Young people, the issue in apostasy is not a matter of semantics. The issue in apostasy is the eternal welfare of men and women and boys and girls. The issue in apostasy is merely this, there is only one faith, once for all delivered to the saints. There is only one method of Salvation. There is only one name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. There is only one Gospel that would deliver men and women and boys and girls from the wrath to come, and when some rascal comes along and offers another gospel which he says is the same kind of a gospel but which denies the deity of Jesus Christ, which denies the efficacy of the blood of [Jesus shed on] the cross, he is offering a deadly substitute that bans the souls of men.
That is exactly why Paul said, “I don’t care who it is, let him be accursed if anybody preaches any other kind of a gospel than the gospel that can save men’s souls. Of all of their heinous crimes committed in the history of man, there is nothing greater or more evil than this, that perishing men and women, boys and girls should be given a gospel that will leave them lost when they think they’re saved. Another characteristic of apostasy is this matter of camouflage. But I think we will leave it there.
How did Paul deal with apostasy? This is interesting. First of all, he dealt with it very forthrightly and very honestly. The older I live the more I’m convinced that this is the only way to deal with any problem. If there is something that’s going to damn the souls of men, you might just as well deal with it forthrightly. Now that doesn’t mean that we are bitter against anybody. That does not mean that we ought not be concerned about the souls of men and women who unwittingly get wound up and involved in the apostasies of our times.
But it does mean that there should be somebody on God’s green earth courageous enough and honest enough to tell men and women what the truth is. That’s the only way to deal with apostasy, be very forthright and frank and honest about it, not nasty about it. Don’t launch personal attacks. Don’t resort to vituperation and to untrue and exaggerated accusations, but tell the truth about it, and then get clear of it and stay clear of it. Repudiate it and stay clear of it.
Then there are several other things, and sometimes these are not the ones that are emphasized. But they are the ones that I want to emphasize as I close. The real answer to apostasy lies in dealing with the basic underlying issues that make apostasy possible. First of all, there needs to be a combination of total commitment to Jesus Christ and a realistic facing of issues concerning this present world system in your own life. Now Paul begins, and he said, “Now listen, I’m not an apostle appointed by man. My appointment and my loyalty is to Jesus Christ.” A little bit later [he] says, “Now I am trying to persuade men or am I trying to serve God?” In that magnificent passage, he said, “Now those who are the moving spirits in this apostasy, want to make a fair show in the flesh. They want to stay out of the way of persecution. But as far as I’m concerned, my commitment is to Jesus Christ.
In first Corinthians, after his experience on Mars Hill, Paul said, “I determine not to know anything among you save Jesus Christ and him crucified.” I don’t want you to misunderstand me, the center of the message of the Apostle Paul was never, “What is wrong with the apostasy?” The center of the message of the Apostle Paul was always the cross of Jesus Christ.
I trust you young preachers will take heed. We must fight apostasy and expose it, but we do so only so that doors will remain open so we can preach the Gospel. Telling the world what’s wrong with apostasy has never saved a soul. There are occasions when people get so enthused about separation that they have no other message, and this becomes an obsession, and this becomes the center point of their preaching ministry. It is one of the perils that we must avoid. The real issue in the world is that men and women are lost and bound for a devil’s hell, and there is only one way that they can be saved and that is by personal faith in the son of God who died for them on the cross of Calvary. I don’t care how much you fight apostasy. If you are not more concerned about this one central issue than anything else in the world, you are failing in your responsibility to Jesus Christ. On the other hand, if you think you can just preach the Gospel and win souls and ignore the apostasy, you are failing just as much. There needs to be a balance.
Paul made a personal commitment to Jesus Christ. In the second chapter he talked about going down to Jerusalem, and they had a committee meeting there. He said who they were didn’t make any difference to me. God doesn’t accept any man’s person. Let the church in Jerusalem or let all of the people out in Judaism hold a million counsels and decide what should be done here, there or the other place. As far as I’m concerned, I have an orientation, I have a pole star to my life, I have a loyalty that supersedes every other loyalty, I have a determination that is the motivating factor in my life, and it is that I may know Him and the power of His Resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings being made conformable even unto His death.
Young people, if you do not close your ears to the voice of the world and the voice even of religious leaders and the voice of everybody else, and get yourself in the place where you hear only the voice of Jesus Christ and you pledge Him your loyalty no matter what, you are in no position to answer the question, “What shall we do with the apostasy?” Paul said, “They will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears,” in the final apostasy. But he said, “Timothy, preach the Word. Be instant in season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and doctrine.”
I would like to call upon this great company of people, representing our Regular Baptist Fellowship tonight, to emphasize these points as well as the repudiation of apostasy and the exposure of it. Let us come to these days with a renewed point of orientation to the person of Jesus Christ. Let us make a covenant with Him that no matter that whatever others do, we are going to be true to Jesus Christ. Then secondly and especially, young people, we all need to do what Paul did in Galatians 6:14. We need to take another visit and stand at the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ and look up into his face as he was hanging there 2000 years ago. He’s not there any longer. But we need to revisit Calvary and as we stand at the cross of Christ, we need to consider the fact that this world system which John describes as the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh and the pride of life, the world’s treasure, the world’s pleasure and the world’s applause represents the very reason why Jesus Christ had to die on the cross of Calvary.
Paul said, “As I stand at the cross, the cross of Christ fills my vision. God forbid that I should glory in any piddling little thing, like the right of circumcision or something like this. God forbid that I should glory in anything else save the death of Christ my God on the cross of Calvary by which the world and all of its treasure and all of its pleasure and all of its applause is crucified unto me, and I’m crucified unto it.” They say, “You’re standing with the Son of God, we don’t like you,” and I’m saying it was for these things that the son of God died. So you take your treasure, your pleasure, and your applause and you just pack them and go anyplace you want to with them, I’m not interested in them.
If we’re going to avoid the peril of apostasy, we’re going to have to deal with the world. You know the neo-evangelicals have this kind of a business of dual-revelation, and they say God has spoken in nature and God has spoken in the Bible and if it’s a matter of faith, then the Bible is authoritative. If it’s a matter related to the physical universe, then science is authoritative. So we come to the opening chapters of Genesis, it’s a matter related to the physical universe, so we believe science and interpret the Word of God accordingly. Just a bunch of believers craving for the world’s applause, for the approval and the approbation of brilliant men of science who nevertheless unregenerate.
I trust somehow that as we move into these days ahead and as pressure mounts that our faith will become much more simple and that our dedication will become deepened. It is said of Isaac Watts that as he was mediating on the cross one day, he said to his father, “Why doesn’t someone express the emotions that rise in one’s breast when he thinks of Calvary?” His father is supposed to have said, “Son, why do you not write such a hymn.” Whether this be true or not, Watts penned these words, “When I survey the wondrous cross, on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss and pour contempt on all my pride. Forbid it Lord that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my God. All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood. See from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down. Did ever such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown. Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small. Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.”
Young people, stand at the cross. Give up the world and its applause. Pledge your allegiance to Jesus Christ. Preachers, let’s get back on the job, as Paul said in first Corinthians, not preaching on the wisdom of men, but in the power and demonstration of the spirit. Let’s fight apostasy, but let’s not get so involved in fighting it that we forget to pray, we forget to keep up our devotional lives and we forget to minister in the power of the Holy Spirit of God by whose ministry alone men and women can be saved.
This was a message presented by my Grandfather, Dr. G. Arthur Woolsey, in 1965.