Oct 13th, 2019
Hello and welcome to season 2 episode 47 of The Berean Manifesto brought to you by The Ekklesian House. This is Pastor Bill and over the next 10 minutes or so we are going to talk about apostasy.
The dictionary defines apostasy as, “the abandonment or renunciation of a religious or political belief.” We’ve talked before about people who have renounced their Christian faith because they feel like they no longer believe. They list off all of their works as evidence that they were at one time Christians; they were a pastor's kid, served in church, went on missions trips, read the bible, went to a Christian college or seminary, pastored a church, etc... but honestly, that’s not how this works. Let’s not forget Jesus’ warning about the judgment in Matthew 7:22-23 “ On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, didn’t we prophesy in your name, drive out demons in your name, and do many miracles in your name?’  Then I will announce to them, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you lawbreakers!’” And we have to take into account Johns’ words in 1 John 2:19, “ They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. However, they went out so that it might be made clear that none of them belongs to us.” John here tells us that if someone really was a Christian, if they really joined the faith, if they really were fully persuaded, then they never would have left. By leaving they made it clear that they never really were a Christian.
Recently, and by that I mean over the last couple of decades, there’s been a lot of this, but this year there’s been a fair amount of influencers who’ve come forward with announcements that they no longer consider themselves Christians, and while all of this is concerning, it’s really not all that surprising. In 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 Paul wrote, “ Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him: We ask you, brothers and sisters,  not to be easily upset or troubled, either by a prophecy or by a message or by a letter supposedly from us, alleging that the day of the Lord has come.  Don’t let anyone deceive you in any way. For that day will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the man doomed to destruction.” Paul is saying that Jesus won’t come back until there is first a great falling away from The Faith, and the Anti-Christ is revealed.
It’s really not really the fault of The Church that apostasy happens at all. Even Jesus faced this issue while He was on Earth. In John 6:60-71 we read, “ Therefore, when many of his disciples heard this, they said, "This teaching is hard. Who can accept it?"  Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were complaining about this, asked them, "Does this offend you?  Then what if you were to observe the Son of Man ascending to where he was before?  The Spirit is the one who gives life. The flesh doesn't help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.  But there are some among you who don't believe." (For Jesus knew from the beginning those who did not believe and the one who would betray him.)  He said, "This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted to him by the Father."  From that moment many of his disciples turned back and no longer accompanied him.  So Jesus said to the Twelve, "You don't want to go away too, do you?"  Simon Peter answered, "Lord, to whom will we go? You have the words of eternal life.  We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."  Jesus replied to them, "Didn't I choose you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil."  He was referring to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son, one of the Twelve, because he was going to betray him.”
It’s estimated that Jesus had about 120 followers before this event happened. That means approximately 108 people basically lived with Christ, travelled with Christ, ministered to the hungry, hurting, and poor WITH Christ; and still, they didn’t actually believe. And Judas, Judas was a believer, but had treachery in his heart. Well, treachery and thievery, and Jesus’ response to this was to keep Judas close and put him in charge of the treasury, but that’s a whole other topic.
Now, when we turn to the book of Jude, we read a bunch of stuff about people infiltrating the church. Historically people have believed that the book of Jude is specifically talking about apostates. So it’s really relevant to what we’re studying here. Let’s look at that starting on verse 3, “ Dear friends, although I was eager to write you about the salvation we share, I found it necessary to write, appealing to you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.  For some people, who were designated for this judgment long ago, have come in by stealth; they are ungodly, turning the grace of our God into sensuality and denying Jesus Christ, our only Master and Lord.  Now I want to remind you, although you came to know all these things once and for all, that Jesus saved a people out of Egypt and later destroyed those who did not believe;  and the angels who did not keep their own position but abandoned their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains in deep darkness for the judgment on the great day.  Likewise, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns committed sexual immorality and perversions, and serve as an example by undergoing the punishment of eternal fire.  In the same way these people-relying on their dreams-defile their flesh, reject authority, and slander glorious ones.  Yet when Michael the archangel was disputing with the devil in an argument about Moses's body, he did not dare utter a slanderous condemnation against him but said, "The Lord rebuke you!"  But these people blaspheme anything they do not understand. And what they do understand by instinct-like irrational animals-by these things they are destroyed.  Woe to them! For they have gone the way of Cain, have plunged into Balaam's error for profit, and have perished in Korah's rebellion.  These people are dangerous reefs at your love feasts as they eat with you without reverence. They are shepherds who only look after themselves. They are waterless clouds carried along by winds; trees in late autumn-fruitless, twice dead and uprooted.  They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shameful deeds; wandering stars for whom the blackness of darkness is reserved forever.  It was about these that Enoch, in the seventh generation from Adam, prophesied: "Look! The Lord comes with tens of thousands of his holy ones  to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly concerning all the ungodly acts that they have done in an ungodly way, and concerning all the harsh things ungodly sinners have said against him."  These people are discontented grumblers, living according to their desires; their mouths utter arrogant words, flattering people for their own advantage.  But you, dear friends, remember what was predicted by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ.  They told you, "In the end time there will be scoffers living according to their own ungodly desires."  These people create divisions and are worldly, not having the Spirit.  But you, dear friends, as you build yourselves up in your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,  keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting expectantly for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ for eternal life.  Have mercy on those who waver;  save others by snatching them from the fire; have mercy on others but with fear, hating even the garment defiled by the flesh.”
If you caught nothing else from this episode, grab ahold of this concept from the end of the book of Jude. As believers, it is our responsibility to have mercy on those who have wavered, while simultaneously being careful to protect our own walk.
This is Pastor Bill saying, “Until next time…”