APOSTASY FROM THE FAITH
BY: ADOLPH E. KNOCH
THE WITHDRAWAL FROM THE FAITH
A CREEDAL APOSTASY
THE HYPOCRISY OF FALSE EXPRESSIONS
A CAUTERIZED CONSCIENCE
MARRIAGE AND FOODS
WHO IS APOSTATE?
THE APOSTASY OF FUNDAMENTALISMZ
HOW TO BE FREED FROM THE APOSTASY
THE withdrawal from God or from His Word, or, rather, the state, which follows such a withdrawal, is expressed in Greek by the word apostasia, FROM-STANDing, which has been appropriated and Englished into apostasy. It is a question whether it would not be better to substitute “withdrawal,” in order to keep in contact with the verb, which is rendered withdraw. This would greatly widen the range of evidence as to the apostasy, for it occurs so seldom as a noun that we are apt to get constricted views of its meaning. Then, in thinking of the apostasy we would include 1 Timothy 4:1. The “withdrawing from the faith” there mentioned is the one usually referred to in the pages of this magazine. In order to have the subject clearly before us, we print the entire passage (1 Tim.4:1-6, CV):
“Now the spirit is saying explicitly, that in subsequent eras some will be withdrawing from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and the teaching of demons, in the hypocrisy of false expressions, their own conscience having been cauterized, forbidding to marry, abstaining from foods, which God creates to be partaken of with thanksgiving by those who believe and realize the truth, seeing that every creature of God is ideal and nothing is to be cast away, being taken with thanksgiving, for it is hallowed through the word of God and pleading. By suggesting these things to the brethren, you will be an ideal servant of Christ Jesus, fostering with the words of faith and the ideal teaching which you have fully followed.”
The idea of apostasy or withdrawal did not originate with the writers of the Greek Scriptures, nor was it new to them, for the Greek words, used to express this idea, were employed in the Greek versions of the Hebrew Scriptures, to represent in their several usages, as noun, verb, adjective, etc., forty or more Hebrew words, variously rendered in numerous passages, by the English words apostasy, backsliding, depart, revolt, rebellious, etc.
The Greek verb aphisteemi occurs in the Scriptures in the following passages (CV):
aphisteemi, FROM-STAND, withdraw, draw away
Luke 2:37 who does not withdraw from the sanctuary
4:13 the Slanderer withdrew from Him until
8:13 in a season of trial are withdrawing
13:27 Be withdrawing from me, all workers of injustice
Acts 5:37 Judas the Galilean…draws away people
5:38 I am saying…withdraw from these men
12:10 the messenger withdrew from him
15:38 the one withdrawing from them
19:9 withdrawing from them, he severs
22:29 those…interrogating him withdraw
2 Cor. 12:8 I entreat…that it should withdraw from me
1 Tim. 4:1 some will be withdrawing from the faith
2 Tim. 2:19 Let everyone…withdraw from injustice
Heb. 3:12 in withdrawing from the living God
The noun itself occurs only twice. Paul was accused by the Jews of apostasy from Moses. (Acts 21:21) This consisted in telling the Jews among the nations not to circumcise their children or to walk in the customs. So apostasy may also denote a good act, a withdrawal, which is according to the mind of God. It has now taken on a bad tinge, and may be used only of that which is supposed to be wrong. In this sense it occurs in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, where Paul uses it in a general way of the greatest of all withdrawals from God, culminating in the man of lawlessness, who is opposing and elevating himself above everything termed a god or an object of veneration. This apostasy must precede the presence of Christ in the day of the Lord. This, like the apostasy of Israel (Heb.3:12), is an apostasy from God, a much deeper thing than an apostasy from the faith, and far more subtle.
As the operation of the withdrawal from God is hindered by the presence of the saints, and will develop fully only after they are gone, it is not, primarily, an apostasy of believers, but of unbelievers. There is a certain recognition of God in the world, all the more apparent since Christianity has become a worldly organization, including, in its great confessions, multitudes whose hearts are quite untouched by God’s love and who know little more than the name of faith. This is well illustrated by the situation in Germany. The state church includes a large proportion of nominal Christians who wish to bring the church into line with present day standards of science and morality, as they understand them, and hence demand the repudiation of the Old Testament and its God. These are advance guards of the coming apostasy. Suppose now that the actual believers all should leave this church. Then the apostasy of these men would be unhindered, and would proceed apace. They are ripe for the great withdrawal from God, which will characterize the end of man’s day.
This apostasy is well known and recognized among many of the saints, so that there is no need that we should add much to the testimony against it. Indeed, we take it that our readers know these things, and hardly need to be reminded of them. But there is an apostasy among the saints, the prevalence of which is seldom recognized, in which we all are more or less involved, not excluding this magazine. We should use the most strenuous efforts not only to recognize it, but to free ourselves from its tentacles, which are sucking the life blood out of many who pose as defenders of the faith, quite oblivious of the fact that they also are, in a measure, apostate. The only safety lies in testing every teaching by the Word of God, no matter how orthodox, how evangelical, how self-evident it may seem. And it is only when we see that saints are apostate and where they have withdrawn that we can feel free in any measure from the danger of being ourselves involved.
THE WITHDRAWAL FROM THE FAITH
That the great mass of Christendom, the two Catholic confessions and Protestantism, are apostate, and come within the range of this passage there can be no doubt. But all intelligent believers are well aware of this, and our readers do not need to be reminded. We have confined ourselves to the most notable and most delusive phase of the apostasyÄÄits prevalence among those who claim to be, and seem to be, the last remnant which is not apostate, and especially those who are belligerently defending the faith, particularly the fundamentalist journals which are doing good work in exposing modernism. Here we have the Adversary’s masterpiece of deception. I do not say (indeed, I deny) that these magazines and men are altogether apostate. Quite the contrary! They are doing a good and a great work. And to them this justifies and hallows their apostasy, and makes it terribly subtle and effective.
Let us examine some of the details of this apostasy. “Now the spirit is saying explicitly, that in subsequent eras some will be withdrawing from the faith…” (1 Tim.4:1) The context shows that this is written for the saints, and deals with a phase of the apostasy different from that which comes before us in Thessalonians, though, of course, both are present today, and both may well be included in the term. This apostasy was not to be confined to the end. It was to exist in all the eras of the church’s history except at first. As faith is the great leading characteristic of this economy of grace, so the withdrawal was to take place in this sphere. The saints were to withdraw from the truth of the Scriptures.
We submit that church history fully bears out this grave prediction, but in quite a different way from that which we have been taught. The historians would have us believe that, when heresy arose in the church, a council was called and the error was purged out. Quite the contrary. Error crept in gradually, and when opposition to it arose, a council was called which, as a rule, confirmed it. If the historians are true, then Paul was a false prophet. But he was not, and the church, Protestant as well as Catholic, is today under the great delusion that the decisions of church councils, rather than the Word of God, are authoritative. Every appeal to the church or to a council is positive proof of this withdrawal from the truth, and is evidence of this apostasy from the faith. This point is of prime importance. We must not confine this apostasy to the last era, but include in it all “subsequent” ones. The creeds are the outcome of withdrawals from the faith. And, in turn, for those who accept them, they become the foundation of further withdrawals. So-called “evangelical Christianity” is largely based upon the creeds, and, in the most “fundamental” circles, they are practically accepted as inspired.
A CREEDAL APOSTASY
In a recent number of a magazine devoted to the defense of the Bible we read as follows: Modernism is “the Bible and what the professors say.” Mormons say “the Bible and the book of Mormon.” “The Christian Scientists accept a great deal that is in the Bible, but with them it is ‘the Bible and Mrs. Eddy.'” “You always find in these cases that the real authority, that which decides the difficult point, is the something else, whatever it is.” That is good. Yet, on another page we read that the early Christians formulated “a Creed which has been accepted as A REVELATION FROM ABOVE by the learned and pious of nineteen centuries.”
No wonder they cannot believe the Bible, even when its plain declarations are put before them! No wonder they slander those who do believe it, even though they pretend to defend it! In fact they were driven off the Ground of the Bible and appealed to one of the ancient creeds in attacking our teaching as to God’s Holy Spirit.
A magazine once came to me with an article headed, “Final Destruction or Universal Reconciliation?” or similar words. I wrote to the editor pointing out that the writer, in his heading, had definitely denied a declaration of God and as definitely chosen a saying of man in its place. My protest was unheeded. One cannot help pitying the readers of such a periodical, who do not rise in protest against such a thing. Later I pointed out to the same writer that he could not put his teaching into scriptural language and that he was opposing the very words of God. I appealed to his church and his friends. With very few exceptions this failed to touch their conscience. They feign to follow the Bible, and feel offended when the fact is pointed out that, in this matter, they withdraw from the faith. Their conscience is cauterized. It does seem incredible that saints can definitely deny the actual words of God, and just as definitely substitute the words of men which contract God’s statement, and still proclaim themselves as champions against the apostasy. We will not call this hypocrisy, because the conscience of most saints is not sufficiently sensitive to realize the seriousness of this matter, and they prefer to be lulled in the lap of a questionable “love.”
The same is evident again and again when I point out that orthodox phraseology is a withdrawal from the faith. Men who are justly accounted in the forefront of those who defend the Bible against the unbelief of modernism have a cauterized conscience when it comes to their own apostasy. In regard to the “trinity” and the terms used concerning it, their conscience is utterly atrophied, or they would not defend the faith by demanding acceptance of the words of men, because they cannot find any word of God to support their heresy. No darkness is so dense as that which parades as light, no conscience so callous as that which corrupts God’s Word in its defense.
The negative withdrawal from the faith is accompanied by the positive reception of the doctrines of deceiving spirits and of demons. There are many who shudder at the very idea, who hold tenaciously to the teaching of demons, without having the least suspicion that such is the case. Take the teaching of the immortality of the soul, by many held to be the characteristic doctrine of Christianity, though their Bibles know nothing of it. It is, perhaps, the leading doctrine of deceiving spirits. Yet how many of the most honored and spiritual teachers not only hold it, but are ready to suffer for its defense! Not only that, they consider it their duty to make others suffer for not accepting it. It is more than likely that many of the apostasies of the saints consist in the acceptance of teaching which originated in the hostile spirit world.
This is a term, which we have avoided, in a mistaken idea that it was not in harmony with love. But, in that case, Paul would not have used it so freely. There are some exhibitions of it which real love will expose. Such a case is an article on “The Ethics of Book-Reviewing, an appeal to Bible-Believing Editors.” We do not object to the article, but to the pretense that this journal is “Bible-Believing” and is in a position to instruct others in the ethics of this subject. In practice their instructions would read as follows: First, review an old edition, not the current one. Second, count the number of pages, and say that it has half as many or less. Third, if you know of any passage, which will damage it, look for that. If it is not there, say it is, anyway. If anyone notices it, we can say it was done by “inadvertence.” If it condemns any of the traditions and is not in line with the creeds, do not take the trouble to read what it does say, but make it say as much as possible to give it an evil color in the eyes of our readers. Lies, misrepresentations, slanders, insults, and insinuations are all commendable in dealing with one who refuses to believe the inspired creeds. The editor will stand by you. If he acknowledges a falsehood, he will give an excuse. If anyone objects, he will say that we are suffering for the sake of Christ! This is always a good cloak, and the people like it.
I once thought that our Lord was unduly harsh when He called men hypocrites. But we know that He did everything in love. I have waited years before saying this. But I feel that my own inclination must not hinder me in faithfully exposing the intolerable hypocrisy of those who oppose God’s Word while posing as defenders of the faith.
THE HYPOCRISY OF FALSE EXPRESSIONS
In my defensive articles I have often considered the advisability of exposing the motive beneath the false expressions used by the opponents of the truth. But I was sure that my own motive would be misconstrued. But now I cannot avoid pointing out why so many false expressions are used. Like the Pharisees of old, men wish to pose as orthodox, evangelical, defenders of the faith, champions of the Bible, and, at the same time they wish to avoid losing the hearing, the respect, the applause, the support of the apostate saints. This can only be accomplished by the use of false expressions. We do not say that they are hypocrites. It is better to leave such harsh language to Paul, even if we are exhorted to imitate him. I only wish to record my testimony that my heart has been thoroughly sickened by the holy, humble hypocrisy which exists among some of the leading champions of the Bible. They expose their motives by the free use of falsehood.
At various times I have exhorted teachers of the Scriptures to use only sound words and to avoid the many non-Biblical expressions, which have become the shibboleths of Christianity today. Have I had any response? How feeble it has been! Instead, the whole case against the teaching of UNSEARCHABLE RICHES could easily be expressed by saying that we refuse to believe all the false expressions, which constitute the backbone of orthodoxy. May I lay it on the conscience of everyone who uses these unsound expressions, and especially one who wields a word as a sword against his fellow saint, that, in this matter, such a teacher is not a genuine man of God, but wears Christianity as a cloak to do the work of the Adversary?
The tendency of false teaching is to crystallize into key words or expressions, which are not found in the Scriptures, but which, by common consent, are given all the sanctity and authority of a divine revelation. This is where the hypocrisy comes in. It is glaring in connection with the “trinity.” How I would have shuddered once if someone had even hinted that the first, second, and third Persons of the Godhead are unknown to Scripture! I would have immediately misjudged him, and my conscience would not have greatly troubled me if I had slandered such a heretic as he deserved. A few expressions follow, as examples: “the eternal Son,” “the deity of Christ,” “eternal torment,” “final destruction,” “the immortality of the soul.” It is hypocrisy to pretend that these are inspired, and everyone who holds to them after once being told that they are not God’s words, has withdrawn from the faith, although he will probably think that he is defending it, and his conscience will fail to operate.
I have just been glancing through one of the leading fundamentalist journals with this thought in mind. The hypocrisy openly displayed in the use of false expressions, and non-Biblical phrases, by which others are judged and condemned, is incredible. That many, if not most of those criticized are also apostate does not mitigate the offense. It is openly and boldly demanded that all who will not subscribe to these shibboleths, no matter to what denomination they belong, whether they believe the Scriptures or not, should be thrust away. It is always assumed that these false expressions are Scripture, and that those who do not accept them do not believe the Bible. The evident sincerity in which all this is written shows that they are themselves deceived, as well as deceiving others. Such a thing as insistence on sound words is loudly applauded in theory and almost unknown in practice. Anyone even hinting that “the deity of Christ” is not Scripture would be instantly denounced as a leprous apostate.
I am convinced that we have not taken a proper attitude toward such hypocrisy. In order to avoid offense we have not been using even the Word of God in defense of the truth. In order to avoid being a hindrance to those who, in many ways, were standing for the truth they know, and are suffering for it, we have not exposed the hypocrisy of their false expressions, the sanctimonious substitutes they use in place of the inspired Word of the living God. We owe it to these brethren to point out to them their own hypocrisy and their departure from the form of sound words, in case some, with honest hearts, may be rescued from the subtle snare which holds them fast in the very apostasy which they oppose.
This tendency to crystallize doctrine into key phrases may be used as a test of any teaching. If the phrase is found in the Scriptures, and is used in agreement with its context, as our “universal reconciliation,” which is only the phrase “reconcile the all” turned into a noun, it will show that the teaching is anchored in the living oracles. But if it will not stand this test, either because the thought is not to be found, as “final destruction,” or if words are used in a sense foreign to the context or the grammar of the original, as “far above all,” it is evidence of apostasy. Almost every “movement” has a motto, which usually expresses some truth, such as “the victorious life.” If the phrase is extra-scriptural it is almost certainly an index of departure, though it may signalize an advance for many who receive it. Let us watch slogans and stock phrases, and test them by the only true touchstone, the Word of God.
Christendom is shot through and through with false expressions which practically replace the Scriptures in the lives of believers. Creeds and catechisms are drilled into them in early youth, and the songs they sing are more potent in molding their conduct than the living oracles. Some even claim inspiration for creeds. Others innocently ask, Are they not based on the Bible? Can we do better than the learned men among the early Christians? Even when the creeds are challenged and shown to be unscriptural, learned champions of the Bible refuse the testimony of the Scriptures, and appeal to the creeds against the Word of God. These false expressions are received with all the veneration accorded to God’s own declarations. Perhaps they receive even more.
A CAUTERIZED CONSCIENCE
This apostasy from the faith among the saints is to be accompanied by a cauterized conscience. It seems incredible, but it is a fact, that, in affairs of faith, or, perhaps we should say, in matters of apostasy, men of the highest probity cast aside their conscience, and act in utter disregard of the most elementary morality. Servetus had some truth which Calvin did not grasp, so Calvin had him burned at the stake. I do not wish to hold up Calvin as a bad man. Especially in matters of civic righteousness he was beyond the average. His conscience was extremely tender, except in this regard, which involved faith, and here it was without sensation. So today, what would be a crime in other spheres is commendable if done to defend heresy, misnamed truth. Lately I heard of one of my detractors, that he was in constant anxiety lest he be arrested for slander, but it never entered his mind to right the wrong he had done. His lies have done good service in fostering the apostasy, so his conscience is cauterized.
Those who are associated with us in seeking to clear themselves and others from this apostasy will do well to take this passage to heart. Do not expect to find moral rectitude among those who pose as champions of orthodoxy, no matter how exalted their reputation in other spheres. And when they misrepresent, falsify and slander, do not imagine that they are aware of their sin. They will be insulted if you think them capable of such an offense. In this matter their conscience is quite cauterized. They “honestly” think they have not only done right, but consider any hint to the contrary as sufferings to be endured as faithful servants of Christ! For years it greatly distressed me when men of great reputation for godliness deliberately published statements which no man of the world would dare to do for fear of the law, but now I see that they and their supporters are, by these acts, only helping to make it clear to all who have eyes to see, that they have the mark of the apostasy. Faith and morality go together. Withdrawal from God’s Word must be accompanied by a cauterized conscience, and their acts are the final and conclusive evidence of their withdrawal from the faith.
In such dark days as these I am sure that we ought to use every sign God has given us to identify those who are apostate, and in what measure, not excluding ourselves. The moral reaction may be clearer to some than the withdrawal itself. To use an example: I once sent a circular letter to some leading fundamentalists, asking them to hold to the exact Scriptures concerning the judgment of the unbeliever, as they were doing in regard to the believer. As a result a conscienceless charge, was made against me, utterly without foundation, which was later withdrawn. The appeal was to their conscience, for they were deliberately misplacing passages of Scripture. But, apart from this attack, there was no response. I was appealing to men whose consciences were tender in other things, but utterly calloused in regard to their withdrawal from the faith. It is usually only certain tenets of the faith in which they err, but the general effect is one of withdrawal, and this produces a deadening or searing of the conscience.
An example has come to hand as I write. A man of the highest reputation writes to a friend that he has heard of no mistake on the part of his magazine and prefers to close his pages to the subject. That is, after printing a direct falsehood, which was copied and later withdrawn by other magazines, to which his attention was directed by several different persons, he now not only will know nothing of it but refuses to right it. I do not question the state of his conscience. He is the kind of man who must have a clear conscience. He probably thinks that we are unjust in our actions. In matters that affect his withdrawal from the faith his conscience hardly operates. Such cases present a serious problem. Thousands of earnest, intelligent, sacrificing saints have absolute confidence in him, and would take offense if we associated his name with untruth. But this is the only scriptural way left to us to help some of these saints.
Against my own inclination and desire, this word of God concerning the conscience of those in the apostasy has forced itself on my attention. I hope that each of us who desires to escape this inevitable withdrawal from the faith will apply it to himself. Do we allow ourselves to do or say anything immoral in support of what we deem to be the truth? It has been my custom for years, when possible, to submit statements concerning others of opposing views, in this magazine, to those who may be less prejudiced, and have always held myself open to correct any misstatement. I urge this attitude upon all my fellow workers. Let us strive not to do or say a single thing, which might indicate a cauterized conscience.
But I cannot help being impressed with the thought that we should use this symptom of the apostasy to seek to rouse others to a realization of their position. I feel that it is our duty to help the saints by means of this sign. When a man or a magazine descends to untruths in order to defend their faith, they should be labeled so that all can see. In their case the apostasy, like smallpox, has broken out, so that we may be warned against it. It is not a pleasant task to hang up a warning signal on the house of one whom we respect and honor, yet, for the sake of others, it is an act of mercy.
This lack of conscience seems incurable. In several cases, when direct falsehoods were published against us, I naively imagined that they would simply be withdrawn, with an apology. Instead, when they were withdrawn, another falsehood was added, which, under the circumstances, was much more reprehensible. An apostate is annoyed when he “inadvertently” makes a misstatement, but he has no compunction about it, and seeks to justify himself. All of this shows that the clean heart is lacking, that sin is not judged in God’s presence, that the withdrawal from the truth has brought with it the inevitable retribution of a calloused conscience.
The recognition of this fact, that a withdrawal from the truth callouses the conscience, should be of considerable practical value to us in our walk and warfare. We should, I believe, make use of it. First, we should expect to be misrepresented and slandered. Abnormal as it is, in one sense, it is in the regular course of spiritual law, which we should anticipate, and for which we should be prepared. We should make this rule known, so that seekers after the truth may take advantage of it. Apostates usually win through the weight of tradition. Some of their influence in support of error may fall away if we can clearly and courteously show that they have the hall mark of the apostasy. Finally, let us beware of deviating a hair’s breadth from the truth in our dealing with them, even in the most trivial matter. Blind as they may be to their own falsehoods, they are quick to resent anything concerning themselves, which seems unwarranted and unjust.
I would address a special word to those who, under God, have had their eyes opened to some precious truth which is dubbed heresy, and who are about to begin a testimony for its propagation and defense. Do not be surprised or disappointed when men of the highest moral standing slander you or your work. Rather, use such occasions to further the truth by explaining that this is to be expected, and that the opposers are really putting their seal upon the truth and are exposing their own moral condition by the manner in which they conduct their opposition.
That there are grave difficulties connected with this course, I have learned by experience, especially when there are more than one in league against the truth. Then any statement, however courteous, however loving, as to undoubted lies, will be indignantly resented as slanderous, without any attempt at investigation. Each one thinks the other an honest man, which, of course he is – except when defending his apostasy. But is not the defense of a man who not only has lied, but has acknowledged it, only another symptom of a conscience calloused by withdrawal from the truth? Brethren, our course is not easy or pleasant, and we will probably often feel the sting of defeat, so far as outward appearances go. We would like to keep every statement impersonal, but the conscience is a personal matter. Many would like to deal only with the apostasy and charge no one with withdrawal. But God’s Word goes further, and we are only withdrawing from it ourselves if we ignore the state of conscience, which accompanies the withdrawal.
Reluctantly, therefore, and with much hesitation, I desire to impress upon those who have made statements concerning the version and our teaching, and concerning myself personally, which are not true, many of which have been taken back, no matter how trivial they may seem to those answerable for them, that these are symptoms of their apostasy. These are scriptural symptoms of the withdrawal from the faith that should weigh heavily in these days when so many say that they are not apostate, yet by their words, and by their works, plainly advertise their true condition to all who have their eyes opened to the prevailing disease of Christendom.
MARRIAGE AND FOODS
This has usually been applied to the Roman Catholic clergy by Protestants, and may find a limited application there, insofar as the priests are saints. Yet from very early times celibacy and asceticism have been mistaken for devoutness. In some quarters there is a return to this today. Let us keep our natural instincts under the control of the faith, but let us not make food a part of our faith.
WHO IS APOSTATE?
When all of us hold teaching, which is not in accord with God’s Word, it is difficult to draw a definite line on this basis. Some are more and some are less. But there is a deeper difference, and that is the attitude of heart toward God’s revelation. Here we can draw a definite line. Do we rest only on God’s Word, or do we withdraw from it, and call in the authority of a creed, or the church, or the fathers, or the recognized evangelical trend? Do we depend on the express declarations of the Word or do we use texts as a spring board to jump to other conclusions? Do we use God’s Word or false expressions? The line that severs the apostate from the rest runs between faith and reason, between God’s Word and the teaching of others, be they saints or sinners or demons. The gravest delusion is that which openly crusades against the apostasy and still harbors it at heart. But the worst of all is when plumed champions of orthodoxy turn their attack against God’s Word in the name of Christ. This is the dire strait in which we are today.
THE APOSTASY OF FUNDAMENTALISM
That modernism is apostasy needs no reiteration on our part. The fundamentalists are not backward in testifying to this. But the apostasy of fundamentalism is much more subtle and deceptive, and much more likely to delude those who honestly desire to believe God. Nor is their withdrawal simply the holding of heresy, such as the immortality of the soul, eternal torment, and the trinity. Their apostasy is evident when they hold to false expressions, feigning to believe God, when they definitely deny the words of Scripture as presented to them, when they deliberately leave the Word of God for the teaching of the creeds, the church, or evangelical Christendom, and especially when, with cauterized conscience, they commit immoral acts in order to defend their apostasy and to harm those who stand for the truth. I am simply confirming this scripture when I say that those caught in this apostasy have less conscience as to telling the truth than most infidels, where they think that the falsehood will help to cover their apostasy.
HOW TO BE FREED FROM THE APOSTASY
Let no one imagine that he is entirely free from all traces of this apostasy. Rather let him be on the alert to free himself from it. All our efforts, not only in this magazine, but especially in the CONCORDANT VERSION and concordance, are tools toward this end. Our business is to foster “with the words of faith and the ideal teaching which you have fully followed.” (1 Tim.4:6) The words of faith are those God has used, in contrast to the false expressions, palmed off as His, which abound in creeds and systems of theology, many of which, alas, are finding a place in popular modern versions. By clinging to the words of faith and refusing the false substitutes we will be equipped to recognize what is of God and what is from the deceiving spirits, which, to an unbelievable degree, control the teaching of those who stand in the front ranks in the defense of their Bible, that is, the creed of Christendom.
False expressions must go! Nor is that all. It is our duty, not only to ourselves, but to all saints and to God, to witness against them, and to publicly pillory all who seek to force them on God’s suffering people, in order to keep them from the truth. Let us not spare ourselves, should we discover that we are guilty in any degree of substituting man’s words for God’s. Practically the whole opposition against a concordant version arises from the withdrawal from God’s revelation. Opposition to it seldom appeals to the Scriptures directly. It is pitiable to see the refusal of divine evidence and the appeal to human authority. The very fact that a concordant version is so distasteful is not only evidence of the apostasy, but of the value of such a version for effecting a deliverance from it.
Get close to God’s inspired revelation! “Modern” versions are, as a rule, aids to apostasy, in that they substitute the language of the withdrawal in place of God’s words under the plea of idiom, or better English, or that it can be better understood. As an example, the latest and most popular German version, made by an earnest believer, simply introduces the language of the church and creed with which his readers are familiar from their childhood. Hence it is “easily understood!” No subtler support for the apostasy could be invented. Its popularity was astonishing. Let us put up with any intelligible English, if it conforms to the original. But let us especially beware of versions that are easily understood,” for no other reason than that they are in line with the apostasy! They will confirm us in error instead of delivering us from it.
Let us testify to the facts of Scripture. There is power in cleaving to the words of God. Some years ago a prominent heresy hunter hounded me because of my heresy in regard to the “trinity.” I promptly demanded that he state his charge in the words of Scripture. He has not done so yet! The fox has turned on the hound, who is under cover and will not come out. Let us always insist on sound scriptural words, when hypocritical, false expressions are hurled against us. This is the most effective way of closing the mouths of the gainsayers, and, in some cases, may open their eyes to their withdrawal. We have nothing to fear. It is a shame for a man of God to go unopposed and unslandered through life in this backsliding generation. “Heretic” is the highest earthly title, which can be bestowed at this time. It is those who suffer now who shall reign. But let us suffer only for God’s Word and not for false expressions. How appropriate still are Paul’s words to Timothy (2 Tim.3:10-13, CV):
Now you fully follow my teaching, motive, purpose, faith, patience, love, endurance, persecutions, sufferings, such as occurred to me in Antioch, in Iconium, in Lystra: which persecutions I undergo, and out of them all the Lord rescues me. And all also who want to live devoutly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted. Yet wicked men and swindlers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.
I have just received a pathetic letter from a brother who had been used in founding several assemblies among the Plymouth Brethren. Now his heart has been opened to accept the universal reconciliation, and his own flocks have turned him out and persecute him. Persecution is our portion. There is no escape from the apostasy without it. Let us meet it like men. Let us thank God for it and face it unafraid. Let none of us claim to be clear of the apostasy. The writer of this exposure makes no such boast. Our Lord alone can be Judge of that. The knowledge that we are also involved should temper our testimony against it, but it can never excuse us from exposing it when God has opened our eyes to behold its hideousness. It is a most unpleasant and painful task, which I fain would shirk. May God forgive me if I have not performed it in a way that is acceptable to Him! If He is pleased I can well sustain the temporary displeasure of others.
We are living in a marvelous time. The darkness is that even a tiny candle makes some impression. Now is the season to suffer! In Russia, thousands, perhaps millions, are enduring, terrible physical trials and even death for their faith. Why should not we stand firm and rejoice even when our brethren malign and defame us? I do not see how we can hope to escape the apostasy without this. Is it not a special grace to be granted those who escape, in some measure, the fearfully subtle apostasy which characterizes the camps now engaged in fighting it? Modernism has blinded the minds of fundamentalists to their own deep-seated departure from the Scriptures. Let it be our endeavor to cleave close to the Scriptures and cleanse ourselves from all symptoms of the apostasy while we enjoy the privilege of suffering for His sake.
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APOSTASY FROM THE FAITH [Adolph E. Knoch] 1