Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Apostasy and tolerance: both are bad. Read the bible to find out more

In December, I read that the UK "census shows number of people in England and Wales who are not religious has risen to 14.1 million, almost double from 2001."

It got me thinking about faithlessness and what we are told about in 1 Timothy 4:1

"Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,"

I always found it interesting that the verse reads 'the Spirit expressly says'. In other translations it reads 'the Spirit clearly says', and 'the Spirit explicitly says.' One would think that the Spirit is always clear and expresses exactly what He wants to say. I mean, it would still be authoritative enough if the verse read "The Spirit says that in latter days..." But that adverb 'expressly' always gets me. In interpreting His word when I come up against something like that, I come to a full stop. If the Spirit expressly says something, then it behooves us to pay attention to it.

The Greek word for 'expressly' is an adverb which is a derivative of rheo, meaning "command." OK, that's pretty strong.

So the upshot is the Spirit commands us to know and understand that in latter days some will depart the faith.

We can rest assured, that God's numbers are not diminishing. It isn't a weak religion where people can come and go and God #fail. Not at all. Whom He saves is saved. If they depart from the faith they are actually demonstrating that they never belonged to God in the first place. (1 John 2:19).

Oftentimes a departure from the faith is called apostasy. We are told that apostates will increase in number just before the Second Coming (Of Jesus, Not Obama. Sorry, I had to get that in there). 2 Thessalonians 2:3 has the verse:

"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,"
The Holman Bible Dictionary defines apostasy as "the act of rebelling against, forsaking, abandoning, or falling away from what one has believed.

Old Testament The Old Testament speaks of “falling away” in terms of a person's deserting to a foreign king (2 Kings 25:11; Jeremiah 37:13-14; Jeremiah 39:9; Jeremiah 52:15). Associated ideas, however, include the concept of religious unfaithfulness: “rebellion” (Joshua 22:22); “cast away” (2 Chronicles 29:19); “trespass” (2 Chronicles 33:19); and “backslidings” (Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 8:5). NAS uses “apostasy” in Jeremiah 8:5 and Hosea 14:4 with the plural in Jeremiah 2:19; Jeremiah 5:6; Jeremiah 14:7."
It seems clear to most of us that the Lord is revealing that many who adopted a form of godliness but had denied its power (2 Timothy 3:5) are being stripped of their falsely spiritual cloak and are being revealed for whom they actually are.

An essay recently on iCNN, the citizen input channel of their news media's online arm, recently published an essay that has reportedly garnered the second highest number of hits ever. 

Why I Raise My Children Without God

Posted on January 14, 2013, it has received 9,100 comments. Over 60,000 have recommended the essay on Facebook. A competing essay on iCNN titled "Why I raise my children WITH God"...has received a tenth of the number of comments and a third fewer recommends on Facebook.

People are apostatizing, and rapidly. The gap is widening so there can be no fence straddlers for very much longer.

We know what atheism is. It is people like the woman who wrote "Why I Raise My Children Without God", they are people who never believed in God in any form for any time because they theorize that God does not exist. They have great faith in their theory.

It seems clear that we also know what apostasy is. It is people who (seemed to) believe for a time, and then abandoned any pretense of believing in their version of God. Muslims can apostatize. Buddhists can become apostate. But for the purposes of this essay, we are discussing people who claimed to believe in a risen Jesus as savior, but after a time, abandoned that belief and either went on to something else or simply became what they always were: atheist or agnostic.

But I have another question about who an apostate might be.

I wrote recently about old Eli, the temple priest whose record in the bible never revealed a sin that he personally committed, but he and his sons were killed for the sons' sins. The sons were taking money from congregants, taking the choicest meats, and then taking women. Eli was not participating in this travesty, but he knew about it, and did nothing. That last thing is what God seemed upset about. The sons were killed for their part in the sinful behavior and Eli was killed because he didn't do anything about it. (1 Samuel 2:29, 1 Samuel 3:13.)

What God said to Eli was that Eli was honoring his sons above God. I think we forget who we sin against, when we sin. All sins are against Jesus. (Psalm 51:4). The prodigal son said to his father that he'd "sinned against heaven, and against you." (Luke 15:21)

In Revelation 2:21 Jesus said he had something against the church at Thyatira. "Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols."

They knew there was sin, they knew the sin was destroying their church, and they did nothing about it. So Jesus had a condemnation for them. If it was today they would probably sit around saying "touch not God's anointed" and "judge not" and "aren't we so humble, in our tolerance." Tolerance in the wrong direction is actually a sin. Think about it.

Paul condemned a situation in Corinth, where a man had his father's wife. Paul condemned the sin and severely chastised the person performing the sin. But the church body was also chastised for tolerating it. Paul called them arrogant.

"You are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn?" (1 Corinthians 5:2)

Paul chastised them for boasting. The Corinthians were going around boasting about their gifts and their status and their works, and yet they were tolerating a gross sin. Their boasts were resting on a corrupted pedestal. If it were today, I would venture to say that they'd be boasting about their tolerance and their humility not to "judge."

So the question is, is a person apostatizing if he tolerates gross sin but does nothing about it? Like Eli, Thyatira, and Corinth? If a person can tolerate such sins against Jesus and not do anything about it, are they actually loving Jesus as they should? Are they growing lukewarm, or even cold? If a people who actually know what sin does to a person, allows a person to continue in that sin, do they love that person if they do nothing to help them?

Does a false tolerance and an overdone spiritual correctness mean that love is growing dim? That they are apostatizing?

I don't know if the definition of apostasy can be given to that kind of behavior. I'm just asking. I do know that Jesus condemned it the three biblical examples I used. At root, it means that they honor the sin more than they honor Jesus.

After Jesus threw out the moneylenders in the temple, "His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for your house will consume me.” (Psalm 69:9; John 2:17)

Barnes Notes says, "Its meaning is, that Jesus was affected with great zeal or concern for the pure worship of God. The zeal of thine house - "Zeal" is intense ardor in reference to any object. The "zeal of thine house" means extraordinary concern for the temple of God; intense solicitude that the worship there should be pure, and such as God would approve. Hath absorbed me, or engaged my entire attention and affection; hath surpassed all other feelings, so that it may be said to be the one great absorbing affection and desire of the mind."

No matter what the exact definition of apostasy, zeal for God should consume us. Is our worship pure? Are we intensely concerned that no leaven is spoiling the lump? (The charge Paul gave to the Corinthians in the above passages). Do we tolerate a devastating pattern of sin in our own life, or in our church? You are not doing yourself, Jesus, or your brethren any favors by adopting a false sense of humility and refusing to address obvious and entrenched sin in God's house. The bible is clear on that.

Dearest ones who have addressed sin, or tried to, in God's house, He understands the toll zeal takes:

"My zeal wears me out, for my enemies ignore your words." (Psalm 119:139)

The writer of Hebrews lets us know that there is nothing Jesus hasn't gone through first that He isn't intimately familiar with in us. (Hebrews 2:17). He understands the toll it takes to be zealous for God, and He has made many promises to those who persevere in the purest worship they can offer, the most zeal they can give, and the best attempts at rooting out sin. Here is one of those promises-

"He will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The LORD has spoken." (Isaiah 25:8)

Take heart. He is coming soon.

14 comments:

  1. Hi, I have been reading some of your postings for awhile now and I would just like to say, thank you for taking the time to do this. Today's posting was very relevant and I feel that I need to examine my heart to be sure that I have not fallen in this way. Please pray for me and my family, I so much want to see them turn back to the Lord in these times. Thanks and may the Lord richly bless you and yours.
    Rick

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    1. Hi Rick,

      May the Holy Spirit bring to mind all that you need to become humble but zealous, pure but compassionate :).

      I'll pray.

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  2. This lesson is very relevant as I wrote you today. I have been told over and over to just not worry about it. This is reassuring that my zeal for The Lord is real for I am so completely concerned with the apostasy and false teaching in the church.
    Than

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    1. The verse that spoke to me is the "my zeal wears me out, the enemies won't listen." It is upsetting to see even those who profess Jesus preach sin in the name of Christ, teach devilish doctrines in the name of the Holy Spirit. The false teaching is monstrous...and everywhere. If a person is in a good church, praise His name, often! It is a gift these days.

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    2. No kidding!! about the good church these days. Mine is reformed but our eschalatogical views are different. And it really does matter. I think that what you believe about the endtimes determines how you will teach the rest of the Scriptures. It makes me sad when we go thru the Bible and prophecy is either overlooked(hard to do, in my opinion)or spiritualized. Those are some of the most precious parts of Scripture.
      But anyway, I am with you on who the apostates are. I always say that the "true born from above church(body of Christ) is doing just fine! Again, I say professors or possessors. You are either inhabited by the Holy Spirit or you have the appearance of godliness but without power.
      As always, thanks Elizabeth for your relative to today insight.
      Pam

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  3. I was saved when I was 6 yrs. old. I was raised in church but fell away in my late teens into my 20's but I was ALWAYS convicted of where my walk was and what I was doing. I came back to the church and was baptized again and rededicated my life at about age 26. I grew and then I fell away again but I was continually convicted. I prayed every day and sought out the Lord in my own way but I always knew that wasn't good enough. I've had many trials and tribulations in my life but I always knew that Christ was near if I would just seek Him. I am now 50 yrs old and I can truly say that I'm a Christ follower. There are many things I could fill in between all of this but it would take a while to explain how God has worked in my life. My point is this, I believe if one is truly saved then they will have those convictions on a constant basis and I mean all day every day. I did and as I look back at that I can't believe I wouldn't just do what Christ wanted me to do. It's still not always easy but having that daily walk with Him is so awesome. I want to keep writing so I ask for your prayers because I think God wants me to write my "story" and I've not followed through because I don't feel like I'm a "writer". There I go again, not giving God credit for working through me. It's not about my perceived abilities, it's about how God uses them.

    God Bless

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    1. Hello Dear Jeff,

      I am going to say something, and I please ask you to consider it. I say it because I worry deeply for you. By your words, you repented of all your sins at age 6, understanding why you need a savior and repenting of all your sins, knowing that Jesus is Savior AND Lord, but spent the next 44 years continually resisting the conviction of the Holy Spirit, refusing His Lordship, and absent from noticeable sanctification...and yet you believe you are saved? What, exactly, makes you believe so?

      You may well be saved- but I want to pass this to you for our consideration, your journey sounds sounds like the false doctrine of Carnal Christianity, which The Founders Journal writes is actually very similar to your experience:

      ---begin Founders Journal article excerpt---
      http://www.founders.org/journal/fj16/article2.html

      There is a teaching that a person can be a “carnal Christian”. The testimony goes something like this: "When I was 7 or 8 years old (or older perhaps), I received Christ as my personal Savior, but I did not make Him Lord until much later in life." This kind of testimony reflects an erroneous interpretation of one's experience. To avoid this serious error we must hold tenaciously to a fundamental principle, that is, we must always interpret our experiences by the Scripture and never interpret the Scripture by our experience.

      I acknowledge that there are babes in Christ. In fact there are not only babes in Christ, but there are different stages of "babyhood" in understanding divine truth and in spiritual growth.

      All the marks of Christianity are not equally apparent in all Christians. Nor are any of these marks manifest to the same degree in every period of any Christian's life. There are many hills and valleys in the process of sanctification; and there are many stumblings, falls and crooked steps in the pathway to the Celestial City.

      There is a difference between true, saving belief and spurious belief. This distinction is found throughout the New Testament. Many believed but Jesus did not commit Himself to them (John 2:23, 24); they believed but did not confess Him (John 12:42, 43); they believed for awhile (Luke 8:13); Simon Magus believed and was baptized but he thought he could buy the Holy Ghost (Acts 8:12-32); Peter said he would perish, (v. 20); his heart was not right (v. 21); therefore not changed, he was in the gall of bitterness and the bond of iniquity (v.23). But the strongest evidence is in his prayer--he, like the unregenerate, was only concerned with the consequence of sin and made no request to be pardoned and cleansed from sin--just, "...that none of these things come upon me." Just like the so-called carnal Christian he wanted Jesus as a kind of hell insurance policy but does not want delivered from sin. James 2:19 says, "the devils believe..."

      In all of these cases people believed, that is, they had faith but it was not saving faith. Similarly all of the carnal Christians have belief, but it is not always saving belief

      ---end Founders Journal excerpt---
      More Information here also
      http://www.gty.org/resources/articles/A293/the-lordship-controversy

      In saving faith there is obedience and submission. If you are convicted to examine yourself to see if the true marks of saving faith are in you, I'd be honored if you would go here

      What Kinds of things prove genuine, saving faith?
      http://www.gty.org/resources/questions/QA145/what-kind-of-things-do-and-do-not-prove-the-genuineness-of-saving-faith

      A believer's Assurance: A practical guide to victory over doubt
      http://www.gty.org/resources/positions/P17/a-believers-assurance-a-practical-guide-to-victory-over-doubt

      I don't write these things to criticize you but on the off-chance that you may be one of the many that the Lord says "Depart from me ...I never knew you". You may not be, & all will be well! At this point in the lateness of the hour, I ask everyone to check themselves. It never hurts to examine one's self, Paul wrote in 2 Cor 13:5 :)

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  4. Every time I think of Apostasy and people leaving, I think of teachers like Beth Moore or John Piper. I've brought up the verse in 1 John 1:9 where it states --"Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God; whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son."-

    Pretty strong truth.

    My dilemma is, Since we cannot know a person's heart, but yet some of these people are running ahead like Moore and Piper, can we honestly conclude that they "do not have Christ" or is it still premature because we have to let the wheat grow up with the chaff?

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    1. Linda, that is a great question.

      It is hard to envision a true faith where the teacher states they have been gifted with a vision in another dimension though the eyes of Jesus, told to come back, and teach it. This is apostolic authority and that ended with John. In years past statements like that are made by quacks on television evangelism channels and were easily dismissed. Today those statements are made by 'teachers' such as Beth Moore and because of her popularity we hesitate to say she's false. But given the many biblical commands and warnings about falsity, and lifestyle, we have to hold her to the benchmark of absolute truth and my own conclusion is she is false. One cannot misuse scripture to the point she does, preach from pulpits, and claim excessive personal revelation and think that her Gnosticism mixed with a form of Christianity means she has some truth in her. At least not in my own opinion

      I cannot believe a faith like hers that includes audible conversations with God, personal visitations, visions, and doctrinal error comes from a real faith. Was she false all along? Very likely. I look to another famous apostate for an example of a long road of slow-falsity reveal: Billy Graham

      His was a case where the verse from 2 Peter 2:12-- "But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction."

      The key is that they *secretly* bring in. Graham always believed in a possibility of ape-men/evolution, sanctification begins at infant baptism, and that men may get to heaven in a different way than Jesus- he just didn't talk about it a lot. So we say, in that case, he always was false, we just didn't know it. Eventually the heart reveals itself. Luke 12:34, "where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."

      What happens is that they may have started out having faith- just not saving faith. It can continue for a long time as a form of the real thing. But at some point, satan knocks you off your course. Any driver, pilot or sailor knows that even a half a compass degree off course, uncorrected over time, will mean you end up in Anchorage instead of Phoenix. A Christian can't be knocked off course because ours is the North Star which does not move. But the false ones have nothing to cling to and either they get moved off course fast (Jesse Duplantis, Todd Bentley) or slowly (Moore, Graham)

      As far as the wheat and the tares go, the field is the world, by the way, not the church. (Mt 13:38). If the parable meant the church then it'd mean we can't do church discipline. But the field is the world.

      The under-farmers knew there were weeds among the tares. So, the verse doesn't say they didn't know which were tares. They knew. It's just that Jesus said that they were so intermingled that the real ones would be uprooted so leave them until harvest. (Mt 13: 27-30). The thing they were shocked about is that there were so many of them! And that they grew so close together! I think it is interesting that the intermingling of the almost-true like Moore and the really true is so prevalent today at the end time.

      Piper is an interesting case. I think it's too soon to tell. His could be a legitimate but temporary wobble and he might straighten up, or it may be the beginning of a reveal that later one shows he has more falsity in him. I don't know.

      But of each individual's teaching in the moment, Jesus doesn't leave us unable to conclude whether it is solid or not. We may not be able to tell overall of a person's heart but we can tell their teaching. We can know by comparing it to the truth. We are always on safe ground doing that.

      The point of that parable in my opinion is that we are to influence the darnels. Of what hope there is for Moore or Graham ...we need to influence them and pray they do not continue to reject the truth but come to accept His light.

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    2. I agree with your reply Elizabeth and I enjoy your blog. The Lord has really blessed you with such writing skills for His glory.

      From the get go, something has never settled right with me about Piper. In fact when I think about it he and Moore are very similar with being great orators filled with more of a proclivity towards being moved more by the emotions than by the truth.

      I learned about Piper over 8 years ago from listening to him on my Christian radio and decided to check him out on the internet and listen to some more of his sermons. Yet, the more I listened to his sermons, the more something just didn't settle well with me about Piper ---that was then. His messages seemed to have a proclivity towards emphasizing a slightly mystical more poignant theatrical message than sincerity for the love of the truth of God's word (itself). There's no depth in his sermons like John MacArthur.. Peter Masters said -"he finds Dr. Piper too keen on producing startlingly original ways of looking at everything, and seldom are these to be found in the Bible. He is a master of the oblique approach"- I agree.

      Anyways, the problem I run into is when I have brought up that verse 1 John 1:9 with Piper because he IS running ahead,even believers we know who are sound in the faith will refuse to take God's word seriously and will continue to give him the benefit of the doubt. I know this is a hard truth to accept.But he has been confronted and refuses to repent along with Beth Moore. I believe for the purity of the Church,it needs to be heeded.

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    3. Good word, Linda. I was shocked when he participated in the Lectio Divina with Moore, and then participated in Passion 2013 with all the false words from the pulpit- and didn't rebuke them.

      That's really interesting about the "master of the oblique." Any time I listen to a preacher more than once and the sermon is oblique I get worried. It's like my brain has cotton balls in it and "there's no there there" as Gertrude Stein said. The Word is clear and even the freshest preacher with the least experience will make at least one clear point. I never found the "there" in Piper's sermons. Or his books. There are so many other good preachers who bring the word to life that after a while I just quite trying with Piper.

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  5. Like Rick I've been reading here for a while and I appreciate you MUCH! Thank you for the labor of love to share the WORD with us. You are an encouragement in these END TIMES. Even so come quickly LORD JESUS.

    Please keep writing, we will keep reading and praying and sharing til JESUS comes.

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  6. Jeff,
    It is neither my purpose nor right to pronounce you saved or lost, it is my duty to point you to the Scriptures. As one who had not less than three "false starts" that resulted in my thinking that I was saved it remains that the Scriptures tell us the truth in such matters. I, too, believed myself to be saved and experienced guilt for my sins for nearly forty years. My mind was convinced that I was a "saved, carnal Christian". After all, I walked the aisle, prayed the prayer, got dunked in a pool and joined the church. What more was there? (Jer. 17:9) My heart was so deceitful that I would remind God from time to time that He must allow me entrance into His heaven upon my death because I declared myself to be saved by the prayer I prayed at the 'alter' of a Baptist church many years ago.

    As the years passed, my sins of choice grew to obsessions that I could not control. The guilt was always present. I would often bemoan my state and seek deliverance, but none came and my sin was in complete control-I was a slave to my sins (Rom. 6:1-23).

    1 Cor. 6:9&10 speaks to the condition of souls that are lost, caught in their sins, unable to free themselves. All who are really born again will find themselves described here, usually more than once. Equally true is the fact that they-the real believers-will also find themselves in verse eleven. Washed, sanctified and justified by the blood of the Lamb. If a person thinks himself to be in right standing with God and continually sins, the same sin over and over again without being able to overcome the sin it should be a huge red flag as to the eternal destiny of their soul. Christ delivers us from the power of sin, Rom. 6:14; Col. 1:13 & 2:11 and others.

    If anyone is still plagued by the same sins they struggled with prior to 'salvation' that is good cause to question whether regeneration took place or not. It is by grace we are saved and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God (Eph. 2:8&9). Christ delivers us from our sins, He does not leave us to languish in them 'til we die.


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  7. Elizabeth,
    Thank-you for your faithfulness to the word. I have been reading your blog for several months now, and am inspired and convicted by your writing. This particular blog really resonated with me because I was a false convert for decades. I put on a good show, but my heart was not regenerated. I had prayed 'the prayer' and 'accepted Jesus into my heart' a dozen times, just to be sure that it took. I had taken out 'fire insurance'. I did not want to go to hell, and as long as I was not going there, I did not care if the rest of the world perished.
    That should have been the first indication that something was wrong with my walk. The Holy Spirit revealed the falsity of my walk the darkness of my heart through a book, called The Way of the Master by Ray Comfort. In this book he writes of false converts and how, if you have never fallen on your face, convicted of your sin before a just and HOLY God, you had better examine yourself and see if you are in the faith. I remember reading the book and thinking 'that is not me. I am not one of those false converts'. Yet, that still, small voice was saying 'Yes, that is you'. I struggled for a week, I was miserable and did not want to talk to anyone. I couldn't believe it. Perhaps I should say, I wouldn't believe. When I realized that I had been lying to myself for years, I fell on my face and cried out to the Lord to forgive me. I weep even as I write this. I am so grateful for His mercy. He lifted me out of the pit. If I had died prior to that point, I would have been one of those disillusioned souls who stand before Christ and cry 'Lord, Lord.....' and He would have said, 'I never you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity'(Matt7:23)
    When I realized that, I was almost physically sick. My heart is now for the people who fill the churches and believe that are saved, but are not. They are deceived, just as I was. I have shared my faith with more people in the last three years than I had in the three decades prior. I gave my testimony in a church and it offended many of the people there. There are so many people who would rather believe a lie than the truth.
    Is my walk perfect now? No, I still struggle. The difference now is I don't go running to sin like I did before. I don't justify my behavior. I am a work in progress and God, in his mercy, is not finished with me yet.
    God bless you and thank-you for the work that you do.
    Stacey

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The Idlers at the Gate

‎This celebrated sixty-ninth psalm has been called the missionary’s psalm. It speaks of the miseries of one far from home and kindred, of o...