The Church of the Apostasy
July 20th, 1958 @ 7:30 PM
1 Timothy 4:1-6
THE CHURCH OF THE APOSTASY
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Timothy 4:1-6
7-20-58 7:30 p.m.
We concluded this morning the last verse of the third chapter of First Timothy. We begin tonight with the fourth chapter of First Timothy, and the title of the message is What the Spirit Said of the Latter Times. Now, let’s read the first seven verses:First Timothy 4:1-7; 1 Timothy 4:1-7. We all have it – all of us? First Timothy 4:1-7. Now let’s read it:
Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils,
Speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their conscience seared with a hot iron,
Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving;
For it is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer.
If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine whereunto thou hast attained.
But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness.
[1 Timothy 4:1-7]
Now we have as our text the first verse: "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith" [1 Timothy 4:1]. The Greek word there translated "shall depart" is "apostatize, to apostatize." It is a Greek word itself; apostasia, apostatize, apostēson, "to apostatize,to fall away." Uses the word tines, "some" – not all; not all.
"There are still seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal" [from 1 Kings 19:28]. "But the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the latter times, tines – some – shall depart – shall fall away, shall apostatize – from the faith" [1 Timothy 4:1]. Were that written just there, you might not think so much of it, but that is a recurring warning in the Word of God.
If you have ever been out to sea or come into a harbor, you have heard that melancholy sound of a foghorn maybe fastened to a buoy which itself is fastened to a reef or to a rock. And it occurs at regular and intermittent intervals. That is what you will find in the reading of the Word of God. So many times will the apostles say it. So many times does Jesus mention it. For example, so typical of Paul in 2 Timothy 3:1: "This know, that in the last days perilous times shall come." As he would say in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Acts: "After my departure, grievous wolves shall enter in to waste, to destroy the flock" [from Acts 20:29].
His whole prophecy was turned into that warning to the people as he looked ahead – always that resounding note. These days ahead – these latter times – are to be filled with peril and apostasy. In the second letter to the Thessalonian church and the second chapter [2 Thessalonians 2:3], he says these times will not find their denouement – their consummation, their great ultimate purpose in God – until first there is an apostasia, a falling away in the church, in the faith.
Now, that thing that is found in the apostle Paul follows a pattern – a presentation – of our life, of our times, and of this world in the whole fabric of the Scripture itself; and it is the duty of the child of God, of the disciple of Christ, the best he can, to learn what it is that the Scriptures teach. What does Jesus say? What does Paul say? What is written large on the page, on the face of the Book?
Now, you have no trouble following the plain and simple language of the Word. Let us take Jesus, then the Spirit as the Spirit affirm[s] what Jesus said in the apostles.
First, of the Lord: the Lord said that there is a distinction between, an inherent hostility between, the true church, the true disciple, and the world. They are two different things according to Jesus. In the fifteenth chapter of John – and the Scriptures I read are just typical. We haven’t time to speak of many of them. What we read are just typical. In the fifteenth chapter of the Gospel of John in the nineteenth and twentieth verses, Jesus says:
If ye were of the world, the world would love his own. Because ye are not of the world, I’ve chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.
Remember the word that I said unto you, "The servant is not greater than his lord." If they have persecuted Me, they will persecute you. If they’ve kept My saying –
and they haven’t –
they will keep your saying also –
and they won’t.
In the next chapter, the sixteenth chapter, Jesus says categorically: "In the world ye shall have tribulation; be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" [John 16:33]. In the next chapter, the seventeenth chapter, the Lord says: "I have given them Thy Word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world even as I am not of the world" [John 17:14] – "They are not of the world even as I am not of the world" [John 17:14]. He says, our Lord says, that between His people, His church, His children and the world, there is an inherent hostility. There is a vast distinction.
Now, our Lord said of the latter times that there would be a falling away in the church among the people of God:
"Because iniquity shall abound, the love of many" – the devotion of many – "shall wax cold" [Matthew 24:12].
"There shall arise false Christs, false prophets. They’ll do great things. Insomuch if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect" [from Matthew 24:24].
In that same apocalyptic discourse: "As it was in the days of Noah . . ." [Matthew 24:37], and in the seventeenth chapter of Luke, He speaks as it was in the days of Lot in the judgment of Sodom and Gomorrah [Luke 17:28-33].
Now that presentation of the Lord Jesus that His people are separate from the world and that in these latter times there should be a coldness, an apostasy, a falling away on the part of these who are supposed to be true servants of God, that thing is affirmed by the Spirit through the holy apostles. Without mitigation, without taking away the sharp edges, you listen to these apostles as they write statements that are – that are barbed in their import.
The pastor of the church in Jerusalem and the Lord’s own brother wrote James 4:4: "Know ye not the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whoso therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." There’s no compromise there, no palavering there. It is said directly and categorically: the friendship of the world is enmity with God, and the friend of the world is the enemy of God.
From the sainted apostle John – 1 John 5:19: "The whole world lieth in wickedness." The Greek of that is "the wicked one" – "the whole world lieth in the wicked one." Our Lord said the prince of this world is Satan [John 14:30]. Paul said in Second Corinthians 4:4: "The God of this world hath blinded men that they do not believe the gospel of the Son of God" [2 Corinthians 4:4]. There’s no doubt about the meaning of these words.
The apostle Paul in the third chapter of Second Timothy said: "Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. Evil men shall wax worse and worse" [2 Timothy 3:12-13] – the same thing that our Lord said about the world and the inherent hostility of the world to the true faith and the true church [Matthew 10:22]. And what the Lord said about the love of His people waxing cold [Matthew 24:12] is affirmed by the apostles when they spake of the apostasy from the faith – the falling away from the true gospel of the Son of God [2 Thessalonians 2:3].
Now, this falling away is delineated here in the Word of the Lord. Paul saw it in his day when he said, "The mystery of iniquity doth already work" [2 Thessalonians 2:7]. The confusion of doctrine, the multiplication of theological tongues and philosophical approaches – it began even in Paul’s day, and Paul prophesied that it would continue until the final consummation of the age.
Now Jesus spake of the beginning of that falling away, of that apostasy, of that growing cold, of that indifference to the great truths of the faith. He spake of it in this message to the church at Ephesus. Revelation 2:4: "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen" [Revelation 2:4-5]. Outside of this, He commends them in everything [Revelation 2:2-3]. But the beginning, the root of the apostasy of the people of God begins – it lies, it starts – there in "thou hast left thy first love" [Revelation 2:4].And that is the beginning of the fall, the falling away – left our first love.
When love dies, faith dies for it is in one’s heart that he believeth unto righteousness [Romans 10:9-10]. When love dies, obedience dies: "If you love Me, keep My commandments" [John 14:15]. The commandments of the Lord mean less and less and less when the fire, the love, the devotion to Christ dies. When love dies, the expectancy and the wishing and the desiring for the appearance of our Lord dies: "Not to me only, but unto all them also that love His appearing" [2 Timothy 4:8].
At the beginning, in the days of the Ephesian church, there was a great hope and a great expectancy of the immanency of the return of the Lord. But as the days passed, that waned away and men grew cold and indifferent. And they said to one another, the "Lord delayeth His coming" [Matthew 24:48]. And finally they said to one another: "Nay, the Lord was mistaken about His coming." And then they added: "And the apostles were misled by the Lord and the apostles misled the church." There is not to be any Kingdom. There’s not to be any coming. There’s not to be any appearing of the Lord [2 Peter 3:3-4]. And the agonizing, the groaning, for redemption ceased, and the church became the mistress and the pawn of the world. It pleased the church that the world caressed her and lauded her and honored her. She loved the words of tribute and adoration. Lavishing their gifts, the world made the church a part of the very system of the world itself.
And there was created for the new day and the new age a new religion and a new theology which I have chosen to call "the church of the apostasy" – the falling away that I see today in the church of the latter times. For you see, for the new day, the new culture, the new social order, the new scientific civilization, we could not hearken back to the religion and the faith of a half-civilized people who lived two thousand years ago. We must have a new theology, a new religion, a new faith in keeping with these latest scientific discoveries. Consequently, we have a new religion based upon a new conception of God. We have a new Christianity based upon a new conception of Christ, and we have a new universe based upon a new conception of matter. So let’s look at this modern church, this new church of the apostasy.
First, the new religion, the new theology. The new church is a church based on natural law, on natural religion. By that I mean it is not a faith and it is not a church based upon supernatural revelation or upon supernatural words and manifestations, but it is a church based upon natural law and natural religion. It has in it no personal God. God is a great, energetic, dynamic force. God is a principle. God is the great First Cause, and everything is a manifestation of God and God is the manifestation of everything. No miracle is possible. Prayer is unheard. The universe is run and controlled by physical law – the great impersonal energy and force of the universe. This Bible is nothing other than the record of the literature of a people who lived centuries ago. Its physics is false science. Its metaphysics is false philosophy. Its teachings are disputable, and its history, at most, is mostly mistaken; and Christianity is nothing other than one of the great religions of the world.
When I was preaching in Caribou, Maine, the biggest church in Caribou, Maine said through its pastor, "This is no Christian church. We are greater than a Christian church. For a Christian church," the pastor said, "is bound down by Christ – what Jesus says. We refuse to be bound down by any man. We select the best from all teachers of all ages, and we have a superior church."
The new faith and the new religion is a church based upon the great, impersonal, universal principle that is supposed to lie back of all we see in this earth, and what we see are just manifestations. In religion, in astronomy, in electronics, in all of the sciences and the philosophies, we just seek that manifestation of the imminence of the pantheistic God.
A second thing: this new theology, this new church, this new religion has not only an impersonal god, has just a great force or energy, but it is a church of humanity – founded upon humanity, built upon humanity. All of the rotes of modern philosophy and science and social studies have their center in humanity. They dethrone Christ and they deify mankind – all of them, all of them. "God is incarnate," they say, "in all men everywhere," and the difference between you and Christ is not a difference in kind but a difference in degree. To say that the human race is fallen is an impossible conception, according to the new theology, for God and man are essentially the same; and what is needed is further development in the man bringing him to the consciousness of his divinity.
Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, it is an insult to the modern mind. To the trained intelligence, it is an insult that the finest and most perfect of manhood should have been found two thousand years ago. According to the new theology, we shall have a greater and a better Christ. We shall yet write a greater and a better Bible.
Mankind is under the lull of dynamic evolution, and it is always progress – onward, upward, and outward. Man came out of the beast, but he’s to be agod; and the record of mankind is one of that struggle upward from the ape to the archangel, and sin is nothing other than the obscurities of the sun – the dirt on the image of the coin. The cloud shall melt away someday, and the image shall be washed from its dirt someday, and mankind shall flower in all the greatness and glory of his inherent divinity. It is a church built upon the worship of mankind.
A third thing: this new church, this new theology, this modern preaching toward which all modern philosophy and science and social studies tend – toward which they flow – the new church substitutes for the Kingdom of God the kingdom of Christian socialism. Social righteousness is the watchword of the new faith and the new religion. The Kingdom of God is nothing other than a kingdom of humanity, and Christianity is nothing other than beneficent humanitarianism. No longer are we to call men to repentance and faith in Christ. No longer is the mission of the church to save souls as firebrands from the burning, but the great mission of the church is to preach social righteousness. The mission of the church is to instruct its people in social amelioration, and the golden age that is to come is the age of social reconstruction. Everywhere, men are called not to personal faith in Christ, not to repentance and salvation in Jesus, but they are called to build the new social order. And that golden era – that social gospel, that kingdom of humanity – is to be brought in through political legislation, through civic welfare, through all of the efforts of amelioration that are found in the remaking of our social life.
The Kingdom of God has become the kingdom of man, and the appeal to trust in Jesus has become the appeal to work for a social righteousness. As they would say, the three great eras of humanity are first, the era of theology when men talked and believed in God; second, the era of anthropology when men began to study man; and last and greatest of all, the era of sociology – our great day when we have come to see the marvelous prospects that lie in social amelioration and social righteousness.
What part does Jesus have in this? Nothing particularly. Nothing. He was a great teacher that died two thousand years ago. He embodied great and noble ideals, but He was just one of many great men who have thought they sought the truth of God and preached it unto mankind. But He was mistaken. Along with His contemporaries, Jesus entertained messianic hopes. He thought He would return. He thought He would establish a kingdom, but He was mistaken. There’s not to be any Jesus that comes back. There’s not to be any kingdom established by the Lord. There’s not to be any continuing redemptive work of our Lord in heaven, no intercession in glory. There’s to be no miracle. There’s to be nothing beyond what natural law can bring us and social amelioration can bestow upon us. There’s no resurrection. There’s no appearing of Jesus. There’s no heaven. There’s no hell. There’s no judgment. There is nothing but this life and this world, and our great call and our great challenge is to fashion here in this earth the Kingdom of Godwhich has become the kingdom of humanity, the kingdom of social amelioration and righteousness. We are called to be reformers of Sodom and Gomorrah.
I wrote down here a contrast as I studied and prepared this message – a contrast of the chief teachings of the Scriptures which are contradicted by the modern apostate church. Most of you never heard of this stuff. My brother, this is the stuff that is the gospel in most of the churches around this world. All right, the difference.
First, the Scriptures say there is a personal God, the Creator of heaven and earth [Genesis 1:1, Psalm 8:3-4, 139:1-24]. But the new theology says there is no personal God – just an eternal energy or force. There never has been an act of creation. Matter has always been. Matter is uncreated. It is god itself. What you call "God" is everything that you see – uncreated, eternal, no beginning, always was.
Second, the Holy Scriptures say besides man there are other created intelligences – angels [Genesis 2:1; Colossians 1:16], fallen angels, demons, Satan. There is a kingdom of darkness under the rule of the fallen angel, Satan, the enemy of God and of man, the prince of this world [John 12:31, 14:30; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Ephesians 6:12]. But the new theology says there are no angels, good or evil; no demons; no Satan; no kingdom of darkness – nothing but physical law and physical matter.
Third, the Scriptures teach that man fell from his original perfectionand goodness and so came under the law of sin and death [Genesis 3:1-24; Romans 3:5-20, 6:23], and, therefore, needs a Redeemer, a Savior [Romans 8:2]. But the new theology – the apostate church says man has evolved upward and has never fallen. He needs no redemption but is in the process of evolving into a state of highest goodness and wisdom.
When I delivered, a year-and-a-half ago, that long seriesat the 8:15 service on evolution, on the creation of man, I took it for granted that our people in college and in seminary would say, "That’s the truth of God." To my amazement, I learned that even in the heart of our schools, our colleges, and some of our seminaries, there were men who looked upon those messages as being sheer inanity for the old Bible is nothing but myth and fable, and for a man to believe that God created a human being back there in the beginning is to deny all modern science. And, therefore, in keeping with this modern day, we are to believe that man evolved from a cell – a primordial paramecium or amoeba – and that he’s coming upward, and, given time, he’ll evolve into an archangel. Never has been a fall, then there never will be the need of a Redeemer. Give us time, we will develop into that ultimate God consciousness.
This stuff, this stuff, this stuff reaches down into the pulpits and the churches and the schools everywhere! It’s a dry rot. It’s a disease. We’re as susceptible to it as anybody else. You can’t point to the people way up north, people way over to the east, people over there in England and say they only are susceptible to this new scientific approach. This new philosophy, this new doctrine, this new theology, man, we all subject to it. There’s nothing in the world that will contravene it but the staying by and the preaching and the study of the Word of God. Let’scontinue.
Fourth, the only begotten Son of God – according to the Book – the only begotten Son of God became man to redeem man from sin and death on the cross [John 3:16; Philippians 2:5-8], and He is now our High Priest [Hebrews 4:14-15] making intercession for us [Hebrews 7:25]. But according to the new faith and the new theology and the new teaching, Jesus is but one of the sons of God for God is incarnate alike in all men. We all alike are sons of God. Jesus is not now our High Priest for His work as Savior was completed in giving us a moral ideal. He was a great teacher, a marvelous teacher, and when He died, died like any other man.
Five. The Book says, this Book says, there is to be a kingdom of Christ set up at the return of the risen Lord in which His church, made like Him in resurrection life, shall reign with Him and all nations dwell in peace [1 Corinthians 6:2; Revelation 20:4, 22:5]. But according to the new theology, according to the new philosophy, according to the church of the scientific age – the apostate church – there will be no return of Christ to the earth and no resurrection of the dead. Through processes of evolution, earth shall see a perfected humanity, a new social order in which all evils will be done away and the kingdom of man shall come.
And last, the Book says, the Bible says, the conflict of good and evil, of Christ and Satan, will come to its final decision in the personal triumph of Christ over Satanwhen Satan shall be cast into the bottomless pit with those who follow him [Revelation 20:2-3, 7-10]. The new theology and the new faith and the new religion, they teach there is no bottomless pit. There is no hell. There is no such contest or conflict between Christ and Satan for evil is imperfect good, a stumbling upward, and will disappear as humanity is developed in its god consciousness.
No wonder Jesus said, "The world is one thing and My church is another thing." They are diametrically opposite. Whether the unbeliever is a pseudo-scientist or a pseudo-philosopher or a pseudo-professor or a pseudo-teacher or a pseudo-pastor or a pseudo-preacher, the Word of God is one thing and the world is another thing.
Now, I must close. May I just say two or three things of the true church?
First, the true church is separate and distinct from the world. It is something else. It is something different. It is something beside. The modern church pants after the world. Its doctrines that are obnoxious to the world, it seeks to hide away. When God says: "O thou wicked men, thou shalt surely die!" [Ezekiel 33:8]; when God says: "the wages of sin is death" [Romans 6:23]; when God says: "Except ye repent ye shall die" [Luke 13:3], the modern church doesn’t say that. The modern church says, "There is so much good in the worst of us and so much evil in the best of us that it doesn’t behoove any of us to talk about the rest of us" [Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894]. We are all good. All of us good. Only I don’t say anything about talking about anybody else, but I’m saying to you that God says humanity is rotten, depraved, fallen! [Romans 3:10-18, 23] Except we are saved in a Redeemer, we are a damned and lost humanity. That’s what God says. There is a difference between His church and the world.
May I pause here to make a comment about a church that is identified with the world? You know, a church that is identified with the world reminds me of the earth’s crust. Underneath is a volcanic, seething revolution – a mass of liquid fire! And underneath unredeemed, lost, unregenerate humanity, there’s the ape and the tiger and the lion. There’s the ruthless cruelty of a Hitler [Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945], of a Tojo [Hideki Tojo, 1884-1948], of a Stalin [Joseph Stalin, 1878-1953], and it’s in us today. Humanity underneath, unredeemed, unregenerated is vile and violent, ruthless and cruel. You may live to see the day when it’s illustrated in its most horrible, horrible impact. You. You.
The church that identifies itself with the world reminds me of the scarlet woman who is the churchfigured there in the seventeenth chapter of the Revelation riding the beast, astride a tiger [Revelation 17:3-18]. What do you do? The church that identifies itself with the world, identifies itself with government, identifies itself with certain political and social procedures, rides the tiger and he can’t get off. As government goes down, as politics fail, as the social order disintegrates, the church disintegrates. It has no message. It’s this side of the grave – no resurrection, no hope, no Lord, no coming again. It dies in the fire, the flames from heaven, in bombs, shells, and guns, and mortar fire. The church is separate from the world. The heaven and earth pass away and melt and dissolve in fervent heat [2 Peter 3:10]; nevertheless, we, according to the promise of God, look for a new heaven and a new earth [Revelation 21:1-2], God triumphant above it all.
Whether it decays or doesn’t, whether it fails or doesn’t, whether it staggers and disintegrates or not,to the child of God it’s a matter of political history. He reigns above it all [Psalm 75:7; Acts 17:26], and if He lives, we live with Him [John 14:3, 19].
A second thing: the church is not the Kingdom. The Kingdom of God is the great purpose of God in all time and in all history. As Jesus says, "Many shall come in that day from the east and from the west, and shall sit down in the kingdom of heaven with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob" [Matthew 8:11]. God’s everlasting purposes from the beginning to that final and ultimate consummation in the end never faileth [Job 42:2; Isaiah 14:27], and that is the Kingdom of God.
And our church is a phase of that appeal. We shall be administrators, helpers with Christ, when that Kingdom is consummated. When Jesus sets it up, we shall be awarded according to our gifts and our work [Matthew 25:14-30]. Some of us shall be administrators of ten cities, some of us five – different gifts according to the way we’ve used what God has given us. But the great ultimate is there and yet to come.
And the church is the voice of one crying in the wilderness: "Repent ye; repent ye. Turn and believe the gospel! Turn and be saved for this world shall be destroyed by fire, and the wicked shall be placed in everlasting damnation, and we are called to turn and be saved." Our voice is the voice of one crying in the wilderness. "Turn ye, turn ye, for why will you die?" [from Ezekiel 33:11] Now the church is to go everywhere preaching the gospel of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ [Matthew 28:18-20; Acts 1:8], calling men to faith, calling men to repentance, calling men to turn to God.
And that leads to that last avowal of the true church. The true church is an election. It is a called-out assembly. It is an ekklēsia, ekkaleia, [ekkaleō] a "called-out group." All of the purposes of God in history are carried out through the elective choices of the Lord. "Two shall be sleeping in a bed; one shall be taken and the other left. Two shall be grinding in a mill; one shall be taken and the other left. Two shall be working in a field. One shall be taken and the other left" [from Luke 17:34-36].
The purposes of God in election work through all time and history. Of all of the intelligences of the world, God chose humanity. Of all humanity in the world, God chose ancient Jews, Hebrews, Abraham [Genesis 12:1-3]. And of all of the house of Abraham, God chose Judah [Genesis :8-10]. And of all of the household of Judah, God chose the family of David [2 Samuel 7:8-17]. And of all the daughters of David, God chose the royal daughter, Mary [Luke 1:26-38]. And of all the little towns in Judea, God chose Bethlehem [Micah 5:1-4; Matthew 2:1-6; Luke 2:1-7]. And the elective purpose of God reaches out, reaches out, on, on, until it reaches down to us today [Ephesians 1:4-6; 1 Thessalonians 1:4]. Some of us, some of us, some of us are called of God, and we turn and are saved. Some of us, some of us, some of us refuse the call of the Lord and we turn and are damned.
How do I know an election? How am I found in the election of God? In a plain and simple way: My brother, do you want to be saved? Do you want to be saved? Do you want to be saved? My brother, do you want to be a Christian? Do you want a new heart and a new faith and a new hope and a new life? Do you? Then you are elect! It’s for you. It’s for you.
My brother, are you not interested? Do you want no part in Jesus? You won’t turn in repentance and faith. You pass it by. My brother, you are not elect.
O, God, O, God, that in His mercy and in His goodness, He might look upon this great throng tonight and write every name here in the Lamb’s Book of Life [Revelation 20:15]. Brother, are you interested? Then you come. Brother, do you want to be saved? Then you come. Do you want to be a child of faith? You come. Do you want Jesus as a Savior? You come. Do you want to walk in glory, enter the gates of heaven with Christ? You come. Do you want a new heart? Do you want a new spirit, a new hope? You come. You are the chosen of the Lord. You are the elect of heaven. Will you? Will you?
"The best I know how, preacher, here I am and here I come. I look to Him. I trust in Him. I have faith enough to give you my hand believing that Jesus will see me through. I’ll take Him now as my Savior. I’ll trust Him through the years that come that He’ll give me strength steadfastly to persevere in that commitment. And in death,and in death, I’ll look up in trust and commitment to Him. I make it my soul’s dedication tonight in faith, in trust, to look to Jesus." Will you? Then you come. You come.
Down these stairwells at the front, at the back, from either side, into the aisle, down here by me: "Preacher, tonight, the best I know how, I take Jesus for all that He said He was, for all that He promised to do. I am weak in the faith." If you have faith as of a grain of mustard seed, you have faith to remove mountains [Matthew 17:20]. God said it. He never said a big faith or a little faith; He just said faith. And a diamond is a diamond however fragmentary it might be. Faith is faith however feeble it may be. Brother, you come. You come. Trust God to save your soul. Trust God to forgive your sins. Trust God to see you through. Trust God to stand by you in the great final judgment day of the Lord. Come. Come. However God bids you here, commit your life to Him, to re-consecrate your life to Him, to put your life in the fellowship of the church, the whole family of you or just one, as the Spirit shall make appeal and as we sing the song, will you come? Will you make it now while we stand and while we sing?
WHAT THE SPIRIT SAITH OF THE LATTER TIMES
Dr. W. A. Criswell
1 Timothy 4:1-6
A. Recurring warning in Scripture – in the latter times some shall fall away (1 Timothy 4:1, 1 Kings 19:28, 2 Timothy 3:1, Acts 20:29, 2 Thessalonians 2:3)
B. What is found in Paul follows a pattern in whole fabric of Scripture itself
II. It is the duty of the child of God to learn what the Scriptures teach
A. The teachings of Jesus
1. There is an inherent hostility between the true church and the world(John 15:18-20, 16:33, 17:14)
2. The spiritual condition of the church before His return (Matthew 24:11, 24, 27, Luke 17:28-29)
B. The affirmation of the Holy Spirit through the apostles
1. Their categorical statements concerning the world(James 4:4, 1 John 5:19, 2 Corinthians 4:4, 2 Timothy 3:12-13)
C. The beginning of the falling away, the apostasy
1. Paul saw its beginning in his day (2 Thessalonians 2:7)
2. Jesus described its beginning in his message to Ephesus(Revelation 2:4)
a. When love dies, faith dies (Romans 10:9)
b. When loves dies, obedience dies (John 14:15)
c. When loves dies, desire for Christ’s return dies (2 Timothy 4:8)
3. Some began to say there was not to be any Kingdom or any coming
III. The religion of the church of the apostasy
A. Based on natural (not revealed) religion, law
B. Based on humanity – dethrone Christ, deify humanity
C. Based on social, political progress
IV. Chief teachings of the Scriptures are contradicted by the modern apostate church
A. There is a personal God, Creator of heaven and earth
B. Besides man there are other created intelligences – angels, fallen angels, demons, Satan
D. The only begotten Son of God became man to redeem man from sin and death on the cross; is now our High Priest making intercession for us
E. There is to be a Kingdom of Christ set up at the return of the risen Lord
F. The conflict of good and evil, of Christ and Satan, will come to final decision in personal triumph of Christ over Satan
V. The true church
A. Separate and distinct from the world(Ezekiel 33:8, Romans 6:23, Luke 13:3, Revelation 17)
B. It is not the Kingdom(Matthew 8:11, Ezekiel 33:11)
C. It is an election, an ekklesia, a "called-out group"(Matthew 24:40-41)