1 “To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. 2 Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 3 Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you.
4 Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. 5 The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. 6 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. Rev. 3:1-6
When I posted on Monday “A Full Salvation Holiness Church No Longer: Apostasy of the Church of the Nazarene”, I had more than double the usual amount of visits to my site. Oddly, I had a very low number of comments, both via email and at the website. I was in total agreement with the conclusions of the author, Mike Jobbins, and had no problem in using the word apostasy as he did. I have used it before in describing how the Nazarene denomination (as other denominations), is sliding deep into what I can only describe as apostasy. Were regular readers so shocked to see this word that they did not know what to say? Should I have changed the title of the post to something more palatable, less offensive, less horrifying? As a lifetime Nazarene, I don’t relish the idea of describing my denomination as one that has sunk into the depths of apostasy. But if the evidence is there, and the emperor has no clothes, how can one suppress the truth and remain faithful to the Lord?
What is apostasy?
Apostasy – The abandonment or forsaking of faith or commitment to follow the Lord, often described as a turning away (Jer 8:5 NASB, NET) or falling away (Heb 6:6 NET). Apostasy results in punishment (Jer 2:19 ESV), hence the many warnings against it (2 Thes 2:3; 1 Tim 4:1f; 2 Pet 3:17; Jude 1). Apostates include Hymanaeus and Alexander (1 Tim 1:19-20), Demas (2 Tim 4:10) and Phygelus and Hermogenes (2 Tim 1:15). By Jesus’ word one may avoid falling away (John 16:1). The word is a transliteration of the Greek term, apostasia. (Source: Blogger and author Randal Matheny, Walking With God)
So apostasy is a walking away from, a turning away, in a deliberate manner. It is turning away from the truth and pursuing a different path, whether it is from being blindly deceived, or knowingly choosing to turn away. So based on this, is the Nazarene denomination, within its basic structure, becoming apostate? Looking at all the facts I have uncovered in the last three years, I say yes, it is. The biggest indicator to me is the rejection of the full inerrancy of the Bible. Ask a major leader in the Church of the Nazarene if he believes in the Bible and that it is without error, and there’s a good chance not get a straight yes or no answer, but instead a long explanation that leaves you scratching your head. (Remember that in 2009 at General Assembly, a declaration to clarify the inerrancy of scripture was not even allowed to be brought up for a committee vote, but was postponed for four years).
Scripture tells us that judgment will start in the house of God, not with the world (1 Pet. 4:16-19). God will start dealing with us first if we fail to confront the false teachers and clean house, and especially will deal with those who profess to follow Jesus in word, but not in true obedience. Scripture also says that it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Heb. 10:31). How much more for those who are professing believers?
How Should Christians Deal With Apostasy?
If apostasy is the turning away from the faith to doctrines and practices that are unbiblical, and those who are turning away are then teaching it to others, what should we do according to God’s word? Some have said to “just pray, and let God take care of it. If those things are not of God, they will go away in time. Do not judge, and do not criticize others for thinking differently”. Well, if your son is involved in drug abuse, would you say nothing to him about your concern for his life, and instead “leave it up to God?”
Scenario #1: If the leaders of a Christian school are teaching “santeria” as part of the required curriculum for students, should we simply leave it up to God to sort it out, and hope that our students do not bring those practices into their daily life? would we be “too judgmental” to object to it? (Santeria is a mix of various religions including Christianity that includes ritualistic sacrifice of animals practiced in some third world countries).
Scenario #2: If your Sunday School teacher, with the pastor’s approval, is introducing “bingo”, “Christian yoga” and “Eastern meditation practices” to the children in church, should we keep silent and pray for the best, that God will sort it out? Should we say, “who am I to judge?” We are a diverse group of people, are we not?
Scenario #3: Finally, if a resolution was approved at the next General Assembly, which says that “Christians and Muslims worship the same God”, should we accept that, if it is something that is approved by our leaders, and that we should accept what our leaders do without question? Are we throwing stones at others if we dare to criticize such a thing, and call it wrong?
To any of these scenarios, if you said that we SHOULD speak out in order to stop these things and warn others, then what’s the difference with what we are doing here? If you have decided that a line is to be drawn somewhere, and that we MUST speak at some point, then your only decision to make regarding what we are exposing is this: are the things that are being exposed by concerned Christians false teachings, or are they acceptable to you? So what you cannot do is say, “you can never criticize, you can never call out false teachers and teachings, you can never judge anyone at any time. Let’s be perfectly honest: it is right to judge, if we judge righteously.
What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? (1 Cor. 5:12)
If your friends are being slowly poisoned to death by something deliberately given to them by another “friend”, would you pray that God will help them out and save them, and leave it up to Him alone? Or do you warn them about this supposed “friend” (aka wolf in sheep’s clothing), and tell others who may end up drinking the same poison?
Concluding questions: are we to be like the church in Sardis? Are we to be like a living corpse”?
Or shall we be like the few in Sardis? These were deemed worthy, NOT for their own inner righteousness, but for their faithfulness to the Lord.
Is your unwavering loyalty to the denomination and its’ reputation, or is it to the Lord Jesus Christ?
3:1-6. The Lord Jesus is He that hath the Holy Spirit with all his powers, graces, and operations. Hypocrisy, and lamentable decay in religion, are sins charged upon Sardis, by One who knew that church well, and all her works. Outward things appeared well to men, but there was only the form of godliness, not the power; a name to live, not a principle of life. There was great deadness in their souls, and in their services; numbers were wholly hypocrites, others were in a disordered and lifeless state. Our Lord called upon them to be watchful against their enemies, and to be active and earnest in their duties; and to endeavour, in dependence on the grace of the Holy Spirit, to revive and strengthen the faith and spiritual affections of those yet alive to God, though in a declining state. Whenever we are off our watch, we lose ground. Thy works are hollow and empty; prayers are not filled up with holy desires, alms-deeds not filled up with true charity, sabbaths not filled up with suitable devotion of soul to God. There are not inward affections suitable to outward acts and expressions; when the spirit is wanting, the form cannot long remain. In seeking a revival in our own souls, or the souls of others, it is needful to compare what we profess with the manner in which we go on, that we may be humbled and quickened to hold fast that which remains. Christ enforces his counsel with a dreadful threatening if it should be despised. Yet our blessed Lord does not leave this sinful people without some encouragement. He makes honourable mention of the faithful remnant in Sardis, he makes a gracious promise to them. He that overcometh shall be clothed in white raiment; the purity of grace shall be rewarded with the perfect purity of glory. Christ has his book of life, a register of all who shall inherit eternal life; the book of remembrance of all who live to God, and keep up the life and power of godliness in evil times. Christ will bring forward this book of life, and show the names of the faithful, before God, and all the angels, at the great day.