[The following is a rough transcript of 8/21/22 sermon by David Fiorazo]
I’ve been seeking a better understanding of apostasy over the last century or so and I’m learning a lot! When I showed my pastor an image depicting the compromise and falling away of the American church from the Word of God, he confirmed what I had been investigating. Pastor Kevin Minske (DePere, WI, Christ the Rock Church) stated:
“Everything comes down to the inerrancy (and authority) of the scriptures. Without its absolute authority we have NO standard of truth. It has always been attacked – and always will. If the enemy cannot cause us to abandon the scriptures entirely he will at least chip away doctrinally by attacking segments to the Bible such as Creationism, exclusivity of the gospel of Jesus Christ (not ‘many ways’ to God), and others which is why doctrine matters!”
Let’s start with a few examples from God’s Word.
Luke 21:33 – “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.”
Psalm 119:160 states, “The sum of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments is everlasting.”
Isaiah 40:8 – The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever.
John 1:1-2 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him, not even one thing came into being that has come into being.
This is clearly not what most people believe today. For many, their god is self and they think they can make up their own “truth.” They rejected the God of Truth and His word!
It’s no surprise in 2016, the Oxford English Dictionary declared “post-truth” to be their word of the year. Post-truth is defined as: “relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals to emotion and personal belief.”
Our culture is caught in the current of liberalism, moral relativism, and post-modernism which deny the truth, inspiration and reliability of Scripture. But these have crept into the church.
HOW DID WE GET HERE?
The Bible clearly warns about deception, doctrines of devils, false teachers, and worldly philosophies. Many have warned about these last days we find ourselves in. In several of his books, Dr. Francis Schaeffer exposed a decline of modern Christianity, and documented the negative influence of humanism and Gnostic philosophies on the church.
In his book, The God Who Is There, he writes about the danger of compromise and what happens when people stop believing in the inerrancy of Scripture:
“Here is the great evangelical disaster – the failure of the evangelical world to stand for truth. There is only one word for this, namely accommodation: the evangelical church has accommodated the spirit of this age. First there has been accommodation of Scripture, so that many who call themselves evangelicals hold a weakened view of the Bible and no longer affirm the truth of all that it teaches – truth not only in religious matters but in matters of science, history, and morality.”
Most of us have secured our foundations on the Rock of Christ, the Cornerstone. We know and understand the authority of Scripture. We know the attack on God and truth is an attack on the person of Jesus Christ! We still must strive to be good Bereans.
ACTS 17:10-12 states:
The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived, they went into the synagogue of the Jews. 11Now these people were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. 12 Therefore, many of them believed, along with a significant number of prominent Greek women and men. [NKJ = “searched the Scriptures”]
What are “these things”? Acts 17:2-3 answers this question:
According to Paul’s custom, he visited them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.”
SADLY, just a few months ago, George Barna revealed some tragic news about the alarming decline in biblical worldview among pastors and church leaders. A majority (62%) do not even believe the Bible they preach from on Sunday mornings. Here’s a conclusion reached by Barna, who stated:
“It certainly seems that if America is going to experience a spiritual revival, that awakening is needed just as desperately in our pulpits as in the pews; …This [research] is another strong piece of evidence that the culture is influencing the American church more than Christian churches are influencing the culture;
There it is. Some of us have been sounding the alarm on this for decades!
This brings up many theological and practical questions such as; ‘What has happened to the salt and light? Why are so many pastors unwilling to teach the whole counsel of God, address Bible prophecy, discipleship, confront evil, and expose darkness?
Still another poll on faith clearly shows that we have regressed from a time when nearly all American adults (98%) believed in God (until 1967), to today when, for example, only 68 percent of young adults between 18 and 29 believe.
So now, a new Gallup Poll maintains this theme of apostasy. The headline: “Belief in the Inerrancy of Scripture Rapidly Declining”
Results: a record low of Americans now think the Bible is actually and literally God’s Word. Just 20% now believe the Bible is the literal word of God
Like Barna, the new Gallup poll also indicates that it’s not the church or Christians who are impacting people’s worldview and perceptions of the Bible. It’s the enemy.
The inerrancy of Scripture is foundational to Christianity, and here we have more evidence that deception and falling away from the truth often begins with doubting. Genesis 3, ‘Did God really say…” Rejecting the authority, inspiration, sufficiency, and perfection of the Bible.
Also in the Gallup poll, almost 30% of Americans now think the Bible is merely a collection of “fables, legends, history, and moral precepts recorded by man.”
Yes, the Bible does contain moral guidelines, but is full of extremely accurate history which is proven by archaeology and confirmed by secular historians including Josephus. So – Scripture is divine, not simply historic.
And yes, the Bible was written by men: 66 different books compiled by 40 writers over a time span of 1,500 years on three different Continents – whose author was and is the Holy Spirit. QUESTION: If an all-powerful God created heaven, earth, and all things, don’t you think He could communicate His message using people He created?
Hebrews 1:1-2, “God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the world.”
Turn to 2 Peter 1:16-21.
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales [fables, Gr. Word “mythos”] when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such a declaration as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory: “This is My beloved Son with whom I am well pleased”— 18 and we ourselves heard this declaration made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain.
19 And so we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of someone’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
God spoke to Moses, Habbakuk, Isaiah, Daniel, and John saying, “write these words,” or “write down the revelation.” These and others were men “carried along by the Spirit” of God to accurately record His words.
“But false prophets also appeared among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their indecent behavior, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned;” 2 Peter 2:1-3
Vs 16 – Eyewitnesses: For centuries, the apostles and writers of the New Testament have been scrutinized, checked, and have been found truthful.
Vs 19 – The “prophetic word” refers to the entire O.T. not just the prophets. There are at least 332 distinct Old Testament predictions regarding the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled perfectly. This evidence, from a statistical perspective, is absolutely overwhelming!
Note Peter clearly ranks Scripture over human experience; (the word made more sure) – more complete, permanent, and authoritative.
Which you do well to heed: When we consider the prophetic testimony to Jesus;
Vs 20 – “know this first.” Emphasis on God’s truth. Its meaning is evident and can be confirmed by others. The point is not about how to interpret the Bible, but how Scripture originated and what was its source!
Vs 21 – Moved by the Holy Spirit: carried along… the ancient prophets did not even know the meaning of what they themselves wrote. They were taken beyond themselves by the influence of the Divine Spirit;
*The Bible is not an invention of man or the product of human effort! However, God used each writer’s personality, thought process, and vocabulary to communicate the exact message God wanted to record.
**The original copies of these writings are therefore, inspired and without error.
All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; 17 so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
Peter also warned that “Scoffers will come…”
For example, you may have someone reason like this: how could a guy named Jonah have been swallowed by a big fish only to repent and become a preacher of righteousness? They see it as a fable or an imaginative story. How did Jesus refer to Jonah? As literal historic truth (Luke 11:29-30). Jesus mentioned Jonah three times in two verses.
…for just as Jonah was in the stomach of the great fish for three days and three nights, so will the Son of Man be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. 41 The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment, and will condemn it because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here. Matthew 12:40-41
Jesus affirms the historicity of the Bible. All of Scripture is inerrant and authoritative.
BRIEF GLIMPSE OF CHURCH HISTORY
In his book, New Evangelicalism, author, Paul Smith exposed the seeds that corrupted major denominations in America and conservative believers within some of those churches. He explains how – at that time – Christians couldn’t agree how to respond to liberalism and cultural Marxism invading culture and threatening to infiltrate the church.
Descent of the Modernists
The early 1900s saw the beginnings of the truth war within the Christian church in America. Doubt crept in and controversies over biblical doctrines were brewing. For our context, two opposing sides may be described as Fundamentalists and Modernists.
WHAT HAPPENED? A debate in the Presbyterian Church at the time led to what was known as the “Five Fundamentals” of Christianity.
The Doctrinal Deliverance of 1910 declared these fundamentals to be “necessary and essential” to the faith.
These doctrines included:
- The divine inspiration of the Bible and the Holy Spirit, and the inerrancy of Scripture.
- The pre-existence, deity, and virgin birth of Jesus Christ.
- The satisfaction of God’s justice by the crucifixion of Jesus Christ (substitutionary atonement).
- The bodily resurrection, ascension, and intercession of Jesus Christ.
- The historical reality of Christ’s miracles
Fast forward about 12 years to 1922 – exactly 100 years ago.
A sermon by Harry Fosdick, a supporter and spokesman for liberal Protestantism, was a catalyst in watering down the truth and inspiration of God’s Word. He described the differences between conservative and liberal Christians in his sermon called, “Shall the Fundamentalists Win”?
In response, Clarence Macartney, a conservative pastor from Philadelphia defended the truth with his own sermon published in a pamphlet entitled, “Shall Unbelief Win?” To close, Macartney cautioned about what he called “the menace of the rationalistic and modernist movement in Protestant Christianity,” and stated:
“The movement is slowly secularizing the Church, and if permitted to go unchecked and unchallenged, will ere long produce in our churches a new kind of Christianity, a Christianity without worship, without God, and without Jesus Christ.”
I submit to you the American church has largely been secularized by a combination of cultural influence as well as false ‘gospels.’ A “new” kind of Christianity.
Galatians 1:6-8 states:
I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, 7 which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.
Shots were fired by both sides. But in 1928, the resolution supporting the Five Fundamental doctrines was rejected by the Presbyterian Church.
It’s clear today that godless ideologies, philosophy, social religion, Syncretism, Marxism, works-based righteousness, and what I refer to as the cult of liberalism have spread like a cancer through the decades and have infected many churches.
God’s Holy Word – from Genesis to Revelation – is our final authority.
For whatever was written in earlier times (ie; the Old Testament) was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4
This hope we have is “an anchor to our souls” (Heb. 6:19). What hope? Eternal redemption, resurrection, salvation!
“As they watched, He was taken up and a cloud received Him out of their sight (Acts 1:9).
Turn to the gospel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-7.
For I handed down to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers and sisters at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep; 7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
I would love to have heard that conversation between Jesus and his brother!
What about James, an unbeliever just days prior to the resurrection? Just a few verses after the ascension of Jesus was described, Acts 1:14 gives us this little gem of truth: “All these were continually devoting themselves… to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers.”
Scripture supporting Jesus as the Christ is confirmed by eye-witness testimony, radical conversions, supernatural signs, manuscript evidence, and archaeology!
Luke writes in Acts 1:3 that after Jesus was raised from the dead, He provided “many infallible proofs.” Many. Infallible. Proofs.
Stay in the Word, brother and sister, and keep building your foundation on Jesus Christ, the Truth & Cornerstone of our faith. God’s word is perfect and can be fully trusted!
Colossians 1:15-17 states:
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: 16 for by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or rulers, or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
Jesus took part in creation, He is before all things, He sustains all things, and all authority in heaven and on earth belongs to Him. This is the true and living Word.
This is a God worthy of our worship. This is a God who invites us to His throne when in need. This is a God who bears our burdens and gives our lives meaning. This is our soon-returning King.