The Expansion of Apostasy
Pastor David L. Brown, Ph.D.
Sermon Delivered 9/21/03
Text: "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward, and perished in the gainsaying of Core." Jude 1:11
In my past two messages, we have been talking about apostasy. We are living in a day of escalating apostasy!
This past spring Linda and I, accompanied by Tim and Sarah Thoenes visited Boston. As we were following the redline historic tour, we came to a Staples office supply store. On the side of the building there is a brass plaque noting that this was the former location of Holton's Shoe Store where Edward D. Kimball lead shoe clerk Dwight L. Moody to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Moody left his boyhood home of Northfield, Massachusetts, at age seventeen to seek a career in Boston. He ended up living with his uncle, his mother’s brother, and working as a clerk in his uncle’s shoe store. One of the conditions of his employment was that he attend Sunday School. Kimball, Moody’s Sunday school teacher, was burdened for Moody. He decided he would go to where Moody worked and share Christ with him. In his own words Mr. Kimball said,
"I found I had gone by the door, I determined to make a dash for it and have it over at once. I found Moody in the back part of the store wrapping up shoes in paper and putting them on shelves. I went up to him and put my hand on his shoulder, and as I leaned over I placed my foot upon a shoe box. Then I made my plea, and I feel that it was really a very weak one. I don't know just what words I used, nor could Mr. Moody tell. I simply told him of Christ's love for him and the love Christ wanted in return. That was all there was of it. I think Mr. Moody said afterward that there were tears in my eyes. It seemed that the young man was just ready for the light that then broke upon him, for there at once in the back of that shoe store in Boston the future great evangelist gave himself and his life to Christ."
As Moody used to tell folks, "I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die. That which is born of the Spirit will live forever."
Moody soon left Boston, moving in 1856 to Chicago, where in a few years he developed a very successful business as a shoe salesman. In the meantime he was touched by the enthusiasm of the city revivals that spread through America in 1858, and he turned more and more toward Christian work. He started Moody Church and preached in the slums, emphasizing literal interpretation of the Bible and the need to prepare for the Second Coming. In 1870 he met a young songleader in Indianapolis, said bluntly, "You're the man I've been looking for for eight years. Throw up your job and come with me." Ira D. Sankey did just that; thereafter it was "Moody will preach; Sankey will sing." They began a series of highly popular revival tours in Britain and the U.S.
His message was essentially simple. It has been characterized by the "Three R’s: Ruin by sin, Redemption by Christ, and Regeneration by the Holy Ghost." Moody focused his ministry on saving souls. His most famous remark was, "I look upon this world as a wrecked vessel. God has given me a lifeboat and said to me, ‘Moody, save all you can.’"
Other than through his personal work, Moody’s principal means for perpetuating the Gospel message was through establishing educational institutions. In 1879 he founded a school for girls at his home base, which was in Northfield, Massachusetts, and in 1881 followed it with the Mount Hermon School for boys. In 1886 he adopted Emma Dryer’s recently founded Bible training school, the Chicago Bible Institute (later Moody Bible Institute) to quickly train "gapmen" or laymen in those things necessary for them to become effective Christian workers. Perhaps more important at the time were Moody’s summer Bible conferences held at Northfield beginning in 1880. At these conferences Christian leaders from all parts of the English-speaking world assembled to learn particularly about evangelism and the necessity of Spirit-filled lives of holiness. The outstanding outgrowth of these Northfield conferences was the formation of the immensely influential Student Volunteer Movement in 1886. This movement inspired missionary efforts by thousands of young persons during the succeeding decades, carrying with them the motto of the Student Volunteers, which also summarized the goal of the lifework of D. L. Moody, "the evangelization of the world in this generation."
Perhaps you are wondering why I am telling you this when I am talking about apostasy. I got an email from Dean Holloway this week. He lives not far from where Moody was born and buried in Northfield. Here is what he said about the schools Moody founded – "Moody, after his North American and European crusades he retired here and started two prep schools. Both schools have since gone a little awry. The campus pastor of the Unitarian church is none other than Mary (Travers) of "Peter, Paul and Mary.’"
Unitarians neither believe in the deity of Christ nor the saving grace of Christ. Moody started these schools right! Yet, slowly but surely, the school moved from the absolutes of Bible truth and the preaching of Salvation by Grace to "The Answer Is Blowin’ In The Wind." This is a prime example of apostasy, abandoning the Christian faith. It fits the pattern of 2 Timothy 4:2-4 "Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables."
In our last message we looked at the first of Four Dimensions of Apostasy…Rejection of God’s Authority. The second dimension is…
Conceivably the most widespread areas of apostasy in the "church" today is rejecting God’s grace. The theology in many modern churches is focused on meeting people’s physical needs and solving their problems. To them it is the physical body that is important. However, this is NOT the primary purpose of the church. The church is to preach the Word of God and preach the Gospel. Many so-called churches are preaching religion instead of a relationship (with Jesus Christ). They preach the gospel of works, the gospel of baptismal regeneration, the social gospel, the new age gospel, the non-repentance gospel and even the bloodless gospel. But anyone who believes these false gospels is accursed. Turn with me to Galatians 1:6-9 "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed."
Apostasy embodies the rejection of God’s grace. Again, an example of this kind of apostasy is found in Jude 1:11. "Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain…" The account of the apostasy of Cain is found in Genesis 4:1-12. "The way of Cain" stands forever of one who refused the Grace of God in salvation and offered their own works. Abel offered a blood sacrifice in faith and but Cain offered a bloodless sacrifice and it is only "the blood of Jesus Christ his Son [that] cleanseth us from all sin." (1 John 1:7).
I like what J.C. Ryle says about the merit of good works in gaining salvation…
"Whatever merit they may see in their own works here in this world, they will discover none in them when they stand before the bar of Christ. The light of that great day of assize [judgment] will make a wonderful difference in the appearance of all their doings. It will strip off the tinsel, shrivel up the complexion, expose the rottenness of many a deed that is now called good. Their wheat will prove nothing but chaff: their gold will be found nothing but dross. Millions of so-called Christian actions will turn out to have been utterly defective and graceless. They will be found to have been like whitened sepulchers of old, fair and beautiful without, but full of corruption within."
The way of Cain is the way of apostasy. Apostates reject God’s grace.
I will conclude by saying, in this era of apostasy, we
who love the Lord must stand for the authority of the Word of God and not
back down regardless of the pressure apostates exert upon us to
compromise. And when it comes to the Gospel, we must proclaim its pure
truth far and wide. People need to know that they have been lied to and
they need to know the truth.