Partial Apostasy

Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
~ Matthew 5:13

But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions;
~ Hebrews 10:32

Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
~ Matthew 7:21-22

God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
~ Hebrews 2:4

The Nature of Apostasy From the Profession of the Gospel, and the Punishment of Apostates Declared, In An Exposition of Hebrews VI 4-6; With an Inquiry into the Causes and Reasons of the Decay of the Tower of Religion in the World, Or the Present General Defection from the Truth, Holiness, and Worship of the Gospel; Also of the Proneness of Churches and Persons of All Sorts Unto Apostasy, With Remedies and Means of Prevention, by John Owen.

The following contains an excerpt from his work.

Chapter II.

Partial apostasy from the gospel—Pretences of the church of Rome against the charge of this evil examined and rejected.

Apostasy from the gospel is either total or partial. Of the former we have treated in a high and signal instance. When men wilfully and maliciously (for they cannot do it wilfully but they must do it maliciously) renounce Jesus Christ as a seducer and malefactor, going over in their suffrage* unto the Jews, by whom he was crucified, they enter into that part of hell and darkness which properly constitutes this sin. It were well for such persons if their guilt had no other aggravation than theirs who actually ” with wicked hands slew him, and hanged him on a tree.” But rising up unto a contempt of all the means of conviction and evidences of truth that God will grant us in this world, they cast themselves without that line of divine mercy and pardon which some of the others were encompassed withal. So is it with many at this day in the world, who with wicked hearts and blinded minds, in the pursuit of carnal lusts, voluntarily and obstinately embrace Mohammedanism, with an open renunciation of Christ and the gospel. Unto such persons there is nothing left but ” a fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation which shall devour the adversaries’ Not that I would cast all persons who may be actually hurried into this abomination under the same dreadful doom, seeing the case in general will admit of many circumstantial differences, if not altering the nature of the crime, yet disposing of things unto various events. Not only surprisals by mighty temptations, with dread and terror, so shaking the powers of nature as to intercept the influence of light and convictions of truth, do claim an exemption from a decretory determination under this sentence; but other cases may also be attended with some such alleviating circumstances as, preserving their minds and souls from wilful malice, leave room for the exercise of sovereign grace.

I myself knew one, yea, was conversant with him, and assisting of him in the concerns of his soul, who in the Indies turned Mohammedan, was actually initiated by circumcision into their superstition, and lived in its outward practice a year or two, who yet was sincerely recovered unto repentance, and died in the faith of the Son of God.

Partial apostasy is every crime against the gospel which partakes of the nature of the other in any measure or degree ; and whatever doth so makes an accession towards the guilt of ” crucifying the Son of God afresh, and putting him to an open shame ” for it is in his gospel and church alone wherein he can now suffer from the sons of; men. When any important principle of evangelical truth is forsaken and renounced, especially when many of them are so; when the rule of obedience which the gospel prescribeth is habitually neglected when men believe otherwise than it teacheth, and live otherwise than it requireth,—there is a partial apostasy from it, whose guilt and danger answer the degrees and measures which in each kind it proceeds unto.

And this is that which we may charge, yea, which the Lord Christ in his word doth charge, on every nation under heaven where the gospel is publicly professed. Men are apt to please themselves, to approve of their own state and condition, wherein they have framed unto themselves rest and satisfaction. Churches content themselves with their outward order and administrations, especially when ac- companied with secular advantages, and contend fiercely that all is well, and the gospel sufficiently complied withal, whilst their outward constitution is preserved and their laws of order kept inviolate. About these is the world filled with endless digladiations, wherein the most aim at no more but success in their especial contests. Only a few remain who fruitlessly complain that, under all these conflicts, the glory, power, and purity of Christian religion are lost in the world. And it is known that the judgment of Christ concerning churches, as unto their good or bad spiritual estate, is ofttimes very distant from their own concerning themselves. It was not only for their sakes, but as a warning unto all others in all ages, that it is entered on an everlasting record, that when the church of Laodicea judged and declared without hesitation that she was ” rich, and increased with goods, and had need of nothing,” the Lord Christ, ” the Amen, the faithful and true witness/’ pronounced her ” wretched, and miser- able, and poor, and blind, and naked/” That things at this day are in no better a condition in many, in most churches in the world, is too evident to be denied with any pretence of reverence to the word of God, and it will be afterward made to appear.

Certainly the Lord Christ may say to the churches and nations among whom his name is yet owned in the world, what God said of old concerning that of the Jews, then his only church, “I had planted thee a noble vine, wholly a right seed : how then art thou turned into the degenerate plant of a wild vine unto me?” Jer. ii. 21. Yea, to most of them as in another place, ” How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers. Thy silver is become dross, thy wine mixed with water,” Isa. i. 21, 22. The greatness of the evil complained of, the secret mystery of its accomplishment, the unreasonableness, folly, and ingratitude of the fact, the strangeness of the event, make the complaint to be formed into a scheme of admiration. And, indeed, if a man be able to consider the nature of the gospel, with the benefits communicated thereby unto mankind, he cannot but be astonished to find the generality of them to be so soon weary of it, and so ready on all occasions to relinquish it; for as future glory and a blessed immortality are attainable only thereby, so all that true freedom, tranquillity, peace, and blessedness, whereof our nature in this life is capable, are by no other means communicable unto the souls of men. In brief, whatever is of advantage in any gracious communication from God unto us,—without which we are nothing but the very worst and most malignant product of sin and misery,—it is all confined unto the gospel and the contents thereof. Wherefore, the carelessness of men in neglecting of it, their wickedness in its relinquishment as to its principles and obedience, may well be expressed as God doth in the inferior instance of the apostasy of the Jewish church: Jer. ii. 11, 12, ” Hath a nation changed their gods, which are yet no gods? but my people have changed their glory for that which doth not profit. Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the Lord.”