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Doctrine of Apostasy
I. Principle: Believers may choose to fall away or turn away
from Christ. Believers may choose to stop believing
and in effect lose their faith. Believers become unbelievers.
1Tim. 1:18 ¶ Timothy, my son, I give you this instruction in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by following them you may fight the good fight,
1Tim. 1:19 holding on to faith and a good conscience. Some have rejected these and so have shipwrecked their faith.
Paul writes of the literal shipwreck he went through in 2 Cor. 11:25. When a ship is wrecked it is unusable. It is destroyed. Paul writes that some had stopped following the instruction and holding on to faith.
2Pet. 2:20 If they have escaped the corruption of the world by knowing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and are again entangled in it and overcome, they are worse off at the end than they were at the beginning.
2Pet. 2:21 It would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than to have known it and then to turn their backs on the sacred command that was passed on to them.
2Pet. 2:22 Of them the proverbs are true: “A dog returns to its vomit,” and, “A sow that is washed goes back to her wallowing in the mud
They are entangled in the corruption of the world and overcome.
1. Israel in the wilderness
a. This is a warning to the recipients of the epistle to the Hebrews
b. The path of hardness of heart is the path of continuing to reject truth while at the same time begin to believe the lie and lose faith.
c. Scripture and comments:
Heb. 3:5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which would be spoken;
Heb. 3:6 And Christ as son over His house, whose house we are, if we hold fast to the confidence and the boast of hope.
Moses was the servant of God, a leader at that who brought the Mosaic Law with all its shadows of things to come. He was faithful at that. But Christ was the one–the Son who made it happen. He is the reality. He too was faithful.
The house is us–God’s people. Collectively, believers are God’s house
Notice the phrase—if we hold fast– Third class condition–It is contingent upon believers — -There is the potential that we may not hold fast–to the confidence
confidence– firm belief in something–so much so that it may produce courage as the NIV translates. It could mean an openness in speaking about it
One can lose that confidence, that firmness of belief and the glorying in or boast of hope that often accompanies it.
Confidence comes with being a believer–that confidence. When you begin to lose your faith, you begin to lose that confidence and the hope that you glory in. This sets us up for the warning. The stage is set to see what happens to those who DO NOT hold fast—This strong warning is drawn from the Old Testament from an event that demonstrated the pattern of the Exodus generation.
Heb. 3:7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice,
Heb. 3:8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion in reference to the day of testing in the wilderness
Heb. 3:9 where your fathers tested me by trial and saw my works for forty years.
Heb. 3:10 Therefore, I was angry with this generation and said, “They always go astray in their heart and they did not know my ways;
Heb. 3:11 as I swore in my anger, they shall not enter in my rest.”
Heb. 3:12 Watch out, brothers, that there not be among any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that apostasizes from the living God.
Scripture warns believers to not develop an evil, unbelieving heart and apostatize (aphistemi).
Heb. 3:15 while it is said,
“TODAY IF YOU HEAR HIS VOICE,
DO NOT HARDEN YOUR HEARTS, AS IN THE REBELLION.”
Though delivered from Egypt the basis of the Mosaic Law,
a picture of them turning from sin, they did not follow through with faith and enter the promised land. Instead in their hearts they continued to not trust and harden their hearts.
2. Example Two The Parable of the Sower Luke 8:4-15
a. The second group is the ones who fell away.
b. The description in the parable:
Luke 8:6 Some fell on rock, and when it came up, the plants withered because they had no moisture.
c. The explanation in Luke
Luke 8:13 Those on the rock are the ones who receive the word with joy when they hear it, but they have no root. They believe for a while, but in the time of testing they fall away.
d. Explanation in parallel passages:
Matt. 13:20 The one who received the seed that fell on rocky places is the man who hears the word and at once receives it with joy.
Matt. 13:21 But since he has no root, he lasts only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.
Mark 4:16 Others, like seed sown on rocky places, hear the word and at once receive it with joy.
Mark 4:17 But since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.
II. Future Apostasy
A. Olivet discourse Jesus spoke of this apostasy.
Matt. 24:9 ¶ “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.
Matt. 24:10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
Matt. 24:11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.
—will turn away— fut. pass. indic.
skandali÷zw; skandalizoœ —to stumble
pass. to cause someone to stumble
meta. —to cause someone to sin. Hence to fall, to fall away from the faith—apostasy.
Notice that apostasy and betrayal are together here. It appears that some are contributing to the fall of others from the faith.
Mark 13:11 Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit.
Mark 13:12 ¶ “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death.
Mark 13:13 All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.
The betrayal would be unbelievers turning on believer relatives.
Luke 21:16 And you will even be betrayed by parents and brothers and relatives and friends and they will have some of you put to death.
Luke 21:17 And you will be hated by everyone because of me.
Luke 21:18 And not a hair on your head will perish.
The betrayal will be unbelievers towards immediate Christian family members.
There is some very serious and deadly persecution towards believers during the time of the seven years period prior to the Second Coming of Christ.
B. Paul in his Epistles
1Tim. 4:1 ¶ The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon (aphistemi) the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.
2. General increase and overall departure from morality and God.
2Tim. 3:1 ¶ But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2Tim. 3:2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
2Tim. 3:3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
2Tim. 3:4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—
2Tim. 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.
Note particularly the absence of love or misdirected toward self above all.
In the Olivet discourse, Jesus said:
Matt. 24:12 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
C. Peter in his Epistle
There is a general mocking of the Word of God which is characteristic of times of apostasy.
2Pet. 3:2 I want you to recall the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets and the command given by our Lord and Savior through your apostles.
2Pet. 3:3 ¶ First of all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires.
2Pet. 3:4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our fathers died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.”
D. Dan. 8:12
Dan. 8:12 The host was given over to the horn along with the daily sacrifice in the time of the rebellion. The horn threw the truth down to the ground and did what it did and prospered.
The time of rebellion is the world-wide apostasy against God, a turning away from truth and a worship and adoration of the Antichrist and what he brings to the world.
The horn threw the truth down to the ground— No doubt the Antichrist will oppose all sound Bible teaching, will cut off all access and possession of the Bible as we know it.