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Apostasy of the Church

The Bible tells us that the rapture (catching away) of the church will not come until there is a falling away (apostasy) of the church. This apostasy is one of the indicators that the rapture is not far off. It is a sign of the last days of the Church. Jesus said that many would fall away and that most people's love will grow cold (Matthew 24:10, 12). The apostasy of the church must also occur before the Antichrist can be revealed (2 Thessalonians 2:3). Apostasy is all through the Bible but in this article, we are looking at the apostasy just before the rapture, or catching away of the Church. Apostasy is the most frequently mentioned subject in the entire New Testament.

The apostasy is not the falling away of the world, but the church. In the last days, the Church will be weak and full of apostasy. The Bible gives many indicators of this apostasy. Timothy said that the time would come when Christians will not endure sound doctrine, wanting to have their ears tickled, they would seek out teachers for themselves that meet their own desire and will turn their ears from the truth and turn aside to myths (2 Timothy 4:3-4). This condition is prevalent in today's churches and is quickly growing.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5 we find a description in verses one thru four of the condition in the church. Some think this is the condition of the world but verse five tells us this is in the church. The apostle Paul writes in verse five that these have a form of godliness, in other words, they look like godly Christians, but are not, they deny the power thereof and from such turn away. Most false teachers deny the power of the blood of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. Neither do they accept the Bible as the infallible Word of God. Peter tells us that in the end times people will mock the promise of the Lord's return and the sad thing it is people in the church who are doing this (2 Peter 3:3-4).

Despite being the most frequently mentioned subject in the New Testament, few Christians today have heard a sermon on apostasy in their local church. Apostasy is a negative subject, maybe because it is not a positive subject many preachers don't teach or preach on it. However, Christians should be taught the entire Word of God, both negative and positive.

The apostasy mentioned in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 began in the 1920's. It was then that the German School of Higher Criticism advocated that the Bible should be approached just as any other book of literature. Specifically, the ideas of inspiration and inerrancy should be rejected. The Bible was to be looked at as man's search for God instead of God's revelation to man, a book of myths and legends. This opened the door for many of the false churches, denominations, and teachers of today. Nearly every day now one can hear that one can believe what they want, if it feels good it is OK. Just be sincere since there are many roads to God. However, the Bible tells us of only one road, which is a narrow road which few find. Then it also tells us of a broad road that the majority take and leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13-14). The Bible teaches only ONE way to God and that is through Jesus Christ, John 14:6. This means that there are a lot of sincere, deceived people on their way to hell.

The New Testament gives us warnings that apostasy will involve every major doctrine. Paul, writing in 1 Timothy 4:1 tells us that in latter times some will depart from the faith and give heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils. He is saying that they will deny the faith of Christianity but these apostates will still call themselves Christians.

In Jude 1:4, Jude tells us that they will also deny God Himself. Jude goes on to say they came in unaware and were ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul writes in 2 Timothy 4:3 that they will not endure sound doctrine but shall heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.

Peter tells us there were false prophets among the people and there will be false teachers among us. These false teachers will bring in damnable heresies and deny the Lord that purchased their salvation (2 Peter 2:1).

Peter again tells us these apostates are “willingly” ignorant of God's role in creation (2 Peter 3:5).

The apostates will even deny the coming of Christ, saying that since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation (2 Peter 3:4).

The apostates will deny the resurrection and Paul writing in 1 Corinthians 15:14 tells us that if Christ did not rise up then our preaching is in vain and our faith is also vain. Paul explained that Hymenaeus and Philetus were two that have erred saying that the resurrection is past already and overthrew the faith of some (2 Timothy 2:17-18). To be sure, the apostate teachers and preachers will deny any and all doctrines taught in God's Word.

Paul said in Acts 20:29-31 that after his departing grievous wolves would enter in among them and some in their own group would rise and speak perverse things to draw away disciples after them. Paul continued to tell them to watch and remember that for three years he had warned every one night and day with tears. We are told in Jude 1:4 that these apostates crept in without people realizing it and were ungodly men that turned the grace of our God into lasciviousness and denying the only Lord God, and Our Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ also tells us to beware of these false prophets that come to us in sheep's clothing and inwardly are ravening wolves (Matthew 7:15). So we find apostasy and apostates inside the four walls of the church and not outside in the unsaved world.

Apostasy can happen in days or in a few years. Paul wrote to the Galatians in Galatians 1:6 and said that he marveled that they were turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel. Paul planted churches in modern-day Turkey on his first missionary journey in approximately 48AD. Then when he had left for about one year he wrote to them because they had drifted from the theology he had taught them. They were beginning to take up the teachings of the Judaizers that they not only needed faith as Paul had taught but needed faith and obedience to the Mosaic Law (Galatians 3:3). Paul wrote that having began in the Spirit are you now made perfect by the flesh? Of course not! We are saved by grace through faith and not of works least anyone should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9). So it only took the Galatians one year to fall away into false teachings.

Paul told the Corinthians that he feared that as the serpent (Satan) deceived Eve, that their minds might be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. In 1 Timothy 4:1 Paul tells us that the Holy Spirit says in latter times some shall depart from the faith giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils. From this, we can see that Satan is also behind apostasy.

Satan places ideas into the minds of fallen men in positions of ecclesiastical influence to push the church further into apostasy. Satan also uses believers to lead the church into apostasy. Satan’s ability to use carnal believers, or those who cater to their sin nature, can be seen in the following passages.

1) When Jesus told the disciples that he had to go to Jerusalem and be killed and be raised again Peter rebuked him saying that couldn't happen. However, Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan:” that these things were not of God but of men (Matthew 16:21-23).
2) When Ananias and Sapphira, his wife, sold a possession and kept back a part of the price Peter said, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost (Acts 5:1-4)? So we see Satan once again influencing believers.

Just as the Bible tells us, we have seen a rapid increase of cults and false, apostate, preachers and teachers just in this century. Many Christians are biblically illiterate and don't know why they believe the way they do. These are easy to get deceived into going into one of the religious cults and thousands are going that way, leaving the true church to follow their itching ears. Some of the teachings of these cults are the practice of visualization as a key to prayer, that they can become little gods and salvation that doesn't include the blood of Jesus. Freemasonry has it's blood oaths, salvation by works, and a belief in universal salvation. There are many others but for a small list see articles under "Cults and Other Religions".

Some Ways to Have Spiritual Victory in Time of Apostasy

Join a good fundamental Bible believing Church that is led by Godly men. This would be a place that provides spiritual protection (1 Thessalonians 5:12-14).

Be on guard against sin and error and don't become careless or you will be devoured by the devil and led astray by deception into false teaching (2 Timothy 4:2-4; 1 Peter 5:8; 2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

We are to separate from apostates. Those that believe in ecumenicism don't like separation because it keeps them from building the one world church (2 Timothy 3:5). However, separation keeps us from listening to the false doctrines taught by false teachers.

There are several places in the New Testament that tells us to make sure of your salvation (2 Peter 1:21; 2 Timothy 3:14-15).

We are to follow God's Word and not create new doctrines and new kinds of churches, 2 Timothy 3:14. We are to fight for the faith that has been delivered unto us, which is the Bible (Jude 1:3; 1 Timothy 1:3-4).

We should have complete confidence in the Bible since it is divinely inspired, 2 Timothy 3:15-17. Inspiration literally means “God Breathed”. The Holy Spirit moved men to write as He breathed out the words to write to forty men over a period of about 1700 years (2 Peter 1:21).


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