Scripture warns that as we near the end, apostasy will increase. Christians have an obligation to shine a bright light on darkness and provide a sharp demarcation between true Biblical Christianity and any false substitutes. We must do what we can to provide opportunity to those who have accepted a “substitute” for genuine Biblical Christianity to realize their terrible mistake.
A Few Relevant Bible Verses
“Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you 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 Thessalonians 2:1-3)
“But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,” (1 Timothy 4:1-2)
“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.” (Matthew 24:10-11)
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-5)
“Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them;” (Ephesians 5:11)
Some of the Signs
- Distinctions between church members and the non-christian world become less clear.
- Out of the fear of “driving people away” or of “offending people,” the Church has abandoned the use of exercising loving church discipline, which has led to large numbers of non-christian members.
- The horrific consequences of sin are minimized. Things that once seemed awful and unthinkable now seem more “understandable.”
- Personal sin is excused on the basis of circumstances, upbringing, temperament, or inherited traits.
- Christ as a loving, comforting Friend is emphasized, but Christ as the Righteous Judge of sinners is de-emphasized.
- Church members become focused on “What can God do for me? (e.g., make me wealthy or make me healthy or make me popular) instead of “How can I glorify God?” Church members attend church hoping that the atmosphere will make them feel good. The desire to “be entertained” (e.g. with good Christian music and preaching) replaces the desire to worship God.
- The primary focus of church members becomes things of this world (job, recreation, TV, sports, hobbies, friends, etc.) instead of God and His Word. People become passionate about things other than God.
- Biblical illiteracy abounds. Few who call themselves Christians know much about Scripture or know how to study God’s Word. Many feel bored by Bible reading and Bible study.
- The church is so determined to keep people happy that it will not stand boldly for Biblical truth lest people be offended.
- Church members desire to be accepted by the world to such an extent that they soft-pedal uncomfortable truth.
- Church members care more about what family, friends, co-workers, and fellow church members think than they care about God’s truth.
- Church members have such a shallow understanding of Biblical doctrine, that they are easily led into error.
- Church members confuse emotional highs with spiritual worship. (But remember, true worship is generally accompanied by intense emotion!)
- The truth that genuine Christians are radically different from the world is exchanged for the error that Christians are not much different from non-christians–just forgiven.
- Church members care more about having fun than seeing others come to a personal relationship with Christ.
- Church members trust their logic, or their friends, or their common sense more than they trust God and His Word.
- A growing belief that all “good people” go to heaven regardless of their lack of repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
- An increasing “comfort level” in fellowshipping with those who call themselves Christian, but who are living in flagrant violation of God’s Word.
- A loss of warm-hearted love for others. One of the primary characteristics of a true Christian is fervent love for others and love for God. Self-focus instead of God-focus and other-focus is a sign of apostasy.
- Church members enjoy uplifting messages that encourage them to think positively or increase their self-esteem, but get easily bored by expository preaching.
As I continue to meditate on this problem of the great apostasy, I may add to this list. Would you help me with that? If you can think of other possible characteristics of apostasy, please email me (firstname.lastname@example.org).
I am definitely interested in your thinking!
Stay in the Battle!