Summary: To establish that the Holy Spirit predicted a “departure from the faith” that resulted in religious apostasy and the rise of denominational institutions throughout the world. This lesson describes the failures and successes of the Reformation Movement.
1. The Retraction Movement
2. The Reformation Movement
3. The Restoration Movement
1. In this lesson we will be discussing the theme: “The Departure from the Faith.” It should be noted that Paul begins our lesson describing “the retraction movement” or “the departure from the faith!” It should also be noted, that, before there could be a “departure from the faith”; there must have been first, an “establishment of the faith.” One must belong, before they could departure. It should also be understood – that Paul called this movement, “the faith.”
2. First, we will consider the “retraction movement” or the “departure from the faith.” The word “retraction” means to depart, retreat or leave behind.” The Spirit predicts a “departure from the faith.” Let’s be clear here, the prediction is a “departure from the faith.” The idea here is leaving the “One Faith,” Ephesians 4:4-6. This “retraction” will be a desertion from the “truth”; to embrace the “doctrines of devils; lies and hypocrisy” that are opposed to “the faith.” This departure would be led by men whose “consciences have been sheered with a hot iron.” Lead teachers, preachers and leaders whose minds “have been branded by the evil one.”
3. Second, we will address the “reformation movement” or man’s attempt to “return to the faith” as outlined in the New Testament. This movement began and continued from AD 1513 to AD 1809; these dates are merely estimates. The movement’s faith is noted as beginning with “Martin Luther” in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther was a Roman Catholic priest, and found problem with its religious practices and started a rebellion that lasted nearly three hundred years. Martin Luther attempted to reform the Catholic denomination. He was followed by many others religious leaders whose intentions were honest and good – but, could not obtain “unity of their cause”; which was guided by the “thinking and reasoning of men.” Every denomination that exist today; is a spin off from the “reformation movement,” that began by Martin Luther and others. Instead of true “reformation,” it created confusion to “the faith”; concealing the truth, rather than illuminating it to the world. These men were in truth, “the blind leading the blind,” Matthew 15:14. They neither sought the real light, which illuminates from the word of God, Psalms 119:105.
4. Finally, we will investigate the “restoration movement” or the work of faithful men to bring believers back to the bible and to “the faith.” The movement was happening throughout the world – and not just in America. It was called by some “the Great Awakening.” Honest and sincere men and women were seeking for the “truth which is after godliness,” Titus 1:1-3. It exploded in America around the early 1800s and has continued unto this day. This period gave birth to men of faith such as, “Barton W. Stone, ‘Raccoon’ John Smith, James O’Kelly, Thomas and Alexander Campbell”; just to mention a few. We will highlight the difference between these two movements. The one, “reformation movement” attempted to reform existing religions; the other “restoration movement” sought to restore the faith and practices of the New Testament; “that faith once delivered unto the saints,” Jude 3; Ephesians 4:4. With this introduction, let’s consider our first point, “the Retraction Movement.”
BODY OF LESSON
I THE RETRACTION MOVEMENT
A. Mystery of Godliness. The apostle Paul begins his discussion of this “retraction” or “departure” after defining the “mystery of godliness.” Notice: “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory,” 1 Timothy 3:16.
1. Here he speaks of the unifying teaching of the Spirit concerning the “mystery of godliness.” The Holy Spirit which revealed the truth, speaks now of a departure from the faith, John 16:13.
2. He then notes this same Spirit that “justified Christ” now speaks of this “departure from the faith.” The word departure, in Gr: “aphistemi” means “a falling away, to apostatize,” Luke 8:13; 1 Timothy 4:1; Hebrews 3:12.
3. Paul had warned the Galatians of such a departure, Galatians 1:6-12. He thought it very strange that these “new babies” in Christ were on the immediate verge of “departing from the grace of God; unto another gospel, which is not another.”
4. He admonished the elders at Miletus to be on guard for this departure, Acts 20:17-32. Paul instructs them that some: “shall arise from among them to draw away disciples unto themselves.”
5. Paul repeats this “warning” in his second Letter to Timothy, 2 Timothy 4:1-5. He charges the young evangelist to:
a. Preach the word “in and out of seasons;” when they want it and when they don’t want it.
b. That the “time will come they (the church) will not endure sound doctrine; or they will no longer desire ‘sound doctrine’ or the ‘truth’ to be preached unto them.”