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"...The church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth."
I Timothy 3:15


Falling Away

 Pastor John Reaves, Sr.


II Thess. 2:1-12, “Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God. Remember ye not, that, when I was yet with you, I told you these things? And now ye know what withholdeth that he might be revealed in his time. For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way. And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”


Verse 3 says, “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [...by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, the Rapture] shall not come, except [before] there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;”


There is little doubt that we are living in the very last days. Our gathering together unto Him is in the very near future, “...Nearer than when we believed,...” Rom. 11:13 and as verses 12 and 13 goes on to say, “The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.”


Many things point to the last days, the Jews back in the land, Israel in control of Jersusalem, Gog and Magog on the move, and the condition of mankind as in II Tim. 3:1-5, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” So no doubt the last days are upon us, just look at Israel and mankind. They both point to the end of this world as we know it.


While I was in Bible college they often came up with blanket statements that were meant to be believed and not questioned or challenged, for instance, “We believe in the imminent return of Christ.”


In other words from the moment Jesus left this world in Acts 1:9-11:


“And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.” they taught that he could come back at any moment. But that is not what the Bible teaches. Jesus told Peter in John 21:18, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not.”


Now if the Lord had come back before Peter was old his word would not have been true but a lie. The same problem arises concerning the destruction of Jerusalem.


Another blanket statement they made was, “There are no signs pointing to the Rapture; all signs point to his second coming,” and if you were to be a good so-called “Fundamentalist” you could not question such a statement.


Well, I had a few problems with that statement, for one, I Thess. 4:15-18 without question speaks of the Rapture:


“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” and chapter 5:1-4 says, “But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape. But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.”


This also speaks of “...that day…” the Rapture, because the second coming will not be as a thief because every eye shall see Him, verse 3 says, “For when they shall say, Peace and safety;” and coming out of the Middle East and the rest of the world that’s just about all we hear Peace, peace but there is no peace and will be no until the Prince of Peace returns. But, “For when they shall say,…” that’s a sign before the Rapture.


In our text we find another sign, [sign according to Webster’s 1828 dictionary means: some visible transaction, event, or appearance intended as proof for evidence] “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day [our gathering together unto him] shall not come, except there come a falling away first,” Strong’s gives this definition for falling: “defection from truth, apostasy, falling away, forsake.” The Greek word is “apostasia” of which we get the English word apostasy.


Many in Christendom seem to be shocked that men like Pat Robertson, Charles Colson, Bill Bright, Mark Noil, and Jesse Miranda of the Assemblies of God would sign a document like, “Evangelicals and Catholics Together, The Christian Mission in the 3rd Millennium,” of which they did sign in 1994. And yet others seem to be surprised that Billy Graham, Jack Van Impe, and others would praise Rome and the pope the way they do. They tend to try to teach that this is the falling away, the apostasy. But I am under the impression that one must to have been there before one could ever fall away from it.


The Protestants know from whence they came from and where they are going back to.


“In 1854, the Presbyterian General Assembly met in Buffalo, and this question was presented to them for their decision:


“Are Romish baptisms and ordinations valid?”


There was a heated discussion over this question. The majority report of the committee was that all ordinations at the hands of the Romish priests were invalid, because the Roman Catholic Church was no church of Christ, but anti-Christ, and therefore the baptisms and ordinations of such an apostate body are null and void.


The minority report, on the other hand, contended that if they denied the church of Rome to be a true church of Christ, they unchurched themselves, since they came out of Rome, and received their baptisms and ordinances therefrom. Finding they could not extricate themselves from the dilemma, they moved an indefinite postponement of the question.”


Protestants, New Evangelicals, Charismatics, and the like have never been there to fall away from the truth. Most wouldn’t know the truth if it hit them in the face.


What we are seeing today is a departure or defection from the truth concerning Independent Baptists. The churches and pastors who once stood for “the faith which was once delivered unto the saints,” Jude 3, are no longer contending but pretending. They are no longer standing where they once did, they have fallen. This defection, apostasy, or abandonment, of which one has professed, does not come over night. It is usually a slow step by step process; there is no doubt a pattern.


A Departure from Standards


First of all it begins with a departure from standards. The word standards means, “that which is established by sovereign power as a rule or measure by which others are to be adjusted.” The root word being stand means, “to remain upright, in a moral sense; not to fall.” Remember the word falling in our text speaks of a defection from the truth, and with that in mind look at Eph. 6:13-14, “Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;”


When I was just a young Christian I wrote in my Bible a statement that has stuck with me until this day, “If you don’t stand for something you will fall for any thing,” and that’s exactly what is happening today, fall-ing for anything. Would to God we had more preachers like Paul in Acts 20:27. He says, “For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.”


Preaching the whole counsel of God includes standards. Standards such as standing against long hair on men, I Cor. 11:14, standing for modest apparel, I Tim, 2:9, against nakedness, Gen, 3:10, against vile wicked videos and filthy, degrading, family sitcoms, Ps. 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes: I hate the work of them that turn aside; it shall not cleave to me.” It also includes making a stand against such things as rock music, with so-called Christian words, and contemporary [agreeable sound] music, Eph. 5:19, “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;”


Back in the early 70’s the Bible College I went to had standards. Men had to look like men, women had to dress like women, and at that time the college stood for something. The standards are gone and so too has its stand; they might as well take the words Baptist and Bible off their sign in Springfield. I can already hear some crying out “legalist”, not hardly, I add nothing to salvation.


We are losing a whole generation because we have a bunch of spineless preachers behind the pulpits in North America who are afraid to “Cry aloud, spare not, lift up thy voice like a trumpet, and show my people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins.” Instead what we have are teachers having itching ears, preaching smooth things, things that won’t make waves. But we are instructed to do as II Tim. 4:2 says, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.” Why? “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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.” (v. 3&4) That’s the departure, the defection from the truth, the falling away.


Preachers are afraid to preach all the counsel of God, they are afraid they might lose their tithers. We could all learn a lesson from Gideon; God had to reduce his numbers before he could get victory. Maybe we need to stop worrying about numbers and let Jesus build his church. What we need to do is as John 12:32 says. Jesus said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”


And we can do that by preaching the whole counsel of God behind the pulpits of North America.


We need to get back to standing for something. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Mat. 5:16. When standards are gone there is not much to see. The world doesn’t need a church to look like them, they are looking for a church that is different.


The falling away is a step by step process. There’s definitely a pattern and the first step is a departure from standards. The next step is:


A Departure from Scripture


In my Bible College days there were strong standards preached and no coincidence that at the same time the college made a strong stand for the Word of God, the KJV 1611. But as soon as the standards were gone it was just a matter of time that books in the bookstore, like, Battle for the Bible, and The Foundation and Authority of the Word of God, were gone also and it was not too long before you could find the NIV there.


After all, when holiness, purity, and godliness is no longer preached there is a great void of spirituality. John 4:24 says, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Where there is a void of standards there is no spirituality and when someone is not spiritual why do they need a spiritual book? I Cor. 2:13-15, “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”


With no standards there is no need for a spiritual book so they seek out for a book that is not spiritual. A book that they can understand, like the N-I-V-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E, the Mickey Mouse Bible. If one has spirituality missing in their life why not get a Bible like the NIV with 64,576 words missing? Or maybe a NKJV, it has 2,289 words missing just in the New Testament. Jesus said in John 6:63, “It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.” I like what one preacher said concerning the Word of God, “You don’t have to be a Greek scholar to know whether or not a translation is good. Just take a look at what it does for Jesus. If it magnifies Him, it is a good translation. If it plays Him down [like all modern translations do], it is of the devil.”


It has only been in these last days that we have seen in the articles of faith of Independent Baptist Churches statements such as, “We believe that the Word of God is inspired in the originals.” That statements says nothing. We don’t have the originals besides what idiot would not believe that the originals were inspired? The question today is, do we have an inspired, God breathed Bible? If not, it’s dead, let’s bury it. But the Word says it’s “...the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” If the KJV 1611 is not the inspired Word we better find the one that is because God says His word will live and abide forever.


Falling as found in our text is a defection or departure from truth. In John 17:17, Jesus said while speaking to the Father, “...thy word is truth.” Many churches are listening to the devil, “Yea, hath God said.”


Amongst many so-called Independent Baptist Churches today they think they have a bible that has mistakes, not perfect. They don’t believe their bible is inspired, and no doubt their pulpits are just as dead as they think their bible is. Once they toss their perfect, inspired Bible to the side, complete apostasy, an abandonment of what one professed is just around the corner.


The falling away doesn’t happen overnight. It is a step by step process. A departure from standards, no spirituality, then a departure from the Scripture. The unspiritual do not want a spiritual book so they look for one they can understand.


Last of all, there’s:


A Departure from the Saviour and Salvation


When you have an unspiritual congregation with an unspiritual book you end up with an unconverted church and a complete departure from the faith.


We have recently seen a perfect illustration of this. The Detroit Baptist Temple, once pastored by J. F. Norris and after by G. B. Vick, just 25 years ago the church stood strong on the Baptist distinctives and earnestly contended for the faith but their standards were lacking. Before long they had someone behind the pulpit, Truman Dollar, who hated the KJV and used the NIV and now they have taken the name Baptist off the church. A complete departure from the faith once delivered unto the saints, a total desertion.


When a church departs from preaching on standards, which leads the departure from the Scripture which leads to lack of spirituality, you end up with a church full of the unconverted, which leads to nothing spiritual mattering, including the Saviour and salvation. And before long the churches that once contended for the faith are no different than the evangelicals, charismatics, and ecumenicals who like the Pope believe that there are many ways to God and heaven. Jesus Christ no longer matters, he becomes another fixture in their religion.


Falling away is a slow, step by step process. Departure from standards, departure from the Scripture, which leads to a departure from the Saviour and salvation. A complete abandonment of what one has professed.


In Conclusion


No doubt we are living in the last days, the falling away of the church that Jesus built is upon is us. “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;” I Tim. 4:1&2. Few are standing for the faith once delivered unto the saints.


My closing words to those churches that are at the point of apostasy is found in Rev. 2:5, “Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”


My exhortation to those that are still in the battle is found in II Tim. 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine,” and Jude 24, “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.”