Before the second coming of the Lord Jesus…
• (1) The [great] apostasy
• (2) The revealing of the antichrist:
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 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;” (2 Thess. 2:1-3).
We are living now, at this moment (and have been for a long time), in the days of that same apostasy, that will precede the continued destruction of the antichrist. The so-called church of our day is such a poor imitation of the true church it is like comparing a ground mole to an airplane. To be more precise it is a spiritual counterfeit having a spiritually adulterous affair with popularity, money, false unity and large buildings.
It is so far from dispersing wholesome Biblical truth, and has been for so long, that the vast majority in our day have never, even once, been in a congregation that closely resembles the New Testament church described in Acts. They have not heard sermons based on Scripture and therefore, aren’t sure what one sounds like. There are a number of reasons why this is so.
Your Favorite Minister…?
First, the ministers, overseers, superintendents, etc. of denominations and religious groups are nowhere near the spiritual caliber they need to be for the office they hold!
The Bible emphasizes holiness in character and soundness in doctrine, and in that order, as being necessary for people to even qualify for such a high, influential office (1 Tim. 3; Titus 1; 1 Pet. 5). But in our day, secular education, money, influence in the community and a musical ability are often the basis of deciding who will or will not be the church leaders and teachers.
The Bible never places a premium on any type of ignorance, but formal education, etc. has never been the basis for ministry, according to Scripture. The Lord Jesus chose the Twelve and four out of that number were ignorant fishermen who reeked with no formal education, but they were qualified to hold the highest office in the church.
“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13)
Peter and John might have been rejected in our day, but were qualified in God’s eyes to be among his chief spokesmen because of their heart condition. This was also the basis of choosing a replacement for Judas:
“And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.” (Acts 1:24-25)
They prayed basically, ‘Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs’
Paul wrote about what we would call “smooth talkers” who actually practice to deceive and minister false doctrines:
“Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple.” (Romans 16:17-18)
Either one of the two Scriptural standards in 1 Tim. 3 or Titus would eliminate 99% of the spiritual leaders in the church (mostly on television) of our hour—together there would be almost a clean sweep.
Our present day “self-proclaimed” spiritual leaders, for the most part, are ignorant of the Scriptures, slothful, worldly, spiritually blind, pleasure seekers, false Bible enthusiast and asleep. The ones that do have zeal seem to be only zealous to spread their unique teaching, which sets them apart from all other groups.
Back Yard Preachers
Many leaders are there for the wrong reason. We went to one congregation and the present pastor got in that position because he lost his job and needed a source of income! If he didn’t have influential supporters from that group (his immediate family) he would not have been there as pastor. Is it any wonder why people can’t find a sound church in their area?
To have such men that are not Scripturally qualified, as examples and teachers, will result in many souls perishing. The result….taking on false doctrines and false “bible” versions in an attempt to fill the void of their spiritual hunger they were left with from that dead back yard church.
In this day and time now for many years, there are unqualified (and dangerous) spiritual leaders everywhere. Often people want some kind of ministry, but aren’t qualified. They went, but weren’t sent. They answered, but weren’t called.
“I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied.” (Jeremiah 23:21)
Hence, their influence can be a detriment to others, as well as to themselves. For example, to put a new convert in the position of spiritual leadership, will jeopardize that new convert’s salvation.
“(For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?) Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.” (1 Tim. 3:5-7)
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall.
Scripture says blind leaders are spiritually dangerous people:
“Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.” (Matt. 15:14)
“As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them. O my people, they which lead thee cause thee to err, and destroy the way of thy paths.” (Isa. 3:12)
“But ye are departed out of the way; ye have caused many to stumble at the law;………………..” (Mal. 2:8)
Blind leaders are everywhere, yet considered reputable and informed. Most, are from Bible colleges and seminaries.
Multitudes of church people are so worn out and tired from working two jobs to make all of the payments they owe, they have little quality time, if any, to read the Bible for themselves.
Their lives are too busy with the cares of this life, temporal pursuits and TV watching to read their eternal contract book with God [the Bible]. They, therefore, just dangerously trust some popular, respected, religious teacher or dear family member who loves them. Since these people are not acquainted with the Scriptures, as they need to be, they can’t discern the deadly errors being taught.
And since these teachers are blind themselves, they can’t feed and warn the sheep as the sheep need fed and warned. Even if the pastors were able to feed the sheep many wouldn’t and if they did the majority of their listeners wouldn’t like it or tolerate it because they are indoctrinated by the world religious systems.
These shepherds get their easy-to-receive sermons out of books, rather than going directly to the Bible for themselves. Many so-called pastors are not able to preach their own sermons from their personal study of the Bible.
Instead of preaching the Word as they are commanded (2 Tim. 4:2), they tell jokes, stories, give book reports and smile a lot to use up the time. The sheep need to be fed wholesome Spiritual food (from a King James Bible), but they aren’t getting it. Hence, they are getting weaker and weaker and dying spiritually.
Levity from the pulpit is another area worthy of criticism. Scripture teaches how the Word of God is to be delivered:
“In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity, Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.” (Titus 2:7-8)
“For we are not as many, which corrupt the word of God: but as of sincerity, but as of God, in the sight of God speak we in Christ.” (2 Cor. 2:17)
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Peter 4:11)
A brother in the Lord (anonymous) once went to meeting where the majority of people there were unsaved. The teacher was doing a fine job giving out the Word of God and unsaved people were being convicted, until he changed his tone and told a joke. That killed the conviction that had been there beforehand.
False Doctrine Abounds
There is no doubt that the devil has been busy and very successful tempting people into sin, into reading false “bible” versions (usually because they think they are easier to understand), supporting false ministers, false doctrines.
He has done such an excellent job that the wickedness in the church is so rampant that the divorce rate has exceeded those outside the church and this is not even a concern! This is a whole separate issue in itself, but suffice it to say that a very large percentage of remarried people in the so-called church are actually in adultery, as are their spouses.
This also includes those pastoring congregations and teaching over the radio. Some of these leaders have been remarried two, three and four times. The congregations are polluted with such forms of adultery and almost no one seems to be aware of this or even cares anymore.
But God sees all this adultery. He has not changed His holy standards by the flood of wickedness and unfaithfulness inside the church of our hour (1 Peter 3:12).
All this hurts the holy image of Christianity as a whole. And because of the multiple church scandals, the church (in the eyes of the world) is a joke and lacks the power needed to live holy.
Wickedness, ignorance and religious deception are so prevalent, it is often grieving to attend a church service. It seems to be a repeat fronts Jeremiah’s day:
“To whom shall I speak, and give warning, that they may hear? behold, their ear is uncircumcised, and they cannot hearken: behold, the word of the LORD is unto them a reproach; they have no delight in it.” (Jer. 6:10)
Because the sin-filled parishioners are sitting before a blind and ignorant leader (“pastor”) that seems to only want to teach his 20 minute message to appease his audience, and especially the big money-givers, little or no word is being preached. If the word was taught, the people would find it offensive because they are in sin and don’t see any real reason to repent.
Hence, the vital message of faithful and unashamed commitment to Jesus, as well as repentance, holy living and endurance for salvation, has been replaced with:
• (1) tolerance for everyone,
• (2) God loves us all and
• (3) let’s not judge.
It has been this way for decades in many congregations and the people there like it that way. They are comfortable in their sins and no one better bring any kind of conviction upon them, because such won’t be tolerated by the complacent pew warmers or the new age (homosexual) christian.
In many denominational “churches” various potential pastors candidate for the position and ‘one of the so-called elders, who would help decide who would be the next pastor, say we don’t want someone who is going to shove the Word down our throats! The churches want soft, easy and short teachings, entertainment, softball teams, swim ministries and their laughing revivals.
High on their priority list is entertainment. Since so many are already addicted to TV watching—spending multiple hours each day before it, they are in an entertainment mode, which the present church leaders have helped to produce and perpetuate.
Because of the false teachings in our day, especially eternal security and that there is no fiery hell awaiting the wicked.
Multitudes of church people have no fear of God and are primarily pursuing the same temporal and material things that the blinded and dead children of the devil follow after. This has led to untold trouble in multiple areas. Outside the church building, it is hard to recognize a church-goer from a rank pagan in our day.
They both basically talk the same, have the same ambitions and goals that center around money and creature comforts. The power of a godly example is virtually gone from our society and with it many conversions.
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.
For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer. If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” (1 Tim. 4:1-6)
“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.” (2 Tim. 3:1-5)
Multitudes that profess to be Christian are described above—they have a form of godliness but deny its power. The real Christians are commanded to have nothing to do with such religious people, but not in our day, when wickedness and friendship with the world are a priority.
Let’s “unify” seems to be the norm among such groups. They all agree on the Lord’s prayer and apostles creed, but that is not the common denominator for true Christian unity. Holiness and sound doctrine are.
The Apostasy Is Getting Worse
May God help us all continue to live holy and walk in love despite all of the rampant wickedness, damnable doctrine and foolishness being declared in and around the so-called churches and ministries of our day.
But, we really shouldn’t be too surprised by all of this, since apostasy precedes the rise of antichrist who is already here walking and talking to the world.
So are we witnessing this great apostasy that the Bible speaks of? Yes!
“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” (Matt. 24:9-13)
Are you “hated of all nations?” You might then want to take another look at your life and what YOU are doing and saying before a lost and dying world. Are you being “hated” for your witness or speaking of the name of Jesus? This is a Litmus test!
“And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved.” (Matt. 10:22)