Of all the end-time themes discussed in the Bible—such as global disasters (Mt 24), the rise of the global super-state, the identity of the Antichrist, the mark of the beast, and the Magog invasion (Ezek 38–39)—deception and apostasy in the church is listed more times than any other end-time sign of the times. In fact, I would say that end-times deception is the greatest threat to Christians alive today. Therefore, we need to consider what we can do to safeguard ourselves and our families.
The Age of Apostasy
Jesus warned in His Olivet Discourse saying, “Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. In both his letter to Timothy and the Thessalonians the apostle Paul warns them that “in latter times some will depart from the faith,” and “that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first.” In both references Paul is writing about apostasy.
The Antidote for Apostasy
- Stay Connected: The writer to the Hebrews states, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” The Church is not called to build bunkers but to gather with the brethren so that the Body of Christ may be built up and the Gospel might be preached. Fellowship with Christians you trust is essential. Secure alliances with fellow Believers provides bridges rather than fences. Remember the wisdom from Solomon, “A man who isolates himself seeks his own desire; he rages against all wise judgment.”
- Stay Sharp: Peter identified the objective of Satan by stating, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” Paul warned Timothy, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Soberness is a state of mind. This mind is not controlled by the influences of the World. Although there is so much out there that is competing for our attention and affections, we need to be very careful concerning those influences that dull our senses and captivate our heart. A misused personal freedom is a double bondage. Paul put it this was, “All things are lawful for me, but all things are not helpful. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any.” In contrast, a sharp mind will see danger and avoid it.
- Stay on Target: There are many voices that are crying out for attention or offering advice in theses troubling times. Therefore, many people seek the safety of their own personal storehouses. They tend to major on the minor issues which causes them to miss the major issues of life itself; the temporal eclipses the eternal. Jesus taught, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Again, in review of Paul’s instructions to Timothy we see him saying, “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.” We should never under estimate the power and provision of God toward those who trust in Him.
- Stay in God’s Word: Our best source of direction for the course of our life is the resource of God’s eternal Word. Most of us are familiar with 2 Timothy 3:16, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” Do we actually use the Word of God as our primary source for guidance and protection? Do we weigh our decisions on the scales of the Holy Scripture, do we drive our opinions through the gates of Biblical scrutiny, or do test our passions in the fire of God’s judgment? The Psalmist give us the attitude we should have regarding the incorporation of God’s Word into our daily lives. “How can a young man cleanse his way? By taking heed according to Your word. With my whole heart I have sought You; Oh, let me not wander from Your commandments! I will meditate on Your precepts, and contemplate Your ways. I will delight myself in Your statutes; I will not forget Your word. Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You. Blessed are You, O Lord! Teach me Your statutes. With my lips I have declared all the judgments of Your mouth. I have rejoiced in the way of Your testimonies, as much as in all riches.” Don’t just Survive, Thrive! In next month’s “Personal Update” news journal we will be looking at some practical guidelines for how to “Stay in God’s Word.”