By Dr. Ricahrd B. W. Ing
June 21, 2002
TRUTH MIXED WITH UNTRUTH
I have spent many hours reading articles on apostasy and have seen how even those who attack false doctrines are themselves deceived. The evangelical denomination that attacks charismatic churches celebrates Christmas and Easter and believes in pre-tribulation rapture. The same is true with Charismatic/Pentecostal denominations and independents. Almost every denomination clings to some wonderful truths and at the same time some heresies. Each strongly defends itself and in order to defend its truths, it has to also defend its heresies. To deny its heresies would be to deny the denomination itself and that is not acceptable. Therefore, we trap ourselves with our very organizations and associations where denominations and associations become more important than the truth.
Evangelicals deny speaking in tongues, miraculous healing, deliverance and other signs and wonders of the Holy Spirit. Charismatics/Pentecostals are too enthralled by signs and wonders and gifts of the Spirit, and not enough with love and evangelism. Both camps have wonderful truths and damnable heresies mixed together and nobody wants to give in to the other. In truth, both are in apostasy. Independents are varied and undisciplined. Again, each independent church has its truths and heresies too.
While unity in the Body of Christ is an honorable goal, attempts to “unite” seem to mean, “I’ll accept your lies if you accept mine. We’ll just concentrate on the areas we can agree on and ignore the rest.” The whole truth has become irrelevant; agreement on certain areas is enough for unity today. That is why Roman Catholics, Evangelicals and Charismatic/Pentecostals can come together as one. Some prominent Christian leaders have publicly stated that so long as you believe in a God, you can get to heaven. The rest is immaterial. This prepares the path to ultimately accept Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many other strange religions. Come to think of it, the Roman Catholic Church has been doing it for centuries. The Church of Jesus Christ is about to be sold out to the enemy, and I don’t mean just the Roman Catholic Church or Mormons.
THE BIGGEST APOSTASY
False doctrines and words are just the tip of the iceberg. The biggest apostasy is a false walk. Yet, not one writer on apostasy, as far as I have been able to find, ever mentions the false Christian “walk.” One can have all the right doctrines and still be walking in lies. Unless you’re walking in truth, false doctrines and movements are trivial because they are not going to change the way you live anyway. False doctrines are dangerous to those who desire to walk in truth, but to those who have no intention of separating themselves from the attachments of the world, it is nothing. Most don’t even care that the church is in apostasy. They think everything is normal. Although the Bible and the Holy Spirit were given to guide us into all truth, most have no interest in walking like Jesus and changing into His image and therefore, the Bible is just another story book and the Holy Spirit is merely the dog they whistle for when they need something. (GOD is spelled G-O-D, and not D-O-G) Discussing and arguing doctrines is just a religious exercise or intellectual game that a few play, like chess or mah jong. To most, scriptures are just something you can choose or not choose to get involved in. Reading the Bible is optional. Who cares when it will have little effect on life anyway? It is not even fashionable or necessary to argue or defend the truth anymore. “Whatever you want to believe is okay with me. It’s not going to change my life either way.” Who it is that wins an argument on doctrine is of no real consequence. True or false doctrines don’t change our walk anyway.
To deceived Christians, sermons and teachings are just part of playing church. The Word of God is to help us become separate from the world, to live a life pleasing to God, but we hardly ever allow the light of truth into our life. Mankind loves darkness. To the weak Christian, the main thing is to get baptized, go to church, pay tithes and act holy. The rest of the week is - back to the world. Nothing changes. You can’t tell a Christian from a non-Christian anymore, except perhaps from what he says. What he does is something else. I know of churches where the leaders go with their church members to local hostess bars after night services to have a few beers, as a means of getting to know each other and to fellowship. Others join native Indians and dance the rain dance to their gods or feature hula dancing in church to show the natives that we are one, and that you can be a Christian and retain your native culture and religion at the same time. You don’t have to change anything you’ve been doing in order to be a Christian. What apostasy!
One of the reasons the doctrines are being changed is because mankind loves the world and will not let anything get in the way of their attachments to worldly things and activities. Therefore, people will travel far to find someone who preaches what they want to hear. The apostle Paul said in 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.” They seek to hear things that justify their worldliness. That’s why we are so easily deceived. We actually invite deception when we will listen only according to our own lusts. It is harder to deceive those who love the truth.
False doctrines allow us to continue to live the same rotten, sinful, selfish lives we lived before we became Christians. All we want is relief from our past sins, but don’t want to give it up in the future, choosing to sin, repent and sin again. We become our own confession boxes. We want to soothe our consciences for a while, but don’t want to get rid of the things we enjoy in the world. It is using the cross and the blood of Jesus unrighteously. That’s why the “once saved, always saved” and the “prosperity” doctrines are so popular. They tickle the flesh and come from the pit of hell.
But, apostasy is more than just speaking lies, it is living lies. It is one thing to have false doctrines and walk falsely because of them; it is a far worse thing to have truth and choose a false walk. One who knows the truth and refuses to walk in it is rebellious. Worse, he is a hypocrite. Truth spoken but not lived becomes untrue in your heart. God desires truth in the inward parts of man. Ps. 51:6. We can possess truth, talk truth, and assent to the truth, and yet not walk in it. Truth known and preached but not walked becomes mere hypocrisy. It is well to note that Jesus was not as much against sinners as He was against hypocrites.
The evidence of your belief in the truth is how you manifest His truth in your life. You can assent to the truth in words and have all the correct doctrine, but deny the truth in the way you walk. Belief is more than just intellectual assent - it is living the truth, being true. One can agree to a truth and walk away, unaffected by the truth. Possessing truth is not the same as being true. Apostasy is not just changing the truth into a lie; it is changing the true walk into a false walk and worse, not realizing it. The walk is the ultimate falsity and apostasy. The real apostasy is more than false doctrine; it is a false walk. No wonder the world cannot see much difference between a Christian and a Buddhist, or even an atheist.
I once had a member who had been a Christian almost all of her life. One morning she called me and said, “Brother Richard, I’m so happy. I’ve been working with this lady in the same office for fifteen years and yesterday I saw her with a Bible. I found out that she was a Christian for a long time too. She didn’t know I was a Christian and I didn’t know she was one too. Now, I have someone in the office that can pray with me and agree with me. Praise God! God is good!” How sad. How can one Christian work with another Christian for fifteen years and not know that the other is a Christian?
Do love, sacrifice, loyalty, humility, submission and obedience have any meaning anymore? It should. It describes the character and nature of God. Yet, most Christians today exhibit few of those attributes. Most have no idea what these traits mean. Throughout their walk, their priorities in life remain unaffected - obtaining and maintaining possessions, wealth, financial security and gaining the respect and admiration of others. That is why modern churches are mostly interested in social and political correctness and awareness, good works and moral issues. Standing for righteousness, sacrifice and willingness to die for the sake of the gospel is passed. Changing hearts is only an archaic idea for fanatics. Faking it is easier.
A few years back, I was praying and asking God why the Church is in such a big mess. Suddenly, I had a vision of the yellow pages of a telephone directory. I saw a forefinger point to a word at the upper right-hand corner. The word “APPEARANCES” came to view. Our love, loyalty, humility, submission and obedience are mostly surface pretenses, calculated to present a false appearance of holiness and righteousness. Under pressure, the masks fall apart, revealing the true heart condition of the “actor.” I’ve experienced people who were pillars of the local church, having spent 40 years as a Christian, yell, swear and walk off in anger over a trifling argument. Other “mature” Christians swear and yell at their children in the church parking lot when nobody is around (they think). I’ve known prophets who act like professional athletes on the road, picking up women where they can.
The apostle Paul said in I Corinthians 9:24, “Know ye not that they which run a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” In Phil. 3:14,15, he says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus. Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded . . . .” What race? What high calling? Paul answers that very question. He says, “. . . as many as be perfect . . . .” or as many who desire to be perfect in Jesus Christ. We are called by God to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. Ro. 8:29. We are called to be true.
The majority of saints will agree that time is running out and we are almost at the end of the age. Ask how many believe the end of the age is almost here and most of the congregation will raise their hands. Yet, no one will do anything to change and prepare for the end. They believe that their walk is already sufficient. In Revelation 3:14-18, the problem with the church in Laodicea was the fact that they were blind and they did not realize their fallen condition. So it is with Christians today. Few realize how far the Church has fallen in doctrine and in walking. As Jesus said, “I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire . . . and anoint thine eyes with eye-salve, that thou mayest see.” Rev. 3:18.
ARE SIGNS AND WONDERS EVIDENCE OF HOLINESS?
The Holy Spirit was given to show us the truth so we can walk in it. Instead, most Charismatics want the power but not the walk. God is interested in the walk. The power belongs to Him to give or not to give. That’s why the signs and wonders in a person’s ministry have no bearing on his personal walk. I’ve seen anointed prophets and pastors commit adultery and fall. Yet, they had much power in their walk - casting out devils, prophesying, healing the sick. Like King Saul, the power never changed them positively. People want power so they can have more of the world. Many young men or women want to be like some famous televangelist because they want the fame and money. They can smell it. I’ve been on crusades with young evangelists trained by some famous televangelist. On stage, they are mighty in signs and wonders - in preaching and healing the sick. Outside of the crusade meetings, however, they are sometimes unruly, cheaters, proud braggers, arrogant and careless with women. I’ve know a few. That is why Jesus and the apostles warned us of wolves in sheep’s clothing and to beware of deception because of signs and wonders. Mt. 24:11, 24.
These purveyors of signs and wonders have become experts at putting up a show or image of holiness and power. They have power but no holiness. God gives power because of. His grace. Roman 11:29 says, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” A prophet living in adultery can still prophesy and heal the sick, but eventually the anointing will diminish if he refuses to stop sinning. The desire of many wayward Christians is to get his or her share of the pie and maybe more. Saving people and healing the sick is coincidental to satisfying their worldly lusts.
Walking in His truth is a matter of choice and willingness to walk like Jesus, knowing that it will take many sacrifices and that we may be persecuted and even killed for our truth.
ANOTHER SIGN OF THE TIMES
Matthew 24:12 says, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” There is very little love in the church today. In the years prior to the 1980's, Christians had much more love. I had a law case in which I had to interview older members in order to know the history of a particular church in the first half of the 20th century. What they told me was that the church and the members were like family. They would stay up for hours talking and discussing the Bible, and helping each other almost daily. Some church members would gather at the church, spend Saturday afternoon cleaning the church and the grounds, cook dinner for everyone and sleep in the church overnight. They would get up early next morning, cook breakfast for the members and have service. Everybody knew each other well. They helped each other at their homes. The men would get together and clean a widow’s yard. Women would help shop and clean each other’s homes, cook for one another and take care of the kids. After the 70's, the love died.
Today, people avoid other members and restrict their relationships to Sunday mornings and an evening or two where they come to church for meetings, but they don’t really care for their brothers and sisters otherwise. They choose isolation instead. People no longer cut the grass for widows and elderly people. They no longer share bread together outside of church except for after meetings or services, or help with the kids or buy things for one another. The love is getting colder and colder. For the most part they just want to be left alone. Most “love” and good works are limited to corporate activities such as feeding the poor, collecting clothes, etc. Church is just another activity in their lives - like going to the movies once a week. Granted, there are churches where young people love to attend because of the entertainment factor and to find a mate. In a local newspaper recently, an article appeared extolling the virtues of church in order to find a mate. Young men and women throng to churches where good-looking guys and gals congregate. I’ve actually had a member quit my church and go to a large church because he was looking for a wife. There are all kinds of social programs where you can meet the mate of your choice. That church is wildly successful beyond any expectation. The entertainment factor is a big attraction, as services feature over an hour of music and dancing by semi-professional entertainers. Walk in truth? What’s that?
True, for some of the older Christians, including those who are already married, we are so busy today trying to earn a living and our time is limited. We try to reduce our stress through hobbies and recreational activities and we have precious few moments to waste on others. We have no time for friends any more and we are surprised when we meet some former friends and realize that time has flown by so quickly. It’s a trap. Our desire to have our share of the pie drives us to different priorities today. Family and friends are no longer at the top of the list. Instead, wealth, gaining and maintaining possessions, status and acceptance by the world are at the top of our priorities list. Receiving honor from men is more important than seeking honor from God. Church and love are at the bottom. We don’t have the time. Yet, Jesus said, “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Jn. 13:34,35.
When the love of many in the church waxes cold, it is almost the end. When His disciples asked Jesus “what shall be the sign of thy coming and the end of the world?” one of the signs Jesus pointed out was, “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.” The Christian walk of love, submission, humility and obedience have become supplanted by the characteristics cited in 2 Peter 2:1-22 and Jude. 4-19. Jude says,
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 these filthy dreamers defile the flesh, despise dominion and speak evil of dignities . . . But these speak evil of those things which they know not: but what they know naturally, as brute beasts, in those things they corrupt themselves. 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 Cor’e. 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 . . . mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. Jude 4, 8, 10-13, 16, 18, 19.
Peter says pretty much the same thing in 2 Pet. 2:1-22. These scriptures describe the walk many Christians will have in the end times. The apostle Peter describes these end time saints as,
. . . chiefly them that walk after the flesh in the lust of uncleanness, and despise government . . . Presumptuous are they, self-willed . . . not afraid to speak evil of dignities . . . as natural brute beasts, . . . speak evil of the things that they understand not . . . sporting themselves with their own deceivings while they feast with you . . . having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin, beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; . . . Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Ba’laam . . . who loved the wages of unrighteousness . . . 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. 2 Pet. 2:10, 12-15,18-19.
Both Peter and Jude describe a false walk of people who consider themselves to be believers, but whose walk is of the world - a deadly apostasy. As Jesus says in Matthew 24:24, “. . . (I)f it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” It seems that we are almost there.