by Mike Ratliff
12 “If you hear in one of your cities, which the LORD your God is giving you to live in, anyone saying that 13 some worthless men have gone out from among you and have seduced the inhabitants of their city, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods’ (whom you have not known), 14 then you shall investigate and search out and inquire thoroughly. If it is true and the matter established that this abomination has been done among you, 15 you shall surely strike the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, utterly destroying it and all that is in it and its cattle with the edge of the sword. (Deuteronomy 13:12-15 NASB)
1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; 2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. 3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house. 4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God. 5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end. 7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE, 8 DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS AS WHEN THEY PROVOKED ME, AS IN THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS, 9 WHERE YOUR FATHERS TRIED Me BY TESTING Me, AND SAW MY WORKS FOR FORTY YEARS. 10 “THEREFORE I WAS ANGRY WITH THIS GENERATION, AND SAID, ‘THEY ALWAYS GO ASTRAY IN THEIR HEART, AND THEY DID NOT KNOW MY WAYS’; 11 AS I SWORE IN MY WRATH, ‘THEY SHALL NOT ENTER MY REST.’” 12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. (Hebrews 3:1-13 NASB)
It must have been about four or five years ago that I was in a discussion on this blog after I had written a piece about some of the confusing things coming from the ministry of Dr. John Piper and others. I made the comment to one of my friends that I thought that Dr. Piper needed to show the fruits of repentance for some of the things he had said and done or he would eventually be considered an apostate. Someone not in that conversation (a bottom feeder or troll??) jumped all over that statement and condemned me for calling Dr. Piper an apostate which he refused to consider because (according to him) an apostate is one who drops all pretense of Christianity and walks away from his faith. Using that reasoning those who continue to claim to be Christians even though they preach heresies such as Modalism (T.D. Jakes for instance) or deny the necessity of the Atonement and Justification by Faith alone and the reality of Hell (Rob Bell for instance) or those who insist on Christianity that is forever changing according to whatever society demands or wants (pragmatism) and insist that doctrine is not needed, but works is what God wants (Rick Warren for instance) are Christians along with the Roman Catholics, Mormans, and anyone else who claims that they are. Of course then there are those fellas (Steven Furtick, and James MacDonald for instance) who are all about erecting “cool” idolatrous worship which is really all about themselves and they sell this product to other wannabe preacherboys who want to be rich and famous like them. Do you see the common denominator in all this? Is any of what these people do about God and his glory? Is it about the edification of the Body of Christ through the genuine worship of God for his glory alone? No, it is about making money and becoming famous while fleecing the sheep who have been duped into thinking its all about the gospel. Have you noticed that these people never talk about the gospel without talking about money?
Where do apostates come from? According to God’s Word, some are revealed through persecution (Matthew 24:9-10; Luke 8:13). Notice these are not genuine Christians who went bad. No, they were never genuine to begin with. In 2 Timothy 4:10, for instance, Paul talks about Demas who forsook him because of his love for this present world. Demas had a worldly spirit. Apostates are more worldly-minded than they are concerned for the glory of God. In 1 John 2:19 the Apostle John makes it clear that Apostates were never genuine believers and their departure, whether that is to walk away from the faith or into a false form of Christianity (same thing), reveals their disingenuousness.
However, let us be clear. Genuine believers do not become Apostates. Here are some passages for your meditation.
18 Our heart has not turned back, And our steps have not deviated from Your way, 19 Yet You have crushed us in a place of jackals And covered us with the shadow of death. (Psalm 44:18-19 NASB)
9 But, beloved, we are convinced of better things concerning you, and things that accompany salvation, though we are speaking in this way. (Hebrews 6:9 NASB)
39 But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. (Hebrews 10:39 NASB)
On the other hand, an Apostate is impossible to restore.
4 For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame. (Hebrews 6:4-6 NASB)
Even our Lord Jesus had disciples who professed to follow him, but apostatized.
65 And He was saying, “For this reason I have said to you, that no one can come to Me unless it has been granted him from the Father.” 66 As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore. (John 6:65-66 NASB)
In the latter days (now?) Apostates will abound.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold. 13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved. (Matthew 24:9-13 NASB)
3 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, (2 Thessalonians 2:3 NASB)
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, 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. (1 Timothy 4:1-3 NASB)
Apostates are not simply those who walk away from Christianity and become irreligious or become a Muslim or Hindu or whatever. No, an Apostate can remain in an organized so-called “Christian Church” and be very religious and remain quite active in the “ministry” of deceiving as many people as he or she can. I mentioned it earlier in this post. Money is one of the motivating factors. There is also fame and celebrity. All of that feeds the ego of these people whose ministry is the source of their idolatrous ministry to themselves.
Now for a bit of confession on my part…I wrote a couple of books back in 2004-2005. In fact, I wrote four books and had two of them published. However, my motive for doing that was not pure. I thought it was, but after I went through several months of the marketing process I realized what a reality gap there was between where God wanted each of us to be focused in our daily lives, which is not in self-promotion, but in worship and service of our Lord. To become successful the way my publisher wanted would have meant becoming exactly the opposite of what I was writing about in my books. I chucked it and teamed up with Ken Silva when he offered me the opportunity to do so. More importantly, this path is one I knew to be the right one because it was one of humility with no opportunity of ever becoming accepted by the world and what is popular in what is accepted as “mainstream” Christianity. No, when I go into a church setting and people find out who I am and what I do, I am usually ostracized in one way or another. In any case, I run into Christian writers on occasion who are all about getting known by commenting on my blog and making sure no one says anything bad about them, et cetera. I notice the same reaction from that very same group of people I sort of listed in my introduction. Is that a coincidence?
Soli Deo Gloria!