A Catechism on the Apostasy of the Church in America
by Stuart DiNenno
(For the purposes of this document, the churches being referred to are the so-called Bible-Believing, Conservative, Evangelical churches, which include the churches that identify themselves as Reformed, and these are collectively referred to herein as “the institutional church.” All other religious groups are excluded, unless specifically named.)
Question 1. How is it apparent that modern-day America has no genuine Christianity?
Answer: By the widespread and profound depravity of American society, which is openly manifested in numerous ways that are obvious to any Christian living in America today, and has been for many years, it is apparent that America has no genuine Christianity. Modern-day America has returned to a level of societal corruption that has not been seen in the “civilized” world since the time of pagan ancient Rome, and this could not possibly be the case in any society if it was being influenced by authentic Christianity even to a relatively small degree.
Question 2. How is it apparent that the thousands of religious organizations in America identifying themselves as Christian churches are all apostate?
Answer: By the fact that these organizations, despite their thousands of congregations and millions of attenders, are having no Christian influence on American society, and by the fact that there is no conflict between even those churches that profess the tenets of orthodox Christianity and the worst of the ungodly institutions and individuals, it is apparent that the entirety of the institutional church in America is apostate. If it is true that “all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12) and that American society has degenerated to the level of wickedness found in the society that surrounded the apostolic church, or near to it, and yet unlike the 1st century churches, there is a complete absence of persecution of our so-called churches, then we must conclude that they are not Christian churches at all.
Question 3. Is it not true that to say all the churches are apostate, is to say that the church has ceased to exist and is to deny the words of Christ who said that the gates of hell shall not prevail against it?
Answer: No, it is not true. There is a difference between the institutions that serve the church and the church itself. The Reformation era Protestants taught that the church could cease to exist in the sense that all the religious organizations could fall away from genuine Christianity (and that they had done so under Romanism in Europe prior to the Reformation) and yet, in spite of this, there would always be a church in the sense that there would always be a remnant of Christians raised up in the darkness and preserved by God through it. (see John Calvin on this point). This is our circumstance in America today.
Question 4. Is it not true that the liberal churches have denied the faith but the conservative churches have not done so?
Answer: No, it is not true that the conservative churches have not denied the faith. It is only true that the liberal churches are more open about their denials of the faith. The liberals openly deny miracles and the supernatural, they do not accept that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and they do not pretend to strictly follow it. The so-called conservatives on the other hand, affirm miracles and the supernatural, profess to believe that the Bible is the infallible Word of God, and they pretend to uncompromisingly follow it. But the conservatives do not preach the gospel to the unconverted any more than the liberals do, and the beliefs that they affirm in their words are denied in many ways by their actions. Some conservatives have noted the similarities between modern-day liberals and the the biblical Sadducees in matters of the faith that they both deny, but they, of course, do not see the similarities between themselves and the biblical Pharisees who likewise professed to be strict Bible observers but denied the Bible in practice. If anything, the liberals are more honest in that they are more open about their denial of historic, biblical Christianity while the conservatives only make a pretense of adhering to it.
Question 5. There are still quite a few churches in America that profess to be Bible-believing, and actually do preach expositions of the Bible. How can these churches be apostate?
Answer: Many truths can be preached from the Bible and yet enough truth can be omitted from preaching so that what is necessary to bring the hearers to repentance and true faith is not communicated, and thus a false gospel is preached.
Today’s preachers, if they preach evangelistic sermons directed at the unconverted at all (many do not), fail to include what Martin Luther called the “first message” that will “humiliate and terrify the sinners,” by “proclaiming the law” and, as William Tyndale similarly said, “teaches the people to know their natural venom and birth-poison” and “makes them meek and frightened with the law.” They also do not contain, as Arthur Pink described it, “a scriptural setting forth of the nature of that punishment which awaits the lost — the awfulness of it, the hopelessness of it, the unendurableness of it, the endlessness of it” and they speak almost nothing of repentance, which must be defined as a turning away from all self-pleasing, and which John Calvin called “the start of the Christian life.” All of these elements must be preached before proceeding to speak about the forgiveness of sins, the mercy of God, and the gracious reconciliation offered by Him through faith in Christ, otherwise it is unlikely to be understood why forgiveness, mercy, and grace are needed. “The recognition of sin is the beginning of salvation” (Luther) and today’s evangelistic messages, if they are preached at all, do little to create the necessary conviction of the guilt of sin.
Thus, they fail to do what Pink described as the necessary plowing of the ground before the seeds of the gospel can be sown, and so by their omissions, they preach an incomplete and false message of salvation that does not convict its hearers of their sins, does not empty them of self-righteousness, does not cause them to be of a “broken and contrite heart,” does not lead them to see that they are in a helpless condition so that they despair of themselves, does not make them realize that they can do nothing but cry out to God for mercy, and because it fails to do these things it never truly makes them see their desperate need for the Savior and so it does not produce genuine faith or bring true spiritual conversion.
A false gospel can consist not only in preaching falsehoods but also in omitting necessary and convicting truths, the latter is the nature of the false gospel that is preached in today’s so-called churches, and it cannot be said that organizations which preach a false gospel are true churches.
Question 6: What are being called the necessary truths in the answer to the last question should be common knowledge to any Christian preacher. Why are they omitted from preaching today?
Answer: Convicting truths are omitted from today’s preaching not because of any lack of knowledge, but because the ministers know that they are offensive to the hearers and likely to drive many people from their congregations. Preaching that, as Luther said, “humiliates and terrifies the sinners” has been absent from America’s churches for several generations. The result is that our churches are largely unregenerate and this is also true of those in the professional ministry. Today’s ministers lack the conviction and backbone to preach truths that they know the people in their congregations do not want to hear, and they know all too well that what Arthur Pink said over 80 years ago is even more true today: “Faithful preaching will render the minister unpopular, and will empty churches — not fill them!” Today’s ministers are hirelings who diligently avoid preaching the necessary truths in a direct and confrontational way that will give offense to many but could save the few.
The many points on which today’s ministers are unfaithful are set forth in detail in the following article: The Unfaithful Shepherds of Today’s Christian Churches.
Question 7: Many objections could be raised against the definition of a false gospel given above, and a more detailed explanation of what constitutes faithful gospel preaching is needed. Where can this be found?
Answer: For more on the defective nature of today’s gospel preaching, and how it differs from faithful preaching, please read the article entitled The Gospel Is Not Being Preached In America Today. Many objections will be answered in the body of the article and there is a list of answered questions and objections at the end of the article.
Question 8. Is it not true that there are still some people being converted (i.e., born again) in America today within the institutional churches? If so, how can it be said that the churches are all dead and why would this be happening if the gospel is not being preached?
Answer: Yes, it is true that there are still some people being born again within the institutional churches. Churches can be apostate, and consist largely of unconverted pseudo-Christians, even in their ministry staff, and yet it is still possible that some true conversions can be occurring in them. This was the case in the apostate Romanist churches prior to the Reformation. Despite the darkness of the institutional church at the time, there were still some Christians being converted and preserved in it. God, through all the unbiblical innovations and superstition of Romanism, somehow revealed enough truth to a remnant of elect individuals to bring them life. To say that this was not occurring is to say that the church ceased to exist in Europe for centuries, which is to deny Christ’s promise that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church.
God can use various methods to bring people to faith. Some might come to faith through reading the Bible for themselves, some might come to faith through reading written expositions of biblical doctrine from the past (such as confessions and catechisms), and some might come to faith listening to numerous instructional sermons intended for those already converted or through very incomplete presentations of the gospel. However, God ordinarily uses the preaching of an evangelistic message that contains certain elements that are conducive to bringing forth repentance and true faith, and where this is not preached because of the infidelity of ministers, we cannot expect much of a harvest of conversions, if any at all.
To say that such a message is not necessary because God can use any of his truth to convert souls, and to use this as an excuse for never preaching confrontational and convicting evangelistic messages, is a deceitful argument used by today’s ministers who only want to excuse themselves from the responsibility to preach in a way that they know is going to be offensive to many. Should we believe that a minister can preach a sermon that is an exposition on the first chapter of the book of Esther, for example, or preach a sermon that speaks of Jesus without ever mentioning sin, or preach a sermon that speaks of sin but never defines it, and that in all these he is fulfilling his responsibility to call men to repentance? Of course not. Yet this is what we would be expected to believe if we accept the argument that preaching any biblical truth is sufficient for conversion and so explicitly evangelistic messages are unnecessary.
Question 9: Is it not true that most churches in America have kept all the unbiblical Roman Catholic doctrines and practices out of their religion that were removed at the time of the Protestant Reformation when the gospel was restored? If so, how is it that the gospel has been lost again?
Answer: Yes, it is true that there are many churches which have not returned to the things that the Roman Catholics introduced into the church, but there are many ways to pervert or bury the gospel and it need not be under all the “smells and bells” of high church pomp and pageantry or by the introduction of unbiblical and superstitious practices. The fact is that the gospel can be hidden by professing churches without introducing any unbiblical doctrines or practices, simply by the act of omitting just enough convicting truth that preaching becomes ineffectual for conversion. We are all familiar with the courtroom oath that says, “Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?” Today’s churches will preach truth and, in some cases, they may preach nothing but truth, but they do not preach the whole truth because they do not preach evangelistic messages to the unconverted which contain the elements necessary for causing conviction of sin and bringing forth repentance. Thus, by way of omission, they preach a false gospel and this is the root cause of their apparent spiritually dead state.
Question 10. What did the Protestant Reformers consider the marks of a true church and do today’s churches possess them?
Answer: The first mark given on every list of the marks of the true church produced during the Reformation era is “the pure preaching of the gospel.” This does not mean that preaching will be flawless but it is certain that preaching which omits the truths necessary to bring the hearers to repentance and true faith is very far from “the pure preaching of the gospel.” Seeing that this omission is universal, or nearly so, in today’s so-called churches, it can be said that the institutional churches in America preach a false gospel and so do not bear even the very first mark of true churches.
Question 11: Besides the preaching of a false gospel, how do the institutional churches show themselves to be unfaithful?
Answer: The institutional churches show themselves to be unfaithful in many ways but it should be understood that the lack of regenerate congregants and ministry staff is the cause of their infidelities. The churches do not act as we would expect true churches to act because most of the people in them are not born again, and they are not born again because the type of convicting evangelistic messages that God ordinarily uses to bring men from death unto life are not being preached. We can identify many symptoms, and some are listed below, but it is more important that we recognize the root cause.
Today’s so-called Christianity in America has been reduced mostly to a religion of mere words. Being considered a faithful Christian today is primarily a matter of profession rather than practice. This is because in practice the vast majority of professing Christians are no different from those who profess no religion and this is also why there is conflict between them and those who make no pretense of a Christian profession. In fact, if one begins to talk, in any particular way, about how Christians should live differently from non-Christians, he is often characterized as a sinful “legalist” who is laying burdens upon Christians that they need not bear, as if nothing is to be expected of Christians other than perhaps to refrain from the most scandalous sins. Some examples of sinful practices tolerated in today’s “churches” are the use of contraception (birth control), women pursuing careers outside the home and abandoning motherhood and homemaking, parents sending their children to public schools to be educated by unbelievers into wicked beliefs and practices, the gender blending of unisex clothing and hair styles, and the immodesty of women wearing very revealing clothing in public.
Talk is cheap, as it is said, and mere profession is never the mark of true Christianity, as Jonathan Edwards put it so well:
“A true knowledge of God and divine things is a practical knowledge. As to a mere speculative knowledge of the things of religion, many wicked men have attained to great measures of it. Men may possess vast learning, and their learning may consist very much of their knowledge in divinity, and of the Bible, and of the things pertaining to religion, and they may be able to reason very strongly about the attributes of God and the doctrines of Christianity, and yet herein their knowledge fails of being a saving knowledge, that it is only speculative and not practical.”
False Christians, because they have no real convictions, will conform to the ungodly world by aligning their beliefs with those of it, in order to avoid conflict. We see this in the institutional church today in all its adoptions of egalitarianism. The erasure of the lines of distinction in mankind is a satanic agenda and today’s pseudo-Christians are assisting in the project. This is true across the board of all denominations in regard to racial equality, and accusations of wrongdoing are frequently leveled at those who oppose the revolutionary agenda of race-mixing through intermarriage and mass immigration of non-whites into majority white countries. In fact, it may be impossible to remain in any of today’s so-called churches if one openly advocates maintaining racial separation by opposing such things. Likewise, the distinction of roles for the two genders is quickly becoming a thing of the past. Although there are still many churches that exclude women from church offices, outside of the few hours of church gathering time distinctions in the roles of men and women are largely non-existent. The adoption of a Cultural Marxist moral code, that has come to Western society by way of anti-Christ Jews explicitly for its destruction, is another manifestation of the conformity to the world’s program of egalitarianism in today’s Institutional churches, and it is very common to hear terms such as “racism,” sexism,” antisemitism,” and even “homophobia” used by today’s so-called Christians, as if they are actual sins. Thus they have a syncretized moral code that melds biblical morality with anti-Christian concepts of sin and so entirely perverts their ideas of right and wrong.
The compartmentalization of religion in a way that completely distorts Christianity and enervates the church is another characteristic of today’s counterfeit Christianity. As Christian writer Joe Boot put it: “We have progressively retreated into a pietistic bubble, concerned largely with eternal verities and keeping souls from hell, and we have faithlessly limited Christ’s jurisdiction to the institutional church. The result has been the marginalization of the Christian church and a change of religion in the public sphere.” While it is not accurate to say that today’s churches have been concerned with keeping souls from hell when they do not even preach evangelistic gospel messages that contain what is necessary to bring the unconverted to repentance and true faith, it is indeed accurate to say that the professing Christians in America have “retreated into a pietistic bubble.” Today’s so-called churches are either busily conforming themselves to the world or working to hide away from it, and usually a combination of both. Despite the fact that our societies have degenerated to a level of depravity that has not been seen since ancient Rome, and that the wickedness is being displayed publicly and is aggressively being foisted upon the people more and more, the churches are almost entirely silent about all of it, choosing to mostly ignore it and carry on with business as usual. This is rank infidelity and would have been condemned to the utmost by Christians of past ages.
However, it is important to understand this point: the reason that there is no conflict between the so-called churches and the ungodly world is not because their ministers do not preach any truth, it is because they only preach the comfortable truths. There are still some churches where one can hear a multitude of sermons that convey truth on biblical doctrines but the modern-day ministry shrinks back from preaching the things which cause offense to the unconverted, and they especially avoid speaking about anything which would bring them into conflict with the society outside of their little church buildings. They preach and practice a safe form of Christianity that takes pains to be innocuous and so it allows them to live in a sort of religious fantasy land, ignoring all the degeneracy in the larger society as if it does not exist. It is cowardly behavior that requires continual retreat and compromise, and the result has been that there is not only no testimony against the evil in American society by the so-called Christian churches but rather there is a continual conforming to it over the passage of time.
Question 12. How can the writer of this document be sure that what he is saying is true of all the churches in America, if he has not been to all the churches in America?
Answer: The non-existence of persecution against Christians in America today in the midst of a very wicked culture, when the Bible says that all who live godly shall suffer persecution, the near complete absence of a testimony against the evil in American society by today’s churches, the ever-increasing conformity to the ungodly world in the thinking and behavior of the overwhelming majority of so-called Christians, and the timidity and cowardice of them which has led to a compartmentalized form of religion which seeks to hide away from the world, all make it obvious that something is very wrong with what is called Christianity in America today, even before one begins to delve into the root cause of these infidelities.
Before we move on to how we can investigate the cause of the declension in today’s churches, it must be conceded by the reader that it is not realistic to require someone to visit every church in America before he can make blanket statements about the condition of its churches. Nor is it necessary for statements about apostasy to be 100% universally applicable in order to be true. Those who have discernment can see that the observations made in the previous paragraph are true of Christianity in America today. The fact that there might be rare exceptions to these traits does not annul the assertions. We do not say that the statement “dead bodies do not move” is not true because occasionally a man’s finger or eyelid may twitch after death.
Preaching is what drives the church, and as prominent Reformed minister and author Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981) observed in 1971, “the decadent periods and eras in the history of the Church have always been those periods when preaching has declined.” It is certain that we are in a “decadent period” and many have commented on the weakness of today’s preaching, so if Christians desire to work toward reform, then it behooves us to inquire into what is wrong with today’s preaching, and this inquiry must begin at the foundational point with the question: Are today’s ministers preaching the gospel? That is, are they preaching an evangelistic message that will communicate to the unconverted the truths necessary to bring them to repentance and faith? If not, then all other ministry work will be in vain because it is not possible to educate unregenerate souls into thinking and behaving like Christians.
But how can examinations of the church and its preaching be conducted? The best that one man can do is to form judgments out of his own personal experience in various churches over a long period of time, and his many discussions during the past several years with numerous professing Christians online, and the similar experiences of his friends. Further investigation can be done to ascertain the state of evangelistic preaching by taking a representative sampling of other churches through means of a survey, and this is what the writer of this document has done. He has been a Christian for twenty-six years and so has heard many sermons himself in various churches, but over the last two years he has surveyed approximately fifty churches by email, mostly Reformed churches, posted several requests on social media, as well as made requests to friends. So far, no one has replied with a sermon that fits even the simple definition of “a strong presentation of the foundational gospel message that would be suitable for passing along to someone yet unconverted, something that contains clear definitions of sin and serves to convict the hearer of his guilt, calls the sinner to repentance, and shows him the way of forgiveness through faith in the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ.” There are 2.3 million sermons on sermonaudio.com, and so there should be many thousands of messages, or hundreds at the very least, that fit this definition, yet specific requests to many churches and individuals has produced nothing that comes close to even this basic description of an evangelistic sermon.
Question 13. How can it be possible that all the churches in America have become apostate at the same time in history? We know the Roman Catholic churches were apostate before the Reformation, but they were all of one communion and taught the same doctrines. It seems extremely unlikely that a very large number of religious institutions which consist of numerous distinct denominations that are disconnected from one another, teach a multitude of conflicting doctrines, and sometimes even speak against one another, could all be at the same point of apostasy at the same time in history.
Answer: It is true that the so-called Evangelical, or Bible-believing, churches in America consist of numerous distinct denominations, are disconnected from one another, teach a multitude of conflicting doctrines, and sometimes even speak against one another, but underneath all of the seeming divisions and differences, they all adhere to the same apostate religion. The apostate Catholics kept all of their infidelity under one roof but the apostate Protestants have spread theirs out over a multitude of organizations.
The differences between the various denominational factions is only a matter of variation in profession and church meeting practice. The Presbyterians argue with the Baptists about the biblical covenants, the Calvinists argue with the Arminians over the the five points, and many of the various sects will argue with one another about the meaning and mode of baptism, the proper way to conduct public worship, and other doctrines. But if you speak to any of them on social matters you will find that there is no difference in their worldview, and if you look at their lives you will see there is no difference in the religion that they actually put into practice outside of the four walls of their meeting places. None of them are standing against the abject evil in American society, but only hiding away from it, and conforming more and more to it over the passage of time, there is no conflict between those who claim to be the children of God and the children of the devil, no persecution of the so-called godly by the ungodly, the “churches” are comfortably residing and even prospering amidst all of the wickedness, and all their churches preach the same false gospel and practice the same compartmentalized religion. Whether it is called Evangelical, Conservative, Bible-Believing, Reformed, or by its many denominational titles, it is all the same counterfeit Christianity.
Question 14: Is the apostasy a recent phenomenon?
Answer: No. The Protestant churches have been gradually drifting into apostasy over the last three centuries. The influence of the late 18th century atheistic “Enlightenment” in Europe did much damage, and the falling away accelerated greatly in America after the mid 19th century, although it is impossible to say at what point the churches actually became apostate. It is also impossible to say at what point the gospel ceased to be preached but it is likely to be at least a few generations since any form of convicting evangelistic preaching has been occurring in America on any substantial scale. By the first half of the 20th century, men such as Philip Mauro, Arthur Pink, and A.W. Tozer were sounding the alarm of apostasy. Pink, in 1942, went as far as to say that there seemed not much left to do other than “to pronounce sentence of death upon the whole apostate system” and there has not been any revival of authentic Christianity in America since that time, American society has greatly degenerated since then, and the so-called churches have not stood against this to any degree but have, in many ways, conformed to the society.
Regarding preaching, many have noted that the cause of the ever-increasing feebleness of the churches is due to defective preaching, Martyn Lloyd-Jones declared that the lack of convicting evangelistic preaching and the tendency to preach only instructional messages “is a very great and grievous fallacy” and “has been one of the cardinal errors of the Church especially in this present [20th] century” As proof of his assertion, he cited his own case of attending churches for years and being assumed by ministers to be a Christian because he “could give the right answers to various set questions,” and yet he was not converted until eventually he was exposed to some convicting evangelistic preaching. This type of preaching appears to have been a rarity when Lloyd-Jones was young in the early to mid 20th century and today it seems to have died out altogether.
Question 15. Are today’s ministers deliberately deceiving the people?
Answer: It is more likely that most of them are deceived themselves and sincerely believe that they are preaching and practicing authentic Christianity and leading others into the same. It is very difficult for anyone, even educated ministers, to recognize pseudo-Christianity in a culture where it is ubiquitous to the point that it is all everyone has ever known and where it is manifested in a multitude of organizations that, on the surface, look quite different from one another.
It is like having lived in a vast forest all your life that consists of many different species of trees but all of them are diseased and stunted, and they had been so for multiple generations. If you had never been outside of that forest, and everyone around you also had been surrounded by the same trees all their lives, and the forest had been in its degenerated condition for so long that there was no longer any memory of what a healthy forest should be, then you would not know that a healthy tree does not look like the ones in your forest and you would not see them as the sickly organisms that they really are.
This is the case with modern American Christianity. Very few recognize the degeneracy of it because they have been surrounded by it all their lives, every professing Christian they know has likewise always been immersed in it, and all the churches are practicing the same diseased and stunted form of Christianity regardless of their differences in form and profession. Thus, many Christians erroneously see today’s powerless, worldly, compromising religion as genuine Christianity because it is all they have ever known across all the various denominations.
We are all used to seeing the image of a wolf in sheep’s clothing who appears to be intentionally trying to deceive the true sheep. It is probable that there are some of those in the professing churches today, but it is likely that most of today’s ministers are not deliberate about their deceptions, and are self-deceived as much as they are deceiving. No doubt, the majority of today’s Evangelical and Reformed ministers sincerely believe they are following true Christianity, and they sincerely are trying to lead others into the same, but men can do so while they are only, in reality, following a false path and guiding others onto it. This sort of self-deception is much more common than the deliberate, conscious misleading of others. However, stating that their deception is not deliberate is not to mitigate the guilt of their behavior. To say that one is self-deceived and leading others astray is, frankly, to say that he is a deluded religious hypocrite who has no genuine love for the truth and is on his way to hell, and will be further condemned for bringing many others along with him.
Question 16. Can today’s churches be reformed?
Answer: If we allow church history to be our guide, then the answer must be no. The two New Testament era examples that we have of attempts to reform existing ecclesiastical communions are (1) the first century example of the Apostolic Church; and (2) the sixteenth century example of the Protestant Reformation. In the first example, the apostles took the gospel to the synagogues of the Jews who were dispersed in various nations. In the second, the reformers tried to restore the gospel to the Roman Catholic churches in Europe. Both were unsuccessful. The apostate Jews refused to accept the gospel in their synagogues and the apostate Catholics refused to allow it to be restored to their churches. In both cases, the Christians were forced to establish separate congregations and, in both cases, they were persecuted by those who rejected reform.
Also, we have the testimony of recent history. According to the knowledge of the writer of this document, there has never been a denomination that has drifted into serious error and later corrected itself. Those denominations that have fallen away into liberalism and, like the Sadducees, openly deny spiritual truths in their words and their works, have continued to do so, and we have no reason to expect anything different from the so-called conservative denominations that are equally dead and, like the Pharisees, affirm spiritual truths with their words but deny them in their works.
In America, when God brings revival and reformation, and true churches rise up separately from the apostate denominations, we will see persecution from the “Bible-believing” churches against them, just as we saw persecution from the “Bible-believing” Pharisees against the early church.
Question 17. To say that the existing churches are apostate and beyond reclamation, is to say that new churches must be formed. What would be different about such churches as compared to the existing professing Christian congregations?
Answer: The first order of business is that gospel preaching must be restored. That is, the type of convicting evangelistic message directed at the unconverted that will, as Martin Luther said, “humiliate and terrify the sinners” by confronting them with the truth of their innate and inescapable natural depravity; by revealing to them, through an exposition of the law, their guilt before God because of their many transgressions, and making it known to them that they are already under the wrath of God for their evil thoughts, words, and actions; by confronting them with the awful reality of the Bible’s teaching about eternal punishment for those who have despised the truth and continued in sin; and by insisting upon the necessity of repentance from dead works; then afterward proceeding to speak about the way of reconciliation to God, of the forgiveness of sins, and of eternal life, through faith in Christ. This is the type of message that is most conducive to producing true repentance and faith in the hearts of the elect, the lack of it is at the root of why the denominational churches are dead, and every true church must be diligent to ensure that it is preached regularly, and never diluted, adulterated, truncated, or fragmented.
The practice of holy living must be emphasized in the teaching of the church and required of church members, rather than just the focusing almost entirely upon the profession of religious doctrines or the practice of those things that occur during the few hours of corporate worship. Christians should be noted for a way of life and worldview that is very different from the ungodly world, even to the point of seeming peculiar to those outside the church, but today there is very little difference between the so-called church and the non-Christian world. The goal of instructional preaching should be not only to inculcate the godly into a correct understanding of theology but it should also teach Christians how to apply the doctrines of the Bible, in practice, to all facets of their daily lives. The emphasis in today’s preaching is almost entirely on teaching abstract theological concepts — there is very little instruction on how to actually live as a Christian beyond exhortations to pray, study the Bible, and attend and support the local church. We would do well to consider the words of Arthur Pink on this point: “There is no doctrine revealed in Scripture for a merely speculative knowledge, but all is to exert a powerful influence upon conduct. God’s design in all that He has revealed to us is to the purifying of our affections and the transforming of our characters.”
A true Christian church will completely divest itself of, and speak against, the devilish egalitarianism that we are seeing in Western societies today, which seeks to destroy all distinctions in mankind. Genuine Christianity is a religion that will work to uphold God ordained diversities, not eliminate them. The so-called churches today are hurriedly aligning themselves with the anti-Christian world’s program of racial amalgamation and they just as eagerly condemn those who are trying to stand against it. The blending away of gender distinctions is also part of the same agenda and although the so-called conservative churches have not yet succumbed entirely to this part of the egalitarian program, their opposition is largely only symbolic in that they still maintain some opposition to feminism in their church organizations, by not ordaining women to church offices, but outside of the four walls of their church buildings there is very little difference in practice.
True Christian churches will produce disciples who refuse to compartmentalize their religion so as to hide away from the world but rather will boldly declare the truth, oppose evil, and demand that the principles of the Bible be the rule over all facets of life. The timidity and cowardice that we see in the men of the so-called Bible-believing churches today is a manifestation of their ungodliness. In the past, the church condemned such behavior and even disciplined and excommunicated those ministers who were silent in the face of societal corruption, rather than speaking against it and exhorting their congregants to oppose it (see, for example, this declaration from the Church of Scotland in 1648). If we had true Christian churches in America today, all the evil that we see in American society would be strongly opposed and there would be conflict between the militant children of the devil who are dominating America today and equally militant Christians, but we see none of this because we have nothing but counterfeit Christianity. Words such as sacrifice, suffering, burden-bearing, and persecution are words that will apply to genuine Christians and their churches but these words cannot be applied to the so-called churches in America today.
Question 18. After we form new churches, what can we do to prevent them from slipping into apostasy as the others have done?
Answer: In order to prevent new churches from slipping into apostasy, we must study and learn from history. We must learn how precious a thing we had in the times of the Protestant Reformation, not only in the church but in the larger society that was heavily influenced by the church, and compare that with the modern-day Sodom that we find ourselves in today, and then figure out how it is that we came from the one blessed state into the other wretched state.
If we look back into history, we can see that apostasy has a very strong link to the practice of religious toleration. If one could somehow translate all the weakening, compromises, and defections of the churches over the past three centuries to a line on a graph and do the same for the increase of religious toleration among Christians over the same time period, the two lines likely would be nearly parallel. It is not possible to preserve true religion without being intolerant of every false religion, including not only every false sect of Christianity but every defection from true religion within a genuine Christian church.
Tolerance is often promoted as a virtue today but the dirty little secret is that what will be tolerated is everything except for authentic Christianity. For Christians, the opposite must be true. We must “hate every false way” (Psalm 119:104, 128) and be completely intolerant of infidelity. We cannot tolerate the Jews with all their Marxist and egalitarian filth, we cannot tolerate the so-called liberal Christians and all their perversions in both doctrine and practice, we cannot tolerate the pseudo-conservatives and their eviscerated and unholy counterfeit Christianity, and we must be intolerant of every form of unfaithfulness in our own ranks, which means churches have to return to the practice of proper church discipline, correcting the errant and excommunicating the unrepentant. Church discipline was strictly practiced by all the Reformed churches for many years after the start of the Protestant Reformation but today it has largely disappeared and the few churches which still practice it, do so inconsistently and according to distorted principles of morality.