***As of 12/3/16, this is a brand new post which I’m currently in the process of editing, and will be under development until further notice. Please check back later! This notice will be removed upon completion, and I would highly suggest waiting until then before begging to read. Thank you for your patience!***
“And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, AND THEY KNOW NOT ME, SAITH THE LORD“-Jeremiah 9:3
As I begin this composition today, it’s been over 2,000 years since the first advent of Jesus Christ, the Jewish Messiah, Son of God, and Savior of the World; just shy of 500 years since the sparks of the protestant reformation; and additionally, about 400 years since my country America’s inception. And while on the surface these events may seem unrelated, they are in actuality, respectively speaking, the result of one another; the latter not being possible without the former.
Each of these revolutionary milestones in history correspond not only with a major outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but were also the result of people who were zealous for the truth and doing what’s right no matter the cost; willing to risk it all, even to the extent of laying down their lives. Such selfless sacrifices which epitomize these periods reflect a power that’s found only in true Biblical-Christianity, namely to cause cultural, political, and religious change for good (i.e. the true and lasting fruits of peace, liberty, equality, equity, justice, fraternity, prosperity, etc.) and therefore represent the pinnacle of Godliness in Christ and should serve as examples to us, ever kept in remembrance.
And yet, while there has between these milestones no doubt been “ebbing and flowing” to one degree or another, with revivals here and periods of darkness there: today the Church of Jesus Christ finds itself in a most precarious spiritual condition.
The Bible indeed makes perfectly clear that there would come a time, specifically during the final events of human history (and which would ultimately culminate in the literal return of Christ) when the church as a whole would fall into gross spiritual darkness and heresy. The purpose of this exposition will be chiefly twofold: firstly, to examine what the scriptures have to say about this period, and secondly, how we, striving to be men and women “after God’s own heart” (Acts 13:22) are to respond in conducting our lives.
What Saith the Scriptures (Could The Majority Really be Wrong?)
Lets start by examining what the scriptures have to say regarding this subject. Is it seriously a sound Biblical notion that there would come a time when the majority of those who profess to worship The One True God would be self-deceived, actually walking contrary to His Word, and thus on their way to hell; while those worshiping in “spirit and in truth” (Jn. 4:24) would be few in number?
We shall set the stage by seeing what we may glean from 2 Thessalonians 2. The apostle Paul starts by setting the context in v.1 as concerning the period of “The coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him“. We know that this is referring to the 2nd coming and the “rapture” which occur at the end of the world (see post “The Rapture, Pre-trib. or Post-trib. or Mid-trib?) as it was discussed in his previous epistle to this particular church, specifically in 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. He goes on in v.3 to state that these events would not happen until their was a first a “falling away.” The underlying Greek there, “apostasia“, from where we our word “apostasy”, is defined by Strong’s Concordance to mean a “defection from truth“, and is likewise defined in Thayer’s Greek Lexicon, which adds to it: “in the Bible sc.[(namely)] from the true religion“. So we know that prior to the Lord’s return from heaven for His bride there will be a defection form the truth. And he’s obviously not talking about pagans and atheists, as in order to “fall away” they would have had to have possessed the truth to begin with, so we know this must regard the Church. But in any case, this will be confirmed as we continue along and search out the scriptures. The second condition to the Lord’s coming, stated in the same verse, is that the “man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition“. It’s logical to assume that these two factors be connected based on the way they’re expressed in the same sentence. And as it turns out the great expositors of the Bible understood this to be so based on history, and attributed those titles to no other than the professed head of one of the world’s largest deonominations of Christianity:
(See also my exposition “Using the Bible to Identify Antichrist“)
Two churches: Woman of Revelation 12 & her of ch 17
rev 22:14 = key to Matt. 7:13-15
The Church Today (Lessons From the Field)
You know, it’s ironic, growing up it seemed to me that religion was only for “old ladies”. It was assumed that they were closer to God and holy. But in light of the situation observed from experience, could it be the reason that religion seems only to appeal to old ladies is because it’s not the true religion? Surely a true relationship with the creator should be powerful, very real, and appeal to all of His created beings for which purpose He made them.
As those who are familiar with my testimony will know, I did not grow up religious or “in the church”. I was saved 4 years ago, and prior to this, my life was the epitome of worldliness, debauchery, heathenism, paganism, etc. Yet, for whatever reason, it pleased the Lord to reveal Himself to me in bringing salvation and transforming me into a yielded vessel, for His purposes, not because of any righteousness or desires of my own. To those with “eyes to see and ears to hear” it will be evident that the Lord has a special calling on my life. Not because I’m special, but because the Lord wanted to do something special through me that He may be glorified. I believe one of the major reasons the Lord wanted to work with me was specifically because I had no religious upbringing, as the church by and large for at least the last 50 years has been filled with superstition and traditions of men contrary to the Word of God (more on that later.) This allowed God a clean slate to work with. As the saying goes, “old habits die hard”, or “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” No doubt those who’ve been taught something as true all their life, regardless of it’s veracity, will have a hard time believing to the contrary, especially if it’s inconvenient and requires us to examine our lives and make difficult changes in lifestyle.
My experience over the last 4 years in being a witness, sharing my testimony, and the Gospel with as many people as possible, has been that generally speaking, “religious” people are less receptive to pure Bible-based faith than non-professing Christians who have never known the Lord.
The last person the Lord put in my life, who was a woman in her 70’s, a Roman Catholic most of her life, illustrates the typical response. While she did state that she had her doubts that Peter was the “first pope”, in general I got a lot of resistance to what I had to say, and ultimately we had to agree not to discuss religious matters anymore. I really started to get negative responses when I starting elucidating the pagan practices which have crept into the church under the guise of “Christmas” etc. I spoke with her for hours, so it should have become quite apparent my knowledge of the scriptures, and that what I was speaking was truth. At one point she even acknowledged this stating “I haven’t been able to investigate these matters to the depth you have”.
But then I started getting responses such as, “I’m too old to change”. In retrospect I think, wait a minute, you’re still alive, why maintain practices based on falsehood and remain in error, especially if it’s at enmity with God? What’s more important, nostalgia or truth? Sounds like complacency to me.
Then came resistance with statements such as “well doesn’t everyone have the right to worship how they want?”. To which I replied, of course, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s pleasing in the eyes of the Lord or that it’s not contrary to true salvation.
But then I eventually started getting charges against me suggesting I was the problem such as “it’s to bad you didn’t have some sort of foundation for your faith growing up”. To which I replied, the scripture says twice that the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and we shall have no need that man teach us. Then I was charged with “More people would become Christians if we were joyful”. But certainly this isn’t Biblical, the scriptures make clear that we shall be hated for his name sake, all that live Godly in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted, the servant is not greater than his master, for so persecuted the prophets of old. I also tried to remind her that Christians are called to also be confrontational and contend for the truth. I mean besides, how can truly have joy when the Lord commands we worship him in spirit and truth but we’re doing to the contrary. And the irony was she was herself in the depths of depression and mouring when she should have been rejoicing that her husband half a year before went to be with the Lord. Something clearly wasn’t right, and yet I was accused of not having joy because I wasn’t just “burying my head in the sand” and pretending everything is okay when it’s not. The scriptures say we are to warn all men. The principal is simple, let’s get right with God, secure our status in Christ and know that we’re living lives well pleasing in His sight, and THEN we truly will be able to rejoice and have peace, and it will be regardless of external circumstances, hardships, and trials. But just because we expose darkness, and have to discuss weighty and “non-happy” issues as the Bible commands, doesn’t mean we don’t still have joy!
So then I tried reading her from Ezekiel 33 in explaining my purpose, where it talks about the watchmen, and the principle is essentially established that if a person sees another in sin and warns them not, their error will be charged on him. And before I could even get through the verses she cuts me off and replies “you know that was to Israel right?” I tried explaining to her that God is the same yesterday today and forever, and it’s the principle that’s established with which we’re concerned, and even quoted similair passages from the new testament as well as sought to explain what changed old-new testament. But of course I could tell she wasn’t even really listening or considering what I was saying.
She also stated at one point “you know you’re going to be awfully lonely in heaven if you’re right”, I tried explaining to her, it’s not about me being right, or you/others being wrong; it’s about what does God say and require of us. And then finally I heard sentiments expressed such as “I’m tired of hearing that I’m wrong, and condemnation” and “You’re trying to destroy my faith and it’s all I have left”. Well for one thing I certainly never condemned anyone, my intention in Christ is to help and am very passionate about it, and I tried to explain to her that to the contrary is true, the spirit of God through me is seeking to refine and purify her faith and destroy the idols of the foundation that she may have a true relationship with Him and actually have joy and peace. And later reflecting on the former statement I realized that she was essentially precluding the possibility of her being wrong. Well, what’s wrong with being wrong? Especially if it leads to discovering the truth and drawing closer to God. And of course she had not been and refused to be spending time in the Word of God at all, but expressed “I do have a relationship with God I go to church 3 times a week.”