Project 3, Post 7: The Courage to Say Goodbye to the Church of Rotten Fruit
This is my final post in this series on dealing with apostasy, with heresy in our churches. This post will be the most difficult for you to read, to hear. There comes a time when courage is needed to overcome our fears and also, perhaps more importantly, our immense sadness.
Before I continue, take a moment to pray with me:
Please bless each reader, sending the Holy Spirit to guide them as they read this important post. Grant each individual Your holy power to read, to hear, and to interpret Your Word, Your Gospel with Your divine wisdom. Grant each one of Your precious children the Courage needed to use the information below for Your Holy Purposes. Please send Your angels to protect them, Lord.
In the name of your son, Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, Amen.
The finished painting of the tree.
Let us begin…
Imagine for a moment that you are walking through a forest, your dearest friend at your side.
Together you remark on the many trees: some trees are very large, with outstretched branches, while other trees are far slighter in stature, able to nimbly sway in the breeze. All of the trees in this forest are beautiful.
The two if you soon come upon a fork in the path.
To the left, the heavily trodden path widens, and it appears smooth and welcoming.
To the right, the path is far narrower, with spouts of grass peeking through the seldom-trodden dirt. In the distance you can see hills.
After a short argument, you and your friend decide to go your separate ways:
Your friend adamantly chooses to venture down path to the left.
You, conversely, choose the path to the right.
“A wise man’s heart inclines to the right, but the heart of a fool to the left.”
As you walk along the narrow path, you notice that the many trees have borne fruit, even the smaller ones.
Thirsty from your walk, you pick a plum from one of the trees as you pass. The fruit is crisp and sweet. The juices drip down your chin.
As you continue walking, a soft rain shower soothes you from the sun’s warm rays and quenches the thirst of the many trees along the path.
After some time had passed, you came to realize that each of the trees along the narrow path are a congregation of believers.
You could hear a multitude of voices singing hymns of praise emanating from within the trees. Though he road is narrow and bumpy at times, you discovered that a guiding hand was readily there to steady you should you stumble.
Having heeded the Lord’s call to “Expel the wicked persons from among you,” the multitude were in holy unity in righteousness, “all of the believers were in one heart and mind,” as the anointed among them preached the One, the Only, the Holy Good News! (1 Corinthians 5:13; Acts 4:32; Galatians 1:7)
You found yourself filled with joy, your load lifted.
“Go in through the narrow door.
The door is wide and the road is easy that leads to hell.
Many people are going through that door.
But the door is narrow and the road is hard that leads to life that last forever.
Few people are finding it.”
This was not the case for your dearest friend who chose to wander leftward down the wide path…
He, too, heard singing and saw many people gathering within each of the giant trees.
He heard enthusiastic preachers shouting sermons to the masses.
Walking the wide path among many large and beautiful trees, your friend, too, became thirsty.
He, too, picked a plum to moisten his mouth.
However, the plum was rotten.
When he bit into the plum he found the fruit to be dry and sour, and his mouth became filled with worms.
Still, your friend was convinced that a good fruit could be found among such beautiful, powerful, grand trees.
He searched and he searched for one good fruit.
As your friend walked onward, he passed several strangers fleeing the wide path toward the narrow road which you, yourself, had taken.
One stranger warned your friend to not be deceived by the grandeur and beauty of the large trees lining the smooth, well-trodden path, proclaiming that “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light,” (2 Corinthians 11:14).
The other stranger reminded him, “Do not deceive yourselves. If any of you think you are wise by the standards of this age, you should become “fools” so that you may become wise,” (1 Corinthians 3:18).
“Come with us,” the strangers pleaded.
Yet, your dearest friend thought himself to be quite wise. Thus, he continued his search for good fruit, traveling further down the wide road.
And as the two kindly strangers fled the wide path for the narrow, saddened by their inability to convince your dear friend to join them in reversing course, the two strangers were comforted by whispers of reassurance from Christ, His words spoken upon their hearts.
Christ softly instructed the strangers, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:60).
Meanwhile, your dearest friend, his throat parched, his brow wet from the warm sun, continued his search for a piece of good fruit down the wide path…
One fruit after another, all of the fruit was rotten, and your dearest friend’s thirst was left unquenched.
Before long, as he walked the wide road, the air became clouded with smoke. With each step he saw fewer and fewer trees, but more and more stumps where trees had one been.
Finally, your dearest friend came upon a giant inferno; thick black smoke bellowed upward into the air.
In the fire he could see the burnt remnants of trees. He could hear cries of agony: these were the cries of the parishioners, of the proud preachers, as they called out to God above.
Your dear friend heard the tormented calls from the enthusiastic preachers, hollering “Lord, Lord, did we not preach in Your Name? Did we not put out demons in Your Name? Did we not do many powerful works in Your Name?”
Finally, as your friend stood there by the raging fire, he heard Christ answer those preachers and those congregants with an abrupt condemnation.
Christ simply said, “I never knew you. Go away from Me, you who do wrong!” (Matthew 7:23).
“Watch out for false teachers.
They come to you dressed as if they were sheep. On the inside they are hungry wolves.
You will know them by their fruit. Do men pick grapes from thorns? Do men pick figs from thistles? It is true, every good tree has good fruit. Every bad tree has bad fruit. A good tree cannot have bad fruit. A bad tree cannot have good fruit.
Every tree that does not have good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
So, you will know them by their fruit.”
The finished painting of the tree.
“Assuredly the New Theology can do no good towards God or man; it, has no adaptation for it. If it were preached for a thousand years by all the most earnest men of the school, it would never renew a soul, nor overcome pride in a single human heart.”
Now, let’s put this into context.
Our American churches are ripe with apostasy, limbs hang drooped, heavy from fouled fruit.
Loving correction under our present circumstances is difficult and the chances of success are grim, considering the advanced stage of Biblical departure in which many churches now find themselves.
More often than not, and this is especially true for denominational churches, a church’s leadership will turn a blind eye to apostasy/heresy when confronted with the truth.
Some churches will claim that objections weren’t submitted in proper form, and, at other churches, a laundry list of regulations/restrictions/red tape will spring forth preventing concerns from ever being addressed. Still, at other churches, the elders will huddle around the accused to shield him from rebuke… all the while these same elders cast doubts upon your credibility.
Some denominations have handed over far too much power to councils or organizations, elevating the voices of a few men while providing these men the image of legitimacy which comes with fancy titles. These small groups of cohorts (such as the Southern Baptists’ Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, for example) are easily taken over by those who ambitiously seek their own glory and who wish to further their own agendas at the expense of the Gospel Truth.
The reality of our present circumstances is this: churches and their organizations will, far more often than not, punish the person(s) who shine a light onto the error taking place, while protecting the perpetrators from correction, ensuring the perpetrators’ reputations remain intact.
“A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes.”
REMEMBER, it only takes a tiny amount of yeast to make the entire loaf of bread rise (Galatians 5:7-9). It only takes a little bit of error to pervert the whole of your church, sending it down the wide, easy, heavy-trodden road to Hell.
When error is not addressed, it grows.
Or, as Paul aptly put it, “their message will spread like cancer,” (2 Timothy 2:17).
Do you expect for a church which has abandoned core truths to put a sign out advertising their apostasy?
As scripture informs, the departure from the narrow path onto the wide road to Hell will occur subtly, undetected, with many unaware (Jude 4).
As the Rev., Dr. Paul Elliot has stated:
“Like cancer in the human body, false teaching in the body of the church begins undetected and unrecognized. By the time Christians who are still true to the Word of God recognize the cancer of false teaching and are stirred to action, often it is too late to stop its deadly progress. The damage has been done, and a spiritual crisis is upon the church.”
So, then what?
What should you do if efforts at correction have passed by unheeded?
This, sweet beloved, is where your own path may take a heart wrenching turn.
Thus, bearing in mind Christ’s warning that that the path to salvation is narrow, and that only a few will find it, because the wide road often mimics the narrow road… and bearing in mind that the wide road leads to Hell… You must LEAVE.
That’s right: you must bid farewell to your beloved church. And you must welcome the sadness and the mourning that such a departure will assuredly bring upon you with a joyful, humble heart.
Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what partnership can consist of righteousness and lawlessness? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”
2 Corinthians 6:14
Yes, you will in deed mourn, as I have been mourning since departing from my own beloved church.
Yet, there is but one True Body of Christ.
It does not consist of four walls. Nor a particular denomination. Nor a wide, liberal tent. For if it did, then the late, great Charles Spurgeon wouldn’t have left the Baptist Union.
Nor does not constitute a schism to depart from an apostate church or an apostate denomination.
Rather, it does constitute a schism to remain yoked to the unrighteous.
If we were destined to remain in unity with evil (which we should never do), then the late, great Dr. J. Gresham Machen wouldn’t have departed the Presbyterian Church of the USA.
In your cowardice, you perpetuate a schism within the true body of Christ by remaining tied to those who have chosen a the wide path, the popular path, the easy path that ultimately leads to Hell.
Having gone through this myself, I can attest to the difficulty of this matter. Yet, I rest assured, my burdens cast upon Christ, my heart unstirred and free from regret.
Just as the two strangers in the story above, I am comforted by Christ’s instructions: “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God,” (Luke 9:60).
And so it is now that I leave you with my sincere prayers… and I leave you in the loving care of our Lord Jesus Christ as I close with the profound words of Dr. Machen:
“If the liberal party really obtains full control of the councils of the Church, then no evangelical Christian can continue to support the Church’s work… To do so would mean the most terrible bloodguiltiness which it is possible to conceive. If the liberal party, therefore, really obtains control of the Church, evangelical Christians must be prepared to withdraw no matter what it costs. Our Lord has died for us, and surely we must not deny Him for favor of men.”