The Expansion of Apostasy
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 9/6/03
The famous Baptist preacher of London, Charles H. Spurgeon wrote an article in the late 1800’s titled, Feeding Sheep or Amusing Goats? In this article he said…
"The devil has seldom done a cleverer thing than hinting to the Church that part of her mission is to provide entertainment of the people, with the view of winning them. From speaking out as the Puritans did, the Church has gradually toned down her testimony, then winked at and excused the frivolities of the day. Then she tolerated them in her boarders, now she has adopted them under the plea of reaching the masses…. Providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function for the Church. If it was a Christian work, why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go ye’…into all the world and speak the Gospel to every creature. This is a clear enough. So it would have been if He had added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the Gospel.’ No such words are to be found…. Jesus pitied sinners, sighed and wept over them, but never sought to amuse them."
What Spurgeon saw blossoming in his day is in full bloom today. Today’s seeker sensitive churches seek to amuse goats with "Christian" rock and rap bands that blare out their worldly music to pump up the people and "worship" leaders that seek to stir up the emotions of the people with their mindless repetitive choruses. Then there are the drama team actors who present their Broadway like productions with choreographed accuracy. But, what about the preaching? Well, if there is time, the "preacher" gives short motivational talk, being sure to steer around anything controversial. He wants the audience to leave "feeling good." Oh yes, be sure to note the self-esteem, inner healing group classes. Then there is jazzercise at the church to keep your muscle tone. Oh, one more things; tolerance training groups meets later in the week,
The modern "church" is not emphasizing teaching & preaching focused on the Word of God and Jesus Christ, but rather open-mindedness and tolerance of whatever anyone believes so they won’t be offended. Few churches today will call sin, sin because that would be offensive! The result is that churches are not preaching against rape, sexual promiscuity, cohabitation, teen pregnancy, abortion, homosexuality, adultery, divorce, remarriage, stealing, lying, drinking alcohol, drug abuse, disrespect of the law and more.
Is this what our Lord intended? Certainly not! The Apostle Paul gave instructions to a young preacher. Turn to 2 Timothy 4:1-4 "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; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
We are living in a day when many who profess to be Christians "will not endure sound doctrine!" They will not listen to the truth but prefer fables or myths of their own making. What we are talking about is apostasy. What is in focus in this message is APOSTASY! In this message we will look at 1) the definition of apostasy and 2) the development of apostasy.
The English word the apostasy is not used in the King James Bible, but it is a legitimate word. The English word 'apostasy' is derived from the Greek noun apostasia. Turn with me to 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;" The word falling away is a translation of the Greek word apostasia.
So, what is apostasy? The Greek word means "a defection; a renunciation; to depart." Another author defines it as "a deliberate act of repudiation." The Webster’s 1828 dictionary gives a good definition – "An abandonment of what one has professed; a total desertion, or departure from one's faith or religion." To put it simply, when you use the word apostasy in association with the Christian faith it is a renunciation and abandonment of the Christian faith. It is the act of departing from the Christian faith. An apostate is a person who once professed to be a believer in Christ and Christianity but now has turned from that faith. The word apostatize means to forsake the principles of the Christian faith one has professed.
There are two streams of "Christianity" operating during the Church Age (Age of Grace). First, there is the true Church, the Christianity of the Apostles. This is the faith we are to struggle to keep. Jude 1:3 says, "Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." It is this stream of true Christianity that our Lord promised that the "gates of hell " would not prevail against (Matthew 16:18). But, it is also true that those who follow this stream of Christianity will be hated (John 15:18-19), despised (1 Corinthians 4:10), and persecuted. Turn with me to 2 Timothy 3:12-17 "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. 13 But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived. 14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; 15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."
Then there is the second stream of so-called "Christianity" is the apostate churches, which will increase in number and grow worse and worse as the centuries pass and ultimately culminate in the Tribulation Church, Mystery Babylon.
When did the apostasy begin? It began in the foundation years of the church. Turn to Acts 20:29-30. Paul warns of coming apostates after his departure – "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them."
Did you know that the "worst corruptions to which the New Testament has ever been subjected, originated within a hundred hears after it was composed" (Introduction to the New Testament; F.H.A. Scrivener).
Did you know that there were apostates corrupting the Word of God in Paul’s Day. 2 Corinthians 2:17 "For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ." There were apostates who were even counterfeiting Paul’s letters. 2 Thessalonians 2:1-2 "Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand."
Apostasy has snowballed to gargantuan proportions in our day. But that should come as no surprise because the New Testament said it would be that way.
2 Timothy 3:13 "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived."
1 Timothy 4:1-3 "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; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth."
2 Peter 2:1-3 "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not."
We are living in an age of apostasy. Will you capitulate (surrender) to it as so many others are or will you stand for Apostolic Christianity?
In our next message we will begin by looking at…
The Dimensions of Apostasy.