SPEAKING THE WORD
WITH TREMBLING LIPS
I Tim.4: 1 - 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;
I Tim.6: 3-5 - 3 If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;4 He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings,
5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.
Heb.3: 12 - Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God.
These three portions of Scripture all use a derivative of the word in English we know as apostasy. When used in a spiritual context it is a very serious word that does not imply but directly states that some person or church or movement has abandoned Jesus, His teachings, and the New Testament path. Again, there can be no more serious indictment than when the word apostasy or apostate is used. It goes much further than backsliding or even compromising although those two manifestations usually precede out and out apostasy. So when we use the word apostasy we must never do it lightly or with any hint of spiritual hubris. In fact we should do it with broken hearts and trembling lips.
This is no ecclesiastical game of doctrinal badminton where we argue back and forth over a number of issues. That word takes it to an entirely new and grave level. There is no humor in that word, and when it comes down to apostasy it must be spoken with a profound sense of eternal seriousness. Let all the rest be content with the redundant eternal security discussion, but for those of us who have been awakened by God’s Spirit to the sober and weighty issue of apostasy it has been elevated into a realm far greater than getting certain doctrines right of wrong.
There are more Scriptures which use a derivative of the word apostasy, but these verses point out clearly the solemn consequences for those walking in apostasy as well as the open warning to us all. As much joy that can be experienced when one is redeemed or when a church preaches the everlasting gospel and seeks to walk “in His steps”, the exact opposite is a reality when that person or church leaves their first love and continues down a path which eventually leaves Jesus altogether. So I am primarily dealing with the visible church in America. I do not mean every church or movement, but I am confident that apostasy is now the rule rather than the exception throughout what is generally referred to as “evangelical”. It is tragic, heartbreaking, and a fearful spiritual circumstance.
This apostasy, a walking away from Jesus and His teachings, has been fueled by several issues within the church. Many of these issues became foundational and opened doors to other compromises which cumulatively and ultimately led to open departure. However the deception of the culture, the affirmation of the common fellowship, as well as the allurement of ecclesiastical leaders have aided and even pushed the apostasy forward. In these days of the avalanche of communication and media outlets the apostasy has spread exponentially. And we should not say that with any personal relish and we sincerely wish it were not so.
But let us say what really needs to be said. And let us also define terms. When we say the visible church we mean the denominational churches and the local independent churches which are constructed with debt, prima donna leadership, money oriented messages, nationalism, political agendas, and a diminishing of the gospel and the Person of Jesus Christ as well as a massive redefining of that same Redeemer. And hirelings now fill tens of thousands of pulpits. And it is in that context that I submit that apostasy runs rampant within the evangelical community and shows no signs of slowing to say nothing of repentance. I realize that it is easy to type those words but may I strongly suggest you judge those words by their validity and the spiritual evidence rather than this poor conduit.
I will not say for certainty that all who are avid supporters of this ecclesiastical construct are doomed to hell. That is playing God. However I will not shrink from giving the deepest of warnings about the effects, both temporal and eternal, of submitting to a construct which has become so blatantly cultural rather than a reflection of what Jesus taught and lived. I cannot know the full extent of such consequences but I do know this: That the obvious departure continues to spiral downward with great speed and the consequences are also becoming more and more serious. It is past time for us to stop halting between two opinions. The evangelical atmosphere is ripe with apostasy. I realize that is also a frightening proposition but no one ever said following Jesus would be easy and convenient.
Even some of the organized churches that operate in buildings designed for church gatherings that remain faithful to Christ still rub shoulders with apostates. I realize there are exceptions and God knows those who are His. But the overwhelming community of local churches have been so subtly but violently corrupted by the culture that finding a “good church” is like looking for a nickel in a spittoon. But the open disobedience to God’s Word has become so pronounced and even so embraced that we can no longer dance around the word. It is an apostate system which makes men and women wealthy, soothes the conscience about hedonistic living, incorporates sin into the gathering, makes merchandise of people, preaches an earthly gospel, operates like a capitalist company, and appeals to the carnal nature. Yes, it is apostate.
But now the question is what do we do. Given this evidence what does the Spirit wish for us to do? We cannot sit back and indict with a word as serious as apostasy without a corresponding obedience which is demonstrably different than that which we have indicted. And this is what I will deal with soon. It is a daunting but glorious path to which we are called, But to break it down practically begins with the heart and works its way out through our lives. I pray the Spirit will guide my thoughts and my words because I can never claim spiritual perfection. There is only One Who is perfect and it is He alone who we must follow and obey. And it is His Words alone which must guide us as to our future path. His Words are not just some Hallmark Card sayings, or some refrigerator ornaments. They are life and life eternal. May God help us all to understand and live them.
Keep our faces like a flint set toward You and our hearts surrendered with a consistent repentance. Please keep us profoundly humble even while we speak truth and correction. We count ourselves as unprofitable servants and You as Lord and Master of all. We need the guidance of the Spirit through the open revelation of You eternal Word. May those who have ears hear the Spirit through our poor Words and may Jesus Christ have all the preeminence. We ask this in the name above all names, the Matchless Name of Jesus our Redeemer.