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How Apostasy

“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.” Colossians 2:8

I know of no one who would say that the world, our nation, our state or even our town was doing well spiritually. In the 60’s we lost prayer and Bible reading in our schools. Since that time, abortion has been accepted as a matter of choice instead of murder; homosexuality is accepted as an alternate lifestyle instead of an abomination to God; Jesus Christ has been banned from school and public events; and yet, we claim to be a Christian nation. Watching the evening news or reading the newspaper, looking at our society, listening to our leaders, both state and church, and tell me that we are not a heathen nation in need of Jesus Christ!

All of the above is not as heartbreaking as seeing Christians, often good Christians, failing to stand up for the truth, yet thinking they are on the leading edge. The media, places America between 75% to 80% Christian. Once you define their meaning of “Christian,” you see they are talking about those who are not Hindu, Muslim, Jew, Buddhist or some strange cult. Biblically, a Christian is one who believes in Jesus Christ as his personal Saviour. The word Christian is used three times in scripture (Acts 11:26, 26:28; 1 Peter 4:16) and does not stray from that definition.

When the Barna Research Group did their research using the Biblical definition, their results concluded that only 7-10% of America’s population is born again believers. The criterion for being a Christian is believing in the gospel Paul gave in 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 delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ 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.”

Barna’s research certainly helps explain why America and her churches have gone into apostasy so rapidly. It does not explain how good churches and good Christians evacuate their positions. What causes good churches and good people of conviction to end up like Demas?

“For Demas hath forsaken me, having loved this present world…” 2 Timothy 4:10

Demas had walked with Paul and stood with him many times (Philemon 24; Colossians 4:14.) He obviously had been sound in doctrine and practice, yet at the end he forsook Paul. Nothing indicates that Demas backslid into drugs or alcohol, had an affair or quit church. He forsook the man who had zero tolerance for “the filthiness of the flesh and spirit” (2 Corinthians 7:1.)

Let me give you three things that I have observed that always appear in the spiritual downfall of churches and church leaders.

1 – The scripture will take a back seat to men’s knowledge or tradition. Why do you think we have so many “new” ways to do “church?” Man’s knowledge is that the old ways do not work. I have never heard that excuse from anyone who worked in the old ways. It is always some lazy person trying to “reinvent the wheel.” Today, any old Bible will do. No longer are the “words” from God. God said He magnified His word above His name (Psalms 138:2,) but man doesn’t. One version is as good as another to him, because deep in his heart he doesn’t believe we have God’s words anymore anyway. The version he uses is what he prefers, not that he believes it to be God’s inspired words. Somewhere, at some time, all versions will contradict each other on major, fundamental doctrines. Not one of these “flip-flops” would entertain playing a game with two different rule books, but they will vacillate on The Book for all eternity.

By the way, this attitude toward God’s Bible reveals our attitude toward authority. No one gets to become a Christian until He recognizes Jesus Christ as Lord.

2 – The music in the church will change. We will move from gospel songs and hymns to contemporary music; we now have “Christian rock” which makes about as much sense as recognizing a “Christian liquor store!” Let me tell you why these things happen. There is the carnal crowd that wants this music and the Christian crowd is afraid to oppose them. We hear people preach all the time about standing up for Jesus; why do we think we would do that in tough times when we won’t fight for good music? We have become a bunch of milquetoast toast Christians who take pride in their “tolerance” instead of defending the faith.

3 – The message in the pulpit will change. We are afraid to mention the sins that Christ said issued from every man’s heart (Mark 7:21-23.) We prefer to skip the list that Paul mentioned in Romans 3:10-23 or 1 Corinthians 9-10. We might offend someone. Don’t be a fanatic. Social drinking is alright, permissive sex is fine, one belief is as good as another. Preaching against sin never saved anyone, but it brought conviction and repentance, so that one could be saved. No one gets saved until they realize they are lost. How long has it been since you have seen someone get saved with tears? Today, our so-called salvations have about as much conviction and emotion in them as registering to vote!

We hear sermons on “building the kingdom,” which is impossible until the King gets here. We emphasize helping the poor, curing diseases, global peace, but not much about the shed blood of Christ, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, prophecy, salvation by grace, living a separated life, etc. When Paul spoke to Felix:

“…he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come…” Acts 24:25

Paul did not dwell on building one’s self-esteem, loving one’s self, living a happy life or ten ways to get God to answer your prayers.

What set Jesus Christ aside as a speaker was:

“…He taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes.” Matthew 7:29

He could say with authority, “It is written…”

Keep Looking Up!

Leland Maples