Leaving Laodicea
450 - How to Prepare for the Coming Apostasy

450 - How to Prepare for the Coming Apostasy

February 19, 2020

When we have the discernment that Jesus spoke about to know the "signs of the times" (Matt. 16:3), it becomes clear we are living in the last days.  In fact, there are several key signs that bring us to this conclusion.

  1. The regathering of Israel into their own land
  2. The surging apostasy
  3. The coming Middle East peace
  4. The reuniting of the Roman Empire (East, West, both?)
  5. Globalism

For the church today, the most important of these prophetic signs is the rising tide of apostasy or defection from God and the Christian faith.  We see this happening almost daily within the ranks of the church.  As we have already discussed, apostasy means to "depart, revolt, or forsake.  It is a deliberate defection from a formerly held religious position."  Apostasy doesn't necessarily mean a total rejection of God or the authority of His Scripture.  Apostasy can come in stages.  It usually begins with a defection from a section of Scripture or a specific teaching that is incompatible with the current cultural church mood.  Some examples are the issue of homosexuality, divorce, women pastors, abortion, or a myriad of other issues that divide the Body today.  And once a small defection takes place, full-blown apostasy is not far behind.

But this shouldn't surprise us.  After all, Jesus said in Matthew 24 the greatest sign of His return was deception.  And He warned His disciples about that deception four times (Matt. 24:4, 5,11, 24).  He even went so far as to say the deception at the end would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).  And the elect includes Peter, Paul, James and John, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and you and me.  That's a sobering thought that should not be taken lightly.

So what can we do to prepare for the coming apostasy?


The Apostasy is Coming

Or, how do we prevent falling prey to the deception that will only get greater as the Day approaches?  Great question.  You must know what you believe, and why.  You must personally experience God for who He is.  You cannot ride on the coattails of another’s faith.  Your faith must be your own.  And you must understand how overwhelmingly powerful the deception will be in the end times and be prepared.

Ask yourself the following questions: Has God ever revealed Himself to you in an unmistakable fashion that left no doubt?  Has He ever revealed Himself to you through His Word?  If so, what was that experience like?  How did it change your view of Scripture?  Do you hunger for more of Him?  Has that hunger led you to read more of His Word?  And if not, why?

Once you begin to understand the power of His Word and the wisdom He gives you through His Word, what the world offers is nothing more than pocket change.  You, through Him, have more wisdom than the talking heads on CNN.  You have more understanding than those who make acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards and spend that time telling you how to live.  You are the dwelling place of God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, which makes you a living sanctuary of the Presence of God.

Tell me what the world has that you don't.  Exactly.  Nuthin'!

The following is a study on How to Prepare for the Coming Apostasy and 1 Corinthians 2.

449 - The Limitations of Apologetics

449 - The Limitations of Apologetics

February 18, 2020

As the Scriptures claim, one of the greatest signs of the end is the mass defection or apostasy from the Christian faith by those who once claimed to be believers.  Paul, in his letter to Timothy, warns that the "Spirit expressly says that (when) in latter times (who) some (what) will depart from the faith, (how) giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons" (1 Timothy 4:1).  This great apostasy is characterized by a rebellion or revolt against God and His Word.  And it is promoted by those who once claimed Jesus as Lord but are now "giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons."  Peter says "scoffers will come in the last days" (2 Peter 3:3-4).  Jude calls them "mockers" (Jude 17-19).

So what are we to do in the face of this great apostasy?  How do we answer skeptics when they demand we "prove our God exists?"  How do we defend our faith in the unseen God?  What are we to do?  Historically, the answer has been to study up on apologetics and be prepared to go toe to toe with those who demand answers from us void of faith.  But is that the real purpose of apologetics?  I'm not so sure.

For the message (or, preaching) of the cross is foolishness (mōría - folly, absurdity, moronic, stupid, senseless, foolhardy, insane) to (who) those who are perishing (or, being destroyed completely, to render void), but to (who) us who are being saved (to deliver, make whole, preserve safe from danger, loss, or destruction) it (the message of the cross) is the power (dúnamis) of God - 1 Corinthians 1:18.

Our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic to those who are perishing.  Period.  And apologetics won't change that fact.  Think about it, our God doesn't need defending.  He can take care of Himself.  And you cannot lead someone to Christ by logically answering all their questions about faith and the Scriptures to their satisfaction.  Why?  Because faith in Him is a gift from God and, before God imparts faith to the individual, the lost are incapable of believing the Gospel.  To them, our faith in the cross of Christ is moronic.

So, is apologetics important?  Absolutely.  But not necessarily in the way you think.


Apologetics

The purpose of apologetics is for you to have all your questions answered about God and salvation and to allow your faith to grow strong.  It is not for the direct benefit of the lost.  This is what 1 Corinthians 1 and 2 shows in graphic detail.  It has always been God's plan to thwart man's wisdom by revealing Himself through something man considers foolish.  He does this to bring to nothing the wisdom of this world and, in turn, exalt faith in Him as the key that opens the door of salvation.  Consider the following from 1 Corinthians 1:21-22:

Question:  Where is the wise (or, respected, learned philosophers and experts)?
Question:  Where is the scribe (or, writers, scholars)?
Question:  Where is the disputer (or, debater, reasoner, influencer) of this age?
Question:  Has not (who) God made (what) foolish the wisdom of this world (kósmos)
Answer:  Absolutely!

But why?

For since, in the (what) wisdom of God, the world through (its) wisdom did not know (ginōskō - or choose to know) God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached (foolishness to those who are perishing) to save those who believe (faith).

The reason for apologetics is for you to be secure in your faith and not necessarily to convince someone by the power of your arguments to receive Christ.  That is a sovereign act of God alone.  And prior to the impartation of faith in the elect, our most important argument is foolishness (stupid, ridiculous, moronic, insane) to those who are perishing.  Jesus never gave signs for others to believe in Him. So let me ask you just a few questions about your belief vs. God's wisdom.

  • Do you believe in the creation account in Genesis?
  • Do you believe in the virgin birth?
  • Do you believe in the floating ax head?
  • Do you believe in the lion’s den or the fiery furnace?
  • Do you believe in the fall of Jericho?
  • Do you believe a good God sometimes does things that don’t seem so good to us today?
  • Do you believe God rewards faith and punishes unbelief?

Are there parts of His Word that you don’t believe?  If so, you are on very dangerous ground.  Why?  Because Jesus said the deception in the last days would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24).  And that includes you and me.

As we see the day of His return approaching, it is vital to know what we believe to be true.  For help in securing your belief against apostasy, keep listening.

The following is a study on the Limitations of Apologetics as found in 1 Corinthians 1:18-31.

421 - The Wicked Witch of Thyatira

421 - The Wicked Witch of Thyatira

October 31, 2017

The Lord said some rather horrific things about the church at Thyatira.  In fact, His words to this sinning church should strike fear in all of us who have leadership positions in our own church.  Consider the following:

"Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts.  And I will give to each one of you according to your works" (Revelation 2:20-23).


The Sin of Thyatira

So what was the sin of Thyatira?  Was it Jezebel, or the teaching of Jezebel that led God's people into sin?  Or was it the sin itself?  Was it the sexual immorality and idolatry the church freely embraced?

No, as sobering as it sounds, the sin in Thyatira was not Jezebel.  It was the church, and the leadership of the church, that allowed the teaching of Jezebel into the church.  They were asleep at the wheel.  There was no watchman on the wall.  No guard at the gate of the church.  No protective shepherd watching over the sheep.  Nothing.

So what does this say about our leadership today that allows all sorts of sin and false teaching into the church just to give the appearance of growth or vitality or acceptance by the culture?  What does it say about the prosperity gospel or multi-campus mega-churches or rock concerts disguised as worship experiences?  Where do we fit into all of this?

If you are concerned about how this letter to Thyatira applies to the church of today, then keep listening.

The following is a study on the Lord's letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.

419 - Thyatira - The Church of Sin and Corruption

419 - Thyatira - The Church of Sin and Corruption

October 25, 2017

In our Lord's seven letters to His seven churches, He says both good and bad things about three of the churches (Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira).  Two churches have only good things said about them (Smyrna and Philadelphia) and two have only bad (Sardis and Laodicea).  And when we look at how these seven letters lay out for us church history in advance, we would assume the church that represents the Medieval church, the church of the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church, would have only bad things said about it.

But that's not what happens.  In fact, incredulously, the Lord says some pretty good things about the church at Thyatira, which represents the Catholic church (along with some pretty bad things too).  For example:

“I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first" - Revelation 2:19.

Note this is the first time the Lord commends a church for their love (agapē).  Love?  How can He say that about a church known for corruption, false doctrine and the Inquisition?  And then He says the church that represents the Catholic church is actually getting better.  After all, our Lord says, "I know your works" and "the last are more than the first."  Really?  How can that be? How can the Lord have anything good to say about a church filled with so much corruption and have nothing good to say about the church (Sardis) that shed their own blood to remove themselves from that corruption? 

How is that possible?  Is there something we’re missing?

I think so.  To find out more, keep listening.

The following is a study on the Lord's letter to the church at Thyatira in Revelation 2:18-29.

416 - The Church in a Bad Marriage

416 - The Church in a Bad Marriage

August 25, 2017

The word Pergamos comes from a combination of two Greek words that mean "mixed, objectionable" and "marriage."  Pergamos therefore means a "mixed marriage" that is "objectionable" to God.  Prophetically, it represents the marriage of the church and state where the state elevates the church to a place of acceptance or political correctness at the expense of the church’s devotion to God.

Look at what the Lord had to say about this church:

"But I have a few things against you, because you have there (in the church) those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  Thus you also have those (in the church) who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate" - Revelation 2:14-15.


The Sin of Compromise

The church, although commended by Christ for the fact they have not denied His name under severe trials and suffering (Rev. 2:13), nevertheless dropped the ball and allowed those into the church who were heretics and sought to drive the believers away from God and into sin.  And the church did nothing about it.  Why?  Because, like the church of today, they allowed themselves to compromise with the world and allow all sorts of worldliness into His church.  And they also showed a glaring lack of discernment and church discipline.

Sadly, the same can be said of the church today.  Which raises a couple of questions:

How should we, as His church, respond to compromise and worldliness in the church?
What can we do as a congregation to foster a spirit of holiness in our time together?
What can you, as a member of His body, do to present yourself before Him spotless?
What areas of your life need to be addressed?
And what are you prepared to do about it?

The following is a study on Jesus' letter to the church at Pergamos, Revelation 2:12-17.

414 - The Blessings of Persecution

414 - The Blessings of Persecution

August 20, 2017

Sometimes there are passages in the Scripture that confound even the most mature Believer.  These are the ones that seem to defy logic, ones that fly in the face of our cherished sensibilities.  For example, in Luke 6:30 the Lord tells us to "Give to everyone who asks of you.  And from him who takes away your goods do not ask them back."  But Jesus gives no qualifier in this verse.  The person who asks for your stuff may be a bum, a greedy businessman, or the government.  How are we supposed to follow that command?

Another example deals with how we respond to a personal attack.  Jesus said, "But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also" (Matt. 5:39-40).  How does this play out in real life in real time?  If the church followed this command the future of the legal profession would be in great peril.

But one of the hardest teachings in Scripture, especially to an opulent, narcissistic church like we have today, is the idea that suffering or persecution could be a good thing.  That sentiment is hard to swallow, let alone believe.  How could persecution be a good thing?  Ever?  To anybody?


The Church at Smyrna

In the second of our Lord's seven personal epistles to His church, found in Revelation 2 and 3, He has nothing but kind words to say about the church at Smyrna (Rev. 2:8-11).   And the primary characteristic of this church was their faithful perseverance under extreme persecution that lasted centuries.  We would be well advised as a church, and as individuals, to emulate in our life what brought this church such praise from our Lord.

To find out more about the Lord's letter to the church at Smyrna, and what we can learn about our own view of suffering, then keep listening.

The following is a study on Jesus’ letter to the church at Smyrna, Revelation 2:8-11.

343 - The Spiritual Hat Trick: Mark, Luke and Demas

343 - The Spiritual Hat Trick: Mark, Luke and Demas

April 11, 2016
In the closing verses of Colossians we are introduced to a list of names, a list of those beloved and commended by Paul.  And in the midst of those names we find Mark, Luke, and a guy named Demas.  We can basically summarize their lives this way:

Mark - started out weak but finished strong.
Luke - was always growing in his commitment to Christ and others.
Demas - started out strong and finished... horrible!

And if you have ears to hear, you can find your spiritual life embedded in the lives of these three men.  

Are you interested?  Maybe intrigued?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on Colossians 4:7-18  and 2 Timothy 4:9-11.

303 - Our Bonhoeffer Moment

303 - Our Bonhoeffer Moment

May 3, 2015
With our society and culture crumbling all around us it behooves the church to assess its commitment to Christ.  Are you hot or cold or lukewarm?  Is Christ on the outside of the church knocking, waiting, for us to open the door and allow Him into His church? (Rev. 3:20).

These are scary times.  But not unprecedented times.  

In fact, it's these very times that bring out the best in the church.  It's times like these where true men and women of God step forward to take their stand for truth.  

It's the time of Daniel, Elijah, John the Baptist and Gideon.

The following is a study on the call of Gideon.

293 - Credibility and Character

293 - Credibility and Character

February 23, 2015
What's the big deal with pastors today calling themselves apostles?  Why are they doing that and how can that be justified from Scripture?  

Or, better yet, what are the qualifications for the office of apostle?  And, once we determine the qualifications, do any of these pastors meet them?  Can anyone meet them today?  Anyone?

The lesson to be learned in all of this is that credibility is not communicated by titles or degrees.  Credibility is communicated by character.  True, God-like character.  And the fact we have men calling themselves apostles today shows us how much we still need to learn as a church, doesn't it?

The following is a study on Colossians 1:1-2.

281 - What Makes a Good Shepherd, Good?

281 - What Makes a Good Shepherd, Good?

January 8, 2015
When Jesus says He is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11) what does He mean?  What makes a shepherd of the sheep, maybe even a faithful shepherd, a good shepherd?  What characteristics or innate virtue qualifies them to be a Good Shepherd?

The answer is simple:  Jesus said, "the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11).  In fact, this specific attribute is repeated four times in 8 verses just to emphasize this very fact (John 10:11, 15, 17, 18).

And Jesus goes one step further.  He says in John 10:17:  "Therefore My Father loves Me, (why) because I lay down My life that I may take it again."

Don't be caught sleeping— these statements by the Lord are deeply profound and life-changing.  Want to know more?  Then keep listening.

The following is a study on John 10:11-21.