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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15
Chester E. Tulga
From The Plains Baptist Challenger, February 2013
Jesus and the apostles had no illusions about human nature or religious human nature. They knew the menace of false religion, the attractiveness of false prophets, and the susceptibility of the unthinking multitudes of false teachers and false doctrines. Looking into the future they warned the infant church of the same things which had marked the religious history of Israel.
1. The warning against false professors. "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 7:21). False professors appeared in the earliest days of the church and have persisted through the centuries. In spite of these stern warnings, we are living in a day when one may be called Christian regardless of beliefs, conduct or religious experience. False professors are even more acceptable in the modern church than true professors. But Jesus says, "Depart from me, ye that work iniquity; I never knew you" (Matthew 7:23).
2. The warning against false prophets. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits" (Matthew 7:15-16). The church of our day, having abandoned the authority of the Scriptures, and having no concern for the purity of the church, has lost its ability to identify false prophets, so it has come to pass (as in ancient times) that false prophets are more popular than true prophets and more widely accepted. Jesus said they would deceive many (Matthew 24:11) and this has come to pass. The broad way leading to hell is thronged, with the false prophets and false teachers leading the procession.
3. The warning against false doctrines. "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith" (1 Timothy 4:1). "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine" (2 Timothy 4:3-4). Our present age is a vivid fulfillment of these warnings. Our great denominations are filled with men who have departed from the faith and have risen to high places in religious circles. Our seminaries are filled with men who deny the faith of the Scriptures and create a type of ministry who will follow in their footsteps and infect the churches with their apostasies.
Our pulpits are filled with men who are more interested in scratching itching ears than bearing the message of God to a sinful world. Our great denominations are not only filled with men who deny sound doctrine, but who cannot endure sound doctrine in others. The New Testament insists upon purity of doctrine, in the form of sound words, in fidelity to the great doctrines of the faith. It condemns in unmeasured words the "damnable heresies" which have destroyed the testimony and effectiveness of the churches. We have been warned against false doctrines, but the churches of our day, forsaking the Word of God, no longer knows the difference between the false and the true.
4. The warning against heresy. "Damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1). "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition reject" (Titus 3:10). This does not mean that he is to be appointed to a leading denominational position, nor given a leading pastorate or appointed to a faculty position in a seminary, as many denominations do, but he is to be rejected and refused religious fellowship. The Christian attitude to-ward a heretic is a loving and prayerful concern, but he is not to approve, support or fellowship with him in heresy. This is a day when there is no distinction between heresy and orthodoxy in the great denominations, and even many fundamental people, in the name of love, will enter into full fellowship with heresy. This is contrary to the plain statements of the Word of God (2 John 9-10).
5. The warning against apostasy. "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" (1 Timothy 4:1). The Scriptures do not connect apostasy with intellectual doubt or the inability to believe, but finds the source of apostasy in Satan, and attributes apostasy to the seduction of evil spirits. Apostasy in our day hides behind an intellectual front to conceal its Satanic character.
We have lived to see the day when ministers, professors and preachers deny the authority of the Scriptures, the virgin birth of Christ, the deity of Christ, His atoning death, His bodily resurrection, His personal return. They deny the very fundamentals of the Christian faith and yet they occupy high positions in religious circles. This is the apostasy against which Paul warned. Apostasy occupies the high places in religion, while orthodoxy is on the side street. The apostasy is here.