Responding to the Apostasy

Neil Girrard

Scriptures Referenced in This Article:
          (Follow the Scripture links if you want to study the Scriptures for yourself.)
Mt. 7:22 π Mt. 15:14 π Mt. 24:5 π Mt. 24:10 π Jn. 13:34 π Rom. 5:19 π 1 Cor. 5:9-11 π 1 Cor. 12:26 π 1 Cor. 13:6-7 π 2 Cor. 6:17-18 π Gal. 5:20 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π 1 Tim. 4:1-3 π 2 Tim. 4:3-4 π Heb. 6:4-6 π 2 Pet. 2:1-3 π Rev. 2:6 π Rev. 2:15 π Rev. 3:17 π Rev. 18:4
Greek Words Mentioned in This Article
Heresies, sectshairesis – [139]

Though the “church” looks for a “rapture” to rescue it from the troubles that are soon to come upon this world, this is not exactly what Jesus and Paul and Peter prophesied for the end-times people of Christ. Jesus said, “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the anointed one,’ and will deceive many… At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other…” ( Mt. 24:5 , 10 ) And Paul wrote, “Let no one in any way deceive you, for [the Day of Christ’s return] will not come unless the apostasy (the falling away) comes first…” ( 2 Ths. 2:3; top ) The time of the end is a time of deception and lawlessness (doing what is right in one’s own eyes) and betrayal that demonstrates the departure of many from a genuine faith in Christ Jesus.

When we examine these prophetic warnings, we discover the word “many.” From God’s perspective in eternity, where numbers beyond counting come readily and easily into view, when Jesus talks about “many,” we need to believe that He means “many.” (see Rom. 5:19 , Mt. 7:22 , etc.; top) In the first passage above, which is usually mis-rendered “…many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’” or “‘I am the Messiah,’” we are literally forced to come to terms with this concept. Either Jesus is a false prophet – there simply have not been “many” who have come in the name of Christ saying, “Hey, folks, I am Him - follow Me!” A handful – and there have been perhaps several dozen throughout the period of time we commonly call “church history” who have claimed the unique role and identity of the Christ, the Messiah – does not constitute “many.” So either Jesus is a false prophet or we have been handed a mis-rendered passage of Scriptures over the centuries.

We may gain a greater recognition of the full scale of the “many” that is being spoken of by considering other characteristics given as prophetic warning. Paul wrote,

“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron, men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods...” ( 1 Tim. 4:1-3; top )

Paul gives further details when he writes,

“For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear and they will turn aside from hearing the truth and wander off into myths and man-made fictions.” ( 2 Tim. 4:3-4; top )

And Peter writes

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive divisions, even denying the sovereignty of the Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up.” ( 2 Pet. 2:1-3; top )

The people described as the many participants of the falling away gather teachers around them, a great number of teachers who say what the people want them to. These teachers, because they have been secretly snared and taught by the demonic, will exercise authority over the people (Nicolaitan “delegated” authority – see Rev. 2:6 , 15 ) and introduce destructive divisions (sects, dissensions, heresies – Gal. 5:20 . The original sense of “heresies” - Greek hairesis [ 139 ] - is simply that of division. Only after the Catholic “church” burnt the so-called “heretics” at the stake did “heresy” take on, at least in common usage, the additional meaning of error, delusion and apostasy; top)

What group of people – who constitute “many” – have fulfilled these prophecies? In a word, the “church” - with its Nicolaitan overlords (“pastors,” “apostles,” “elders,” “prophets,” etc. who all operate under authority supposedly delegated to them by God by which they tell their brothers how they must live and act – a concept completely absent from the New Testament) and sects and heresies (denominations). This group of people satisfies every aspect of every prophecy given about them as surely as Christ satisfied and fulfilled every aspect of every prophecy given about His first coming. And only those who are given eyes that see and ears that hear can recognize this fact – just as only those who were given eyes to see and ears to hear could recognize Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah even when they did not understand why He did not conduct Himself as they thought He should.

With this definition in view, let us consider what the writer of Hebrews wrote:

“For it is impossible [to restore and bring again to repentance] those who have been once for all enlightened, who have consciously tasted the heavenly gift and have become sharers of the Holy Spirit, and have felt how good the Word of God is and the mighty powers of the age and world to come, if they fall away, [it is impossible] to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.” ( Heb. 6:4-6; top )

This passage clearly says that those who have fallen away from the faith cannot be brought back to repentance. Sure, there are many “theologians” out there who have concocted ways to explain away the plain meaning of this text but any supposed ambiguities that one can find in this passage is a slim hook upon which to hang one’s eternal destiny! It is never wise to base one’s life on what theologians have argued about for centuries. Instead, seek out the Lord of life, submit your life to Him and He will be faithful to present you spotless and blameless to the Father when He returns to gather up all things into Himself.

And yet we must also recognize that there remains to this day a call to “come out” from the midst of the apostasy. An angel from heaven (perhaps the Lord Himself) cries out,

“And I heard another voice from heaven saying, ‘Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues.’” ( Rev. 18:4 )

And Paul long ago wrote,

“‘Wherefore, come out at once from their midst and separate yourselves at once,’ says the Lord, ‘and stop touching that which is unclean. And I will receive you kindly and treat you with favor. And I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters,’ says the Lord Almighty.” ( 2 Cor. 6:17-18; top )

This passage is speaking of idolaters, those who touch the unclean things of the worship and service of false gods.

Some have tried to say that Paul is speaking of unbelievers – the Amplified version even inserts “[unbelievers]” into the text as their explanation of whom Paul refers to as “them”! – but this is simply not the case. In his previous letter, Paul had written,

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not even to eat with such a one.” ( 1 Cor. 5:9-11 , emphasis added; top)

It is simply irresponsible to believe that Paul would refer to unbelievers in his call to “come out from among them” in his second letter when he so clearly details in his first letter that he had no such intention in mind!

Where does this leave us? What can we conclude about the apostasy that would help us to shape our response to the people caught up in this great event? Perhaps the greatest “bottom line” we can draw is that there are two kinds of people in the “church” (using that term to specifically indicate the apostate, Nicolaitan led, denominationally divided, demonically diverted institution that serves the will of the devil and the demonic). First there are those who are irretrievably fallen from the faith who cannot be drawn back to repentance. For these, Jesus still says, “Let them alone and disregard them; they are blind guides and teachers. And if a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a ditch.” ( Mt. 15:14 ) These blind followers and blind leaders are blind only because they desire to be blind – there is no remedy for such as these who cannot perceive that, in truth, they are “wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked” but instead insist that they are “rich, wealthy, and in need of nothing”!” ( Rev. 3:17; top )

But second, there are within the “churches” those people who are or who will be genuine followers of Christ. These are becoming significantly fewer in number as nearly every faithful “church”-ite has almost completely abandoned any resemblance to personally interacting with and following Christ by the leading of His Holy Spirit and has instead embraced their favorite teacher, their favorite unrighteous practice, their favorite denominational flavor or their own peculiar set of private interpretations. But there must still be some within the institutional “church” (and all those smaller “church” entities which have patterned themselves, in whole or in part, after its sinful elements) who yet need to “come out” or there would be no need for an ongoing call by the Spirit to “come out”! What are we to do about them?

There is a single, simple, one-line answer to this question – be. Simply be what the Lord has made - and is making - you to be and you will know how to respond to both types of “church”-ites. We will know whether to pronounce unavoidable “woe” upon the first type or to sound a clarion call to depart for the second type. And as we become more proficient in hearing the voice of the Lord in our own spirits, we will better know how and when to do so as well.

But hidden within that simple answer is the requirement that we, who have abandoned the “church” – perhaps long ago - actually be what Christ has called, gifted and predestined us to be. It is not enough to be mostly pure in spirit or mostly dead to the flesh and it is certainly unacceptable to go off by ourselves and form yet another abominational denomination of “come outers”! We must be spiritually mature, conformed to the image of Christ, doing only what the Father would have us do. There is no room for personal vendettas against “pastors” or denominations we have been personally involved with. There is no place for bitterness, anger or frustration that makes us feel better about our own supposed spiritual superiority over those poor deceived “imbeciles still stupid enough to stay in their ‘church’ and keep sucking off the ‘pastor’s’ baby bottle.”

No, those of the second group who have not yet heard or obeyed the call to “come out” must see in us something substantially different from what they have routinely seen at “church.” They must see a body of Christ willing to lay down its lives for one another ( Jn. 13:34 ), a body that suffers when any one of its members suffers ( 1 Cor. 12:26 ), a body that rejoices when truth and righteousness prevail. ( 1 Cor. 13:6-7; top ) Unless and until those second type of “church”-ites actually get to see that there truly is a body of Christ to be found outside the “church” camp, there really is no reason for them to believe that there actually is a call from God that requires them to get up out of the pew and “come out” from the midst of the Christian idolatry that men most commonly call “church.”

Let he who has ears hear.

I’d love to hear comments and/or questions from you! Email me!

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