Created Tues. Mar. 26, 2002 - Updated Mon. Apr. 8, 2002

 The Great Apostasy


What is Apostasy, Heresy, etc.
An Internal Affair
The Scriptures Speak
The Last Hour

How do we test a spirit?
The Wheat and the Weeds
The Sheep and the Goats
The Implications of the Great Apostasy

Related Articles

This article deals with the topics of apostasy, heresy, false prophets, shepherds, teachers, and the like, as well as hypocrisy and deceit. It also deals with the great apostasy that Jesus and the Apostles said would take place after them. Many Christians are not even aware that such an apostasy was to be. But I don't think there is any other topic that gets so much attention in one way or another in the New Testament. I, by no means, cover all the many places where false teachers present the many problems they do. Most all the letters ever written by the Apostles were written to deal with this problem.

Foremost among them were those who wanted everyone to observe the Mosaic law which the Apostles said was no longer binding upon Christians. There were lots of other trends taking place as well. You will get a feel for that as you read some of these scriptures.

What is Apostasy, Heresy, etc.
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Apostasy and heresy are well established words in the English language. We know what they mean in English. They are part of a broad theme in the Bible, and, since researching this article, I have found it to be one of the biggest themes in the Bible, particularly in the New Testament. I am also dealing with the topic for a few other reasons.

In addition to what apostasy and heresy are, we will consider how to deal with them. The problem to day is that many consider almost any trivial disagreement with "their" idea of truth is a heresy and the one promoting the disagreement a heretic. On the other extreme is the ecumenical movement which joins any old ideas together and accepts nearly anything, no matter how contradictory it may be. There needs to be a balance.

And last but not least involves the practice of shunning practiced by a few churches here and there. In the Catholic Church, they excommunicate you although it is not a punishment that actually affects a person on a personal level, even though the church may look down on them. Today, excommunication is rarely ever practiced, at least in the USA. Mostly, it would be clergy or nuns who would receive such a sentence anyway. Then you have Jehovah's Witnesses' version which they call disfellowshipping and disassociating. And when you are disfellowshipped, no one has anything more to do with you. Most will not even speak to you. The Independent Churches of Christ call it withholding fellowship. I can not be sure what it entails. They would at least avoid worshipping together, and again, over any little disagreement.

Mormons, I believe, have some sort of practice of throwing people out. The Amish practice a very severe form of shunning where even a wife will not speak to her husband if he should be shunned. Shunning was one of the major reasons that the Amish broke off from the Mennonites, along with maintaining the old way of life that they are so well known for. They did not feel the Mennonites were upholding the clean standings and discipline required by the Bible.

Yes, the Bible does prescribe a form of shunning in dealing with apostates and heretics, as well as other types of sins. But what and how is important. We do not want to be severe and unfair as some groups have a reputation of being. And yet we not want to be lax and ignore the Bible's commands and standards and just let all hell break lose and be carried on. So lets examine this topic now.

Apostasia is the Greek word from which we get Apostasy. It is only used twice in the whole Bible, both times in the New Testament.

As forsake in Acts 21:21

As falling away in 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Hairesis is the Greek word from which we get Heresy. It appears 10 times in the New Testament.

As sect in Acts 5:17, 15:5, 24:5, 26:5, 28:22.

As heresy in Acts 24:14.

As heresies in 1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1

Pseudoprophetes is Greek. You may recognize "pseudo" which has also become a word in the English language indicating false or fake. And "prophetes" from which we get prophet. It appears 11 times in the New Testament.

As false prophet in Acts 13:16; Revelation 16:13, 19:20, 20:10

As false prophets in Matthew 7:15, 24:11, 24:24; Mark 13:22; Luke 6:26; 2 Peter 2:1, 1 John 4:1

Pseudochristos is the Greek for false christs. Notice I did not capitalize christ because it is not referring to "the" Christ but to false phony pretenders. Christ is the Hellenized version of the Hebrew word messiah. So we could just as easily say false messiahs and we would not be wrong. Some Bibles even use false messiahs. Both words have the meaning of "anointed one." We only find it twice in the New Testament Gospels.

As false christ in Mark 13:22

As false christs in Matthew 24:24

Pseudodidaskalos means false teacher or teachers and is only used once by Peter as false teachers in 2 Peter 2:1.

Although not mentioned in the New Testament, false shepherds was a common expression in the Old Testament, and had a similar meaning to false teachers or prophets. Jesus does illustrate himself as the fine shepherd, though.

Antichristos becomes antichrist in English. You'll only find it used by John, 4 times. Antichrist is a very misunderstood and abused term. Many think it some world leader or enemy of Christ and Christians. They are confusing it with the beast in Revelation. Antichrist was never applied to the beast. Further, antichrist was a term applied to those from within the church, the congregation, the house of God. And they try to pervert the doctrines of Christ. They are there to corrupt the faith. They are the same thing as false prophets, false messiahs, and the like. It is not a political person. Nor is it just one individual. John said there were already many antichrists present so as to help them realize it is the last hour. We will explore that more later.

Injected Dec. 27, 2009. My research was to reveal far more in this subject later the very same year I wrote this in 2002. While the antichrist did apply to those within, it also refers to a specific antichrist to comet Christianity was well aware of due to the Apostles speaking of it many times. But the Apostles and Jesus used various different names for this prophesied individual who is also in may visions of Daniel as well. You can learn more about him in looking up the Last Days Series article The Antichrist.

Antichrist appears in 1 John 2:18 (twice); 2:22, 4:3; 2 John 1:7

Schisma is a Greek word related to heresy. Both can indicate divisions or sects in the Bible. Schisma has also become an English word as well. It appears as division or divisions 5 times, as schism once, and twice as rent (as in tear, rip, or divide - rent in two).

Dichostasia appears twice as divisions and once as seditions.

An Internal Affair
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Now in the Old Testament, in addition to false or wicked shepherds, you have those who lead others away from Jehovah to serve other gods. In addition, false prophets were sometimes encountered and dealt with as a subject. Worshipping other gods and idols was of big concern to God as that was the greatest temptation existing to Israel at that time. But in the times since Jesus, false shepherds, prophets, and teachers were by far the biggest concern. I believe there are a number of reasons for this.

For starters, the powerful works and miracles that would take place early on, would have a big effect on the nations. This would turn many away from vain worthless gods. In addition, starting with the Greeks, the men of learning and knowledge would come to doubt most things about gods. Yes, though perhaps no well known to many, it was not uncommon for a man of learning and philosophy to be somewhat agnostic. This is not something that just happened in the industrial age. And many Roman wise men and historians came to have little faith, belief, or use for the pagan gods. So paganism was soon to become a non-issue after a fair amount of persecution took place.

So the real problem would actually be the subtle corruption from within. So this is where the emphasis was placed by Jesus and the Apostles. Because of the advantage of the holy spirit revealing things to them, they could see this ahead of time and give fair warning, not just to those to whom it would affect the, but also us in the last days who would have all these corruptions handed down to us that we would have to weed out. But we need to be aware that what is handed down is likely corrupted and that we will have to search the truth out all over again as best as we can.

In addition, there would always be the problems with fornication and other types of sexual behavior that would need to be avoided. And more than just voiding the bad, Christians were counseled to pursue lots of the good things such as love for each other and forgiving one another.

In all these Greek words we considered from the New Testament, there is a common theme or idea. That is, that Christians must try to remain united without divisions and without forming sects. And that they must be on guard and on the look out for false prophets, messiahs, teachers, shepherds, and the like. These would try to corrupt the faith and the ideas that the Apostles had given to the people. These false pretenders would also try to lead the people away from God and to themselves.

Though sexual immorality was given attention, far more seemed to be given to being corrupted with doctrinal errors. Lets' take a look now, at the many scriptures that address this in detail.

The Scriptures Speak
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Matthew 7:15 "Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? 17 So, every sound tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears evil fruit. 18 A sound tree cannot bear evil fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 Thus you will know them by their fruits.
21 "Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' 23 And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.'

Luke 13:25 From the time the Master of the house shall have risen up, and He shuts the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. And answering, He will say to you, I do not know you. From where are you? 26 Then you will begin to say, We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets. 27 And He will say, I tell you I do not know you, from where you are. "Stand back from Me all workers of unrighteousness!" [Psa. 6:8] 28 There will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God, but yourselves being thrust outside. 29 And they will come from east and west, and from north and south, and will recline in the kingdom of God. 30 And, behold, there are last ones who will be first, and there are first ones who will be last.

Matthew 24:4 And answering, Jesus said to them, See that not any leads you astray. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, I am the Christ. And they will cause many to be led astray.

Matthew 24:11 And many false prophets will be raised and will cause many to err.

Matthew 24:24 For false christs and false prophets will rise up. And they will give great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

Mark 13:5 And answering, Jesus began to say to them, Be careful that no one lead you astray.

Mark 13:6 For many will come in My name, saying, I AM! And they will lead many astray.

Jesus makes it clear that many are going to be fooled and led away. Many of his illustrations also make this clear.

John 8:44 You are of the Devil as father, and the lusts of your father you desire to do. That one was a murderer from the beginning, and he has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own, because he is a liar, and the father of it.

Romans 16:18 For such ones do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth speaking and flattering they deceive the hearts of those without guile.

2 Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ;

Galatians :19 Now the works of the flesh are plain: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, anger, selfishness, dissension, party spirit, 21 envy, drunkenness, carousing, and the like. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Ephesians 4:14 so that we may no longer be infants, having been blown and carried to and fro by every wind of doctrine, in the underhandedness of men, in craftiness with a view to the trickery of error.

Ephesians 5:6 Let no one deceive you with empty words, for through these the wrath of God comes on the sons of disobedience.

Ephesians 6:11 Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the equipment of the gospel of peace; 16 besides all these, taking the shield of faith, with which you can quench all the flaming darts of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Colossians 2:4 And I say this that no one may beguile you with persuasive words.

Colossians 2:8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 3:9 Do not lie to one another, having put off the old man with his practices,

2 Thessalonians 2:3 Do not let anyone deceive you in any way, because that Day will not come unless first comes the falling away, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,

2 Thessalonians 2:9 His coming is according to the working of Satan in all power and miracles and lying wonders, 10 and in all deceit of unrighteousness in those being lost, because they did not receive the love of the truth in order for them to be saved. 11 And because of this, God will send to them a working of error, for them to believe the lie.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by giving heed to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2 through the pretensions of liars whose consciences are seared, 3 who forbid marriage and enjoin abstinence from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

2 Peter 2:1 But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many will follow their licentiousness, and because of them the way of truth will be reviled. 3 And in their greed they will exploit you with false words; from of old their condemnation has not been idle, and their destruction has not been asleep.

2 Peter 3:15 And count the forbearance of our Lord as salvation. So also our beloved brother Paul wrote to you according to the wisdom given him, 16 speaking of this as he does in all his letters. There are some things in them hard to understand, which the ignorant and unstable twist to their own destruction, as they do the other scriptures. 17 You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, beware lest you be carried away with the error of lawless men and lose your own stability.

Jude 1:3 Having made all haste to write to you about the common salvation, beloved, I had need to write to you to exhort you to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints. 4 For certain men crept in secretly, those having been of old marked out to this condemnation, ungodly ones perverting the grace of God for unbridled lust, and denying the only Master, God, even our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jude 1:17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." 19 It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

1 John 2:26 I wrote these things to you concerning the ones leading you astray.

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.

1 John 4:3 And every spirit which does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not from God; and this is the antichrist which you heard is coming, and now is already in the world.

Revelation 3:9 Behold, I give out of the synagogue of Satan those saying themselves to be Jews, and they are not, but they lie. Behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they shall know that I loved you.

Revelation 13:13 And it does great signs, that even fire it causes to come down out of the heaven onto the earth before men.

Revelation 16:13 And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. 14 For they are spirits of demons doing signs, which go forth to the kings of the earth, even of the whole habitable world to assemble them to the war of that day, the great day of God Almighty.

Revelation 21:27 And all profaning may not at all enter into it, or any making an abomination or a lie; but only the ones having been written in the Book of Life of the Lamb.

Revelation 22:15 But outside are the dogs and the sorcerers, and the fornicators, and the murderers, and the idolaters, and everyone loving a lie, and making it.

The Last Hour
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In this section I am going to repeat some of the versus that highlight the corruption of the Christian religion that was prophesied by Jesus and the Apostles.

Jude 1:17 But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; 18 they said to you, "In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions." 19 It is these who set up divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

Paul gives us a warning in 2 Thessalonians 2 about something that was due to happen before the return of our Lord Jesus Christ to judge the earth.

(RSV) 2 Thessalonians 2:1 Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our assembling to meet him [the so called rapture], we beg you, brethren, 2 not to be quickly shaken in mind or excited, either by spirit or by word, or by letter purporting to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. 3 Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.

Before the arrival of Jesus, there would have to be a rebellion among the Christian brothers and those would arise who would place themselves on God's throne, becoming judge, dictator, and lord over all in his care. He would exalt himself over and above his brothers and even over God. Have we not seen this many times, ourselves, in our own lifetimes?

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own likings, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander into myths.

2 Thessalonians 2:5 Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you this? 6 And you know what is restraining him now so that he may be revealed in his time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains it will do so until he is out of the way.

Who was it that was in the way of the mystery of lawlessness; you might say the absurdity of lawlessness. Lawlessness is a mystery. It sure is hard for me to understand; how about you? Anyway, it is clearly the Apostles who put lawlessness in its place and holds it back and keep it out of the churches. But Paul tells us that lawlessness was at the moment of his writing, already at work. And he says that lawlessness will only be held back until he who holds it back is gone. The Apostles will have to die and get out of the way, and then lawlessness and rebellion would set in.

2 Thessalonians 2:8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, and the Lord Jesus will slay him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by his appearing and his coming.

When Jesus finally does return he will destroy the lawlessness and those who carry on in it. But notice Paul's warning about this rebellion:

2 Thessalonians 2:9 The coming of the lawless one by the activity of Satan will be with all power and with pretended signs and wonders, 10 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

Satan is very powerful and he will use great power with pretended signs and wonders and deception. They won't be anything like the resurrections and healings that the Apostles or Jesus performed, but they will be good enough to deceive many, all those not loving truth. They will fall for Satan's deceptions. But how can we tell the difference between Satan's pretended signs and wonders and God's true signs and wonders? By using the Bible! What exactly those signs of Satan will be can perhaps be discerned from these scriptures:

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are from God; for many false prophets have gone forth into the world.

How do we test a spirit?
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2 Corinthians 11:14 Did not Satan marvelously transform himself into an angel of light? 15 It is not a great thing, then, if also his ministers transform themselves as ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.

Satan and his ministers will pretend to have a form of Godliness, seeming almost as angels or something. So we want to be on guard, don't we? So be sure to test the spirit you encounter in others. It might be a false one.

Galatians 1:8 But even if we, or an angel out of Heaven, should announce a gospel to you beside what we preached to you, let him be accursed. 9 As we have said before, and now I say again, If anyone announces a gospel to you beside what you received, let him be accursed.

How do we test a spirit? By comparing it to the gospel which is recorded for us in the bible. The gospels of many Apostles and that of Jesus, as related by faithful disciples. By these we may test a spirit or question an angel or a minister of "light." Let's return to 2 Thessalonians where we left off to consider one more thing.

2 Thessalonians 2:10 and with all wicked deception for those who are to perish, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11 Therefore God sends upon them a strong delusion, to make them believe what is false, 12 so that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

It is so important to love the truth, isn't it? For if we have pleasure in unrighteousness and not believe the truth, then we will be pleased to follow Satan and his deceivers with their many "signs and wonders," what ever those may be. But those loving truth will by no means be deceived by these false ploys to lead us away from the true message of the gospel. Jesus' sheep know the voice of their shepherd and master and they follow him wherever he goes. They are not fooled by imitators. They know the real thing when they see or hear it because they have the bible and they use it.

1 John reveals to us the last dying moments of the churches. Here he, John, writes:

1 John 2:18 Young ones, it is a last hour, and as you heard that the antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have risen up, from which you know that it is a last hour.

Even back at that time there had arisen many antichrists or false prophets when John was the only remaining Apostle and very old when he wrote that letter. There would be many more antichrists to come and lawlessness with them. John says:

1 John 2:19 They went out from us, but they were not of us. For if they were of us, they would have remained with us; but they left so that it might be revealed that they all are not of us.

We have further proof of the last hour as we note that John is given counsel from Jesus to give to the 7 churches of Asia (Minor). This had been done by the Apostles, Paul in particular. But evidently, they were not around anymore to tend the flock. Only John who was quite old. So Jesus gives the churches one last warning which will be sent in letters by the Apostle John. After John dies there will be no more Apostles to send letters, give revelations, or do anything else. And we will have received all the scrolls and letters that are to be in the Bible. There will be nothing to add after John. The work was to be fully accomplished by the Apostles and John was wrapping up and putting together the last pieces of the work to be done. Indeed, it was the last hour.

Rev. 1:1 A Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave to Him to show to His slaves things which must occur quickly. And He signified by sending through His angel to His slave, John,

Rev. 1:4 John to the seven churches in Asia: Grace to you, and peace, from the One who is, and who was, and who is coming, and from the seven spirits which are before His throne; 5 even from Jesus Christ the faithful witness

Rev. 1:9 I, even your brother John, . . . 10 I came to be in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and I heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last; also, What you see, write in a scroll, and send to the seven churches of Asia: to Ephesus, and to Smyrna, and to Pergamos, and to Thyatira, and to Sardis, and to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.

John was also given the Revelation to record and send to the various congregations. Revelation and John's 3 letters were the last pieces of the bible to be given to an Apostle for inclusion in the bible. And in Revelation 22:18 it is warned that :

18 . . .If anyone adds to these things, God will add upon him the plagues having been written in this Book. 19 And if anyone takes away from the words of the Book of this prophecy, God will take away his part from the Book of Life, and out of the holy city, and of the things having been written in this Book.

Sobering thought for someone contemplating adding more to the Bible or taking something away from it after the Apostles.

The deaths of all the Apostles would bring an end to the powerful works that took place through them. They were the only ones ever to be directly appointed by Jesus and part of a small number who were directly acquainted with him while he was on earth. So they were the only ones qualified for such a great work as Jesus gave them to do. The Apostles enabled the unity of the churches and their beliefs and provided protection from lawlessness. In the Apostles absence, these would cease to be.

Lawlessness, deception, and rebellion would set in among Christians. Jesus likened it to the devil sowing weeds among good wheat (Matthew 13:24-30, 36-43). This would be a necessary occurrence before Christ could return. After the departure of the Apostles and those whom they appointed, we would be left on our own among the weeds, to try to discern, as best as we can, the truth that is contained in the scriptures. The Bible would be our only reliable source of guidance and truth. The wheat and the weeds would be allowed to grow together until the harvest, and then judgment will take place and the righteous wheat will be distinguished from the unrighteous weeds and each rewarded accordingly.

The Wheat and the Weeds
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Now the wheat and weeds parable will be more clear and understandable to us.

Matthew 13:24 Another parable he put before them, saying, "The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a man who sowed good seed in his field; 25 but while men were sleeping, his enemy came and sowed weeds among the wheat, and went away. 26 So when the plants came up and bore grain, then the weeds appeared also. 27 And the servants of the householder came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then has it weeds?' 28 He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Then do you want us to go and gather them?' 29 But he said, 'No; lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest; and at harvest time I will tell the reapers, Gather the weeds first and bind them in bundles to be burned, but gather the wheat into my barn.'"

Matthew 13:36 Then he left the crowds and went into the house. And his disciples came to him, saying, "Explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field." 37 He answered, "He who sows the good seed is the Son of man; 38 the field is the world, and the good seed means the sons of the kingdom; the weeds are the sons of the evil one, 39 and the enemy who sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the close of the age, and the reapers are angels. 40 Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the close of the age. 41 The Son of man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all evildoers, 42 and throw them into the furnace of fire; there men will weep and gnash their teeth. 43 Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.

We see how Jesus sowed all sorts of good seed, which is his teachings and truth. And of course, he sends his apostles forth to increase his field. But then weeds are sown into Jesus' fine crop. The devil, through his own servants on earth, sows the weeds. So the crop is corrupted. Jesus says to leave it alone until the harvest at the end and then they will know who is who and the gathering will be accomplished at that time, the harvest, the end. So from the death of the Apostles to now, weeds have been appearing everywhere and everyone will have to do their own best to discern the truth with the help of the Bible and discussing it with each other. That should be enough to establish the absolute essentials that will secure salvation for those who want it. What is not essential will be cleared up by Jesus after Judgment day, Armageddon.

The Sheep and the Goats
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This illustration is another example of what would take place at the very end. It is similar to the wheat and the weeds illustration as it deals with the judgement of both the good and the bad. And also similar in that there is a separation accomplished at this time.

Matthew 25:
31 "When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.
32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats,
33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left.

34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, 'Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world;
35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me,
36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.'

37 Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink?
38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee?
39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?'

40 And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.'

41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels;
42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,
43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.'

44 Then they also will answer, 'Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?'
45 Then he will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.'
46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life."

The Implications of the Great Apostasy
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There are Christian Denominations today who claim that there has always been a representation of their line all the way back to Jesus and the Apostles. The Catholics say that they have always existed and that Peter was the first of many popes. Jehovah's Witnesses say that there has always been a "faithful and discreet" class (from Matt. 25) in existence from the beginning to now, as represented by them. There are probably others as well. This is pure crap. Jesus said it would go bad and weeds would be mixed in and you wouldn't be able to tell who was who until the end when he gathered the good from the bad. So these religions are felled with one solid swipe of the spiritual sword.

This also destroys the more than a few denominations, sects, and branches who claim they are the only true Christian religion on earth. There is no true religion on earth. The wheat, which represents good genuine Christians marked for salvation, is mixed in with the weeds, those who claim to be Christian but do not live up to the claim. We won't know who is who until Jesus calls forth the flock from out of the goats, and separates the wheat and gathers it into the storehouse. That has yet to happen. So until that time, we may all think we have the truth but only Jesus can verify or deny that. And with everyone having different ideas about one thing or another, it is not likely that any of us have it completely right and the Bible suggests that.

Another problem is those who claim they do not need the Bible for they have the spirit and the spirit guides them in their every thought and action. This is shear nonsense and heresy. The Apostles said that many false and misleading spirits would go forth into the world and that we need to test the spirits to see if they are from God. The devil appears as an angel of light. We can not trust spirits without question. We need to examine them against the light of the scriptures. If, indeed, the spirit was all we needed, then what purpose would there be in having a Bible, the recorded word of God? Don't be fooled by these apostates who claim they only need the spirit. What they really need is a brain.

So now our job is to see if we can discern what is truly absolutely essential for Christians to observe and what is not so important that we must separate ourselves from others who claim to be Christian. What I can say before we explore that is that it should be something very important to make us go so far as to withdraw from others who claim to be Christian. It should not be done because we do not understand or interpret an illustration or prophecy the same way. Many, if not most, will separate for such small infractions.

We are far too removed from the original time of the Apostles, when they were filled with the spirit to keep out destructive and misleading teachings. Since their deaths were so long ago and it was promised that corruption of the church and its teachings would come before Jesus did, we should be concerned about how accurate our beliefs are. It is almost certain that the mainstream teachings of today are not correct. Otherwise, the words of our savior are lies for he made it clear that many would be misled. His Apostles made that clear, too.

So with that in mind, we can now proceed to consider the subject of unity versus division and disciplinary actions like shunning or reproof. What can or should we tolerate and what should we never tolerate? That is what we have to determine.

Otherwise, the danger exists that we could find ourselves withdrawing from one of the least of Christ's brothers, and receive judgment from Christ for that sin. On the other hand, he may find us guilty of not being pure, clean, and holy enough, and tolerating too much sin and avarice and not find us worthy of salvation. So we do need to get this right, if that is possible. I believe that it is.

Related Articles
The Great Apostasy
The Last Days & Prophecy Articles

Christian Discipline

Lying Signs and Wonders
Church Beginnings
What Is a Cult?


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