If You Wield Your Tool on It, You Will Profane it
The descent from Christianity into apostasy begins with a departure from Scripture. This does not usually begin with an open declaration against the veracity of the Bible, but with the subtle introduction of leaven derived from the precepts of men. The descent always begins at Baal-peor.
In Numbers 25, the Moabites enticed the Israelites to mingle their sons with the daughters of Moab. This was a plot hatched by Balaam, the prophet who was compelled by the Lord to bless Israel against the wishes of Balak, the Moabite king. Notice that a revered prophet is at the head of this rebellion, the wicked faction always needs some verification from God in order to depart from His Word. The Israelites who participated in this sinful act mixed the profane with what God had devoted to Himself. That is the beginning of apostasy and once one begins to walk this road, that person or that church or that nation is on the path of departure. Reflecting on this incident in Deuteronomy 4, Moses preaches, “1 “Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 “You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 3 “Your eyes have seen what the LORD has done in the case of Baal-peor, for all the men who followed Baal-peor, the LORD your God has destroyed them from among you.”
The choices are between conquest and victory on the one hand, and defeat, enslavement, apostasy, and death of faith on the other hand. There is no no-man’s land. Once a person, church, or nation begins to add to God’s Word or take away from it, they have cast the dye and are on the road that leads away from God and faith.
The early work of apostasy is probably not often a profound departure from Scripture. It begins with a doubt, some portion of doctrine that is not easy to understand. Human reason fills in the gap of understanding and the loose ends are tied. It can begin with as simple a question as “Where did Cain get his wife?” It could be a slight speculation on the perfections of God such as “How can God communicate with men through a book?” Or, it could be a question of practicality drawn from the extremities of human suffering. “How can God stand by and watch people suffer so?” It can also be an abhorrence for a command of God’s such as the exercise of church discipline or, in the case of the Israelites, the destruction of the Canaanites. It can also be a point of legalism, a precept of men ascribed to God by poor biblical interpretation.
God hedges His men against admixture of His Word enough times in Scripture to duly warn all ministers and theologians against adding their philosophies to His Word. Abraham tried to bring the promised seed into being through his concubine. Moses tried to bury the Egyptian in the sand. Each time, God disannulled the work of men and extracted it from His own perfect work and word in order that the direction of the Covenant and the Promises might go down His straight and narrow path to its glorious end. He forbids men to lay their tool to His altar (Exodus 20:25).
Setting aside the principles of Scripture in favor of human reason results in the decay of faith both in the minister and in the flock with whom he labors. It is a vicious cycle in which faith faints and error increases, so destroying faith further and so on. “Whatever I command you, you shall be careful to do; you shall not add to nor take away from it” the Lord repeated in Deuteronomy 12:32. This time it wasn’t about belief, but about practice. It becomes increasingly difficult to obey God when we are in the cycle of admixture and unbelief. Purity of doctrine and practice of that doctrine are essential to the health of the believer and the church.
The Bible speaks repeatedly about unequal yoking of unbelievers. The issue is not so much about the unhappy life of couples who are in disagreement about matters of religion; it is about the mingling of life with death, the spiritual pollution that results in something far worse than unhappy marriage. It results in death. The world was flooded because of mixed unions because the Antediluvian Church was tainted by the daughters of Cain, i.e. the doctrines of the exiled inhabitants of Nod. Esau apostatized for marrying the daughters of Heth. Solomon brought about the occasion for the division of Israel by marrying “strange wives.” It’s not about women; it is as wrong for a Christian girl to marry an unbelieving man. God loves his daughters; it is about intimacy with other ideas that are in conflict with divine truth.
Pragmatism (and the attendant “utilitarianism”) is the leading idea of our day. It is taught in schools, universities, politics, and corporations. Americans love it. And American Christians love it no less; their leaders employ it with great vigor. Its smoke fills the business meetings and counseling sessions and drives biblical principle out of doors. There is no place for the two to coexist, for either a pastor or elders will make every decision through expediency based on their sense of superior wisdom or they will humbly bow before the Word of God for wisdom – they cannot do both. In employing pragmatic solutions in the pastorate, modernist Christian leaders lay their tools, the tools of Reason, to the Cross and chip away at salvation.
Once a church begins down that staircase, atheism is at the bottom of the stairs. It’s easier to go down than up; the momentum to climb back to the safety of divine principle is hard especially when many men have gone that way together. The 20th century is the story of how the church in the West declined by doubting the efficacy of perfect, absolute, and all-sufficient principle from Scripture. And as the church goes, so goes the nation. The American church has descended to Liberalism, which is just a thinly veiled dressing for atheism. The American nation is now in the slough of socialism and moral decay. Christians blame the nation, but the nation has cause to blame Christians.
Just one little step down, one drop of reason in the ocean of divine wisdom and the result is defeat, decay, and destruction. I adjure the churches to turn back to God’s Holy Word and to stop mixing their own thoughts into it. God can think for Himself.
Apostate – The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West
Glorious Freedom: The Excellency of the Gospel Above the Law (Puritan Paperbacks)
The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, and Documented
Heaven on Earth (Puritan Paperbacks)
Published in full with permission by Tim Price, minister at Chalcedon Presbyterian Church
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