Posts Tagged ‘Apostasy’

These bickerings of opposite parties, and their mutual reproaches their declamations, their sing-song, their triumphs and defiance, their dismal prophecies, are all delusion” – John Adams –

Everyone has told a lie.  On that point I hope we can all agree.  “Not me brother, I have never told a lie.”  Oh Really?  Guess what, you just did.  And we all heard it!  Truth is, we live in an age of lies.  They saturate our culture.  From Madison to Pennsylvania Avenues and right on down good old Main Street USA, liars abound.

In Oliver Goldsmith’s 1771 play, She Stoops to Conquer, the popular and flamboyant character Tony Lumpkin quips, “Ask me no questions, and I’ll tell you no fibs.”  The inference of this declaration could easily be interpreted like this, “if you question me, my answer might not always be honest – so, don’t question me.”  In other words, we are most likely to “fib” when it is more expedient than telling the truth.

The late Donald James Wheal (1931-2008) made this rather pithy observation: “When a well-packaged web of lies has been sold gradually to the masses over generations, the truth will seem utterly preposterous to them and its speaker a raving lunatic.”

Well now, that just about describes the days in which we live.  Lies have become so commonplace that people often perceive those who are attempting to expose what is false by simply telling the truth as hate mongers, bigots, intolerant or just plain crazy.  Nowhere have lies become more prevalent than in the world of politics.  Surely you must have heard this bit of overused humor, “How do you know when a politician is lying?  Their lips are moving!”  Wahahahahaha… But, I digress.

The further a society drifts from the truth, the more it will hate those that speak it” — George Orwell

The Bible speaks often about deceitfulness.  The Newer Testament book of Ephesians says that people should, 25“Stop lying to each other; tell the truth, for we are all part of each other and when we lie to each other we are hurting ourselves.” (Ephesians 4:25)  That’s good advice.  No matter the rational, a lie is always intended to either mislead or protect – usually a bit of both.

Moving beyond the simple lies we often tell to one another; there is a “lying spirit” at work in the world.  I am not talking about ghosts, ghouls, zombies, the occult or little green men here.  Mankind’s obsession with that expression of the dark side is just another part of the grand delusion.  The essence of all that is evil in this world is known to Christians as “the spirit of antichrist”.  According to one of the biblical writers, that spirit has been at work in this world for a long time.  Keep in mind that this missive, from which I will now quote, was probably written in the ancient Greek city of Ephesus on the coast of Ionia (in present-day Turkey) roughly 2000 years ago:

1-3 “Don’t trust every spirit, dear friends of mine, but test them to discover whether they come from God or not. For the world is full of false prophets. You can test them in this simple way: every spirit that acknowledges the fact that Jesus Christ actually became man, comes from God, but the spirit which denies this fact does not come from God. The latter comes from the antichrist, which you were warned would come and which is already (working) in the world.”  (1 John 4:1-3 – Phillips)

The spirit of antichrist occupies the very nature of humanity gone astray.  It is this pervasive ambiguous malevolence that hinders the spiritually oblivious from receiving the truth. (Read 1 Corinthians 2:12-14) That spirit of antichrist (aka: the spirit of the world) has so blinded the passengers of spaceship earth that the majority of mankind simply drifts along on the streams of this world’s philosophies, while unconsciously obeying its unseen influences. (Read Ephesians 2:2)  The spirit that is at work in this world does not lead people to pursue the truth, it merely gives them a false impression that they are all doing just fine.  As a result, much of humanity is traveling through space-time without the benefit of a true spiritual or moral compass.  Unable to discern truth from what is false, mankind is easily manipulated by hypocritical liars whose consciences are so scorched that many of them are now incapable of ethical functioning.  The New Testament writer, Timothy, put it this way:

1-3 “The Spirit (of God) makes it clear that as time goes on, some are going to give up on the (true) faith and chase after demonic illusions put forth by professional liars. These liars have lied so well and for so long that they’ve lost their capacity for truth.”  (1 Timothy 4:1-3 MSG)

The Nations of the world are in great trouble today.  Many believe that some have moved beyond the Point of a Safe Return and must now face the inevitable – the Creator’s anger.  Just because the Sovereign Almighty (the Master Spirit of Truth) has chosen a prolonged period of outward silence does not mean He will remain inactive forever.  Remember this Biblical warning: 31 “The very worst thing that can happen to a man is to fall into the hands of the living God!”  (Hebrews 10:31)  The Creator will hold all mankind accountable to Himself.  He won’t overlook a single detail, believe me.

Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so well established, that, unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.” — Blaise Pascal

The Bible’s Old Testament offers many great examples that should serve as a warning to all of us.  Here are but a few:

14 “Our courts oppose the righteous, and justice is nowhere to be found.  Truth stumbles in the streets, and honesty has been outlawed.
15 Yes, truth is gone, and anyone who renounces evil is attacked. The Lord looked and was displeased to find there was no justice.”  (Isaiah 59:14-15 – NLT) 

1 “…The Lord has brought charges against you, saying: There is no faithfulness, no kindness, and no knowledge of God in your land.  You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery.  There is violence everywhere—one murder after another.  That is why your land is in mourning, and everyone is wasting away.  Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing.”  (Hosea 4:1-3 – NLT)

The Almighty One never changes.  Yesterday, today and forever, He remains the same.  It matters not how long ago our Creator made his declarations; the Spirit of Truth has warned us exactly what will happen whenever humanity actively and openly forsake His ways (it isn’t pretty and it doesn’t end well).

It’s hard to accept the truth when the lies you’re being told are exactly what you want to hear.” – Unknown

We are most likely living in the latter days; an age of increasing lawlessness where a strong delusion has empowered people to follow the dictates of their own deceitful heart.  I need to be frank here.  The person who will become known as The Antichrist (the human incarnation of the antichrist spirit) is not beyond your understanding.  He will appear on the earth like any other man, except he will have some extraordinary powers that come from the dark side of the unseen dimensions.  Here is what the Bible says about his eventual arrival on the bridge of spaceship earth:

“This man of sin will come as Satan’s tool, full of satanic power, and will trick everyone with strange demonstrations, and will do great miracles. 10 He will completely fool those who are on their way to hell because they have said no to the Truth; they have refused to believe it and love it and let it save them, 11 so God will allow them to believe lies with all their hearts, 12 and all of them will be justly judged for believing falsehood, refusing the Truth, and enjoying their sins.”   (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12)

Yes my friends, these are the times of strong delusion.  People are abandoning the foundations of truth to embrace a universal lie.  Thankfully, I am neither anxious about the future nor deceived by the delusions of today.  I have placed my absolute trust in the message brought to the earth by Jesus the Anointed One.  The same Spirit that was dwelling in Him while he visited the earth also lives in me.  The Creator is now my spiritual guide.  He steers me in the right direction, provides for my every need, protects me from my enemies and is my refuge in these troubled times.

You and I can neither revise human history nor alter God ordained future events.  We can however change the course of our own lives and perhaps even influence the trajectory of a few fellow passengers here on spaceship earth.  Get to know the real Jesus.  He will chart the course to bring you safely home again.  Are you ready?  Warp factor one… Engage….

Almighty God, speak to those with ears to hear.  Open their eyes to see beyond the strong delusion.  Let them recognize your voice today – the voice of truth.  Let them see the real Jesus.  Thank you Heavenly Father.  Amen.

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is a noted author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2016 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved. For more information write to:
INSIGHT TODAY, P.O. Box 1283, New Port Richey, Florida 34656.
Hello! Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there anyone at home?”  Gilmour, Waters

It’s sunny and hot on the Gulf coast of Florida, oh, but that sea breeze is so refreshing. I am sitting outdoors at a favored lunch spot (Mama’s Greek Cuisine in Tarpon Springs, Florida). From my perch along the railing on the back deck, I can watch the endless parade of sightseers and locals alike making their way along Dodecanese Boulevard and spilling onto Athens Street. Today’s lunch crowd seems to be mostly locals (it’s that time of year). Lots of smiling faces and when you add in the nonstop festive music to the island atmosphere, the effect is just short of intoxicating.

After a delicious bowl of avgolemeno soup, a traditional Greek Salad (sans lettuce) and some homemade crusty bread (but no ouzo!), I am sufficiently fortified to put my thoughts into words.

The life and times of one John Heywood (1497 – 1580) recently caught my attention. Heywood was a fairly well known English playwright, poet and composer. He married into a very politically incorrect family for his generation and he was not at all timid about letting his social and religious views be known. Heywood supported the Church of Rome (Catholicism) during the politically unstable years of King Henry VIII’s reign, when the monarchy split from Papal authority and formed the Church of England. His wife, the former Elizabeth Rastell, was a niece of the famous Sir Thomas More who was executed for his religious beliefs which were at odds with King Henry’s new government approved church. Heywood was himself eventually forced to flee England as a result of the oppressive Acts of Uniformity.

So, why my interest in John Heywood who lived over 500 years ago? Because, among his assorted literary works we find that he penned this oft’ quoted maxim:

“There are none so blind as those who will not see. The most deluded people are those who choose to ignore what they already know.”

How profound is the blindness of those who will not see. God would always have us show His mercy to the truly blind – those who for whatever reason cannot see. But what of the deluded who choose to ignore what they already know? They have eyes to understand what is right, but they shut them tightly against the truth. Let’s talk about the Comfortably Numb.

In faith there is enough light for those who want to believe and enough shadows to blind those who don’t.” ― Blaise Pascal

As I was waiting for my lunch to be served, I could hear the conversation of a rather smart looking couple seated at the table to my left. They appeared to be in their late twenties to early thirties, dressed in casual business attire. To the best of my recollection, this is what I overheard:

Him: “What do ya think about all the madness going on in this country and around the world?”

Her: “It’s like, crazy! But, what can you do about it? Besides, I have my own problems to think about.”

Him: “Yea, that’s why I don’t listen to the news that much. It’s way too depressing. As long as it doesn’t affect me, not going to let it ruin my life.”

The conversation quickly shifted to their weekend plans and something about a going to a concert.

I was somewhat surprised at how succinctly they could dismiss the sum total of today’s global madness. This world is nothing short of a remarkable and overwhelming mess, and if these two lunchtime patrons are any indication, an increasing number of people simply view the collective insanity as “somebody else’s problems.”

Of course, it would not be healthy to turn into a full time pessimist. I think we all know someone who is so obsessed with endless thoughts of doom, gloom and destruction that they are a drag to be around. But still, I see a swelling number of people growing indifferent toward wicked and deplorable occurrences in our society. Headline shock is giving way to social apathy. It’s easier to turn blind eyes to all of the depravity than to open them wide and face the truth. As long as we are relatively happy, healthy and have a few bucks in our pocket, let’s all just become comfortably numb. Or, is that uncomfortably numb? Not sure.

By default, most of us have taken the dare to simply survive. Exist. Get through. For the most part, we live numb to life – we’ve grown weary and apathetic and jaded… and wounded.” ― Ann Voskamp

And what of the faith community who claim to believe in God and know his ways?

Not long ago I was invited to speak at a Sunday morning church service. I rose early to be sure I would arrive on time. As it turned out, I was the first person to show up – 10 minutes prior to the designated start time. The parking lot had only one other vehicle beside my own. No worries, a Pastor met me at the door.

“You’re early” he said, “Service will start in a few minutes.”

I’m early? Okay. I was escorted into the church hall and invited to make myself at home. Sitting in the empty room I thought, “This congregation must rush the doors in wild abandon moments before the service begins.” I sat awaiting the stampede. Well, the teeming masses never did make it. The musicians and singers eventually arrived. As the service began (20 minutes late), there were more people on the platform then in the seats. In time the room did fill quite a bit, with the last stragglers stumbling in about 35 minutes late. Most people seemed to listen as I spoke. A few thanked me on the way out. The building emptied so quickly the fire inspector would have been proud. But this is not unusual. I have just described the normal pattern in most churches today. Welcome to postmodern casual Christianity. Come as you are whenever you like.

Don’t get mad at me because I tell you the truth (Galatians 4:16). I’m not being harsh or judgmental. I have been guilty of indifference now and then myself. It’s just so easy to become comfortably numb.

Little by little, over the centuries, compromise, conformity and even heathenish practices have corrupted “The Way” introduced to mankind by the Liberator Jesus. The humble simplicity of faith in God has slowly given way to human theories, pagan traditions and the doctrines of mere men. Cloaked in a form of righteousness, but void of any true and divine power, a severely weakened and impotent Christian church has emerged to dominate the mainstream landscape of modern times. The postmodern church is fast becoming the perfect place for the comfortably numb with an atmosphere that is ripe and ready for that great leader, the man of all things nasty – Antichrist – to debut.

This would be the first step in apostasy; men first forget the true, and then adore the false.” ― C.H. Spurgeon

The Newer Testament biblical writer Paul, in his letter to the Christian community living in ancient Thessaloniki warned about the future days of the comfortably numb; a time when people would lose their faith in God. Here is what he told them,

 3”Let no one in any way deceive or entrap you, for that day [the return of the Liberator Jesus] will not come unless the apostasy comes first [the great rebellion, the abandonment of the faith by professed Christians], and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction [the Antichrist].” (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4)

Apostasy means to fall away from the truth. An apostate is someone who was once enlightened by the Creator of all things – the Divine Spirit (God). Apostasy is actually a rebellion against God because it is a rebellion against his revealed truth. The comfortably numb are drifting dangerously close to that slippery slope of abandonment or neglect.

The Older Testament Prophet Jeremiah tried to shake the comfortably numb of his generation. He spoke some very significant and timeless words to the people. Here is what he said,

21 ‘Hear this, O foolish people without understanding, who have eyes but do not see and who have ears but do not hear. 22 Do you not fear me?’ says the Lord… 23But these people have a strong-will and a heart that has turned against me. They have turned aside and gone away.” (Jeremiah 5:21-23)

Once, when the Liberator Jesus was here on the earth, his followers asked him, “Why do you talk to the people in parables (stories, allegories)?” He responded by telling them that they (his followers) were receptive to the insight (truth) that he came to share. Whenever someone has an open spirit, the insight (truth) and understanding can flow freely. Jesus spoke in parables as a way to create readiness, and receptiveness to the truth. But of those who will not see he said,

13 “This is why I speak to them in picture-stories; because they go through life with their eyes open, but see nothing, and with their ears open, but understand nothing of what they hear. They are the living fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy which says: ‘Hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive; for the heart of this people has grown dull. Their ears are hard of hearing, and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, lest they should understand with their heart and turn, so that I should heal them’. (Matthew 13:13-15)

Whether you’ve been asleep in the light or blinded by the darkness, the result is nearly the same – you are living the delusion of the comfortably numb. It’s time to break the apathy and flee the apostasy. Open your eyes. Clean out your ears. Pay attention. The days are growing short – but, there is still time. You can change your direction. One last thought from the pages of the good book,

12 My friends watch out! Don’t let evil thoughts or doubts make any of you turn from the living God. 13 You must encourage one another each day. And you must keep on while there is still a time that can be called “today.” If you don’t, then sin may fool some of you and make you stubborn. 14 We were sure about Christ when we first became his people. So let’s hold tightly to our faith until the end. 15 The Scriptures say, “If you hear his voice today, don’t be stubborn like those who rebelled.” (Hebrews 3:12-15)

The Liberator Jesus is calling you. Take the time to listen. He’ll do the rest. Ask him anything, but above all, ask for his help. Right now – Just do it!

Forgive me God for allowing the worries of this world, the false glamour of materialism and all of my foolish ambitions to creep in and choke the life out of what you really want me to be. Today, I am yours once again. I surrender my flawed desires in favor of you perfect will for my life. Jesus, please help me. I want to trust you. I want to believe in you. Please show me the way and teach me your ways. Lead me to the next step. Amen

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, and a popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.

“I believe God is managing affairs and that He doesn’t need any advice from me. With God in charge, I believe everything will work out for the best in the end. So what is there to worry about?”

– Henry Ford

The year was 1833. A pair of Presbyterian ministers, John Jay Shipherd and Philo P. Stewart signed a covenant to form a Christian perfectionist community in northern Ohio. The settlement was envisioned to bring together the spiritual and physical worlds of its residents through a simple and holy lifestyle. They named the town Oberlin after Jean Frédéric Oberlin, a French minister whom they both admired. At the same time, they founded Oberlin College. Among the early faculty was the renowned Charles G. Finney, an American Presbyterian minister and leader of the Second Great Awakening in the United States. Finney began teaching at Oberlin College in 1835. He served as its second president from 1851 to 1866. The School of Theology at Oberlin was non-denominational and remained in existence until 1966. The board of trustees, believing that the Theology Department had outlived its usefulness on the campus, voted to discontinue graduate instruction in theology at Oberlin in 1965. Part of the Great Apostasy? Perhaps. But we’ll save that discussion for another time. Fast Forward. Now let me tell you about Thomas S. Kepler (1897-1963). He was a respected biblical scholar, prodigious author and Professor of New Testament studies at Oberlin College. Kepler also wrote a weekly syndicated newspaper column on religious issues. He published a story about a woman who came to the realization that fears were ruining her life. According to Kepler, she began to keep track of what was worrying her.   This is what she found:

  • 40% of the things she worried about never happened.
  • 30% of the things she worried about already happened (i.e. – it’s the past, get over it).
  • 12% of the things she worried about were the opinions and criticisms of others.
  • 10% of the things she worried about were unnecessary health concerns, which actually made her health worse through anxiety.
  • 8% of the things she worried about were “reasonable concerns,” since life does have some real challenges to overcome.

“If we spend our time with regrets over yesterday, and worries over what might happen tomorrow, we have no today in which to live.”

– Author Unknown

So, if just 8% of her fears were actually reasonable concerns, how legitimate are your “worries”?  I’d say there is a high degree of probability that you’re wasting a significant amount of time and energy fretting about things that are best left alone. No wonder you’re so worn-out. Anxiety is zapping your energy. And for what benefit? Habitual and needless worry does not solve problems. And, even “reasonable concerns” are not an excuse for high anxiety. Most likely, your circumstances are not as ominous as you perceive them to be.

Worrying Accomplishes Absolutely Nothing

I will assume that you are familiar with the Bible. The New Testament is a grouping of 27 books.  For the Christian, this collection of writings is all about a new arrangement between God and humanity through the mediator Jesus. Most of the books are actually letters (also known as “epistles”). The most prolific contributor to the New Testament was the Apostle Paul. His letters total at least 13 of the 27 books, almost half of the New Testament. In addition to the Christian teachings found in his epistles, Paul often included specific instructions for the congregation to which he wrote. One such letter was addressed to the Christian community living in ancient Philippi. According to The Book of Acts, Philippi was “a leading city of the district of Macedonia and a Roman colony” (Acts 16:12). Listen to these words of instruction, 6  Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.” Let’s break that down.

  • Don’t worry about anything.
  • Talk to God about everything.
  • Let God know your concerns (what you need).
  • Thank God for His solutions.

Sounds simple, right? So why do I suspect a possible skeptic or two (hundred)? Because as easy as it may sound, walking it out day by day is not so easy. Every word we just read is the absolute Truth. But it takes faith and patience to live it. Don’t forget the Payoff. If we incorporate this truth into our lifestyle, Paul said, “…you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”   The peace of God will calm you down. You will find rest when you put your absolute trust in Jesus, the liberator. Now, check out these words of wisdom from the Bible, 4-5  ”If you want favor with both God and man, and a reputation for good judgment and common sense, then trust the Lord completely; don’t ever trust yourself alone. In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.” (Proverbs 3:5-6 TLB) Get it? When you put your complete trust in God, there is no reason to worry. Remember, Jesus came to this planet to introduce us to a personal and relevant God – not a Religion. You can talk to God directly about your concerns and ask Him to help you. Put God first and He will make you a success at this thing called life. Worrying accounts for hours and hours of invaluable time that you will never get back. Can all the energy you’ve wasted on anxiety change your grades in school, improve your job performance, solve the budget shortfall or protect you from identity theft and contagious diseases? Has it ever?   If you are at least willing to be honest with yourself, the answer is NO. One more thought from the New Testament.  Jesus was talking with some of his followers and he said to them, 30 “…You have so little faith! 31 Do not worry. Do not keep saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘What will we wear?’ 32 The people who do not know God are looking for all these things. Your Father in heaven knows you need them. 33 First of all… Be right with Him. All these other things will be given to you also.” (Matthew 6:30b-33 NLV)

Why not surrender all of your worries and fears to God? He cares about you. He knows you better than you know yourself. He is a great listener. In fact, He is listening right now. Go ahead, Talk to Him… And stop worrying…

Joseph A. Cerreta, PhD., is an author, broadcaster, popular Bible teacher.
© 2015 by Joseph A Cerreta, all rights reserved.