The phrase falling away is a Greek word (Apostasia) which simply means to depart from a known path or way. No one departs from a path or way he or she has not known or walked. The knowledge of this truth makes the falling away an important issue to the people of the way or Christians Acts 9:2, 11:26.
We know from the scriptures that, “the way” is nomenclature for the gospel and, the apostasy is with reference to the gospel. This makes it imperative for those of us who are in the gospel to keep on growing in the life and understanding of the gospel and, to hold firmly to Him all the days of our lives.
What is the gospel?
The gospel has been defined as good news but, the further question is, good news of what? The definition of the gospel as a good news generates a lot of offshoot questions and it gets more and more ambiguous.
The life of Christ is the gospel—God in Jesus came amongst men (Emmanuel—God with us) Matt 1:23, John1:14. It is the Word of God as expressed and anointed in the bible by the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Christ is the Lamb’s book of life though many of us often think of pen and paper when we read of the Lamb’s book of life in the bible. The gospel is an invitation to be registered in the lamb’s book of life Rev 20:15, 2 Cor 3:2-3. It’s an invitation to godliness found only in Christ on the one hand and on the other, living in Christ Titus 2:11, Acts 17:28, John 15:4.
Godliness is living as Jesus did amongst humanity and still does by the Holy Spirit in His people or brothers.
In Rev 19:10, the scripture tells us that the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy—that God will have witnesses to the life of His Son on the earth. The word witnesses is not just people telling other people about Jesus’ life but also, a people living His life. In other words, in this present world or age, a people will live godly lives and proclaim that same gospel-live to the glory and praise of God.
From the time of man’s fall in the Garden of Eden, God has moved in tents, tabernacles and temples on the earth but now, the gospel is the good news that God has found for Himself a temple (holy dwelling place) on the earth not made by man’s hand but in man through His Son Jesus Christ.
Through God’s provision and sacrifice of His only begotten Son as a Lamb and its attendant faith and grace to mortal sinful man, man is able to receive regeneration (salvation). The word Salvation depicts not just the saving of a people from destruction but, also the giving of eternal life to a people. Actually, the rescue happens through the giving of God’s kind of life found in Christ to a people. This Christ’ life that is available to mankind is what is translated as good news Proverbs 25:25. The phrase “Far country” refers to Heaven Heb 12:25.
Who is the Gospel meant for?
The gospel is for the benefit of the whole world especially for those who embrace it and live by Him. It is the totalities of God’s will for man 1 John 2:2. I recognize that there is a lot of controversy with verse 2 of 1 John 2, whether the correct word is propitiation, expiation or atonement. So, I guess it’s wise to state this vital point; whichever of the words we favour, it requires man to repent and accept the Lamb of God that was slain in other to access it’s gracious benefit (salvation). This instilling of the life of the Lamb into the person who accepts Him propels the recipient to depart from evil and to abide for its continual enjoying.
Christ’ sacrifice did not change God because He didn’t need to change—it appeased His wrath and made those who receive Christ acceptable to Him. On the side of the recipients (us), His sacrifice and resurrection changes our bad tree (heart) that does not fear God to a good tree that fears God Proverbs 16:6 NKJV, Ezekiel 36:26, Heb 10:22. Note in verse 22 of Heb 10, we come sincerely only because; our hearts is sprinkled clean by the Blood of Christ.
The truth that man must depart from sins motivated by carnal mind is the reason the propitiation, expiation or atonement did and does sprinkle our consciences clean. And, is not ambiguous that God still vehemently calls us to keep clear or clean consciences 1 Tim 1:19, 3:9, Acts 24:16. We need to know that clear or clean conscience is not the same as weak or strong conscience. Understanding this distinction is vital for the gospel live. While weak or strong conscience may be culturally determined, clear or clean conscience is governed by God—that is, the state of our conscience before God. When we take our evolving cultural views to God, what He tells us about them and our response to Him.
The gospel of Christ is gathering a people together as a community (ecclesia-the body of Christ) Rom 7:4, 12:5 and its physical expression can be seen scattered all over the world in local assemblies Acts 2:47. In the assemblies, you and I as individual parts of the body (ecclesia), have a life IN Christ and WITH Christ and this life, is what we are commanded by Christ to live out in the assembly and among all men everywhere. That is the gospel 1 Tim 3:15, 4:12 1 Peter 2:12, Matt 5:16. Hence, living the gospel (Godliness) is not a community affair though it is displayed in community. It is first, a life IN Christ, WITH Christ and passionately lived amongst men.
Beautifully, the gospel gathers those who belong to God (ecclesia) in community. However, sadly, the vile seek expression where its impact can be felt the most and that place is the community of the pure. This happens because the prince or god of the vile is the god of this present world where the ecclesia is so journeying John 15:19, Heb 11:13 NKJV, 1 Peter 2:11 NKJV.
So, the devil has another gospel and he too, seeks for a body of people to express his gospel or way. Therefore, as God’s nature or way yields godliness, so also the devil’s way produces devilishness. Therefore, “community” can serve as another weapon in the hands of the devil for the end time battle. While God works in the community of His people, the devil too, seeks to work within the same community e.g., Ecumenism–at its core, is (union of all faiths or beliefs). The scriptures tell us that some whose condemnation has been from long, will introduce false teaching into the gathering of the saints 2Peter 2:1-3.
Sarah and Hagai
The greatest challenge that has faced the Christian community has come and will continue to come from the Ishmaelites. But, Ishmael is not a stranger so to speak! God who is omniscient knew that separation will help His people. So, on His behest, Abram obeyed to separate between Hagai and Sarah and consequently Ishmael and Isaac.
This story of Sarah and Hagai is a shadow that points to the strange church and the true church and the differences in their off-spring. Where you and I belong must be clear to us—no ifs and buts on this issue. Please note I am not speaking about Islamic religion and “Christian religion”! Both people in the Islamic and “Christian religion” needs Jesus Christ desperately. Islamic religion is not more of a problem to the gospel of Christ compared to “Christian religion”.
There may be many Downing Streets in London or many White Houses in Washington but everyone who belongs to 10 Downing Street or the White House from WHERE THE NATION IS BEING SHAPED knows it for sure and it is no less for those who belong to Christ Jesus. Presumption will not go unpunished! Just think about what’ll happen to any smart cowboy or diplomatic ragamuffin who presumptuously strays to the White House or 10 Downing Street. Whoever claims to be in the gospel (in Christ), will understand that Hagai as a woman (church) cannot give birth to a promised son though she gives birth to a son (a life) and her son cannot inherit the promise (eternal life). If you take the view that it is no fault of either Hagai or Ishmael, you may be right but that does not shift God’s position Rom 9:7-8, 15-16, Rom 8:14.
Hagai’s (false Church) gospel has advanced, gaining substantial following, and acquired more of this present earth’s kind of spirituality and prosperity because:
(a) Her real god is the god of this present world or age
(b) She is not a sojourner in this present age for this world is more realistic to her than the new earth to come
(c) All her emphasis is centered on preparing her followers to inherit this present world though she garnishes her sermons with stains of spirituality.
It is imperative for us to know which type of Gospel we follow. Is it the one from Hagai or Sarah? The following questions will help answer to the truth:
(a) Can the grace proceeding from the gospel we have help us to endure to suffer the loss of all things if need be and not be bitter toward anyone or God?
(b) Can the grace gained from the gospel we have keep us tagging on straight in Christ when we possess all things?
(c) Does the gospel make us focus on life after death (eternal life with God) consistently while engaging this present life’s daily routine diligently and vigorously?
(d) Does the structure and practice of the gospel we follow have the landmarks found in Acts of the Apostles or has modern times distorted and disfigured it?
(e) The gospel we have, is it actively fighting against building three boots for Elias, Moses and Jesus?
If any of your answers is no, you need to know there is something wrong even if you cannot put your figure on it. Ask Jesus what is wrong with building Him a kingdom; He will tell you if you truly have a relationship with Him—search the scriptures! Matt 17:4-5.
In Acts 1:6, the disciples asked Jesus a question, which all along, they have harbored and wished Christ coming will do for them. See Jesus’ answer in Acts 1:7, it clearly refocuses their attention on Him. It is certainly about His return because that is the one thing; Jesus consistently told them is in the hand of the Father not even Himself. And then, He went ahead to tell them about the Kingdom.
See His answer in Acts 1:8, effectively, He equates having Him (Jesus) or Holy Spirit to having the Kingdom. See Luke 17:20 note it says it is not by observation and Luke 17:21 also, note it says it is in your midst. This kingdom (Jesus) in the midst of the unbelieving Jews, is the same kingdom in the heart of those who believe or are in the Holy Spirit Rom 14:17, “in the Holy Spirit” not with. The true gospel or kingdom is not a religion or philosophy and we are implored to follow only after the true gospel Heb 12:2. The gospel is not an aspect of Christ’ life but it is the holistic life of Christ as revealed in God’s infallible word in the bible.
Condensing aspects of the gospel and nicknaming it xyz or after a servant of God or a presumed servant of God in rodomontade to create camps or denominations is babylonish. More so, to work tirelessly to get people to join our camp is not the same thing as inviting them to receive the gospel and to follow Him alone 1Cor1:12, 3:4-6, 4:6, James 2:1, 9.
Notice in verse 12 of 1 Cor 1, Paul, also reproved even those claiming to follow Jesus; the reason for this is clear—they were partisan, intending to use, “we follow Jesus” as a ploy to draw some people to themselves and not submit to the ministry in Paul’s and Apollo’s life meant to benefit the whole body of Christ. I make this assertion because Paul could not be reproving anyone for following Christ Jesus (the gospel) for whose sake; he had counted all he had gained in life as dung.
We will continue our meditation on “The falling away” in the next post.