Expositional commentary on Scripture using an inductive exegetical methodology intent upon confronting the lives of Christians with the dogmatic Truths of God's inspired Words opposing Calvinism and Arminianism, Biblical commentary, doctrine of grace enablement, understanding holiness and wisdom and selfishness, in-depth Bible studies, adult Bible Study books and Sunday School materials Dr. Lance T. Ketchum Line Upon Line: August 2019

Monday, August 19, 2019

Defining Departure from the Faith

Why Are We Failing the Great Commission?
Chapter Seventeen
Defining Departure from the Faith

          One of the greatest transitional evidences of genuine Christianity in a person’s life is the immediate change from selfish Narcissism to selflessness and preoccupation with the spiritual needs of others.  This is the transition we see in the lives of the Apostles once they received the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit of God in Acts chapter two.  This characteristic of true (Biblical) Christianity is presently no longer an evident reality or expectation of what is Biblically defined as “the faith.”  Yet, in Paul’s epistles to Timothy, he warns that in “the last days” there will be a departure from “the faith” (Christianity) characterized by selfishness.  

          The Word of God repeatedly refers to the teachings of the Bible as “the faith.”  Discipleship is teaching “the faith.”  In other words, discipleship is not just teaching the Bible.  Discipleship is TEACHING WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES!  Discipleship is teaching RIGHT DOCTRIINE – ORTHODOXY.  Right doctrine (orthodoxy) is the one correct understanding of what God says to do through understanding the information He provides to us in the holy Bible.  There is just ONE correct faith (Ephesians 4:5). 

1 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called {the priesthood of all believers}, 2 With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing {put up with} one another in love; 3 Endeavouring {make every possible effort} to keep {guard against loss or ruin} the unity {oneness or sameness; key phrase} of the Spirit {Although God retains a person’s individuality, there are certain things that the Spirit of God is doing the same in everyone’s life.  God is a Spiritual tri-unity and expects His children to grow into that tri-unity} in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; 5 One Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. 7 But unto every one of us is given grace {supernatural enabling of the indwelling Holy Spirit} according to the measure of the gift of Christ” (Ephesians 4:1-7).

Ecumenicism teaches the possibility that there are many gods with many names and many doctrines.  Ecumenicism teaches we cannot be confident that any religious writings can be considered perfectly reliable. Therefore, all religious writings and mythologies must be given some degree of credibility.  This teaching is a complete contradiction against Ephesians 4:1-7). Ecumenicism teaches that every belief system is a faith that must be equally considered and given respect and viability.  

Ecumenicism is a broad definition of Christianity defined by terms like nondenominational, nonsectarian, universal, all-embracing, all-inclusive.

The Roman Catholics think they have “the faith.”.  Yet, they hypocritically claim to be Ecumenical.  The Lutherans think they have “the faith” in Luther’s Large Catechism, but they too are hypocritically Ecumenical.  The Pentecostals and the Charismatics claim they have “the faith,” but they too are hypocritically Ecumenical.  The Seventh Day Adventists and the Mormons claim they have “the faith,” but now both of these groups want to be accepted into Evangelical Christianity (and are accepted by many).  

When has someone departed “from THE faith”?  This is the Emergent church of modern-day Christianity.  This is Laodiceanism describe in Revelation 3:14-22.  The word “depart” in I Timothy 4:1 is from the Greek word aphístēmi (af-is'-tay-mee), meaning to instigate a revolt or to desert.  We are witnessing these events of the “latter times” characterized by selfishness and desertion “from the faith.” 

1 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; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 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. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
6 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. 7 But refuse profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise thyself rather unto godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come. 9 This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptation. 10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe. 11 These things command and teach. 12 Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity. 13 Till I come, give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. 14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. 15 Meditate upon these things; give thyself wholly to them; that thy profiting may appear to all. 16 Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (I Timothy 4:1-16).

In his next epistle to Timothy, II Timothy 4:1-14 defines Fundamental Christianity with its objectives.  Fundamental Christianity is simply defined as a spiritual struggle, consistently and constantly fought on two spiritual battlefronts. 

“For, when we were come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side; without were fightings, within were fears” (II Corinthians 7:5).

The two battlefronts of every Christian’s life are “fightings” from “without” and “fears” from “within.”  From “without” come the external struggles for truth and the temptations that allure the believer into sin and seduce him into spiritual adultery and/or doctrinal compromise breaking his “fellowship” with God and breaching the enabling of the Spirit of God.

From “within” come both the lusts of the flesh that want the things we are tempted with and the carnal emotions of a fallen nature that struggles with the issues of the heart such as pride, fear, worry, envy, hatred, manipulation, bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness again breaking his “fellowship” with God and breaching the enabling of the Spirit of God.  However, the greatest internal problem is the fears of the outcomes of being faithful to our missional objectives – preaching the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus.  

          The struggle/battle of a militant Christianity is against the forces of wickedness from satanic external influences and the carnal, enmity of our own fallen natures against all that is godly, true, honest and above reproach.  This struggle of militant Christianity is a struggle for our own integrity before God so that His power, residing within us, might be released upon the world through the testimonies of our lives.  These battlefields establish the militancy of the Christian life.  

          Dr. Fred Moritz in a workshop entitled “Stand For Fundamentalism . . . And Against Attempts to Change It” lists five traits that Non-Fundamentalist commonly identify with Fundamentalism (as quoted below).

“1. An emphasis on inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible
2. An opposition to Modernism
3. Emphasis on separation
4. Opposition to sin and cultural decay
5. A militant spirit”

In order to understand why militancy (fighting against the erosion and degeneration of “the faith”) is necessary, we must first define why it is a fundamental aspect of Christianity.  (Fundamental Christianity is defined by ALL the fundamental truths that define New Testament Christianity, not by a list of major doctrines.)  

          William Ward Ayer, in a speech to the National Association of Evangelicals in April 1956 (as quoted in Louis Gasper’s book, The Fundamentalist Movement (Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, 1981 reprint) gives an excellent definition of Fundamentalism:

“Fundamentalism represents a resurgence of ancient practices, which began not with Martin Luther but at Pentecost.  Fundamentalism is apostolic, and the doctrine of justification goes back to Paul.  That branch from which the fundamentalist movement sprang lived obscurely through the ages and had never been completely silenced even in the Dark Ages . . . What fundamentalism did was awaken the slumbering apostolicism from lethargy.”

If we accept this definition (and I do), Fundamentalism is about maintaining and defending the historic, apostolic, New Testament Christianity.  Fundamental, New Testament Christianity is steeped in terms of militancy.  Therefore, if we believe the Bible is authored by God (and not men), we must believe that God purposely chose militant terms to both describe and define New Testament Christianity.

11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness. 12 Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, whereunto thou art also called, and hast professed a good profession before many witnesses” (I Timothy 6:11-12).

There is a movement, whether acknowledged or not, in modern Bible believing Christianity (Fundamentalism) to move away from its historic militancy.  I believe this to be the result of theological reactionism to the obnoxious, mean spirited and unloving attitude displayed by many professing Fundamentalists of the past.  (This is a fair criticism of Fundamentalism, but it is not a justifiable reason for abandoning it.)

Secondly, I believe the movement away from a militant Fundamentalism is due to our natural tendency for self-protection and our desire for sociological acceptance.  (Fundamentalism has been denigrated by our society.  It is easier for us to disassociate ourselves with this negativity by trying to redefine ourselves than it is to define and defend historic, militant Christianity.)
In the last forty years, I have watched the development of a pacifist Christianity that has not only lost the concept of the fight for the faith and against worldliness; they have adopted a form of neutralism towards the enemies of Biblical militant Christianity and towards the carnal influences and advances of this world. 

The Bible has a consistent warning to the pacifist Christian.  Satan destroys the lives of his captives.  A Christian cannot be neutral, he cannot surrender, and he cannot make peace with the forces of evil.  The goal of the “mystery of inequity” is annihilation.  Let down your guard for a moment and they will take your head off.

What many Christians consider neutralism, God considers surrender and treason.

34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword {division}. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And he that taketh not his cross {willingness to die as a faithful witness}, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. 39 He that findeth his life {saves it for his personal selfish purposes} shall lose it: and he that loseth his life {uses and sacrifices it for Christ’s purposes} for my sake shall find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

To take up the Cross of Christ is military terminology defining the essence of the Christian faith.  The Cross of Jesus Christ is the banner under which the soldiers of the Cross fight.  Therefore, the very nature of this symbolism identifies Christianity as militant.
For some reason, many Christians have decided to be at peace with the Satanic world system against which Christ is at war.  For some reason, many Christians have redefined Christianity away from a militant warfare with real casualties to playground mentality where they think they can be weekend warriors who draw their blessings but never need to take any real risks.

Even though we may not have realized it, when we accepted God’s gift of salvation and became a child of God by rebirth, we were joined with the family of God in a fight against the forces of evil for the lost souls of all of mankind.  It is not a game we play.  The stakes are far too high.  We cannot be at peace with those who are at war with Christ (Matthew 10:37).

1. To take Christ’s side is to take truth’s side.
2. To take truth’s side is to take the side of righteousness.
3. To take the side of righteousness is to take the side of “Light” against “darkness.”
4. To “take up the Cross” is a proclamation of spiritual militancy against anything contrary to the truth it stands for.

Central to the revival of any local Church is the return to a militant Christianity.

The struggle of the Church militant is both a struggle to maintain truth and a struggle for the lives and souls of people.  Why did God choose to give of the words of Paul to Timothy in II Timothy 2:1-4?  Paul understood the overwhelming responsibility of the transfer of doctrinal truth without compromise (“the whole counsel of God”) from one generation to the next (II Timothy 2:2).  Whatever truth is compromised by one generation is usually lost to the next generation.  Every “jot and tittle” must be fought to be retained or that ground will be lost in the battle for the lives of the next generation.

Even if we personally and individually stand for Christ throughout our lives but fail to transmit the “whole counsel of God” to the next generation, we will not have one person to take up the banner of the Cross of Christ and fight on for proceeding generations.  We can expect the Cross of Christ to become battle-scarred and worn when it is constantly carried in the battle for truth, but it is a sad testimony to the generation that purposely removes large portions of it so it will not be such a heavy load to bear.

          Many professing Christians are so entangled with the affairs of this world that they have little time and less desire to fight the fight of faith (II Timothy 2:4).  Such a person will never be a militant Christian.  Such a person will never have the time for evangelism (the fight for souls) or discipleship (the fight for lives).  A real soldier of the Cross understands his purpose in life.  It is not to get rich or to be famous.  It is to fight the fight of faith and fight to the death if necessary.

II Timothy is the mission’s statement of the Church militant (II Timothy 4:1-8).

The statement of II Timothy 4:1-8 is the inspired Word of God written by the hand of an old battle-scarred warrior by the name of the Apostle Paul.  He was writing from a prison cell where he was waiting to be executed for being a militant Christian.  Paul was passing the banner of militant responsibility from one generation to the next.  It is the lifelong responsibility of every soldier of the Cross to pass his banner to many others in the next generation who will take up their Cross and fight on.

The non-militant, “seeker sensitive” Christianity of today seems to think the purpose of the Church is to avoid any doctrine that is divisive or controversial or that which contradicts the lifestyles of those they seek to reach.  That is what Paul refers to by the words “itching ears” (II Timothy 4:3). 

Anonymous comments will not be allowed. 
Numerous studies and series are available free of charge for local churches at: http://www.disciplemakerministries.org/ 
Dr. Lance Ketchum serves the Lord as a Church Planter, Evangelist/Revivalist.
He has served the Lord for over 40 years.