By Charles F. Davis
“Now the spirit speaketh expressly that in 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 Tim. 4:1,2, KJV). From the aforementioned passage of Scripture, it is obvious that Timothy, the young evangelist for Jesus Christ, was fully cognizant of the gravity of this malignant growth called apostasy. The great apostle Paul, who was Timothy’s father in the gospel, penned the above exhortation to the young evangelist to alert him of this impending danger which would soon confront the children of God. These perilous times, which the elect, according to the foreknowledge of God, were about to undergo, were similar to the days when physical Israel was plagued by false prophets. “But there were false prophets 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” (2 Pet. 2:1, KJV).
My beloved brethren, apostasy is not a foregone conclusion, neither is it lying dormant; but rather it is a deadly process which is ever evolving from generation to generation. As a gospel preacher, I am appalled at the nonchalant attitude possessed by saints of God concerning this vital subject. Brethren, we have lost our conviction for the truth (John 8:31, 32) and we have lost our sensitivity for the New Testament pattern of worship. We are no longer speaking where the Bible speaks and being silent where it silent (Col. 3:17; 1 Pet. 4:12). We have become silent where the Bible speaks for fear of reprisal of man and have become outspoken where God has been silent (Rom. 10:1-3).
What is the cause of this spiritual blight which has permeated itself throughout the body of Christ? I believe part of the answer to the question lies in the definition of the word itself. Webster’s 7th Collegiate Dictionary (p. 42) defines apostasy as “renunciation of a religious belief; to defect from a faith.” This is exactly what the apostle Paul had in mind when he actually described the proponents of apostasy in Acts 20:29, 30; “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you not sparing the flock. Also of yourselves shall men arise speaking perverse things to draw away the disciples after them.” This is the same cause the prophet Isaiah gave for apostasy when he said, “for the leaders of this people cause them to err and they that are led of them are destroyed” (Isa. 9:16). When religious leaders, elders, deacons, ministers defect from the faith and become heretical in their teaching, inevitably apostasy will follow.
It is an inherent impossibility to accurately measure the catastrophic effect apostasy will have on the body of Christ in the future because it is an ever evolving process. However, I will say this, if our future is anything like our past, we are in for the battle of our lives or should I say souls! Allow me to illustrate.
Thirty years ago the following practices were considered unauthorized by members of the Church of Christ, but are now considered to be an abnormality when churches do not have or do not practice such:
Collections being taken up on any day of the week
Church sponsored playgrounds, gyms and grocery stores
Church support of “Christian Colleges” such as Southwestern Christian College in Texas.
Brethren, these innovations are called the social gospel and they are a form of apostasy because they are not a part of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I shall use a syllogism to illustrate a major premise: Every practice the church engages in without authority is apostasy. The minor premise: The social gospel is unauthorized by the New Testament Scriptures. Conclusion: The social gospel is a form of apostasy. Therefore, I plead with every member of the body of Christ to examine yourselves to see whether you be in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5).
Guardian of Truth XXXI: 22, p. 676
November 19, 1987