Dr. Jeremiah discusses the aspect of Apostasy as one of the signs of the End Times, in his book Where Do We Go From Here? He defines apostasy as a falling away from the faith, abandoning one’s faith in Jesus Christ. This term applies singularly to those who professed to be Christians, who proclaimed to follow Christ but then turned his backs on Him. It is a spiritual turning away, from previously held beliefs.
The striking thing that Dr. Jeremiah speaks about, is that these individuals were never saved in the first place. So, the apostate, the one who turned their back on their faith, who claimed to be a believer, was not saved and then lost his/her salvation. No, they were never saved in the first place. (Dr. Jeremiah, 2021)
Apostasy is Not Atheism
Please note, apostasy is not the same thing as atheism. An atheist has never believed in God, and in fact, believes in nothing. As Dr. Jeremiah states, “every apostate is an unbeliever but not every unbeliever is an apostate.” (Dr. Jeremiah, 2021)
I see apostasy as a rebellion against God. Just as some children rebel against their parents, their teaching, their rules, their expectations, etc., some ‘believers’ rebel against God’s teaching, rules, expectations, and so on. They don’t want to follow what the scripture dictates, for they love the world and the perceived ‘freedom’ and ‘rewards’ the world offers. These people are deceived, for all these things are temporary and carry no eternal value. It is a lie that they have accepted as truth. They are eternally damned.
Apostasy – Areas of Denial or Rejection by Apostates
Scripture talks about two critical areas of apostasy. They are the denial of God and the denial of Christ. But there is also the denial of Christ’s return and the denial of faith itself.
1. Apostasy is Denial of God
Apostates will deny that God even exists. Despite having spent time in the church, having read the word of God, and even professing a faith, they have come to the conclusion that there is no God. Usually, they are deceived by ‘teachers’ who teach such things, whose lies appeal to their perception of the world, and who are drawn to worldly things. That is because they are in truth, an unbeliever. Such teaching satisfies some inner desires and translates to a different belief. Although the denial of God may be the final step of an individual traveling the path of apostasy, it is the most significant.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
1But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. 2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, 4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people. (Jesus Bible)
2. Apostasy is Denial of Christ
Just as apostates deny the existence of God, they also deny the existence of Christ. Although they cannot deny that he existed, history books, written by both believers and non-believers, are filled with references to a very real person, who walked the earth. What apostates deny is that he is the Son of God. They may refer to him as a good teacher or even a prophet, which even the Muslims do, but that is all. They do not believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Remember, an apostate is not an atheist.
1 John 4:3
3 but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (Jesus Bible)
Commentary from MacArthur Study Bible Notes NIV
A reference in the above verse talks about the spirit of the antichrist. This refers to false teachers who denied the true nature of the Son (Jesus Christ) and therefore are to be identified among the antichrists in John 2:18, 19. The same demonic deception that will work to produce the final world ruler who rules as the false Christ is always actively seeking to distort Jesus Christ’s true nature, perverting the gospel.
The final Antichrist will not be something new but will be the ultimate embodiment of all the antichrist spirits that have perverted truth and propagated satanic lies since the beginning. This is similar to 2Th 2:3–8, where the man of lawlessness (Antichrist) is still to be revealed, but the mystery of lawlessness is already at work. (MacArthur Study Bible Notes NIV)
3. Apostasy is Denial of Christ’s Return
The Word of God is filled with prophecy after prophecy about the return of Christ, in the last days leading up to the End Times. In fact, Biblical Scholars have identified 1,845 different biblical references to Jesus’ second return. In the Old Testament, seventeen books mention Christ’s return, and in the New Testament, 23 of the 27 books speak to it. (DavidJeremiah Blog) An individual who denies the return of Christ is denying the truth of Scripture. But, if you’ve made the leap to denying that God exists, I suppose this is an easy step.
2 Peter 3:3-4
Above all, you must understand that in the last days’ scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” (Jesus Bible)
4. Apostasy is Denial of Faith
Here, we discover that the Bible warns against the denial of one’s faith. Jude was warning against the arrival of apostate teachers, who were teaching the denial of faith. This will happen in the last days as well, and may well be happening right now. There are many ‘teachers’ in the world, who teach everything but faith in God. They teach about the self, how to improve one’s self; how to rise above the problems of the world through self-promotion; and encourage their followers to turn from the truth of God to the lies of Satan. Although, they may not use those terms, for that would reveal their hand, but rather they say the things that stroke people’s egos, make them feel good about themselves, and approve of whatever they want to do, no matter how damaging it may be.
Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord. (Jesus Bible)
In the end, what this means is a rebellion against God, by those who had professed to know him, to have had faith and walked in God’s light. The only conclusion I can draw is that such individuals, apostates, never were true believers. They lived as pretenders and never did see the light of truth.
Although much of this level of apostasy will be rampant in the last days that lead up to the End Times, we can already see their shadows creeping into the world today.
Dr. David Jeremiah, 2021. Where Do We Go From Here?
DavidJeremaiah Blog. The Bible Predicts Jesus’ Return
MacArthur, J. THE MACARTHUR STUDY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION Copyright © 2013 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. All rights reserved. (MacArthur Study Bible Notes NIV)