What to Do About Apostasy?

Sometime the abundance of false teaching discourages me. On one side are professing Christians claiming freedom in Christ (or dismissing the authority of Scripture) in order to live immoral lives. These individuals claim knowledge of God based on their own intuition—God who is good must be like A because I think A is good. Using this argument, they condone premarital sex, homosexuality, greed, selfishness, pride, and any number of other vices the Bible teaches against.

Of course there is another camp that preaches the importance of holding God to his word. If he said it and you claim it, God has to come through. It’s a formula. Put in your faith, push God’s promise button, and out will come what you want. (When Satan tried this tactic with Jesus, God’s Son answered him by a principle laid out in the Bible: “It is said, ‘YOU SHALL NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST'” [Luke 4:12].)

Apostasy—falling away from the faith—doesn’t stop there. Some fall away because of ignorance—they haven’t learned what the Bible says. As a result they are crushed when trouble comes, perhaps because they expected Christianity to make life easier only to discover it doesn’t.

Jesus spelled this out when he explained the parable of the sower and seed:

The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he falls away.
– Matthew 13:20-21 (emphasis mine)

Apostasy exists today and seems to be growing. More TV “evangelists” and authors and emergent thinkers spring up every day it seems.

But this past Sunday I heard a sermon that reminded me God told us apostasy would grow.

But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits
– I Timothy 4:1a

Which takes us to the question under consideration: what to do about apostasy? God through the Apostle Paul, to Timothy again, had the answer:

I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction. For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
– 2 Timothy 4:1-5

Pretty clear: Preach the word. Reprove, rebuke, exhort. And when people turn away, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

In other words, people’s response should not dictate what a Christian does or does not do. Some ridicule missionary work. Some mock evangelism. Some denigrate the teaching of the Word of God from the pulpit Sunday after Sunday as passe or irrelevant. Some tear down “preachy Christian messages” in fiction (not because they are poorly executed—that’s another issue—but because they are Christian).

None of those criticisms should keep pastors from preaching, evangelists from evangelizing, missionaries from spreading the gospel, or writers from writing stories with themes consistent with God’s Word.

The believer’s mandate is to make disciples. Apostasy might make it tougher but shouldn’t change the goal.

Published in: on May 12, 2010 at 11:33 am  Comments (8)  
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