By Arlen L. Chitwood
CONTENTS & FOREWORD
1. IF THEY SHALL FALL AWAY
2. THE WILLFUL SIN
Apostasy is a major subject of Scripture, not only among Christians in the New Testament, but also among the Israelites in the Old Testament as well. There were false prophets among the Israelites during and following Moses’ day, “even as” there are false teachers in Christendom during the present dispensation. And the message of the false teachers in Christendom is described by the words, “destructive heresies,” which had its counterpart in the message previously proclaimed by the false prophets in Israel (2 Peter 2:1).
Paul had warned the Christians in Ephesus “for three years,” “night and day with tears,” concerning individuals who would arise within the church and lead many astray. These individuals were described as “savage [‘violent’] wolves” who would proclaim “perverse things [distorting, twisting the truth],” and “draw away the disciples after themselves” (Acts 20:29-31).
Paul warned Timothy concerning apostasy “in the latter times.” Many at that time would “depart [‘apostatize’] from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.” That is, Christians would cease to listen to those proclaiming the truth, the doctrine of God; and, instead, they would listen to those proclaiming that which was false — truth that had been twisted, perverted — called, the doctrines of demons (1 Timothy 4:1, 2).
The Spirit of God led two individuals to write complete books dealing with apostasy — 2 Peter and Jude. Of the twenty-one New Testament epistles, all center on one subject: the salvation of the soul. And two of these epistles center specifically on one particular aspect of the salvation of the soul: apostasy, as it relates to the salvation of the soul.
Then, two accounts showing the complete history of the Church throughout the dispensation are given in the New Testament. The first was given during Christ’s earthly ministry before the Church was ever brought into existence (Matthew 13:3-33). And the second was given through John following Christ’s ascension (Revelation 2, 3).
Both accounts, written from two different perspectives, show exactly the same thing. They both show the Church becoming progressively removed throughout the dispensation from all sound teachings concerning the Word of the Kingdom. And both accounts show exactly the same outcome for the Church in days immediately preceding the end of the dispensation, days during which Christendom presently finds itself.
Both accounts show the Church ultimately so far removed from any sound teaching pertaining to the Word of the Kingdom that, at the time of Christ’s return, He will not find “faith [lit., ‘the faith,’ an expression peculiarly related to the Word of the Kingdom in the New Testament] on the earth.” That is, at the time of Christ’s return, He will not find the Word of the Kingdom being proclaimed in the churches of the land (Luke 18:8).
The Church, throughout 2,000 years of history, will have moved 180 degrees out of phase. At the beginning of the dispensation, the Word of the Kingdom was the central message known and taught throughout Christendom (Colossians 1:5, 6, 23). However, at the end of the dispensation, conditions will have become exactly the opposite. The Word of the Kingdom — having to do with the salvation of the soul — will be a message unknown and resultantly untaught in Christendom (cf. Matthew 13:31-33; Luke 18:8; Revelation 3:17).
The books of 2 Peter and Jude deal with different facets of the apostasy that has been occurring over almost two millennia of time, resulting in conditions as they exist today. And this book on Jude, which draws from 2 Peter as well, deals with this overall apostasy from the only correct biblical perspective — an ever-increasing departure from “the faith” as the dispensation progresses, with this departure being brought to completion at the end of the dispensation (Matthew 13:33).