Apostasy in Protestant Churches
Rev. Angus Stewart
Today, as in the days of Elijah, Isaiah, and Jesus, much of
that which is called "church" is dead or dying. Huge swathes of Protestantism
are so spiritually blind that they do not see Rome as a false church.
Apostatising clerics are busy undermining the gospel of Christ by ecumenical
relations with Rome.
The heresy of free will condemned in the creeds of
Presbyterians, Congregationalists, Baptist and Anglicans is preached in many
pulpits. One would think that Martin Luther had never said that free will lay at
the heart of the Reformation struggle.
Office-bearers swear to uphold church confessions that they
do not believe or have not read. Sometimes they do not even own a copy. False
teachers are, of course, no strange thing in instituted churches (II Peter 2:1)
but the proliferation of women ministers, elders, deacons and missionaries is
unprecedented in 2,000 years of the New Testament church. You can be absolutely
sure that Jesus Christ did not call them to these offices (I Tim. 2:12).
Historic Protestantism teaches that true churches are
identified by certain marks: (1) faithful, expository preaching; (2) proper
observance of the two sacraments, including supervision by elders; (3)
discipline of those who maintain false doctrines or live ungodly; (4) spiritual
worship regulated by Scripture.
Most professing Christians today join or remain in churches
for very different reasons: it is my nearest church; my family have always
worshipped there; I chose this church because it has lots of youth activities.
However, a Christian must be a member of a church for God’s sake and for no one
else’s. This means he must seek God’s glory in a church where Christ is present
in biblical preaching, sacraments, discipline and worship. Church membership for
any other reason is idolatry.
No wonder much of the professing church is characterised by
ignorance rather than the knowledge of God; apathy rather than zeal; worldliness
rather than the communion of the saints; irreverence rather than the fear of
God; entertainment rather than the message of Christ crucified.
At all this the heart of the believer grieves. What is
happening the church? But it is "not as though the word of God hath taken none
effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel" (Rom. 9:6). Rather,
"the election hath obtained [salvation] and the rest were blinded," for "God
hath given them the spirit of slumber" (Rom. 11:6-7). The Most High uses false
teachers and false doctrine to put people to sleep spiritually, and it is these
blind and ignorant "watchmen," these "dumb dogs" that "cannot bark" (Isa.
56:10), who are most to blame.