highway median and hit our car. When we place our faith in our own “good works” to earn our salvation we have then misplaced our faith… placing our faith in ourselves, not in Christ. Thus, not all faith is the “saving faith” that is required for eternal union with God.
Thus, we can understand that those who “depart from the faith” are not entirely without faith; they may even be “religious.” They have a faith, but it’s a faith that does not save them. They may believe in God and the existence of Jesus of Nazareth, but then also the Devil believes in God and Jesus. Many deceived Christians and religious people have faith in their own good works, seeking to justify their own self; this self-reliance is the root of manmade religion. My definition of religion and religious activity is that which men do out of self-effort, thinking they can thereby merit salvation and/or God’s favor. Such wasted effort will not save one from their sins, nor will our “self-works” please God after salvation.
Many people go to a so-called Christian churches and claim salvation, but they really do not believe with a “saving faith.” Their belief or credo may be that Jesus of Nazareth was a good man and we should try to be like Him - we all just need to be good, try hard, and our good works will save us; but of course this is not the truth. An atheist can be “good.” “Saving faith” is only a faith that is placed in Christ and in His substitutionary work on
Calvary’s cross for us as the sole basis of our salvation; this alone will save us from our sins and from perdition (judgment).
Then also, with our salvation, genuine “saving faith” brings the invisible but very real deposit of Christ’s eternal “Spirit of life” into the believer’s spirit to be their new life; this occurs is immediately upon believing, while living here on earth. Christ’s “Spirit of life” has overcome “sin and death” (Rom 8:2) and now indwells the believer’s spirit as their power for living the Christian life. “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but CHRIST LIVETH IN ME… (Galatians 2:20a) Since believer’s now possess the actual resurrected “Spirit of life in Christ” (Rom 8:2a, 8-10) there is no need for them to try to imitate Jesus of Nazareth. The question of “WWJD” goes out the window.
In Paul’s second letter to Timothy he describes the people of the latter times, the apostates, who will only hold to an outward “form of godliness,” while “denying the power” godliness in Christ.
“…they hold A FORM of piety (religion), they deny and reject and are strangers to the power of it [their conduct belies the genuineness of their profession]. AVOID [ALL] SUCH PEOPLE [TURN AWAY FROM THEM]” (2 Timothy 3:5 (AMP)
Their so-called faith, a misplaced faith in their own selves, denies and prevents the power of God to save and change lives. So much of man’s religion is just “an outward form,” full of liturgy, ritual, rote or memorized prayers, ceremony, and tradition. The false faith of religion is empty of reality and inner satisfaction; it is void of the power that comes from true salvation that is able to change our living. Deep down many of their thirsty adherents know that these organizations are as “wells without water” and “clouds without rain” and seek reality in Christ. Christ’s indwelling Spirit is the only “living water” and the power for living, which comes to believers with rest and peace for their hearts. Ephesians 3:16 That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to BE STRENGTHENED WITH MIGHT BY HIS SPIRIT IN THE INNER MAN;
The false faith of religion depends upon an outward display of seemingly “good works” as a supposed basis for righteous standing before God. These good works are not the fruit of a saving faith in Christ’s cross-work, but rather of self-effort. God rejects such self-effort as “dead works” (Heb 6:1, 9:14). These references are not to wicked works but to dead works. These “dead works” are the so-called “good works” (whether moral or ceremonial) which men did, and still do, to make their self acceptable to God. They are “dead” because they are not the product of a believer’s regenerated spiritual life, but the mere attempt on the part of unregenerate sinners to justify themselves before God.
Paul himself, once zealously religious, but wholly unsaved, had to repudiate his “dead works” and count them “loss” to find salvation in Christ, through whom alone he could produce the genuine good works that God could accept. (See Philippians 3:4-9).
This is why Paul declares by divine inspiration: “For by grace are ye saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God: NOT OF WORKS, lest any man should boast, for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus UNTO GOOD WORKS...” (Eph.2:8-10). Paul emphasizes that we are not saved by works that we have done. “NOT BY WORKS of righteousness which WE HAVE DONE, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;” (Titus 3:5)
The fallen away apostate church, by its so-called “good works” and apparent social caring, gives “religious cover” to the false Christians and now to the government politicians who pretend but really are not true believers. Have you ever wondered about those so-called Christians of whom you can’t help but note there seems to be no evidence of their saving faith in Christ? A mere social or political Christian may play church, but he usually will have no genuine interest in Bible study or the things of God. They usually are void of any emphatic claim or testimony to their own personal salvation. They may go to a church by habit or make payment on what they consider their “get-out-of-hell free” insurance. They exhibit no rejoicing at having received the love and grace of God, or the forgiveness of their sins that emanates only from Christ’s blood-soaked cross. Such a one is not just a carnal Christian; rather, they likely are not a Christian at all. Of course, only God knows for sure.
Believers are not to be each others “fruit” inspectors, however we should have a sense or perception by the Spirit that something may be wrong with such people (1Cor 2:10-11). John says “by the anointing (Spirit)” we can “know all things” (1John 2:20, 27). We all make judgments about things all day long, and Paul says believers can “judge all things” (1Cor 2:15), that is we have perceptions about things, situations, and people. Such questionable “believers” typically profess belief in Jesus Christ only in a “general way.” Those who claim such a “general faith” will exhibit no evidence of spiritual “life,” and no change in their living or in their attitudes toward God, toward others, or their objectives in life. They remain unchanged by the power of Christ’s life because they’ve not yet personally trusted in the substitutionary cross-work of Jesus Christ “alone,” as the only basis for the forgiveness of their sins, their reconciliation to God, their justification, their redemption, their salvation, and their power for living.
By contrast, genuine believers go on to walk in union with the Lord because they have become constrained by the bands of His love and grace toward them (2Cor 5:14). They have gratitude for Him, love Him, and appreciate Him. They walk with Him because they know He first loved them (Rom 5:8).In summary, the liberal apostate protestant church has forsaken and compromised the fundamentals of “the faith.” So much of the so-called Christian church has failed to preach the simple truth of the pure “gospel of the grace of God” by which men may be saved and changed. I trust that you can now see how it is that people who are ignorant of God’s grace gospel may go on thinking they are saved by their works when in fact they really are not saved. They preach a social gospel, being nice, good works, self-improvement, tradition and philosophy. The apostates do not teach Paul’s “gospel of the grace of God” (Acts 20:24) concerning salvation and forgiveness of sins that comes to men only by receiving God’s love and grace, through faith alone in Christ’s cross-work – without any requirement for good works. “But to him that WORKETH NOT, but BELIEVETH on him (Christ) that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Romans 4:5 (KJV)