Tuesday, December 17, 2013

What is the clearest sign of the approaching return of Jesus Christ?

There is no doctrine I can mention which someone purporting to be a Christian doesn't refute.

In the old days, lol, five years ago when I started this blog, some people would argue about the timing of the rapture, whether sprinkling or dunking is a proper method for baptism, or whether Methodist or Baptist was a more conservative denomination. These are examples of doctrines and opinions which are not foundational to Christianity. In other words, if one believes one or another, it doesn't mean they are not a Christian.

An essential doctrine of Christianity is one which distinguishes a person from all pagan religions. It establishes them as a child of God. An example of an essential doctrine is that one must believe that one is a sinner, destined for hell, and that Jesus the Son of God lived a sinless life on earth, died as the atoning sacrifice for our sins and rose again and went to heaven, and will return in glory to judge the living and the dead. Ha ha, I just gave the Gospel.

One must believe that Jesus is the Son of God and is God. One must believe that hell is real and sinners spend an eternity there, while repented sinners will go to be with Jesus in heaven. One must believe Jesus was both God and man. One must believe that salvation is by God's grace through faith alone.

And so on.

Essential doctrines are the foundation of the faith structure. No builder says, "ah, we don't need foundation forms, let's just pour the concrete now." All structures need a firm foundation, and so does faith. These are the foundational doctrines of which I speak.

Wiki commons
Five years later, the entire foundation has collapsed. Not of the Christian faith structure, because that is eternal, but belief in the foundational doctrines that many alleged Christians now challenge, or even set aside. There is no doctrine I can put forth as propositional (true or false, no in between) that some "Christian" doesn't challenge as unnecessary. There isn't one doctrine we can agree is untouchable in its necessity in the pantheon of things Jesus taught. Even the foundational ones.

Many other religions change their foundational doctrines at will, as needs change or cultures change. Mormons believed that polygamy was essential, until they didn't. Islam has its additions/changes, and contradictions. Buddhist doctrines came in and went out, as they worked or didn't work. Hinduism adds gods and now they are up to 330 million. Or 33 million. Who can keep track. Catholicism has added to the bible with its apocrypha (extra-biblical books written between the OT and NT times). Catholicism changes constantly because they depend on tradition, and as new traditions occur they were added into the pantheon of false beliefs. False religions change because they are doctrines of man. The doctrines of God don't change.

Yes some want to change these doctrines, water them down, or delete them entirely.

"And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another." (Matthew 24:10).

--Is hell eternal? Nah, love wins, said Rob Bell.
--Does God punish sin? God is love and His mercy and He will forgive all. We're all one, says Neale Donald Walsch.
--Is the revelation from God complete? No, more is coming in, say Sarah Young and Beth Moore.
--How important is it for people to understand they're sinners? Not that important, says Joel Osteen.
--Is Jesus God? Probably not but He taught great things. Thomas Jefferson certainly thought he was a good teacher, but nothing more.
--Is Jesus the only way to heaven? Not if you've lived a sincere life, says Billy Graham.

You see how many doctrines that are fundamental to our belief structure are being set aside and/or challenged. This is apostasy.

"For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God?" (1 Peter 4:17)

Apostasy is a judgment upon those who are not Christians and it is a chastening upon those who are. Apostasy is a testing and an opportunity for true Christians to exalt Christ. The more apostasy around us, the more we are tested.
Judas betrays Jesus with a kiss. Judas Iscariot,
one of the Twelve Apostles, became an apostate. Public domain

"And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But these have no root; they believe for a while, and in time of testing fall away." (Luke 8:13).

The collapse has been rapid and stunning. I've watched through the lens of the bible and by writing on this blog nearly every day, and I've seen a swerve away from these precious doctrines. It pains me to see friends carried away by wolves. These folks are prey and it hurts to see them hurt. It is agonizing to see a church fall. It is very hard to see the celebrity pastors, and unknown pastors too, take so many down with them, particularly their families.

But it is prophesied and what is more, it is a judgment from God. When you're persecuted for standing on truth amid a bevy of goats swirling around as your church weakens like the Swiss cheese photo above, count it all joy. Jesus said to rejoice in sufferings, and apostasy and what comes with it does make us suffer. Some are even harassed and dismissed because of it. But rejoice. I know that is hard. John MacArthur spoke to that in his sermon on the 1 Peter 4:17 verse titled The Fiery Trial, Part 2:

Paul Gorbould, Creative Commons
"Sometimes this is quite challenging, to be honest with you. When I have been battered around a little bit and say to myself, "Well, I should expect it, after all if I desire to live a godly life and preach the truth of God and if I want to hold the standard of holiness very high and if I want to hold the standard of doctrinal purity and biblical truth very high, I can expect to get this, so I must be ready for it." I can usually handle that. It's moving to that second one where I rejoice over it that challenges me...where I say, "Thank You, Lord, this is really wonderful, I'm loving every minute of this." I find that sometimes a bit much. But I by the grace of God if I have the time to meditate on it and to lay it before the Lord, I find that the Spirit of God fills my heart with joy and it's usually the joy twofold, the joy of participation in the sense that no matter what I might suffer it is small compared to what Jesus Christ suffered and yet I am a partaker of His suffering. And the second element that hits me hard is that whatever suffering I may incur in this life shall be more than rewarded in the eternal joy which shall be mine forever in the presence of the Lord. Rejoice in it."

Here is Dr Thomas Ice in a recent essay titled Drowning in Apostasy. I also liked his answer.

"The following is a list of the seven major passages that deal with the last days for the church: 1 Timothy 4:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:1-5; 4:3-4; James 5:1-8; 2 Peter 2:1-22; 3:3-6; Jude 1-25. Every one of these passages emphasizes over and over again that the great characteristic of the final time of the church will be that of apostasy. The New Testament pictures the condition within the professing church at the end of the age by a system of denials.

Denial of GOD — Luke 17:26; 2 Timothy 3:4-5
Denial of CHRIST — 1 John 2:18; 4:3; 2 Peter 2:6
Denial of CHRIST’S RETURN — 2 Peter 3:3-4
Denial of THE FAITH — 1 Timothy 4:1-2; Jude 3
Denial of SOUND DOCTRINE — 2 Timothy 4:3-4
Denial of THE SEPARATED LIFE — 2 Timothy 3:1-7
Denial of CHRISTIAN LIBERTY — 1 Timothy 4:3-4
Denial of MORALS — 2 Timothy 3:1-8,13; Jude 18
Denial of AUTHORITY — 2 Timothy 3:4 [2]"

"As can be observed from the above characterizations, apostasy occurs in two basic areas: 1) doctrinal defection from the Bible, and 2) immoral or ungodly behavior. The clear course of the last days for the church consists of constant warnings to the believer, especially to pastors and leaders, to be on guard within the flock against doctrinal defection, commonly known as apostasy. Such a characteristic provides for the believer today a clear sign that we are in the last days of the church age."

Forsaken Fotos, Creative Commons
Judgment began in the house of God. It continues. It is most evident in the form of apostasy. The faithless who in fact worship demons fall away, and as they fall, they tumble the walls of the church with them, exposing the goats and shearing the sheep.

The Lord's return must be very close. As apostasy rises we rejoice that the Lord has a plan. He plans to return after He allows faithlessness to run its course. He will establish His holy hill, and the government will be upon His shoulders. No one will disbelieve again. No one will fall away again. No one will be persecuted for speaking the truth again. Hold on, dear brethren. Let the Lord find you standing when He returns.

by Aeterium


6 comments:

  1. Over the past year and a half, you have opened my eyes regarding discernment. Today, in particular, was especially meaningful to me, and I wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your writing. Thank you for such good and faithful teaching!

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    Replies
    1. Laurie, thank YOU! I'm thrilled that anything here can be of help or comfort. Have a blessed week :)

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  2. Elizabeth,

    So very well said. And JJ Prasch and Thomas Ice nailed it. The apostasy is unfathomable at this time.

    1 Thess 4... esp verse 18.

    -Carolyn

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  3. I've read this verse I don't know how many times but it just hit today before I read your post.

    30 “An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets prophesy falsely, And the priests rule [m]on their own authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it? (Jeremiah 5:30-31)

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  4. Amen! It is always amazing to me when I present this information to fellow professing believers that they either think I have totally jumped the shark, or they think that I am the one twisting things in a warped point of view. So many professed believers just cannot see the plain truth of apostasy. It seems so clear and obvious to me, I just can't relate to how blind most are to it.
    --Jennifer

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  5. Apostasy has always been there especially during the 3rd century through the 15th century when the Roman church was in power and the true church of Christ was dying. The clearest sign of Christ's return is the regathering of Israel.

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