Apostasy and Responsibility

Our excerpt today is from David Wilkerson’s Sermon “The Great Apostasy” from May 7th, 1986.

Our churches no longer have the power of God to attract the people. They go down to Egypt, borrow its music, its dancing, its entertainment, hoping for a crowd! No passion for souls – just crowds! Church growth at any cost! Look at the average church bulletin; it looks like a theater calendar. The church wants to ride the swift horses of Egypt! It is a stench in God’s nostrils.

Even the para-church ministries are falling away, apostatizing! Workers are parked in front of the TV idol. Many are reading psychology books. While some still have a passion for souls, even that often becomes worldly hype and human energy”!

“Who say to the seers, You must not see visions! And to the prophets, You must not prophesy to us what is right. Speak to us pleasant words, prophesying illusions” (Isaiah 30:10).

An apostate church wants nothing to do with the visions or prophecies of men of righteousness. They want no message that disturbs, no upsetting of their successful world. They refuse any kind of correction.

Everything is excused under the banner of love. They clamor for entertainment! They flock by the thousands to concerts, plays, social gatherings, they ridicule prophets. They mock what they call the Doomsday Preachers! They live with Illusions. They don’t want a Preacher or Evangelist to tell them the hard truth – to bring forth the Sword of the Lord. They say, “Preach to us smooth things! Bless us! Make us happy! Make us feel good!”

They especially reject the message of holiness and separation. They say, “Get out of the way, turn aside from the paths …. Let us hear no more about the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 30:11).

I never thought I’d live to see the day that Assembly of God pastors would write me reproachful letters, telling me I am bringing confusion and gloom to the body of Christ. For what? Preaching holiness, judgment and repentance?

Jeremiah was sent to prophesy against the apostate Jews, the Lord’s own people. God warned him, “They will fight you… the dread of the Lord is no longer in them… they prefer to drink from cisterns now, rather than living water” (Jeremiah 1,2,3).

Why do people embrace the prosperity message and reject correction and calls to repentance and holiness? It is because of their lifestyles. Prosperity preaching fits beautifully into their successful lifestyles. They flock to those teachers, because they want to feel comfortable in their world of materialism. They are in no mood to give up anything, or to sacrifice, or to hear of crosses and losses. They are into buying, acquiring, enjoying, climbing. They refuse to heed the prophetic warnings that the party will soon be over.

Words of Grace for Strength

The New Testament book of Jude gives a clear warning of the dangers of Apostasy in the Church… both in the life of the early Church and just as importantly, it is relevant for the Church today.

Jude encourages the believer to earnestly “contend for the faith” because of the danger of Apostasy. “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.” (Jude 1:3) Jude’s warning to the Body of Christ is that there will be a constant barrage of false teaching and false teachers who will attempt to corrupt the message and mission of the Church, and his exhortation is clear that it is the responsibility of every believer to be proactive in the fight against the false teaching. Every believer should be endeavoring to be a “Berean” like disciple who is so grounded in the Word that they are able to discern the difference between Truth and the threat of growing Apostasy as a result of the teaching of false prophets.

These false prophets have sought to corrupt the message of the Gospel from the very beginning of the church age. “For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 1:4) Look at what Jude is saying about these false prophets and their Apostasy.

• They have “crept in unnoticed.” In other words, they have used deceit, craftiness and elusive means to gain access into the Church. Paul says of them in 2 Corinthians 11:13-14; “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light.” These false prophets and teachers never appear to be divisive or distrustful, their mantra is inclusiveness, tolerance, love and prosperity. In fact, they may sound good, look good, and even have great charismatic personalities, but they use their position to subvert and corrupt the Truth.

• Jude also describes them as “ungodly” and immoral because they turn Grace into an excuse to commit unrighteousness. Verses 4-19 give a list of their ungodly attributes.

• Also in verse 4 Jude says they “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ.” Paul tells us how they do this in Titus 1:15-16; “To the pure all things are pure, but to those who are defiled and unbelieving nothing is pure; but even their mind and conscience are defiled. They profess to know God, but in works they deny Him, being abominable, disobedient, and disqualified for every good work.” Through their corrupt and unrighteous lives they expose their true nature. Peter says they also show their true nature through their false teaching. 2 Peter 2:1; “But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.”

Eventually the false prophet or teacher will be exposed by his own works and he is revealed to have never had any true relationship with God, His Son Jesus Christ or His Holy Spirit and never understood the truth of God’s Word and His righteousness. John wrote of this in 1 John 2:19; “They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us.”

Jude also describes three groups of people who have been influenced by or are a part of these Apostates. In verses 22-23 he writes; “And on some have compassion, making a distinction; but others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”

These verses speak of three separate groups of people.

• To some he says we are to “have compassion.” These are they who have been influenced by the false teachers and moral reprobates but have not yet completely bought in to their ungodliness. They are redeemable and we need to reach out to them in Love and kindness in order to draw them back to the Truth.

• The second group have become enamored with the teachings of the false prophets, they are in real and present danger of losing their souls because of ungodliness. Drastic action is called for as we are told to react and “save with fear, pulling them out of the fire.” This is not a moderate or tender approach, this is confrontational and demonstrative action needed to expose to them the danger they face which has eternal consequences.

• The third group is those described as ones we should fear, “hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.” They are the false prophets and teachers, the Apostates themselves. They have given themselves over to their sinful ungodliness and immorality. Are they beyond redemption? Only God knows. However, we are warned as believers not to associate with these workers of iniquity lest we become contaminated by their false teaching and sin. We as members of the Body of Christ, the True Church, are never to lower our guard or our standards in order to do the work of evangelism. We are to be in the world but not of the world.

Friends and fellow servants, we are living in the most exciting days in the history of the earth as we listen for the sound of the trump of God and the imminent return of Christ for His Bride, the Church. In these Last Days we have the opportunity to speak out and share the good news of the True Gospel of Jesus Christ.

There are more people on the earth today who need to know Christ than ever before, and it is not time for us to grow complacent, but rather it is past time for us to be proactive in the work we have been called to by our Lord and Savior.

We must stand against the growing Apostasy in the church, we must reveal the workers of iniquity who corrupt and distort the Word of God, and we must be willing to lay our very lives at the feet of Jesus.

People need to know the Truth, and the only source of Truth is the Word of God, and we know and must share that Jesus IS the Word!

We as Soldiers of the Cross need to put on the Whole Armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18) and prepare to do spiritual battle daily for our Lord. No fear, No weakness, let no one be discouraged, having done all we need to do to stand for Christ let us Stand Therefor! We must contend for the faith, speak those things which become sound doctrine, speak the truth in love, and pray without ceasing!

The little, yet powerful, book of Jude ends with this benediction in verses 24-25; “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, And to present you faultless Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, To God our Savior, Who alone is wise, Be glory and majesty, Dominion and power, Both now and forever. Amen.”

Incredible, what a fantastic picture! He will keep us, He will present us with exceeding joy, He does this for us! Our God and Savior! Let us know, let us speak, let us share with the world our Savior, and His glory, His majesty, His Dominion and power now and forever!

Therefore Stand!

Just Living!

Some of my fondest memories, are of driving from one cow pasture to another, or from one farm or ranch to another with my grandfather and a car full of boys, my cousins. Wherever we were going, it seems we were always singing. God had blessed all of us boys with good voices and a natural aptitude for harmony. However that was not the case for our grandfather. My grandfather, R. H. Marlin, could not carry a tune in an oil tanker, but he loved to sing and did so at the top of his lungs. Some of his favorite hymns were; “Heaven Came down,” “When the Roll Is Called up Yonder,” and “Living by Faith.” As I consider his life, and the lessons I learned from it, I believe these three hymns sum it up pretty well. Having accepted Jesus Christ as his personal Savior, heaven had come down to fill his soul; and he knew because of this, that when the roll is called, his name will be found written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. But, of real significance to me, is the fact that he truly lived his life by faith. If I close my eyes and let my mind drift back, even now I can see the index finger of his right hand keeping time as his craggy voice sang;

I care not today what the morrow may bring,
If shadow or sunshine or rain,
The Lord I know rules o’er everything,
And all of my worries are vain.

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.                 Wells and Winsett 1918

Living by faith is; “Just Living.”

Now over the next few paragraphs I’d like to expand on that statement. But first let me say, I love words, or more to the point semantics, and so as we expand on the statement; “just living,” I hope we will find in it, two meanings as it relates to faith in the daily life of a Christian.

What is faith?

In Hebrews 11:1 we find this statement written; “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” So faith is based on substance and evidence and not on emotion. Faith is acting on what you believe to be true, not what you feel to be true. In 2 Corinthians 5:7 we find written; “For we walk by faith, not by sight.” So then, walking or living by faith is the opposite of trusting what we see, hear, or feel (physically or emotionally). True faith, is to express belief in God who gives us faith (Romans 12:3), in Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), and His Holy Spirit who keeps us in faith (2 Timothy 1: 13-14).

Faith is the pathway God has set before us, to bring us salvation through His Son Jesus Christ. Because of His great mercy and love for us, we receive faith from Him in the form of a gift. “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9)

The fact that we are justified in the sight of God by the faith which He gives us, is explained by the apostle Paul in Romans 5:1-2; “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” And in his letter to the Galatians; “For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:26)

Because we have been gifted with faith by God, it should be clear that we can do nothing to earn either grace or faith, that we have received them because of Christ’s finished work on the cross. Only by faith in Christ can we be made righteous (Romans 5:19; Galatians 2:16) and John wrote in his gospel; “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). True faith in Jesus Christ involves more than just believing in His existence, it is believing that His atoning work on the cross is sufficient payment for our sin debt.

Positionally, the risen Christ Jesus is our Savior, and therefore is the object of our faith as we develop a personal relationship with Him. We are brought to faith through the work of the Holy Spirit who acts on behalf of Christ. He originates the process of faith in us by convicting us of our sins (John 16:7-10), and draws us to the Savior regenerating our unbelieving hearts. If you are truly a believer in Jesus Christ, then positionally you are in Christ, and if you are in Christ, then you have been given the gift of faith by God. You have been saved by faith.

The Bible, God’s Word, has been given to us as the instrument of our faith. It is the tool which God uses to establish, build, and strengthen our faith and within its pages we find everything which “pertains to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1-3). Paul wrote to the church at Rome; “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” (Romans 10:17) The Holy Spirit uses the word of God to convict man of sin and bring them to faith in Christ (1 Peter 1:23; James 1:18). In the parable of the Sower (Luke 8:5-15) Jesus compares the Word of God to a seed which germinates into faith. And the psalmist writes that the Word is a lamp and light to keep him on the path of righteousness (Psalm 119:115).

Living by faith

Three times in the New Testament (Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11; and Hebrews 10:38) we find this phrase from Habakkuk 2:4 quoted; “the just shall live by faith.” Habakkuk is making the point that only man who is just in the sight of God, can and will live by faith. The three New Testament passages are repeating the same thought. So who are the just? They are those who have been made righteous by the faith which God has given them in Christ Jesus, they have been justified by God through faith (Romans 1:12; Romans 3:28; Romans 5:1, 19; Galatians 2:16; Galatians 3:11, 24).

Living by faith is what Christian life is really all about, placing our complete trust in God to supply and meet our every need. Truly living by faith will take our lives out of the realm of the ordinary world into the realm of the extraordinary, supernatural world.

At one point the disciples asked Jesus to increase their faith, but Jesus told His disciples that if they had faith the size of a grain of mustard seed, they could tell a sycamore tree to replant itself into the sea and it would obey, or they could tell a mountain to move from one place to another and it would (Matthew 17:20; Luke 17:5-6). The lesson wasn’t that they needed more faith, but that they needed to exercise the faith which they already had. If they would do so their faith would grow.

Living by faith moves beyond merely believing in God, to having complete trust in Him to accomplish everything He has promised in our lives. This faith is essential for the Christian life, for without it we cannot please Him and certainly won’t receive His promised rewards (Hebrews 11:6). He promised if we ask we will receive (Matthew 7:7; John 14:14), and He tells us to ask in faith believing without fear (James 1:6).

Living by faith is standing on God’s honor and integrity, and acting on His promises to us, learning to trust Him in every part of our life. Living by faith involves believing that absolutely every bit of God’s Word is truth, and that in it we find everything we need for life, knowing that God has given it to us for that reason.

Living by faith is a lifelong process of spiritual growth and sanctification, which draws us ever closer to God the Father through our relationship with Jesus Christ, empowered by His Holy Spirit. God desires each of us to be living a life of faith, to be in that process, and that can happen when we quit doubting Him and trusting in ourselves. Imagine how much might be accomplished for the cause of Christ in these last days if we would simply trust God, live by faith, and let Him live through us.

How do we accomplish this?

Read the Word! Study it! Memorize it! Pray over it! Pray for the Holy Spirit to give you understanding and teach you the precepts found within it!

Pray for wisdom! Pray for boldness to share the Word! Pray for God to show you His Will for your life! Pray for Him to give you strength to accomplish it!

Be a disciple, find someone who is living by faith and ask them to disciple you! Learn to disciple others yourself! Get involved in a local church which is teaching the Word of God and the Word of God only! Surround yourself with friends who also desire to live by faith!

Living by faith is not for the faint hearted or those weak in character, but it is for those who realize that strength and character come from God, and that living by faith, is living in complete dependence upon God. Living by faith is something that only can be accomplished with the strength and power of God in your life, surrendering your will to His Will. Living by faith is truly life in Christ, and for the Christian, it really is; “just living.”

Just living = having been justified by grace through faith in Christ Jesus!

Just living = what the normal life of a Christian is, when he is Living by Faith!

I’m Living by faith in Jesus above,
Trusting, confiding in His great love;
From all harm safe in His sheltering arms,
I’m living by faith and I feel no alarm.

Yes grandpa, I was paying attention.