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Apostasy Of The Church

by Don McGee

DonMcGeeProphecy Seminar 2015

Good evening.  I once again, greet you in the name of the Lord.  To those of you who have chosen to be here this evening, I am grateful that you have done so.  Tomorrow night, if the Lord tarries that long, I am going to take a look at some signs that have to do with that time just immediate to the return of Jesus for the church.  A lot of the things that we have talked about this week so far have to do with signs relative to the second coming which is, of course, not the rapture of the church.  Tomorrow night it is going to be a little different. I want to address some things that I believe have a very practical application to the church and because we are living in the shadow of those events.

The sign of modern apostasy. If you have your Bibles and I hope you do, please open them to the Gospel of Luke in chapter 18.  This verse seems just a bit out of context, but it's really not if you look at the big picture. I'm not going to go back and build the context for you, you can do that on your own. Verse 8 contains two thoughts that seem to be disconnected.

He said, “I tell you that He will bring about justice for them speedily. However, when the Son of Man comes (now notice your translation), will He find faith on the earth?” For whatever reason, the translators did not put the definite article “the” in that verse, but it's there. When the Son of Man comes, will He find the faith on the earth? The obvious answer to that question is not too much of it. He will find a lot of faith demonstrated by a lot of people in a lot of things. When he put the identifier “the”, he narrowed things down.  Will He find the faith?

The theme for this message is that a spiritual falling away will happen prior to the return of Jesus for His church. There are a lot of reasons for that.  Some people get tired, some people become distracted by other things and as a result of that, their love grows cold, their faith is weakened, and when the Lord comes, there will be a deficit in the lives of many people who profess to be His people. I want to make sure of something at the beginning, and this is important, I have to really emphasize this. I have to define apostasy because in the denominational world, apostasy is something that can't really happen.

There are those who say that once a person is a Christian, that person is a Christian forever and nothing can ever change that. They conclude by saying that a Christian cannot lose their salvation, to which I say, “Amen!  You cannot lose your salvation.”  Apostasy has nothing to do with losing salvation.

Apostasy has to do with throwing it away. Big difference and we must understand that. There are several scholarly definitions that I have chosen to use here from basically three sources. Apostasy means a defection, a departure, a revolt, or a rebellion. It has been described as a “willful falling away from or rebellion against Christianity.” Apostasy is the rejection of Christ by one who has been a Christian. It is a theological category describing those who have voluntarily and consciously, notice that, voluntarily and consciously abandoned their faith in the God of the covenant who manifests Himself most completely in Jesus Christ.

Apostasy, get this, is the antonym of conversion, it is de-conversion.  There is not a power in heaven, not God Himself, nor in hell below that can divorce Valerie and me. Not a power! The Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court cannot do it.  I have friends who are judges, they can't do it, and may I do with all due respect, God can't do it! It takes a party to the union to dissolve the union. When a person has become estranged from God, all that person has to do is to look around and see who did the moving.

I am all for the security of the believer. I believe it is taught in scripture, but to take the security of the believer and to skew it into some kind of way that insulates God from dealing with His people and even having to let them go is an injustice to scripture. As in marriage, one's union with Jesus is an ongoing daily decision. You must choose each day that you are going to be married to your spouse. It's nothing something you do on the day that the guy signs the document and sends it to the clerk of courts office. It is something that must be done each day.

In premarital counseling, back when I was in the preaching business, I always brought my candidates for marriage through premarital counseling.  I'm not talking about a 30-minute session, I'm talking about homework and I'm talking about study and reading, book assignments, and most of you know what I am talking about.  One of the things that we emphasize toward the end of the counseling sessions is that your decision on the day that we have your wedding is simply the first time that you are going to say publicly and in an official way that you choose each other.  That must be decided every day God sends the sun up. That which kept you going through courtship will not keep you going through marriage. Those things that you saw initially that were very attractive and appealing to you are going to change. That's just the way life is. If a relationship is based upon something superficial, then it's not going to last. That's why I always tell people, don't base your faith on God healing you.  Can God heal you? If He wants to He can. Will He always heal His people? Look at the graveyards.  He does not always heal people. It's not that He is mean, it's not that He wishes to afflict His people with disease and trauma. It's a fact of life that we live in a sin-cursed world, that we are subject to its provisions.

Let's understand that you have to be somewhere before you can fall from it. You have to be married before you can be divorced and the word divorced simply means to be unmarried.

Notice the text in 2 Thessalonians 2:3.  Paul said, “Let no one in any way deceive you for it (the coming) will not come unless the apostasy comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.”  That context has to do with the second coming.  The man of lawlessness is not going to be revealed prior to the taking out of the church. It will be post-rapture. Lawlessness that is going to present itself during that 7-year period will be manifesting itself in those days prior to the return of Jesus for the church.  We will look at that more closely tomorrow night.

The emphasis is on “the” apostasy. We talked about “the” faith and here it is “the” apostasy. I believe that it is singular in emphasis because of its severity and the world today is in a run-up to that severity.

There are some things I want you to keep in mind about this message.

  1. The problem with apostate Christianity is not that truth is unavailable. It is simply being rejected by those who get to a point where they choose to give credibility to “the” lie. That's another thing I'm going to hit in a
  2. A distinction must be made. Apostate Christianity is different from pagan religions in that they begin in error and they continue in They never possess Biblical truth, even at their beginning. For example, Islam is not apostate Christianity. It never was Christianity, never was even close to it and, by the way, there is no such thing as an Abrahamic religion. I am so tired of hearing politicians talking about the three great Abrahamic religions. I could gag on a spoon when I hear that because there is no truth to it whatsoever. Islam, Christianity, and Judaism are not Abrahamic religions. Abraham didn't start any kind of a religion. Apostate Christianity has nothing to do with paganism, nothing!
  3. I want you to note the placement of God's specific identifier. The definite article “the”. In 2 Thessalonians 11, in 2 Thessalonians 12, and in Luke 18:8. The truth, the lie, and the faith.  The truth is God's word. Want to know what it is? That's simple. Do you remember what Jesus said in John 17? Sanctify them in the truth. What did He say? Who remembers? Your Word is truth. The faith? Well, people have confidence in numerous belief systems folks. Only one is the genuine faith, rooted in the genuine truth. The lie? This is what is the lie.  The idea that what God has said is optional.  That's the lie.  It has tentacles that go out in every direction from that.  Essentially that's it from Genesis chapter

There are several aspects of modern apostasy that we are going to look at here. Rejection of truth, I want to talk about that, and apostasy does not exist in a vacuum, the core meaning of the word, the modern American church perspective, the tribulation perspective, and several apostate religious leaders that are on the scene today.  So let's go.

Rejection of truth. Truth is rejected, not because it is pure and not because it is holy. It is rejected because it is hated. In a previous profession, I used to, from time to time, have to testify in court. I have seen people placed under oath and lie like a snake. Hatred for truth is unprecedented today globally and nationally. It seems to me that the global and national mantra is what everybody says must be tolerated, I mean, Rodney King said, “Why can't we all get along? “What God has said is vehemently rejected with disdain and with a visceral seething contempt.  I tell you what, try this.

Those of you who work with other people in an office, warehouse, or wherever it is, next time everybody is at the old water barrel, ask somebody, “Hey, have you ever considered what Jesus said in Luke 18:8?” and watch it clear out. This hatred now has the support of the American Legal System.

For example, the debate between Christianity and Islam.  Another example is the conflict between God's morality and the homosexual agenda. Whatever the issue, Christians seem to be in a deficit from the beginning of the argument, because we love truth! Tolerance now applies to all religions including the religion of atheism, but it does not apply to Christianity. What I told you the other night, I re- emphasize. There is a big difference between freedom of religion and the freedom to practice religion.

Remember that. The hypocrisy, it is both visible and it is also ignored. There is no shame. The American moral conscience is being padded and calloused.  This happened decades ago in Europe and it is now here.  In the early 1970s, there was full frontal nudity on German television, 1971.  We have that now in America. What is seen on television, in the movies, heard in music, or read in magazines is unfit, in my opinion, for a truth-sensitive conscience, yet this stuff is sold and it's traded and is given away to the youth of modern American cultures by the baskets full.  Because of this, all things Christian are held in contempt. The Bible is relegated to fables not fit for children.  Prayer is scorned and is embarrassing. Evangelical preachers are portrayed as buffoons. Christianity's victimization by secularism is not only accepted but is, in effect, encouraged. Every person, every pagan religion, every apostate form of Christianity has a place at the table except Biblical Christianity.

Christian meekness actually excites political and religious blood lust. For Christians to passively take it does not appease those who hate us or tone down the rhetoric or the hatred. Let me tell you something about appeasement. Appeasement never settles an issue. Appeasement never, ever brings peace. Don't forget that. Whether you are talking about a playground bully or ISIS. Appeasement never, never solves the problem. My dad taught me that when I was a little boy. I had a big boy who wanted to take my nickel. He intimidated me physically. My dad said, “Ain't but one thing to do son and you know what that is.”  Guess what?  I didn't have any more trouble after that.

Like the dogs who attack the weakest member of the pack, the world piles on God's people. Brutality and murder, burning of houses and church buildings, theft of assets, loss of jobs, you name it! The spirit of Jesus makes Christians ground zero for every sordid form of hatred the evil human heart can muster. However, let me tell you something, those folks who hate God and hate us err greatly, for they mistake the meekness of our Savior for weakness in our King. Soon, soon. The God-ship or God is rejected, that He owns the world is rejected, that He has the right to give it and to take it is rejected.

That He is the sole sovereign of every time and every dimension is rejected. That He rightfully demands our service and our adoration is rejected. That He will justly deliver every evil unregenerate human to the infernal regions of hell for all eternity is rejected. In essence, God does not qualify as God, man does. Many of those in that camp are apostates. They are men and women who knew the truth and they have fallen from it for various reasons.

Now, consider that apostasy does not exist in a vacuum. If Jehovah is not God, then man is God.  It sets humanity on a path to destruction and one that is very easy to follow. The rejection of the miracle of creation ends with acceptance of evolution. Rejection of the person of Satan leads to belief that all sin is the result of negative environment. The rejection of absolutes leads to nihilism. Let me say something about that, not in my notes. I published an article in our newsletter several years ago on nihilism. You talk about shake up some folks. I don't know who they were. Some of them wouldn't even sign their letters. Remember I told you about that.  They wouldn't sign them, which means they go immediately to the trash can. Nihilism is a religion. Read Nietzsche. Satanic temptation becomes negative.  Environmental influences and absolutes are exchanged for relativism.

Let's take a look at the core meaning of this thing. What does it really mean? Well, actually it is more than just a falling away from God. Some people talk about falling away from the church. Folks, we don't fall away from the church.  You cannot fall away from the church.  You fall away from God.

Church doesn't save you. The church cannot save you. The church is not intended to save you. How many funerals have you preachers been to and some grieving parent or sibling talking about some guy or some girl that lived like a pagan. In their sorrow they say, “Oh, but he went to church, he went to church, he joined the church.” You can join the church 'til the cows come home, if you think that's what you're doing.  It's not going to save you!  You can't fall away from it because you can't join it.

One is added to it upon conversion. Big difference. Leon Morris said something that I liked. He said apostasy is not so much forsaking one's first love and their drifting into apathy; it is “a widespread and violent defiance of the authority of God.” Humanity, while enraged, shakes it puny fist in the face of God. The ultimate personification of God hatred will be in the future, antichrist. The point is, we are living in the shadow of the precedent-setting antichrist heralding apostasy today. How does God respond to that? What does He do? He is portrayed as the old, long white bearded PawPaw, He's got a cane and He walks around heaven, He's bald-headed and got a long white beard (be careful with that). He's got a cane and He's docile. He is so tolerant. It doesn't matter what His children and His grandchildren do, He dotes over them and He just, you know we kind of wink-wink at sin you know and He knows and He smiles and He shakes His head and He says oh My children, you shouldn't do that.  That is the caricature of God in the minds of many religious people.

One of the earliest psalms was written by David, according to Acts chapter 4, and it is the second psalm.  Look what it says.   “Why are the nations in an uproar and the peoples devising a vain thing? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed.”

Against the LORD and against His Anointed! When they hate you as a Christian and hate the church as the Bride of Christ, we are simply the indirect objects of that hatred. It is Jesus Christ that people hate!  What are they saying? “Let us tear their fetters apart and cast away their cords from us!" How does God respond? “He who sits in the heavens laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then He will speak to them in His anger and terrify them in His fury.”

Let me tell you something, our God is merciful, He is kind, and He is gentle. Jesus is a gentle man, He is a gentle Savior, He is patient, and He is this, that, and the other. We might thank God for all eternity and yes and a thousand amens, but don't trifle with God's grace! That's a warning and it should be a warning that is resounded in every Sunday school classroom in this country! Our children are growing up to think of God as the old, white-haired PawPaw. The apostle John couldn't even paint a verbal picture of Him because of His magnificence! And He's a PawPaw that tolerates our rebellion?

David had a concept of that. He said be careful, be careful. This kind of thing described in Psalm 2 is not done in ignorance, but is a direct volitional challenge to God.  Think about it.  Why will antichrist be able to assume power as he will during those seven years? There are a lot of reasons, not the least of which is satanic activity.  We all understand that, but just as supportive of this thought is the bitter, God-hating worldview that is taking the globe by storm today. Let me tell you something, if some guy comes along and he offers something nice, smooth, soft, and tasty, instead of God, instead of the Bible, people are going to jump on that fast because they hate God.

Many Christians are insulated from the harsh realities of the spiritually pathological hatred many people have for God and His people. But if the Lord tarries, they will come face to face with it. It's coming.

Do you know this lady? That's Kathy Griffin. She won the September 2007 Creative Arts Emmy. I don't do watching Emmys.  They haven't made a good movie since John Wayne died.  Kathy Griffin received this award and this is a quote. Now, I can't quote her completely. I did one time and I think it offended some people, so I'm not going to do that, but you will get the message.  You know how they do, received the award and all that.  “Now, a lot of people come up here and thank Jesus for this award.  I want you to know that no one had less to do with this award than Jesus.  He didn't help a bit, so all I can say is                                at Jesus, this award is my god now!” Poor, ignorant thing.

Now, consider the modern American church perspective of apostasy. American Christianity is separating from God. What you and I knew as basic fundamental, foundational Christianity 50 years ago is no longer here folks, it's gone. It's in small pockets in different places, but across the board, it ain't happening. I'm in a lot of churches in a lot of different places, talk to a lot of people, you wouldn't believe it.

America as a nation is rapidly growing away from her, what I would call, original spiritual moorings. The church in America is suffering from a growing neglect of spiritual things. It has become an institution that is participated in for cultural and business reasons.  No longer is the church viewed as the body of Christ to which a person is added upon conversion. American Christians are not rejecting the truth, they are neglecting it.  This is part of the modern western apostasy.  Do you remember what the writer said in Hebrews 2:3? How show we escape if we reject? Is that what he said? How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation? The world rejects a lot about us. Some Christians get to the point where they reject what God has said. Quite often the apostates that you see out there, it's not so much rejecting, it has a lot more to do with neglecting.

The focus is on materialism. Of first importance, formal preparation for secular success is out there. This is not inherently wrong. I don't make a lot of money, I promise you.  You can go to my web site and see that.  I make more money than my dad did.  He had a fourth grade education.  Is that a bad thing for me to go beyond the fourth grade? To get some stuff and hang it on a wall saying that I did something academically, is that bad? Is it bad to live in a house that is a lot nicer than the house that he and mom lived in that had not only no plumbing and no electricity, but no screens? No, not at all. The problem is that secular success and its preparation is pursued to the neglect of spiritual things. This leads to increasing apathy toward the spiritual welfare of our families, and culminates in kids with no sense of family.  Everything is directed inwardly.  Kids with no sense of spirituality.  Kids with devotion to icons of amorality, for example, Miley Cyrus and others like her.

What else does it look like? For a lot of religious people, this apostasy has simply evolved into change in their lives. As the man said, “Well, you know I'm not the same person I was five years ago spiritually.” I, you know, this, that, and the other.  There is a decreasing emphasis upon Biblical literacy. There is a decreasing emphasis upon congregational responsibilities. There are changes in parental priorities, from the importance of bringing children to assemblies, from joy seen in their early spiritual growth, to exclusive emphasis upon other things to the detriment of youth camp, Winterfest, and everything else that is going on that is good for them spiritually.

Not long after I got to Amite, back in the early 90s, I had a battle. Never did shy away from them. Got in a little trouble from time to time with them. Our Sunday afternoons and our Wednesday evenings, there was not too much going on. Why? Why do you think, especially in the summertime and in the fall. In Louisiana, it's all about sports, so I wrote a letter to the big dog in the local little league and all that kind of stuff. You know what I'm talking about. I said we want our Sundays and our Wednesdays back. You can practice when you want to practice, but Sunday and midweek Bible study is ours. I talked to some of the leadership about it.  They didn't have a lot to say, but they mumbled something that I interpreted as support. McGee was in deep kimchee folks! I didn't give a rip. I just didn't care anymore.  You're going to send your kid to dance camp or baseball camp instead of church camp?

There's something wrong with that picture. You going to go to practice on Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings instead of having them sitting with a capable teacher who can help them spiritually?  There's something wrong with that picture!

What else does it look like? Well, I could list a lot of things and I don't have time to do much more listing. I must go on. It begins soft and easy, this kind of thing, but eventually it slides into hardened attitudes. Priorities become inverted with kids knowing more about the NFL draft than what God has said about heterosexual and homosexual immorality.

Let me illustrate this and this goes back about 25 years. This was seen in a conservative evangelical church and I was there. A 16-year-old girl, not a lesbian, said publicly in a church meeting.  This was a meeting that had been called so that we could get some things together to enhance the program for teens and some other things. She said in this meeting that she did not see what was wrong with homosexuality. Her parents had her in every kind of extracurricular school activity, both sports and academics, that you could imagine.  Walk into their home and they had this trophy and that trophy and what have you, but she never went to summer church camp or any other spiritually directed activity. She knew a lot about things and she was somewhat arrogant about that, as were her parents, but nothing about what God had said about some things.  When this kid said that, I looked at her parents and that mom and dad, usually very proud of her achievements, dropped their jaws at her statement. Here was a 16-year-old daughter in whom was all their effort, their time, and their pride, who just stated for the record that she has no distinction between heterosexual relationships and homosexual relationships.  She was straight, I mean, she was not a lesbian.  That's called sowing the seed and reaping the crop.

What about your family? What about your church? What about your children, what do they believe? What is your teenage child's world view? This is a result of what I call local apostasy. In the end, congregations become heavily numbered with members who know very little to nothing about spiritual matters, or it ends with buildings becoming mostly vacant due to increasing numbers of full-blown and full-gone apostates.

Neglecting salvation ends in apostasy. With or without the rough edges, it is still apostasy and will separate a person from God for all eternity.  That's what God says.

Now, I want to deviate a little bit because the guys that sent me this agenda threw this text in here and I thought at first I would skip it because I just thought I'd skip it, but I want to adhere as much as possible to what they put down. I am going to address it. It is Revelation 9:20-21. You will have to go get the context yourself, I don't have time for it.

This is what the apostle wrote. “The rest of mankind, who were not killed by these plagues, did not repent of the works of their hands, so as not to worship demons, and the idols of gold and of silver and of brass and of stone and of wood, which can neither see nor hear nor walk; and they did not repent of their murders nor of their sorceries nor of their immorality nor of their thefts.”

We are living in the shadow of that right now in the church. What does this look like? If I could draw you a picture of it, what would it look like? Maybe something like this. The first thing that you notice here is the rejection of the notion of repentance.  “For the sorrow,” Paul said in 2 Corinthians 7:10, “that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.”

When is the last time you have seen someone before a group of people, a congregation, on their knees weeping because of sin? When? When is the last time? Our churches are chockablock full of it and there is never any repentance and at least one reason there is never any repentance is because we don't teach it.

Why don't you become a Christian? It's soft, it's easy. We preach this little fluffy sermon, we are going to have an invitation song. I'm not against invitation songs, the only thing is, they are only about 200 years old. Most of the conversions and impact in communities were done by church members in everyday life. It wasn't done on Sunday morning, so to sing an invitation song. Again, I have nothing against it, I'm just trying to draw this picture for you. They come down the aisle and the preacher has said you must repent, be immersed, and all that kind of thing.  They come down the aisle thinking this is a process that I must undergo in order to be saved. Rather than the preacher focusing upon a process that has to do inside the heart and it has to do with sin that is there and it must be repented of. One's repentance must include a conscious choice to change direction.  It's not being said folks and we wonder why the apostasy in our churches!  It hurts!  I work with kids every summer, I've told you that. If you could just counsel with them and listen to them and what they are telling you. I can't tell mom and dad everything they tell me. They would never say a thing again to anybody. Legally, let's not get into all of that, you know that there are limitations to that. I'm not even going to chase that dog. The things that they tell people at camp, at our camp, I'm sure up at the camp at Woodland too, the things that they tell us at camp would curl your toenails! They are the children of church leaders. You don't think that they're church leaders?  Ask them, they'll tell you.

The day that these kids go through a process is the beginning of trouble, because there was never any conversion to begin with. Why are our churches empty of people under 20 years old? There's nothing different from our churches and the Kiwanis Club. I am a member of Kiwanis. Ain't much difference, got some rules, pay some dues, say a few things when the meeting opens, go through a few little deals and, hey, that's like church!  I can be just as happy at a whatever it is that I want to do instead of church.

The rejection of the notion of repentance.

You all know who this lady is. This is Lady Gaga. Isn't this what you want your son to bring home? Lady Gaga, you probably know a little bit about her already. The reason I use her to illustrate this is because of a song that she had in 2011.  Now, I don't listen to the song, I just happen to know about this.  It's a song called, “Judas.”  One of the things that she says in that song is this, “In the most Biblical sense, I'm beyond repentance.” You would have to look at the words of the entire song to get the whole context, but you see where that goes. By the way, how many Christian kids listen to and are influenced by, who else, Miley Cyrus. In doing the background for this message, I went to get some pictures of Miley Cyrus and I wanted some of her quotes. I couldn't use them. I have something in my file, in my study.  It's a newspaper interview with her dad, Billy Ray.  Did you all see that years ago.

Billy Ray Cyrus, Miley's dad, said that Hannah Montana destroyed his daughter. Do you remember her 18th birthday and the celebration? I don't know if it was Fox or one of the outlets reported it. Her producers in Hollywood said, in an effort to get Billy Ray's ear, they said she is ours now, we got her and you can't do a thing about it.  Look where she is today.

There is another aspect in this Revelation 9 thing that has to do with demon worship. Paul tells us that demons are behind all the idolatry in 1 Corinthians 10:20. There is something I want to bring to your attention regarding these idols. An idol can be an icon that represents anything or anybody.  Can you all see that? You can't see that. That's somebody kissing a religious icon.  An idol can be wealth, an idol can be physical beauty, never did have to worry about that one. An idol can be another person, or it can be anything that captures a person's devotion beside God. Every one of them, whether it's the icon, or the wealth, or the physical beauty, or the other person, or the money, every last one of them is energized by a demonic spirit. We don't talk about that in our churches because we all know that, you know this demon thing, that's alright for, you know, all this movie stuff, but we don't really believe.

Let me tell you something.  Demonic activity is as real as God's angelic activity.  Do you remember?

C.S. Lewis's book, The Screwtape Letters. Y'all read that?  Read it if you haven't.

Let me illustrate something about this.  Someone said something regarding those who idolize Michael Jackson and, for the life of me, I cannot imagine why! This is what they said, “When his face is on your t-shirt and when you listen to his music for hours and when you give large sums of money to him personally, when his death causes you to go into a steep depression and you have a collection of memorabilia, I think if you walked in from another culture, you would said that that's a very curious god you have chosen.”  There it is.

Some years ago I dealt with a guy who worshiped the Saints. I'm not talking about you and me, I'm talking about that team down there in New Orleans. This guy, I had never seen anybody like him before. I thought my son-in-law was a devout follower of the Saints and LSU and all of that kind of thing, but this guy actually worshiped. I went to his house.  I was trying to talk to him spiritually, he and his wife and he said, “Come here, I want to show you something.” He brought me into his den and there in a corner were icons.  He had a case, very expensive icon case with glass and beautiful carved

wood. He had a football here and he had a cup here and he had a jersey there and he had a helmet over here and he just had all these things. When he walked up to it, I thought (I was in southeast Asia for years) he reminds me of a Buddhist. He walked up to this shrine.  It was a shrine to this guy!  He gloried in the thought of a Superbowl win. He handled each one of those icons as if it were a priceless object.  Interestingly, the man left an evangelical church for a liturgical church which venerated icons. I wonder what he did when the Saints won Superbowl XLIV. I suppose to him that the rapture of the church could not have been any more exciting.

Another thing that we see from this text in Revelation 9 is a cold, dead religion. We see devotion to a sense of duty instead of a sense of worship. It often includes icons, statues, pictures, and veneration of relics. My dad came out of the Roman Catholic church. I am very familiar with Roman Catholicism. I've relatives who are Catholic, I've got myriads of friends who are Catholic, so this has nothing to do with personalities and things like that, but I know Catholicism. I was born and raised in French Acadiana. One of the things that is bowed down to are bones. This is a skull, can you see it?  This is the skull of a long-dead Catholic saint and this little thing right there is a vial of Pope John Paul II's blood. When those things are passed around, you wouldn't believe the veneration and adoration. Two other things that he says here, loss of the sanctity of life, whether you are talking about abortion, euthanasia, and under euthanasia it could be voluntary, non-voluntary, involuntary, passive, active, and a host of others. You can just kill old people in any kind of ways, you can put any kind of label you want on it and it is going to be okay.  Basically a person's life digresses to the value of that of a dog.

Sorceries. That word actually means drugs. It means what we take is drugs and what kids dope up on and that kind of thing. It is more than that. It is the idea of worshiping that which mesmerizes, intrigues, or captivates attention by massaging and enhancing a person's inherent inclinations.

Interestingly, music can have a narcotic effect on a devotee. Both Dennis Ledoux and John Fulda have explained this to me several times. January 9, 2011, in Nature and Neuroscience magazine they found this, “That listening to music you like increases the level of dopamine in your brain, like drugs. This project leader, Valorie Salimpoor, found that samples of a variety of instrumental music produced, “Feelings of euphoria and cravings as measured through the reports of chills and MRIs of the subject's cerebral activity.”  A lot more could be said, but I'm out of time now already, so I'm going to go on.

We find in this text to going from an immoral to an amoral society is not necessarily a loss of standards but a rejection of standards. We see a demand for possession of that which belongs to another, thefts of all kinds, by all means, and the common denominator in all apostasy is the dismissal and ultimate rejection of what God has said.  Whether presently in the run up to the tribulation or what we just looked at in Revelation chapter 9.

Now, back to today. Let’s take a look at the apostate religious leaders today. First, let me define something for you. It is called the emerging church movement.  It's almost always immersed in apostasy and it's hard to define. It's kind of like trying to nail Jell-O to a wall, it's really hard. The emerging church is centered on a combination of models of church and of contextual theology that draw on this Trinitarian base, the mystical communion and sacramental models of the church and the synthetic and Transcendent models of Contextual Theology. You all got that, huh? That's the emerging church. It's a Christian movement of the late 20th and early 21st centuries that crosses a number of theological boundaries. Participants are described as protestant, post-protestant, evangelical, post- evangelical, liberal, post-liberal, conservative, and post-conservative, Anabaptist, Adventist, reformed, charismatic, neocharismatic, and post-charismatic.  Basically, in my opinion, it's like the new-age

religion, there is no centrality of doctrine. It's all about having a conversation. That's what they call religion now, a conversation.

Well, who are some key apostates? Well, everybody knows this dude, Brian McLaren.  On the subject of homosexuality, what had happened is somebody had asked him what the Bible said about homosexuality. He said, “You know what? The thing that breaks my heart is that there is no way I can answer it without hurting someone on either side.” Where is that spoon? I need to gag again. He said frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality.

Let me tell you something, Mr. McLaren, the question is not about offending or not offending someone. To be offensive is not the Christian style, but being accommodating to what God has condemned must never be our style also. The question actually is...what does God say about it.  I don't care what you think about it McLaren! I'd give a rip! What does God say about it? McLaren officiated a part of his homosexual son's wedding.

Know this guy? Biggest church in the country, 40-something thousand people in Houston. Joel Osteen. I went back several years just to see what I could catch up with on him. Oprah Winfrey interviewed him on January 8, 2012. She asked a question to which this is his response, “God is love. Our vision is to throw a wide net of hope over the world to get people to realize that God is good.” Then he smiled. “That He is for them and that He has got a great plan for their life.” I looked at his statement and I dissected it a little bit, I asked myself a question. He has a 3-point plan here. Does it agree with scripture?  No!  Because there is no mention of repentance.

Listen, this is another quote from Joel Osteen. “There is a belief that you are supposed to be poor and suffering and show your humility. I just don't see the Bible that way.  I see that God came and Jesus died so that we might live an abundant life and be a blessing to others.” Osteen's idea of God, in my opinion, is that God is a genie, you ask him for what you want. Now let me tell you something. This health and wealth gospel business, that won't preach in the leper slums of Calcutta. That works good in Houston, but not many other places.

“God loves you and wants to save you from a life of mediocrity and small dreams.” That's what God wants to save people from...a life of mediocrity and small dreams.  Therefore, if you believe in God and be obedient to Him (translated, that means send your money to God and use my address), God will give you a plan for your life that includes big dreams, self esteem, favor, health, wealth, influence, a better job, a positive self image. Folks, my Bible tells me that Jesus died to save us from sin, not a life of mediocrity and small dreams.  Mediocrity and small dreams do not send people to hell, sin does.  More specifically unrepented sin. Someone said the preacher who refused to use the sin, sinner, hell, and judgment can only produce happier pagans.  I agree.

And then this guy, Robert Schuler.  He's one of my favorites because he's a protege' of Norman Vincent Peale.  When I was a teenager, I saw the movie and I read the book, Power of Positive Thinking, as many of you did, I'm sure. In an interview with “Christianity Today,” Schuler said I don't think anything has been done in the name of Christ and under the banner of Christianity that has proven more destructive to human personality and hints counterproductive to the evangelism enterprise than the often crude, uncouth, and un-Christian strategy of attempting to make people aware of their lost and sinful condition. That's the dude. They asked him, well, Dr. Schuler, what is the basic flaw in modern Christianity? The basic flaw? I believe it is the failure to proclaim the gospel in a way that can satisfy every person's deepest need.  What's that deepest need Schuler?  One's spiritual hunger for glory.

Rather than glorify God's highest creation, the human being, Christian liturgies, hymns, prayers, and scriptural interpretation have been insensitively and destructively offended the dignity of the person. In other words, the gospel of Jesus Christ can't offend you.  You are a human being.  Did you know that you are a god? Schuler says so. Robert Schuler died April 2 of esophageal cancer. I don't mean to be crude or flippant, but folks, I am wondering what has transpired in this man's life during those days since his body died.

My last one.  This is another one of my favorites.  Benny Hinn.  Born in Jaffa, Israel.  Net worth about $40 million. Oh, by the way, he wants you to send some money so he can get a $65 million Gulf Stream G6. October 19, 1999, he had a conversation with Paul Crouch. Do you all know who Paul Crouch is? The co-founder of TBN, Trinity Broadcasting Network. You all watch that stuff? Benny Hinn said to him that, “Paul, I see the day coming (and you can tell he's under inspiration when he gets this) when they are going to take caskets with dead people in them (I don't know what a live person would be in there) and put them next to, they are going to haul them up close to the television when TBN is on and they are going to take their cold, dead hands and they are going to place them on that television screen and people will be resurrected!”  Paul Crouch said, “Amen! Yes, yes, yes, Amen!”

Do you know anybody that sends money to TBN? Or Benny Hinn? Crouch died November 30, 2013, and either they couldn't find a TV with his broadcast on it or something, but he's still dead, as far as I know.

A man, who is somewhat of a friend of mine, his wife was chronically sick, no one could fix her so he took her to a Benny Hinn crusade. They left the crusade without their money, but she still had her illness.

Not only is the prosperity gospel false, but it is a sham and lure of wealth and prestige has brought any number of people to the pit of apostasy. Folks, if God chooses to use a person in a great way, He will, and in a way that does not couch activities in any way that will bring reproach upon his name.

Equally so is the fact that God does not call all His people to greatness, nor does he call them to wealth, nor does He even call them to good health.

One more aspect and this is the last one. Perhaps it is the most dangerous form of apostasy of all. This is definitely the most referenced of all.  If something is believed in, no matter how unbiblical, or if some lifestyle is practiced, no matter how profane it might be, if it's all done in the name of love, then it's okay with God. Love becomes the soul and absolute factor in all things relating to God and to each other. Folks, do not discount God's command to love Him and love each other, but if what I just told you is true, then Jesus died for nothing and what God has said about everything else in life and discipleship is nonessential drivel. If love is it, regarding what God has said about discipleship and salvation, if that's all there is to it, then we are going to close up and go to the house, I've got a long drive ahead of me, I have no business up here and you have no business down there.

What form does it take? I asked the kids at camp a couple of years ago, what do you think is the most quoted verse of scripture in the Bible? They said Psalm 23, and all kinds of things. It's not. Arguably the most quoted verse of scripture in the Bible, Matthew 7:1, don't judge.

This is not a prohibition of recognizing sin in others. When he says don't judge, he is not saying don't recognize that. What he is talking about is passing judgment in a spirit of arrogance, forgetting that all sin and fall short of the glory of God. How can we know this? Read on. Read verses 5 and 6 about removing specks and logs and that kind of thing. Go to 1 Timothy 5:20. Those who continue in sin, rebuke.  How do you rebuke somebody without judging conduct?  Rebuke in the presence of all so that the rest will be fearful of sinning, 2 Timothy 4:2, Preach the word, be ready in season and out of season.  Reprove, rebuke, exhort with great patient and instruction.

This idea of just being all about love and never judging anybody is apostasy to the nth degree and it's the most insidious form. To hide behind Matthew 7:1 in order to avoid transparency is demanding license to practice apostasy and also to refuse to practice 1 Timothy 5:20, is granting license to those seeking it.

Conclusion: I believe that the best way to recognize apostasy is to know the truth. In the 1960s, a teacher in Jennings, Louisiana, Jodi, Brother A.J., and maybe some others will remember Brother Antoine Valdetero, perhaps some here. Brother Antoine Valdetero was teaching a class in business, bookkeeping, or something. If it was bookkeeping, then I made a D in it in high school. He took them to a bank. They talked to the manager and you know how kids do.  That was back in the 60s, so we didn't have all this funny money now. One of the kids, Brother Val said, asked the manager, “Do you go to school to study counterfeit money?” You know what he told them? There is no such thing, well, there wasn't back in those days. Well, then how do you know a counterfeit bill? He says, we handle the real thing so often every day that as soon as a counterfeit bill hits the hand, we know it instantly.  You get the parallel?  In order to know apostasy, don't study it.  Study the Book.  That's what you need to know.

I believe that the return of Jesus is eminent. I believe that it could happen tonight, but if it doesn't, if our Lord's return is delayed for any amount of time, you and I are going to see a rate of apostasy that is unprecedented in 2000 years of church history.  God's blessings to you.


Don McGee is founder of Crown & Sickle Ministries.



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The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

John 10:10