|"A GREAT RETURN TO THE BIBLE" |
by Dr Pence Dacus
(Church History Correspondence Course)
FALLING AWAY OF THE CHURCH
"I will build my church" Matt. 16:18
"Thou art the Christ" Matt. 16:16
"Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation." (Isaiah 28:16)
"Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner." (Matthew 21:42)
"This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner." (Acts 4:11)
"And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:20)
"Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture. Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious." (I Peter 2:6)
"For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid which is Jesus Christ." (I Corinthians 3:11)
The thrilling story of the expansion of the church to the "ends of the earth" was troubled by two factors. First, the relentless fires of persecution which spread against it. From Nero in 64 A.D. to Diocletian in 311 A.D., several million Christians perished in general as well as local persecutions. (Halley,p.869). Second, there were the ominous warnings of an apostacy -- falling away. Even before the last apostle died, and before the end of the first century, members of the church of Christ began to drift away from the doctrine of Christ. But, it did not come unexpectedly.
It Was Prophesied
* "After my departing grievous wolves shall enter in among you, not sparing the flock" (Acts 20:29).
* "Also, of your ownselves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:30).
* "Now the Spirit speaketh expressly that in the later times some shall depart from the faith" (I Tim. 4:1).
"Let no man deceive you by any means, for that day shall not come (Christ's return) except there come a falling away first" (II Thess. 2:3).
Special Warnings Were Given
* "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" (Matt. 7:15).
* "For false Christs and false prophets shall arise ... to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect" (Mark 13:22).
* "And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many" (Matt. 24:24).
By the Apostles
* "... many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1).
* "... there shall be false teachers among you who privily shall bring in damnable heresies. ..." (II Peter 2:1).
* "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse deceiving ..." (II Tim. 3:13).
* "There shall be mockers ..." (Jude 18).
Seeds of the Apostacy Were Already Sown -- Clearly Observed
* "For the mystery of lawlessness doth already work" (II Thess. 2:7).
* " ... even now there are many antichrists;" (I John 2:18).
* "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-christ, ..., and even now already is it in the world" (I John 4:3).
Facts About the Falling Away
When -- the Falling Away
* In the "later times" (I Tim. 4:1). John explains that with the development of the antichrist, we shall know that it is the "last time". Therefore, the "last time" is sometime after Christ. There could be no antichrist until there was a Christ. (I John 2:18).
* Before Christ's second coming (II Thess. 2:3).
* "... even now there are, many antichrists;" (I John 2:18).
Where -- the Falling Away
* "Of your own selves shall men arise, ..." (Acts 20:30). * " ... there shall be false teachers among you who privily shall bring in damnable heresies" (II Peter 2:1).
Why -- the Falling Away
* Men shall "heap to themselves teachers having itching ears ..." (II Tim. 4:3)
* Men "will not endure sound doctrine" (II Tim. 4:3).
* Men will "give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils" (I Tim. 4:1).
*Men "received not the love of the truth that they might be saved" (II Thess. 2:10).
* Men "believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness" (II Tim. 2:12).
* "Men "shall turn away their ears from the truth ,... to fables" (II Tim. 4:4).
How -- the Falling Away
* False prophets arose and deceived. (Matt. 4:24).
* Some preached "another gospel". Gal. 1:6-8).
* Some sought to induce Christians to return to the law of Moses. (Gal. 5:1-4).
* Sectarians divided the church. (I Cor. 1:10-13).
* Gnostics (all-knowing ones) tried to elevate human wisdom above the wisdom of God. (I Cor. 1:18-29).
* Some compromised with error. (II Cor. 6:14-17).
*Some profaned the Lard's Supper. (I Cor. 11:18-29).
* Modernists denied the Lord. (Jude 3-4 and II Peter 2:1).
* Skeptics denied the incarnation of Christ. (I John 4:2-3).
Summary: The apostacy was clearly foretold and the New Testament is replete with warnings. The seed germs existed in the original church as expressed by "the mystery of lawlessness" and "the spirit of antichrist". When was it to come? It started in the early church and gradually developed -- we will study that development in careful detail. Where did it start? Right in the church itself, and among its leaders -- the elders. Why did it happen? It came as a result of man's unwillingness to search for and accept the truth. They refused to take a stand for right against wrong, and thus were susceptible to false doctrine. Men were all too willing to listen to any teacher, preacher or prophet who could tell them what they liked to hear. They preferred man's wisdom to God's wisdom.
Special Note: In this lesson, we begin to raise questions about the very foundation of a church that we believe "fell away". This church, the Roman Catholic, claims to be the one true church. There are many reasons which suggest otherwise. This church group is entitled to its opinion and their rights are to be respected. However, this course is an appeal to this church and all other churches to examine their teachings and practices to see if they are really following the Bible, or have been following mainly the traditions of men. Recall the stern warning Jesus made with regard to following man-made traditions instead of God's word in the Bible. See Matt. 15:1-20.
Closing Remarks: Could it have been averted? Yes, but only if the members of the church had retained the respect and honor for the authority of God's word -- the Bible. Men fell away because they left the authority of God, preferring the counsel of men. We will examine the matter of attitude toward the Scriptures in Lesson 16.
Halley, H.H., Bible Handbook.
1. Study the lesson text carefully till you understand its meaning. Then answer the Questions to this lesson.
2. Submit your answers to us through the Internet. Your graded answers will be returned to you through your e-mail address.
3. Make sure that you save each lesson [including your answers] you completed or simply print a copy for future reference.
4. "Bookmark" our web site or "add to favourites" so that you may readily return for future lessons.
QuestionsYour answers will be graded and returned to you through your e-mail address. Thank you for your interest in God's Book. May He bless you in the study of His Word.
Please answer the following questions by typing your answers into the spaces provided or, where a choice of answers is given, click against the button for the correct answer.
You will find answers to the questions in the lesson material as well as the Scripture references that are cited.
When you have completed all the required answers and information, simply click "Submit Form" and your answers will automatically be sent to us.