This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Therefore I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory.
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
Ephesians 3:11–19, NASB
All in Christ have much in common no matter what doctrines they hold. Therefore, this post’s focus is on the marvelous outcome of our salvation that we are Children of God and because of that we have a “purifying hope” in Christ.
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:1–10, NASB
I am in no way backing off of the fact that I am a Calvinist. God is sovereign. He is perfect. He is omniscient, omnipresent, and immutable. He is holy, righteous, and just. Did I mention that he is sovereign? Yes, He most certainly is that and if you study – honestly study – holy sacred Scripture with the goal of finding God’s truth, and not seeking an excuse to justify your own belief system, you have to come away from an exclusive, totally exegetical study of it grounded in the presupposition that God is righteous and just, and that man is His creation to do with as He pleases.
Also, any attempt to place the free will of man over and above the sovereign will of God is an act of rebellion, and causes men to interpret scripture from an alien hermeneutic, leading them to totally misunderstand God and His will. As I have posted several articles lately about Reformation theology, I have also received many “communications” from certain people who find it “offensive.” I have been doing this a long time, and I hope you have noticed that I no longer allow “arguing” of any kind on my blog. Debate and arguing are not the same thing. No one in the offended camp wants to debate…
I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed! As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching to you a gospel contrary to what you received, he is to be accursed!
For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond- servant of Christ.
For I would have you know, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.
Galatians 1:8–12, NASB
The title of this article may surprise many. There are many professing Christians in our time time who take the stance that no one can know everything about the gospel. They say that we must be tolerant of others views of salvation because the gospel is inherently unknowable. Several years ago, I may have become confused by that argument, but not anymore. Our God is very precise and He does things His way in His timing and always for His glory.
Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. Romans 12:1–2, NASB
In our daily Christian walk it is a rare day in which we take every thought capture and, through our active repentance, successfully deny ourselves through every circumstance. I don’t think I could claim that I have successfully done this the majority of the time. However, our God is wise and omniscient. It should be a matter of great rejoicing on our part that our perseverance is in His hands and is based on the work of the Holy Trinity on our behalf, not on our will power.
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Ephesians 5:25–27, NASB
There are really only two groups of people in the world. There are those who are branches bearing fruit in the True Vine who is Christ, and then there are those who are either totally separate from the vine in their rejection of Gospel or are branches in the True Vine who bear no fruit. Those branches which bear fruit have been cleansed by the washing of water with the word by Christ. Their sins are forgiven. The other group has not been cleansed so remain in their sins even though they appear to be in the True Vine.
In pointing out these things to the brethren, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, constantly nourished on the words of the faith and of the sound doctrine which you have been following. 1 Timothy 4:6, NASB
From January 1986 until the late fall of 2005, I probably would have, if asked, responded to the question in the title that Christianity is a life – or at least a relationship – while doctrine, though unnecessary, helps us understand that. I didn’t really believe during that time that doctrine was of any real value. Why? My whole understanding of Christianity was that it was based on my experience. For some odd reason I didn’t think much past that in an attempt to understand why my experience would be so radically different than other Christians’ experience.
At the core of all of what we recognize as apostate christianity in our time is something really no different than the liberalism that was fought by the theologians in the late 19th Century, such as Charles Spurgeon, and those in the early 20th Century, such as J. Gresham Machen.
Over the last few days on Facebook, for instance, I have witnessed posts showing people holding up signs in front of them professing that they are Christians, but then thanking God for abortionists. In other cases, there are pretty much the same “so-called Christian” groups abandoning everything doctrinally that would line them up with Christian orthodoxy, including the inerrancy of the Bible and its authority. Since they have abandoned the authority of the Bible, they have also rejected all orthodox doctrines that are offensive to secularism.
Of course, ever since our Lord ascended into heaven, the Church has been under attack by wolves. There has never been a time in its history when it was perfect. There have always been false teachers teaching false doctrine to false professors.
In the early part of the 20th Century, J. Gresham Machen was embroiled in a very severe attack on orthodoxy by determined liberals attempting to take over the Presbyterian Church, USA. It seemed like he was contending alone but, of course, he was not alone – he had the Holy Spirit, and those whom God drew to listen, believe, and come from the darkness of compromise to follow Dr. Machen into continued obedient Christian orthodoxy.
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” John 6:53–58, NASB
In January 1986 God intervened in my life with eternal results. He called me to Himself. He regenerated me. He justified me. He sanctified me. He adopted me. He changed me forever. However, I was a baby Christian. I had only a vague concept of what God had done on my behalf. I really did not have a clear understanding of this thing we call Christianity. All I knew was that before that wonderful day I did not care too much for church. My concept of the proper Christian life was one of being religious, but that religion had to meet certain criteria. However, after God saved me, my concept changed radically. I suddenly found that I loved God and His people. I loved hearing Bible centered sermons and being in Bible study classes. I had a deep desire to know God’s will that I may obey Him in all things. However, that earlier concept of the proper Christian life was still with me, that is, that one’s religiosity was what determined one’s right standing before God.
Behold, My servant will prosper,
He will be high and lifted up and greatly exalted.
Just as many were astonished at you, My people,
So His appearance was marred more than any man
And His form more than the sons of men.
Thus He will sprinkle many nations,
Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him;
For what had not been told them they will see,
And what they had not heard they will understand.
Isaiah 52:13–15, NASB
In his fine book Escape from Reason, Francis Schaeffer analyzed 20th Century philosophy, science, art, and popular culture to get to the “cause,” if you will, of the decline of reason, which was and is still shaping our society. Modern thought in our time, it seems, has been diverted from an eternal, heavenly focus to one that is entirely geared to the temporal. Part of his thesis is that the advent of humanistic philosophy and reason began with Thomas Aquinas (1225–1274). He contends that, prior to Aquinas, the heavenly things were all-important, but since his teaching and discussion of “nature and grace,” the focus of human thought has made the temporal all–important, with the heavenly becoming only an abstract “unreality.”
Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. Matthew 28:1–4, NASB
Jesus is Risen! He is Risen Indeed! According to Paul in his first epistle to the church in Corinth, the doctrine of the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is the lynchpin of our faith.
But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. 1 Corinthians 15:13–14, NASB
If the resurrection of Christ is not true then Christianity is based on a myth and our faith is in vain. Therefore, we must hold tightly to the fact that our Lord is Risen. On the morning of our Lord’s resurrection there were several people who witnessed different aspects of it. Their responses to it varied drastically.
In the year that King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and the train of his robe filled the temple. Above him stood the seraphim. Each had six wings:with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one called to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
the whole earth is full of his glory!”
Isaiah 6:1–3, ESV
In the English translations of the Old Testament when we encounter the word “Lord” we are actually reading the Hebrew word Adhōnāy. On the other hand, when we read the word “LORD,” it is is completely different Hebrew word, Yehōwāh. Adhōnāy is actually a title for God meaning “sovereign one.” Yehōwāh is the sacred name of God. It was the name He used to reveal Himself to Moses at the burning bush. Yehōwāh is the unspeakable name, the holy name of God. The Hebrew scribes wrote it as YHWH. Therefore, it is referred to as the sacred tetragrammaton, the unspeakable four letters. Adhōnāy is the plural noun form of Ādhōn, which, when used in reference to God, means Lord. However, Adhōnāy is plural but singular in meaning. This speaks of the Holy Trinity, i.e. one God in three persons.
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1–4, NASB
The Church in the early part of the 21st century is very sick. This sickness has not happened all at once. Instead, it is the result of centuries of compromise after compromise on the part of Christian leaders and their followers to adapt the Gospel and Church doctrines to conform to what men want. As a result, the Church has lost its savor. It is no longer salty. The countries in Europe where the Reformers restored the Gospel at the cost of untold numbers of martyrs would not now be considered Christian at all.
In the United States, the visible Church still has some influence in politics and society, but is that what the Church is supposed to be about? The segment of the American Church that would consider itself evangelical has become so doctrinally shallow that most of the members as well as their leadership have no idea what they really believe. If they were confronted with the Arminianism/semi-Pelagianism vs. Calvinism debate, they would be clueless about what each side believes and does not believe. In fact, they are so spiritually shallow, they don’t understand why it is important to know what you believe and why you believe it.
I was with you in weakness and in fear and in much trembling, and my message and my preaching were not in persuasive words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.
Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory;
1 Corinthians 2:3–7, NASB
When we observe those “Christian leaders” espousing the social activism of new evangelicalism, which is rooted in semi-Pelagianism and Humanism, it should make us wonder at what motivates them. Why would these people seek to create a new version of Christianity? I suppose it is that they see that what they are seeking to replace has “failed” because so many young people want nothing to do with it. Therefore, they desire to create a new Christianity that uses the marketing techniques of the world and entertainment to entice people to be part of a church that is new and exciting. Gone is any call to repent of sins. Sin is hardly, if ever, mentioned. Instead of calling on God for mercy and seeking the Son for salvation from the Father’s coming judgment, they are told to come to Jesus and let Him into their lives so He can make their life better.
What are the leaders of this movement missing? What is wrong with what they are doing? It is not wrong to want to reach the lost with the Gospel. No, we should be doing that, but it is very wrong to make every Sunday morning into a show that only appeals to the flesh. Instead of worshipping our Lord God in reverential fear, they have a rock concert. The leaders of this movement may indeed create large churches and international ministries by doing what they do, but is it right?
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Go and proclaim in the ears of Jerusalem, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord,
“I remember concerning you the devotion of your youth,
The love of your betrothals,
Your following after Me in the wilderness,
Through a land not sown.
Jeremiah 2:1–2, NASB
As I think back on that startling, abrupt, life-changing time immediately following God graciously bringing me into knowing Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord, justifying me, and placing me on that narrow road of sanctification, I remember my deep devotion to all things related to my faith. Some of those things were obviously part of the trappings of religiosity but, primarily, I remember not being able to get enough of God’s Word, and that is still the case. He has since that time chiseled and burned away much of the dross and worthless stuff from me that hindered me in my pilgrimage. It should be no surprise though that much of what was taken away were things, ministries, and people that I clung to desperately thinking they were vital parts of what made up “my walk.” In my case, my “first love,” which at times had diminished as I served religious things and worked at my religion with much vigor, has actually grown much deeper as the focus has been removed from all that to simply loving and obeying my Lord.
For all of us have become like one who is unclean,
And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment;
And all of us wither like a leaf,
And our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
Isaiah 64:6, NASB
Since the inception of this ministry, I have been approached by many concerned people who are convinced that they have sinned one too many times and have forfeited their salvation. They were being continually antagonized about their sin by a voice within. In every case, after some careful questioning, I learned that each of them have been part of a church or denomination whose doctrine of justification is a blend of grace and law, faith and works. Also, as I attempted to explain that justification is by faith alone according to the grace of God, each of them responded in disbelief and that usually ended the conversation. When I tried to share with them that the unregenerate are not troubled by their sin this way it fell on deaf ears. This has always been one of the most heartbreaking aspects of ministering like this. It has left me, at times, very frustrated and angry at those false teachers, those wolves in sheep’s clothing out there, whose false doctrines have left their followers spiritually confused, hurt, and unable to grasp the truth.
“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
‘Who will bring me down to earth?’
Obadiah 1:3, NASB
Adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled Self-Deceived.
Human pride is incredibly deceitful. It can so deceive its host that he or she may well believe they are the truly humble. It is true of all proud people, for pride is self-deceit. Some reading this may be proud. In fact, it is those who believe they have no pride who are most likely the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed.
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3–4, ESV
We have spent a large amount of time lately looking at forms of “Christianity” that are really forms of apostasy or heresy. We have also compared their false beliefs with those of other aberrant forms of our faith, such as the Emergent movement and “liberal Christianity.” There are others to be sure, but what has been amazing is how they all do the same thing. They elevate man and demote God. They teach salvation by works instead of by grace through faith as a gift from God.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is this you, you troubler of Israel?” He said, “I have not troubled Israel, but you and your father’s house have, because you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord and you have followed the Baals. Now then send and gather to me all Israel at Mount Carmel, together with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of the Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 1 Kings 18:17–19, NASB
There was a time when the English and American cultures were decidedly “Christian.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the remnant of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.
The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom.
Jesus said to him, “The one having been bathed does not have need except to wash his feet, but is wholly clean, and you are clean, but not all.” For He knew the one betraying Him, therefore, He said, “Not all are clean.” John 13:10–11, translated from the NA28 Greek text
λέγει αὐτῷ ὁ Ἰησοῦς· ὁ λελουμένος οὐκ ἔχει χρείαν εἰ μὴ τοὺς πόδας νίψασθαι, ἀλλʼ ἔστιν καθαρὸς ὅλος· καὶ ὑμεῖς καθαροί ἐστε, ἀλλʼ οὐχὶ πάντες. ᾔδει γὰρ τὸν παραδιδόντα αὐτόν· διὰ τοῦτο εἶπεν ὅτι οὐχὶ πάντες καθαροί ἐστε. John 13:10–11, NA28
We have been discussing the rampant apostasy in the “visible church.” While it seems that is is much worse now than it as ever been, let us never forget that the genuine Church has been infiltrated and mixed together with unbelievers, heretics, and apostates from the very beginning. In the passage above we see that one of the our Lord’s own chosen disciples, one of the 12, would betray Him. However, in John 13:18 our also makes it clear that this betrayal would fulfill Old Testament prophecies about an insider betraying Him.
I do not speak of all of you. I know the ones I have chosen; but it is that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats My bread has lifted up his heel against Me.’ John 13:18, NASB
Now, we enter that part of John’s account of our Lord’s last Passover Feast in which His betrayer is sent away to do his deed. In contrast, our Lord reveals that those who truly belong to Him follow the commandment from God to love one another. Then He reveals to Peter that, even though Peter declares that he would rather die than leave the Lord, he will deny that he even knows Jesus three times this very night. Let us take a closer look.
τίς γὰρ ἡμῶν ἐλπὶς ἢ χαρὰ ἢ στέφανος καυχήσεως — ἢ οὐχὶ καὶ ὑμεῖς — ἔμπροσθεν τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ ἐν τῇ αὐτοῦ παρουσίᾳ; ὑμεῖς γάρ ἐστε ἡ δόξα ἡμῶν καὶ ἡ χαρά. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20, NA28
For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy. 1 Thessalonians 2:19–20, NASB
Over the last few months (or is it weeks or is it days?) it seems those “wolves in sheep’s clothing” we have been warning you about over last several years have become even more bold in their moves away from what we call doctrinally sound Christianity. Rob Bell has been the most dramatic with his teaming up with Oprah. He has accused any Christian who relies on sacred Scripture as its source of doctrine as being closed minded, behind the times, and not relevant. Andy Stanley has said pretty much the same thing, but not in such a dramatic way, while Rick Warren is trying to get all Protestants to come under the Roman Catholic Pope. Of course within all these guys’ teachings we will find elements of universalism and ecumenicalism. This leads them to be soft on the doctrine of hell for instance. Why do they all end up in the same place eventually, which is to deny the inerrancy and authority of sacred Scripture? They must do this because Scripture condemns what they are doing.
“To the angel of the church in Sardis write: He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars, says this: ‘I know your deeds, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen the things that remain, which were about to die; for I have not found your deeds completed in the sight of My God. Revelation 3:1–2, NASB
When my dad died in 2010 I inherited my grandfather’s Bible. My grandfather was a remarkable man. He was born in 1877 and became a preacher of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ in the 1890s in Indian Territory, which is now Oklahoma. My grandfather preached from this Bible well into the 1950s. It is full of notes and his own cross references. However, there is one thing in the bible that no one, apparently, knew was there. It is a letter written to him from one of his sisters, Lucy. It had to have been written to him either in the late 1940s or early 1950s, since she died around that time. Below is a quotation from it that I found especially fitting in light of the present condition of the visible church.
And do not enter into judgment with Your servant,
For in Your sight no man living is righteous.
Psalm 143:2, NASB
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Matthew 5:3–4, NASB
“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“Therefore I have hope in Him.”
The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,
To the person who seeks Him.
It is good that he waits silently
For the salvation of the Lord.
Lamentations 3:24–26, NASB
Despite the “popular Christian” teachings in our time that suffering is never God’s will for His people, a close, sober, and honest study of scripture reveals that the fires of tribulation are used by God to form and refine His people. The view that God desires of each Christian always to be healthy and prosperous is based on many false assumptions. One false assumption is that salvation is somehow deserved and those who profess faith can claim anything they want from a god who is bound to meet all their requests. Another false assumption moves the focus of salvation from God glory to the person’s glory and their “having their best life now.” Sin is seen as simple mistakes that God overlooks because He is all love.
Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be My disciples. Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. John 15:4–10, NASB
For the first 20 or so years of my Christian pilgrimage, I was in a very immature spiritual state. I was utterly convinced during that time that my worth as a disciple depended upon my performance, my learning, my obedience – my righteousness. With that mindset it was a very horrible experience at times, since I was on a roller coaster ride of obedience and backsliding. What amazed me during that period was that I was looked at as one of the more mature believers at our church. I knew better. That all changed in 2004 and 2005 as God drew me into the light and drastically changed that ‘mindset’. It was as I learned and held to the truth that our salvation is all according to God’s will, not ours, that I began to have peace and freedom. He chose us according to the good pleasure of His will, not according to our abilities or any other inherent attribute we may have, and we are righteous in His eyes because He has imputed Christ’s righteousness to us. With this remaking of my mindset came the beginning of the end of that cycle of obedience and backsliding. It was as if it had been put to death or that it had lost traction.
“Have you understood all these things?” They said to Him, “Yes.” And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” Matthew 13:51–52, NASB
Charles Spurgeon spent the last several years of his ministry contending with “liberalizing” efforts within the evangelical churches in England in what came to be known as the “Great Downgrade Controversy.” That “downgrade” gained momentum not only in England, but here in the United States and around the world. It began in the 19th Century when seminaries began embracing “higher criticism” of the Bible. This caused many promising biblical scholars eventually to cast loose that which moored them to orthodoxy, the belief that the Bible is God’s Word – inerrant, and complete. Even though movements came forth to contend with this liberalization, this downgrade, instead of dying, has only changed form many times while still poisoning the Church like a parasite, sucking the spiritual life from it.
To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. For,
“The one who desires life, to love and see good days,
Must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit.
“He must turn away from evil and do good;
He must seek peace and pursue it.
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous,
And His ears attend to their prayer,
But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.”
1 Peter 3:8–12, NASB
This era of the Church is one of extreme deception due to compromise with the standards and focus of the world. Separation between the Church and the world is not being kept. Instead, the holy barrier between the two has been breached as false prophets have welcomed in not only the world and its ways into their churches, but have also embraced the world and it ways including mysticism of the Eastern religions. Syncretism is the new byword of the Emergent Village for instance.
On the other hand, God is good. He keeps His promises. The Lord told Peter that He is the one building His Church and no evil will ever be able to destroy it (Matthew 16:18). If this is true, and it is because our Lord spoke it, then how do we reconcile the rapid apostasy of so much of the visible Church with what He said?
God always keeps a remnant during times of rampant apostasy. These Christians are the small group whom God has reserved who have not bowed the knee to Baal. These are also the ones in whom God is developing Christlikeness and through the fires of persecution by those in the visible Church who have succumbed to the heresies and ungodliness going on in it, He is teaching them how to stand firm and never compromise with evil. In this they learn the difference between debate and dialogue and know that the former actually clarifies the truth and why they hold to it while the latter is only a conversation which has the intent of compromising the truth.