Chapter 4: Special Insight from the book of Hebrews.

As we compare what happened during the First Falling Away with what could or already has happened in the Falling Away of our generation, we realize what a vast extent of a mess we are in.  Surely in our churches and denominations, we will not come down to the point of all except two church members, like Caleb and Joshua, remain of the proper spirit and fully do what God wills; but we do need some special insight in preparation for what we know is inevitably coming.  If not now, it is only around the corner; for even as the Falling Away must precede the Second Coming, we recognize in our world today the inevitable signs also of the Second Coming and the Great Day of the LORD and Lord.  How can we garner from the Bible special insight to utilize to prevent ourselves, our friends, and relatives from also being victims of the Falling Away?  That the Falling Away will overwhelm our world with wickedness and lawlessness is inevitable; that the Falling Away will overwhelm the majority of church members of our churches and denominations is also inevitable; and that we must learn to swim upstream so to speak, or counter-cultural to both our society and our churches and denominations so be likewise as obviously inevitable.  Of course, as much as we can learn from Joshua and Caleb will be helpful as we prepare to weather the challenge of our generation; and ultimately, we will like it to be on the positive side like for Caleb, who accepted the challenge from God to be part of the new nation in the Promised Land and to secure from himself a place in God’s eternal rest.  We will concentrate as much as possible on Caleb as he is more typical of the average church member today, if there are left average church members upon whom the spirit rests and who seek to do the will of God fully.  You see, Joshua already had an official position in the house of Israel as the heir to the leadership from Moses and as a military leader.  So we will strive for special insight on:  (1) our world society from the world in which Caleb found himself during the First Falling Away, we must add to our world the possibilities as the Holy Spirit is actually withdrawn, the intense increase in lawlessness, and the release of Satan as the Holy Spirit is withdrawn; (2) the religious portion of our society, of churches and denominations as well as the increased number of preachers and teachers that operate extra-denominational, which, of course, would be roughly the equivalent during the First Falling Away of the house of Israel; and (3) to what extent we can emulate the life, spirit, and faith of Caleb.

4-1:  The Life, Spirit, and Faith of Caleb.

Caleb stands out when he really stands alone against the ten other spies and the total congregation.

1.  The Stand of Faith by Caleb.

“The Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, ‘Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it.”  (Numbers 13:30)

This is best understood in contrast to the majority report of the other ten spies, excluding Joshua who actually sided with Caleb after he took a stand.

“But the men who had gone up with him said, ‘We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we.”  (Numbers 13:31)

This was the majority report, 10 out of 12; and if the democratic process of voting has been superior to the will of God and the leadership of Moses, then this could have been the end of the matter like it is in many churches today.  Most churches say hang the leadership of the pastor, we are not sure abut the guidance of God, forget the minority report of the men of faith, the majority is right and that is a vote of the people.  {They mistakenly think that a vote of the people is synonymous with the will of God.  My, how did we ever get to this point of confusing the American Democratic Faith with Faith in God.}

Just like majorities at work in our churches today, these temporal leaders, the 10 other spies, had an axe to grind in order to protect and promote their conclusions of faithlessness to God.  They did not present the whole truth.  They gave the children of Israel a “bad report”.

“And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, ‘The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.  There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”  (Numbers 13:32,33)

1.  It was a land that devoured its own inhabitants, sort of the opposite of the land of milk and honey that Caleb had spoken of and the fruits of which were brought back.

2.  The fighting men are of great stature.  Already they were caught in a contradiction that showed a bias in their bad report.  How could the land devour the inhabitants if the land was able to support the healthy growth of so many people of great stature.

3.  They are like giants and we are like grasshoppers.  They were already defeated, and they were able to persuade the rest of the people, primarily because that is what the congregation wanted to hear in the rest place.  Recall that this was the climax of the Rebellion where they wanted to overthrow the leadership of Moses, democratically select leadership in their place–I am sure the 10 spies of the bad report would have been at the top of the ballot–and go back to Egypt.  The comfort of Egypt would have overcome the trials of a lack of freedom.  It would also avoid a fight with many casualties in the taking of the Promised Land.

We can see a lot of difference right here between American Society and this society of the house of Israel.  Americans would be too strong believers in freedom and fighting to be willing to go back into servitude in Egypt.  And if the American Democratic Faith had not lost, and continues to lose, its foundations of faith in God and Christ, the United States would have been the logical chose to be the Nation of God and under the laws of God.  In fact, it really was during the time of the Fulness of the Gentiles as the unquestionable leader of the Gentile nations in the practice and spreading of the Gospel to every nation.  That time is almost at an end.  What God needed at that time was a nation founded and based on the laws, will, and plan of God; a nation that would make His name known throughout the world; and a nation from which the oracles of God and the birth and faith of Christ could be spread throughout the world.  God chose to eliminate the whole generation in the desert except for three men and the youth.  Instead for 40 more years the youth carried the load until it was time again to take the Promised Land.

Caleb as he stilled or quieted the people–it appears the majority report did elicit murmurings, complaints, and other very vocal reactions among the people–did not disagree with the majority report; but went beyond the will of the majority in exercising faith in what God told them was possible.  That they could indeed take the land.  The majority report had the opposite effect on the people from the stilling effect of Caleb’s report:  (1) the majority report stirred up the people; and (2) it instilled fear within the people.

It is interesting that the very tribe of Anak of which the majority were afraid because of their stature, 40 years later Caleb at the entrance into the Promised Land claimed possession of this land of the Anakims; and at 85 years of age took possession of it from the three sons of Anak.  Lastly, informative for us as we weather the further Falling Away is that the children of Israel would have stoned Caleb and Joshua had God not intervened.  Would that it not come to that in the United States and in the churches and denominations of the United States, but we know at least that there will be verbal stoning of the faithful by the majority of church members.  There will be attempt to maintain rightness in the face of truth; there will be the attempt to turn continually away from sound doctrine and any advocates of sound doctrine; there will be the despisers of good as the perilous times turn into the Falling Away; and there will be the heaping away of sound teachers along with the heaping up of teachers with itching ears.  The behavior of church members will become inexplicit as the intolerance of sound doctrine turns into fables.  Who know what those fables will allow in the name of religion?  And we always have the promise of the Bible that “all who will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”  There will be many decisions to make centered around one giant decision, whether to go back to the world of Egypt with the majority of the apparent people of God or remain with the real people of faith in the wilderness for 40 more years, and then take the Promised Land of eternal rest.

There is one more matter which we must consider to be exhaustive on the subject.  How can we live at peace in the world of the Falling Away, and how can be live at peace with church members who are obviously already participants in the Falling Away or on the borderline?  We all know the important of peace in the Bible, especially in the book of Hebrews.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord…”  (Hebrews 12:14)

Also we know the Scriptural admonition “to live peaceable with all people as much as possible”; we know that it is only the peacemakers who will see God; and we know that in order to live the good long life, we must seek peace and run after peace.  How can we harmonize peace with a standing up for convictions based on the minority report that could even lead to stoning when the majority of those with whom we seek peace have become intolerant of strong doctrine?  In short, we also need special insight on peace, especially on the doctrine and practice of the two kinds of peace, the peace which Christ gives and the peace which the world gives.

4-2:  Highpoints in the Flow of the book of Hebrews.

Even as the book of Hebrews is a book of the Falling Away, and I believe at this point in the study you have seen that, so also must the book of Hebrews present an individual, and perhaps even church cure, for the Falling Away.  That would be the reason that Paul wrote the book under the leadership of the Spirit of God:  in order that seeing the lessons and characteristics of the First Falling Away–including the very awesome fact that it happened to all except two–the possible participants of the End Falling Away might not be victims of the same.  Let us briefly hit some of the essential highlights of the book of Hebrews, looking for such “SPECIAL INSIGHT”.

1.  “Lest we drift away…”  (Hebrews 2:2)

Most are familiar with the “how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation”, and yet have missed the drifting away which is a step in the Falling Away.  What has changed between the time of the Exodus and Wilderness wanderings and now is that the Lord Jesus Christ spoke on earth and it was confirmed by the Apostles and others who heard Him; but the point of this context is of how firm the word of angels {often when it said God spoke in Exodus and Numbers, it was an angel speaking for God} was to the house of Israel and how quickly the punishment of disobedience.

2.  The brethren of the Lord of the Assembly.  (Hebrews 2:11,12)

The perspective of God at the beginning and particularly at the end is of the church, the total body of Christ, as the Assembly of the Firstborn, written in heaven.  Jesus calls all members of this Assembly, brethren.  It does not depend on any local church or denomination for membership.

3.  Jesus destroyed through death on the cross the power of him who up that point, the Devil, had the power of death.  (Hebrews 2:14)

Jesus as the Son of God, existing with God the Father from before the beginning, partook of flesh and blood; and then partook of death in order that He might overcome and destroy death.

4.  Not only are we the assembly of Christ but we are the house of Christ (Hebrews 3:6).

God built this house, and Christ as Son is over the house.  We are this house if…if “we hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm to the end.  HOLD FAST THE CONFIDENCE!  HOLD FAST THE REJOICING TO THE END!

5.  Do not harden your hearts as in THE DAY OF TRIAL IN THE WILDERNESS.  (Hebrews 3:7-14)

All of us individually, including the thousands in the wilderness, have a point of no return, a certain day called “today” beyond which it is too late.  God was trying to test the house of Israel in order to give them a new land and eternal rest; instead they tested and tried God for 40 years.  It did not work.  God became angry with that “generation”; God said two things about them:  (1) “they always go astray in their heart”; and (2) “they have not known my ways”.  Strange, in 40 years they did not learn the “ways” of God, and they did not know how to keep their hearts from going astray.  This is a summary of “an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God”.  They parted to a non-living god made of gold in the form of a calf, but today there are many materialistic values that can serve the same purpose.  Note what was evil, not seeking other gods or making images or even murder or lying, but a heart of unbelief is evil.  We have become partakers of Christ today only if we hold fast the beginning of our confidence to the end.

6.  Who rebelled in the Wilderness indeed?  (Hebrews 3:16-19)

It was “all” who came out of Egypt with Moses.  Who was God angry with for 40 years?  It was with those whose corpses fell in the wilderness.  Who did God swear would not enter His eternal rest?  It was those who did not obey.  Why could they not enter heaven?  Because of unbelief.

7.  The Gospel was preached to the house of Israel just like the Gospel has been preached to us (Hebrews 4:2).

The word of the Gospel that was preached to them in the wilderness did not profit them.  The word of the Gospel which comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God has to have a mixture in the human heart with “faith”.  Word of the Gospel and faith response from the individual.  That mixture never happened during the 40-year period for the house of Israel, except in the case of Caleb.  We that believe are profited in that we do enter an eternal rest.

8.  There remains an eternal retirement or rest for “the people of God” (Hebrews 4:9,10).

While Moses could never get God to call the house of Israel “His own people” or the “people of God”, God through His word here in Hebrews does talk of the “people of God.”  God is the example for our ultimate and real retirement.  Even as God worked six days and rested on the seventh, so we work for 40-60 years and then eternally retire.

9.  Be diligent about the entrance into that rest, lest anyone, of any church or denomination, “fall according to the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:11)

“Fall” according to the same example!  What do you suppose that means?  I hope you know by now it means that the Falling Away in the wilderness can be experienced by anyone individually at any generation, and that in particular it will be experienced by most church members during the Falling Away before the Second Coming of Christ.

10.  Don’t mess with falling away:  rather come boldly to the throne of grace for (1) mercy and (2) grace in any time of need (Hebrews 4:16).

Why can you be so confident and come boldly, because of Jesus the Great High Priest.  He lived on earth and passed through back to the heavens to be always on the right hand of God making intercession for our sins.  This is Jesus, the Son of God, that is our High Priest.  You can not do any better than that.  No one has a better relationship to God the Father and better access to God the Father than Jesus, and He has promised to daily make intercession for our sins.

11.  Jesus was Perfected by the ultimate obedience of death which gave Him the qualifications to be the Author of Salvation (Hebrews 5:9).

However Jesus is only a Author to those who obey Him.  This is a book, the book of salvation, that can only be read by the obedient.  God called Jesus a High Priest after the similitude of Melchizedek, and there is much more in Hebrews to be said about that.  “Do not be dull of hearing!”

12.  The meat of the word, rather than milk, belongs to those who through the years learn by use have their “senses exercised”.  There is a direct relationship between digging out of the Bible the word, and the discernment between good and evil (Hebrews 5:14).

13.  How do we draw near to God?  (Hebrews 7:19)

The law could not do it.  A better hope brought in by Christ does it.  God Himself swore and made Jesus a priest forever like Melchizedek.  This is the assurance of a better covenant that works.  Jesus can save to the very end, or uttermost, all that come to God through Him.  I like these characteristics and must repeat them.  Some of the characteristics of Jesus as Priest:  (1) holy, (2) harmless {isn’t that grand for the very Son of God to be harmless), (3) undefiled, (4) separate from sinners, and (5) higher than the heavens. 

14.  We come back to the Assembly of the present again called the “true tabernacle” and “the sanctuary” (Hebrews 8:2).

In 8:1 we come to “the main point of the things we are saying:  WE HAVE SUCH A HIGH PRIEST, WHO IS SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF THE THRONE OF THE MAJESTY IN THE HEAVENS…”    This Jesus is Minister of THE SANCTUARY, beyond all local churches and denominations, and Minister of the “true tabernacle”, larger and greater and far more permanent, in fact written in heaven, than any other church of denomination.  The Lord Jesus Christ erected this tabernacle, or sanctuary, or assembly; and I am sure you know from the end of Hebrews where that Assembly is erected.  It is in the new Jerusalem, written in heaven.

15.  Jesus is the Mediator of a “better covenant” that is established on “better promises”.  (Hebrews 8:6)

We need not be as fearful of falling as was the house of Israel.  This is a better covenant than the old covenant that depended on law and blood sacrifice.  This new covenant has many better promises:  the promise of the new birth to change what the heart really wants to do; the promise of the indwelling Holy Spirit to provide the incentive and the power; and the promise of the process of Sanctification to be more Christlike with the full glorification at the Second Coming of Christ.  “we shall be like Him for we shall see Him as He is.”

16.  The house of Israel did not keep the First Covenant in the wilderness, and God “disregarded them” (Hebrews 8:9).  No doubt, the ultimate in being disregarded or ignored.

17.  In Old Testament times, the time of the First Covenant, the high priest went once a year into the second part of the Tabernacle; and in these instructions of the law, the Holy Spirit was making it clear that the way into the “holiest of all”, the very presence of God”, was not made manifest.  (Hebrews 9:8).

It could not be made manifest as long as the first tabernacle of the First Covenant was still standing.  Christ as High Priest came with a greater and more perfect Tabernacle, “with His own blood He entered the Most Holy Place once for all, having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION.  {You didn’t think you were going to see that well known word of salvation in the book of Hebrews.  Here it is, “eternal redemption: through the blood of Christ.}

18.  Jesus is the Mediator of the new covenant (Hebrews 9:15).

Jesus provided it by His death.  By the means of His death on the cross He provided redemption for the sins and transgressions of all that were committed during the time of the first covenant.  You see the house of Israel could have also been covered during the 40 years  in the wilderness had they not resorted to an evil heart of unbelief.

4-3:  Every Church member Need Not Be a Victim of the Falling Away.

You need not be a victim of the Falling Away; however it should be obvious that you can not go along with the crowd or leadership in your church or in your society during the Falling Away.  Group behavior, or even the influence of a select number of friends, is a powerful influence, etc.  I am not saying that you have to go so far as to be almost stoned like Caleb and Joshua by those who have generally and mistakenly called the people of God.  But you must like Moses, Aaron, Joshua, and Caleb learn to act quite independent of the crowd, church crowd or otherwise.

            1.  Moses.

Moses is a good example for us, but hardly to completely emulate as he was very unique in the Old Testament.  His place in the plan and purpose of God was very unique, and Moses himself was a very unique person.  He was brought up as a prince in Egypt but chose rather to have afflictions among his own people of the Hebrew nation than to enjoy the riches and comfort of Egypt.

Sampey in THE HEART OF THE OLD TESTAMENT summarizes the life of Moses under 4 headings. {Actually Sampey gives 5 headings, the fifth being Moses as a soul-winner, but I think this is “spiritualizing” as often fundamentalists and northern Baptists do.  Not that Sampey was a fundamentalist as I think he preceded the time of the fundamentalists, having written in 1922 while professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  It is just at any time and among any group when something is considered the best sign of a true disciple, such as evangelism then and healing and charism now, then Bible teachers tend to read such approved behavior back into admired leaders.}

     (1). Moses was the greatest prophet of the Old Testament.  I think you are aware that God chose him to write the first five books of the Old Testament, generally called the Pentateuch.  Granted Moses had to write much of Hebrew history from verbal tradition such as on the Creation, but the Spirit was there to guide and help him; and no person on earth has ever talked to God face to face like Moses did.  Sometimes we wonder, except during the last 40 years of his 120-year-old life, how Moses as leader of the nation in trying circumstances in the wilderness had time to write.

     (2).  Moses was the great lawgiver.  It is difficult for us to appreciate the monumental task of building a nation where the laws of the land were the religious laws of God.  Most people say, “I don’t want to mix religion and politics”; and the United States is famous for “separation of church and State.”  Yet for the nation of Israel, especially from the beginnings in the wilderness, the law of the land was the laws of God.  Many Bible students do not appreciate what it meant in New Testament times when we were informed that Saul, before his conversion, was a lawyer.  That meant that he was an expert in the religious laws of Israel which were also the civil laws.  {Of course, under some restrictions by the dominant Roman government.}  In the words of Sampey, Moses shaped the “moral, civil, and ceremonial law for the chosen nation.”  At this point it should be noted how often Jesus Himself quoted from Moses, and even more so the Apostle Paul.  By the way, you will recall at the mount of transfiguration who were the two Prophets of the Old Testament that appeared and talked with Jesus, Moses and Elijah.

     (3).  Moses was a champion of prayer, especially intercessory prayer for his own people.  How often God initially intended to destroy the total house of Israel and make of Moses and his own lineage a great nation; but Moses intervened with some reason or another, one time the intercessory was so strong as Moses asked God to blot his own name out the eternal book in heaven.  It is not only difficult to appreciate how Moses was able to identify with such a “stiff-necked” people in Egypt, but even more so how he could hold out for them in spite of so much rebellion in the wilderness.  This just shows us something of his greatness, and the reason that God chose him to be a leader of the people.

     (4).  God Himself called Moses the “meekest man of his time”  (Numbers 12:3).  I am not sure we get this proper perspective from Carleton Heston portrayal of Moses.  You recall the occasion when God gave this personal testimony to Moses:  Miriam and Aaron had questioned the right of Moses to be the only one to speak for God.  God called for a conference with the three of them the place of meeting and asked them how could they question a person like Moses with whom God spoke constantly face to face and who was so meek on this earth.

2.  Joshua.

Well, Joshua was somewhat “blah”, except that he was a great General who took over after the death of Moses and number one leader in Israel and performed marvelously with faith in God and with skill as a military leader in the initial conquering of the land of Palestine.  Granted Joshua was part of the Caleb and Joshua minority report.  Joshua was just a little slow to speak up at the point of final rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron at Kadesh-Barnea, but he did speak up just before the people were ready to stone Caleb and himself.  Joshua was a good second in command under Moses who learned much by example of what Moses could show him.  Joshua was very committed to faithfulness to Jehovah God, and like Moses, gave a speech to the people before retiring wherein he sought to elicit the same kind of faithfulness from the people.  As Sampey praises Joshua, he left a “noble record” and there was “no serious blot on his character”. 

Yet we should not fail to mention that Joshua had other talents besides military as he was, he who lead in the division of the land among the tribes.  Joshua as military leader had driven a wedge through the center of the land at Gibeon; he led in the overthrow of the southern country; and crushed a powerful league in the north that threatened Israel.  After divisions of the land by tribes, he sought as national leader to encourage the tribes to complete the conquest of their territories.  Joshua was the choice of God Himself, when Moses prayed for a successor (Numbers 27:12-23).

3.  Aaron.

Aaron had a way with words as you will recall that Moses asked from God a help in verbal expression.  What can you say against the first High Priest of Israel, chosen by God and Moses?  Aaron had Moses as a younger brother, and Miriam as an elder sister.  He accepted with Moses much of the abuse of complaints and murmurings of the people during the 40 years in the wilderness, and he, like Moses, was kept out of the Promised Land for striking the rock twice for water.  It is a shame that so much hard work, and assistance to God and Moses, is clouded by the two events in the wilderness that are most famous:  (1) when Aaron allowed the house of Israel to build a golden calf while Moses was on the Mount; and (2) when Aaron and Miriam questioned the spiritual leadership of Moses.

4.  Caleb.

Ah, Caleb is the one that we can most easily identify with during the time of our generations Falling Away.  He bucked the majority opinion of the prestigious “spy committee”; he bucked the whole nation of Israel at Kadesh-Barnea with his statement of faith that if God says we can take the land then we can take the land; and his “spirit” and faith almost got him stoned at Kadesh.  And you can not help but admire a man who remained faithful during the additional 40 years of wilderness wanderings, then at age 85 led his tribe in the conquest of their designated land.  And I think that what we appreciate most is these positive statements during trying times.  There have only been two great periods among God’s people which are called the Falling Away:  that of Caleb’s generation in the wilderness, and that of our present time, foretold in II Thessalonians as inevitable before the Second Coming of Christ.  Caleb did not bury his head in the sand or make excuses.  Charge! was his motto.  We can move forward and we can take the land.  As we would gain in this chapter “Special Insight” we must also find a challenge for our generation in the meeting of the Falling Away.  We can accept the challenge of (1) revealing the follies of the Falling Away among church members, always an unpopular thing to do; and we can (2) resist and overcome the overwhelming tendency to be a victim of the Falling Away.  How easy it would be to say, “Look at my church and my denomination.  Why should I fight uphill?” 

In II Timothy, next to II Thessalonians, the real book of the Bible on the Falling Away, Paul reminded young Timothy, an evangelist, of the overwhelming problems in First Century churches and further of the problems to come when church members would “no longer endure sound doctrine”.  The bottom line for church members was and is today:

“Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal:  ‘The Lord knows those who are His,’ and ‘Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.’”  (II Timothy 3:19)

            1.  God knows who among the numbered so-called people of God are really His own.  This is the solid foundation for a challenge.  This is the seal of assurance.  Keep personal conversations daily going with God somewhat like Moses did in order to know where your assurance lies.

2.  Let everyone that names himself according to the name of Christ, also depart from iniquity.  “You are my friends”, Jesus said, “if you do what I have commanded you.”

Now, do I really believe that right now in this present time, the majority of church members–especially among the previously known as conservative and evangelistic southern Baptists–are already participants in the Falling Away.  Yes, unfortunately; and for reasons that were given in the first chapters.

4-4:  Special Challenges from the Special Insight.

At the beginning of this book I quoted from Senator McCain of Arizona who thinks the challenge of our generation is “terrorism”.  Well, for believers in Christ surely the challenge of our generation, based on Scripture, is the inevitable Falling Away.  Hey, like Caleb, give us another 40 years of wilderness wanderings, and we will take the Promised Land of Eternity!  Let us look at three possible challenges from the Special Insight of the first falling away and from the admonitions of Scripture.  (1).  Face up to the fact of the Falling Away in your church and denomination, and among the many false teachers and preachers that flood the airways, write books, and bid for your loyalty and time–you must like Caleb spy out the land with the proper “spirit” and with faith in God.  (2) We must look carefully again at the context of II Timothy 3 and 4 to the extent of an appreciation of the “perilous time”, of the “time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine”, the characteristics of both in the local church and beyond, and the differences between them, then             WE CAN APPRECIATE THE INSIGHT OF REVEALING THE FOLLIES IN CHURCH MEMBERSHIP.  (3)  We must not only be counter cultural but also counter average church members in that we go beyond the average call of church membership duty to (a) keep ourselves unspotted from the world; (b) as much as possible live at peace with fellow church members and fellow citizens; and (c) find ways to learn and practice Christ beyond the norm such as to think of other church members better than ourselves and to be not “overcome of evil, but to overcome evil with good”.  That’s all!  By the way, while we are doing this, it might be well not to assist in the running off of other pastors chosen by God; to go counter to the majority vote in the running off of such leaders chosen by God; and to overcome “silence” on such convictions and actions.

1.  Face up to the fact of the present Falling Away in your own church and denomination.

I know what church leaders do and are doing.  They strive in preaching and teaching to convince you of your church through many means and ways that you are the ELECT OF GOD.  In this day of “itching ears” the supreme means of survival is to assure the congregation that they are the people of God.  And you must also remember that they have a vested interest in the denomination that is greater often that their vested loyalty to Christ:  their retirement is coming from the denominational headquarters.  I recall approximately 20 years ago when two other denominations split off from the Southern Baptist Convention.  Many were the leaders of large churches who told their own people and people of other churches, “just be patient it will work out okay.” 

No, it did not work out okay.  The fighting and warfare are increasing; and it will continue to increase until the real, old-fashioned southern Baptists face up to what is happening in their convention with the takeover by the fundamentalists and ask for a return to their heritage of “spirit” and “faith”.

I recall another excuse which was given by one of my good friends, and fellow high school graduates from Galena Park, who said, “it will have a purging effect on the SBC”.  Well, yes it did; but I am afraid that the purging effect was not on the good side.  What was really purged was (1) the spirit of the SBC that many of us grew up with and came to know 50 years ago–along with the purging of many “moderate” pastors such as Winfred Moore at Amarillo who personified that spirit {you see, the fundamentalists know their own and recognized quickly in others whether the fighting spirit is there or not, but like the house of Israel in the wilderness they think the majority opinion can be used to overwhelm the minority}; (2) the spirit filled and uplifting preaching and teaching along with the books that we have come to know and love {seminary education is now practically bankrupt because of this new book replacement}; and (3) replacement of the gracious spirt of overcoming evil with good that once dominated the SBC before takeover by the fundamentalists.

You see, we are really right back to where the real remnant of God has been many times in history, except more so as there has only been two complete generational Falling Away, the one for 40 years in the wilderness, and the one for the last 20 years in our nation and world.  Elijah looked around in the nation of Israel of the divided kingdom, and actually thought that He was on the only believer in God left.  God had to reassure him that, quiet though they might be, there were 7,000 left who had not bowed the knee to Baal.  But just think, only 7,000 left in a whole nation that was chosen to be the called of God! I’m sure it also looked lonely for Caleb and Joshua as they stood up for the leadership of Moses and Aaron, and as they looked at the stones from the very chosen people of God that were cocked to be thrown at them.

2.  Reveal the follies of “perilous times” church membership before they go as far as “fables” in the intolerance toward sound doctrine of the Falling Away.  It is too late for the Mormons and Roman Catholics with their book of Mormon and extra-biblical teachings, they have already turned into fables.  Are we that far in the SBC?  Where did all those pre-fundamentalists southern Baptists go?

3.  Develop a counter-church membership and counter-cultural attitude in order to keep unspotted from the world and to go the above and beyond in church membership, mainly in Christlikeness.

Like Moses and Aaron we will all slip and fall momentarily, but that is not the same as the adoption of a lifestyle that permits the continuous spots from the world and from tainted church members.  “If we stand for nothing, we will fall for anything”, to use the words of Peter Marshall.  If we do not maintain a strong attitude within our churches and denominations, we will drift into the Falling Away as most of our fellow church members are doing.

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