Saturday, July 28, 2007


The Greek word apostasia, translated apostasy is biblically defined as: the determined, willful turning away from Christ and His teachings by one who has been enlightened and has received the heavenly gift of grace and the Holy Spirit---a professing Christian (Hebrews 6:4-8). It is distinctly different from false belief, or error, which is the result of ignorance or being deceived.

We find that there are at least four Scriptural concepts of apostasy. All connote an intentional defection form the faith. The four are rebellion, backsliding or turning away, falling away and adultery. All stem from:

  1. A deficiency in love
  2. Lack of reverence for God
  3. Lack of fear of God
  4. Unbelief

The word apostasy was used in earlier time to denote a coup or defection. We see such a rebellion against God in Joshua 22:22 and in 2nd Chronicles 29:19. The defining image is the rebellion of Lucifer, a one time servant of God. He is a prototype of the rebellious. Satan, as he is now known, rebelled against God and led one third of the angels of heaven in rebellion with him (Isaiah 14:12-14). Both accounts in the Old Testament and the teachings of Christ and His apostles it seems the picture is one of loyal followers turning against their God.

Looking further, we also see apostasy as a gradual and self-willed movement away from God. Such apostasy is seen in “types” used in the parable of the sewer: the seed sewed beside the road are types of those who have heard, but the devil comes and takes it away so that they may not believe and be saved (Luke 8:12). The seed planted on rocky soil and have no firm root are types of those in the time of temptation fall away (Luke 8:13). The seed planted on thorny ground and choked by thorns (cares of the world, Luke 8:14) are types of those whose hearts are hardened by the deceit of sin (Hebrews 3:12-15); then there are those who are led away (Deuteronomy 13:13).

Jesus taught of a mass (He used the word “many”) “falling away” near the end of the age. He also stated that because of the increase in lawlessness (sin) that most people’s love would grow cold; He added, “but the one who endures to the end, he shall be saved” (Matthew 24:9-13).

Following up on our Lord’s teachings the Apostle Paul also taught that a serious apostasy would occur before the end of the age. He would have us to understand that the apostasy would occur before the coming of the Lord (2nd Thessalonians 2:3).

The Apostle Paul in a letter to young Timothy informs him of the Holy Spirit speaking of an apostasy.

“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, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3 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.” (1st Timothy 4:1-3 NASU)

If Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the apostles all warned of such an event should not our Lords ministers of today teach the same thing?Of course we should!!

Now that we accept the teachings of our Lord and His apostles that there is a possibility of a Christian “falling away” should not we look around us and accept the fact that it is happening today?We see men and women leaving their faith and returning to sin in mass numbers. Many are still attending church services for social, political and face saving reasons rather than for the love of Christ who gave His life for them. And then there are those who are openly rebellious defecting and joining cults.

If we confess that this is happening today should not we be preaching that God’s children have need of endurance rather than tickling their ears with false doctrine??Christ and His apostles taught the need for endurance with stern warnings against apostasy.

The Apostle Jude wrote,

“And angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode, He has kept in eternal bonds under darkness for the judgment of the great day, ---. ”

Christians who commit apostasy like the apostate angels will receive the same judgment in the day of our Lord.

The letter of Jude is a warning to the church of our Lord to remain faithful and live a holy life.

“But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.” (Jude 20-21 NASU)

The writer of the Book of Hebrews writes,

“For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a terrifying expectation of judgment and THE FURY OF A FIRE WHICH WILL CONSUME THE ADVERSARIES. Anyone who has set aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, ‘VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY.’ And again, ‘THE LORD WILL JUDGE HIS PEOPLE.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” (Hebrews 10:26-31)

Those who are deceived argue that people who continue to willfully sin were never saved. Note verse 26; “if we” the writer includes himself in the body of believers; and again in verse 26; “after receiving the knowledge of the truth;” and in verse 29; “by which he was sanctified;” and finally in verse 30; “the Lord will judge HIS people. ”It seems very clear that this Scripture speaks of people who have received the word of God and are set apart (sanctified) and belong to God; in other words such people are being saved but are in danger of facing judgment for apostasy if they continued to willfully sin.

In the Apostle Paul’s letter to the Colossians we find these words,

“---if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23 NASU)

The Colossians were a people strong in love and faith yet the Apostle felt it necessary to remind them that they must continue to be “steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel” in order to inherit the blessings (see verse 22).

The Apostle Peter also warns the disciples of our Lord to be steadfast and not to be led away by false teachers and wickedness.

“You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness, 18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2nd Peter 3:17-18A)

The Apostle Peter warns,

“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’.” (2nd Peter 2:20-22 NASU)

Here the Apostle likens the defilements of the world (sin) unto a dog’s vomit and a sow’s wallow. Once sin has been expelled from his soul and he returns to drink it in again he is sicker than he was before. He has turned away from the holy gospel of truth and is near death.

Jesus said,

“If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.” (John 15:6 NASU)

Abide means to dwell, to reside or to remain without intermission. Therefore our Lord is saying His disciples must remain faithful to Him or they will be removed and burned as a worthless branch.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 I and the Father are one (John 10:27-30NASU). ”

[My sheep hear my voice]

Our Lord likens His children to sheep who are in a sheep fold and Himself as the Shepherd. When a shepherd enters the sheep fold and calls out to his sheep they know his voice and come out from among the other sheep of the fold. They know his voice and he knows his sheep and they follow him out of the fold. The Disciples of Christ are those who know and hear, believe in, follow, and obey their Great Shepherd and Guardian of their souls.

[and they will never perish]

Why? Because they hear His voice, and follow Him; therefore He knows, approves of and loves them, and gives them eternal life. They, who continue to hear Christ's voice, and to follow him, shall never perish. They give themselves up to God-believe so on Jesus that he lives in their hearts: God has given unto them eternal life, and this life is in His Son; and he that has the Son has life (1st John 5:11-12).

Now it is evident that only those who have Christ living in and governing their souls, so that they possess the mind that was in Him, are His sheep---His disciples; and are those that shall never perish, because they have this eternal life abiding in them. Therefore, to talk of a man's being one of the elect, one that shall never perish, one who shall have eternal life, who shall never be plucked out of the hand of God, etc. , while at the same time he lives in sin, does not have Christ in his heart, has either never received or has fallen away from the grace of God (apostasy). This is as contrary to common sense as it is to the nature and testimonies of the Most High God.

Final perseverance implies final faithfulness.

“But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.” (Matthew 24:13 NASU)
“He who overcomes will thus be clothed in white garments; and I will not erase his name from the book of life, and I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches .” (Rev. 2:5-6 NASU)

Thus will any man attempt to say that he who does not endure to the end, and is unfaithful, shall ever enter into eternal life?

[My Father, who has given them me, is greater than all]

There is eternal security for the enduring; the faithful; for he who lives by faith (Romans 1:17); his God is more powerful than all the united energies of men and demons. He who loves God must be filled with great joy; and he who fears and reveres Him need fear nothing on this side of eternity.

James C Sanford

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