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Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, andour gathering together to Him, that you may not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction (2 Thess. 2:1-3).
If we aren’t living now, at this moment, in the days of that same apostasy, that will precede the rise of antichrist, it seems we have to be getting very close. Some think we are and might be correct. 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 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.
The Leaders are Not Qualified Spiritually
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). 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 highestoffice in the church.
When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled,ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus (Acts 4:13).
The word translated ordinary in the Greek is the word we get idiot from. 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:
Then they prayed, “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” (Acts 1:24,25).
Paul said he was not a trained speaker either, but was the greatest example Christianity ever produced:
I may not be a trained speaker, but I do have knowledge. We have made this perfectly clear to you in every way (2 Cor. 11:6).
(Note: knowledge has nothing to do with being a trained speaker or not.) Elsewhere Paul wrote that false teachers can be smooth talkers. It is still like this in our day:
For such people are not serving our Lord Christ, but their own appetites. By smooth talk and flattery they deceive the minds of naive people (Rom. 16:18).
Even Moses, God’s premium choice in his day to be the spiritual leader over Israel, was noteloquent in speech, but was instead slow in speech and tongue:
Moses said to the LORD, “O Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.” The LORD said to him, “Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the LORD? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.” But Moses said, “O Lord, please send someone else to do it.” Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses and he said, “What about your brother,Aaron the Levite? I know he can speak well. He is already on his way to meet you, and his heart will be glad when he sees you.” (Ex. 4:10-14)
Remember: God overlooked Aaron, who was Moses’s older brother and who spoke well, to pick Moses, who was slow of speech and tongue.
Either one of the two Scriptural standards in 1 Tim. 3 or Titus would eliminate 99% of the spiritual leaders in the church of our hour—together there would be almost a clean sweep. Our present day spiritual leaders, for the most part, are ignorant of the Scriptures, slothful, worldly, spiritually blind, pleasure seekers 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. One such example would be the people who wrongly think water baptism is necessary for forgiveness of sins.Another is keeping the Saturday Sabbath for salvation.
Moreover, 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. Getting back to Moses and Aaron, later in Exodus we read where Aaron, as a spiritual leader, failed and stumbled the vast majority into idolatry with the golden calf. He was a prime example of a man-pleaser, like many are today.
Similarly, in our day, 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 did not send these prophets, yet they have run with their message; I did not speak to them, yet they have prophesied (Jer. 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.
He must not be a recent convert, or he may become conceited and fall under the same judgment as the devil (1 Tim. 3:6).
Scripture says blind leaders are spiritually dangerous people:
If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit (Mat. 15:14).
Youths oppress my people, women rule over them. O my people, your guides lead you astray; they turn you from the path (Isa. 3:12).
You have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble. . . (Mal. 2:8).
Blind leaders are everywhere, yet considered reputable and informed. They are even in Bible colleges and seminaries.
Too Little Time for the Bible
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. 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 fed wholesome spiritual food, 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 everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us (Titus 2:7,8).
Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God (2 Cor. 2:17).
If anyone speaks, he should do it as one speaking the very words of God … (1 Pet. 4:11).
I 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.
There is no doubt that the devil has been busy and very successful tempting people into sin and 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. 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 deception are so prevalent, it is often grievingto attend a church service. It seems to be a repeat from Jeremiah’s day:
To whom can I speak and give warning? Who will listen to me? Their ears are closed so they cannot hear. The word of the LORD is offensive to them; they find no pleasure 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 offensivebecause 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 Holy Spirit conviction upon them, because such won’t be tolerated by the complacent pew warmers.
In one denominational “church” various potential pastors were candidating for the position and one of the so-called elders, who would help decide who would be the next pastor, said 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.
Of all of the damnable heresies that are being preached by the blind guides, the worst one iseternal security (also known as the perseverance of the saints or once saved always saved). This security-in-sin gospel has spread around the world and many now question the salvation of a true Christian who rejects it. Many of the same don’t question the salvation of an adulterer or drunkard who was once saved, but do if you dismiss eternal security.
As mentioned earlier, one of the spiritual qualifications for a leader in the church is doctrinal soundness. To be more precise, he must be able to refute those that oppose sound doctrine(Titus 1:9). Our hour is so dark, that the established leaders themselves are boldly teaching the damnable heresy of eternal security as the gospel itself instead of refuting it as should be done. The heretics are supposed to be outside the church, but now they have the platforms in the church, at the radio and TV stations, with book publishers and they have won the favor of large donators. The deadly lies about eternal security continually gush forth, with little to no challenge at all, to the eternal detriment of precious, sincere souls who really want to know the truth.
Moreover, many of the few who recognize eternal security is not a Christian teaching think that Christians of present and past can (or did) teach this doctrine which is the exact opposite of what the Book of Jude proclaims. How could it be this bad except for apostasy! Even the so-calleddiscernment, countercult and apologetic ministries teach and try to defend eternal security. We have noticed that many who come out of a false religion like Mormonism, Catholicism or Jehovah’s Witnesses, often get immediately ensnared by one of these counter cult,discernment or berean ministries that teach the damnable heresy of eternal security.
The Prosperity Message is a subtle poison which promotes greed and materialism. I remember hearing one such teacher say he can tell what kind of faith a person has by the kind of car he drives.Such is so far from the message of the Bible that it bears no resemblance. If it was Biblical, then the Lord’s disciples, who were poor, must have had weak faith which is flatly refuted by Jesus himself:
I [Jesus] know your afflictions and your poverty—yet you are rich! (Rev. 2:9).
Jesus saw their material poverty, yet he said they were rich spiritually! Such is also seen in the life of Paul. According to the following, he was materially poor, yet very rich spiritually. Listen to his concise autobiography:
For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like men condemned to die in the arena. We have been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to men. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored! To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty, we are in rags, we are brutally treated,we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world (1 Cor. 4:9-13).
Sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; poor, yet making many rich; having nothing, and yet possessing everything (2 Cor. 6:10).
Some of the prosperity teachers also have taught if you have enough faith, you will never suffer persecution. That is clearly not the teaching of Scripture, especially since Stephen was a man who was filled with faith, yet was persecuted to his physical death (Acts 6:5 cf. 7:54-60). Jesus also said his disciples would be hated and persecuted:
If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. Remember the words I spoke to you: “No servant is greater than his master.” If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also (John 15:19,20).
If material possessions would indicate how close to God one was and/or how much faith or Scriptural knowledge he had, then Paul and his traveling companions were very far from where they should have been. But that certainly was not the case. They were very close to God and therefore material possessions were low on their priority list. They lived holy and committed lives as they often risked their physical lives for the cause of souls. Those are the kinds of examples that turned the world upside down in their generation. It has always been this way. For one to really stir his generation it takes a holy commitment to God that won’t be moved even in the face of death.
Little or No Fear of God
Because of the false teachings in our day, especially eternal security and that there is no fiery hell awaiting the wicked after their physical death, 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.
It is plenty bad enough with the aforementioned, but there is yet another mountainous problem that certainly identifies our present day church as apostate. This one is sometimes known as the ecumenical movement. This horrible apostate hour has various ministers from Catholic to protestant swapping pulpits at least once a year. Such religious community leaders also meet together as a spiritual family and plan different kinds of religious events. They all seem to consider the other one Christian, and it is probably the person with the most people or money under his influence that will be in charge of the group!
In one assembly, a Catholic representative was scheduled to have communion at the Easter Sunrise Service along with the Christians there in a protestant denomination. Imagine that. Such an unholy alliance has led to more and more problems and people being led away from the truth and even becoming Catholic. If this doesn’t smell like apostasy how much more will it take? By becoming a friend with the world many have become enemies of God again (James 4:4):
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. If you point these things out to the brothers, you will be a good minister of Christ Jesus, brought up in the truths of the faith and of the good teaching that you have followed (1 Tim. 4:1-6).
But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God—having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them (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 so-called Lord’s prayerand apostles creed, but that is not the common denominator for true Christian unity. Holiness and sound doctrine are.
The Pre-Tribulation Rapture Myth
Another ear-tickling teaching is the pre-trib rapture doctrine. This teaching states before real hard times, including nuclear war and the rise of antichrist, the Christians will meet the Lord in the air and forever be with him in paradise. This has put the Christians off their guard and causes them to be unprepared for serious trouble and problems such as this world has never seen before and never will have again. Imagine living in a society where people will openly worship the devil and the antichrist! The laws will dictate that no person will buy or sell anything without the mark of the antichrist on the forehead or right hand. To receive that mark to continue to eat food and buy gasoline for your car, etc. will mean that you will give your allegiance to the devil’s man and even worship him or his image. There will be no churches to go to, no Christian internet sites, Bibles will be hard to come by, etc. Wickedness will reign, but it will still be worse! The antichrist will target true Christians and locate them. With the technology we have today it is very easy to see how this could happen. The ones who remain faithful to Jesus will refuse the mark and either get their heads cut off or they will go into captivity:
Men worshiped the dragon because he had given authority to the beast, and they also worshiped the beast and asked, “Who is like the beast? Who can make war against him?” The beast was given a mouth to utter proud words and blasphemies and to exercise his authority for forty-two months. He opened his mouth to blaspheme God, and to slander his name and his dwelling place and those who live in heaven. He was given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them. And he was given authority over every tribe, people, language and nation. All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast—all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world. He who has an ear, let him hear. If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints (Rev. 13:4-10).
I saw thrones on which were seated those who had been given authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony for Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshiped the beast or his image and had not received his mark on their foreheads or their hands. They came to life and reigned with Christ a thousand years (Rev 20:4).
There will be no worldwide Christian revival, like some think will occur and then usher in the return of the Lord. Such is not found in the pages of the Bible. With the above being the future of this planet, according to the Bible, how can so many be deceived by the prevalent teaching of a pre-trib rapture? Just wanting this to be true doesn’t make it true.
Now is the time to prepare yourself spiritually for death and martyrdom, which all Christians should walk in constantly anyway. The blood of the saints will flow, as the heads of the faithful roll. Dear Christian, if we are the last generation this will include you too, unless you make the spiritually fatal decision to take the mark to save your physical life. Are you prepared to face the antichrist and die for your faith? The Christians that succumb to the pressures to save their physical lives and take the mark will lose their salvation. They will only be gaining a few years at most and will get painful, ugly sores here and now, even before being thrown into the lake of fire for eternity. There will be no repentance for them:
A third angel followed them and said in a loud voice: “If anyone worships the beast and his image and receives his mark on the forehead or on the hand, he, too, will drink of the wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of his wrath. He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name.” This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus(Rev. 14:9-12).
Our generation loves religious fairytales, including the pre-trib teaching. Even some that know the teaching of eternal security (or the Calvinistic equivalent of “the perseverance of the saints”) is demonic, love the pre-trib rapture myth. One can only wonder when nuclear war breaks out, what will happen to the faith of many that believe they should have been raptured, but weren’t? Many will probably fall away when that occurs because they were taught wrongly.
Besides all of the above grievous problems, the devil has ripped and splintered even more of the few real Christians over the ridiculous KJV only issue. Please know that I’m not referring to all KJV users, just those who think the KJV is the only Bible that contains God’s word. To these people the chief issue is to see to it that every Christian only reads the archaic and almost incomprehensible KJV. To them all other translations are perversions. One of their chief unscholarly scholars, Gail Riplinger, seems to focus on left out words, phrases or verses that the newer translations don’t have when compared to the KJV. It apparently has never dawned on her or her followers, that perhaps the KJV added those words, phrases and verses. (Please see our Critique of Gail Riplinger’s Scholarship and KJV Onlyism.)
If one reads only the KJV he will have a limited understanding of the Bible because the wording is so outdated and misleading. Not only will the words, that few have ever heard of before, frustrate and discourage the KJV onlyite, the words they think they know often mean something different. In one congregation, they first read the KJV, then immediately read a newer translation to find out what the KJV Scripture was saying!
The people that fight for the King James Bible alone are, from our observation, mainly very aggressive, misinformed and highly divisive. They consider you unworthy to teach them, even on a subject they mutually agree on, unless you use only the KJV. To them, all books not based exclusively on the KJV, are at best inferior, solely on this single point.
At other times they are seemingly rational, but when it comes to this, they blindly repeat what they have been taught by their misinformed leaders. As discouraged, beaten down and disappointed many Christians are in our dark hour, this KJV only issue has actually made it worse. It is the icing on the devil’s cake to cause even more harm.
The Yeshua Group
Similar to the KJV onlyism group are the Yeshua people. Many, but not all, of these same people adamantly insist that Messiah’s name is Yeshua and to use the name Jesus is pagan! To try to reason with some of these people is like trying to penetrate the rock of Gibralter with a water pistol. They don’t care that Jesus’ apostles were Hebrew, who wrote the New Testament in Greek, and the transliteration into English of the Greek name for Messiah is J-e-s-u-s. Apart from these facts, they also overlook and can’t explain how so many people have been brought to salvation and healed physically because of faith in the name of Jesus. If the holy, precious name of Jesus is really pagan as they say, then why would God honor it as he has for all these centuries?
Furthermore, some of these Yeshua groups also believe in Saturday Sabbath keeping for salvationand the keeping of Old Testament dietary laws!
Dark Days Getting Darker
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 will precede the rise of antichrist. So could this be the great apostasy that the Bible speaks of? Some think so and they might be right! Perhaps the great apostasy referred to in 2 Thess. 2 is also alluded to in the following passage:
Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faithand will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people (Mat. 24:9-11).
Certainly, Mt. 24:10 is referring to an apostasy, but it is associated with persecution and being put to death for the Christian faith. This would also fit into the days of the reign of antichrist, but not yet, at least not here in the USA. (In countries outside the USA, Christians are now dying for the faith.) Remember, Jesus taught the following to those already saved:
All men will hate you because of me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved (Mat. 10:22).