A Final Warning
Mat 5:14 "Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid."
Mat 5:13 " Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted (what shall it salt)? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men"
A few years back, I did a study about apostasy which you might want to read first. It can be found here. One of the things I opined about was that while apostasy was on the rise, it was still going to get worse, and that we had not yet arrived at "the GREAT apostasy" spoken of by Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2.
However, events of just the past two years have convinced me that we have indeed arrived at that stage of great apostasy. What follows here is not so much a study, but a commentary on current events in relation to scripture, and ends with a final warning.
Paul wrote to the Thessalonians that he did not want them to be "ignorant" (or unlearned, unsuspecting, void of knowledge) about the Day of Christ. Most particularly, he did not want them to be open to deception by the words and acts of men. He then proceeded to specify, very clearly, two events that would occur BEFORE the day of Christ would arrive, BEFORE the "great and terrible day of the Lord (Joel 2) would begin. These events would not be concurrent (occurring simultaneously), but consecutive, the first event being the fertile soil that would make possible the second event.
2Th 2:3 "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;"
We see that the first event is "a falling away." As pointed out in my other study, falling away is not adequate to express the full meaning and intent of apostasia. Apostasy is a willing decision to turn away from revealed truth, and follow a course that is counter to that revealed truth. One doesn't become "apostate" out of ignorance, or by making a mistake, but by making a volitional choice to do the opposite, to reject completely the truth that has been revealed.
Apostasy is nothing new in the history of mankind. Any time there has been an advance in man's understanding of God and His will, there has been some degree of apostasy, defection, turning away. Right after men "began to call on the name of the LORD...", all flesh began to corrupt their way. Right after the covenant of God with Noah, the builders of Babel shook their fists at heaven and decided to climb up themselves. God made a covenant with Abraham, and his seed corrupted themselves in Egypt. God revealed Himself by leading them out of Egypt, setting them free, leading them through the wilderness, and they turned back to golden idols while Moses was on the mountain. By the time the first generation of Israelites had enjoyed their new found land of Canaan and passed away, their children turned away from their Deliverer and began worshipping Baal. God made a covenant with David, and David's seed turned to other gods.
Within a few short years of the ultimate revelation of God to man, the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the church that He founded was rife with apostasy, and that apostasy has continued throughout the centuries.
However, Paul used a word that is highly significant, even though miniscule. "A". A falling away. Here, as a definite article, Paul is not referring to apostasy in general, as we have historically seen....instead, he is referring to "the" falling away, a defection unparalled in history.
Let's begin by establishing what the revealed truth is; that is being rejected by ever increasing numbers of people.
Hbr 1:1 "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time
past unto the fathers by the prophets,
Hbr 1:2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;"
God, for 1500+ years, communicated to mankind about Himself. He revealed Himself in nature (Romans 1-2), He spoke through the prophets, and finally came into this world as a man, Jesus of Nazareth. That the truth of His communication and revelation is real is easily verifiable through recorded history, archaeology and geology.
2Ti 3:16 "All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:"
God further tells us that all scripture is inspired by Him, and as we examine what has come to us as scripture, we can easily find that in it there is no variation and no conflict. It is in that scripture that we see the central focus of literally everything that is said and done, and that focus is (at the risk of oversimplifying):
- God is Holy, perfect, and righteous, and His judgment is true and without
- Man is sinful, and separated from God by that sin.
- The wages of sin is death (eternal separation from God).
- God gave Himself to pay the price of sin so that mankind has the opportunity to be restored to a relationship with Him.
- Jesus paid that price.
- If we (mankind) accept that payment on our behalf, and believe it, we are restored (born-again).
- If we reject it, we remain in sin, and thus separated from God.
All of these things are contained in what we call the Bible, the Word of God. It is made up of 66 books, written by 40 men who listened to what God said, and recorded it for us. It was written down over a period of roughly 1600 years, and in that 1600 years managed to maintain a consistency of purpose and theme that is unparalled in any other book or collection of books. It is responsible for changing more lives, inspiring more poetry, writing and music, more plays and operas and more art than any other book or collection of books ever has. The main person of the Bible, Jesus of Nazareth, has inspired more people than any other person known in history. The Bible has been printed in more languages than any other book, and has easily sold more copies than any other book. No part of the Bible has ever been found to be false.
And yet...mankind continues to reject that Word of God, to alter it to suit their own distorted fancies, and to corrupt the clear meaning of it. It is in this alteration, this corruption, that we find not just the seed of apostasy, but the clear and unequivocal manifestation of that apostasy.
The Word of God, the Bible, is the revealed TRUTH of God, and is not subject to manipulation, individual interpretation as to what it "really" says, or easy dismissal. To do so is to put oneself in the place of God, to make determination as to what is good or not, what is to be done or not, what is right and what is wrong.
If we don't like what the Word of God says, then we have a problem...not God. Yet it is happening more and more, and the end result is a steady decline in social morality that has not been seen before.
While many may proclaim loudly that morality is relative, or that we aren't as bad as the Romans, or Hittites, or (fill in your own favorite), the evidence clearly refutes that. First, morality is NOT relative. If God declares something as wrong, then it is wrong...no matter where you are, no matter who you are, no matter what the circumstances are, no matter the time you live in. Wrong is wrong. But in todays society, everything is suddenly relative. Truth is what is true for you (today). Tomorrow it might not be true. THINK, people. If something is "true" today, but not tomorrow, how could it have ever been truth? Truth is something that is immutable, that is ALWAYS true.
The truth of the "saltiness" of the Church is found in the society that Church is a part of. If the Church is indeed being a preservative, then the moral tenor of the society will reflect that. If the Church is being a light, then the darkness of sin is kept at bay. However, when the Church is NOT doing it's job, when the Church is NOT holding fast to the Truth of God, then society reflects that also, by going ahead and doing what it wanted to do to begin with-rebel more and more against God and His immutable truth.Isa. 5:30 in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if [one] look unto the land, behold darkness [and] sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
To show the extent of the darkness that prevails in our land, and grows daily, I have collected just a few of the daily reports of degradation and decline that is affecting society - not just in the US, but around the world.
Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich arrested for attempting to sell the senate seat being vacated by Obama.
Senator Larry Craig arrested for soliciting sex with a man.
Senatorial aide arrested for soliciting sex with a minor.
According to New American Media, corruption is widespread in the governments of the world, ranging from vote-buying in India to "Mr. Ten-Percent," nickname for Pakistani President Zardarwi.
Three San Diego Commissioners and four from Clark County, Nev. charged with corruption.
St Tammany Parish (Louisiana) councilmember Joe Impastato pleads guilty to extorting $50,000 in awarding a post-Katrina clean-up deal.
Congressman's brother charged with bribery in school software probe. The congressman is himself charged in a 15-count indictment involving corrupt business dealings in Kentucky and Africa.
These few recent headlines do not even begin to reflect the daily reports of local politicians caught using resources for their own betterment, or brokering deals resulting in gain for themselves.
Media (Books, Movies)
A filmmaker who recently released an independent project about a formula that turns all heterosexuals into "gays" now has announced he's working on in which "God" ordains homosexuality as the better lifestyle.
"There are many different versions of the Bible; I don't see why we can't have one," stated Max Mitchell in a statement on a website for his new project.
The "gay Bible," produced by the New Mexico-based Revision Studios, states God instructs "it is better to be gay than straight."
Newsweek: Bible supports same-sex marriage In a cover story Newsweek magazine declares "religious conservatives" have been wrong all along-because the Bible supports same-sex marriage.
Fox and Comedy Central promote decline in religious devotion by showing God in bed with a woman (Family Guy, Sarah Silverman Program).
Sexual laxity and promiscuity promoted heavily with Two and a half Men "comedy."
Several cable channels introduce gay-themed programs, while major networks use story lines in continuing series to promote homosexuality and promiscuity.
"Wardrobe malfunctions" gleefully shown on major media networks.
Words and curses bleeped out 5 years ago are now in common usage in prime-time shows.
"God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience. If your religion is a believing experience... that's not truly God," she says. "How can there be only one way to heaven or to God?" When asked by a woman in the audience, "What about Jesus?" Oprah responded, "What about Jesus? There couldn't possibly be one way." Oprah Winfrey.
While the media in general proclaims that they are only "reporting" or "reflecting" the mores and concerns of society, polls indicate that the majority of Americans do NOT agree with the reporting and depictions made by the media, both news and entertainment. Over 80% of Americans believe that society is morally declining, and place the blame for that decline squarely upon the various segments of the media.
A public school teacher in Mississippi marked down an eleven-year-old's Christmas poem assignment and told the boy to rewrite it because he used the word "Jesus," which, the instructor explained, is a name not allowed in school.
Seven Christian students in Quebec have been handed suspensions – and could face expulsions – for refusing to participate in a new mandatory Ethics and Religious Culture course that, according to a critic, is a "superficial mishmash of trendy theoretical platitudes" with the goal of convincing children that "all religions-including pagan animism and cults-are equally 'true.'"
California schools institute required curriculum studying Islam. The course mandates that seventh-graders learn the tenets of Islam, study the important figures of the faith, wear a robe, adopt a Muslim name and stage their own jihad. Adding to this apparent hypocrisy, reports ANS, students must memorize many verses in the Koran, are taught to pray "in the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful" and are instructed to chant, "Praise to Allah, Lord of Creation."
Federal judge allows pro-homosexual materials to be taught to 2nd graders without their parents' consent, and does not consider it "indoctrination." The court admits that the book was read to "influence the listening children toward tolerance of gay marriage..."
In a shocking and brazen act of governmental abuse of parental rights, Deerfield High School (DHS) in Deerfield, Illinois, has required fourteen-year-old freshmen to attend a "Straight Gay Alliance Network" (GSA) panel discussion led by "gay" and "lesbian" upperclassmen during a "freshman advisory" class which secretively featured inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature in promotion of high-risk homosexual behaviors. Not only has DHS required that its young and impressionable freshmen be exposed to radical homosexual propaganda, the school has further required that students sign a "confidentiality agreement" promising not to tell anyone-including their own parents-about the discussion.
68 teachers arrested for improper sexual contact/conduct with underage students.
Bernard Madoff, a quiet force on Wall Street for decades, was arrested and charged with allegedly running a $50 billion "Ponzi scheme" in what may rank among the biggest fraud cases ever.
Enron implodes in months after Lay and Skilling (Chairman, CEO) get caught leading a conspiracy to artificially inflate profits, hide losses and misrepresenting the true nature of company finances. Thousands of investors caught in the aftershock suffer total losses of retirement funds, leaving them penniless, while Lay, Skilling and other company executives sell off their shares just prior to the collapse, reaping millions in profits.
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac collapse, costing billions of dollars. Under the leadership of former Clinton Administration budget director Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae overstated earnings by over $10.6 BILLION, resulting in the eventual collapse of the housing market. Former CFO of Fannie, Timothy Howard, signed off on the false financials, and was rewarded with a $14 million salary PLUS $16.8 million in bonuses.
Former CEO of Countrywide, Andrew Mozilo, dumped over $480 million in shares just as Countrywide's risky lending practices started coming home to roost.
Companies and banks line up to stick their hands in the taxpayer's pocket via "bailout" loans, hoping the government (aka the taxpayer) will keep them afloat in spite of their poor business management practices. Meantime, leaders of the various companies continue to pay exorbitant salaries and bonuses to themselves, and treat management to outlandish "retreats" to discuss the problem (read AIG having a $400,000 conference AFTER being bailed out for $85 BILLION).
In the Church
1988 - Jimmy Swaggart credentials revoked by Assemblies of God after release of
photos of him with a New Orleans prostitute, and he refuses internal discipline of
1991 - caught in flagrante delictu with another prostitute in California.
Dec., 2008 - Jimmy Swaggart cited for traffic violations in LA, has prostitute in car with him.
1987 - Jim Bakker resigns as head of PTL amid allegations of a sex scandal and payoff. Indicted in 1988 for mail fraud, wire fraud and conspiracy. subsequently sentenced to 45 years in jail. Jim later admitted that the first time he read the bible all the way through was after being sent to jail.
Archbishop Earl Paulk (Chapel Hill Harvester Church) accused (again) of sexual impropriety. Forced out of his first pastorate over 50 years ago for an extramarital affair (read adultery), Paulk has continued in his questionable ways. A paternity test showed that a "nephew" was in reality his son, born of an affair with his sister-in-law. Two members of his current congregation have filed suit against Paulk alleging he owes them money ($400k) he borrowed to settle another suit from a congregant who claimed that he sexually abused her when she was only seven. The two filing suit also claim that Paulk was sexually involved with them. In 1992, six women alleged affairs with him and his brother Don.
"I now believe that GLBTQ can live lives in accord with biblical Christianity (as least as much as any of us can!)," writes author and church leader Tony Jones, "and that their monogamy can and should be sanctioned and blessed by church and state."
Jones is an author and former youth pastor who holds a doctorate from Princeton Theological Seminary. He is also the national coordinator of Emergent Village, a loosely-formed friendship of churches that derive their descriptive name from having "emerged" from postmodernism to take the gospel of Jesus Christ into a post-Christian culture.
Despite recounting his earlier days of arguing that "biblical prohibitions to homosexual sex should be taken seriously," Jones admits his experiences and feelings led him toward a different conclusion.
Experience. Feelings. Those great arbiters of truth. Mr. Jones should have relied instead on those "biblical prohibitions to homosexual sex..." But this is nature of the apostasy. REJECTION of the Word of God, and replacement with our own ideas.
Gene Robinson, an openly homosexual minister of the Episcopal church, USA, elected to position of Bishop.
12/7/2006 A panel of rabbis gave permission Wednesday for same-sex commitment ceremonies and ordination of gays within Conservative Judaism.
" 1) You can keep your own religion-Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, Mormonism-you just need to add Jesus to the equation. Then you become complete. You become a Buddhist with Jesus, a Hindu with Jesus, a Muslim with Jesus, and so on.
2) You can throw out the term Christianity and still be a follower of Jesus.
3) In fact, you can throw out the term Christian too. In some countries you could be persecuted for calling yourself a Christian, and there is no need for that. Just ask Jesus into your heart, you don't have to identify yourself as a Christian." ~excerpted from "The New Missiology: Keep Your Own Religion, Just Add Jesus" (YWAM)
"I must add, though, that I don't believe making disciples must equal making adherents to the Christian religion. It may be advisable in many (not all!) circumstances to help people become followers of Jesus and remain within their Buddhist, Hindu, or Jewish contexts. Brian McLaren (leader of the Emerging Church movement), author of A Generous Orthodoxy.
Richard Cizik is chief lobbyist and vice president for governmental affairs for the National Association of Evangelicals, representing 45,000 U.S. churches from 59 denominations, and is coming under fire for saying in a National Public Radio interview he believes in homosexual civil unions.
Pres. elect Barak Obama characterizes Romans 1 as "some obscure passage..."
Jubilee Shores UMC of Fairhope, Alabama begins "Outstretched," a Christian YOGA experience.
President of the College of William and Mary has ordered a cross removed from an altar in the Sir Christopher Wren Chapel "in the spirit of diversity and to make the chapel 'more welcoming to all' ".
According to the U.S. Religious Landscape Survey conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, 59 percent of evangelical church attenders believe that the Bible is the "Word of God, literally true word for word." However, 57 percent of those same evangelicals believe "many religions can lead to eternal life."
These postings are not just a few occasional occurrences, they are typical of the now daily bits of news that are available. Once upon a time not many years past, they would have been the exception rather than the rule. Now, they are the rule. Not a day goes by that we are not made aware of not only the rejection of the Bible, God's Word, His rule and will, but of the results of that rejection. Corporate leaders drive their companies into bankruptcy through deceitful manipulation, and garner millions of dollars in bonuses and severance packages. Politicians speak from both sides of their mouths, saying whatever is suitable to their current audience. And none of this begins to address topics such as abortion, because it doesn't neatly fit under politics, or religion, or business (although it is a part of all three!). In the US alone, a baby is aborted (murdered) every 20 seconds of every day, 7 days a week, 364/5 days a year. Why?
Of the greatest concern, however, is the increasing numbers of so-called Christian church leaders who demonstrably turn their backs on the Word of God, making declarations that are not only in direct contradiction to the Word of God, but proclaiming loudly to all who would hear that they know better than God what is right.
2Ti 3:1 "This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
2Ti 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves (selfish), covetous (loving money, things), boasters (pretenders, without substance), proud (haughty, contemptuous, high estimate of self over others), blasphemers (evil speaking. slander, railing, abusive), disobedient to parents (non-compliant, argumentative), unthankful (ungracious, not pleasing, demanding), unholy (wicked, evil, the opposite of God in actions),
2Ti 3:3 Without natural affection (unsociable, unloving) trucebreakers (word-breakers, not agreeable to anything except their own way, stubborn), false accusers (self explanatory!), incontinent (without self-control, intemperate), fierce (savage, highly emotional), despisers of those that are good (opposed to goodness and good men),
2Ti 3:4 Traitors (betrayers), heady (rash, reckless, headlong in action), highminded (puffed up with self-importance, pride, conceit), lovers of pleasures (sensual, earthly, temporal) more than lovers of God;
2Ti 3:5 Having a form of godliness (in appearance and word), but denying the power thereof (with actions that are contrary): from such turn away"
Any pastor, preacher, evangelist, teacher or singer who denies that the Word of God is absolute truth: who denies that any facet of Jesus' virgin birth, deity, part in the Trinity, or sacrificial death on our behalf is absolute truth: who changes any part of the Bible to mean what they want it to say: or who uses Christ, Christianity or religion to heap accolades and money to themselves falls into the description given above. Period. No ifs, ands or buts.
I earlier noted a poll that said that the population in general blames the moral decline on media. Other polls blame the moral decline on education. Still others point to our politicians, and some even blame business leaders.
Listen up, folks! Our politicians, our media, our businesses and their leaders, even our church leaders are JUST A SYMPTOM of the illness! They are the result, NOT the cause!!
They do what they do, and act like they want, because WE (those of us who profess to believe in God,
who claim to be Christians, who are supposed to be the Church that Jesus died for,) DO NOT REALLY BELIEVE!.
We just mouth it...and go ahead and do our own thing. We tolerate everything...and only occasionally mumble
about it. We agree with the "scholars" and wisely nod our heads in assent when they make some preposterous
claim about what God "really intended" in a particular passage, or even whether or not that passage should
be considered! We're bound and determined to be "diverse" and "modern."
We say we believe in God...and then ignore what He says.
We say we believe in God...but we know better, because we're "modern".
We say we believe in God...but deny Him by our actions.
We say we believe in God...but only the part we like.
2Th 2:10 "And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
2Th 2:11 And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
2Th 2:12 That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."
The Final Event
2Th 2:3 "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 only real event left is the revealing of that person generally referred to as THE anti-christ. Who he is, I don't know...although there are many who will say they do know. There are certain things that we can know about him, however, and those clues are found primarily in the book of Daniel, chapters 7 through 12. The act that identifies him beyond any shadow of a doubt will be his making of a peace treaty involving Israel that saves Israel from destruction. That treaty itself will guarantee Israel a period of 7 years of peace (Dan. 9:27). Between now and then, we can expect to see conditions in Israel getting worse, with more of the nations of the world turning agaist Israel with a never before seen hatred. I believe that we can expect to see Damascus destroyed (Isa. 17), and an attack from a Russian alliance that involves a number of Arab countries (Ezek. 38-39). In all probability, these actions will be the trigger for the revelation of the anti-christ.
Current events (Jan. 2009) in Israel, with Hamas (Palestinian terrorists) unilaterally breaking their cease-fire with Israel, and subsequent bombardment of Israel with rockets, and Israel's response by attacking (air and land) the Gaza strip and attempting to destroy Hamas is resulting in a tremendous outcry against Israel. No matter that Hamas struck first...no matter that Hamas was rocketing civilians. The general perception around the world is that Israel's response is "disproportionately harsh." And of course, the MSM (main stream media) is giving a lion's share of the air time to them.
That great falling away has come, and it's going to get worse before it gets better. I will say this, however...much as some have been saying for the last 20 years or so.
" If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land." 2 Ch 7:14.
Over the ages, God has proven time and again that He is more interested in saving and healing than in destroying and killing. Look at Nineveh. Over 400,000 repented, and the city was spared. 400+ years later, when Nineveh was destroyed, it was because they had once again turned their back on God.
What must we do?
Humble ourselves, not with false humility, but with a heart and soul torn by grief over the way we’ve acted, and what we have allowed. As Joel put it "Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, Spare Thy people O Lord, and give not Thine heritage to reproach, that the heathen should rule over them. Wherefore should they say among the people, Where is your God?" Joel 2:17
Humbling ourselves of necessity includes repentence, and to repent one needs to recount ALL the ways in which we have failed...to reach a place of genuine soul-sorrow that sees things GODs way...not our own.
Pray. And just what should we pray for? That Gods will be done in our individual lives, that we be given supernatural understanding of His Word, and the ability to communicate that Word to others in action. Pray for our leaders, both in the Church and without. Pray for everyone.
Seek Gods face. How? By immersing ourselves daily in His Word, for it is the way He has chosen to talk to us, and it is the way in which He will bring to our remembrance "every word that I have said."
Turn from our wicked ways. God said that the heart of man is only on evil continually. He has also said that His ways are NOT our ways, and that we should NOT lean to our own understanding. Forget all the books written by others that tell us how to (fill in your own thing), or how to be filled with the Spirit, or how to organize, or how to whatever. READ THE WORD! BELIEVE THE WORD!! ACT ON THE WORD!!! Shun (that means RUN away) from anything that does not conform to what His Word says. DO NOT BE PARTAKERS of others sin.
And most especially, ignore, turn away from, quit supporting and quit LISTENING to those purveyors of doctrines of demons and false prophecy that infest our "Christian" TV and radio. Treat them like the heathens and charlatans (Paul called them heretics) they are. (Note: not all who are on TV or radio are bad, but it's up to every Christian to weigh what is taught or spoken against the Word of God..in other words exercise a little bit of that discernment muscle-Heb. 5:14).
Is it too late? I don't know. I fear that it may be. Quite frankly, I don't think there's enough real Christians left in Western civilization to do much. However, it only takes...one. The fervent and EFFECTUAL prayer of a righteous man availeth much!
"Yet one more time, I will plead with those who are called by my Name, to proclaim loudly that the time for salvation is here, and now, and to ignore my call is to hasten the arrival of my day of wrath, when I shall pour out on the world my judgment for sin. Not too long, and the world's cup of iniquity will be full, and all who are left will taste of the full measure of my anger. Do not be deceived. I come quickly with justice in my hand."