Marks of Apostasy

Jude 1:3-4

3 Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.

4 For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. (NKJ)

  1. The Marks of Apostasy
    1. They are ungodly
      1. This is the first mark of apostasy.
        1. This does not mean as some suppose an decadent lifestyle, that will come later but it is not first.
        2. Paul in Romans 1 builds his case against humanity not in that they were immoral but in that they refused to retain God in their knowledge.
        3. The immoral and decadent lifestyles are more of a judgment from God according to Romans 1:
        4. Rom 1:24-32

          24 Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves,

          25 who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.

          26 For this reason God gave them up to vile passions. For even their women exchanged the natural use for what is against nature.

          27 Likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust for one another, men with men committing what is shameful, and receiving in themselves the penalty of their error which was due.

          28 And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting;

          29 being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil-mindedness; they are whisperers,

          30 backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents,

          31 undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful;

          32 who, knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, not only do the same but also approve of those who practice them. (NKJ)

        5. Notice in verse 24, 26 and 28 it says that God gave them up or God gave them over. And in each case it was because they had chosen to be ungodly, i.e. without God, or without the fear of God.
      2. Even among so called Christians there are those who are ungodly, have no fear of God, speak arrogantly against God.
        1. Theologians of a half century ago were drinking deep of the heady wine of freedom from the authority of Scripture and even of God. Said Prof. Walter Rauschenbusch, "The worst thing that could happen to God would be to remain an autocrat while the world is moving toward democracy. He would be dethroned with the rest" ([Theology of the Social Gospel], p. 178). (from Wycliffe Commentary 2 Peter 2:17-19 )
        2. This man was saying that God had best not continue to think that He is in charge but had best share His power with the people of the world and allow determine what is right and wrong for themselves or else He will be dethroned with the rest of the dictators.
        3. Well we have dethroned God in America and God has given us up to every type of moral corruption.
      3. Even churches are guilty of refusing to accept what God said in Deut 6:4 "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one! (NKJ); and now some teach (see quote from Lake Street Church, below) that all people are in the kingdom of God regardless of if they are Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist or Moslem. Now if Paul would only have known that he could have saved a lot of pain in trying to evangelize the world.
        1. The case just illustrated is Lake Street Church Evanston IL an American Baptist USA affiliated church.
        2. The following is quoted from Fall 1999 issue of The InSpiriter; underlining is mine emphasis:

          "Lake Street Church is probably well defined by its roots in traditional liberal Christianity and its struggle to transform them. Our desire to reintegrate prophetic witness, spiritual depth, high commitment, and thriving community is a simple one but has led us on quite a journey."

          "'First Baptist Church of Evanston,' as it was called, spent most of the 70's aging and shrinking. By 1980. this once significant ABC church was nearly decimated. and something needed to change. So the church called Robert V. Thompson. only thirty at the time, to be a "magic bullet pastor. But there was a difference: unlike many congregations looking for institutional salvation. Evanston was willing to change. And it worked: the church began to come back."

          "The main strategy was a program of liberal activism. Debates on becoming a sanctuary church--voted down--led to a homeless shelter in the church basement. The church expanded its ecumenical work and founded agencies serving people with AIDS, inner-city latch-key kids, and those lacking affordable housing. The church found new life as a place for liberal firebrands. But there was something missing. Like many activist churches. FBC-Evanston discovered their roots to be in shallow soil. Discovering the overly external nature of this latter-day social gospel, the church began asking how progressive, intellectual, post- modern Christians could become spiritual."

          "The church undertook a wide and serious exploration of some recent spiritual re-discoveries: Goddess spirituality, shamanistic paganism, and Gnosticism. These explorations struck some as profound and others as "New Agey," but they deepened everyone's commitment to spiritual openness in new, even radical ways. These explorations have evolved into committed inter-religious work. For four years. the church has celebrated World Wide Communion Sunday, not as an ecumenical holiday but as an inter-faith one. We invite members of Hindu, Native American, Jewish, Buddhist, Moslem, and Sikh communities to join us at the communion table, because we believe it is what Christ would do in our present Metro-Chicago setting."

          "As we were expanding the limits of our 'openness, tensions with our Baptist roots surfaced. We were ambitious about growth; and it became obvious that our name, First Baptist Church, was a major obstacle. The repressive Baptist caricature scared people away before we could say "not that kind of Baptist." So, we changed our name, and everything changed. Finally people would listen to us explain our commitments to openness, spiritual development, and progressive public witness. The congregation dramatically people grew as discovered what we tried to tell them all along: that our combination of a definite, non-dogmatic witness with a commitment to radical openness was just what they were looking for."

          "Of course, many were worried we would grow away from the Baptist tradition. In fact, the opposite has occurred. We have spent more time talking "Baptist" since the name change than we ever did before. Then, we had to explain it away, Now, we can simply explain it. Once we do, people become enthusiastic about our allegiance to Baptist principles. There is still too much baggage for many to call themselves Baptists. But all celebrate the Baptist principles by name. It has been a painful irony that, just as we have grown in awareness of our heritage, that heritage itself is under such assault. But our congregation is now more committed, not less, to preserving our traditional values and asserting them anew in our denomination."

          "Not much of this touches on our W&A stance. It has been an important but ultimately minor emphasis. In large part, this is because, as near as I can tell, the inclusion of sexual minorities is not an issue but a given. When the church voted to join AWAB, the motion passed with no opposing speeches and only one vote against. We offer gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered people a church community in which variations in gender and sexual identity are not a big deal. This perhaps makes us a poor choice for people beginning to struggle with integrating religion and sexuality. But it represents our vision of the Kingdom as a place where everyone is included, enfranchised, and "main streamed"--because the main stream is so very wide. "

          'See the brief biography of David Gregg, a member of the Council of AWAB, elsewhere in this issue." (Below)

          "David has served since 1995 as the minister of education and congregational life at the Lake Street Church of Evanston, Illinois (W&A). His responsibilities include Christian education and spiritual development for all ages, programming, church growth, administration, denominational and AWAB connections, and general ministry. He is an ordained American Baptist minister, and he loves ministry. His commitment to the W&A movement is therefore multi-leveled: he wants a long career in this denomination, he desires the continued thriving of the Baptist tradition, and he believes God is calling for justice for people of all sexual identities. David's other ministry interests include reasoned theological and biblical inquiry and education, community building, liberation, and interpreting Christ in a progressive. post-modem culture."

          "David was born in Detroit and grew up in Ann Arbor (Go Blue!). His other lives included perpetual student, summer camp counselor, theater buff, lifeguard, and residence hall counselor at the lnterlochen Center for the Arts. David holds an A.B. from Harvard University, an M.A. from the University of Michigan, and an M.Div. from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago. He and his partner Michael live happily in Chicago along the Lake Michigan shore, and he enjoys running, tennis. cooking, movie going, and music of all kinds. His portfolio on the W&A Council includes new church planting and issues around the ordination of open lesbians and gays."

        3. I would suggest to you that once a group forsakes God, that is the one and true God, and accepts all versions of god as equal, then the principles of Romans 1 begin to take affect.
        4. The only other thing I would say is if we can all sit around the Lord's Table and equally participate and if the kingdom already includes everyone, then we have no need of missions or missionaries and Jesus died in vain.
    2. They turn God's grace into licentiousness.
      1. God's grace
        1. No one believes in salvation by grace any stronger than I do.
        2. Grace is God's unmerited favor toward us.
        3. But grace, real grace never leads to a life of sin.
        4. Titus 2:11-12 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, (NKJ)
        5. If the grace that you claim does not teach you that we must live lives worthy of the Son of God, then it not the same grace that I have.
      2. But some of the commentators indicate, and I agree that it may not be so much the Gospel of Grace as we proclaim it that Jude has in mind as it is the goodness of God that most of us associate with God's grace.
        1. [Turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness] Making the grace and mercy of God a covering for crimes; intimating that men might sin safely who believe the Gospel, because in that Gospel grace abounds. But perhaps the goodness of God is here meant, for I cannot see how they could believe the Gospel in any way who denied the Lord Jesus Christ; unless, which is likely, their denial refers to this, that while they acknowledged Jesus as the promised Messiah, they denied him to be the only Lord, Sovereign, and Ruler of the church and of the world. There are many in the present day who hold the same opinion. (from Adam Clarke Commentary)
        2. Today I think liberal Christianity would associate this idea of Jude's grace with the love of God.
        3. Today the liberals teach that God loves everyone and therefore will not punish anyone for their sins.
        4. This brings everyone to the communion table without the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ for in their view, since God is too good (grace) to damn anyone, who needs the atoning work of Jesus Christ.
        5. One of the common positions of the Christian liberals is that the death of Jesus Christ and His atonement for sin is not necessary for acceptance before God.
        6. There is also a modified liberal view that Jesus death provided salvation for everyone and no needs do anything, such as repent, or live a righteous life.
      3. Licentiousness or lasciviousness
        1. aselgeia- unbridled lust, excess, licentiousness, lasciviousness, wantonness, outrageousness, shamelessness, insolence; Thayer
        2. I believe this describes all of the immoral things Paul says God has given them up to, who have "exchanged the truth of God for the lie"
        3. We cry out in this country about the immorality but it all began when we refused to retain God in our knowledge.
        4. lasciviousness, which connotes sexual debauchery. (from Wycliffe Commentary)
        5. But I think we would get little argument about the morality of our days so let us move on.
    3. They deny our Lord Jesus Christ
      1. We must suppose that they did with not openly else they would have been rejected immediately.
        1. It cannot be supposed that they openly and formally did this, for then they could have made no pretensions to the name Christian, or even to religion of any kind; but the meaning must be, that "in fact" the doctrines which they held amounted to a denial of the true God, and of the Saviour in his proper nature and work. (from Barnes' Notes)
        2. This misunderstanding of grace as permission to sin leads them to "deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."1-1 This denial was probably not verbal (if they had said "Jesus is not Lord," they could not have slipped into the church) but actual: "They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him" (Titus 1:16). These false teachers wanted salvation without following the Savior who as Sovereign and Lord demands that we die to sin as we follow him. NIV Commentary - College Press
      2. Although they did not deny Jesus openly, they did deny Him.
        1. I keep hearing people say today that as long as someone claims to know Jesus as Lord we must take them at their word regardless of the situation.
        2. Jude is saying that these who have cleverly slipped into the church are no more Christians that Satan is.
        3. If all you have is your claim of Jesus as Lord you do not have enough for Jude.
      3. There are many that deny Him while hoping to remain in the church.
        1. They deny His virgin birth.
        2. They deny His deity.
        3. They deny His atonement.
        4. They deny His resurrection.
        5. They deny that He is going to return someday.
        6. People often ask me who don't other preachers preach on Revelation and the return of Jesus, I do not know everyone's reason but I am convinced that for some it is because they do not believe it.
        7. In August of 1961. The publishers of Redbook magazine hired one of the top pollsters in the nation to survey a full representation of our seminaries which are supposedly preparing men for Christian service in the Protestant churches. Here are some of the results--compare them carefully with what the Bible says about apostasy. Of the ministers in training, 56 percent rejected the virgin birth of Jesus Christ, 71 percent rejected that there was life after death. 54 percent rejected the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. 98 percent rejected that there would be a personal return of Jesus Christ to this earth.
        8. I doubt that the situation is much better today than in was in 1961.
  2. The Slyness of the Apostates
    1. They have stealthily crept in.
      1. They do not announce their beliefs but try to worm their way in. NLT
      2. They camouflage themselves. 2 Tim 3:5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! (NKJ)
      3. Jesus called them wolves in sheep's clothing.
      4. They are the tares that were sown among the wheat of Matt. 13:24-30
      5. Paul refers to them as false brethren, Gal. 2:4,5, that is they appear to be Christians but they are not.
      6. That was the situation in Jude's day and it will continue to get worse until the point of 1 Tim. 4:1-2
      7. 1 Tim 4:1-2 Now 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, (NKJ)
    2. Some have asked me when will be get back to the study of Revelation but this is really a part of it.
      1. We had to come here before you could appreciate what John writes in Revelation 17.
      2. There we have a picture of the one world church that is to be set up by the False Prophet during the tribulation period.
      3. It will truly be a universal religion, one that has only one commonality, that one commonality will be tolerance.
      4. That's why I know that true Christians will not be a part of it because either Jesus is the only way to heaven or you aren't going there. Acts 4:12
    3. How did we get to this point in Christianity?
      1. I began over a century ago with the so called scholarship of many German theologians who began to tear the Bible apart rather than accept it.
      2. They became the judge of the Bible rather than letting the Bible judge them.
      3. The set the standard for the Bible instead of allowing the Bible to be the standard.
      4. Professing to be wise, they became fools, Rom 1:22 (NKJ)
      5. They began to deny certain part of the Bible to have been written by who the Bible claims they were written by.
        1. First they denied that Moses wrote the first five books of the Bible or denied that Moses even existed.
        2. A few years ago we were going to offer VBS for adults when we were having it at night. The first lesson was on Moses. The quarter from a well known Christian publishing house took up the theme that Moses didn't write the first five books of our Bible but rather they were written by up to five different people.
        3. They said that because that is what modern scholarship has concluded.
        4. Even though Jesus often refers to Moses writing the books ascribed to him.
      6. Next they began to deny all the miracles of the Bible, because you wee if there is no God, then there can be no miracles.
      7. Finally they denied Jesus Christ in His miracles, His virgin birth, His atoning sacrifice, His resurrection and His return.
      8. Erwin Lutzer was speak on the radio a couple of weeks ago about being in contact with one of the more liberal preachers in Chicago and he thought he would test her so he asked if she believed that Christ was the only way to heaven to which she responded she did. Now thinking that he was being taken for ride he questioned her further only to have her tell him that to her it was the cosmic Christ that was the way to heaven the Christ that is in each of us and in everything.
  3. The Result of the Apostasy
    1. There seems to be a natural downward progression if the verse;
      1. First there is a denial of God
      2. Next there is a licentious lifestyle
      3. Finally there is a denial of Jesus Christ.
      4. I Jn 2:22-24 Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father either; he who acknowledges the Son has the Father also. Therefore let that abide in you which you heard from the beginning. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, you also will abide in the Son and in the Father. (NKJ)
    2. There is also a departure from what God has called us to when we lose sight of God.
      1. A little story illustrates this:
      2. When I lived in Atlanta, several years ago, I noticed in the Yellow Pages, in the listing of restaurants, an entry for a place called Church of God Grill. The peculiar name aroused my curiosity and I dialed the number. A man answered with a cheery, "Hello! Church of God Grill!" I asked how his restaurant had been given such an unusual name, and he told me: "Well, we had a little mission down here, and we started selling chicken dinners after church on Sunday to help pay the bills. Well, people liked the chicken, and we did such a good business, that eventually we cut back on the church service. After a while we just closed down the church altogether and kept on serving the chicken dinners. We kept the name we started with, and that's Church of God Grill." This incident is not unlike many churches, denominations, and individuals who over time, have drifted away from their original purpose. (From Making It Happen, by Charles Paul Conn, p. 95)
    3. But finally when we forsake God, he forsakes us.
      1. We anticipated seeing "everything" during that 36-hour-layover in London. Instead we shivered in our hotel room or sat wearily waiting in the air terminal. Hardly a tourist's dream-come-true! But that's where we met our neighbor, the Hindu. It was November 1968, and the mass exodus of Asians from East Africa had begun.. Today England is home for over one million Asian immigrants, of whom over 600,000 are Hindus. When we arrived in North Leicester as missionaries in 1973, fifty thousand became our neighbors: the families living beside us, our doctor, greengrocer, pharmacist, and best friends. Some surmise that if geographical isolation from India does not cause Indians to forsake Hinduism, western culture will. Instead, in the European religious climate of universalism, Hinduism thrives. Empty church buildings are converted into temples. Carey Hall, the large Baptist church named after William Carey who left his pastorate in Leicester in 1783 to reach Hindus in Burma and India, now houses Leicester's largest Hindu temple. Public school buildings are rented week nights to teach Indian languages and religions. (By Neale & Barbara Goetsch) TOPIC: Apostasy
      2. When we turn away from God, God says well go ahead and we will see just how far you get without me.
    4. The final result of the Apostasy will be a great big Church were everyone is welcome and everyone can do as they please, believe as they please.
      1. But by then it will be all over but the shouting.
      2. Let me show you what Paul says about all that.
      3. II Th 1:7-9 and to give you who are troubled rest with us when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power, (NKJ)

God help us to earnestly contend for the faith against all those who have wormed their way in and are trying to bring the testimony of Jesus Christ to naught and to remove the only hope that the world has, which is Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.


Some more examples of false teachers:

For Rauschenbusch the gospel was not a message of personal salvation but rather the ethic of Jesus' love that would transform society through resolving social evils.


Emphasized the social gospel; Jesus' love would transform society.

Taught the gospel is social concern, collective ownership, and equal distribution of goods. Rejected substitutionary atonement of Christ, His second coming, and a literal hell.

The Moody Handbook of Theology Copyright © 1989 by The Moody Bible Institute of Chicago. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.

In A Theology for the Social Gospel, Rauschenbusch laid great stress on the theme of the kingdom of God. During his pastorate in New York, he had helped found an informal "Brotherhood of the Kingdom" in which the ideas of the social gospel were developed in discussion with other like-minded men. Rauschenbusch admitted that his conception of the kingdom represented an effort to Christianize Darwinistic evolution. But he also maintained that progress for the kingdom of God against the kingdom of evil could never take place without the presence of Christ and the work of the Holy Spirit.

Rauschenbusch was an "evangelical liberal" who combined many elements of orthodoxy with many convictions of the modern age. His reputation as the leader of the social gospel, however, has blinded both liberals and evangelicals to how much orthodoxy remained in his social gospel. Specific evaluation of Rauschenbusch aside, he was undoubtedly the most influential American Christian thinker in the first third of the twentieth century. Who's Who in Christian History Copyright © 1992 by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Rauschenbusch had no room in his theology for the substitutionary atonement, a literal hell, or a literal second coming. He also encouraged a nearly utopian sense of human potential. And he accepted many of the conclusions of biblical higher criticism. Yet he retained a firm commitment to OT ideals of justice, to the power of Christ as the means for changing society, and to the conviction that evil was not a passing fantasy. Elwell Evangelical Dictionary