I am ashamed to say that I chuckle every time I see the commercial for the emergency alert button that signals for help for a fallen senior. Jay Leno, and other comedians have turned the cry, "Help me, I've fallen and I can't get up" into a catch-phrase for anyone who fails at something. Good examples are the banking and automotive industries during the recent economic collapse. However, someone falling down or failing at something is never as serious as when a person "falls from their faith." The Apostle Paul spoke of "falling away" in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, which says, "Let no man deceive you by any means: for [that day shall not come], except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." The Greek word translated here as "falling away" is the same word from which we get the word, "apostasy."
Apostasy, from the Greek ἀποστασία (apostasia), is defined as a "defection" or "revolt," and comes from the roots ἀπό, (apo) "away" or "apart", and στάσις (stasis) "stand" or "standing." This is not an accidental slip; it is the willful disaffiliation from, abandonment of, or renunciation of a religion by a person. Apostasy is generally not a self-definition, as very few former believers call themselves apostates due to the pejorative implications of the term.
In the parables found in Matthew Thirteen, the Church is described as having within it, those who are not possessors of true faith, but who are merely professors of faith. Examples are the tares among the wheat (v. 24-30; 36-43), the birds in the branches of the "mustard tree" (v. 31-32), the leaven in the meal (v. 33), and the "bad fish" in the net (v. 47-50). Jesus had this to say about these folks in Matthew 7:21-23: "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 (believe on Him - Jn. 6:29). 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?' And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity."
In the last years before Christ shall return, the Church will consist of the "Church of Philadelphia" and the "Church of Laodicea" (Rev. 3:7-22). Both will be described as being removed: one will be "caught up to be with Lord in the clouds" (1 Thes. 4:13-18; Rev. 3:10), and the other will be pictured as existing apart from the faith, with Christ standing on the outside trying to get in (Rev. 3:20). Those depicted as being of the "Church of Philadelphia" will be "caught away" in the Rapture, and those described as being of the "Laodicean Church" will remain, having themselves "fallen away." What follows is the seven years of the Tribulation.
To be continued, Lord willing!