27 December 2007

A Short History of Apostasy

Another Excerpt from The Truth War
posted by Phil Johnson

Truth has never been established by majority opinion, and it is in no way unusual that in our generation only a relatively small remnant still believe the Bible is inerrantly truthful. Here's proof:

ike sin itself, apostasy is by no means a recent phenomenon, and it is not even something unique to the Christian era. From that moment in the garden when the serpent brought his war against truth into the world of humanity—through the close of the Old Testament canon and beyond, right down to the present day—the campaign against truth has been unrelenting and shockingly effective.

Again and again in the Old Testament, Israel was solemnly warned not to defect. Apostates nonetheless can be found in every period of Old Testament history. At times, it seemed as if the entire nation had apostatized at once. In Elijah's generation, for instance (at a time when the total population of Israel almost surely could be counted in the millions), the number of the faithful dwindled to some seven thousand (1 Kings 19:18). Elijah even imagined for a while that he was the last true believer alive!

During Jeremiah's lifetime, the size of the faithful remnant was probably smaller still. Almost everyone in Israel was utterly hostile to Jeremiah's ministry. After four decades of powerful preaching, the great prophet stood essentially alone. Scripture gives no indication that he ever saw a single convert.

Throughout Old Testament history, the problem of apostasy was pervasive, and times of widespread faithfulness in the nation, such as the sweeping revival described in Nehemiah 8, were exceptional and mostly short-lived. Nehemiah's revival quickly gave way to a watered-down and halfhearted form of religion (see Nehemiah 13). Spiritual lukewarmness dominated Israel's later history. The whole nation finally became so utterly apostate that when the promised Messiah was born, virtually everyone missed the true significance of the event. Within three years of the start of His public ministry, they were crying for Him to be murdered as a dangerous imposter and threat to their religion. From a human perspective, it might even seem as if the enemies of truth usually had the upper hand in the Old Testament era.

It is no surprise, then, that the word apostasia appears several times in the Septuagint (an ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament that predates Christ by a couple of hundred years). In Joshua 22:22, for example, apostasy is characterized as "rebellion [and] treachery" against "the LORD God of gods." Jeremiah 2:19 likewise employs the word apostasia to describe the backslidings of those who utterly forsook the Lord. That same verse defines the essence of all apostasy: " 'The fear of Me is not in you,' says the Lord GOD of hosts."

So apostasy, appalling and dismal though it is, has been an ever-present reality throughout all of redemptive history. Many people who know the truth reject it anyway, and thus it has always been. In that respect, the times in which we live are by no means extraordinary.

Even Jesus' ministry provides a startling picture of real-life apostasy. John 6 records how large crowds showed up wherever he went while He was performing miracles. But they turned away en masse when He began to proclaim truth they did not want to hear. In most cases, it appears, their rejection of Christ was nothing less than final and irremediable apostasy. Near the end of that long, tragic chapter, verse 66 says this: "From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more."

Jesus' teaching made the truth starkly clear. These people, who evidently saw the truth plainly and understood Jesus' teaching perfectly well, turned away anyway. In fact, the utter clarity of the truth was the very thing that drove them away. When they saw the truth for what it was, they simply hated it. It was too demanding, too unpopular, too inconvenient, too much of a threat to their own agenda, and too much of a rebuke to their sin. Remember, "men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil" (John 3:19).

So that is how the New Testament era began. Scripture also teaches that apostasy will be widespread at the end of the age. In the Olivet Discourse, Jesus gave an extended description of the last days, including this: "Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many" (Matthew 24:11). Peter likewise prophesied that "scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, 'Where is the promise of His coming?'" (2 Peter 3:3þ4). In 1 Timothy 4:1þ2, the apostle Paul says, "the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron." As a matter of fact, one of the major turning points at the end of this age will be a worldwide renunciation of the truth and a wholesale rejection of Christ, known as "the falling away" (apostasia), according to 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

So apostasy is a fact of all history, and there is never any kind of armistice in the Truth War. Our generation is certainly no exception to that rule. Some of the greatest threats to truth today come from within the visible church. Apostates are there in vast abundance—teaching lies, popularizing gross falsehoods, reinventing essential doctrines, and even redefining truth itself. They seem to be everywhere in the evangelical culture today, making merchandise of the gospel.
John MacArthur's signature


ezekiel said...


But don't stop there. Tell them what is coming. He is going to judge the church just like He did Jerusalem. Let's just pray that we have the right mark...

EZ 9:4And the LORD said to him, "Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it."

Rev 3:9Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.

10Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

11Behold, I come quickly: hold that fast which thou hast, that no man take thy crown.

12Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name.

13He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Jerry said...

"...making merchandise of the gospel."

Ding, Ding, DING! We have a winner!

Who cares how I handle the truth, just so long as I can make a buck? Throw in a little acclaim and fame along with the loot and I can cheerfully lead folks to hell.

As John McArthur pointed out, apostasy has been a fact since the Fall. Today, however, there are many in modern evangelical circles who have found it profitable, very profitable indeed, to sell snake oil.

teknon said...

What has intrigued me for some time regarding the stance of so called "moderates" in the EC conversation. They seem to commit themselves to a movement that typifies itself by embracing all that is apostate. This in the name of "conversation". Haven’t they ever heard of stern conversation?

It makes me wonder how a conversation between two people at a suitably hip coffee shop would go:

Rob: "Brian, your mother (insert suitably derisive comment here)"
Brian: "Oh, I’ve never thought of her that way, please continue"
Rob: "well she (go completely beyond the bounds of civility)"
Brian: "That’s so interesting, while I have some reservations regarding your stance, I think we should consider your analysis more closely"

Now I know that the above is a ridiculous example, but how much more shameful should it be when the subject of the conversation is not one’s mother but the God of the universe?

Preson said...

I guess you could call it an "inconvenient truth"? heh
(insert rim shot)

Strong Tower said...

djp answered why apostasy in his Christmas Eve question.

If we presented the Christ of Christmas correctly the world would not like baby Jesus, it would not like us. But, as long as we are comfortable in the world, at peace, then apostasy is what we do best.

Apostasy has always been birthed in the church. Eve, you know the mother of harlots, the mother of us all. For what ever reason God saw to it that from within it would arise the Cains and the Abels...until iniquity was discovered in the anointed cherubim, he stood, but when it was discovered, he fell and took a great number with him. And so it has been since the beginning. Apostasy is our nature, which we do so well. Cleaning out the leaven takes too much work and makes too many enemies, me thinks.

Anonymous said...

One of my observations reading The Truth War was on just this subject of apostasy. Dr MacArthur has no problem identifying those that try to blend postmodern uncertainty and Biblical truth as apostates, falling away from the true faith. At first this seemed a little over the top as I read the book. But then I came to the realization that it seemed harsh because, well, it is harsh, and it is true. And it's something we so rarely hear these days. In fact, I doubt that very many evangelicals today can even define the term apostasy. It's fallen out of our vocabulary due to lack of use, or lack of discernment. But then, I guess it's hard to brand someone as an apostate and accuse them of falling away from the "faith once delivered to the saints" when you really don't have a firm grasp on what that faith is, or a firm commitment to preserving it.

Jimmy Snowden said...

Dr. Johnson,
I thoroughly enjoyed this post on apostasy. I have a question: How do you go about discerning who is a false prophet and who is not?

I am not talking about the obvious cases like Koresh or Jones. I have heard many call T.D. Jakes a heretic because of his modalistic stance on the Trinity; I have heard many call Joel Osteen a heretic for preaching an incomplete gospel.

The way I have generally dealt with folks like Jakes and Osteen is not to consider them false prophets, but to encourage others to be aware of their theological and practical shortcomings. I suggest others to steer clear. I tend to be a bit slow to identify them as heretics out of a fear of being wrong in my assertion. The last thing I want to do is undermine the ministry of another genuine worker of the Gospel.

How do you go about discerning false prophets? How do you do this without becoming overly critical? How do you know where to draw lines?

Jimmy Snowden

donsands said...

"Scripture gives no indication that he ever saw a single convert."

In fact, the LORD said even if Samuel and Moses stood before Him and prayed He wouldn't relent.

God decreed judgement, and that is more terrifying than any other possibility.

Thanks for the great post of Pastor MacArthur's most excellent words. He is one of the best.

ezekiel said...


Just read the WORD and ask Him for knowledge and discernment. He will expose the false prophets and show you where to draw the lines. The more of Him you get in you the clearer the lines will get.

They are a lot further from where we are being led these days than it is safe to be.

davidinflorida said...


"Apostates are there in vast abundance"

Who are they? or Who are the top ten?


Steve Lamm said...

Jimmy Snowden,

You ask a couple of good questions. I'm sure Phil will respond when he has time.

We should certainly be cautious about identifing anyone as a heretic or a false prophet. On the other hand, we should not be intimidated by the cultural tendency to raise tolerance to the highest virtue. Whe truth is at stake, tolerance can be a vice.

Historically, anyone who denies the cardinal doctrines of the faith has been labled heretical with no apologies. In my view, those cardinal doctrines include the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the depravity of man, salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone, the plenary verbal inspiration and authority of Scripture, the substitutionary death of Christ, the virgin birth of Christ, the resurrection of Christ, and the second coming of Christ in glory, and the final judgment of all men by Christ.

But I also believe by implication that you could easily add other doctrines that are necessarily connected to these fundamental truths.

Therefore, TD Jakes is in fact a heretic because he is a modalist and denies the biblical doctrine of the Trinity as understood and defined in the historic councils of the Chruch and reaffirmed in the Reformation. This is no small error on his part and he promotes this doctrine in his public teaching.

I believe that Joel Osteen is also a false teacher because he deliberately avoids certain uncomfortable truths related to the Gospel giving people the impression that they can be right with God by means other than repentance and faith in Christ alone (see Galatians 1:6-9). Just read what he has written or simply watch him preach a few times and see if he clarly presents the Gospel.

Michael Horton has written extensively on Joel Osteen's teachings (www.whitehorseinn.org).

Identifying a heretic or false teacher is a service to the Lord and His church. It helps to cleanse the church and protect people from the lies which lead people away from salvation (Jude 3).

I suggest that you read John Piper's book "CONTENDING FOR OUR ALL" for a good look at three men who battled heresy in their own day.

Blessings to you,
Steve Lamm

Kevin Williams said...

The emergents (and the 'emerging' for that matter) have a 'wishy-washy' concept of love and disregard that the Biblical concept of love, (which is far different to the Greco-Roman concept), is directly linked with obeying

To quote Voddie Baucham from his excellent book Family Driven Faith:

"Throughout Deuteronomy Moses connects loving God with keeping His commandments (6:5-6; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1,13,22; 13:3-4; 19:9; 30:6, 16, 20). The theme is, love and obey. This theme is repeated not only throughout the Old Testament but also in the New.

Jesus said, "If you love Me, you will keep My commandments" (John 14:15). In John 14:21 He said, "He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves me will be loved by my father, and I will love Him and will disclose Myself to him." Again He said, "If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just have I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love" (John 15:10). John, the author who recorded these statements, echoed them in His epistle (1 John 2:3-4; 3:22; 5:3). In fact, the theme of demonstrating love for the Lord by keeping His commandments permeates the epistle of 1 John.

In other words, if you want to know whether or not someone truly loves God, watch what he or she does. If a person does not do the things that God says are pleasing and acceptable, and in fact does the things that God abhors and forbids, and yet claims to love God, it will be tough to support that claim. In fact John argues, "The one who says, "I have come to know Him and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected" (1 John 2:4-5a).

Love is proved by our efforts. If I say I love God, there should be evidence from the things I do (or the way I expend my energy and effort). By the same token, if I say I love my wife, that should be evidenced by my actions. If my actions are self-centred, I am demonstrating love for me. However, if my actions are directed toward meeting her needs, then she truly is the object of my affections." Voddie Baucham. Family Driven Faith, pp59-60

John Owen also said (in a wider context): "How can we possibly believe the promises concerning Heaven, immortality, and glory, when we do not believe the promises concerning our present life? And how can we be trusted when we say we believe these promises but make no effort to experience them ourselves? It is just here that men deceive themselves. It is not that they do not want the Gospel privileges of joy, peace and assurance, but they are not prepared to repent of their evil attitudes and careless life-styles. Some have even attempted to reconcile these things and ruined their souls. But without the diligent exercise of the grace of obedience, we shall never enjoy the graces of joy, peace and assurance." John Owen, The Glory of Christ, abridged pp114.

pastorbrianculver said...

thank you all for your answers. It is good to see people being directed by Scripture instead of just feelings!

Stephen Garrett said...

"For there must be also heresies among you, that they which are approved may be made manifest among you." (I Cor. 11: 19)

"Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul." (Deut. 13: 3)

Apostasies demonstrate who are approved of God, who is a good ground hearer, versus one who is not approved, and who is rather a wayside, shallow, or thorny ground hearer.

We all need to "examnine" ourselves to see if we are "in the faith" or are apostates posing as "pillars" in the church. (II Cor. 13: 5).

In Christ,

Stephen M. Garrett

FX Turk said...


We discern false prophets by their failure to prophecy, just like the should have in Israel.

As to Jakes and Osteen, they two suits cut from the same bolt of cloth -- ultimately, they are both preachers who seek You Best Life Now in which you forgive yourself and adopt a new moral code.

Read this:

Our prayer for you is that the God of all grace anoint you with fresh oil and His precious Spirit illuminate the Word as you read. May He empower you to effectively communicate to others the vibrant hope that He has given you to persevere the struggles that you have overcome and continue to overcome.

Furthermore, my wife and I pray that your home be a reflection of the joy and peace that God has promised to all of His children who follow Him. We bless your children, the fruit of your body. We speak life into your marriage, your ministry and your mission.

As you lay down at night we pray for more than sleep. We pray for rest. Rest in Him and arise refreshed for we need you. Your prayers, your support and your love are important to us. So we pray you will take care of yourself.

Without googling, is that Jakes or Osteen? It turns out to be Jakes -- preaching the same self-help Gospel Osteen is, the same prosperity mess which is sinless and therefore Christless.


Strong Tower said...


Though it is correct that behavior should line up with the Word of God we also need to caution that behavior, that is dressing in fine clothing and bedecking ourselves with gold and jewelery does not make us. It is the Word, and Jesus' warning to his disciples was to do what was commanded but not to be mislead by it. It is, "In the beginning was the Word" then behavior followed, for it is His Word, the Truth, that sanctifies us not our behaviour. You will know them by their fruits ties that fruit directly to the doctrines that they teach and not their behvior. Paul too warns us not to judge based upon outward behavior, though again there is judicial authority given to the church for the discipline of wanton disregard for the moral law. However, that is secondary. If we know Paul, then we know him as the man of Romans 7, and the same who wrote, "The Spirit wars against the flesh and the flesh against the Spirit, so that you do not do as you will." Paul also spoke to Timothy noting that bodily exercise profits little.

In the War, it is a War of the Word, or as JMac says a Truth War. And, it is when the church fails to pass these things along to men of sound mind, proven behavior, who are unmoved by the persuasion of riches and not double tongued for the sake of keeping the peace, able to teach that apostasy prevails. Diligence in discipleship, the Great Commission, keep the flock safe from within, its most vunerable point of breach. The world will always attack, and we are strong when it does because it causes us to rally to the Truth. But, when the error, like Achan's gold, is in the camp, plagues weaken us even under attack. We must be diligent then to "beware" of the leavened Word of those who call themselves faithful to it, and are not, even if they are those who look the part, (Jews).

Tom Ascol's petition on regenerate membership goes a long way in addressing this. For, we can see in the SBC a mostly conservative church in behavior externally, without a sense of the Holy. For all that we have right, our failure to diligently pursue the exaltation of the Word in Truth, simply produces very good looking leavened bread.

zeke is quite right, Christ is going to judge the church first- and one might wonder if that is not what is happening, now.

Where's the pizza dough recipe? A good pizza has to have a good foundation!

Kevin Williams said...

Hi Strong Tower, I would class the doctrines one teaches under the area of obeying.

I would add though (without trying to go to another subject) that I don't share John MacArthur's view of Rom 7 as there are too many problems with it, but take the view of Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Paul Washer & Charles Leiter on Romans 7 which reads plainly.

The false prophets of Matthew 7 are clearly anyone preaching a wide road. I.E. 'ask Jesus into your heart and then it doesn't matter if you live like Hell."-those who deny Lordship Salvation, or those who waterdown Scripture and redefine sin to be acceptable, (i.e. one common instance today is the reformed 'emerging' seeker sensitive movement, claiming that profane language and using the Lord's Name as a cuss word is now acceptable, because 'everybody does it'.)

Many are prepared to name Joel Olsteen as a heretic today, and people are just starting to be brave enough to name Rick Warren. But the fact is Olsteen is only being consistent and taking what most man-centred seeker friendly Pastors teach to it's logical conclusion.

The problem is I think that people turn a blind eye when they see 'big numbers'. But when we see a lot of people at a sports game, no one thinks 'there must be a great work of God going on', but we apply the same principal when we see a large church.

ezekiel said...

Spurgeon has some good ideas on spotting apostacy and heretics...

" He who follows Christ for his bag is a Judas; they who follow for loaves and fishes are children of the devil; but they who attend him out of love to himself are his own beloved ones. Lord, let me find my life in thee, and not in the mire of this world's favour or gain."

This was Dec 27 daily devotional...

Rick Frueh said...

Apostacy begins with a carelessness about sin. Because that brings a spiritual tension among God's people, the two choices must be either repentance or changing God's Word.

The majority of the church has chosen the latter, and in essence, when we change God's Word it is no longer God's Word at all.


Solameanie said...

One characteristic of apostasy that always strikes me is that it seldom happens in one fell swoop. Over time, truth is whittled away splinter by splinter, speck by speck, layer by layer. It happens slowly and is generally unnoticed except by those astute enough to watch like hawks. When the "hawks" point it out, they get dismissed as "divisive" and "unloving." They are accused of crying wolf, and a host of other dismissives.

The "frog in the kettle" analogy is probably the best analogy. By the time the temperature gets hot enough to where the frog realizes something is amiss, he's already cooked.

Rick Frueh said...

I agree, "Meanie", except today the apostacy is so open it no longer takes a hawk, a hummingbird can see it.

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

One characteristic of apostasy that always strikes me is that it seldom happens in one fell swoop. Over time, truth is whittled away splinter by splinter, speck by speck, layer by layer. It happens slowly and is generally unnoticed except by those astute enough to watch like hawks. When the "hawks" point it out, they get dismissed as "divisive" and "unloving." They are accused of crying wolf, and a host of other dismissives.

Dear Solameanie, please take a look at this blog post which is a polemic about "watchdogs" (aka "hawks"):


boyd said...

Good article! The core of all apostasy is money. Take the money out of the church and the doctinal problems could be corrected by anyone who believes the bible. The god of the recognized church is money, and apostasy is profitable.

donsands said...

"The core of all apostasy is money."

$$$$ can surely be the root of all kinds of evil, but there's plenty of poor false teachers, and especially false disciples to go around.

There certainly can be either manipulative teachers, or those who have deceived themselves, and so then deceive others.

boyd said...

Well said, however the poor teacher can be corrected like Apollos in Act.18:24-28. The problems or heresies comes from the paid to preach crowd.

Solameanie said...


That was an interesting read, and there is some merit in what he is saying. I don't agree with all of it, though. I don't think you have to defend a position to understand it.

As to the tone used in discussion (here we go again), in my experience, it often doesn't matter how sweetly or kindly you try to put things. Just the very fact that you raise an objection to someone's false teaching is enough to make you anathema in some circles. The Emergent Church issue is a good example. I personally know people who tried to respectfully raise concerns when it began encroaching into their church, only to be called on the carpet. Some of them were ultimately forced out of their churches because they wouldn't go along with it.

Solameanie said...


"Hummingbird don't fly away, fly away..."

Test: What cultist band sang that little ditty?

donsands said...

Seals & Croft, a couple B'Hai boys. (I think that's how you spell their religion)

Truth Unites... and Divides said...

I agree with you SolaMeanie.


ezekiel said...

Ok, Let’s try the “tone” approach.

Does anyone have an opinion as to what effect the doctrine of “once saved always saved” has had on the apostasy of the church? Has it had any impact, positive or negative?

Kevin Williams said...

Ezekiel, the once truly saved, always saved, is a Biblical truth.

The problem in this case is decisional regeneration and a rejection of Lordship Salvation, which are both apostasy. So we have 'evangelists' getting people to jump through spiritual hoops "do you know you're a sinner?" etc, asking them would they like to "ask Jesus into your heart" and then tell them "welcome to the family of God. God will never leave you," when in fact this person is most likely never truly saved in the first place.

DJP said...

Aw, you beat me to it.

Yep, once saved, always saved, is a Bible truth, and a blessed one at that.

It's the "once professed, always saved" doctrine that's deadly.

ezekiel said...

Puritan, djp,

I have argued (with myself), armenianism/calvanism and the basis each use for justification of their respective postions including scriptures that seem to support both very well. At the end of these arguments I don't really find any resolution, neither seems to win and I just chalk it up to just not understanding the WORD well enough to reconcile the two positions.

I can do the same for "once saved always saved". Only in this case, the argument mostly winds up against this doctrine.


1)Israel was "saved" from Egypt and later died in the wilderness.....

2)Israel then was "saved" from or delivered out of, the wilderness with Joshua and within one generation had mostly gone astray.

3)All the language in EZ 3,18,33 refering to "turning from righteousness".

4)All the imagery in the NT about the live tree cursed for not producing fruit, the tree dug around and fertilzed but destined to be cut down if it didn't produce fruit and the branches cut from the vine and cast in the fire if they don't produce fruit. (John 15)

5)2 Peter 2:20-22, Luke 11:24-26

6)Then the one that really disturbs me.

Hebrews 3:12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God. 13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called today, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end. 15 As it is said,Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.
16 For who were those who heard and yet rebelled? Was it not all those who left Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was he provoked for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness? 18 And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? 19 So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief.

So we have personal, real, apostacy. We can talk about apostacy of the church but when we bring it down to the personal level (EZ3,18:24,33) things get very ...personal...

We have a whole bunch of folks that have been hardened by the deceitfulness of sin...that tell us they are "saved" and that can recount the emotional experience of walking the isle and praying the prayer, getting baptised and still living in sin. Like one poster said "living like hell" but steadfast and determined that they are saved because they "believe" in Christ.

There has to be a difference in "believing" as Israel did in the wilderness and "believing" in Christ for salvation. Hebrews says there is. What is it? Obedience to the WORD? Then they will tell you that that is works based salvation and we all know that is error.

I fear that the "once saved always saved" doctrine has been adulterated and does much the same for us today that "blood decendant of Abraham" did for Israel. They rested in the security of family relaionship with Abraham and we rest in what we call "once saved always save"), faith that bears no works...as James says, a dead faith. (James 2:14-16).

Personal, real apostacy.

Anonymous said...

Peter Jones has an excellent book titled, Spirit Wars, (1996), endorsed on the back cover by J. MacArthur, on this very topic. Part two of this book covers the Anatomy of an Apostasy- chapter headings: The New Bible; The Ancient Gnostic Bible; A new Method of Bible Study; A New God for a New World Order; The God of Ancient Gnosticism: The New Sexuality; Gnostic Sexuality; The New Spiritual Experience; Gnostic Spirituality.
He writes about Sophia: Future of the Planet and he highlights the false teachings: The new evolution, new popularity of process theology, rejection of patriarchy, new view of democracy, new global religious vision, new ecology, new view of authority, new psychology, new pro-choice ethics, new understanding of Jesus, and new spirituality. Jones raises the question on p. 156,"Who is Sophia? Sophia is Lilith, the feminine expression of Satan."

Today the #1 girls name in the U.S. is Sophia.

'You will be like God', is the lie, and the rejection of the Lordship of Jesus Christ is what follows for all who go down the road of Apostasy bound for hell.

Then the angel said to me, "Write: Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!" And he added, "These are the true words of God." At this I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, "Do not do it! I am a fellow servant with you and with your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God! For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Rev. 19: 9,10

Mike Riccardi said...

There is definitely a difference between no lordship and the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints.

I think Dan hit it on the head when he said it's not "once professed, always saved." That's the 'adulteration' you're picking up on, Ezekiel. It doesn't mean, though, that the perseverance of the saints isn't biblical. The saints, that is those truly saved by grace, will be kept by Christ in the same grace.

The examples of Israel apostatizing that you quoted simply illustrates that those who did were not the "Israel of God" that Paul speaks about in Galatians 6.

The "brothers" in Hebrews 3 doesn't necessarily have to mean "Christian brothers." It can most certainly mean "Hebrew brothers" (see Rom 9:3, Acts 13:26, 22:1, 23:1, and 28:17).

Also, I fear that people read the conditional statement in Heb 3:14 backwards. "For we share in Christ, if indeed we hold our original confidence firm to the end." This doesn't mean that our holding firm our confidence somehow gets us to Christ if we can do it till the end. It means that our perseverance by grace to the end will show that we shared in Christ. Also, our falling away will show that we never did share in Christ. So we're left with John's words:

They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us. -- 1 John 2:19

Kevin Williams said...

Yep, the truly saved will work and persevere till the end.

1 John 2:19 can't make it any clearer. Just like in Matthew 7 when Jesus said He "never knew", those only "professing" he did not say "I no longer know you."

A pig will go back to "wallow in the mire" like in 2 Peter 2:20-22, Ezekiel quoted, because it's still a pig. It may have had a wash and pretended to be a sheep for a while, and professed to be changed but there is no regeneration, it has not been changed into a new creature and truly been born-again.

ezekiel said...

Mike Riccardi,

If we try to make the point that the “Israel of God” is all Israel, according to Romans 2 and 9, I am ok with that. However, the covenant and the circumcision of the flesh all originated from Gen 15 and 17 where Abraham’s faith resulted in imputed righteousness and the covenant was signed with circumcision. Even if we consider two seeds present in Egypt, and delivered from Egypt, we have to admit that some of those that died in the Wilderness were part of Isaac’s seed. Jacob was renamed Israel...and wound up in Egypt. So some of the original “saved” died in the wilderness.

As to Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, 2 who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. 3 For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. 4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.

I believe it is written to the members of the church....What is quite clear is that it is a warning to us...much like the warning in...

Romans 11:19 Then you will say, Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in. 20 That is true. They were broken off because of their unbelief, but you stand fast through faith. So do not become proud, but stand in awe. 21 For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will he spare you. 22 Note then the kindness and the severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God's kindness to you, provided you continue in his kindness. Otherwise you too will be cut off.

When we take Hebrews 3 and Romans 11 in context with 1 Cor 10 it becomes pretty clear that we can’t make the separation between the “Israel of God in Gal 6 and the Nation of Israel that we want to.

10 1 I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness. 6 Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. 7 Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. 8 We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. 9 We must not put Christ to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall.

If we get to a point where we are “once saved always saved” why do I have to worry about falling, coming short, falling away, hardening my heart, and believing a lie?

Why does this saint have to persevere?

ezekiel said...


Ok, but that is not really what it says. The pig to the mire and the dog to the vomit are proverbs...depicting a mans falling away or return to sin...

20 For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. 21 For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. 22 What the true proverb says has happened to them: The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.

We see it again here, the person had to have been righteous before he turned away....Here we have a pretty good picture of a man once righteous, made righteous through faith, belief at one time yet turning from that righteousness and committing unrighteousness...

Ez 18:24 18 24 But when a righteous person turns away from his righteousness and does injustice and does the same abominations that the wicked person does, shall he live? None of the righteous deeds that he has done shall be remembered; for the treachery of which he is guilty and the sin he has committed, for them he shall die.

EZ24:13 On account of your unclean lewdness, because I would have cleansed you and you were not cleansed from your uncleanness, you shall not be cleansed anymore till I have satisfied my fury upon you. 14 I am the Lord. I have spoken; it shall come to pass; I will do it. I will not go back; I will not spare; I will not relent; according to your ways and your deeds you will be judged, declares the Lord God.

Like the nation of Israel, I fear we make the same mistake with "once saved always saved". We have the opportunity to be washed with his blood and cleansed by the washing of the WORD (Eph 5:26)yet devise doctrine that justifies turning back to sin or never leaving it to begin with...all the while claiming to be saved....

Kevin Williams said...


In Ezekiel 18 v-6-9 describe the character, the fruit of the righteous man , i.e the one who is saved by genuine faith will bear good fruit. Then the “righteous man,” who turns in verse 24 does not have genuine righteousness, 1 John 2:19 is clear, he was never saved in the first place. The word “righteous” is often used in the Bible for people who think and profess to be righteous, but are really not. Just look at the Pharisees.

Comparing Israel is not a good analogy, because you are forgetting “Not all Israel are of Israel” not all physical descendents of Israel are of the elect of God. Also bear in mind when you use Israel as an example, that even though Moses and Aaron died in the wilderness, they obviously didn’t lose their salvation.

John 6:44 “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day”
-Notice that you can not come to God by faith unless the Father draws you, and the “Him” who God draws, not might, but “will” be raised up on the last day.

Rom 8:30 “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.”
-Those who are predestined, He calls, and Justifies and Glorifies.

John 2:23-25 “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.”
-Again these were clearly never saved. I recommend a sermon by Charles Leiter on this passage called Superficial Faith Superficial Faith

I also highly recommend Charles Leiter’s book (which is the best I’ve read this year) Justification and Regeneration which explains those two essential doctrines in such clear language.

1 Cor 2:14 “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.”
-The person who has not been supernaturally regenerated born-again from above by God “is not able” to understand.

Rom 8:7-8 “7 For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot. 8 Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.”
-Again the unconverted “cannot” submit themselves or please God. “Can” speaks of ability.

John 8:47 “Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”
-Notice again only those of God hear God. It doesn’t say you are not of God because you don’t hear, but rather you do not hear because you are not of God.

John 10:26-30 “But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you. 27 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. 28 And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. 30 I and My Father are one.”
-Notice it doesn’t say you are not my sheep because you don’t believe, but rather you do not believe because you are not my sheep. And they can’t then “walk out” of God’s hand because 10:3-5 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

Isa 43:13 “Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
-Notice it was God that began the good work and it is God that will finish it.

But don’t confuse this with the doctrine of human responsibility. Just because our salvation is all of God, does not mean we are not responsible to “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling”. There are many, many “works” verses, but this is not a contradiction, as the soundly saved person will produce good works, and “endure till the end”, and those who do not are the ones who do not have genuine saving faith.

2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
-And if you look at the context of this verse the “us” that God is not willing should perish, is clearly “the elect”, and the context is, this is the reason He is delaying His coming, that all whom He has chosen will come to repentance. See short video‘s explaining this verse

ezekiel said...


I consider the Nation of Israel a perfect analogy. Remember, we are discussing "once saved always saved". The fact that a few were saved bolsters the whole analogy rather than weakens it. What did Moses and Aaron do that was different from the rest? They didn't waver often in their worship and obedience to God, but when they did they repented and sought forgiveness. Not like the rest of them that hardened their hearts and tested God.

We are told several times in the NT that the OT documents the history of the Nation of Israel for an example to us.....Lets not toss the analogy out so fast...

As to the "genuine" qualifier that you use in the EZ text, is that not an example of "adding to" to make it more palatable or acceptable to fit our doctrine? If we add genuine before one righteousness, why don't we add it in front of all of them?

And I really like this....

"Isa 43:13 “Also henceforth I am he;
there is none who can deliver from my hand;
I work, and who can turn it back?”

Philippians 1:6 “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.”
-Notice it was God that began the good work and it is God that will finish it.

But don’t confuse this with the doctrine of human responsibility. Just because our salvation is all of God, does not mean we are not responsible to “work out our own salvation in fear and trembling”. There are many, many “works” verses, but this is not a contradiction, as the soundly saved person will produce good works, and “endure till the end”, and those who do not are the ones who do not have genuine saving faith.

I think you have nailed the bottom line. This is where I usually wind up in this argument. We have to keep remembering it is a work that He started and will finish. And His work always bears fruit. Visable fruit. If we don't bear evidence of the fruit, we need to examine the connection to the vine.

Thanks for the discussion!

Chris said...

40 comments worth of polite conversation?

I think I just became a postmillennialist.