I was talking with a friend who related a conversation he’d had with someone who’d been reading about how so many of the big names in pastors have fallen away from true Christianity (become apostate) such as Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen and Brian Tamaki.
I told him to be careful of such teachings. It is true that in the last days, there will be many false prophets. However, there are also many false prophets who are calling Godly people false prophets. Confused yet? That’s Satan’s plan – let’s confuse the world so that they can be stolen away from God.
Matthew 5:11 Blessed are you, when men shall curse you, and persecute you, and shall say all kinds of evil lies against you, for my sake. 12Rejoice, and be delighted: because your reward in heaven is great. Because in the same way, they persecuted the prophets who went before you.
I am very wary of people who condemn others who preach godliness in a different form to themselves. If you look for it, you will find fault in every person. Gosh, Martin Luther was pivotal in the restoration of the church, but his anti-Semitic writings fuelled the holocaust of WWII. Was he apostate? Or was his understanding of God’s word just imperfect – like the rest of us. Even Paul had to rebuke Peter for his hypocrisy, withdrawing himself from non-Jews when some pious Jews turned up. Was Peter apostate? Or did he just get caught up in a moment of stinking humanness?
Galatians 2:11 But when Peter came to Antioch, I challenged him directly because he was wrong. 12Before some guys came from James, he ate with non-Jewish people: but when they came, he snubbed those people, fearing those who were legalistic. 13And the other Jews joined him; even Barnabas got carried away in their hypocrisy. 14But when I saw that they deviated from the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live like non-Jews, and not like the Jews, why do you compel these non-Jews to live like Jews?”
I saw some of a YouTube clip of someone explaining how some other person is apostate. This seemed full of pride and judgement.
James 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he will lift you up.
11Don’t speak against each other, brothers. He who speaks evil of his brother, and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law, and judges the law: but if you judge the law, you aren’t keeping it, but judging it. 12There is one lawgiver, who can save and destroy: who are you to judge another?
What’s worse is to generally condemn an entire denomination. When the apostate religious capitol is destroyed in Revelation 18, on that day, God will first call his people out of that city. This means there’s still godly people among the corrupt churches.
So how do we know?
I look to the apostle’s creeds as the basic statement of faith. i.e. what it is to be a Christian
I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
born of the Virgin Mary,
suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again;
he ascended into heaven,
he is seated at the right hand of the Father,
and he will come to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
Note, I understand “catholic” as a verb meaning universal, which the Catholic church claims to be, but has much dodgy teaching (but maybe I do too).
I recognize anyone as Christian who
- Agrees to these words completely
- Recognizes all others who agree to these words completely
For those who dismiss other believers are cutting themselves off from the body of Christ and contradicting.
John 14:6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father, but through me.”
Such people infer that they or their church are the only way to the father. This seems to be the primary marker for an apostate sect.
1 John 4:20 If someone says, I love God, but hates his brother, he is a liar. Because if someone doesn’t love his brother that he’s seen, how can he love God that he hasn’t seen? 21And this commandment have we from him, that he who loves God must love his brother also.
Love does not expose another’s faults but covers them with grace.
Genesis 9:20 Noah, a farmer, proceeded to plant a vineyard. 21When he drank some of its wine, he got drunk and lay naked in his tent. 22Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father naked and told his two brothers outside. 23But Shem and Japheth took a garment and laid it across their shoulders. Then they walked in backwards and covered the father’s naked body. They kept their faces turned the other way so that they would not see their father naked.
When we see a brother in error, we are to pray for them and gently correct them. It is not for us to condemn another, because our judgement is imperfect. In the future, they will repay you in the same way.
John 13:34 I give you a new commandment: That you love one another. In just the same way as I have loved you, you must love each other. 35By this it will be obvious to all people that you are my disciples: if you have a deep loving affection for each other.