If the Church is God’s causal agent of change in society and the other institutions are reflective, i.e. the biblical institutions of Marriage, Family, Commerce and State, then it follows that the health or sickness of the Church will eventually be reflected in and by the State.
Accordingly if the American Church apostatizes (I will define what that means in this study) then our country will continually erode. In making this association, I am not thinking so much in terms of the sustained prophetic voice of Christian citizens on policy issues as I am of the quantitative and qualitative spiritual-maturity level of believers in public office; if the Church that sends them fails to do its job, then the impact for good that believers should have on our country will be diminished.
The health of the State is extremely dependent on the health of the Church. When apostasy begins to invade the Church, the State winds up with both fewer and weaker officeholders who are capable of leading it in a biblical direction. When the manufacturing plant is internally damaged, its products – leaders who are mature-in-Christ – will not be sent to the Capital.
BOOKS OF THE BIBLE: JUDE
An Apostate is an individual or Church that has spiritually defected from true, biblical faith. It is an abandonment of what was formerly voluntarily professed. Jude notes eight sound-bite examples of Apostasy in what amounts to the 4th shortest book in the Bible, only 24 verses long. It is located appropriately right next to Revelation (the last book of the Bible). Throughout this short epistle Jude provides his readers with a plethora of discerning illustrations, enabling one to easily recognize Apostasy. A good way to remember this book is as follows:
WHEREAS THE BOOK OF ACTS IS ALL ABOUT THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES, THE BOOK OF JUDE IS ALL ABOUT THE ACTS OF THE APOSTATES
Writing to Jews who had come to saving faith, Jude was one of four half-brothers of Christ (vs. 1; cf. Gal. 1:19; Matt.13:55 and Mk. 6:3). He is to be distinguished from Judas, who betrayed Christ, and the seven others named Jude or Judas in the NT.
Jude calls on true believers to not only watch out for and be discerning of false teachers and their aberrant theological teachings, but to contend earnestly against them, standing firmly for true saving faith. We are to fight for good doctrine in the manufacturing plant where God intends to produce healthy “Disciples.” In this sense Jude goes further than Peter in his similar subject matter. 2Peter 2:1-3:4 calls on believers in relationship to Apostasy to…
Remember the words spoken beforehand by the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken by your Apostles
But Jude adds this in verse 3 of his one-chapter epistle….
Beloved while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
Both passages are in the context of properly responding to Apostasy. Accordingly, every believer today should not only possess a watchful eye toward the existence of fake forms of Christianity, but should also battle all who propagate scripturally-erroneous views, those who commit doctrinal malfeasance, such as teaching something other than salvation in Christ alone.
II. THE FIGHT AGAINST APOSTASY
Jude penned this epistle at a time when Christianity was quite vulnerable. All the Apostles but John had been martyred, and many heretics and heresies were creeping into the Church. Thus, the book of Jude is a clarion call to be aware of apostasy, and to do something about it! Passivity toward things said and done amiss in the name of Christ is a sign of spiritual immaturity. Such a call to contend earnestly is emphasized by other NT authors:
A. JESUS CHRIST
Jesus was very loving, but at the same time He stood firmly against the false teachers of His day in Matthew 7:15-23; 16:11-12; 24:11-13 and Revelation. 2:2-3.
B. THE APOSTLE PAUL
Most of Paul’s epistles are polemic in nature, combating heresies in the first-century Church in Acts 20:29-31; 1Timothy 4:1-5; 2Timothy 3:1-5 and 4:3-4.
C. THE APOSTLE PETER
Peter echoes the same concerns in his writings in 2Peter 2:1-3 and 3:3-7.
D. THE APOSTLE JOHN
John drives home the distinguishing characteristic of fully-bloomed apostasy in 1John 4:1-6 and 2John 7-11.
Take the time to look up those passages. Building on their previous repetitive admonitions and warnings regarding Apostasy, Jude illustrates them by use of numerous OT parallels. His intent is to further sound the alarm and challenge true believers to defend The Faith as well. Each is highlighted:
III. THE FIGURES OF APOSTASY
Jude describes Apostates as certain persons [who] have crept in unnoticed…ungodly men who turn the grace of God into licentiousness and deny our only master and Lord, Jesus Christ. Per this passage (vs. 4), by way of further definition, Apostates pervert grace (deeming grace as a license to sin) and possess a wrong view of who Jesus is: They either demean His personage (He is God incarnate) or His purpose (salvation is in Him alone). The following illustrations depict God’s attitude in general toward those who once acceded to, but now possess a wrong view regarding the personage and/or purposes of God:
A. THE EXODUS (VS. 5)
The Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.
The above passage is not a reference to the Egyptians, but to the Israelites who after the miracles of the Exodus, did not believe in Yahweh. Instead they rebelled against Joshua and Caleb (cf. Numbers 13:25-14:12). Many Israelites apostatized, ending up rebelling and disobeying God’s personage and purposes for their lives.
B. SATAN’S REBELLION (VS. 6)
Angels who did not keep their own domain, but abandoned their proper abode…
Genesis 6:1-3 describes the Apostasy of Angels. Therein they possessed men who cohabitated with women. In so doing they illustrate the rejection of the person and purposes of God.
C. SODOM AND GOMORRAH (VS. 7)
Sodom and Gomorrah…indulged in gross immorality…are exhibited as an example…
God’s destruction of these two cities on the SE corner of the Dead Sea occurred within a shadow of the death of Noah, who had preached God’s righteousness and judgment. The people of these cities knew that, nonetheless they now rejected it.
D. MOSES’ DEATH (VS. 9)
In the same way [Apostates]…defile the flesh, and reject authority and revile angelic majesties…
This passage (in its totality) serves to illustrate the above, in that Michael the Archangel did not contest with Satan over possession of the dead body of Moses (evidently Satan wanted possession of Moses’ body for some unstated reason). Michael was smart enough however to defer to God versus fighting Satan himself. How does this relate to the subject? Jude is saying that Apostates in their spiritual ignorance will attempt to say and do things that they shouldn’t. I.e. these men revile the things which they do not understand (vs.10). Beware of out-of-bounds antics, the perversion of biblical truths and purposes: These are distinguishing characteristics of Apostates in your midst!
E. CAIN (VS. 11)
Woe to them for they have gone the way of Cain…
Pursuing purposes outside the clear teachings of God’s Word is portrayed in and by the life of Cain. He openly rebelled against God’s purposes for OT blood sacrifices (cf. Gen. 4:1-15), offering instead a grain offering. Blood offerings were important because they were intended by God to be a Type of the ultimate sacrifice and payment by the coming Messiah for the sins of the world. God curses Cain’s alteration of His purposes.
F. BALAAM (VS. 11)
Motivated by financial reward, he loved the wages of unrighteousness states 2Peter 2:15. This Apostate lured Israel in the wrong direction. Balaam in his deceit knew how to cleverly entice God’s people away from the person and purposes of God (cf. Numbers 22-25; 2Peter 2:15).
TODAY APOSTATES IN GOVERNMENT LURE PEOPLE IN THE WRONG DIRECTION
Like Balaam, they would have people worship the State rather than God. Such are the results of entitlement programs fostered by Apostates in government today.
G. KORAH (VS. 11)
[They] perish in the rebellion of Korah.
Korah and 250 additional Jewish leaders rebelled against the leadership of Moses and Aaron. Therein they attempted to impose their purposes on God (cf. Numbers 16:1-32).
H. ENOCH (VS. 14-15)
It was about these men that Enoch…prophesized…These are grumblers, finding fault, following after their own lusts; they speak arrogantly, flattering people for the sake of gaining an advantage.
The Greek word for grumblers, as used in the Septuagint (LXX) connotes those who find fault with God. Following after their own lusts speaks again to characteristic sinful self-satisfaction as the Apostate’s ultimate goal. Speak arrogantly depicts great oratory yet without substantive meaning or sustainable possibilities, and flattering people is intended by Jude to describe someone who will tell others what they want to hear in order to achieve their selfish ends.
Sound familiar? These additional indicators of the presence of Apostates sound like some politicians who supposedly “name the name of Christ” in the Capital community.
I. SUMMARIZING THESE EIGHT ILLUSTRATIONS
These numerous OT descriptions of Apostasy serve to overwhelmingly inform the audience regarding their characteristics and their outcome. Make no mistake, God does not tolerate Apostates! Learn to discern them in your midst and respond appropriately in accordance to verse 3: Contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints.
IV. THE FORCES OF APOSTASY
A. THEY ARE ALIVE TODAY
What is so shockingly relevant about all the aforementioned passages is best gained in 2Peter 2:1-2 and 3:3 respectively:
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be maligned.
Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, and saying, “where is the promise of His coming?
The destructive forces of Apostasy are present in the last days. This means Apostasy is not a virus that infected the Church some time in the ancient past and now is no more. Rather, Scripture is clear that the cancer of Apostasy will continue forward from the time when the NT was written and exist in the Church today.
UNFORTUNATELY MANY WHO NAME THE NAME OF CHRIST TODAY SEEM UNAWARE OF THE IMPLICATIONS OF APOSTASY
They display little if any discernment between true and false forms of Christianity: not everyone who claims to be a Christian is a mature believer. Some, in their spiritual immaturity, can’t see Apostasy for what it is, and/or they are apathetic to the destruction Apostates continually manifest.
B. THEY HAVE VARIANT MANIFESTATIONS
Apostasy in the Church is recognizable not only by the personal characteristics and behavior of those OT folks who championed it, but it is also illustrated by the various Church bodies Jesus instructs in His letter to the seven churches of Asia Minor (in Revelation chapters 2 to 3). Note that He identifies four of those churches as extremely troublesome to Him—either already Apostate or headed in that direction. Here are four Church-wide illustrations of besetting Apostasy:
1. POLLUTED PERGAMUM 2:12-17
This Church in addition to having “faith in Christ” had some who held to the teachings of Balaam (this doctrinal compromise is the same one mentioned in point III.F above) and the Nicolaitans (vv. 14-15). In the OT, Balaam engineered a plot to have the Moabite women marry Israelite men so as to lead God’s people into compromise and God’s judgment. In the NT, Nicolas (once a deacon in the Church, cf. Acts 6) was a false believer who led the Church into similar sensually-related temptations. Nicolas interpreted liberty in Christ to mean license in Christ, leading to self-indulgent lifestyles. Pergamum was infected with a licentious definition of spirituality—a polluted, headed-toward Apostasy body of believers that, given their direction, would not and could not produce effective, mature believers. Today, beware of “ministries” in the Capitol (such as the organization that is behind the National Prayer Breakfast) that are characterized by broad acceptance of other paths to heaven, and licentious in their understanding of spirituality. (A good way to think of this error is this: Legalism adds requirements to one’s lifestyle whereas licentiousness seeks to delete Scriptural requirements by ignoring them or pretending they don’t exist).
2. TOLERANT THYATIRA 2:18-29
This Church tolerated the prophetess Jezebel. She is most likely a NT pseudonym for the OT woman of the same name who depicts the same things that are listed here: She led God’s chosen ones into immorality and idolatry. Similar to Pergamum, this Church was headed toward Apostasy by the very fact that they were open to such false teaching.
3. SLEEPY SARDIS 3:1-6
Members of this Church had a reputation of being alive, but Jesus (via John, cf. Rev. 1:1) states here that most of them were dead. Herein again is a challenge to churches to avoid slipping into total Apostasy.
4. LUKEWARM LAODICIA 3:14-22
This Church was wealthy and had no physical reasons for depending on God. This led to a lukewarm Christianity that Jesus strongly rebuked. An increasing number of American Churches have fallen or have fallen into one of these categories of Apostasy. Whereas the first two churches are characterized by the acceptance of bad theology and doctrinal error—a head problem—the later two churches are characterized by a heart problem.
One prevalent form of Apostasy that has greatly affected the American Church in the last century this is the heresy of Theological Liberalism aka, the Social Gospel. Rather than repent (the common call of Christ to all four of the Churches heretofore depicted) many Evangelical denominations have come to ruin as a result. They are now Apostate.
In relation to the State, those churches have sent their “disciples” in the supposed name of Christ into public service: As a result many Apostates hold office. Their manifest legislation stemming from their aberrant biblical understandings have nearly driven our country into economic ruin, among other things. The Apostate Social Gospel has led to a plethora of bankrupting entitlement programs. (BTW, scripturally, Governments are not called to be “my brother’s keeper”—individuals are).
In relation to all of American history, Apostasy means that today there are fewer candidates for office who have been seasoned by good churches in the Christian world view: Fewer who are spiritually-fit for the rigors of non-compromising, God-honoring, effective public service.
V. THE FLUSHING-OUT OF APOSTASY
Many healthy, non-apostate churches continue to reason incorrectly that since the Apostate Social Gospellers (known also as the Modernists) moved into the public square decades ago, (appropriately so when one considers their theological understanding) that they as a biblically-healthy Church should stay away—lest they themselves be perceived as Social Gospellers amongst their peers! Such faulty, fearful thinking could not be any further from obeying the truths surrounding the Great Commission! Non-apostate churches do not become apostate simply because they enter onto the campus of state leaders! This predominant, self-conscious, fearful, stupid thinking of otherwise healthy non-apostate churches must cease! Non-apostate churches should contend earnestly and oppose Apostate churches on the campuses of governmental leaders.
A. IN RELATION TO PASTORS
Good Pastors, where is your backbone? Where is your zeal – your spirit of competition – for the purity of the faith? Why concede such precious turf—turf that determines the destiny of a nation—to the enemy? As a pastor are you okay with that? I am not! Send us some more well-equipped and trained troops for public office! We need more supplies! May this study help clarify and correct your missiological malpractice! Don’t be intimidated by Apostasy!
B. IN RELATION TO OFFICE HOLDERS
Realizing the increasing weakening of the American Church, and the fact that good, non-apostate churches seem by-and-large to be scared of the Capitals—and that Apostate churches plentifully send the wrong people into office, the American Church (both true and false) is in real danger of becoming unable to positively affect the State! If good churches will not cast vision for, mentor, disciple and mature individuals in Christ for (among other things) the purpose of public office, then what alternatives remain?
Mature, believing legislators need to band together to birth parachurch ministries in local city and county government offices, as well as in state and federal capitals for the purpose of evangelizing and discipling their colleagues! Why? It seems legislators at every level of government are left with much less personal guidance from timid churches than should be the case! Now don’t get me wrong, when healthy, non-apostate churches step up to the plate and help us, that is always welcome! But given the state of our country, we cannot sit on our hands and wait around any longer for fearful churches to send mature saints into the public square—which is precisely our nation’s greatest need!
Jude is a tiny NT book, but it packs an enormously powerful message: By way of application and synthesis to the State, it properly analyzes a crucial problem our nation faces. We cannot solve a problem unless we first analyze it correctly. May Jude’s counsel help in that regard.