Who are the apostates?

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 7 or 8 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?

From where do apostates come? 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!

12 thoughts on “Who are the apostates?

  1. Had a sad conversation today with my pastor. He has repented from believing in the sovereignty of God and once again believes that Calvinists are heretics just as JWs are and the everything from the reformation is just as bad as the Roman Catholic Church. He asked me to repent from believing in the biblical God – though that’s not how he sees it. sigh


  2. Manfred, that is quite sad, however, I run into this more often than you might realize. I had a FB discussion the other day with a fellow who insisted that Open Theists are good Christians and that Calvinists should realize that we don’t have a full understanding of the Gospel and should open ourselves up to those who have “more to contribute to the conversation.” Sigh, all I had to say to that was, “Adios.”


  3. it is a sad day for me. I love this pastor, though I don’t see eye-to-eye with on some things. He told me today he repenting from much of what he has taught and preached since we joined. I’ve been shoved aside by reformed guys because I don’t hold to the “Christian Sabbath” and by free will and dispensational guys because I see God as sovereign in the salvation of sinners and don’t see the support in the Bible for Darby’s theology.

    The next few weeks will tell if we can stay. sigh


  4. I remember a teacher by the name of Walter Martin who had a lot of good things to say and write. Is it by faith or works. Is it by the Spirit of Messiah or by human effort. Christian common sense. The Lord Himself will sort out the liars!


  5. What are your thoughts about ‘pastors’ who continue to align with ‘known’ false teachers? (such as Piper with Carl Lentz, Pastrix Christine Caine, Lausanne.–Or recently, those who align with Michael Brown) Is this not affirming these men? Does 2 Cor. 6:14 pertain to this or 2 John 9-11? The scripture 2 John 1:10 comes to mind also. It appears to be a command from the Lord. Do we consider those who affirm/align with ‘known’ false teachers and continue to do so, apostates themselves? Thank you Mike. ‘appreciate this article very much.


  6. My thoughts are that those ‘pastors” or Christian leaders are consciously or sub-conciously compromising for some motive. Since we do not know what their motives are we cannot judge them. However, we are commanded to be discerning in Scripture and to expose false shepherds and false prophets so that the flock is protected. Those leaders who are otherwise strong leaders, but compromise by not separating from known false prophets and false leaders are making a serious error that is not hidden from our Lord. Also, their actions cause confusion in the flock, which is not good. One of the biggest reasons I find it difficult to be involved very deeply in ‘church life’ these days is because the average pew sitters look at what we do as being the problem. We expose error and call for separation from those in error. They see us as being divisive while actually it is the false prophets and false leaders who are doing that. We can have no peace with lies and errors, which are the poison from our enemy. I had a very long discussion with a fellow on FB the other day about this. He saw no problem with sitting at the feet of Arminians, Pelagians, Open-Theists, etc. Why? They all had something to say that was “useful.” That is the ‘Emergent’ position. That is also the “Liberal Christian” position and he admitted that all those he listed, including “Liberal Christians,” were just as Christian as I was. Again, this is the very same error I have been addressing since this blog began. If the Lord does not return before I die then I am sure that the Church will continue to have to address it until He does. Our job is to be those willing to take the heat and abuse from professing Christians who don’t want to hear the truth.


  7. Okay, here it goes.
    First, apostates are those who think they are Christians but are not, or have fallen from the biblical faith. If you leave the faith you are simply an unbeliever in the biblical God, even if it’s to another religion. It is all false, heresy, and apostate to some degree. That person seems to be saying that anyone who claims to be a Christian is one, a real one, and we all know that is not true. Even the bible refers to false brethren.
    Second, if everyone who thought they were a Christian was, then they and not the Word of God would define what a Christian is, but it is indeed the Word of God that defines a Christian, not man. If all those in that category were above reproach, that too would contradict the bible. We are to refute false teaching and teachers or believers in error, we don’t need to know the condition of their salvation to do that. We must refute heresy and contend for truth, regardless of who is a believer or not, even if we could know for sure.
    Third, Jesus acknowledges that category when He refers to ‘wolves in sheep’s clothing.’ They are not sheep, but they are pretending to be sheep, and it is intentional misleading. They are apostate, and they claim to be Christians, but are not, and do it to mislead.
    Fourth, many such wolves have entered via infiltration intentionally to deceive the flock. Conspiracy theories? Absolutely. Just as Psalms 2 reveals and Jude 1.
    Fifth, the Word of God states we are to expose false teaching, and false teachers, who are obviously pretending to be Christians. Some really think they are Christians but are simply fallen into apostasy by being deceived by others. Others know they are not but have infiltrated to deceive. Either way, we must expose them, and call them out by name as is biblical. The bible verifies cases like that, and many scriptures mandate we expose heresy.
    Sixth, we are to break ties with anyone who associates with big bad wolves. Even if they don’t teach heresy, they are endorsing it by promoting the wolves. We are to have no fellowship with the deeds of darkness. Eph. 5; 11. (red riding hood; run!)
    Seventh, sometimes the motive is money, or money and something else, or just something else. I happen to know that there are many who have infiltrated simply for the purpose to deceive.
    Eighth, there is actually a really big deception network in place by design with specific goals to deceive the church largescale. These ‘leaders’ linking arms with apostates demonstrates the webwork well. That is why there is so much shoulder slapping and referencing, etc. of one another among the wolves and “semi”-wolves, if there could be such a thing. They are all in this together, trust me. That is why all this is happening, it explains a lot. Not enough room or time here to get into it all.


  8. There are probably more apostates in the professing church than any of us can realize but let’s not forget that, as someone else has said, our business is to not lose sight of the object while dwelling on the subject. Our object is Christ and we need to be alert and watch and warn.


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