Bible Warns of Apostasy and Persecution, Part 3
In our previous installment – Bible Warns of Apostasy and Persecution, Part 2 – we went over a second biblical sign that indicates we are in the last part of the end times. Aside from the growing derision surrounding the notion of Jesus’ return to this earth that we highlighted in Part 1 (2 Peter 3:2-4), we provided biblical evidence that shows just how bad people will become during the last portion of these end times. We referenced 2 Timothy 3:1-5 because Paul gets right to the heart of the matter where society is concerned.
It’s easy to read Paul’s words in context and not fully grasp their meaning. It’s when we see them against current societal norms that we begin to understand what Paul actually meant. We have to allow the text to speak to us, to paint an accurate picture of what has transpired in global society. It’s not pretty by any stretch and if the current levels of behavior in society are any indication, it’s only going to get worse. Sadly, people have not gotten as low as they can get yet. There is still some room yet to fall further. Makes you wonder exactly how bad things were during the time of Noah and Lot, doesn’t it?
But another sign that we are nearing the end of this age is the fact that there is coming a “falling away” or what is also known as the “great apostasy.” Scholars and commentators alike have argued over the meaning of this term for quite a while. Can it actually include Christians here or is the term applied only to secular society? Let’s look at the text first.
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, who opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, displaying himself as being God (2 Thessalonians 2:3-4).
Paul is referencing a time of the Lord’s return and he is trying to calm the nerves of the believers in Thessalonica, who had begun to believe that the “day of the Lord” (referenced as “it” in the above text), had already occurred. I don’t want to go too deeply into the meaning of the “day of the Lord” here because that’s not the point of this series. Some believe the “day of the Lord” to start with the Rapture of the Church and will also include the Tribulation period of seven years, concluding with our Lord’s physical return to this planet. Others believe the “day of the Lord” refers to just the Tribulation period and Jesus’ return, while still others believe this only refers to the Lord’s actual return to this planet.
As I say, we are talking about signs that tell us we are in the final portion of the end times that lead directly up to the physical return of Jesus in what we call the Second Coming. In this text, Paul notes that the day of the Lord – “it” – “will not come unless the apostasy comes first” or the “great falling away” depending upon your particular translation. Paul is saying that there will come a time in global society when the entire world will experience a full-scale apostasy, but apostasy from what?
I believe Paul speaks of an apostasy from “the truth” here. If we see society now, we see that truth has become quite relative. There is nothing absolute about anything now. Much of what people consider to be “truth” is simply the latest fad or fashion defined solely by how people feel about something. Many to most decisions made today are based largely on emotional virtue, which is nothing more than political correctness or Cultural Marxism. Determining truth based on these things really creates a moving palette of “truth” that changes based on new “information” or “evidence.” Those who refuse to accept this new “truth” are often ostracized and denigrated, pushed to the outer fringes of society and often referred to as “haters.” Whatever will work to silence them is what is done.
Today, God’s truth is often seen as “hate-speech.” Those who “cling” to what are considered to be archaic ideas (God’s truth), must be silenced through ridicule, etc. This is an end run around the 1st Amendment and is designed to cause people who hold the Bible up as the final (and only) true authority to be silenced.
It is clear that this type of thinking will infect and affect those in secular society because we see it happening. The big question is could this also infect and affect those who consider themselves to be Christian? I believe without doubt those who truly have salvation but lack fellowship with God will self-censor and silence themselves rather than stand up for truth and take a chance of being ridiculed, embarrassed, or shunned. Peer pressure continues to have a tremendous effect on the weak.
It will also mean for those who don’t kow-tow to the “virtue” of the world’s new societal norms, a loss of employment and other things. Those who are not walking with Jesus closely will quite possibly succumb to the temptation to deny Christ in some form, if by no other means than by becoming and remaining silent. Those who do will excuse themselves as not actively denying Him though since they didn’t voice their opposition to Him.
In Mark 14:66-72, we read the narrative of Peter denying Jesus three times. It wasn’t long before this incident occurred that Peter voiced his own opinion that he would never deny Jesus. This he did and to his own shame. But did he lose his salvation because of it? No, he did not. However, it is very safe to say that his fellowship with God was impacted because of his sin of denying Jesus (lying). If Peter could do it, couldn’t any Christian who does not walk closely with the Lord? It is absolutely likely.
As time marches toward the culmination of all things, in order to survive, we will see a growing number of authentic Christians (as well as those who simply profess to be Christian but are not), finding excuses to adopt the world’s view of what is right and wrong. Most people want to be accepted. Who willingly wants to suffer any form of persecution if it can be avoided? The temptation will become too great for too many because they will have lived so long outside of any real fellowship with Jesus. Though they may have true salvation, when the pressure really starts to heat up, they will have nothing to draw on because they’ve never really enjoyed the kind of fellowship that Jesus seeks with His own (cf. Revelation 3:20). Without the strength that stems from close fellowship with God, these Christians will cave into the demands of the world and will also join in with them against other brothers and sisters in the Lord who will stand strong in Christ (Matthew 10:21).
Anyone who deigns to stand on the truth of God’s Word will be judged harshly by the world. We’re already seeing it happen. Again though, does this mean that any Christian who “apostatizes” or “falls away” will lose their salvation? No, and I don’t believe the issue of salvation is what Paul is speaking of here. I believe he is referencing the fact that those Christians who walk as the world walks will fall away from the truth as the world will. The truth is being redefined and those Christians who have no real fellowship with God will not be empowered to resist the world that compels them to move away from God’s truth. It has nothing to do with losing our salvation (which I believe is impossible). It has everything to do with being empowered to live a life that brings glory to God and that can only occur when we are in fellowship with God.
Our salvation is safe and secure. It will never come into question. We can never lose it. However, I do think there will be many Christians who will stand before Jesus on the day of their judgment (BEMA Seat) who will become painfully aware that they did not stand strong in the Lord. Instead, they gave into the pull of this world that has been designed by Satan to reject God in all His truth, glory, and love. I believe this is exactly what Paul speaks of 1 Corinthians 3:11-12.
You can be one of the Christians who does not see all of his/her works burned up like wood, hay, and stubble if you will draw close to Him. It is the only way to avoid the coming apostasy.
Entry filed under: christianity, Cultural Marxism, Emotional virtue, Political Correctness, Politically Correct, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation, second coming. Tags: apostasy, faith, faithfulness, falling away, great apostasy.