Tuesday, August 5, 2014

The Great Apostasy is not the general apostasy we're experiencing now

Wiki CC. Photographer: Irving Rusinow. Alabama
Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, (2 Thessalonians 2:3)

Paul is talking to the Thessalonians about the order of events leading to the revealing of the antichrist, which will happen in the Great Tribulation. He is speaking of a specific event, "the apostasy" which is the antichrist standing in the temple and declaring himself God.

General apostasy has always been in existence and always will be. GotQuestions defines apostasy in two ways,

(1) a falling away from key and true doctrines of the Bible into heretical teachings that proclaim to be “the real” Christian doctrine, and (2) a complete renunciation of the Christian faith, which results in a full abandonment of Christ.

Even while Jesus lived, and while the apostles worked, there were apostates. Judas was apostate. He could be seen as the apostate type #2. His apostasy had been well hidden but he defected in the end and the rebellion hidden in his heart became clear. In another case of mass apostasy, when Jesus began to teach hard things, "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him." (John 6:66).

After Jesus' ascension there were apostates, too. Demas was an apostate. He could be seen as the apostate type #1. In Philemon 1:4 Paul called Demas a 'fellow worker'. By 2 Timothy 4:10 Paul said Demas loved the world and had departed.

So THE apostasy in Thessalonians' Great Tribulation times is not the same as general apostasy now. However, Jesus said the time of the end (ascension to rapture) will be as birth pangs, and birth pangs get worse as time goes on. Paul taught that evil men and seducers will grow from bad to worse. (2 Timothy 3:13). John MacArthur said last week, "Cultural Christianity is dying at warp speed". In 2006 he preached of Americans-
We've rejected God. He gave us revelation, we rejected it. We rationalize it and call ourselves an elite educated advanced culture and we invent religion as if it's an indicator of how high we have ascended when the fact of the matter is we're going down at warp speed. We have abandoned God and God has returned the favor.
So as the birth pangs grow and the world succumbs to evil, even general apostasy is getting worse. Jesus warned that even churches could have apostates in them, (Matthew 13:26), and that whole churches would be apostate, as seen in the following Revelation verse.

Jesus said to the church at Laodicea, Behold! I stand at the door and knock. (Revelation 3:20). The verse was an actual warning, to an actual church at Laodicea which had become a cultural, Jesus-less church. The verse is also a warning for us today. There are congregations (local "churches") where Jesus isn't inside it at all. MacArthur on Laodicea
This is an unsaved church. In fact, if there were any believers in this church they aren't even referred to in the letter at all. It is a church that is characterized by lukewarmness which becomes a metaphor for being non-saved people. Laodicea has the grim distinction of being among all seven letters the only one in which Christ has nothing good to say. It is unmitigated, unspared condemnation. There is in this church apparently absolutely no redeeming feature. This is the unsaved, unregenerate false church.
How could it be that churches exist where there are no believers at all? This is the point of today's essay. There are. Believe it. More and more churches and whole denominations are showing themselves apostate.

In Charisma News last week, Jennifer LeClaire wrote,
Wiki CC, photographer: ForestWander. West VA.

Apostasy Rising: 4 Denominations In Less Than a Week Defy God's Word

The UCC, [United Church of Christ] which considers itself a mainline Protestant denomination—claiming over 1 million members and about 5,200 congregations in the U.S.—proudly announced it will serve as a major sponsor of the Gay Games. The UCC will now go down in Christian history as the first major denomination to sponsor the homosexual Olympics when the games roll into Cleveland, Ohio, in August.
The Presbyterian Church (USA) last week voted to allow its ministers to perform gay weddings in states where it's legal. On Tuesday, Methodist Pastor Frank Schaefer, who was defrocked for officiating his son's gay wedding, was fully reinstated and the Moravians voted to ordain gay clergy. My research shows there's a long and growing list of gay-affirming denominations, including the Affirming Pentecostal Church International.
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There comes a tipping point where the weight of apostasy drowns all those who are in the church. I thought this next article was interesting, reporting on the collapse of the middle class pastor

Higher Calling, Lower Wages: The Vanishing of the Middle-Class Clergy
Barringer’s story is becoming increasingly typical as Protestant churches nationwide cut back on full-time, salaried positions. Consequently, many new pastors either ask friends and family for donations (a time-honored clerical tradition) or take on other jobs. Working two jobs has become so common for clergy members, in fact, that churches and seminaries have a euphemistic term for it: bi-vocational ministry.  Working multiple jobs is nothing new to pastors of small, rural congregations. But many of those pastors never went to seminary and never expected to have a full-time ministerial job in the first place. What’s new is the across-the-board increase in bi-vocational ministry in Protestant denominations both large and small, which has effectively shut down one pathway to a stable—if humble—middle-class career.
[Side note: seminary training does help & is important]

Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place-- unless you repent. (Revelation 2:5)
The removing of the church’s lampstand meant Christ’s Spirit would depart and leave them on their own, which in turn would result in them being as Laodicea (Laodicea means “men’s opinions ruling in place of God”). Loyalty to Christ can and often is replaced by loyalty to an organization, a church, and its leaders, substituting new rules and interpretations for Biblical truths. (Let Us Reason)
Let Us Reason continues on the apostasy seen in the Laodicean church:
In modern times this falling away had started in liberal seminaries who sent teachers out to unsuspecting pulpits teaching their liberal ideas-- those who promote homosexuality, who ordain people that deny the Trinity, the deity of Christ, the virgin birth and the essentials of the faith.
Then the new age movement began to emerge and infiltrate the Church with kingdom dominion theology and placing subjective experience over the authority of the objective Word of God. Then the homosexual movement came through the Episcopal church along with feminists who disdain God as father. Now this apostasy has become something so widespread it encompasses most things that are considered sacred. Affecting almost all denominations to some degree. Doctrines are distorted and abandoned, controlling shepherds are in charge, teaching coveting, wealth and perfect health as God’s will to all. They approve of divorce and accept homosexuality.
Warp speed...
The apostasy of professing Christianity has increased with a momentum that is stunning to those watching its growth. It has gone off the Richter scale. In the absence of the lampstand (the presence of Christ), devils have stepped in and taken over in many churches. This falling away has certainly begun and is picking up momentum each year, month, and week. Whole movements have arisen that draw huge crowds by catering to the natural mans desires and prey on his propensity of being deceived by the supernatural. They are being offered the very things Christ refused and warned against in his teachings.
THE Apostasy discussed in Thessalonians will be one, stunning and undeniable event. We're not there. General apostasy IS rising however. Many a church member awake one day to look around the pews, and bemoan that they hardly know any people anymore, their church doesn't look like it once did, and it teaches unrecognizable doctrines. The choir disappeared and instead there is an ever growing praise band. Hymns drifted away and we now stand around uncomfortably and look at a screen while a few people sing doctrine-less contemporary songs. The preacher teaches gospel-lite, or worse, prosperity gospel. Sometimes he seems to be preaching rightly but the sermons in fact are all plagiarized. Sometimes he is a she.

Apostasy is an interior thing. It is in the heart and we can't see it right away, most times. Apostasy that looks like this:
Source NASA
Is really this-

How does it happen? Incrementally. Satan takes an inch at a time. (Hebrews 2:1). He is patient, relentless and laser-focused. This means we have to guard each and every move away from the center line of the narrow road. We have to deal with each and every incremental move. And yet we should display the discernment to know which battles to pick and when, and how to raise them. This is not because there are some battles best left alone, no. It's because the Holy Spirit has some people working on some battles and other people working on others.

The bible also says to treat our leaders with respect and double honor, and not to exalt ourselves nor think of ourselves more highly than we ought. It's a delicate balancing act, discernment.

Too often, people say, 'well that's too small, too petty. I'll let it go'. But you have given the camel a nose-hold under the tent. The pew member sitting next to you carrying a Jesus Calling book...the woman in your Sunday School class who watches Joel Osteen, the deacon who doesn't think occasional porn harms anybody, the teenager living with her boyfriend or girlfriend, the brother in the men's group who wants a divorce...all these need to be addressed.

In the classic novel Watership Down, the rabbit motto was "One cloud feels lonely."
EPrata photo
Soon, one cloud becomes this:
EPrata photo

Do you think satan will let one apostasy alone when he can have two? Do you think he will let two apostasies alone when he can have four? Before you know it, the sky has been obliterated and there are so many clouds you don't know where one ends and another begins. It gets dark real fast.

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So far we have distinguished the prophesied coming event of The Apostasy from the ongoing General Apostasy of the Church Age. We have seen that apostasy in general is rising. We have looked at the general apostasy's increased speed among the global churches here on earth.

But as with all things about Jesus, there is always hope. His church will never fail! The gates of hell will not prevail against it!  Mathew 16:18). though there may be more churches that are Laodicean than Philadelphian, there are Philadelphian churches in the world. The church at Philadelphia was one of only two churches in Revelation not to receive one word of condemnation! (Rev 2:8-11, and Rev. 3:7-13).

Jesus has a pure Bride and she will never be spotted. A true believer can never go astray permanently. He has us in His hand. His work on the cross atoned for our sin, and we are washed in His blood and have received His righteousness. He has made us His children!

Though it may seem dim and dark in your corner of the world, Jesus did commend the church at Smyrna for persevering in persecution, tribulation and poverty. There are true believers in the world who are not apostasizing, who keep His word and do not deny His name (Rev 3:10). We look forward to the glorious day when He calls us home, either by rapture or resurrection, and we meet Him in the air, a purified Bride He has made worthy.

Meanwhile, pray for fellow believers that they do not apostasize. Encourage! Edify! Study the word so that you will have a good word to share with a fainting brother. There is nothing like the word of God to revive a failing heart. His peace prevails, always.




12 comments:

  1. Elizabeth,

    Can you believe that I have no comment to say on today’s article, other than to say you are right on! Good job and I think it was covered very well!

    Thanks!

    Rick
    Metro Atlanta

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  2. Right on, dear sister! The big apostasy is going to be a bit like a Trojan Horse of sorts. We'll all be looking at this thing, thinking that it looks out of place, and then . . .

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  3. Hi Elizabeth, have you seen this article? What do you think? http://www.wnd.com/2014/08/hand-of-god-sent-missile-into-sea/

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    1. Hi Jane,

      No I had not seen the Hebrew article nor its translation. Thank you for sharing it! I had seen the one where the Palestinian makes the claim that the Gaza rockets were diverted by God

      In Ezekiel 38-39 God says many times that during the Gog-Magog battle He will personally protect Israel, "so they will know I am their God". He also will do this so the world will know He is Israel's protector, *and* that He is holy.

      Ez 38:16b: that the nations may know me, when through you, O Gog, I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.

      Ez 38:23- So I will show my greatness and my holiness and make myself known in the eyes of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord.

      Ez 39:6b- and they shall know that I am the Lord.

      Ez 39:7- “And my holy name I will make known in the midst of my people Israel, and I will not let my holy name be profaned anymore. And the nations shall know that I am the Lord, the Holy One in Israel.

      Ez 39:21- “And I will set my glory among the nations, and all the nations shall see my judgment that I have executed, and my hand that I have laid on them.

      Ez 39:22- The house of Israel shall know that I am the Lord their God, from that day forward.

      The nations and Israel will know this because God will:
      --rain down brimstone, fire, and hail
      --cause a huge earthquake
      --bring confusion among the armies

      and this:

      "Then I will strike your bow from your left hand, and will make your arrows drop out of your right hand." Ez 39:3

      That verse is telling of a prophetic battle still to come, but it reminds me of the comments from the eyewitnesses who say they saw the rockets diverted by a supernatural power. It is the same power that has been protecting Israel all along, and the one who enabled their miraculous victories in the first war, the six-day war, etc

      The difference is that in the coming Ezekiel war, Israel will know it and all the world will know it. The tales won't be told among a few eyewitnesses and an obscurely translated newspaper, but will be known throughout the world. The Ezekiel war will be SO determining, that Israel re-enters their old covenant with God as a result of it. (Though the Jews won't claim Jesus in the New Covenant until the end of the Tribulation as Zechariah 12:10-14 records).

      The bible shows that he has always looked out for His nation and His people, and will always do so into the future. The Israelis won their first war in 1948 with, like, one tank. I'm exaggerating, but that war began almost before the announcement of Israel's independence was finished printing, and they literally had not time to get lots of war matériel. Logically and militarily, they should not have won it.

      As for WND.com, I'm not a huge fan of the news site...

      We can praise the Lord that the day WILL come that "they will know I am the LORD" as He says.

      Delete
  4. Elizabeth - Thank you for commenting on the article! Some had commented that the article was fraudulent but, even if it is, I know that God can and will protect Israel!

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    1. Hi Jane,

      You're welcome. I am not sure about the second article, but as for the article referred to in the article, I believe it's valid, though I had my doubts at first. But it was reported several times, so...As to the second article, it is in Hebrew and I can't find a good translator program to read it for myself. Google Translate doesn't do well with it, so I can't determine its veracity. But I'm not surprised if God DID re-direct their missiles, it is something He would do and has done before. So like you, we know the general concept is true :)

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  5. Elizabeth,
    A good article indeed. But, I believe it is overall wrong. This is because the word "Apostate" or "Apostasy" that is used in the KJV and many other modern translations is not correctly used. In the World English Bible and Also the Geneva Bible the word is correctly translated as Departure (as in the Rapture).
    Geneva Bible 2 Thess 2 v3 3 Let no man deceive you by any means:]for that day shall not come, except there come a departing first, and that man of sin be disclosed, even the son of perdition.
    World English Bible 2 Thess 2 v3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For it will not be, unless the departure comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of destruction

    Yes I agree with you as you say in your article that there is increasing general apostasy (very obvious). But I think if you read the 2 Thess 2 scripture and remember the context and theme of the chapter you will see how it makes better sense.
    The theme is "Now, brothers, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our gathering together to him"

    I did an extensive study of this topic about Apostasy in 2 Thess 2 because it didn't make sense to me, and this is what I concluded.

    A link to one article by Thomas Ice

    https://www.raptureready.com/featured/ice/TheRapturein2Thessalonians2_3.html

    As a result of the Rapture occurring Many will realize they missed it and will come to the Lord afterwards. Of course many, many people will reject the Lord during the Trib too.
    I just wanted to share.

    Leon

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    1. Hi Leon,

      Thanks for your input!

      Apostasy does mean departure: it's departure from the truth. THE apostasy is when the antichrist stands in the temple and fulfulls the prophecy of the abomination of desolation. He is the ultimate fulfillment of the departure from the truth because he will lead the entire world in a departure from it.

      I am aware of the alternate definition that some purport means the departure meaning leaving earth in the rapture. But this is wrong.

      Apostasia in Greek means "defection, apostasy, revolt" (http://biblehub.com/greek/646.htm) and we can obviously know that it means the departure is from the truth because for 6000 years people have departed from the truth and no one has been raptured as a departure from this earth (except Enoch and Elijah.).

      The context in the 2 Thess verse refers to the antichrist as the topic, not the general population. The antichrist will depart from the truth and lead the world in defection against the Lord's truth . The rapture is pre-trib anyway from other proof texts.

      John MacArthur explains the great Apostasy in the Thess verse: "It is used in Joshua 22:22 that's in the Greek Old Testament, the Septuagint, of rebellion against God. A long definition...a deliberate abandonment of a formerly professed religious position"

      Delete
  6. Stated,


    “...As a result of the Rapture occurring Many will realize they missed it and will come to the Lord afterwards...”


    That's, as they say, “skating on thin ice.”


    “For the secret power of lawlessness is already at work; but the one who now holds it back will continue to do so till he is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth” (II Thes. 2:7-12).


    After the removal of the restrainer and the revealing of the man of sin, there will be no more opportunity for salvation for one particular group of people.


    This group consists of all unbelievers, inside or outside the church and those who are guilty of apostasy from the truth, after adequately hearing the truth of God's Word, but have willingly and intentionally refused to love that truth.


    God will send those individuals a strong delusion so that they may never again have an opportunity to believe the truth they refused to love.


    God's purpose in sending the “powerful delusion” is so that they “will be condemned.” Therefore, for those who have heard and understood God's Word, yet did not love and receive its truths, “no sacrifice for sins is left, but only a fearful expectation of judgment and of raging fire that will consume the enemies of God” (Heb. 10:26-27).


    Salvation during the days of the tribulation will be offered only to those who never had an adequate opportunity to receive the knowledge of the truth or to hear and understand the gospel (Rev. 7:14; 11:3; 14:6-7).


    Mario

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    Replies
    1. Mario, while the Tribulation will be a time of unparalleled death, it will be a time of unparalleled evangelism. Many, MANY will come to the truth during that time. Yes, it is risky, death may arrive sooner than the person repents, others who have heard and rejected will be hardened. Still others who take the Mark in Rev 13 will never come to the truth. And of course the delusion you reference, will make things very difficult for many.

      But again, multitudes will come to faith in Jesus. Even those who heard the truth BEFORE the rapture, because the rapture will be a sign to them. We know that at some point God gives them over, and the Hebrews verse kicks in. But we puny humans never know when that moment will be for any person or group. It's presumptuous to generalize and claim dogmatically that all people who heard the gospel before the rapture will never come to faith.

      This essay explains more, and has the bible verses.

      http://www.gotquestions.org/second-chance-rapture.html

      Delete
  7. One apostasy I can think of is that many have confused the writings of Paul into thinking he was talking about doing good deeds when he speaks of "works of the law" - when in fact he was speaking of the Mosaic rituals. So in many churches, religion has become one of belief and lip service only, without changing one's life. So its interesting Paul calls the antichrist the "man of lawlessness."

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  8. As the Spirit said expressly that in the latter days some would depart from the faith by giving heed to seducing spirits and serpent theology, "speaking lies in hypocrisy", the whole head is sick and the body with putrifying sores". The gross darkness on the people has hidden the abomination of desolation standing in the holy place, so men and women continue to "worship they know not what." "Evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived". Unless the Lord shorten these days of apostasy, even the Elect remnant will not be able to endure to the end.

    ReplyDelete

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