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Heresy and Apostasy


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


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Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 9, 2018


Prior to the return of the Lord, the visible churches, except for a remnant, will go into apostasy.[i]

“Apostasy, ‘falling away,’ is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth (1) as to the deity of Jesus Christ, and (2) redemption through His atoning and redeeming sacrifice.[ii] Apostasy differs therefore from error concerning truth, which may be the result of ignorance[iii] or heresy, which may be due to the snare of Satan[iv] both of which may consist with true faith. The apostate is perfectly described in 2 Timothy 4.3, 4.[v] Apostates depart from the faith, but not from the outward profession of Christianity.[vi] Apostate teachers are described in various verses in the New Testament.[vii] Apostasy in the church, as in Israel[viii] is irremediable, and awaits judgment.[ix]

Inevitably, there is no remedy for apostasy but judgment.[x] For example, Noah preached for 120 years, won no converts, and the judgment predicted by his great-grandfather fell.[xi]

“Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Lu. 18.8b)?  The reference is not to personal faith, but to belief in the whole body of revealed truth.[xii] “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” (1 Ti. 4.1).

In the New Testament, the apostasy was treated as having already set in. In fact, the Asian churches had not disbanded, nor ceased to call themselves Christian; but they had turned away from the doctrines of grace distinctively revealed through the Apostle Paul. Thus, even in the beginning of the church, the apostle Paul and Jude were concerned with the tendency to depart from the faith due to the influence of false teachers.[xiii]

Many of our churches today, even many of our independent Bible believing churches, have perverted the gospel of Christ and turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness even though perhaps they have not verbally denied our Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Gentile world apostasy comes in seven stages.[xiv] As a result of this worldwide Gentile apostasy, mankind sinks to the depths of depravity.[xv] The apostasy is usually introduced by ungodly men who will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived.”[xvi]

Our Lord warned against false teachers.[xvii] The Lord is obviously warning that many of His children will be deceived by the many false prophets which shall arise. With heresy and apostasy, the God-given doctrines and goal for churches and for Christians are left in the dust.  As a result, God is not glorified at all. Everything in the ultimate modern American church is for self—the headship, the “Bibles,” the doctrines taught, the preaching, the music, the dress, the goal, everything.

Peter, Paul, and Jude traced the origin of apostasy to false teachers, explained their methods of operation, and warned the church to beware of the apostasy.[xviii]

Only a little leaven can completely change and pervert the truth of the Gospel.[xix]

False teachers deny redemption truth.[xx] Others deny the truth concerning Christ’s person as Son of God, God himself.[xxi]

In Jude all phases of apostasy are seen. Jude mentions those who “ran after the error of Balaam for reward.” Many pastors and other Christians today, like Balaam, revert to human reasoning and, among other unbiblical practices, put God’s church under the state for reward—that is, for money, for popularity, or power. They may not have gone completely into apostasy, but heresy is the first step toward apostasy.

The tone of the New Testament writers when dealing with heresy and apostasy is never one of dejection or pessimism. They remained sustained and joyful.[xxii] God & His promises are still the resource of the believer.

2 Timothy, 2 Peter, Jude, and 2 & 3 John deal the personal walk and testimony of a true servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension. For example, Paul gives instructions for the “good soldier” in the face of apostasy.[xxiii] Paul instructed Timothy, a preacher whom Paul called his “dearly beloved son (2 Ti. 1.2)” and his “own son in the faith” (1 Ti. 1.2) as to what to do in times of apostasy.[xxiv]

“The believer’s resources in a day of general declension and apostasy  are faith (2 Ti. 1.5), the spirit (2 Ti. 1.6-7), the Word of God (2 Ti. 1.13; 3.1-17; 4.3-4), the grace of Christ (2 Ti. 2.1), separation from vessels unto dishonor (2 Ti. 2.4, 20-21), the Lord’s sure reward (2 Ti. 4.7-8), and the Lord’s faithfulness and power (2 Ti. 2.13, 19).


For more thorough studies on heresy and apostasy, to chapters numbered 4-9 at the following webpage:
The Biblical Doctrine of the Church


Endnotes

[i] “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Th. 2.3-4).

[ii] 1 Jn. 4.1-3: “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.’]; Phil. 3.18: “For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ;” 2 Pe. 2.1: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.”

[iii] Ac. 19.1-6: “And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.”

[iv] 2 Ti. 2.25, 26 “In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.”

[v] 2 Ti. 4.3-4: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.”

[vi] 2 Ti. 3.5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.”

[vii] . 2 Ti. 4.3: “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;: 2 Pe. 2.1-19 [quoted here in part]: “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: … But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; …  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; ….These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage;” Jude 4, 8, 11-13, 16: “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…. Likewise also thesefilthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.”

[viii] Isa. 1.5, 6; 5.5-7.

[ix] 2 Thes. 2.10-12: “And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness;” 2 Pet. 2.17, 21: “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever…. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them;” Jude 11-15; Re. 3.14-16.

[x] Is. 1.2-7, 24, 25; He. 6.4-8; 10.26-31.

[xi]  Jude 14, 15; Ge. 7.11.

[xii] See, e.g., Ro. 1.5; 1 Co. 16.13; 2 Co. 13.5; Col. 1.23, 2.7; Tit. 1.13; Jude 3.

[xiii] “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you; and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.6-8). “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

[xiv] “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Ro. 1.21-23).

[xv] “Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them”  (Ro. 1.24-32).

[xvi]  2 Ti. 3.13.

[xvii] “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mt. 7.15). “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7.21-23). “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.4-5). “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.11). “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mk. 13.22). “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5.19). “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15.9).

[xviii] “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing he flock: Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Ac. 20.28-31).

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8-9).

“O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Ga. 3.1)?

“For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Co. 11.19).

“For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Co. 11.4).

“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit. 1.10-11).

“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; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Ti. 4.1-2).

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Ti. 4.3-5).

“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not….  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage” (2 Pe. 2.1-3, 15-19. All of 2 Pe. 2 deals with false teachers.).

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 Jn. 9-11).

“Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pe. 3.3-4).

“For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4. Jude predicts the apostasy of the professing church and describes the cause and course of the apostasy. As in 2 Timothy and 2 Peter, the apostasy is treated as having already set in.

[xix] “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Ga. 5.7-9).

[xx] “[False teachers] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pe. 2.1).

[xxi] “BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them” (1 Jn. 4.1-5; see also, 1 Jn. 2.18-28).

[xxii] Although Paul as recorded in II Timothy and Peter as recorded in II Peter are aware that martyrdom is near (See 2 Ti. 4.6-8, 2 Pe. 1.14, and Jn. 21.18-19), both are apparently sustained and joyful: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Ti. 4.7-8). The whole book of 2 Timothy reflects Paul’s joyful attitude as 2 Peter shows Peter to be likewise joyful and sustained.

[xxiii] “[B]e strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier….  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: …  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself….  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And their word will eat as doth a canker: …  Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.1-4, 8, 11-13, 15-17a, 22-25).

[xxiv] “Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of the evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Ti. 4.2-5).

Conclusion to the Doctrine of the Church


A Publication of Churches Under Christ Ministry


If you miss one part of the puzzle that is being put together in these studies, you will never see and understand the whole picture.


Click here to go to all lessons on the Bible Doctrine of the Church.
Click here to go to the written lessons.
Click here to go to the 5 minute video lectures.


Jerald Finney
Copyright © January 9, 2018


The Supreme Ruler ordained the church, as He ordained civil government. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He desires that they choose to follow. Most churches have followed Satan’s, not God’s, principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into the church shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the  tribulation approaches.

Many American churches today are heretical or apostate. They say, “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing. As to them, God says, you “knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17). They follow the principles of the god of this world, not God’s principles. They are of this world and follow the principles of the god of this world. Christ is not of this world, nor are his followers. [i]

Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  Christ was not deceived, but His bride was. “As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride. While the first Adam ‘blew it,’ the last Adam would make everything right! (Ro. 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ec. 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.).

Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! Christians have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. This should be a cause for great rejoicing as well as incentive to be responsible members of a local autonomous New Testament church and to make sure that every effort is made to glorify God and assure that a church remains totally under Christ in every way. The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom.[ii]

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).

“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).


Endnotes

[i] See Jn. 8.23-45.

[ii] “It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Ti. 2.11-12).

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Re. 1.6).

“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Re. 3.21).

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Re. 5.10).

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Ro. 8.15-18).

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life” (1 Co. 6.2-3)?

 

Lesson 2 on Colossians: Christ the Head of the Local Church

Person of Christ and Objective Work of Christ for Sinners – Colossians 1.15-23
(10 questions with answers following)
Added on  April 29, 2017

Click here to go to the “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” (Has links to all lessons)
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Answers at the end, following the questions. Those who disagree with anything please see the note at the end. Reasoned dialogue is encouraged and any Bible or fact based comments, if made in a Christian manner in an attempt to get to the truth will be considered.

This is an open book quiz meant to challenge the Bible believer – the saved person who believes the Word of God rather than the person who tries to fit particular Scriptures into a system of interpretation meant to validate one’s desired view of how things should be by philosophizing, allegorizing, or spiritualizing chosen Scriptures. The literal meaning, taken in its immediate context and within the context of all related Scripture is the basis for these studies. It is presented for the glory of God.

Colossians directs our attention to the head of the body who is Christ. The body itself is secondary. Christ is the theme. He is the center of the circle around which all Christian living revolves. Christ is the fullness of God. The dominating thought is that Christ is all I need; He is everything. He is the primary object, and the thought passes downward to the church as the body of Christ.

Colossians was written to the local church at Colosee (with the principles to be applied by all local churches and believers) to counteract the heresy of Gnosticism, the first heresy in the church. There were many forms of Gnosticism, and in Colossee there were the Essenes. There are three points of identification for this group: (1) They had an exclusive spirit. They felt that they were the people—they had knowledge in the jug and held the stopper in their hands. Thus, they felt that they were super-duper in knowledge and knew more than anyone else, including the Apostles. (2) They held speculative tenets on creation. They taught that God did not create the universe directly, but created a creature who in turn created another creature, until one finally created the physical universe. Christ was considered a creature in this long series of creations.  Paul refutes this in Colossians 1:15-19. (3) They practiced asceticism and unrestrained licentiousness. They got the asceticism from the influence of Greek Stoicism and the unrestrained licentiousness from the influence of Greek Epicureanism. Paul refutes this in Colosians 2.16, 23 and 3.5-9.

See, J. Vernon McGee, Colossians for more on this.

Colossians 1:15-19 [PERSON OF CHRIST] “15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;”

Colossians 1.20-23 [OBJECTIVE WORK OF CHRIST FOR SINNERS] “20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled 22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: 23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”

Questions:

PERSON OF CHRIST : COLOSSIANS 1.15-19:

  1. Paul is specifically attempting to answer one of the oldest heresies of the church, ____________. Other heresies included Arianism. Arius of Alexandria said that the Lord Jesus Christ was a creature, a __________ being. Socinus later propagated the heresy that Jesus was not God and that mankind did not need a Saviour from _____, that man is not totally ___________. This is the basis of Unitarianism and some of the ________, including Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  2. There are here ______ marks of identification given here which make Him different from and superior to any other person who has ever lived:

    (1) He is “the ________ of the invisible _____.” He (God) was born flesh. (See Jn. 1.1, 14). If He were not _____, He could not have been the image of the invisible _____.
    (2) “He is the ____________ of every __________.” This reveals His relationship to the Father and His position in the Trinity. His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Mic. 5.2). The child (Jesus) was born, but the son is given (Is. 9.6). Paul is destroying one of the ______________ of that day—that God created a creature, then that creature created a creature, etc.; until finally a creature created this universe. Paul is answering that and saying that Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all ____________; He is back of all ___________. The Greek word is prōtotokos meaning before all creation (See Jn. 1.1-3). God the Father is the ______________ God the son is the _____________ son. The Lord Jesus is called the ____________ from the dead (Col. 1.18). This is what the psalmist spoke of in Psalm 2.7 and explained by Paul in his sermon at Antioch of Pisidia (See Ac. 13.32, 33). Christ ___________ all things. Other verses that make clear that Christ was not a mere creature include Hebrews 1.3 (the second person of the Godhead); Hebrews 1.7, 8 (Speaking of Jesus: “Thy throne, O _____ is for ever and ever….”); Matthew 16.16 and Luke 1.35 (He is the _________, the Son of the living God).
    (3) “By him were all things __________” (verse 16). Thus, he was the one who did the ___________. There are two kinds of creation, the __________ and the ____________. Paul mentions different graduations of rank in spiritual intelligences: __________, ____________, _________________, ________. Our spiritual enemies, Satan and his followers, have different gradations of rank.
    (4) All things were created “for _____.” This all shows that this is _____’s universe. And we are ______________ with the Lord Jesus Christ!
    (5) “He is before all things.” All _________ dwells in the preincarnate and the incarnate _________ (Col.2.9).
    (6) “By him all things consist.” He holds everything together. He maintains and directs __________. He is the Elmer’s Glue of the ___________. See also, He. 1.3.
    (7) “He is the head of the body, the church.” In Ephesians, the emphasis was on the fact that a church is a _______________ _______. In Colossians, the emphasis is on the _______ of the body, the person of the _______ _________ ____. In Philippians we see a church with feet, walking through the world—we see the experience of a church, of a believer. “The firstborn of from the dead.” When a saved loved one dies, the _______ is put to sleep, but the _______________ has gone to be with the Lord. The body, sown in _______________, will be raised in __________________ (1 Co. 15.42) on the basis of His _______________. We shall be as He is (1 Jn. 3.2).
    (8) “That is all things He might have the preeminence.” God is moving toward one goal—to put _________ on the throne of this world which is today in rebellion against _____. He will achieve that goal (See, e.g., Ps. 2.6).
    (9) “It pleased the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell.” In Philippians, Christ __________ Himself of His glory, not his ________, and became a __________. Here, we see that Jesus was _____% God.
  3. Another way to outline Colossians 1.14 -20 would be:

    (1) Christ’s relationship to the __________—verse 15
    (2) Christ’s relationship to __________—verses 16, 17
    (3) Christ’s relationship to the __________—verses 18, 19
    (4) Christ’s relationship to ________—verse 20

    OBJECTIVE WORK OF CHRIST FOR SINNERS: COLOSSIANS 1.20-23:
  4. “Having made peace through the blood of his cross” means that by His paying the penalty on the cross for your _____ and my _____, peace has been made between God and the __________. “Therefore being justified by ________, we have ________ with God through our _______ __________ __________” (Ro.5.1).
  5. “By him to reconcile all things unto himself.” Reconciliation is toward _____; redemption is toward _____. 2 Co. 5.28-20: “18 And all things are of God, who hath _______________ us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of _________________; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, _______________ the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of ____________________. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye _______________ to God.” God is _______________. He is asking man to be _______________ to Him.

    “Reconcile all things.” The “all things” is limited to all things that are to be _______________, those which are appointed to __________________.
  6. “Whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Notice that Paul does not mention things _________ the earth as he did in Phil. 2.10. The things _________ the earth are not reconciled to Him at all. Notice that __________ must also be reconciled.
  7. (See v. 21) God reconciled us to Himself when

    a. our good works outweighed our bad works
    b. we were in rebellion against God
    c. we were baptized and started going to church
    d. we were doing wicked works
    e. a and c
    f. b and d
  8. “”The body of his flesh.” Christ suffered in a real ______.
  9. “To present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” _______________ means without blemish. _______________ means unaccusable or unchargeable. He is able to present us unblameable because:

    a. we are righteous.
    b. He took our place.
    c. we do good works.
    d. we have good character.

    Explain your answer. Sample explanation given in answer below.
  10. If you are a _______ of God today, you will ___________ in the faith grounded and settled. The “if” in verse 23 is the “if” of argument. It means that something was if something else is true. Paul’s point is that we have been ______________—it is an accomplished ______.

Answers

PERSON OF CHRIST: COLOSSIANS 1.15-19:

  1. Paul is specifically attempting to answer one of the oldest heresies of the church, Gnosticism. Other heresies included Arianism. Arius of Alexandria said that the Lord Jesus Christ was a creature, a created being. Socinus later propagated the heresy that Jesus was not God and that mankind did not need a Saviour from sin, that man is not totally depraved. This is the basis of Unitarianism and some of the cults, including Jehovah’s Witnesses.
  2. There are here nine marks of identification given here which make Him different from and superior to any other person who has ever lived:

    (1) He is “the image of the invisible God.” He (God) was born flesh. (See Jn. 1.1, 14). If He were not God, He could not have been the image of the invisible God.
    (2) “He is the firstborn of every creature.” This reveals His relationship to the Father and His position in the Trinity. His “goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5.2). The child (Jesus) was born, but the son is given (Isaiah 9.6). Paul is destroying one of the philosophies of that day—that God created a creature, then that creature created a creature, etc.; until finally a creature created this universe. Paul is answering that and saying that Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all creation; He is back of all creation. The Greek word is prōtotokos meaning before all creation. See John 1.1-3. God the Father is the everlasting God the son is the everlasting son. The Lord Jesus is called the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1.18). This is what the psalmist spoke of in Psalm 2.7 and explained by Paul in his sermon at Antioch of Pisidia (See Ac. 13.32, 33). Christ created all things. Other verses that make clear that Christ was not a mere creature include Hebrews 1.3 (the second person of the Godhead); Hebrews 1.7, 8 (Speaking of Jesus: “Thy throne, O God is for ever and ever….”); Matthew 16.16 and Luke 1.35 (He is the Christ, the Son of the living God).
    (3) “By him were all things created” (verse 16). Thus, he was the one who did the creating. There are two kinds of creation, the visible and the invisible. Paul mentions different graduations of rank in spiritual intelligences: thrones, dominions, principalities, powers. Our spiritual enemies, Satan and his followers, have different gradations of rank.
    (4) All things were created “for Him.” This all shows that this is God’s universe. And we are jointheirs with the Lord Jesus Christ!
    (5) “He is before all things.” All fullness dwells in the preincarnate and the incarnate Christ (Col.2.9).
    (6) “By him all things consist.” He holds everything together. He maintains and directs creation. He is the Elmer’s Glue of the universe. See also, He. 1.3.
    (7) “He is the head of the body, the church.” In Ephesians, the emphasis was on the fact that a church is a spiritual body. In Colossians, the emphasis is on the head of the body, the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. In Philippians we see a church with feet, walking through the world—we see the experience of a church, of a believer. “The firstborn of from the dead.” When a saved loved one dies, the body is put to sleep, but the individual has gone to be with the Lord. The body, sown in corruption, will be raised in incorruption (1 Co. 15.42) on the basis of His resurrection. We shall be as He is (1 Jn. 3.2).
    (8) “That is all things He might have the preeminence.” God is moving toward one goal—to put Jesus on the throne of this world which is today in rebellion against God. He will achieve that goal (See, e.g., Ps. 2.6).
    (9) “It pleased the Father that in him should all the fullness dwell.” In Philippians, Christ emptied Himself of His glory, not his diety, and became a servant. Here, we see that Jesus was 100% God.
  3. Another way to outline Colossians 1.14 -20 would be:

    (1) Christ’s relationship to the Father—verse 15
    (2) Christ’s relationship to creation—verses 16, 17
    (3) Christ’s relationship to the church—verses 18, 19
    (4) Christ’s relationship to the cross—verse 20

OBJECTIVE WORK OF CHRIST FOR SINNERS: COLOSSIANS 1.20-23:

  1. “Having made peace through the blood of his cross” means that by His paying the penalty on the cross for your sin and my sin, peace has been made between God and the sinner. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ro.5.1).
  2. “By him to reconcile all things unto himself.” Reconciliation is toward man; redemption is toward God. 2 Co. 5.28-20: “18 And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.” God is reconciled. He is asking man to be reconciled to Him.

    “Reconcile all things.” The “all things” is limited to all things that are to be reconciled, those which are appointed to reconciliation.
  3. “Whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” Notice that Paul does not mention things under the earth as he did in Phil. 2.10. The things under the earth are not reconciled to Him at all. Notice that heaven must also be reconciled.
  4. (See v. 21) God reconciled us to Himself when

    b (we were in rebellion against God) and d (we were doing wicked works)
  5. “”The body of his flesh.” Christ suffered in a real body.
  6. “To present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.” Unblameable means without blemish. Unreproveable means unaccusable or unchargeable. He is able to present us unblameable because:

    He took our place.

    Sample explanation: 2 Co. 5.21: “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.”
  7. If you are a child of God today, you will continue in the faith grounded and settled. The “if” in verse 23 is the “if” of argument. It means that something was if something else is true. Paul’s point is that we have been reconciled—it is an accomplished fact.

Should you disagree with an answer given, please explain why you disagree in the comment section below the article. All reasoned comments will be published, perhaps with reply. The purpose of this website is the Glory of God. God cannot be glorified by shutting out honest disagreement in the search for truth. The author would be interested in your explanation. The comments are required by the website to be approved or disapproved. The author is very busy with many matters and may or may not immediately notice your comment. He will address it as soon as he notices it. He almost always approves comments presented with a godly spirit. He never alters comments. Sometimes, he replies to comments.

Heresy and Apostasy


Jerald Finney
Copyright © December 19, 2012


Click here to go to “Self-Exam Questions: Heresy and Apostasy”


 Note. This is a modified version of Section II, Chapter 4 of God Betrayed: Separation of Church and State/The Biblical Principles and the American Application.


Heresy and Apostasy

2Th2.3Prior to the return of the Lord, the visible churches, except for a remnant, will go into apostasy. “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition: who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God” (2 Th. 2.3-4).

1“Apostasy, ‘falling away,’ is the act of professed Christians who deliberately reject revealed truth (1) as to the deity of Jesus Christ, and (2) redemption through His atoning and redeeming sacrifice (1 John 4.1-3 [‘Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.’]; Phil. 3.18 [‘For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ:”]; 2 Pet. 2.1 [“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.’]). Apostasy truthdiffers therefore from error concerning truth, which may be the result of ignorance (Acts 19.1-6 [‘And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake 7with tongues, and prophesied.’]), or heresy, which may be due to the snare of Satan (2 Tim. 2.25, 26 [‘In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.’]), both of which may consist with true faith. The apostate is perfectly described in 2 Tim. 4.3, 4 [‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away theirears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables.’]. Apostates depart from the faith, but not from the outward profession of Christianity (2 Tim. 3.5 [‘Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof, from such turn away.’]). Apostate teachers are described in 2 Tim. 4.3 [“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.]; 2 Pet. 2.1-19 [quoted here in part: ‘But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.  And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: … But these, as natural brute beasts, made to be taken and destroyed, speak evil of the things that they understand not; and shall utterly perish in their own corruption; …  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; ….These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live Balaamin error.  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.’]; Jude 4, 8, 11-13, 16 [‘For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ…. Likewise also thesefilthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion, and speak evil of dignities…. Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the Judgment3error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core. These are spots in your feasts of charity, when they feast with you, feeding themselves without fear: clouds they are without water, carried about of winds; trees whose fruit withereth, without fruit, twice dead, plucked up by the roots; Raging waves of the sea, foaming out their own shame; wandering stars, to whom is reserved the blackness of darkness for ever. These are murmurers, complainers, walking after their own lusts; and their mouth speaketh great swelling words, having men’s persons in admiration because of advantage.’].  Apostasy in the church, as in Israel (Isa. 1.5, 6; 5.5-7), is irremediable, and awaits judgment (2 Thes. 2.10-12 [‘And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness’]; 2 Pet. 2.17, 21 [‘These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever…. For it had been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than, after they have known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered unto them.’]; Jude 11-15; Rev. 3.14-16)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to 2 Ti. 3.1, p. 1280). [Bold emphasis mine].

Inevitably, there is no remedy for apostasy but judgment. (Is. 1.2-7, 24, 25; He. 6.4-8; 10.26-31. For example, Noah preached for 120 years, won no converts, and the judgment predicted by his great-grandfather fell (Jude 14, 15; Ge. 7.11)).

Lk.18.8b“Nevertheless, when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth” (Lu. 18.8b)?  The reference is not to personal faith, but to belief in the whole body of revealed truth (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Lu. 18.8, p. 1101; see, e.g., Ro. 1.5; 1 Co. 16.13; 2 Co. 13.5; Col. 1.23, 2.7; Tit. 1.13; Jude 3). “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” (1 Ti. 4.1).

Ga.1.8-9In the New Testament, the apostasy was treated as having already set in. In fact, the Asian churches had not disbanded, nor ceased to call themselves Christian; but they had turned away from the doctrines of grace distinctively revealed through the Apostle Paul. Thus, even in the beginning of the church, the apostle Paul and Jude were concerned with the tendency to depart from the faith due to the influence of false teachers:

  • “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel:  Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you; and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.6-8).
  • “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4).

Many of our churches today, even many of our independent Bible believing churches, have perverted the gospel of Christ and turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness (“Looseness; irregular indulgence of animal desires; wantonness; lustfulness; Tendency to excite lust, and promote irregular indulgences” (AMERICAN DICTIONARY OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE, NOAH WEBSTER (1828) definition of “LASCIVIOUSNESS.”). even though perhaps they have not verbally denied our Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

19Gentile world apostasy comes in seven stages:

“Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools. And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things” (Ro. 1.21-23).

As a result of this worldwide Gentile apostasy, mankind sinks to the depths of depravity:

“Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents. Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them”  (Ro. 1.24-32).

Pope20The apostasy is usually introduced by ungodly men who will “wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived” (2 Ti. 3.13).  Our Lord warned against false teachers:

  • “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Mt. 7.15).
  • “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7.21-23).
  • “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.4-5).
  • “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many” (Mt. 24.11).
  • “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect” (Mk. 13.22).
  • “Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt. 5.19).
  • “But in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Mt. 15.9).

The Lord is obviously warning that many of His children will be deceived by the many false prophets which shall arise. With heresy and apostasy, the God-given doctrines and goal for churches and for Christians are left in the dust. The goal or purpose of most churches and “Christians” is the happiness of man and not the glory of God. They ask “What can God do for me,” not “What can I do for God?” Their purpose for giving, for doing, and for going to church is to get something back from God. Many believers today, many in allegedly independent Bible believing churches, are being deceived about many biblical doctrines, including the doctrines of church, state, and separation of church and state. As a result, they are, among other things, incorporating, operating as unincorporated associations, and becoming 501(c)(3) tax exempt organizations. Section VI of God Betrayed (PDFonline version) and Separation of Church and State: God’s Churches—Spiritual or Legal Entities (PDFonline version) discuss incorporation and tax exempt status of churches in some detail, and will explain ways that a church can hold property and also please God.

As a result, God is not glorified at all. Everything in the ultimate modern American church is for self—the headship, the “Bibles,” the doctrines taught, the preaching, the music, the dress, the goal, everything.

5Peter, Paul, and Jude traced the origin of apostasy to false teachers, explained their methods of operation, and warned the churches to beware of the apostasy:

  • “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing he flock: Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears” (Ac. 20.28-31).
  • “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed” (Ga. 1.8-9).
  • “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you” (Ga. 3.1)?
  • “For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you” (1 Co. 11.19).
  • “For if he that cometh preacheth another Jesus, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit, which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him” (2 Co. 11.4).
  • “For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision; Whose mouths must be stopped, who subvert whole houses, teaching things which they ought not, for filthy lucre’s sake” (Tit. 1.10-11).
  • “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; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron” (1 Ti. 4.1-2).
  • “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away” (2 Ti. 4.3-5).
  • “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not….  Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought into bondage” (2 Pe. 2.1-3, 15-19. All of 2 Pe. 2 deals with false teachers.).
  • “Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds” (2 John 9-11).
  • “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation” (2 Pe. 3.3-4).
  • “For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 4. Jude predicts the apostasy of the professing churches and describes the cause and course of the apostasy. As in II Timothy and II Peter, the apostasy is treated as having already set in.).

LeavenOnly a little leaven can completely change and pervert the truth of the Gospel: “Ye did run well; who did hinder you that ye should not obey the truth?  This persuasion cometh not of him that calleth you. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (Ga. 5.7-9).

False teachers deny redemption truth: “[False teachers] shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them and bring upon themselves swift destruction” (2 Pe. 2.1).  Others deny the truth concerning Christ’s person as Son of God, God himself.

“BELOVED, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world. Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world. They are of the world: therefore speak they of the world, and the world heareth them” (1 Jn. 4.1-5; See also, 1 Jn. 2.18-28).

In Jude all phases of apostasy are seen. Jude mentions those who “ran after the error of Balaam for reward.” Many pastors and other Christians today, like Balaam, revert to human reasoning and, among other unbiblical practices, put God’s church under the state for reward—that is, for money, for popularity, or power. They may not have gone completely into apostasy, but heresy is the first step toward apostasy.

The tone of the New Testament writers when dealing with heresy and apostasy is never one of dejection or pessimism. God & His promises are still the resource of the believer. Although Paul as recorded in II Timothy and Peter as recorded in II Peter are aware that martyrdom is near (See 2 Ti. 4.6-8, 2 Pe. 1.14, and Jn. 21.18-19), both are apparently sustained and joyful: “For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finishedmy course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (2 Ti. 4.7-8). The whole book of II Timothy reflects Paul’s joyful attitude as II Peter shows Peter to be likewise joyful and sustained.

1II Timothy, II Peter, Jude, and II & III John deal the personal walk and testimony of a true servant of Christ in a day of apostasy and declension. For example, Paul instructs the “good soldier” in the face of apostasy:

“[B]e strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that thou has heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also. Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life: that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier….  Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel: …  It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: If we deny him, he also will deny us: If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself….  Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. And 2Ti.4.1-2their word will eat as doth a canker: …  Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart. But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes. And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (2 Ti. 2.1-4, 8, 11-13, 15-17a, 22-25).

Paul instructed Timothy, a preacher whom Paul called his “dearly beloved son (2 Ti. 1.2)” and his “own son in the faith” (1 Ti. 1.2).

“Preach the word: be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned into fables. But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of the evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry” (2 Ti. 4.2-5).

“The believer’s resources in a day of general declension and apostasy  are faith (2 Ti. 1.5), the spirit (2 Ti. 1.6-7), the Word of God (2 Ti. 1.13; 3.1-17; 4.3-4), the grace of Christ (2 Ti. 2.1), separation from vessels unto dishonor (2 Ti. 2.4, 20-21), the Lord’s sure reward (2 Ti. 4.7-8), and the Lord’s faithfulness and power (2 Ti. 2.13, 19)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to 2 Ti. 1.12, p. 1279).

 

Conclusion to Articles on the Biblical Doctrine of “Church”


Jerald Finney
Copyright © February 9, 2011


Click here to go to Self-exam Questions on the Biblical Doctrine of the Church

Click here to listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the “Conclusion to articles on the biblical doctrine of ‘Church’”.


Conclusion to Articles on the Biblical Doctrine of “Church”

41The Supreme Ruler ordained the church, as He ordained civil government. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His churches, as well as all other governments, to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into the church shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the  tribulation approaches.

Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17).

1Ti.2.14Ep.5.23-27Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  Christ was not deceived, but His bride was. “As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride. While the first Adam ‘blew it,’ the last Adam would make everything right! (Ro. 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ec. 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.).

Jn.3.16“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).

Ro.5.12-21“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).

3Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! Christians have the ultimate hope: they will reign with the Lord. This should be a cause for great rejoicing as well as incentive to be responsible members of a local autonomous New Testament church and to make sure that every effort is made to glorify God and assure that a church remains totally under Christ in every way. The Holy Spirit is now calling out, not the subjects, but the co-heirs and co-rulers of the kingdom.

2Ti.2.12“It is a faithful saying: For if we be dead with him, we shall also live with him: If we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Ti. 2.11-12).

“And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen” (Re. 1.6).

Ro.8.18_2“To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne” (Re. 3.21).

“And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth” (Re. 5.10).

“For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.’ The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Ro. 8.15-18).

“Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life” (1 Co. 6.2-3)?

Church Incorporation, 501c3, Heresy, and Apostasy


Jerald Finney
Copyright © November, 2010
Click the following for links to articles on:
Christian Issues, Heresy, And Apostasy
When Did the Church Become a Business?” a by Jason Bellard


Contents: 

I. Preface
II. Introduction
III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of apostasy in Israel
IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies and after ratification of the Constitution
V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)
VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations
VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?
VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age
IX. Conclusion
Endnotes [Endnote 1 has information on books by Jerald Finney]


 Note. Go directly to blue underlined articles, books, etc. by left clicking.


I. Preface

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2.6-8).

In the next series to be printed on this blog, the author will explain biblical doctrine of the church, a doctrine that must be correctly understood in order to understand that Christ is not pleased when a church subjects herself to the civil government in any manner, including incorporation and 501(c)(3). In that series the author will go into some detail concerning the doctrine of the church. For now, the following is offered as a brief comment concerning the biblical doctrine concerning churches:

“A church is a local visible assembly of persons who have made a profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Only in the sense that since one cannot see the spiritual condition of people’s hearts is the church invisible. We can see the local assembly and those who outwardly attend a church, and we can see outward evidences of inward spiritual change, but we cannot actually see people’s hearts and view their spiritual state. Therefore, one can be in the visible church, yet unregenerate, lost, and destined for hell. As shown in God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), all references in the New Testament to a church here on earth refer to an autonomous local body of Jewish and/or Gentile believers and not to a universal or catholic church (Ibid. at pp. 72-73). Paul wrote to local bodies here on earth (e.g., to the church at Corinth, the church at Ephesus, the churches of Galatia, etc.). Jesus walked in the midst of seven golden candlesticks (churches or assemblies: Re. 1.13; 2.1), not in the midst of a candlestick, and instructed John to write distinct messages to each of those seven churches or assemblies, each message to address the condition of and a warning to and/or approval of the particular church to whom the message was sent (Re. 1.1-3.22). His message to those churches and other messages to the churches in the New Testament are to local church bodies or assemblies. His messages to churches in Revelation as well as in other New Testament passages are to be studied and applied by each believer and each local New Testament church until the Rapture occurs. Every church should aim to please the Lord completely as did the church at Smryna and the church at Philadelphia.”

The present series addresses biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy of New Testament churches and the application of that teaching to churches in America. Heresy and apostasy of churches received thorough coverage in the New Testament. As understood by Jude, the principle of apostasy was also addressed thoroughly in the Old Testament, but in the context of God’s Old Testament people, the Jews, and their nation and religion. The New Testament predicted the apostasy of the professing church, treated the apostasy as having already set in, and described the cause and course. These biblical teachings are there for the instruction and admonition of individual believers, families, the nation, and the churches. By studying and applying biblical principle in faith, a church will please the Lord. Dire consequences result for individuals, families, the nation, and for every church which fails to do so.

In the first article of this series on heresy and apostasy,  “On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’” the author pointed to what is viewed by many as a great American church. Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field.” Dr. Hyles either did not understand biblical principle concerning the two types of marriage—the marriage of Christ and His churches the marriage of man and woman—or he disregarded those principles. As a result of his error, the chickens may already be coming home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). As the author has long pointed out, when a church and pastor compromise basic biblical principle regarding separation of church and state, that church has dishonored her love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has headed down the road to heresy and apostasy. When compromise is made, even by a great man of God like Jack Hyles, the church he pastors has dishonored God, taken a step toward apostasy, and will sooner or later be led by one who will further compromise biblical truth.

In the next article in this series, “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy,” the author pointed to some heretical teachings at First Baptist which Dr. Hyles would never have tolerated, and – in Part II of that article – summarized biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in God’s churches.

As a result of the first two articles mentioned above, pastors and Christians sent e-mail letters expressing their support or opposition to the articles mentioned above. Some of those letters and my responses may be read in the third article in this series, “Letters from pastors regarding Hyles/Schaap and other articles.”

In the third article in this series “Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States,” the author examined the accelerating pace of apostasy in today’s American churches. Churches are now concerned with growth and appealing to the self and to the flesh rather than with biblical principle and spiritual growth. As a result of these spiritually dead churches and their efforts, a smaller and smaller percentage of people are being saved.

This article, the fourth in this series, traces the beginning and development of heresy and apostasy in American churches beginning in the early history of the United States of America.

The thinking that sacrifices truth for unity and superficial peace is not biblical. Christians are instructed to examine doctrinal differences in light of Scripture. Christians have a duty to expose and condemn unbiblical teaching and behavior. Paul rebuked people by name (Phil. 4.2-3; 1 Ti. 1.20; 2 Ti. 2.17). John condemned Diotrophes, a church leader who rejected the apostolic letters and authority (3 Jn.).

Believers are to speak the truth in love. This series of articles on heresy and apostasy does just that. The ultimate goal is to glorify and please our Lord by presenting truth in the hopes that some Christians and churches will wake up, reject heresy and apostasy, place themselves solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and again proclaim the Gospel with power in order that more souls will be saved. Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering? Should a Christian not bear his cross for the glory of the One who gave His all for him?

Spiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why. This series of articles explain why.


II. Introduction

Many factors have contributed to the attacks on God’s Word and the apostasy churches—for example, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution, and Darwinism. Enlightenment thought or humanism was brought into churches as religious modernism. Humanistic principles infiltrated most churches, including fundamental Bible believing churches, which moved from acting and preaching with the goal of glorifying God to acting and preaching with the goal being the happiness of man.

Religious apostasy was followed by moral awfulness which resulted in political anarchy. First, God and His principles were attacked and religious apostasy grew. Then followed moral depravity and then the denial by civil government of God’s authority and any established order under God. As to the first stage in the downfall of America, the states of the new nation invited the churches to an ungodly relationship with civil government through incorporation. Then, in the twentieth century the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, through the Internal Revenue Code (“IRC”), extended another invitation to churches to become more entangled and controlled by government. Most churches eagerly accepted that invitation. In the midst of these unions with civil government, religious modernism and revisions of the Word of God were infiltrating churches and Christian educational institutions to one degree or another.

Jesus Christ is the head of His churches in all things. However, Christ will permit a church to betray Him and take herself from under His authority in one thing, some things, or all things. Placing a church under some person or power in only one thing greatly displeases the Lord because doing so violates biblical precept. God’s Word did not say, “and gave him to be the head over all things to the church except one thing” or “all things except secular or earthly matters,” or “all things except property.” God’s Word says, “all things.” Isaac Backus, the great Baptist leader in the colony of Massachusetts wrote: “If Christ Jesus have left such power with the civil rulers of the world, [kingdoms and counties, or] for the establishing, governing, and reforming his church, what is become of his care and love, wisdom and faithfulness, since in all ages since he left the earth, for the general [beyond all exception] he hath left her destitute of such qualified princes and governors, and in the course of his providence furnished her with such, whom he knew would be [and all men find] as fit as wolves to protect and feed his sheep and people!” (Isaac Backus, A History of New England With Particular Reference to the Denomination of Christians called Baptists, Volume I, (Eugene Oregon: Wipf & Stock Publishers, Previously published by Backus Historical Society, 1871), fn. 1, p. 158, quoting Roger Williams, Bloody Tenent.

When a New Testament church does anything contrary to Scripture which gives even partial claim of sovereignty over that church to the state, that church has committed a wicked act which subjects her to another head, thereby greatly displeasing the Lord. That church has betrayed the Lord.

Doing one thing that subjects a church to the state creates a legal entity. “Legal entity” means: “Legal existence. An entity, other than a natural person, who has sufficient existence in legal contemplation that it can function legally, be sued or sue and make decisions through agents as in the case of corporations” (BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 893-894 (6th ed. 1990), definition of “legal entity.”).

Corporations are legal entities. On the other hand, a pastor/trustee may hold legal title to real and/or corporal personal property (which includes movable and tangible things such as furniture, merchandise etc. BLACK’S LAW DICTIONARY 1217, definition of “Property.”) for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ through a Declaration of Trust without having created a legal entity. Such a trust relationship cannot sue or be sued. “Any kind of property, whether real or personal, freehold or leasehold, and any interest therein, whether legal or equitable, may be impressed with a trust. While the question of what property is made subject to a trust is determined by the terms of the trust, as a general proposition a property interest must be transferable to be the subject of an express trust.” 76 AM. JUR. 2D Trusts § 247 (2007).).

Furthermore, although there is no precedent in Scripture for a New Testament church, a strictly spiritual entity, to own property, a New Testament church obviously must occupy real property to exist. “Real property” means: “Land, and generally whatever is erected or growing upon or affixed to land” (Ibid., p. 1219, definition of “Real property.”). Hereinafter, the author will use the term “property” in referring to “real property.” In America, a New Testament church may occupy property in a manner consistent with biblical principle in at least three ways. As is shown in “Analysis of another reason given for church corporate status: to hold property” (an article on this blog) and in  Chapter 7 God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (See En1 for link to preview of this book and ordering information), a church may use property held by a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ. Second, a church may use and occupy property if the owner gives the church permission to do so. Or third, a pastor/trustee, under a Declaration of Trust, may lease property to be used by a church for the benefit of the Lord Jesus Christ.

A church who holds real and/or personal property through a corporation has partially placed herself under the control of someone other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Such a church is not under Christ in “all things,” and operates with two heads. A church who further seeks tax exemption under IRC § 501(c)(3) (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)(3) (2007)) (hereinafter referred to as “501(c)(3)”) has agreed to further limitations and controls by a secular head.


III. Church apostasy in America has followed the pattern of Apostasy in Israel

True born again Christians in America have been blessed beyond measure. The First Amendment provided for religious liberty. Christians in America had the opportunity to keep God’s church pure and undefiled and to perform the great commission (“Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mk. 16.15)) without persecution from state or federal governments. What did they do? First, many churches ignored the sound biblical advice of men like Isaac Backus and entered into contracts with the state; that is, they incorporated. Then, when given the opportunity starting in the twentieth century, churches further submitted themselves to another head when they sought 501(c)(3) tax exemption.

To Baptists, passing from persecution to religious liberty without persecution was like God delivering the Israelites from Egyptian bondage and entering the Promised Land. God said to the Israelites in Egypt, “And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey” (Ex. 3.8a). God did deliver them into that Promised Land. God gave them many instructions and warnings prior to their entry into that land:

“And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full; Then beware lest thou forget the LORD, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.  Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers[.]” (De. 6.10-18).

“When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; And when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their graven images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth” (De. 7.1-6).

The children of Israel did not do as the Lord had commanded them:

“And it came to pass, when Israel was strong, that they put the Caananites to tribute, and did not utterly drive them out (De. 7.1-6).” “They did not destroy the nations, concerning whom the LORD commanded them: But were mingled among the heathen, and learned their works. And they served their idols: which were a snare unto them. Yea, they sacrificed their sons and their daughters unto devils, And shed innocent blood, even the blood of their sons and of their daughters, whom they sacrificed unto the idols of Canaan: and the land was polluted with blood. Thus were they defiled with their own works, and went a whoring with their own inventions. Therefore was the wrath of the LORD kindled against his people, insomuch that he abhorred his own inheritance. And he gave them into the hand of the heathen; and they that hated them ruled over them” (Ps. 106.34-41).

As shown in Section IV of God Betrayed, in the article “An Abridged History of the First Amendment,” and in the audio teachings by Jerald Finney – “History of the First Amendment,” and “Radio Broadcasts of Jerald Finney’s teachings on the ‘History of the First Amendment” – Americans owe their religious liberty primarily to the Baptists. But many of those same Baptists who had been persecuted for so long in the fight for religious liberty proved again that man never changes—they never saw or they ignored the fact that incorporation entangled churches with the state contrary to biblical principle. Baptists—like the Israelites who, after God brought them into the Promised Land—did not complete the job God had given them. With religious freedom and material prosperity, many Baptists stopped searching the Bible for God’s truth in all matters and betrayed Christ by using their newly acquired freedom to partially subjugate themselves to an earthly power—the state. They practiced pragmatism and introduced a little leaven into many of their churches. They decided that they would proceed according to that which “worked.” God became a means, not an end. Their goal, at least partially, in the beginning became the happiness of man and not the glory of God. They had more important work to do than worrying about contending further for the sovereignty of God over His wife, the church. To remain totally under God and thereby glorify Him would be inconvenient. To incorporate would provide certain earthly benefits and give protection under the contract clause of the United States Constitution.

The results of Israel not obeying God took hundreds of years to play out. At first, the theocracy of Israel was directly under God who ruled through judges.  “[The period of the theocracy of Israel under the judges was] a time of deep declension of the people as they turned from God, the unseen Leader, and descended to the low level of ‘In those days there was no king in Israel: every man did that which was right in his own eyes’ (compare Judges 1.1 with 20.18). This should have been an era of glowing progress, but it was a dark day of repeated failure.

“The ‘hoop’ of Israel’s history [began] with the nation serving God. Then they took certain steps downward. They did evil in the sight of the Lord and served Baalim (see Judges 2.11). They forsook the Lord and they served Baal and Ashtaroth. The anger of the Lord was hot against Israel, and He delivered them into the hands of their enemies. Israel entered a time of servitude. Soon Israel cried out to God in their sad plight and distress. They turned to God and repented. God heard their prayers and raised up judges through whom they were delivered. Then again the nation served God. Soon the same old story repeated itself” (J. Vernon McGee, Joshua and Judges (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), pp. 112-113.).

Judges 17 through 21 chronicles events in Israel which represented the state of society at that time. In Judges 17 and 18 God presents the low spiritual state in Israel due to apostasy. In Judges 19 God gives an example of the moral awfulness to which Israel had descended. In Judges 20 and 21 God records the political anarchy of Israel, the final step down by a nation.

After that, the Israelites rejected the headship of God and demanded a king like the other nations. God allowed their request. Even though the nation Israel rejected God’s perfect will, Israel, before the nation split, and Judah, after the division, were blessed by God when ruled by good kings. Israel after the division never had a good king.

As long as the population at least honored the Word of God in most respects, the consequences were not dire. Why? The Bible teaches that God permits deviation from his perfect or directive will:

“It is important to distinguish between the directive and the permissive will of God…. God will take up His people and, so far as possible, bless them, even when they are out of His best. In Israel’s choice of a king (1 Sam. 8:7-9); in the turning back from Kadesh (De. 1:19-22); in the sending of the spies; in the case of Balaam—illustrations of this principle are seen. It is needless to say that God’s permissive will never extend to things morally wrong. The highest blessing is ever found in obedience to His directive will.” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to Genesis 46.3, p. 65)

Will a believer and/or a church say to God, “Thy will be done;” or will a believer and/or a church set its goal as the happiness of man and not the glory of God? God allows men to choose. He will say to a particular person and/or church who deviates from His will, “Go ahead and do it your way.” What kind of person are you? What kind of church do you belong to?

The experience of the Israelites in rejecting God and demanding a king is very similar to a church rejecting God as her only Head and seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) status. When Samuel was judge over Israel, the Israelites demanded a king to rule over them so that they might also, as they put it, “be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 S. 8.19).

“[T]he LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them. According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, wherewith they have forsaken me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. Now therefore hearken unto their voice: howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and shew them the manner of the king that shall reign over them” (1 S. 8.7-9).

Samuel, at God’s direction, told the people the bad consequences of rejecting the theocracy and choosing to be ruled by a king (1 S. 8.10-17). “Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, Nay; but we will have a king over us; That we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles” (1 S. 8.19-20) Samuel later reminded them that the Lord had always, through His appointed judges, delivered them from their oppressors when  they repented of their evil (See 1 S. 12.6-11) and of their reason for seeking a king: “And when ye saw that Nahash the king of the children of Ammon came against you, ye said unto me, Nay; but a king shall reign over us: when the LORD your God was your king” (1 S. 12.12).

Although Israel’s demanding a king was called a “great wickedness” (I S. 12.12) which they perceived after Samuel foretold and God sent “thunder and rain” (1 S. 12.17-18) on the day of the wheat harvest, the people did not repent of that evil. The people acknowledged their wickedness and asked Samuel to pray to God “that [they] die not” (1 S. 12.19), but they did not repent. Knowing that asking for a king was a great evil, they said to Samuel, “Pray for thy servants unto the LORD thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask for a king” (1 S. 12.19).  They were only concerned about their own temporal selves, their own happiness, and not the glory of God. Would not God have been greatly pleased and glorified had they repented, rejected their king, and asked God to rule over them as before? Samuel replied to them:

“Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart; And turn ye not aside: for then should ye go after vain things, which cannot profit nor deliver; for they are vain. For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the LORD to make you his people. Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the LORD in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way: Only fear the LORD, and serve him in truth with all your heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.  But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed, both ye and your king” (1 S. 12.20-25).

The contrast between God as King and a man as king became readily apparent. Samuel said, “Now therefore behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! and, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you” (1 S. 12.13).  Saul, as king, quickly revealed the contrast. David—who was called a man after God’s own heart—and Solomon to a degree, were good kings of Israel before the division; and a few good kings (but mostly bad kings) ruled Judah, and all the kings of Israel after the division were bad. Furthermore, all the administrations under the kings, as the people had been warned (See 1 S. 8.11-18), consumed resources and the services of citizens that could have been enjoyed by the people and directed toward the glory of God. Israel separated from Judah because Rehoboam, the son of Solomon, in answer to their request to “make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter and we will serve thee” (1 K. 12.4), replied to them, “And now whereas my father did lade you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke: my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 K. 12.1). With time, the people and the kings continued to sink further into evil, the nation divided, and ultimately, after hundreds of years, the nations of Israel and Judah, as God had warned them, were taken into captivity.

Many churches in America have reached the point that Israel eventually reached after rejecting God. After Judah was taken into captivity, some were not taken into captivity, but were permitted to stay in Israel. Jeremiah warned them:

“And now therefore hear the word of the LORD, ye remnant of Judah; Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; If ye wholly set your faces to enter into Egypt, and go to sojourn there; Then it shall come to pass, that the sword, which ye feared, shall overtake you there in the land of Egypt, and the famine, whereof ye were afraid, shall follow close after you there in Egypt; and there ye shall die.  So shall it be with all the men that set their faces to go into Egypt to sojourn there; they shall die by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence: and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them” (Je. 42.15-17).

Against the warnings of God’s prophet, Jeremiah, they decided to go to Egypt (See Je. 42-44). They declared (falsely as to the blessings for worshipping the queen of heaven):

As for the word that thou hast spoken unto us in the name of the LORD, we will not hearken unto thee. But we will certainly do whatsoever thing goeth forth out of our own mouth, to burn incense unto the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, as we have done, we, and our fathers, our kings, and our princes, in the cities of Judah, and in the streets of Jerusalem: for then had we plenty of victuals, and were well, and saw no evil.  But since we left off to burn incense to the queen of heaven, and to pour out drink offerings unto her, we have wanted all things, and have been consumed by the sword and by the famine. And when we burned incense to the queen of heaven, and poured out drink offerings unto her, did we make her cakes to worship her, and pour out drink offerings unto her, without our men?” (Je. 44.16-19)

Jeremiah pointed out God’s judgment of Israel for their idolatry which left Israel a land of “desolation, and an astonishment, and a curse, without an inhabitant” (Je. 44.22).

Like that remnant, some churches in America who know the truth refuse to repent of their evil. Their goal remains the happiness of man, not the glory of God. Many others simply do not know how to proceed to disentangle themselves.

The spiritual apostasy of churches in America has resulted in moral awfulness (which is obvious to any American Christian) and political anarchy. America is experiencing political anarchy because God has been discarded by the federal government. The philosophy of history exemplified by Israel in the Old Testament has played out in America. America is being judged and will be judged more severely, and the fault lies at the door of believers and churches.

As shown in Section I of God Betrayed, Christ, the prophets, and other men of God have warned America and every nation of the consequences of failure to submit to Him and His principles. Deviation from God’s directive will always bring bad consequences, sooner or later. To dishonor God on the highest level is soon followed by dishonor in many other ways, and God’s patience and mercy extend only so far. The overall trend after disobedience to God in Israel and in America’s churches and America today was and is always downward, away from God. This principle applies to a corporate 501(c)(3) religious organization in America. With a good pastor (in matters other than the headship issue), as with Judah when she had a good king, an incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organization may still be blessed by God, but not as she would be had she honored her marriage to the Lord Jesus Christ. Even with a good pastor, such an congregation is a religious organization and does not enjoy the full power of God, since, by her own choice, part of her power and blessings come from the state. Most likely such an organization will begin to compromise the Word of God and the principles of God. It must, because it either does not understand the biblical doctrine of the church or it understands and refuses through fear and/or other motive to comply with God’s Word. Sooner or later that organization will have a pastor who is not good. As more people are attracted by liberal religious organizations, the number of Bible believing individuals and churches diminishes. The remnant grows smaller by the day. This is demonstrated by the growth of liberal religious organizations, the congregations of the Faith Movement, the “Church” Growth Movement, and the Emerging “Church” Movement as shown in Section II of God Betrayed and in the earlier articles on apostasy on this blog referred to in the “Preface” above. Many of the organizations in those movements are either incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations with God-fearing pastors (who did not understand the importance of keeping the marriage to the Lord pure and undefiled) or religious organizations started by pastors such as Rick Warren.  This state of affairs has been reached in a relatively short time. America, as of 2007, has, since the Constitution, existed only two hundred eighteen years, not nearly as long as Israel had been in the land before the dispersion.


IV. Church incorporation in the American colonies
and after ratification of the Constitution

Originally, before and after the ratification of the United States Constitution, the only church involvement with the state was through incorporation. Any incorporation of churches at any time was and is wicked, and modern incorporation significantly subjects churches to the state. The incorporation in the colonies differed in respects to modern incorporation in that, at least in Massachusetts, Connecticut, and New Hampshire, the state church more or less ran the state whereas under modern incorporation, the state has power over incorporated churches, but incorporated churches have no power over the state. Churches rationalized that to incorporate was the pragmatic thing to do. By incorporating, they received protection from the state. They could contract—for example, they could contract with their pastors for his salary. Churches could hold property and receive bequests. As pointed out in Section II, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, their goal was the happiness of man, not the glory of God. God became a means to an end, not the end. Churches reasoned, without examining Scripture, that doing certain things “worked” and therefore that doing those things was good or even of God.

In the twentieth century incorporated churches further freely submitted to civil government in both earthly and spiritual matters. The federal government took advantage of religious organizations in order to control, educate, and define them. 26 United States Code (“U.S.C.”)(IRC) § 501(c)(3), an unconstitutional law passed in the early twentieth century which violates the First Amendment religion clause when applied to churches, has lured churches into entanglement with the federal government. As did the Israelites, God’s people in America turned from serving Him fully and entered into unholy alliances with the state and federal governments. Although churches may claim that incorporation only subjects a church to civil government in earthly matters, it is obvious that corporate 501(c)(3) churches submit to the civil government in some spiritual matters. Not only that, churches and church members become entangled in satanic rules and procedures that, if honored (and they should be honored by such a church since a God’s people should always strive to keep their agreements, even anti-biblical contracts they willingly enter into), consume tremendous physical and material resources. Modern American incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations are many times at odds with their new sovereign over what they may say and do.

By incorporating, a church creates numerous contracts—a contract between the church and the state, a contract between the members or stockholders of a corporation, and between the corporation and its members or its stockholders—which substantially affect the church and the members. Contract, as opposed to biblical covenant, is a satanic/ humanistic/enlightenment principle. A contract is “a binding agreement between two or more persons or parties; esp., one legally enforceable” (WEBSTER’S COLLEGIATE DICTIONARY 251 (10th ed. 1995), definition of “contract.”). God is not included in a civil contract, whereas biblical covenant always includes God and His principles.

Just as marriage of man and woman is a biblical covenant which includes God, the marriage of Christ and His church is designed by God to be a biblical covenant. The Bible compares not only Christ and His church, as shown in Section III, Chapter 7 of God Betrayed, but also Jehovah and Israel to husband and wife. “For thy maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy one of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called” (Is. 54.5).  Experience and the Word of God teach man how a husband feels when his wife is unfaithful. The Old Testament teaches that God the Father felt the same way when Israel committed spiritual whoredom. Ezekiel 16 speaks of the harlotry of Jerusalem. God said to Jerusalem: “But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband! They give gifts to all whores: but thou givest thy gifts to all thy lovers, and hirest them, that they may come unto thee on every side for thy whoredom” (Eze. 16.32-33).  “Surely as a wife treacherously departeth from her husband, so have ye dealt treacherously with me, O house of Israel, saith the LORD” (Je. 3.20).  God pleaded with Israel and his people to return unto Him.”… [T]hou has played the harlot, with many lovers; yet return again to me saith the Lord… (Je. 3.1).” “Turn, O Backsliding children saith the LORD; for I am married unto you… (Je. 3.14).”  God’s grief over Jerusalem was displayed by Jesus when He lamented the rebellion of Jerusalem: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Lu. 13.34).

God gave some object lessons as to the way He felt about Israel’s spiritual fornication. Ezekiel was made a sign to Israel: God told him not to mourn the death of his wife (Eze. 24.15-27).  Likewise, God used Hosea to communicate His feelings. Hosea was told to marry a woman who, after they had children, left him and became a harlot:

“For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink. Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths. And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband: for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal” (Ho. 2.5-8).

Like He will restore Israel, God told Hosea to restore his wife.

The Lord Jesus, as Husband of His church, likewise grieves at the unfaithfulness of His church. Christ and His wife, the church, are one flesh. He loves the church as Himself:

“Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church[.]” (Ep. 5.25-29)

Obviously, God, through Scripture and practical experience, has conveyed to born again believers all they need to know in order to understand Christ’s extreme love for His churches and the grief He suffers when His wife places herself, even partially, under another head.

Most churches in America, in choosing to place themselves under the state through incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status, made the same choice that the Israelites made—they chose to place themselves under someone besides God so that their new “king” may judge them, go out before them, fight their battles. They entered into an illicit relationship with the state. Good pastors who now understand church-state issues have been called to some of those churches. They are presented with a dilemma.

As could have been predicted from “rightly dividing the Word of Truth,” the civil government is doing the opposite of what the churches wished (except for temporal benefits which increase the temporary “happiness of man”); and most incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations and members do not realize what is happening. The civil government has educated many or most “Christians” in anti-biblical principles and used the churches to further its satanic purposes. In effect, many churches have become mere arms of the state. Civil government officials, who have absolutely no understanding of Romans 13 point out to miseducated or willfully ignorant church pastors and members—many of whom eagerly follow the directions of their illegitimate master—that under Romans 13 it is the duty of the church to serve the state at the whim of the state. In effect, churches have “rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s.” Many such religious organizations use tithes and offerings, government money, money obtained from begging on street corner, and/or money from advertisements on television, radio, and elsewhere to carry on their ministries, giving donors tax-deduction acknowledgements available because of 501(c)(3) status. In other words, these incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations depend upon the power, authority, reasoning, and techniques of civil government to achieve their goals. Can you imagine our Lord, when Satan offered Him all the kingdoms of the world, En 2 if the Lord would bow down and worship him—that is, if the Lord would operate under satanic principles—accepting Satan’s offer (See Mt. 4.8-9; Lu. 4.5-7)? Instead, the Lord gave us the correct example by quoting Scripture: “Then saith Jesus unto him, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Mt. 4.10; Lu. 4.8). Can you imagine the Apostle Paul, any other apostle, or persecuted Christians down through the ages when asked “by what authority do you these things,” responding, “by the authority of the state.”

“Churches” which operate even partially by authority of the state get some of their power from the state, not from God. If the power is not of God, it is of Satan. At least a portion of their power is earthly and temporary, not heavenly and eternal. They cannot say as did Peter to the man lame from birth, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk” (See Ac. 3.6). In fact, many churches have turned to another gospel, the social gospel, as their sole or primary offer to mankind. They give mankind temporary “help” but either leave out eternal spiritual matters or depend upon their methods, instead of those methods prescribed by God’s Word, to lead men to earthly “salvation.” They “[h]av[e] a form of godliness, but deny[] the power thereof” (See 2 Ti. 3.5). Paul told Christians to turn away from such (Ibid.).

Without God’s power spearheaded by New Testament churches, there will be no great revivals like those which occurred around the time of the adoption of the Constitution and for years thereafter. Without renewed and more active attention and awakening to the things of God, individuals, families, churches, and the nation will continue down the road to destruction.


V. The relationship of God and state (Gentile nations)

Related to this issue of separation of church and state is the issue of the relationship of God and state. How would a nation under God operate? First, the goal of such a nation—the glory of God—would be clearly and emphatically stated in its constitution. According to its stated purpose, a nation under God would totally implement the principle of biblical covenant which includes two or more people or a nation and God in any agreement unleavened in any way by enlightenment principles such as the principle of contract or any other unbiblical principle. A nation under God would assure that all men have freedom of conscience as proscribed by the Word of God, but that the nation would proceed under the principles of the Word of God, the principles of Christianity, when addressing issues within its God-given jurisdiction in the criminal or civil law. Biblical principle would be used to determine the jurisdiction of civil government and civil government would operate only within the jurisdiction given it by God in His Word. A nation under God would recognize the sovereignty of God and would open up all civil government activities in Jesus name and only in Jesus name. A nation under God, although inherently recognizing the legitimacy of New Testament churches by recognizing the one true God and His principles, would not grant any type material benefits to false religions or to any churches. Such a nation would legitimately proclaim to its citizens and to all nations in the world that it is “one nation under God” whose goal was “the glory of God.”

After God called Israel to be a theocracy directly under Him, the Gentile nations continued under the dispensations of conscience and human government.

“For when the Gentiles, which have not the law, do by nature the things contained in the law, these, having not the law, are a law unto themselves: Which shew the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience also bearing witness, and their thoughts the mean while accusing or else excusing one another” (Ro. 2.14-15).

God still desired Gentile nations to choose to be under Him, but sadly both the theorcracy of Israel as well as Gentile nations have governed for self and not God. The Word of God makes clear that Gentile nations, like Israel, are without excuse.

“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.  For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse” (Ro. 1.18-20).

Romans 1.21-23 gives the seven stages of Gentile world apostasy, and Romans 1.24-32 gives the results of Gentile world apostasy.

Since America is not a nation under God, America has subverted the biblical concept of the relationship of church and state, God and state, and God and the church. Churches, even most “fundamental Bible believing churches,” have been willing, or willingly ignorant accomplices in this subversion. As will be shown, the states through incorporation and the federal government through the IRC and the courts have moved into the spiritual arena and invited churches to become established state religious organizations which are to a great degree controlled by the state. Most churches have eagerly accepted the invitations.


VI. Government control over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations

Civil government has no authority over a New Testament church, but it does have authority over incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Although the IRS recognizes that there is a distinction between churches and other types of religious organizations, a Moslem mosque, a Hindu temple, any type religious organization that meets the test laid down by the Internal Revenue Service is treated exactly as or better than an incorporated 501(c)(3) “church” is treated. In the IRC, a 501(c)(3) church is included with a group of “religious organizations.” At the same time, the IRS and civil government have become involved with the exercise of religion, so that there is no “free exercise thereof” for the 501(c)(3) religious organization as intended by those who ratified the First Amendment. Some organizations which are not churches are classified as churches.

Through offering incorporation and later the 501(c)(3) tax exemption to churches, almost all of the states and the federal government opened the door, and most churches promptly entered and became incorporated 501(c)(3) religious organizations. Incorporation of churches was offered by states and did not violate the First Amendment because originally, as explained in Sections IV and V of God Betrayed, the First Amendment applied only to the federal government. However, the federal government was given some authority over the contracts created by incorporation because of the contract clause of Article I, Section 10 of the United States Constitution. Churches sought incorporation partly to gain federal government protection of the contract with the state.  The 501(c)(3) tax exemption tied the church to the federal government. Through those devices, state and federal governments have successfully tempted most churches to entangle themselves with civil government, thereby removing themselves partially or totally from under the Headship of Christ and placing themselves under the jurisdiction of the state of incorporation and the federal government.

Even though the civil government made an offer, churches did not have to accept it. Most did. Since the ratification of the First Amendment, the federal government has never forced a church to incorporate or get 501(c)(3) status. The Supreme Court still understands that the state cannot legally interfere with a church who does not willingly submit itself to the state. Inevitably, the population of America became more and more corrupted; and a time came when most Americans and most civil leaders were lost and without any understanding whatsoever of biblical principles and the nature of God. Furthermore, many or most church members were either lost or were spiritual babies who sought convenience rather than the truths of the Word of God concerning the issue of separation of church and state. As a result, churches have run to the civil government seeking incorporation and 501(c)(3) tax exempt status and put themselves under bondage to civil government.

In effect, as is shown in “The Internal Revenue Code § 501(c)(3) Exemption-Definition-Control Scheme”, the audio teaching “Union of Church and State in America: Incorporation and 501(c)(3) Tax Exemption,”, in the radio broadcasts “God Betrayed: Union of Church and State,”and in Section VI, Chapter 5 of God Betrayed, the incorporation-501(c)(3) tax exemption is nothing more than an exemption-education-control scheme. The state knows that it cannot control and educate a New Testament church. Civil government cannot tell a New Testament church what to believe, say, or do. The state has no control over such a church. A New Testament church will submit to only one Husband—the Lord Jesus Christ. She gets her spiritual orders from God’s Word, not the civil government. A New Testament church believes and acts upon God’s Words. On the other hand, an incorporated, 501(c)(3) religious organization, in addition to being involved in a wicked act against her Husband, is subject to the teaching and control of civil government.


VII. Free under God or in bondage under Satan?

Saved individuals and churches choose either to be free under God or to be in bondage under Satan. God wants His children and churches to be free.

“Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed” (Jn. 8.31-32, 36).

Anyone who is not saved is in bondage to sin and the devil. “A Christian is free from the guilt of sin, condemnation (Jn. 3.18, 5.24), the power of darkness (Col. 1.13), the sting of death (1 Co. 15.54-57), the law of sin and death (Ro. 8.1), the power of indwelling sin (Ro. 6), the curse of the law (Ga. 3.13), and pride (Ro. 3.27).”

After salvation, one still has to make choices. A church who incorporates and gets 501(c)(3) status chooses to place herself partially under the civil government and loses part of her freedom.

This does not mean that members of a church are free to commit crimes. As to infractions against another or society, the Bible provides that the state is there “to punish evildoers.” Christians are told not to do evil.

“If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you: on their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men’s matters” (1 Pe. 4.14-15).How many times do Christians and churches allow fear to control, paralyze, and enslave them? God desires to deliver those “who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage” (See He. 2.15). “For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Christ’s servant.  Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men” (1 Co. 7.22-23).

Although the lost man should fear God, the Christian is not to be subject to fear, even the fear of death for practicing his faith. “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10.28). “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Ti. 1.7).

If death is no cause for fear to the Christian, why should anything else frighten, control, paralyze, and/or enslave him against the will of God?

Since the founding of the nation, Christians in America have suffered little persecution. When persecution for the Lord’s sake comes, the true Christian should rejoice as did persecuted apostles and Christians down through the ages: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.  Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you” (Mt. 5.11-12) .

Jesus said to the church in Smyrna, the suffering persecuted church, and only one of two churches against which the Lord had nothing bad to say: “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Re. 2.10).

Unfortunately, most church members are more American than they are Christian; submission to biblical principles only is impractical and too contrary to the American way of life. The laws passed by the civil government provide that the church who submits to state authority will be able to attract and keep members who are more concerned about their material than their spiritual well-being; who are more concerned with temporary happiness and the absence of fear than with the glory of God. Many church members, including many pastors, either due to biblical ignorance and/or motivated by fear and greed, have misinterpreted or ignored fundamental Bible principles in order to become an arm of the state. Many times good pastors led the move to combine the churches they pastored with the state because they blindly followed their Bible college or seminary education. Also, many good pastors have inherited state-entangled churches and cannot decide what to do about it.


VIII. Apostasy at the end of the church age

The Lord says to the church of the Laodiceans, at the end of the church age and at the final stage of the apostasy:

“I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.” (Re. 3.15-19)

Many pastors believe that the saved will go to heaven but be without rewards should they not follow after Christ after salvation. Pastor Joey Faust states the following concerning the church at Laodicea:

“To fall from, one has to be in something first. I believe Laodicea is a church made up of TRUE (thus real) Christians, who nevertheless have fallen away from truth and fellowship with Jesus in their materialism, pride, etc. This church and its pastor (and all true churches in the last days who are Laodicean) will lose the right to reign and fellowship with Jesus when He appears—thus the Lord’s command to be zealous and repent!” (See J.D. Faust, The Rod: Will God Spare It? (Hanesville, N.C.: Schoettle Publishing Co., Inc. 2002))

Whether one agrees with Pastor Faust or not concerning this issue, the Bible shows that at the end of the church age, the Lord will be outside the Laodicean church (Re. 3.20). Nonetheless, He will still be there for the individual, just as He, while on earth as the second Adam, still appealed to the individual after the nation Israel rejected His rule over the nation: “If any man will hear my voice, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me” (Ibid.).

The final result of the apostasy will be the great ecclesiastical harlot spoken of in Revelation 17 and 18. In Revelation 17 is mystery Babylon, the apostate church (J. Vernon McGee, Revelation, Volume 1 (Pasadena, California: Thru the Bible Books, 1980), p. 89).

“… The church of Thyatira, described in Revelation 2.18-29, which permitted Jezebel to teach, will become the apostate church of the great tribulation. It will attain the goal of the present-day apostates of all the great systems of the world: Romanism, Protestantism, pagan religions, cults and isms. Even in our so-called independent Bible churches there will be those who are not believers, and during the tribulation they will join this great organization that may call itself a church but is not. The Bible calls it a harlot….  This is ecumenical ecclesiasticism of the one-world church….”  (Ibid., pp. 89-91)

Believers will not go through God’s wrath; they will be raptured out before the God pours out his wrath…. The rest of the church members will be left here on this earth. As Dr. George Gill used to say, some churches will meet the Sunday after the rapture and will not miss a member…. They are part of a pseudo-religious system,

True believers will be glorified (Mt. 13.36-43; Ro. 8.18-23). The Lord will rapture the dead in Christ and those who are born again: “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Th. 4.16-17).

Ecclesiastical Babylon (apostate Christendom, the harlot whom many biblical scholars logically conclude will be headed up under the Papacy and which will at that time condone every iniquity of the rich and will be corrupted to the core by commercialism, wealth, and luxury) will be destroyed by political Babylon, that is by the nations; and political Babylon, the nations, will be crushed by Christ when they come against Israel at the end of the tribulation (See Re. 17.15-18). All this will happen because men choose to succumb to Satan’s principles in order to satisfy their lusts.


IX. Conclusion

The Supreme Ruler ordained churches. He gave churches—as He has given individual, family and civil governments—His Word wherein they can learn God’s guidelines which He wishes His body, His churches, as well as all other governments to follow. Satan has successfully misled most churches and other governments, and most have followed his principles. He has used false teachers from the beginning. As a result, apostasy crept into churches shortly after its inception. That apostasy has accelerated in America as the rapture and the tribulation approaches.

Many or most people in American churches today are materially rich, but spiritually poor and blind. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Re. 3.17). As He was not deceived, but His bride was, “… Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression” (1 Ti. 2.14, Ro. 5.14, Ge. 3.1-6).  As the first Adam had to give up a perfect existence in order to be with his wife, so the last Adam, Christ (1 Co. 15.22, 45), stepped down from heaven to save his bride.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Jn. 3.16-19).

“[Jesus], being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross” (Ph. 2.6-8).

“While the first Adam “blew it,” the last Adam would make everything right! (Romans 5:12-21) Charles Wesley set this doctrine to music with the words, ‘Second Adam from above, reinstate us with thy love.’ … “The all-important verse that connects this typology to the present Laodicean apostasy is Ecclesiastes 1:9a: ‘The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done….’ Thus, the history of mankind will undoubtedly end the same way it began—with a bride being deceived!” (William P. Grady, How Satan Turned America Against God (Knoxville, Tennessee: Grady Publications, Inc., 2005), p. vii.)

Regardless of this inevitable apostasy and the events that are to follow, things are looking good for you and me—that is, if you are a Christian! A Christian, as opposed to one who is merely saved, is a saved person who also dies to self and seeks to follow God’s principles. As verified by reality and by biblical teachings, many saved people are not Christians.


Endnotes

En 1 All books, except An Abridged History of the First Amendment, by Jerald Finney are available free in both PDF and online form. One may go to Order information for books by Jerald Finney should he desire to order any of the books which are in print.

En2 The 1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 2 to Matthew 4.8, p. 998: “The Greek word kosmos means ‘order,’ ‘arrangement,’ and so, with the Greeks, ‘beauty’; for order and arrangement in the sense of system are at the bottom of the Greek conception of beauty.

      “When used in the N.T. of humanity, the ‘world’ of men, it is organized humanity–humanity in families, tribes, nations–which is meant. The word for chaotic, unorganized humanity–the mere mass of man is thalassa, the ‘sea’ of men (e.g. Rev. 13:1). For ‘world’ (kosmos) in the bad ethical sense, ‘world system’ John 7.7, refs.

Recent Accelerated Apostasy in the United States

Jerald Finney
Copyright © September, 2010

Click here to download and/or listen to Jerald Finney’s audio teaching on the
“Recent accelerated apostasy in the United States.”

For links to other articles on heresy and apostasy, see
The Biblical Doctrine of the Church

Contents:                               

I. Preface
II. Introduction
III. American churches take the first step into pragmatic religion
IV. Religious liberalism comes to America
V. Today’s American churches
VI. Theology and psychology merged

A. The Purpose-Driven Church Movement birthed by Rick Warren
B. The standard megachurch gospel

  1. It’s all about you
  2. Jesus and salvation
  3. Metaphysical techniques, infiltration, ecumenicalism
  4. Unbiblical dress, music, “Bibles,” doctrine
  5. Big business and the emerging church

VII. Conclusion

Endnotes

Note. Go directly to blue articles, books, etc. by left clicking.

I. Preface

As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (Col. 2.6-8).

Jack Hyles
Jack Hyles

In an article on heresy and apostasy, “On Jack Hyles’ Sermon, ‘The Treasure is in a Field,’” the author pointed out that Dr. Hyles missed a preeminent principle in the Word of God as to the organization of God’s churches in his sermon, “The Treasure is in a Field”. As a result of his error, the chickens have come home to roost at the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana (referred to hereinafter as “First Baptist”). As the author has long pointed out, when a church and pastor compromise basic biblical principle regarding separation of church and state, that church has dishonored her love relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and has headed down the road to heresy and apostasy. An unrepentant compromising church dishonors God, walks toward apostasy, and will be led by another who will further compromise biblical truth.

In the next article in this series, “Jack Schaap, First Baptist of Hammond, Heresy and Apostasy,” the author pointed to some heretical teachings at First Baptist which Dr. Hyles would never have tolerated, and – in Part II of that article – summarized biblical teaching on heresy and apostasy in God’s churches.
Jack Schaap
Jack Schaap

As a result of the first two articles mentioned above, pastors and Christians sent e-mail letters expressing their support or opposition to the articles mentioned above. Some of those letters and my responses may be read in the third article in this series, “Letters from pastors regarding Hyles/Schaap and other articles.”

This teaching segment traces the heresies and apostasies in American churches beginning in the early history of the United States of America.

UnityVsTruthThe thinking that sacrifices truth for unity and superficial peace is not biblical. Christians are instructed to examine doctrinal differences in light of Scripture. Christians have a duty to expose and condemn unbiblical teaching and behavior. Paul rebuked people by name (Phil. 4.2-3; 1 Ti. 1.20; 2 Ti. 2.17). John condemned Diotrophes, a church leader who rejected the apostolic letters and authority (3 Jn.).

TruthInLoveBelievers are to speak the truth in love. This series on heresy and apostasy does just that. The ultimate goal is to glorify and please our Lord by presenting truth in the hopes that some Christians and churches will wake up, reject heresy and apostasy, place themselves solely under the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ, and again proclaim the Gospel with power in order that more souls will be saved. Does not the Lamb of God deserve the reward of His suffering? Should Christians not bear their cross for the glory of the One who gave His all for them?

apostasySpiritual treasure is being lost and abandoned and no one seems to know why. This article will show why by looking at the growth of heresy and apostasy in American churches and the results thereof that are now exemplified in the church growth and emerging church movements. Considering the scope of the subject and information, this article is relatively short.

The accompanying sermon, “Conquering the Kingdom of Self” was delivered by James Hoffmeister, missionary to Trinidad on September 12, 2010. As evidenced by his sermon, Brother Hoffmeister loves our Lord and preaches the truth on these matters in love. One may hear uncompromised biblical preaching which honors our Lord in love by going to “Sermons by Pastor Jason Cooley.”

II. Introduction

leavenThe Bible teaches that leaven always corrupts. “A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump” (See 1 Co. 5.6 and Ga. 5.9). Leaven is defined by our Lord as evil doctrine: “How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees” (Mt. 16.11-12). “And he charged them, saying, Take heed, beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, and of the leaven of Herod” (Mk. 8.15).

“Leaven Summary: (1) Leaven, as a symbolic or typical substance, is always mentioned in the O.T. in an evil sense (Gen. 19.3, refs.). (2) The use of the word in the N.T. explains its symbolic meaning. It is ‘malice and wickedness,’ as contrasted with ‘sincerity and truth’ (1 Cor. 5.6-8). It is evil doctrine (Mt. 16.12) in its three-fold form of Phariseesism, Sadduceeism, Herodianism (Mt. 16.6; Mk. 8.15). The leaven of the Pharisees was externalism in religion. (Mt. 23.14, 16, 23-28); of the Sadducees, skepticism as to the supernatural and as to the Scriptures (Mt. 22.23, 29); of the Herodians, worldliness—a Herod party amongst the Jews (Mt. 22.16-21; Mk. 3.6)” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 4 to Mt. 13.44, p. 1016).

8Many American Bible believing churches and Christians (dissenters in the colonies) who had fought long and hard for religious liberty added a little leaven to their church bodies almost immediately after they achieved religious liberty through the First Amendment to the United States Constitution (See Sections IV and VI of God Betrayed/Separation of Church and State: The Biblical Principles and the American Application (reproduced on this website in both PDF and online form. See Review of Books by Jerald Finney and Order infomration for books by Jerald Finney for information on this and other books by Jerald Finney; Click Link to preview of God Betrayed to preview God Betrayed and also, An Abridged History of the First Amendment). They did this by uniting with the state through incorporation, acting against the sound biblical advice of men such as Isaac Backus. Although they remained true to other fundamental Bible principles, they had started down the road to further heresy and apostasy.

III. American churches take the first step into pragmatic religion

1When a church does not love the Lord enough to make sure that she does everything to keep wicked doctrine out of the church and to keep herself totally under her Husband, the Lord Jesus Christ, a little leaven has entered that church and successive steps away from true biblical doctrine inevitably follow. This principle was seen in the Old Testament when the people of Israel chose to take themselves from under God and demanded a king. The direction for Israel from that point was only downward. She ultimately became totally apostate.  As taught in both the Old and New Testaments, the only remedy for apostasy is God’s judgment.

Churches in America began to dishonor the Lord shortly after the ratification of the Constitution (and even before the ratification of the Constitution). As shown in Section VI of God Betrayed, many Bible believing churches in America, in not studying, understanding, and/or applying biblical principles concerning Christ and His church and biblical principles concerning the relationship of church and state, started the downward slide of God’s churches almost immediately after the ratification of the United States Constitution. They took the first step into pragmatic religion. In one way they said, “Our goal will not be only the glory of God; an additional goal will be the happiness of man.” Churches decided to be practical, to do that which was right in their own eyes. They incorporated, thereby introducing a little leaven into the relationship between church and state. They did this although warned by men such as Isaac Backus.

IV. Religious liberalism comes to America

TenShekelsAndAShirt4With the advent of religious liberalism in the nineteenth century, liberal churches rejected the truth and inerrancy of Scripture, the divinity of Christ, biblical salvation, and other biblical principles. The philosophy of those churches was humanism and the goal of humanism is the happiness of man. Although liberal theologians did not believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, heaven and hell, or any of the other cardinal principles of the Bible, they employed a lot of people and needed a way to justify their continued existence. So they said, “We don’t believe in an eternal happiness, but we do know that you have to live 70 years on earth. So come and let us help you enjoy the ride. Let us show you how to be happy while you are alive.” They set out to teach man how to be happy here on earth and to help others who were less fortunate so they also could be happy—the social gospel.  Instead of preaching from the authority of the Bible, they read poems, “preached” smooth things and appealed to the self. Liberal “Christianity,” then as now, was a feel-good religion. God became, for the liberal, a means to an end, a way to achieve happiness while on earth. Liberal “Christianity” is man-centered. (A great sermon that gives the history of religious modernism is Paris Reidhead, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” January 1, 1980.)

Paris Reidhead:
Paris Reidhead: “Ten Shekels And A Shirt”

Humanism, or liberalism, affected even many fundamental churches. While many churches at first departed from the biblical doctrine of separation of church and state, most adhered to other major biblical doctrines. They preached inerrancy of Scripture, the depravity of man, the holiness of God, repentance from sin, and salvation by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. But with time, since the atmosphere was humanism, the goal of many fundamental churches became the happiness of man, not the glory of God. They said, “We believe in the inerrancy of Scripture, the deity of Christ, and heaven and hell.” But the goal became humanistic—the eternal happiness of man in heaven. Again, the God-given goal for man is the glory of God, not the happiness of man, which is just a by-product of salvation and not a goal. Some fundamentalists began to preach God as a means, not an end, forgetting that it’s not what God can do for the believer but what the believer can do for God. The God-given goal is to preach the gospel so that the Lamb of God may receive the reward of His suffering. (Ibid.-Paris Reidhead, “Ten Shekels and a Shirt,” January 1, 1980.)

God sends his children to the heathen to preach the gospel because He desires to save every person from his or her monstrous sins:

“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood: Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes…. For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Ro. 3.10-18, 23; see also, e.g., De. 31.27; Job 20.11; Ps. 26.10, 53.1-6; Ec. 7.20; Is. 1.5, 64.6; Jer. 17.9 and 23, 22.17; Ro. 7.18; 2 Co. 3.14; Ja. 3; 2 Pe. 2.14; etc.)

TenShekelsAndAShirt31The principle of man’s total sinfulness runs throughout the Bible and explains why every man, to be saved, must repent and trust Christ to save him from those sins. Every person deserves hell. The attitude of the believer should be: “I will serve Him my whole life, even should I go to the hell which I deserve (which is not possible) because He is worthy. He did it all for me because of my monstrous sins.” Believers are a reward for the Savior who died a horrible death on the cross in order to pay the penalty God requires for the sins of every person. (Ibid.)

So eventually many fundamental churches, in the humanistic earthly and spiritual atmospheres in America, began to preach, “Come, add Jesus to your life, and you will have eternal happiness in heaven.” The goal became humanistic. When someone made a verbal profession of adding Jesus to his life, someone would slap him on the back, congratulate him, and welcome him into a church. Yes, a saved person goes to heaven, but that is not his goal. The goal is the glory of God. Many “Bible believing” churches no longer preach that man is sinful, that men are monsters of iniquity, that man deserves hell, that God saves men because He endured the agonies of torture and crucifixion for them, and that He deserves the reward for His suffering (that is, He deserves those for whom He died).  Christianity says, “The end of all being is the glory of God.” Humanism says, “The end of all being is the happiness of man.” “One was born in hell, the deification of man; and the other in heaven, the glory of God” (Ibid.). Humanism may or may not bring temporary happiness. Some professing Christians do not respond to God’s calls for service because to do so would not make them happy. When one’s goal is the glory of God, he responds to God’s call whether he believes it will make him happy or not. True Christianity brings eternal happiness, but only as a side effect, and not as a goal.

384The advance of apostasy accelerated in Europe and America starting in the mid-eighteen hundreds. As a result, only a small remnant remains in Europe, and the deception engulfs the church in America more and more each day. Since the birth of religious liberalism, which developed the idea that rationalism is superior to revelation, in the mid-nineteenth century, “the contest between those polarities grows hotter, suggesting that this contest may be the final battle of human history” (Dave Breese, 7 Men who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1990), pp. 89-104). Until perhaps the mid-eighteen-hundreds, “the Bible was the authoritative book, the government was to be respected, order in society was to be kept—that’s the way it was” (Ibid., p. 90).  But things were changing quickly, and one of the most fundamental changes was within the Christian religion:

“That change was so dramatic, so fundamental, so far-reaching that it can be said that because of it the Christian religion, though retaining its external form, became a fundamentally different thing on the inside. At the close of the century, the churches were still there, the choirs still sang, the babies were still baptized, and the candles continued to burn, but the substance, the core—yes, the life—of Christianity was gone. The idea that God was in the midst of it all and that He had revealed Himself in His inspired, infallible Word—that idea, that life, slipped through the fingers of an unsuspecting church in those days” (Ibid., p. 91).

JuliusWellhausenIn the nineteenth century a German rationalist scholar named Julius Wellhausen stepped to the fore and religious liberalism came into being. “Before Wellhausen came on the scene, the Bible was generally accepted as the revealed, true, and inerrant Word of God; and Christians everywhere believed that all of Scripture was given by inspiration of God.” The German rationalists, with Wallhausen at the forefront, changed all that. Wallhausen taught that human reason was totally dependable and insisted that the Bible could not be trusted (Ibid.). A cold wind of doubt, distrust of God, and spiritual disquiet, influenced by the coming of Darwinism and Marxism, began to blow through the churches, the schools, and the homes of Germany and Europe. “From that point, the advent of anti-revelational liberalism, Christianity ceased to be a religion based on divine revelation but rather became a set of composite religious views anchored in human reason.” “The Christian religion became a complex set of human rationalizations, rather than the revealed truth of God” (Ibid., p. 92).

Initially, the effect of his new theology upon a Christian culture was on the schools, churches, and scholarship of Europe. Quickly, the state-churches embraced the rationalistic point of view, lost the concept of divine revelation and faith in the Bible; and Europe lost its soul (Ibid.).  The result in Europe—as of 1990, less than one percent of Europe was evangelical Christian (Ibid., p. 102).

J. Greshcham Machen
J. Greshcham Machen

“Soon after it came into being, liberalism leaped the ocean and began to be preached in the old-line denominational churches, colleges, and seminaries of the eastern seaboard of the United States” (Ibid., p. 97). J. Greshcham Machen, a great scholar, discussed those days and the coming of liberalism to the Methodists, Anglicans, and especially the Presbyterians, reminding us of what liberalism truly is. “Machen wrote Christianity and Liberalism in 1924, but for many institutions, the old-line denominations, it was too late because the arguments of liberalism had already subverted many educational establishments” (Ibid., p. 98).  Happily, one can now look at the record and rejoice in the fact that liberalism, although it became firmly rooted in America, did not win the day in the United States, carrying everything before it as it had done in Europe and to the significant extent in England (Ibid., pp. 99-101).

5Another aspect of liberalism deserves note:

“[I]ts insistence in calling itself Christian. While denying the inspiration of the Bible, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth, the true nature of faith, and most of the other cardinal Christian doctrines, the liberals still want conservative Christians to think of them as ‘one of us.’ As a consequence it is almost a rule of life that the liberals do not leave the visible church. [Even though] they tell of plans to open new churches, start new seminaries and the like, alas, that does not happen. There is a severe strain of dishonesty about this reluctance to leave, this maintaining a pretense of Christianity by those who deny the faith. Great clarity could be wrought by liberals if they called their religion by another name than Christianity and set up shop on their own” (Ibid., p. 103).

Frank Hamlin LittellFranklin Hamlin Littell observed in 1962 that American churches, once faithful and disciplined, had in their prosperity settled back into the world, and that America would seem well on the way to secularization and faithlessness. Most American church members in 1962 were first-generation, or at best second-generation Christians who but vaguely grasped the implications of Christianity (Franklin Hamlin Littell, From State Church to Pluralism: A Protestant Interpretation of Religion in American History. (Chicago: Aldine Publishing Company, 1962), p. viii).  At that time the problems of the church were promiscuity and depreciation of the integrity and authority of the family, materialistic standards of success, racialism (the practice of religion as a tribal cult), and widespread theological illiteracy (IbIbid., ix). Always the “new Christians” have brought over into the church some of the habits of their unbaptized condition (Ibid., p. 82). [I]n America the “new Christians,” whose conversions were not followed by class meetings and careful instruction, either fell back in a short time into the old way of life or were gathered up in new prophetic cults started by, among others, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Norman Vincent Peale, Marcus Garvey, and Father Devine which blended tribal wisdom with selected or corrupted Christian teachings (Ibid., pp. 83-85). Joseph Smith’s message, for example, offered a solution to those who had looked in vain to the revivalists for food to sustain their awakened spirits, for a new pattern of community to express their new faith (Ibid., p. 85).  Camp meetings and revivalists worked through the area year after year, converting & reconverting, without giving clear and careful guidance to newborn men & women as to how to continue their pilgrimage in responsible churchmanship (Ibid., p. 86).

It was perhaps inevitable that, as “converts” remained unchanged in life, eventually even the verbal phase should be softened & accommodated to popular opinions (Ibid., p. 125).  In the latter half of the 19th century, various professional evangelists turned from dealing with major issues in society, proclaiming the Lordship of Jesus Christ over all of life, calling upon men to repent, convert, and be healed and introduced a new style of message; avoiding any offense to the ruling elements in the cities, their patrons, they concentrated on the “sins” of the workingmen: drinking, swearing, gambling, and joining unions (Ibid., pp. 125-26). The decline in great preaching—i.e. proclamation of the Word that convicts & converts, that moves to repentance and to turning again to the Lord of nations & generations—is one of the most striking measures of the deterioration of the Free Churches into culture-religion (Ibid., p. 126).

The ordinary members who never have had the discontinuity between life in Christ and life in the world brought home to them are less at fault for the inadequate training than the leadership of the churches, who—though sworn to uphold the form of sound words and doctrine—neglect catechetical instruction and concentrate solely on the acquisition of more and new members at any price (Ibid., p. 134).  These problems are greatest in the churches which have grown most—Baptist, Methodist, and Churches of Christ (Ibid., p. 135).  In the most live theological circles in America, however, even as early as 1962, there was growing up the realization that the 19th century had ended with the rise of the most terrible apostasy & mass defections experienced by Christendom since Islam swept through & captured the ancient strongholds of Christianity in North Africa (Ibid., p. 165). Theologically and ecclesiologically those who are determined that the American churches shall bless “our way of life” stand exactly where the collaborators with the Nazis, the “German Christians,” stood in the 1930s and 1940s. Theirs is the same curious mixture of creedless “spirituality,” of treason toward the … church (Ibid., p. 166).

Thus, by 1962, apostasy had taken its toll on American churches. The nineteenth century ended with “mass defections from the churches of Europe. In her decline, Christianity “spawned the most monstrous ideologies and political religions.

“The warning that comes to America, that is declared to her by her ablest theologians, is that ‘Christendom’ is no longer a viable concept, that the nineteenth-century continuum is split apart. Nevertheless, it is serious error—though a common one—to bracket the churches in America & the churches of Europe in a common destiny. True, the most serious challenge confronting the faith in America is also tribal religion, Protestant nativism, apostasy of the sort that many of the churches in Europe also have had to struggle with. The words of Professor Edmund Schlink on the condition of religion in pre-Hitler Germany might be transferred without amendment or alteration to popular religion of the present in America:

“‘… people had grown accustomed to regard God primarily as the protector of ordered family life, a help in the education of children and a friend in the events of life such as leaving school, marriage and death. He had become the guarantor of national and civic security, in the midst of the insecurities of this world’” (Ibid., pp. 165-166 citing Schlink, Edmund, ‘The Witness of the German Church Struggle,’ in the Universal Church in God’s Design (London: SCM Press, 1948), p. 99).

V. Today’s American Churches

YeaHathGodSaid

2 Timothy 4:3:
2 Timothy 4:3: ” For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

In today’s American churches, as always, Satan is using the same technique he used to attack and draw people away from the Word of God in the Garden of Eden where he started the deception by saying, “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden” (Ge. 3.1)? Eve then answered, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die” (Ge. 3.2-3). She erroneously added to God’s Word “… neither shall ye touch it” (Ge. 3.3).

  • The “‘Yea, hath God said…?’ strategy may be the Serpent of Old’s most deadly. The process involves weaning evangelical Christians away from the knowledge of, and understanding of, and a dependence upon the Word of God. The objective is to produce biblically shallow Christians who are functionally illiterate regarding what the Bible teaches, and who therefore have no accurate basis for, or interest in, discerning biblical truth from error….
  • “Conditioned by a subversive weaning process, these biblically shallow Christians have little or no concern about doctrine. They major in the experiential, with their feelings almost exclusively determining what they believe. [As the apostle Paul said,] ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables’ (2 Ti. 4:3, 4).
  • “Today, experiential Christianity has extended far beyond the bounds of what was considered a fringe evangelical element[, the extreme Charismatics and Pentecostals]. It now pervades the entire church, including those denominations and movements once known for their conservative doctrinal views and biblical adherence. They have vigorously blocked the lying signs and wonders seduction at their front doors while opening wide their side entrances and youth rooms to the purveyors of the experiential in less obvious yet equally disastrous forms.
  • “… [T]rue Christianity is both doctrinal and experiential….
  • “The chief error today in the evangelical church is that experiences (feelings, emotions, passions, intuitions, etc.) have become the guide for entering into and attempting to establish true spirituality. Rather than subjective feelings and emotions being present as a result of one’s adherence to sound doctrine, they have become the judge of whether or not something is truly Christian. Instead of testing a teaching or practice or situation by the Word of God, the arbiter becomes ‘how one feels about it.’ This puts the human imagination in the seat of judgment….
  • “‘… There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death (Pr. 14.12; 16.25).’ ‘To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them (Is. 8.20).’
  • 39“Experientialism (what feels right to man) is a leaven working its way through the entire church as it undermines biblical truth. Today there are many infectious manifestations, with heavy emphasis upon the following: signs and wonders, faith-healing and prosperity, logos vs. rhema, the new apostles and prophets, kingdom-dominion, redeeming-the-culture missions, strategic spiritual warfare, inner-healing, 12-steps, Christian psychology, evangelical social-activism; ecumenism, church growth, purpose-driven, emerging church, contemplative mysticism, church entertainment, contemporary worship, culturally accommodating Bible versions, and visually translated Bibles. All these movements are in opposition to the clear teaching of God’s Word, yet multitudes follow them eagerly.
  • “… All these diverse endeavors, while giving lip service to the Scriptures, … whether through ignorance, self-delusion, or planned deceit, critically subvert its teachings” (T. A. McMahon, “Weaning Evangelicals Off the Word—Part I,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXII, No. 2, February 2007, pp. 1-2. Search www.THEBEREANCALL.ORG for related articles or the books offered for explanations of the movements listed in the quoted material.).

Satan is using this “Yea, hath God said” strategy in today’s churches in a variety of ways. This article will look at a few. Today, “[t]he true Christ and the true faith of the Bible are being replaced rapidly with diseased substitutes offered by a group of teachers who belong to what has been labeled the “Faith Movement” (Hank Hanegraaff, Christianity in Crisis (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers 1993), p. 11; this statement is true, but Hank Hanegraaff is heretical about some very important matters). Multitudes who name the name of Christ have adopted a wildly distorted perception of what it means to be a Christian.

7“Under the banner, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ multitudes are being duped by a gospel of greed and are embracing doctrines straight from metaphysical cults….” Eternal truths from the Word of God are being perverted into bad mythology—and all the while Christianity is hurtling at breakneck speed into a crisis of unparalleled proportions (Ibid.).

Spiritual leaders are teaching that Satan conquered Jesus on the Cross, that they are God and Jesus, that we should not pray such “faith-destroying words” as “If it be thy will,” that we are in control and God has to be given permission to work in the earth realm, and that man was created equal with God and can stand in God’s presence without any consciousness of inferiority (Ibid.).

8In Christianity in Crisis Hank Hanegraaff [En1] chronicles a composite of erroneous teachings of individuals such as Benny Hinn, Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin, Frederick Price, and many others.  Many of the followers of these false teachers are sincere, born again believers who love the Lord. En2  Hanegraff points out the chief teachers of this movement, noting that “the bulk of their theology can be traced to the cultic teachings of the Faith Movement and that much of the theology of the Faith Movement can be traced to such cults as Religious Science, Christian Science, and the Unity School of Christianity” (Ibid, p. 29). These men “point to Scripture,’ produce ‘miracles,’ and operate under the banner of ‘Jesus is Lord’” (Ibid., p. 39).

“Not every one that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in they name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then I will profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Mt. 7.21-3). Jesus said “And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day” (Jn. 6.40).

9Many of the churches in the Faith Movement are cults or cultic (Hanegraaff, pp. 42-45). One definition of a cult is: “[A]ny religious movement which claims the backing of Christ or the Bible, but distorts the central message of Christianity by 1) an additional revelation, and 2) by displacing a fundamental tenet of the faith with a secondary matter. A primary characteristic of cults in general is the practice of taking biblical texts out of context in order to develop pretexts for their theological perversions” (Ibid., p. 43).

Although cults use biblical terms, the meanings they attach to those terms are erroneous. Most or all cults, for example, do not believe that Jesus was the only Son of God or that the Son of God was also God. Islam, for example, believes that Jesus was a great prophet, but that he was not God; Jehovah’s Witnesses believe Jesus was the Archangel Michael.

10Satan, through his false teachers, says to Christians seeking to solve their mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, “Yea, hath God said?” and then points out that the “science of psychology” will show them how to love themselves and overcome those problems. Many churches have “turned from God’s Word to psychology, that is, to man’s bankrupt theories in attempting to resolve mental, emotional, and behavioral problems;” in other words, to doctrines of devils which are designed to undermine what is taught in Scripture (See T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and the Evangelical Church,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXI, No. 3, March 2006, pp. 3-4; T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and Prophecy,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXI, No. 4, April 2006, pp. 3-4; T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and the Doctrines of Devils,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXI, No. 10, October 2007, pp. 3-4. Search http://www.thebereancall.org/ for articles and books offered to examine various issues concerning psychology in the church today. Some titles: Psychotherapy, The End of Christian “Psychology;” Psychobabble: the Failure of Modern Psychology;, Hypnosis: Medical, Scientific or Occultic; Four Temperaments: Astrology & Personality Testing; Competent to Minister: The Biblical Care of Souls; 12 Steps to Destruction: Codependency Recovery Heresy; James Dobson’s Gospel of Self-Esteem & Psychology.).  Since many Christians are biblically illiterate but well-informed in the teachings of Satan through the public schools, the secular and “Christian” institutes of higher learning including most Bible colleges and Christian seminaries, the secular media including secular books and magazines, much of the so-called “Christian” media, worldly friends and relatives, and perhaps their own pastors, psychology has had little resistance in most “Christian” circles to prevent it from becoming a very effective “Yea, hath God said” technique used to infiltrate the church today.

11Scripture warns: “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves….” (2 Ti. 3.1, 2). Although men have, since the Garden of Eden, been self-seeking and self-serving, “it has only been since the rise of modern psychology that self has been proclaimed as the solution to all of our mental, emotional and behavioral ills” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 3). With the theory of evolution which, if believed, eliminated the need for God, mankind is left only with “self” and must solve all his problems (Ibid.). This requires man, of course to be innately good, since it would be impossible for man to help an innately sinful person (Ibid.), for a man to love an innately sinful person.  The Bible teaches that man already loves himself to the point where he is selfish.

The great commandments are, according to Jesus, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all they heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment (Here, the Lord quotes De. 6.5).  And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself (This quote is from Le. 19.18)” (Mt. 22.37-40; Mk. 12.28-34; Lu. 10.25-28).

Even Augustine, the murderer that he was, got some things right.
Even Augustine, the murderer that he was, got some things right.

Thus, Jesus indicates that we already love ourselves, something that is consistent with the view of man as seen in all Scripture, and the view of man presented by reality. Would one really get down on himself if he did not love himself?

13The key for the disciple of Christ is to learn to love God so much that he gives up all that he has and, by comparison, he hates himself and others: “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple. And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Lu. 14.26-27). In context of Scripture, Jesus was saying that although one is to love others, and although one loves himself, that love, compared to the love one is to have for God, is equal to hate. In other words, a disciple is to put God far above anyone, including himself. Jesus also said, “So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple” (Lu. 14.33).

  • Whereas the Bible teaches that man is sinful by nature, “[a]ll the psychotherapeutic selfisms, from self-love to self-esteem to self-image to self-actualization to self-realization—and ultimately to self-deification—are predicated upon the innate goodness of one’s nature.
  • “Humanistic psychology—to which all psychotherapies are related—is the pseudo-scientific belief system of the Antichrist, who is the personification of human evil. The bases of his religion were introduced to mankind by Satan in his seduction of Eve (turning her away from obedience to God and toward her own self-interests, even godhood—Genesis 3) and culminate in a man, the Antichrist, setting himself up in the temple of God to be worshiped as God (2 Thesallonians 2:4). It’s all about the worship of self….
  • “Only biblical Christianity stands against the exaltation of self that ties all other religions together. The Bible declares self to be evil and hopeless and says that man’s salvation can come only from God as it is received by faith in Jesus alone, who satisfied divine justice by His full payment for the sins of mankind, according to the Scriptures. All other religions look to self to obtain salvation, ultimately through one’s own efforts, whether by rituals, sacraments, meditation, liturgies, good works, and so forth” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 3).

14Even though, from a biblical perspective, psychotherapy is an antichristian, religious counterfeit, the evangelical church is a primary referral service for counseling psychologists and psychiatrists, and many large churches have licensed psychotherapists on staff (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and the Evangelical Church,” p. 3). And in spite of the fact that psychotherapy, according to numerous scientific studies, rarely works (and then only superficially) and is known to be harmful, “[m]ost evangelicals are convinced that psychotherapy is scientific and is necessary to supply what is lacking in the Bible regarding man’s mental, emotional, and behavioral needs” (Ibid.). By mixing psychology and Christianity in the hope of merging “science” and faith, Christians have ignored biblical principles and common sense (Ibid., pp. 3-4).  Psychology is not a science nor can it be Christianized (Ibid.). Although the situation in the church is serious, Scripture tells us it will far exceed what we can imagine: “The apostle Paul is emphatic in his warning that ‘in the last days’ man’s condition will be ‘perilous’” (Ibid., p. 4, citing I Timothy 3.1-2.).

VI. Theology and psychology merged

NormanVincentPealeNorman Vincent Peale pioneered the merger of theology and psychology. His blasphemous humanistic views were then spread throughout the “Christian” community by Robert Schuller, and even by many conservative evangelical preachers and teachers of note such as Chuck Swindoll, Charles Stanley, Josh McDowell, Anthony Hoekema, and Norm Geisler who “bought into, taught, Christianized, and further popularized the concepts of self-love, self-esteem, self-worth, and self-image.”  “… [[S]welling numbers of highly regarded, degreed professionals teach the church what they have gleaned from ‘the counsel of the ungodly.’]” Rick Warren, a pastor with great influence in churches and in America today lists in an article in Ladies Home Journal five humanistic unbiblical truths: accept yourself, love yourself, be true to yourself, forgive yourself, believe in yourself (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 4).

“Rick Warren’s 30 million copies of The Purpose-Driven Life include Jungian concepts, such as Psychological ‘types.’ Saddleback Church’s ‘Celebrate Recovery’ program (See TBC Oct ’05), which has been exported to 4,500 churches and Prison Fellowship Ministries, is based on A.A.’s 12-Step principles. A.A. co-founder Bill Wilson received the 12 steps during the time he was in contact with spirit entities. He later wrote a personal letter to Carl Jung thanking him for his influence….  Warren is not the only witting or unwitting promoter among evangelicals of what Jung learned from demons. He is just the most successful and the best known” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology in Prophecy,” p. 4.).

16“Psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung, the son of a Protestant pastor who seriously doubted his professed faith, was more popular among professing Christians than was Sigmund Freud (an atheist) because of his perceived affinity for religion and things spiritual. However, Jung was anti-biblical and resentful of organized Christianity from his youth. His early symbolic visions revealed Jesus as a Dark Lord and God defecating on a cathedral. His mother’s side of the family was heavily involved in spiritualism…. Jung’s teachings are doctrines of demons, gleaned directly from seducing spirits…. Jung promoted all things occult, including astrology, alchemy, the I-Ching, mysticism, necromancy, visualization, dream interpretation, the active imagination, yoga, meditation, etc.” (T. A. McMahon, “Psychology and Doctrines of Devils,” p. 4).

The results of the natural progression of humanistic pragmatism are seen today in the Church Growth Movement and the Emerging Church Movement in America.

A. The Purpose-Driven Church Movement birthed by Rick Warren

17Noah Hutchings states that “Perhaps the greatest paradigm shift that has visited the church since the Protestant Reformation … may be occurring at the present time in the Purpose-Driven Church Movement birthed by Rick Warren” (Noah W. Hutchings, The Dark Side of the Purpose Driven Church (Bethany, Oklahoma: Bible Belt Publishing, 2005), p. 7). Rick Warren was influenced by the Church Growth Movement of Donald McGavran. Marshall Davis explains that the Church Growth Movement applies scientific principles to the church, principles which “can be successfully applied to any organization—secular or religious, Christian or non-Christian…. Mormons and New Age religions are welcomed into the seminars, and they successfully employ the principles of church growth taught there” (Marshall Davis, More Than a Purpose (Enumclaw, WA: Pleasant Word, 2006), p. 23).

15As a seminary student, Warren studied the one hundred largest American churches in order to discover why they grew so large. He became the champion of the movement. He, like church growth leaders before him, embraces pragmatism, but without restraint of right and wrong—the end justifies the means. In a Christian worldview, God justifies the means. Pragmatism says that any strategy that works is good no matter where it comes from; if it doesn’t work, it is bad. Rick Warren has gone “further and said that if something is working, then it is of God” (Ibid., p. 149.). If a “church” is growing, then it must be of God. For example, the new idea of tolerance attracts people to the “church” whereas the biblical concept of tolerance repels people in this postmodern age. The biblical concept of tolerance says, “Let’s discuss our disagreements amiably in an effort to discover truth. God gives everyone freewill and no one will be forced to accept the truth; every belief, even false beliefs, will be tolerated.” They will be tolerated in society, but a New Testament church cannot accept known unrepentant sinners, heretics and apostates into membership. The postmodern concept of tolerance says, “All lifestyles, beliefs, philosophies, and truth claims are equal; and, since one has no right to say that his are superior to any other, intolerance is the only thing that will not be tolerated.”

“The average American believes that all religions basically teach the same thing. They are not really interested in religious doctrine anyway. They are interested in application, something that will work in their personal lives…. Americans have embraced the idea of religious tolerance and acceptance. They do not want an exclusivist religion that says, ‘My way or the highway.’ They want a form of Christianity that is fun on Sundays and useful on Mondays, and preferably not too time consuming…. The Purpose-Driven Life’s ‘40 days to spiritual maturity’ is just about right” (Ibid., pp. 168-169).

Since the teaching of the anti-biblical concept of tolerance “works,” it must be of God. Nor can a “church” teach theological doctrine with any precision. That would result in offending some who would refrain from coming to “church.” Pragmatism opens the door to all kinds of satanic infiltration including the New Age. Satan is a deceiver. “And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Co. 11.14).

In using anything and everything that will work, Warren appeals to the average American who will always be more influenced by the information corresponding with what they have received as Americans than they will be by something new to them like true biblical doctrine. This is true even should they really get saved, as can be seen by looking at the membership of the average “Bible believing church.”

“American seekers do not care if there is a little New Age mixed in with their gospel. They are used to it. They hear it on Oprah. They watch Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra on PBS. They may have read Bernie Siegel. The Saddleback Sams and Sallys targeted by Rick Warren are baby-boomers who went through the 1960s and 70s. They feel comfortable with the ideas of Eastern religions. They take yoga classes and send their children to karate classes” (Davis, pp. 168-169).

2“[T]he spiritual foundation of this whole Purpose-Driven Movement [can] be found in the writings and teachings of Robert Schuller’s 50-year ministry” (Warren Smith, Deceived on Purpose, (Magalia, CA: Mountain Stream Press, 2004), p. 171; see also, John S. Torell, “The Destruction of the Southern Baptist Convention,” The Flaming Sword,” Volume 3, 2007, available at http://www.eaec.org.). In turn Schuller’s ministry was greatly influenced by How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and The Power of Positive Thinking by Norman Vincent Peale as well as by other teachings of Norman Vincent Peale (Davis, pp. 26-27). Robert Schuller is the real architect of this movement. The following words express the author’s sentiment regarding this movement exactly: “I believe this movement to be one of the worst distortions of the church that American ingenuity, born of an outworn capitalist mentality, could possibly devise” (Hutchings, p. 29). The theology of the megachurches and ultra-churches of the Church Growth Movement purports to be biblical. However, for the most part, at least as pushed by the leaders of the movement, a spattering of biblical quotes from mainly perverted interpretations of the Bible are interspersed in a sea of business, humanistic, and New Age principles, some or all of which are being copied by untold numbers of churches throughout the nation and world. For example, the “Purpose-Driven Life does not use the Bible as an authority. It quotes it [actually, for the most part, interpretations of the Bible] as a supporting witness when it is useful to do so” (Davis, p. 106).

19Pastors and Christian leaders, many of whom are apparently solid Bible-believers, flock to Robert Schuller’s Crystal Cathedral to learn principles of “successful church leadership” as did Rick Warren. Schuller reveals an obvious hypocrisy in what he says to Christians and has undeniable ties to the New Age Movement. He promotes Jerry Jampolsky whose life is founded upon the principles of A Course in Miracles and whom Schuller falsely portrays as a traditional Christian when in fact the god of Jampolsky is not the God of the Word of God. Here are some examples of the New Age teaching in which Jampolsky believes:

20“Do not make the pathetic error of ‘clinging to the old rugged cross;’ the journey to the cross should be the last ‘useless journey;’ the recognition of God is the recognition of yourself; when God created you He made you part of Him; there is no sin; it has no consequence. The Atonement is the final lesson he [man] need learn, for it teaches him that, never having sinned, he has no need of salvation; and for Christ takes many forms with different names until their oneness can be recognized” (Smith, pp. 88-89 citing Foundation for Inner Peace, A Course in Miracles: Combined Volume: pp. 52, 147, 100, 183, 237 (Text), 88 (Manual)).

“Schuller is revealing himself to be the kind of leader who is willing to compromise and sacrifice God’s truth for the purposes of the New Age and the New Spirituality” (Ibid., p. 99). Yet untold thousands of pastors and “Christian leaders” flock to his seminars and subscribe to some or all of his teachings.

Those who think that they can attend Rick Warren’s or Robert Schuller’s seminars or read and study their teachings in any way and not be negatively influenced thereby forget the ample warnings in Scripture such as:

  • “And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them” (Ep. 5.11).
  • ”Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us…. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Thes. 3.6, 14-15).
  • “Separation in Scripture includes separation ‘from’ whatever is contrary to the mind of God: and ‘unto’ God Himself.  The underlying principle is that in a moral universe it is impossible for God to fully bless and use His children who are in compromise or complicity with evil” (1917 Scofield Reference Edition, n. 1 to II Co. 6.17, p. 1234. The principles of separation are found throughout the Bible).
  • “Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness” (2 Pe. 3.17).

Rick Warren violated this principle of separation. In 1979, Rick Warren as a last year seminary student drove from Texas to California with his wife to attend a Robert Schuller church growth seminar. Warren’s wife is quoted as saying, “‘We had a very stony ride out to the conference,’ she says, because such nontraditional ministry scared her to death. Schuller, though, won them over. ‘He had a profound influence on Rick,’ Kay says. ‘We were captivated by his positive appeal to nonbelievers. I never looked back’” (Smith, p. 104, citing Tim Stafford, “A Regular Purpose-Driven Guy,” Christianity Today, November 18, 2002, Vol. 46, No. 12 (http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2002/012/1.42.html), p. 4; see also, Davis, p. 27).

Rick Warren was so transformed that he became a leading deceiver in the “Christian” world. He went back to Schuller’s institute for pastors many times. Warren and Schuller parted ways after Schuller invited Stephen Covey, “a devout Mormon who has publicly ridiculed evangelicals and the Christian gospel,” to speak at the Crystal Cathedral. Although Warren and Schuller have parted ways “Schuller’s legacy remains in the teachings and methodology of The Purpose-Driven Life,” (Davis, p. 28) and in all Warren’s teachings.

B. The standard megachurch gospel

1. It’s all about you

18Satan, through his false teachers, says to Christians seeking to solve their mental, emotional, and behavioral problems, “Yea, hath God said?” and then points out that the “science of psychology” will show him how to love himself and overcome those problems. Charles Spurgeon of England, correctly “warned about changing the Gospel to accommodate changing society:

“The idea of a progressive gospel seems to have fascinated many. To us that notion is a sort of cross-breed between nonsense and blasphemy. After the gospel has been found effectual in the eternal salvation of untold multitudes, it seems rather late in the day to alter it; and, since it is the revelation of the all-wise and unchanging God, it appears somewhat audacious to attempt its improvement…” (Hutchings, p. 29, quoting Charles Spurgeon).

21OlsteenThe standard megachurch gospel is not the gospel of the Bible. “It is a reincarnation of the old-time liberalism that infiltrated evangelical ranks a hundred years ago” (Davis, p. 110). The emergence of the Church Growth Movement and megachurches is carrying the techniques and principles of religious liberalism plus more to the extreme. Due to the anemic and compromised state of Christianity and Christian pastors, leaders, and other church members in America now, the chance that American Christendom will suffer the same fate as that of Europe after the onslaught of religious modernism beginning in the nineteenth century is great.

Warren begins his book The Purpose-Driven Life with the statement, “It is not about you,” (Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), p. 17) then proceeds to write a whole book about how “you” can be happy. The preface of the book states that, “By the end of this journey, you will know God’s purposes for your life and will understand the big picture…. Having this perspective will reduce your stress, simplify your decisions, increase your satisfaction, and most important, prepare you for eternity…” (Ibid., p. 9). The book lists “five great benefits of living a purpose-driven life:” [k]nowing your purpose gives meaning to your life,” “simplifies your life,” “focuses your life,” ‘motivates your life,” and “prepares you for eternity” (Ibid., pp. 30-34).

Noah W. Hutchings points out that Rick Warren “belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that he is not tampering with the message but only reengineering the methods, when in fact he has so altered the message as to make it all but unrecognizable” (Hutchings, p. 107 quoting Dr. Gary E. Gilley, “The Gospel According to Warren” available at http://www.svchapel.org).

Warren camouflages the “Yea hath God said” strategy; and only the true biblical believer, student, or scholar can discern the lies of the movement. Warren uses a seeker sensitive approach contrary to biblical principle. Warren also utilizes the idea “of being driven by the purposes of God,” an idea that is foreign to the Scriptures (Davis, p. 41). Such a concept is similar to the Islamic concept—the Muslim is Allah’s servant and the only way he relates to Allah is by submitting himself to Allah’s five-fold purpose for human life: faith, prayer, almsgiving, fasting, and worship” (Ibid., p. 43). There is only works without relationship.

2. Jesus and salvation

SADDLEBACK-CHURCHWarren is wrong on his doctrines concerning Jesus and salvation. As to Jesus Christ, the doctrinal statement of Warren’s church, Saddleback, neither mentions the virgin birth and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit, nor is there any mention of the substitutionary atonement. Warren never explains the nature and purpose of Jesus nor does he explain how one is saved through Jesus Christ. Although the “Purpose-Driven Christ is a shadowy figure, undefined and unexplained,” “that does not stop Warren from leading readers to commit their lives to Jesus and then assure them that they are eternally saved” (Ibid., pp. 54-64).

As to salvation, Warren’s teaching is totally unbiblical (See Ibid., pp. 63-72; see also John S. Torell, “The Destruction of the Southern Baptist Convention” The Flaming Sword, Volume 3, 2007, pp. 16-18, available at http://www.eaec.org). For example, there is no confession of sin or repentance—just say a little prayer, “Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you,” and “[y]ou’re in the club.” “Just believe a few platitudes, receive an unexplained Jesus, and you are assured of eternal life. What a deal?” (Ibid., pp. 60-66) There is no recognition of who a lost person is—a lost sinner—or who the biblical Jesus is, since one’s concept of who God or Jesus is is of little importance. The Purpose-Driven gospel is nothing more than a postmodern version of the old time liberalism, described by Richard Niebuhr as ‘a God without wrath [bringing] men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross” (Ibid., p. 66 quoting H. Richard Niebuhr quoted in Guiness, Dining With the Devil: The Megachurch Movement Flirts With Modernity (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1994), p. 78).

3. Metaphysical techniques, infiltration, ecumenicalism

23Along with seeker-sensitive techniques which aimed at meeting people’s needs as they saw it, Warren Smith, a Christian who was saved out of the New Age Movement, points out that Rick Warren immediately began to utilize age-old metaphysical techniques which are taught in the New Age movement (Smith, pp. 104-105). Those techniques have been so successful that they are practiced, taught, and emulated by millions in growing churches and in personal lives, to the glory of Satan. Smith’s book, cited herein, should be read for its extensive insights into the New Age teachings within Rick Warren’s writings.

Smith points out that one of Rick Warren’s unstated purposes as a self-proclaimed “change agent,” seems to be to:

“mainstream Robert Schuller’s teachings into the more traditional ‘Bible-based’ wing of the Church. Many believers who seem to trust Rick Warren, ironically, do not trust Robert Schuller. Rick Warren’s ‘magic’ seems to be able to make the teachings of Robert Schuller palatable to believers who would have otherwise never accepted these same teachings had they come directly from Schuller himself. And … one of Rick Warren’s colleagues[, Bruce Wilkinson, (whose book The Dream Giver and whose teachings on dreams are based upon the teachings of Robert Schuller and are contrary to biblical principles] [is] also in the process of doing much the same thing” (Ibid., p. 113; see pp. 115-120 for more on Bruce Wilkinson’s teachings and book The Dream Giver).

Smith points out that Rick Warren wrote on the dedication page of The Purpose-Driven Life: “This book is dedicated to you. Before you were born, God planned this moment in your life. It is no accident that you are holding this book” (Ibid., pp. 20-21, citing Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life: What on Earth Am I Here For? (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2002), Dedication Page. Warren Smith, on pp. 37-37 states that a King James Bible given him several years before he and his wife realized how deceived they were by A Course in Miracles and New Age Teachings helped save their lives.). This assertion, actually an assertion that it was “meant to be,” has lead many to immersion in the New Age movement.

Only true Bible believing, knowledgeable Christians—thus effectively disqualifying most megachurch pastors, leaders, and members as well as many other pastors and “Christians”—can know what is happening in the Church Growth Movement:

“Imbedded in th[e] ideological framework [of members of the church who are dispensational in their theology and hold to a literal interpretation of Scripture] is also the realization that the church of Jesus Christ is facing a major shift away from the ‘Old Time Religion’ of its fathers and grandfathers. This shift is not a minor adjustment, but rather, a major change that threatens to alter the face of Christianity forever. Tragically, if this shift continues unchecked, the subsequent change will create a new ‘hybrid Christianity’ that will bear little resemblance to the ‘faith of our fathers’ or the church as described in the New Testament. This new hybrid is instead birthing a ‘false Christianity’ that will lead its adherents to a pseudo-faith that will result in their missing the Rapture, believing ‘a lie’ and falling into the arms of Antichrist as gently as the falling petals of an autumn rose” (Hutchings, pp. 19-20, quoting Rebuilding the Tower of Babel, chapter one, “Angel of Light”).

The churches of the Church Growth Movement must be filled with lost people, some members who linger on whether deceived or not, and/or deceived saved people who migrated in or were saved somehow by hearing and responding to the true gospel of salvation from other sources.

These churches propose to bring all denominations together and bring about church growth, not by sound biblical techniques but by using New Age and other satanic and/or business techniques such as: changing perception by viewing people as “churched or unchurched rather than “saved” or “lost;” “‘finding out what impresses the unchurched in your community’ and doing it;” attracting the multitudes by bringing in popular heroes (like, e.g., almost nude wrestlers); using “successful principles and good cash flow;” modeling pastors after businessmen and planning strategically; winning people by building relationships rather than by preaching expository sermons; moving “from a theocentric approach to ministry to a ‘human needs approach;’” deciding not to “convert any other religious people to my viewpoint;” refusing to point out that one “recognize his own personal sin, … need for repentance, … need for crucifixion of self;” teaching that ‘[t]he Christ Spirit dwells in every human being,” that “nothing exists but God,” that “Christ  was self-esteem incarnate;” recognizing that “[t]he most destructive thing that can be done to a person is to call him a sinner,” that sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human  being of his or her self-esteem” (Ibid., pp. 21-22 referencing Mac Dominick from his book Outcome Based Religion).

4. Unbiblical dress, music, “Bibles,” doctrine

26These churches generally, among other errors, change to unbiblical dress, music, “Bibles,” and false interpretations of Scripture, and eliminate and belittle doctrine in their teaching. “Rick Warren has transformed the worship of God into an informal get together,” (Davis, p. 128. See Sundquist, pp. 98-102 for an analysis of Rick Warren’s teaching on worship) as is exemplified by the clothing and other aspects of worship. Members of a Purpose Driven Church are expected to dress like Rick Warren dresses. Anyone who wears a tie or coat may be “considered mainstream and against the pastor” (Hutchings, p. 137).

The Word of God teaches that all a believer does should be holy and for the glory of God. “And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin” (Mt. 6.28).  “In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array” (1 Ti. 2.9). One can discern that biblically one should dress neatly and cleanly in a way that glorifies God and that no member should be coerced into dressing like everyone else as long as he dresses according to the directives of the Word of God. Many public schools once recognized the principle that in order to maintain stability, and promote respect for teachers and staff, standards of dress (but not uniformity) and respectful titles were required. Informality in a school or church setting corresponds with contempt, disrespect, rebelliousness, and selfishness.

No comprehensive treatment of music is attempted here, but just a few comments are appropriate. Rick Warren copies the type of music that draws the biggest crowds in the secular world and “proudly reports that Saddleback is known as ‘the flock that likes to rock’” (Davis, p. 120).

24“According to a professor of preaching at Emory University, the typical megachurch praise song is ‘simplistic, repetitive, and finally, boring…In the short run, it gets you on your feet clapping your hands, but in the long run it cultivates a monotonic, downsized faith, a faith too naïve and simple to handle complexity, too repetitive to deal with real change.’ Yet in the short run the strategy works. Warren reports that within a year of adopting this popular style of music that his church ‘exploded with growth’” (Ibid., pp. 120-121 quoting a professor of preaching at Emory University quoted in Alan Wolfe, The Transformation of American Religion (New York: Free Press, 2003), p. 29).

25Warren believes the only difference between Christian and non-Christian music is the lyrics. The truth is that “[t]he language is still there, but the substance has been thrown away. Without any real truth, reality is turned into theater, and life into a show” (Ibid., p. 121 quoting Udo W. Middelmann, The Market-Driven Church (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004), p. 145).

Rock music, regardless of the words, dishonors God, appeals to the flesh, and adversely affects man.  According to music evangelist David Armistead, whereas traditional hymns have simple rhythms which place greater emphasis on the words and appeal to spiritual principles and the spiritual nature, Christian rock emphasizes complex rhythms which are usually loud and excite the flesh, and, generally speaking, simple, repetitive words with shallow meaning (Message delivered in January, 2008, at Capitol City Baptist Church in Austin, Texas). Rock music, whether “Christian” or secular, is “a war upon certainty and stability;” is “sex” with which “you have to hit them in the face” (according to Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones); “is supposed to be outrageous;” “can be addictive (physically addictive because it rediscovered the power of pagan music in its volume, repetitiveness, and highly syncopated rhythm patterns);” has “very little melody, only rhythm” (which seemingly reverts the listeners to savagery thrusting constant listeners into turmoil); has a beat which “is contrary to our natural body beats and rhythms” and “can actually weaken you” since it “interferes with brain wave patterns, causing mental stress;” and can “alter the brain permanently” (Hutchings, pp. 97-101 referring to Dr. Jack Wheaton (Emmy Award winner and professor of music at three major universities, including the University of Southern California, and lecturer at over fifty colleges), The Paganization of Worship).

Rick Warren sang, as he said he has always wanted to do, “Purple Haze”—written and made popular by Jimmy Hendrix, a heroin and sex addict who died of a drug overdose in 1970—before thirty thousand in the Anaheim Angels baseball stadium. He said, “We are loud. We are really, really loud…. We’re not going to turn it down…. Baby boomers want to feel the music, not just hear it” (Torell, pp. 11-12; Hutchings, pp. 101-103). But music need not go as far as did “Purple Haze” in order to be classified as “rock music” with all or many of the attributes listed above. Much “Christian” rock has all the attributes of “Purple Haze” except for the lyrics. Noah W. Hutchings appropriately comments:

27“I doubt that the Purpose Driven Church movement would have ever gotten off the ground without the heavy-metal rock, drug-inspired, hippie music of the 60’s that has been revived by a new champion in so-called church praise groups. This music came out of one of the darkest periods of national morality, the 1960s hippie generation, so need we say more” (Hutchings, p. 104).

As far as church services, the Bible is not to be seen and never read from as authority, but “is used more like a sourcebook of illustrations that has some helpful tips to guide us through the journey of life.” Warren gives people relief, not truth, since that is what they are seeking. “Scripture verses are used as supporting evidence for the points instead of the foundational authority for the sermon” (Davis, p. 138). The praise band and worship team are center stage. In The Purpose-Driven Life, Mr. Warren references fifteen versions of the Bible. In his 1995 book, The Purpose-Driven Church, Warren states:

Read Scripture from a newer translation. With all the wonderful translations and paraphrases available today, there is no legitimate reason for complicating the Good News with four-hundred-year-old English. Using the King James Version creates an unnecessary cultural barrier…. Clarity is more important than poetry” (Smith, p. 39 quoting Rick Warren, The Purpose-Driven Church: Growth Without Compromising Your Message & Mission, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1995), p. 297).

That the King James Version complicates the “Good News” is a brazenly false assertion. If the King James Version can provide the clarity for a New Age man and wife to discern the deceptions of the New Age teachings, it can provide the clarity for anyone who reads and understands the English language to discover God’s truth (Smith). Warren Smith wrote:

“It was the clarity and precision of our King James Bible that had exposed the deception behind our New Age teachings. And it is the clarity and precision of our King James Bible that continues to expose these same New Age teachings that are creeping into the Church today. I just thank God no one put something like The Message in my hands when I was in the New Age. And I thank God for kindly Christian widows [like the one who gave me the King James Bible that was responsible for exposing the New Age to me]” (Ibid., p. 40).

28The Message, a false interpretation of Scripture, is one of Warren’s favorites and is referenced more than any other. The Message obscures and alters verses from Scripture, omits important details, and adds misleading words and phrases, all this in such a way as to allow a New Ager to read The Message without being challenged as to his satanic beliefs (Ibid., pp. 24-27).

Rick Warren constantly quotes from this corrupt paraphrase as though it were God’s Holy Word (Torell, p. 12. See James Sundquist, Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church? (Rock Star Publishing, 2004) for a thorough examination of Warren’s perversions of Scripture). Rick Warren used many words and phrases with deep New Age meanings from The Message. By so doing, ministers in “the Purpose Driven Movement can make the Bible say things that are not true but fit doctrine [such as New Age] that these men are devising” (Smith, p. 35).  For example, Warren quotes The Message version of Colossians 1.16 right under the title to the first chapter, “It All Starts with God:” “For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, … everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him” (See Warren, The Purpose-Driven Life, p. 17). The Message uses this phrase, “as above, so below,” an occultic New Age term, in the Lord’s Prayer. What does this signify?

  • “Thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, the great master alchemist Hermes Trismegistus, believed to be a contemporary of the Hebrew prophet Abraham, proclaimed this fundamental truth about the universe: ‘As above, so below; as below, so above.’ This maxim implies that the transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within ourselves are one. Heaven and Earth, spirit and matter, the invisible and the visible worlds form a unity to which we are intimately linked….
  • “‘As above, so below’ means that the two worlds are instantaneously seen to be one when we realize our essential unity with God…. The one and the many, time and eternity, are all One’ (Ellipsis dots in original)” (Ronald S. Miller and the Editors of New Age Journal, As Above, So Below: Paths to Spiritual Renewal in Daily Life (Los Angeles: Jeremy P. Tarcher, Inc., 1992), p. xi who quotes, in the second quoted paragraph, Sufi scholar Reshad Field, quoted in Smith, p. 32).

The term “as above, so below,” according to the New Age Journal Editor who stated that “old forms of religion no longer serve people, and that the term ‘as above, so below’ describes the ‘emerging spirituality’ that is quickly moving onto the world’s scene. [The meaning of the term can be verified by a Google search.]” (Smith, pp. 32-35). Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Eugene Peterson are not only exposing one of the central concepts of the “New Spirituality” and probable New World Religion—the idea that the “transcendent God beyond the physical universe and the immanent God within [us all] are one”—“they seem to be agreeing with it!” (Ibid., p. 158).

Warren also suggests other New Age and anti-biblical concepts in his teachings which are described by Warren Smith such as the concept that “at least metaphorically, everyone’s life is ‘driven’ by some force,” the “Rick Warren’s implication and Robert Schuller’s contention that God is ‘in every person’” (See Ibid., pp. 81-82, 86; See also, James Sundquist, “Christian Meditation—Concerning Prayer: Is It Christian?” at www.abrahamic-faith.com/James/Part%20XI%20Christian%20Meditation-Centering%20Prayer.html).

In The Purpose-Driven Life Warren takes verses and portions of verses out of context to support his conclusions (See James Sundquist, Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church? (Rock Star Publishing, 2004) for a thorough study). For example, Warren Smith points out that Warren quotes a portion out of Isaiah 49.4 to incorrectly conclude that Isaiah had no hope. He does the same thing in incorrectly asserting that Job had lost hope. At the same time, he prefaced his whole discussion about the importance of having “‘hope’ and a deep sense of life purpose’” by referring to [Bernie Siegel] a man whose own hope and purpose are so totally invested in the false teachings of the New Age (Smith, pp. 47-52).

In The Purpose-Driven Life Warren includes many quotes from not only Christians such as C. S. Lewis, Martin Luther, and A. W. Tozer but also from many people who publicly oppose the gospel such as Bertrand Russell, an atheist “known for his refutation of Christianity;” Anais Nin, a French feminist “who was notorious for her sexual promiscuity, including bigamy;” Thomas Carlyle, “the nineteenth century essayist who rejected Christianity and embraced Transcendentalism;” George Bernard Shaw who was a playwright and “a leader in the precursor to the theosophy movement, which sees God as an impersonal pantheistic force in nature; and Aldous Huxley who wrote one of the classic books “of the drug culture of the 1960s” (Davis, pp. 165-167; Sundquist, pp. 87-97, for an analysis of false teachers quoted by Warren).

All the interpretations of the Bible promoted by the Purpose Driven Church, unlike the King James Version of the Bible, view doctrine as less and less important, and Purpose Driven Churches view doctrine as divisive, bad, or evil. They specialize in uniting people in “love” since doctrine divides. Warren constantly discards the role of doctrine. He designs his preaching to appeal to the happiness of man—that is, what appeals to the earthly desires of his listeners—not God’s Word. He gives people what they want—relief, not truth.  “Recent polls reveal that 75 percent of people do not go to church to discover truth but to improve their lives” (Ibid., p. 53). As one person said, “[Rick Warren takes] all the new so-called versions of the Bible and quote[s] from the one or ones when put together makes the scriptures say what he wants them to say” (See Hutchings., pp. 56-74 for a brief analysis of The Message plus other informative information concerning Bible translations and other matters such as the Purpose Driven Church view of “doctrine.” The quote is on p. 74.).

Apparently Rick Warren, as do Robert Schuller and Bruce Wilkinson, adheres to replacement theology, and the preterist, amillennial position. He, as did the religion of many of America’s colonists as will be documented and explained in Section IV of God Betrayed, “The history of the First Amendment” (Click here to go to online version) although their methods were different from Warren’s, believes that the church will eliminate war, hunger, disease, crime, and ignorance in preparation for the return of the Lord. He stated, “Our goal will be to enlist one billion foot soldiers for the Kingdom of God, who will permanently change the face of international missions to take on these five ‘global giants for which the church can become the ultimate distribution and change agent to overcome Spiritual Emptiness, Self-serving Leadership, Poverty, Disease, and Ignorance” (Ibid., pp. 85-86 quoting Rick Warren from his April 17, 2005 Anaheim Declaration).

To achieve this goal, on April 17, 2005, the same day he sang “Purple Haze” to 30,000 in Angel Stadium, Warren launched a 5-step PEACE Plan which has a format similar to the 5-Step P.E.A.C.E. plan of Neale Donald Walsch, a New Age leader, that is totally antagonistic to the Bible’s true Gospel of Jesus Christ (Smith, p. 137; see pp. 131-142 for a analysis of this plan; see p. 162 for more similarities between the Rick Warren’s plan and the 5-step plan proposed by Neale Donald Walsch. See also, Davis, pp. 158-159. See also, James Sundquist, Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan vs. Scriptural Teachings on Peace (Rock Salt Publishing, 2006)). Rick Warren, Robert Schuller, and Bruce Wilkinson “seem [] to minimize that Satan is described in the Bible as the extremely deceptive ‘god of this world’ (2 Corinthians 4:4), and that he comes as an ‘angel of light’ and his ministers as ‘ministers of righteousness’ (2 Corinthians 11:14-15)” (Smith, p. 142).

Warren needs to read and believe the properly translated Bible – the King James translation. Jesus, in Matthew 24, in answer to the disciples’ question to Him—“Tell us, when shall these things be? and what shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world?” (Mt. 24.3)—gave them much prophetic detail concerning the great spiritual deception that would engulf the world and the signs that would prevail before His coming. He stated that there would be “wars and rumors of wars,” “that nation would rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom,” that there would be “famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in divers places,” that His followers would be persecuted and martyred, that “many false prophets” who will “deceive many” would arise, and that love would wax cold because of the prevalence of iniquity (Mt. 24, 25; Mk. 13.5-13; Lu. 21.8-19). “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape” (1 Thes. 5.2-3). Rick Warren and many other “Christian” leaders just do not understand these biblical principles. A false Christ is deceiving Warren and his followers who are being used to mislead the world for satanic purposes (See Smith, pp. 147-148).

22The Purpose-Driven Life is full of ridiculous misinterpretations of Scripture in addition to those already mentioned. One example is the assertion in the introduction to The Purpose-Driven Life that “The Bible is clear that God considers 40 days a spiritually significant time period. Whenever God wanted to prepare someone for his purpose he took 40 days” (Warren, pp. 10-11). This is totally inaccurate, and the examples that he cites do not support his assertion. Therefore, “Warren’s whole premise of purpose is fatally flawed” (Sundquist, Who’s Driving the Purpose Driven Church?, p. 18. See pp. 18-22 for a thorough biblical examination of Warren’s assertion). Noah was not transformed by being on the ark for forty days, Moses was not transformed by being on Mount Sinai forty days, and the twelve spies were not transformed by the forty days spent in the Promised Land. Actually, one is transformed at the moment of salvation and his purpose becomes, at that moment, the glory of God. A believer grows in the Lord by Bible study and as a member of a local body of believers.

To achieve their version of success, pastors of Purpose Driven Churches become clones of Rick Warren who “has gutted the Christian faith of all its content, thus maximizing his capacity to appeal to ALL religious backgrounds, as well as the ‘unchurched’ who possess sizable incomes, but sadly, with no place to direct it…. Anyone who wants to gut the Christian faith of her vocabulary for the sake of Church growth, is not a shepherd but a cheap hireling…” (Hutchings, pp. 57-58, citing Theodore Letis of Concordia University. Of course, some pastors adopt only some of Warren’s techniques. For example, some try to preach the Bible while adopting Warren’s philosophy of dress, and/or music, etc. They are mixing light with darkness.).

35The process of preparing an existing conservative church for the goals of the Purpose Driven Church movement is in several steps and takes three to five years. Churches which decide to go the way of the Purpose Driven Church will see changes. Many of the leaders of the movement, like Rick Warren, are replacement theologians, and—like the covenant theologians of the colonial era (See Section IV of God Betrayed)—viciously and without restraint lie about, libel, and slander those who disagree with their theology (See, e.g., Hutchings, pp. 9-22, and Sundquist, Rick Warren’s Global Peace Plan… pp. 8-13 (examples given of the viciousness of PD Churches such as First Baptist Church of Dallas)). Leaders of these churches are vicious to those who cross them. In line with the New Age secular philosophy and techniques these churches adopt, they discard those who disagree with them, especially those who were pillars of the church. The “old pillars” usually leave when the membership of the church, in step four, is told what is happening. If there is opposition, “those who are against the change in music, worship, and leadership are marginalized and asked to leave” (Hutchings, pp. 135-136, 141-143).

32Furthermore, in such a church “a very deliberate change of attitude and presentation of God occurs.” Services, for both adults and children, become more entertainment based—for example, from Bible based emphasis, such churches emphasize things such as “Black Light Friday Night;” a disco ball for their Friday night dances; “‘Christian’ concerts where there are mosh-pits, ear-shattering music, and a total lack of dress codes;” and bringing in “skateboarders, pro wrestlers (some brandishing tattoos and/or piercings), who claim to be Christians but whose extreme lifestyles are fuel for rebellion;” and the incorporation of pagan practices such as “contemplative prayer” which is nothing more than camouflaged Eastern meditation (Ibid., pp. 127-128). In the Purpose Driven Church, fun with lots of parties, music, and games for the youth has replaced holiness and the glory of God as the church’s goal. “John McArthur observes, ‘Many Christians have the misconception that to win the world to Christ we must first win the world’s favor. If we can get the world to like us, they will embrace our Savior. That is the philosophy behind the user-friendly church movement’” (Ibid., p. 138 quoting John McArthur from Dr. Gary E. Gilley, The Little Church Went to Market, p. 28).

33The shift to more of an entertainment base is accompanied by the loss of authentic worship. The Christian who loves the Lord needs to worship God, not be entertained. After a few days in the world, a child of God who is part of the wife of Christ needs the refreshment that accompanies the assembly of the saints of God. He wants something different from what the secular world has thrust in his face. Marshall Davis describes the effects on himself of services in a Purpose Driven Church:

  • “I want to worship God: I do not want to applaud men. The congregational applause that now punctuates evangelical worship feels like a secular intrusion into sacred space. I feel like overturning some tables—or at least some padded chairs. [Applause is appropriate at a concert or a theatre to show appreciation for the performers.] It feels sacrilegious to applaud worship leaders for worshipping God.
  • “[After attending services in some churches when out of town] I always leave the worship service feeling like I need to take a shower.… I feel like I have been to a high school pep rally, and I need to find a place to worship as an adult. I get this feeling in a lot of evangelical churches” (Davis, pp. 114-115).

Rick Warren considers this change in the concept of worship a good thing. He spells out his new type of worship in his books. To Warren, worship can include anything. This is the flaw of pantheism coming through to this concept of worship. Everything is sacred. But to be sacred, something must be set apart. “If the sacred is no longer distinguished from the world, it has lost its sacredness” (Ibid., p. 116). When everything can be worship nothing is definitely worship. Worship in the Purpose Driven Church imitates the world and is not set apart. How can it please God?

5. Big business and the emerging church

34One more aspect of the Purpose Driven Church needs to be at least mentioned: it is a merchandizing phenomenon. The Purpose Driven Church has become big business:

“Rich Karlgaard, the publisher of Forbes magazine, calls The Purpose-Driven Church, ‘the best book on entrepreneurship, business, investment that I’ve read in some time’” (Ibid., p. 79, citing Rich Karlgaard, “Purpose Driven,” Forges.com: www.forbes.com/business/). Megachurch pastors often act as chief executives and use business tactics. “Both the philosophy and vocabulary of the marketplace have been imported into the church…. Christianity has become big business in America, and the megachurches are leading the way…. Half of all churchgoing Americans are attending only 12 percent of the nation’s four hundred thousand churches…. The average American church, which has a congregation of less than 100 in worship, is going out of business at the rate of fifty a week, while the Christian supercenters are thriving…. The American Christian has gone from being a disciple to being a customer, from being a follower of the Lord Jesus to being a consumer of a spiritual commodity…. As Gebhards observes, ‘Today, however, the church is a place of self-indulgence and self-satisfaction. Self-interest has become pandemic, even in worship, making it difficult for some churchgoers to imagine that Christianity is not intended to revolve around them…. The philosophy of the megachurch is to compete with the world on its own terms and using the same strategies that businesses have found to work successfully” (Ibid., pp. 79-87 quoting Karlgaard; Luisa Kroll, “Christian Capitalism: Megachurches, Megabusinesses” Forbes.com: http://www.forbes.com/2003/09/17/cz_lk_0917megachurch.html (September 17, 2003); James B. Twitchell, Branded Nation (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2004), 81, 82-83; George Mair, A Life With a Purpose, (New York: Berkley Books, 2005), 125; Kurt Gabhards, “Choking on Choices” Combating Consumerism With a Biblical Mindset,” in Fools Gold: Discerning Truth in An Age of Error (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2005) John McArthur, General Editor, 164).

The megachurches in general are “light on doctrine, ignorant of religious history, and tolerant of theological error, as long as the person has ‘accepted Jesus Christ.’” Thus, “[t]he next crop of leaders will not have the foundation of a solid theological and religious upbringing” (Ibid., pp. 159-160). Consequently, they will be in position to slide further down the slope to apostasy. In fact, that slide is already occurring.

emerging-org1There is an emerging trend beyond the Church Growth Movement that embraces all the marks of apostasy (T. A. McMahon, “Weaning Evangelicals off the Word,” The Berean Call, Vol. XXII, No. 9, September 2007, pp. 3-4). This is a movement called the Emerging Church Movement. In this movement “sound doctrine” (1 Ti. 4.3-4) gives way to what “seemeth right unto a man;” apostate teachers advance an experiential mode that appeals to fleshly lusts and promotes self-serving fables and myths; “these ‘deceitful workers’ and lying ‘ministers of righteousness (2 Co. 11.13-15)’ draw upon teachings of ‘seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;’ (1 Ti. 4.1) ‘grievous wolves’ have entered among the flock teaching ‘perverse things, to draw away disciples among them’” (1 Ti. 4.1).

  • “For many of those helping to promote the movement, their motivation to ‘try something different’ grew out of the frustration of their own very limited success in evangelizing and discipling young people. Some of the leaders were in seeker-sensitive and purpose –driven churches, and they saw firsthand that their church-growth marketing schemes were not effective for drawing those in their late teens, 20s, and early 30s. The main fare of most consumer-driven churches features contemporary music with shallow, repetitive choruses, topical 30-minutes-or-less sermons (mostly psychology-based), a host of social programs to attract the lost (and the fleshly nature of Christians), and ‘Bible studies’ that address everything but the Bible….
  • “[The roots of motivating youth through the use of a youth room with subdued, ‘catacombish,’ candlelit environment with the worship band using acoustic guitars was a youth-oriented MTV concert. This new ‘vintage form of Christianity,’ featuring rituals, ceremony, candles, incense, prayer stations, and images to create a spiritually experiential atmosphere for evangelicals, which is an imitation of unbiblical Eastern Orthodox and medieval Roman Catholic liturgies, is directly at odds with the method of Peter in Acts chapter 2.] In the power of the Holy Spirit, Peter’s preaching brought conviction of sin, repentance, and belief; 3,000 came to Christ that day….
  • “[ECM leaders] go far beyond subtly ‘weaning evangelicals off the Word’ to rendering the Bible and its doctrines as the enemy when it comes to drawing the world in general and, specifically, our postmodern culture, to the love of Jesus….
  • “[The ECM] approach attempts to accommodate Jesus and the Scriptures (actually ‘another Jesus’ and a corrupted and emasculated Word) to our postmodern culture.
  • “Rick Bell writes in Velvet Elvis, following 22 pages of weakening the authority of the Bible (making statements such as ‘It is possible to make the Bible say whatever we want it to, isn’t it?’ and ‘With God being so massive and awe-inspiring and full of truth, why is his book capable of so much confusion?: ‘[L]et’s make a group decision to drop once and for all the Bible-as-owner’s manual metaphor [i.e., God’s specific instructions for mankind]. It’s terrible. It really is…. We have to embrace the Bible as the wild, uncensored, passionate account it is of experiencing the living God.’ …
  • “His view, common to most emergent writers, is that the key to the authority of Scripture is one’s interpretation, and that is most authoritative when the interpretation takes place in a community and validated by a ‘group decision’: ‘Community, community, community. Together with others, wrestling and searching and engaging the Bible as a group of people hungry to know God in order to follow God.’
  • “We are now told [contrary to clear biblical teaching] that understanding and obedience to what God said are subject to a community’s interpretation. Consequently, ECM churches disdain preaching and authoritative teaching, yet they delight in discussion, causing some to dump the pulpit in favor of a dialogue-led Starbucks environment. As the goals of the community change, we’re told the interpretation may also change….
  • “Kristen Bell acknowledges …, ‘I grew up thinking that we figured out the Bible … that  we knew what it means. Now I have no idea what most of it means, and yet I feel like life is big again—like life used to be black and white, and now it’s in color.’ Brian McLaren, the most prominent of the emergent leaders, echoes Bell’s ‘doctrine’ of avoidance regarding what the Bible says about homosexuality: ‘Perhaps we need a five-year moratorium on making [doctrinal] pronouncements. In the meantime, we’ll practice playful Christian dialogue, listening respectfully, disagreeing agreeably. When decisions need to be made, they’ll be admittedly provisional. We’ll keep our ears attuned to scholars in biblical studies, theology, ethics, psychology, genetics, sociology, and related fields. Then in five years, if we have clarity, we’ll speak; if not, we’ll set another five years, for ongoing reflection.’
  • “[ECM leaders use the same approach Satan used to seduce Eve. For example, Brian McLaren says,] ‘The church latched on to that old doctrine of original sin like a dog to a stick, and before you knew it, the whole gospel got twisted around it. Instead of being God’s big message of saving love for the whole world, the gospel became a little bit of secret information on how to solve the pesky legal problem of original sin.’
  • “He says elsewhere, ‘I don’t think we’ve got the gospel right yet. What does it mean to be saved? … None of us have arrived at orthodoxy” (Ibid., pp. 3-4 citing Rob Bell, Velvet Elvis: Repainting the Christian Faith (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2005), 044-45, 062-63; Andy Crouch, “The Emergent Mystique,” Christianity Today, November 2004, Vol. 48, No. 11, 36ff; http://www.christianitytoday.com/leaders/newsletter/2006/cln60123.html; Brian McLaren, The Last Word and the Word After That (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1005), 134; Steve Chalke and Alan Mann, The Lost Message of Jesus (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003, 182-83).

VII. Conclusion

36Churches in America early on, by incorporating, introduced a little leaven into their marriage relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. Not long after that, religious modernism hit America, overtook many churches, and added more corruption to even many Bible believing churches who replaced their God-given goal, the glory of God, with the humanistic goal, the happiness of man. Instead of exalting Christ and abasing man, they abased Christ and exalted man. Seeing what happened in Christendom generally, in America, and in “fundamental Bible believing” circles, it is not surprising to see that the great majority of churches have, along with their other unbiblical practices and teachings, taken themselves from under the headship of Christ in at least some, if not most or all matters. The slide downward toward apostasy has now accelerated with implementation of “pragmatic” but unbiblical practices introduced by a resurgence of religious liberalism. “Even so, come, Lord Jesus” (Re. 22.20).

Endnotes

En1 Hank Hanegraaff is a Christian and an expert on cults and religions. He airs a radio talk show, “The Bible Answer Man,” and offers many books and other resources which are made available on the website, equip.org. I disagree with much of Mr. Hanegraaff’s theology—for example, his theology concerning prophecy—but there is much to glean from his teaching concerning certain false teachers.

En2 See Hank Hanegraaff, pp. 41-42. The author of this book, like Hank Hanegraaff, has met many of these people, many of whom are very committed to the cause of Christ and who were completely oblivious to the rank heresy they were being fed. Jesus taught us not to judge self-righteously or hypocritically. We cannot discern the intent of the heart, but can only look at the outside. However, those who knowingly accept Faith Theology are clearly embracing a different gospel, which is in reality no gospel at all.