The Seeds of Apostasy
Now we know that no religious movement ever fell to the bottom all at once. The greatest apostasy of them all that led to the establishment of the Roman Catholic hierarchy came by a gradual process and was 260 years in developing, even after it got a good start, and the leaven of it was working actively but gradually for a long time before that.
But stop at any point in that gradual decline and apostasy from the original spirituality and glory of the early church and name any one thing that was coming in, and it by itself would appear to be of too little consequence to be worthy of much attention, let alone create a controversy. This would be especially true in the first stages of the decline, because such things always start on very minor points. After apostasy is farther advanced and the darkness in men’s souls increased and their conscience becomes more seared, then they can take bigger steps at one time without any conviction. But they have to be conditioned for those bigger things, and the devil knows he could not impose the big things at first while there is still a lot of light in the soul and a considerable degree of spirituality and divine power and blessings manifest in the movement. He must begin with very minor points that appear so insignificant as to be absurd and work up to bigger things later on. The apostasy in the Evening Light Reformation movement is no exception to this rule but has followed the general pattern of all before it, beginning with only minor points and working on into the bigger things later on. But perhaps the apostasy in this movement has been the most rapid of any before it. This should cause us to stop and take notice, because this certainly indicates a general condition existing in the world and in the hearts of men which makes it easier for the people to accept these things and for the devil to push them in upon the people. No reformation before this one has ever fallen so far in such a short time. This should certainly cause us to fear to take the first step in that direction.
But, even though the first steps were small and insignificant, those first fruits of it are a part of it the same as the later fruits are a part of it. The little minor points on which it started are as much an important part of it as the bigger things that came later. Without the little things, there never could have been the bigger things. Little drops of water make the mighty ocean. Little grains of dirt make this great earth. And a conglomerate accumulation of little things make a great apostasy, the result of which is a fallen movement. I will now notice some scriptures in God’s Word directed to the ministry and I notice them here for a definite purpose. Let me put it this way: A minister’s right to speak is a priceless treasure. Without it, he becomes useless as a minister and overseer of the flock of God and a watchman on the wall to warn of approaching danger. The scriptures given along this line are all aimed at protecting the minister’s right to speak in any and all points. Note the following scriptures on this line.
“The husbandman that laboreth must be first partaker of the fruits.” (2 Timothy 2:6,7 )
“Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine showing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, sound speech that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” (Titus 2:7,8)
“Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.” (1 Peter 5:3)
One can see at a glance that the objective of all these scriptures and others along this line which could be produced, is to protect the minister’s right to speak in any matter that arises. He is commanded to be an example in all things so that he may have a right to speak in all things and to “reprove, rebuke, and exhort,” (2 Timothy 4:2) with effectiveness.
When Paul was giving instructions to the church at Thessalonica, he paused to remind them: “Ye are witnesses, and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:10) And as a result of that, he was able to record this result from his preaching to them: “When ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” (1 Thessalonians 2:13) His preaching and teaching was effective and fruitful among them because his behavior among them gave him a right to speak in their own eyes.
This same writer says “And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.” (2 Corinthians 10:6) This makes it plain that we have no right to speak against the disobedience of another if we ourselves are disobedient on some point and not fulfilling all righteousness ourselves.