Snatching, Stumbling, and Falling Away

Like  many  medical  diagnoses,  this  perspective  of  churches  and  denominations  today  is  not particularly  pleasant  to  hear.    However,  the  challenge  of  the  Falling  Away  introduced  in THE  SOUND  OF  A  SOUND  FAITH  demands  an  explanation  of  the  seeming  contradiction of  “Once  Saved  Always  Saved”  and  the  perspective  that  most  church  members  will  be victims  of  the  Falling  Away.   The  book  on  SOME  MORE  SOUNDS  is  built  on  the  basic Bible  convictions  of  the  first  book,  but  tries  to  explain  in  a  practical  way  based  on  the parable  of  the  Seed  and  the  Sower  ,the  actual  process  of  church  members  falling  away, not  from  the  churches  as  church  attendance  may  actually  go  up,  but  rather  from  Christ, God,  and  the  Bible.  The  Falling  Away  and  the  process  by  which  it  happens  as  sin  abounds and  the  love  of  many  waxes  cold  is  hard  to  explain.   The  Falling  Away  of  the  magnitude to  call  it  THE  Falling  Away  only  happens  twice  in  history,  once  to  the  children  of  Israel in  the  wilderness  and  once  before  the  Second  Coming  of  Christ.   It  is  especially  hard  to explain  simultaneously  the  sound  doctrines  of  the  Security  of  the  Believer  and  the  Falling Away,  yet  they  are  both  true.   The  secret  of  success  like  in  all  Bible  study  is  to  find  the Authorized Semi-Public Interpretation  {ASPI} from Jesus and  the Apostles.   By that I mean  to look  at  real  Bible  on  how  much  like  the  physical  birth  where  9  months  is  required  to  the spiritual  new  birth  like  Jesus  said.    This  is  so  much  unlike  the  instantaneous  new  birth  of the  fundamentalists  and  others,  which  is  at  the  foundation  of  the  only  approximately  25% of the wheat in local churches and denominations as compared to the 75% of tares.

1. Things, Things, Things: God or Mammon

“Things”  is  a  difficult  word.   It  can  mean  so  many  different  things.   It  has  10  distinct meanings  in  the  dictionary,  each  with  multiple  levels  of  meaning.   It  can  mean  “a  matter  of concern” as in the phrase “many things to do”.    It can mean a “deed, act, or accomplishment” as  in  the  phrase “do  great  things”.    It  can  be  used  in  the  sense  of  “possessions,  effects  as  in the  usage  of  “pack  your  things”.   And  on  another  level  that  is  less  tangible  it  is  “whatever may  be  possessed  or  owned  or  be  the  object  of  a  right,  and  on  still  another  level  it  can  be “an  article  of  clothing”  as  in  I  don’t  have  a  thing  to  wear.   With  still  another  definition  it can  be  “an  object  or  entity  not  precisely  designated  or  capable  of  being  designated”  as  in the  phrase  “use  this  thing”.   Likewise  depending  on  the  usage  of  the  word  it  can  have  the definition  of  “detail  or  point”  as  in  the  phrase  “checks  every  little  thing”.   Thing  or  things can  be  far  more  abstract  as  an  “idea  or  notion”  like  in  the  sentence  he  says  the  first  thing that comes into his mind; thing or things is also used in the sense of something individual like “not a living thing in sight”. You have heard it used in the sense also of “the proper or fashionable way of behaving, talking, or dressing” as in this is the thing.  And then the tenth definition is as “a mild obsession or phobia” as in he has a thing about driving.

The word “thing” in the Bible also has different meanings.   Most are familiar with the quote of Romans   that “all things work together for good to those who love the Lord  and are the called according to His purpose.”  Things there refers back to the context of how God is working for the good of the called, the Holy Spirit and Christ are also working together for the good of the called.  Here the things are good.

In  another  context,  that  of  I  John  2:15-17  “things”  is  bad.   “Love  not  the  world;  neither the  things  that  are  in  the  world.   If  anyone  loves  the  world,  the  love  of  the  Father  is  not  in him.   {God,  the  great  originator  and  controller  of  the  new  birth  will  not  allow  it  to  happen. He  will  not  allow  His  love  to  be  in  anyone  who  does  not  give  Him  “exclusive  loyalty” to   borrow   a   phrase   from   Thomas   McComiskey   in   THE   MINOR   PROPHETS.    I   also remember  so  well  from  a  Contemporary  Philosophy  of  Living  class  the  supreme  attribute of  character  from  Josiah  Royce  of  “loyalty”.   I  think  loyalty  in  our  contemporary  jargon best describes the top love that King James struggles for in usage of the word “charity”.}

All that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father but is of the world.  The world passeth away and the lust thereof but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.”

Another bad usage of “things” is found in the parable of the seed and the sower that was told by Jesus. Jesus first told of the seed of the Word that fell among thorns which immediately sprung up then the thorns choked it out.  And then Jesus explained this as when an individual hears the Word of faith and of God and explains the thorns that choke it out as “the cares of this world, the deceitfulness of riches, and other things”.  You noticed that “other things” with cares of this world and the deceitfulness of riches that choke out the word of faith.

I  think  you  would  agree  that  Jesus  is  primarily  concerned  about  objects  or  possessions here,  and  this  is  the  usage  of  the  word  things  on  which  we  try  to  concentrate  as  perhaps  the number  one  diversion  of  people  living  by  every  word  that  proceeds  from  the  mouth  of  God. Things  as  objects  or  possessions  dominate  lives.   Recall  it  was  the  very  good  and  moral  rich young man that walked away from Jesus when Jesus told him to give all his possessions to the poor, then come follow Jesus. The young man walked away according to the Scripture “because he had great possessions.”

At least this young man realized it.  How many young men and women are walking away from Jesus who do not realize that they are so occupied with objects and possessions that Jesus has been ignored by default.  The words of God have lost much of their effective meaning in their lives simply because they are too occupied with possessions—“things” if you would—to even think about God and Jesus.

The word that Jesus used in the Sermon on the Mount to describe “things” is the word “mammon”. What you have in this Sermon is the contrast between the things of God and the things of mammon, things created by man and by the world.

There is nothing wrong with “bread” but if man lives by bread alone then he can not also live a balanced life of every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.

The temptations of Satan to stop the ministry of Jesus centered around the things of this world, and the sad fact is that Satan really has the ability to control these things of the world.   If you allow these things to control your life it is sadly the equivalent of allowing Satan to control your life. While the things themselves, like money, are not evil, the things become the root of all evil. In fact money   would   fall   into   the   category   of   mammon   as   “all   things   created   by   man” “Mammon” is the word used by Jesus for things.  Is it a surprise to you that while we hear so much about Jesus and the teachings of Jesus and about God, we do not hear the word “mammon” mentioned much.  The answer is simple:  businessmen do not want any bad connotations attached to the buying of things.  Mammon which literally means things of man’s creation is not bad within itself.  Mammon is much like money.  In fact when the word mammon originated it applied most significantly to money. Well, mammon and money are not evil per se, money and mammon are the root of all evil.  It is the root of all that diverts a man effectively from God; it is the root of all that causes man to live more by bread than by the words of God; it is the root of what chokes out conversion with the cares of the world, the deceitfulness of riches, and other things.

Jesus   in   His   teachings   of   the   Sermon   on   the   Mount   described   it   this   way,   and   we have  never  been  able  to  see  the  real  meaning  to  the  extent  of  a  practical  application  in life.

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”  (Matthew 6:24)

We  hear  this  and  we  go  into  self-denial:   “No,  that  is  an  archaic  teaching  that  came  before this  age  of  technological  things  and  world-class  education  and  the  development  of  a  social conscience.   I  can  love  my  things  without  hating  God;  and  I  can  love  my  God  without hating  things.   I  can  be  loyal  to  the  accumulation  of  things  without  despised  God,  Jesus, and  the  Bible;  and  I  can  be  loyal  to  God  without  the  despising  of  my  education,  status  from men  in  business,  my  house,  and  my  other  things.   Extremes  are  not  necessary,  we  say  to ourselves.   I  can  be  moderate  in  the  things  of  God  and  I  can  be  moderate  in  the  things  of men’s creations.

Well,   the   words   of   Jesus   stand   firm;   and   they   stand   unchanged   down   through   the centuries    as    recorded    in    the    Bible.    “You    can    not    have    two    masters”.     {You can  not  escape  the  conclusion  that  God  demands  and  deserves,  and  it  is  for  your  own benefit,  exclusive  loyalty.   If  it  were  for  eternal  life  alone  it  would  be  worth  it,  when you   consider   the   length   of   eternity   compared   to   the   short   boot   camp   here   on   earth; but   it   is   also   a   lifestyle   here   on   earth   which   Jesus   calls   no   less   than   the   “abundant life”.    This   abundance   is   sometimes   misunderstood,   and   privately   interpreted   as   the prosperous  life  of  the  middle  class;  but  one  such   abundance  is  the  privilege  each   day of casting every care on God the Father.

“So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor.  Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. ” (I Peter 5:6,7)

Well,   the   reply   might   come,   we   just   do   not   understand   what   God   meant   when   He gave  Jesus  those  words  to  teach.   Yes,  we  do!   The  meaning  is  right  there  on  the  surface. I  recall  from  many  of  my  good  Bible  teachers,  one  at  Ouachita  Baptist  University  who said,  “just  let  the  Bible  say  what  it  means…let  the  Bible  say  what  it  wants  to  say    ”  AND WHAT THE BIBLE IS TRYING TO SAY IS THAT EITHER MAMMON OR GOD WILL DOMINATE YOUR LIFE, AND WHICH IS TO DOMINATE IN YOUR LIFE IS YOUR  CHOICE.

Generally,   you   would   have   to   agree   with   me,   it   is   the   case   that   those   all   wrapped up  in  things,  also  do  not  have  the  motivation  of  “service”  for  God  in  the  first  place.   Where they  have  missed  the  boat,  and  it  is  an  eternal  miss,  is  the  meaning  of  service  for  God  and in  the placing  of  service for  God  in  first place.   This  is  as  basic  as  the first  three  of  the Ten Commandments.    It   was   summarized   by   Jesus   as:    “Thou   shalt   love   the   Lord   thy God with all thine heart, mind and soul, and Him only shall you  serve.”  {Notice how the “Him only
shall you serve” rings again of the exclusive loyalty; and how this summary from Jesus is as old as the Old Testament.  In fact Jesus is quoting here from the Old Testament.}

One might respond, “This is simple, and we know all these things, because we are church members.” No,  you  don’t  as  indicated  by  the  popularity  among  Bible  believer’s  of  the  philosophy  of Joel Olsten as given in his best-selling book YOUR BEST LIFE NOW.  In one chapter alone on
the good life,  Joel mentions “things” twenty-three times.  Also the so-called  “Women of Faith” with  their  popular challenge for women to live the extraordinary life now—supposedly a Bible and  Christ  ministry—offer  you  a  catalog  of  things  to  buy  which  are  called  “women  of  faith resources”.  Now, what in the world does a ministry of Christ and the Bible have to do with the selling of sweaters, and necklaces, and purses, and all sorts of things.  In the case of Joel and the ladies of faith, they are promoting immediately the very mammon that diverts from the service of God.

2.  “Cares of This World, Deceitfulness of Riches, and Other Things”.

These few words from Jesus, “cares of this world, deceitfulness of riches, and other things”, where do you think they come from.  Yes, they come from the parable of the seed and the sower that Jesus explained later to His disciples to illustrate how many church members and others miss out on a real conversion.  The people of Jesus’ day were very religious, like most people in the United States, they have heard the seed of the Word of Christ.

While  we  real  southern  Baptists  would  like  to  blame  the  current  Falling  Away  condition of  the  churches  on  the  fundamentalists  for  their  superficial  and  shallow  practices  on  the  new birth,  human  nature  has  dictated  the  four  distinct  responses  to  the  Word  of  the  Gospel.  {Like most  of  their  other  Bible  it  is  based  on  a  hunt  and  peck  method  of  understanding,  but they are not alone on instant new birth.}  We must admit from the parable of the seed and the sower that from the very beginning of the Gospel of the kingdom with Christ, 25% of the people who hear the Word of the Gospel have it immediately SNATCHED away by Satan.   Since their will on the matter and their human spirit is comparable to wayside soil, have the seed of faith instantly  SNATCHED  away  by  Satan.   How  does  Satan  do  that?   Well,  unfortunately  he  has direct access to the human spirit if not countered by the work of the Holy Spirit here on earth. Although it is hard to say in this day of the type and measure of “tolerance” we have in this country  from  the American  Democratic  Faith,  {like  the  religious  leaders  to  whom  Jesus  spoke saying “you are of your Father the devil”}, you can easily make a case from the Bible that all of those who have not been given the love of God in their life, are controlled by Satan.   And while they may think their influence toward the wayside soil is in the interest of God, just like the  religious  leaders  of  Jesus’ day  thought  they  were  doing  the  work  of  God  {remember  how Paul thought before conversion that he was doing the work of God as he hauled Christians off to prison}, those religious leaders who sowed that seed, especially if they are liberals, can assist Satan in the immediate SNATCHING away of the seed sown by the wayside.   You see, really, such liberals and fundamentalists, are the wayside, anyway.

You  know  if  you  were  looking  about  you  today  for  the  most  influential  men  in  the  world who lead {the man of sin of II Thessalonians} in the Falling Away, it would be a toss-up between a  Muslim  leader  like  Bin  Laden  and  a  fundamentalists  leader  like  Bush,  Falwell,  Stanley,  and LeHaye.  While Bin Laden based on the Muslim classic teaching of destroy the infidels like the potential for a world-wide rebellion that can easily led to the final great battle of Armageddon
in the middle east, it is the fundamentalists leaders like Falwell and Stanley, as they took over control  of  the  Southern  Baptist  Convention  20  years  ago—by  the  way,  the  largest  Protestant denomination in the world with influences all over the world—with their fighting spirit that have caused  all  the  wars,  contentions,  and  divisions  among  Southern  Baptist  in  Texas,  and  no doubt  in  the  whole  world.   This  bad  spirit  of  such  fundamentalists  was  expressed  by  W.A. Criswell  approximately  20  years  ago  as  he  told  Bill  Moyer  in  a  TV  interview  that  “We  will keep  on  fighting  until  one  side  or  the  other  wins.”   Well,  that  is  exactly  what  happened:   the fundamentalists   kept   fighting   with   the   moderates,   electing   such   fundamentalists   pastors as  President  like  Adrian  Rogers  and  Charles  Stanley  with  the  rejection  of  Texas’  Baptists number  one  conservation-on-the-Bible  and  on  evangelism  candidate,  Winfred  Moore  of  the First  Baptist  Church  Amarillo,  until  they  established  control  over  the  convention,  destroyed the   reputations   of   other   conservatives   with   the   label   of   moderates   which   in   their   mind and  their  listeners’  minds  meant  liberals,  caused  the  SBC  to  split  into  three  conventions, drove   other   conservatives   out   of   Southwestern   Seminary,   caused   warfare   between   Baylor Theological  Seminary,  Texas  Baptists,  and  SBC  leadership;  and  the  worst  thing  of  all  caused a  bad  spirit  of  contention  to  fall  over  the  whole  Southern  Baptist  Convention.   {I  must  add now  that  the  only  hope  for  the  SBC  is  if  the  real  Southern  Baptist  rise  up  to  re-take  control of  the  SBC.   The  real  Southern  Baptist  are  those  who  were  southern  Baptist  during  all  the time  the  fundamentalists  with  their  Bible  Baptist  churches  and  little  seminaries  withdrew in  approximately  1920  for  the  Convention,  then  when  approximately  20  years  ago  decided to  come  back  in  force,  taking  control.   Of  course,  some  of  the  real  Southern  Baptists  are also  those  influenced  more  by  Texas  Baptists  and  other  conservatives  who  did  not  fall  prey to the bad fighting spirit of the fundamentalists.

It is unpopular to say now; even dangerous, but when I was a youngster growing up in Southern Baptist work in Texas, we called such men “fuedamentalists”; because they liked to fight, and you knew what they were against more than what they were far.  However I must add that the extent to which the world is into the Falling Away now, even in the United States where leadership has been for generations of the “Fulness of the Gentiles” and of the spreading of the Gospel, is going to work against the real Southern Baptists taking control, and it will work in favor of the contentious attitude of the fundamentalists. (It is like J. Vernon McGee {by the way who started out as one of them with his training at Criswell’s Dallas Baptist Theological Seminary} says, “I wish the fundamentalists could learn to contend for the faith without being contentious.”

It is that contentious spirit which dominates their evangelism to the detriment of any real contending for the faith that they do, even as the attitude is more important than the deed to Jesus.

We    must    interrupt    these    tirades    in    order    to    look    briefly    at    something    really fundamental.   That  is  the  Scripture  that  is  the  most  important  for  the  gist  of  this  whole book,  SNATCHING,  STUMBLING,  AND  THE  FALLING  AWAY.   We  must  have  a  basis for  this  gist in  the Word  of  God,  and  it  must  be  exegesis—reading  out  the  meaning  from  the Bible,  rather  than  the  isogesis  practiced  by  fundamentalists,  the  hunt  and  peck  method  of reading  meaning  into  the  Bible.   Well,  here  it  is  from  Jesus  Himself.   It  is  the  explanation  of the  parable  of  the  seed  and  the  sower  that Jesus  gave  specially to  His  own  disciples  after  He had  given  the  parable  itself  to  the  multitude.   {It  is  part  of  what  I  like  to  call  the  API  for the   “Authorized   Public   Interpretation”   of   the   Bible.    It   is   the   authorized   interpretation that comes from Jesus and the Apostles, by way of God and the Spirit.}

Mark 4:13-20

And  He  said  to  them,  ‘Do  you  not  understand  this  parable?    How  then  will  you understand  all  the  parables?   {We  will  discuss  it  later,  but  it  is  the  unique  privilege  of the real disciples of Jesus to understand the spiritual matters given in parables.}

The sower sows the word.  {I think you understand word as word of God, or the word of the Gospel, or the word of faith.}  And these are the ones by the wayside where the word is sown. When they hear, Satan comes immediately {immediately, see how quick Satan is he is quicker than the fundamentalists}…and takes away the word that was sown in their hearts. {You see how Satan SNATCHES the see right out of their hearts, and this is the prime way He goes about seeking whom he may destroy.}

These     likewise     are     the     ones     sown     on     stony     ground     who,     when     they hear    the    word,    immediately    receive    it    with    gladness.”     {Did    you    get    the full    impact    of    these    words,    “they    immediately    receive    it    with    gladness”? And    there    is    hardly    a    church    in    the    land    or    an    evangelist,    fundamentalist or     otherwise,     who     would     not     conclude     this     is     instantaneous     salvation, that     a     soul     has     been     born     again.      You     have     to     admit     that     when someone       immediately       receives       the       word       with       gladness,       they       will show    the    symptoms    of    joy    and    salvation;    but    we    are    told    the    rest    of the    story,    how    they    only    endure    for    a    while    and    how    they    stumble.     Of course,    they    are    still    on    the    church    roll;    and    you    while    the    pastors    are counting their ten thousand, you do not hear the rest of this story.}

…and        they        have        no        root        in        themselves,        and        so        endure only        for        a        time.          Afterward,        when        tribulation        or        persecution arise     for     the     word’s     sake,     immediately     they     stumble.”

Just two short statements here that may interrupt the flow on the explanation of Jesus to continue with the last, two remaining kinds of human-response-soil:  (1) “endure for a short time”, perhaps for the approximately 40 years typical of the first Falling Away by the children of Israel in the wilderness;  and  (2)  “Immediately  they  stumble”  from  persecution  and  lack  of  root;  but  even here you see some amount of time as the church member goes about their life, because it does take some amount of time for persecutions, tribulations, and a lack of growth for roots.

Now   these      are      the         ones           sown    among            thorns;   they       are       the

ones     who        hear    the         word,         and      the       cares  of            this       world,  the

deceitfulness  of            riches,          and            the         desires         for    other                        things

entering    in   choke     the    word,   and     it   becomes    unfruitful.”                                    

{I   must   add   the   comment   here   that   it   is   the   wrong   done   today   by   the   heaped up     Bible     teachers     with     itching     ears     who     parade     the     Gospel     of     Prosperity, formerly    called    the    “Gospel    of    Wealth    and    the    corollary    of    success”    in    the history    of    American    Thought,    thus    right    there    in    the    church    worship    creating the     very     thorns     of     cares     of     this     world,     deceitfulness     of     riches,     and     the desires    for    other    things    that    choke    out    the    very    word    of    Jesus    and    the Gospel.    And   if   you   don‛t   get   it   in   the   worship   service,   you   can   get   it   from their    best-selling    books    or    on    television.     Oh    yes,    these    are    dangerous    times: it   is   called   the   time   of   the   Falling   Away   as   sin   abounds   and   the   love   of   many
waxes   cold;   and   the   greatest   danger   of   all   is   the   silence   of   the   pulpits   on   the Falling   Away,   the   same   silence   that   proves   this   is   a   time   of   intolerance   toward sound doctrine.}

But     these     are     the     ones     sown     on     good     ground, those who     hear     the     word, accept     it,     and     bear     fruit     some thirtyfold,   some   sixty,   and            some   a hundred.”

Notice the pattern here:  hear the word and “accept it”.  This is what makes citizens of the kingdom of God and Christ; this is what causes men and women and young people to become members of the body of Christ, the church written in heaven called the Church of the Firstborn; this is when a person passes from tares to wheat and from an alien to a child of God; and this is the  point  at  which  the  hearer  and  acceptor  can  claim  the  words  of  Paul  for  themselves, “Nevertheless the foundation of God stands firm, having this seal:  the Lord knows his own, and let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from inequity.”  If they are so busy brining forth the 30 times fruit, the 60 times, or the 100 times fruit they will not have time for the iniquity, nor the inclination of the Falling Away.}

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