The Apostasy of the Church Part II

 

Belshazzar's Feast  by Rembrandt cir. 1635

Belshazzar’s Feast by Rembrandt cir. 163

At the heart of theological liberalism is an attack on the authority of the Bible. A central attack is to question the traditional authorship and historicity of the Pentateuch and other parts of Scripture. The result is to question or openly deny Old Testament prophecy and the dating of the writing of Old Testament books. Two examples of this are:

Julius A. Bewer, Union Theological Seminary Professor: “The dates and figures found in the first five books of the Bible turn out to be altogether unreliable” (Bewer, The Literature of the Old Testament, 1940)

A more recent illustration of liberalism comes from the pen of John Shelby Spong, a bishop in the Episcopal Church in America. “Am I suggesting that these stories of the virgin birth are not literally true? The answer is a simple and direct “Yes.” Of course these narratives are not literally true. Stars do not wander, angels do not sing, virgins do not give birth, magi do not travel to a distant land to present gifts to a baby, and shepherds do not go in search of a newborn savior. … To talk of a Father God who has a divine-human son by a virgin woman is a mythology that our generation would never have created, and obviously, could not use. To speak of a Father God so enraged by human evil that he requires propitiation for our sins that we cannot pay and thus demands the death of the divine-human son, as a guilt offering is a ludicrous idea to our century. The sacrificial concept that focuses on the saving blood of Jesus that somehow washes me clean, so popular in Evangelical and Fundamentalist circles, is by and large repugnant to us today” (John Spong, Rescuing the Bible from Fundamentalism: A Bishop Rethinks the Meaning of Scripture, Harper, 1991, pp. 215,234).

Liberalism in theology is similar to liberalism in politics. Both want to secularize their respective societies to the Humanist tenets. They put their faith in evolution, historical relativism, progress through science, the benevolent state, and getting other’s money. To do this they must quiet the Bible fundamentalist with his revealed truth. They refuse to believe the miracles and their truth regardless of the evidence for them. Once the liberal has infiltrated the upper echelons of fundamental seminaries they can spew their poison to future generations of pastors and cause fights within the denominations. The doubt their baseless theories and criticism of the Scriptures ignites is enough to cause splits and finally the strong political force of the denominations bleeds into the political arena. People begin to believe the error that comes from the “authorities.”

The denominations lost their battles because they did not know how to fight and win. They should have left the denominations en mass immediately instead of fighting! Some did to be sure but not enough did and many stayed in because “this is where they have always been.” They were more wedded to denominationalism than Christ and His Word. Further they did not want the fight. They just wanted it to stop because it confused them. We all know that God is not the author of confusion (I Cor 14: 33). We must separate from them. The Lord has commanded it.

  1. Separation is not an optional part of Christianity; it is a commandment (Rom. 16:17-18; 2 Cor. 6:14-17; 1 Tim. 6:5; 2 Tim. 2:16-18; 3:5; Titus 3:10; 2 John 7-11; Rev. 18:4).
  2. Separation is not mean or unloving; it is obedience to God.

 

  1. “Mark them . . . avoid them” (Rom. 16:17)
  2. “Be ye not unequally yoked together with” (2 Cor. 6:14)
  3. “Have no fellowship with” (2 Cor. 6:14)
  4. “Come out from among” (2 Cor. 6:17)
  5. “Withdraw thyself” (1 Tim. 6:5)
  6. “Shun” (2 Ti. 2:16)
  7. “Purge oneself from” (2 Tim. 2:21)
  8. “From such turn away” (2 Tim. 3:5)
  9. “Reject” (Titus 3:10)
  10. “Receive them not into your house neither bid them Godspeed” (2 Jn. 10)

 

  1. We are to separate even from brethren who are walking in disobedience (2 Thess. 3:6).
  2. 3. Separation is a wall of protection against spiritual danger. Failure to separate from error leaves one open to the influence of error (1 Cor. 15:33). The reason a shepherd separates the sheep from wolves is to protect them. Likewise, a faithful and godly Bible teacher will seek to separate his flock from spiritual dangers that are even more destructive than wolves. The Doctor of souls will do all he can to keep heresies out of the church. They are to the Church of Jesus Christ what disease is to a Medical Doctor that cares for human bodies in time and space. Both legitimate Doctors will do all they can to prevent or stop heresies/diseases in their respective bodies. Unfortunately there are more quacks in the spiritual realm than in the physical temporal one. This is because the prize for pure spiritual truth is eternal life. It is the greatest prize on earth to receive. Nothing has greater value. As evidence of this we see many false prophets, corrupt denominations and seminary teachings. As a result few find eternal salvation. Then Satan has accomplished one of his goals; the eternal destruction of human souls.

One type of deed that will be performed by apostates is mockery.

Jude 1:17-19  But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit.

They will mock the fundamentals of the faith such as the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, the Virgin Birth, the Substitutionary death of the Messiah, and His physical resurrection from the dead. II Peter 3:3-8 states that they will mock the doctrine of the Second Coming.

2Pe 3:3-8  

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished :But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day [is] with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.

A second deed is that of creating schisms or separations (Jude 19). Because they begin denying some of the fundamentals of the faith, they convince some but not all. In the course of time this produces a split within the church. Throughout this age of apostasy there has been schism after schism. Church after church and denominations have split over denials of the Trinity, the incarnation and the Second Coming.

These characteristics, heretical teachings and deeds of separations have become prevalent, as church history has progressed from about 1900 to the present day. This is the age of apostasy.

One of the roots of this began in Europe, particularly with German Rationalism where the inerrancy of the Scripture was denied with the development of Biblical Criticism and particularly with the documentary hypothesis in particular. One Julius Wellhausen was the chief architect of this concept. He insisted that human reason only, not the Bible, could be trusted. He presented the idea that the Bible, far from being God’s Word was just a collection of human documents. His particular contribution to the “Closing of the Book” was a denial of the authorship of the first five books of the Bible by Moses.  Dr. David Breese in his book, “The Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave” states that from these destructive heresies the church leaders quoted everything but the Bible and preached everything but the gospel, and reality was gone. Religious liberalism was born. Breese continues; “the calamities that came upon Europe such as Communism, Nazism, fascism, the world of the occult and other diseased ideas have been promulgated by the absence of a spiritual core made of divine life and spiritual blessing. Wellhausen and his liberalism destroyed the spiritual life in Europe and nearly succeeded in the spiritual destruction of the United States.” Today less than 1% of the population of Europe is made up of Evangelical Christians.

Lest you think that men are not able to negatively influence others to keep them out of The Kingdom listen to what the Lord Jesus had to say to the Pharisees:

Mat 23:13 But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in [yourselves], neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in.

Liberalism is like a plague within the church. It exists within us and seeks to be like us but it denies the fundamentals of the faith. Liberals still want real Christians to think of them as “one of us.” They espouse a diseased set of ideas.

AS A CONSEQUENCE, IT IS ALMOST A RULE OF LIFE THAT LIBERALS DO NOT LEAVE THE VISIBLE CHURCH!

They stay and continue to spue their poison to whomever they can get to hear them. They attempt to create doubt in the marginal believer. They try and influence the one where the seeds did not fall on good ground. (Matt 13:5)

This is Satan continuing to impart doubt into the minds of those with marginal faith.

Gen 3:45 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Let those who have ears to hear listen to the Lord God and His Christ.

Many events have occurred within the large mainline denomination to qualify for apostasy. One event that seems important to recall and was important enough for the writers of the Encyclopedia Britannica to include is the inauguration as president into Union Theological Seminary of Charles Augustus Briggs. Prior to his inauguration he had initiated debates within the seminary over the authority of the Bible in 1876 and the authority of the Westminster Confession in 1885.

Union is a seminary in New York City. At that time it was part of the Presbyterian Church. In his speech on January 20, 1891 Briggs made some points, which are obviously destructive heresies.  Union was a seminary that was devoted to training ministers for Presbyterian pulpits.

Briggs made six points. All of which fueled the split in American churches.

  1. He asserted that there are three great fountains of truth: The Bible, the church and reason. So reason and mankind became equal with the revealed Word.
  2. Some OT prophecies were fulfilled and some were reversed.
  3. He questioned the Mosaic authorship of the first five books of the Bible.
  4. He questioned the unity of the book of Isaiah.
  5. Those unsaved who died would have a second chance at eternal life.
  6. Sanctification is not complete at death.

This was the first public affirmation of liberalism in a theological seminary in the United States. The New York Presbytery brought Charges against Briggs on two occasions (1891 and 1893), but the charges were dropped, to preserve unity of the church rather than to deal with what was actually said. There was a huge group that wanted peace at whatever the cost. The cost was truth and it was lost.

TRUTH MUST NEVER BE SACRIFICED FOR PEACE. IT NEVER WORKS!

Daniel E. Woodhead

Sources:

 

Breese, Dave, 7 Men Who Rule The World From The Grave, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1990

Cloud, David W, Way of Life Encyclopedia, Way of Life Literature Port Huron, MI 2002

Couch, Mal, God Has Spoken, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 2003

Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G, The Footsteps of the Messiah, Ariel Ministries, San Antonio, TX 2003

Lewis, Brenda Ralph, A Dark History: The Popes; Vice Murder, and Corruption in the Vatican, Metro Books, NY, NY 2009

North, Gary, Crossed Fingers, How The Liberals Captured The Presbyterian Church, Published by the Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX 1996

Scofield, C.I. The New Scofield Reference Bible, Oxford University Press, Oxford, GB 1967

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The Apostasy of the Church Part I

 

 

Number of the beast by Hawkwood

Number of the beast by Hawkwood

 

 

Dr Scofield in his 1909 Reference Bible categorized the letters to the seven churches of Asia in Revelation chapters two and three as a chronological developmental exposition of a broad overview of Church history. He and the men that refreshed the notes in the Scofield Reference Bible in 1967 saw the letters as an accurate chronological depiction of the problems encountered throughout church history. The last letter, Laodicea provides an accurate picture of the apostasy of the visible Christian Church.

The Church of the Apostasy represents Church history from A.D. 1917-to the Rapture of the Church..

Rev 3:14-22  “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. ‘So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth. ‘Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent. ‘Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.'”

The destination of the letter, in verse 14a is Laodicea, which means “people ruling.” This is set in contrast to God’s ruling in the church. It is a church entirely ruled by men, for the Holy Spirit is not present and doing His ministry of guiding, instructing and illuminating.

The description of Jesus is in verse 14b and is taken from Revelation 1:4, 6 and 7.  He is described as the faithful and true witness, whereas this church is neither faithful nor true to the Word.

In verses 15-16, they are characterized by lukewarmness. The distinctions between hot, cold and lukewarm can be determined by the overall context. The hot are the truly saved believers. The cold are those who are not believers and do not claim to be believers. The lukewarm are those who claim to believe in Jesus but are not truly regenerate believers.

Apostasy can be defined as the departure from the truth that one professed to have. It does not mean that they actually possessed the truth. Apostates do not actually possess the truth. Rather, it is a departure from a truth they professed to have because of an affiliation with a particular church. How does this happen?

One typical example of the apostasy occurring is the infiltration of the liberals into the hierarchy of the Presbyterian Church USA. Upon hiring a new minister into the denomination they were required to affirm their belief in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The Rev Milo F. Jamison, a premillennial dispensationalist had grown to not hold to it and was thrown out of the denomination in 1933 for daring to believe the Bible as it was written instead of following a creed or confession alone. He questioned a fellow Princeton grad applying for a ministerial pulpit position. Jamison knew that the man did not believe in the Confession either or any other creed. He was a liberal. Jamison asked him: “How could you tell the examining committee that you believe in the Westminster Confession when you really don’t?” The man answered: “I kept my fingers crossed during the exam.” So the liberal lied to get into the denomination. Once the liberals got in they took others in along with them and began to populate the hierarchy of the denomination. They wanted the church’s money and power as well as its prestige. Soon they gained control and dominated the Presbyterians and caused schisms. So where did the denomination go wrong?

Presbyterianism and other denominations put earthly, man-centered pursuits in place of the entire “Whole Council of God.” They believed creeds, confessions, loved power, property, and money instead of the pure sweet milk of the Word alone. They prided themselves on their educations especially the secular schools they attended. The liberals easily entered and caused dissention with the fundamentalists once they gained power. They captured Princeton Seminary in 1929 and Union Theological Seminary at least forty years earlier. The Episcopal Church had gone liberal a generation earlier than Princeton’s departure from orthodoxy. They fell even before Union.

The New Testament clearly predicts in two NT passages that there would be an apostasy in the latter days.

The first is found in 2nd Thessalonians.

II Thes 2:1-3 Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 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 second passage is: I Ti 4:1  

I Ti 4:1 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,

The prophetic word says that there will be a falling away in the last days.

This is a vivid description of the Laodicean Church.

Three NT passages describe the character of the apostasy.

I Tim 4:1-3 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 

The source of the apostasy is demons, for apostates have essentially given in to seducing spirits and are preaching a system of doctrine, which is a doctrine of demons. Furthermore, they speak lies through hypocrisy, and their conscious’ have stopped working.

The second passage is found in II Timothy. 

II Ti 3:5   holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.

In verses 1-4 there is a description of the general character of the world in the last days, and it can hardly be denied that these elements are true in this present day. Verse five centers on the religious front, where the last days will be characterized by men having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof. Apostate ministers, retaining the clerical garb and church titles, have a form of godliness. But they deny the power thereof, for they have denied the true power of godliness. They claim to trust in God but are actually trusting in worldly methodologies.

The third passage is found in II Peter 2:1-22

2Pe 2:1-22   But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to pits of darkness, reserved for judgment; and did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a preacher of righteousness, with seven others, when He brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; and if He condemned the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to destruction by reducing them to ashes, having made them an example to those who would live ungodly lives thereafter; and if He rescued righteous Lot, oppressed by the  sensual conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day by their lawless deeds), then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge the flesh in its corrupt desires and despise authority. Daring, self-willed, they do not tremble when they revile angelic majesties, whereas angels who are greater in might and power do not bring a reviling judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like unreasoning animals, born as creatures of instinct to be captured and killed, reviling where they have no knowledge, will in the destruction of those creatures also be destroyed, suffering wrong as the wages of doing wrong They count it a pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are stains and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, as they carouse with you, having eyes full of adultery that never cease from sin, enticing unstable souls, having a heart trained in greed, accursed children; forsaking the right way, they have gone astray, having followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; but he received a rebuke for his own transgression, for a mute donkey, speaking with a voice of a man, restrained the madness of the prophet. These are springs without water and mists driven by a storm, for whom the black darkness has been reserved. For speaking out arrogant words of vanity they entice by fleshly desires, by sensuality, those who barely escape from the ones who live in error, promising them freedom while they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by what a man is overcome, by this he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world by the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would be better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn away from the holy commandment handed on to them. It has happened to them according to the true proverb, “A DOG RETURNS TO ITS OWN VOMIT,” and, “A sow, after washing, returns to wallowing in the mire.”

As we read the passage, we don’t see Peter having any attitude of love or tolerance toward the apostates. The Bible and particularly the Lord Jesus do not display ANY toleration toward apostasy and both castigate it very severely, as these verses clearly show.

Peter also tells us what the mark of an apostate is. What they teach are called destructive denials.

The teachings of the apostates are indeed destructive heresies. The content entails denying even the Master that bought them. In other words, the content of apostate teaching involves the denial of the Person (the Master) and work (bought them) of the Lord Jesus. Other NT passages provide more specific aspects of this denial. First, a denial of the Trinity is dealt with in 1 John 2:22-23.

1 Jo 2:22-23 Who is a liar but he that denieth that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son. Whosoever denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: [(but) he that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father also]. 

1st John 4:2-3 comments on a denial of the Incarnation:

1 Jo 4:1-2 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God:

The same is true of II John 1:7

2Jo 1:7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist

Third the denial of the Second Coming of the Messiah is the concern of II Peter 3:3-4

2Pe 3:3-4 Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as [they were] from the beginning of the creation.

So the teachings of apostasy involve the destructive denials of the Person and work of the Messiah, especially with regard to His place in the Trinity, His deity, His incarnation as the God-Man by means of the Virgin Birth, and the fact that He is coming again physically. Basic to all these denials, of course is the denial of the God breathed origin of the Scriptures themselves.

ONCE THE SCRIPTURES ARE CAST ASIDE AS NON-AUTHORITATIVE ALL DOCTRINES DESIGNED TO PROTECT CEASE TO BE EFFECTIVE.

Daniel E. Woodhead

Sources:

 

Breese, Dave, 7 Men Who Rule The World From The Grave, Moody Press, Chicago, IL 1990

Cloud, David W, Way of Life Encyclopedia, Way of Life Literature Port Huron, MI 2002

Couch, Mal, God Has Spoken, AMG Publishers, Chattanooga, TN 2003

Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G, The Footsteps of the Messiah, Ariel Ministries, San Antonio, TX 2003

Lewis, Brenda Ralph, A Dark History: The Popes; Vice Murder, and Corruption in the Vatican, Metro Books, NY, NY 2009

North, Gary, Crossed Fingers, How The Liberals Captured The Presbyterian Church, Published by the Institute for Christian Economics, Tyler, TX 1996

Scofield, C.I. The New Scofield Reference Bible, Oxford University Press, Oxford, GB 1967

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