Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Grounds for Apostasy

When I awoke yesterday morning, I felt the Lord pressing upon my mind with unusual keenness the word ‘deception’, to which I quickly got out of bed and turned open my Bible to 2 Thessalonians 2:3 which read, “Let no man deceive you by any means…” Those words, especially “by any means”, the Spirit seemed to enlarge. I began to jot down various means of deception as I felt compelled and very fluently penned a list down of serious warnings that had been bearing witness with my spirit for many months now, but up until then had never put them to paper. I believe these warnings of last days deceptions are of paramount importance to the Body of Christ. The prince of the power of the air is currently preparing the world for the revealing of that Wicked One, who even now is at work in the children of disobedience, but will be ruthlessly unleashed upon the earth when his time is short. It is now when the Church must take heed to the admonition of Christ, and of the apostles and prophets, “…knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11) God is again calling His people out of their slumber.


DECEPTION FOREWARNED

The major expectation of Biblical eschatology is a coming time of worldwide tribulation characterized by a great falling away, or apostasy, from the truth. This apostasy is made possible because of powerful spiritual deception, and this deception is made possible because of hazardous grounds that Satan is cultivating to prepare the heart to fall. Deception is the theme of all end time prophecy. In the Olivet Discourse, recorded three times in Scripture by Matthew, Mark and Luke, Jesus’ first statement concerning the things of the end was, “Take heed that no man deceive you.” It is because of the utmost seriousness of coming deception that Jesus said this before anything else and that the Holy Spirit confirmed this in all three gospels. Paul again reasserts this first above all in 2 Thessalonians 2:4, “Let no man deceive you by any means.” The Scriptures are giving us no excuse for being ignorant or taken by surprise. Deception is coming!

The truth is that many so-called "Christians" will be deceived, or else it would not be called “apostasy.” Because of the numerous devices Satan is utilizing, he is tilling the soil of men’s hearts today, preparing them for the seeds of deception tomorrow. These devices of Satan are the ‘means’ that Paul is talking about in 2 Thessalonians. Dearly beloved, do you heed the warning? Even now I fear so many "Christians" are ripe for apostasy; so many are ready to fall. Hear the trumpet in Zion! I call to your attention the words of Peter: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)

I present before you now the twelve grounds for apostasy that God has laid heavy upon my spirit. It is by these preemptive means that Satan is preparing the hearts of men to fall away in the days of deception. Let us, as many as take heed, guard our hearts and our minds before it is too late.


THE GROUNDS FOR APOSTASY

1. Failure to take heed - “Take ye heed, watch and pray.” (Mark 13:33) Far be it from us that we should not hearken to the commands of Jesus. Scripture cannot stress enough the absolute essentiality of taking heed; to watch, to be alert, to pray… but sadly so many people treat these commands with contempt. I have heard so many call watching unimportant and unnecessary. Rather than hearkening to the watchman’s trumpet blast, these are the people who shut their ears and remain shortsighted amid their own fabricated reality. Ignoring the warning signs, they continue on until they are suddenly overtaken. “For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

2. Received not the love of the truth“Because they received not the love of the truth.” (2 Thessalonians 2:10) The greatest defense against deception is to love truth. A person who loves truth will seek truth and will not be satisfied with anything else until he has obtained truth. Those who love truth will expose and repel all lies. Jesus prayed on the night He was betrayed that His followers would be sanctified by the truth, which is the Word of God, and thus to love truth is to love the Scriptures: to read, study and obey them. But this is not the case with everyone. Those who do not build their lives upon the teachings of Christ will be swept away when tribulation strikes, for they chose the sinking sand above the solid Rock. The Bible teaches that, “for this cause [because they received not the love of the truth] God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” (2 Thessalonians 2:12)

3. No understanding“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) In the Parable of the Ten Virgins, Jesus tells us of ten women who were waiting for the bridegroom to appear. Five were wise, because they had oil for their lamps, and five were foolish, because they did not have oil for their lamps. The reason they had lamps is because they knew there was a time of darkness coming. However, many people miss the point of this parable by stopping right there, and saying that we must have oil, which is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. But the parable goes much deeper… for what does the oil do? The oil fuels the lamp so that it gives light, and it is the light that allows them to maneuver when the darkness falls. “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.” (Psalm 119:130) Light always represents revelation. Light is what we so desperately need when the time of darkness comes upon all the inhabitants of the earth. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:5, “Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.” There are scores of people who are totally ‘in the dark’ when it comes to the prophecies concerning the end. It is this same ignorance that will cause the oblivious soul to be deceived.

4. Unwillingness to suffer“If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24) The cost of discipleship is that of suffering, and yet we live in a day when even so many "Christians" are unwilling to suffer. Paul tells us plainly in the epistle to the Philippians, “For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake.” (Philippians 1:29) Tribulation is one of the promises we are granted as disciples! A person who is unwilling to suffer will cease from following and quickly depart from the faith when times of testing come upon him. He is like the seed that fell on stony ground: “Yet hath he not root in himself, but endureth for a while: for when tribulation or persecution ariseth because of the word, by and by he is offended.” (Matthew 13:21) Christianity is not for the dainty! Those who desire the comforts of this world will succumb to the pressures of adversity and will forfeit the world to come. We must be willing to suffer for the One who suffered on the cross for us! We must esteem the reproach of Christ far greater than the pleasures of Egypt.

5. Love waxed cold“And because iniquity shall about, the love of many shall wax cold.” (Matthew 24:12) Jesus warned us of a most serious condition that would befall mankind in the last days: the love of many shall grow cold. This is both love for God and love for one another. When a person’s love grows cold they are in grave danger of being cast away, for any tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” (John 15:6) The fruit that Jesus commands is that of love, and by our love will all men know that we are His disciples, but the fruit that this backslidden state bears is just the exact opposite: hatred, betrayal and murder. “And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10) Why does the love grow cold? Scripture tells us: because iniquity shall abound. Sin creates murderers out of us once it has dominion over us, just as it did to Cain. We are seeing in our day that Satan is executing a relentless campaign of saturating the world with immorality and iniquity. A person must be even more determined to guard his mind against temptation and passion or else he will be overcome by sin, and his godly love will be replaced by a devilish hatred that will render him a castaway.

6. Anti-Semitism“And when the dragon saw that he was cast unto the earth, he persecuted the woman which brought forth the man child.” (Revelation 12:13) The Bible teaches us that in the same way God loves the Jewish people and chose them to bring forth the Seed of Promise, Satan despises them and is bent upon their total and utter annihilation. This explicit hatred for the sons of the Jacob has it's origin in "that old serpent, the devil", however, to the disgrace of the name Christ, this evil has found its way even into the sphere of the Church! It is the spirit of anti-Semitism, which poisons the mind and the heart, causing enmity against the will of God. Paul warns us: “For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits.” (Romans 11:25) Throughout history, men and women who named the name of Christ have persecuted the Jewish people because they allowed themselves to be influenced by the deceitful lies of Satan. The Roman Catholic Church slaughtered thousands of Jews during the Crusades while wearing the cross of Christ as their standard. Nazi Germany was full of Christian churches which supported the murder that was taking place right in their own country. Scripture tell us that during the last days, Satan shall attempt to destroy the Jewish race once and for all by a worldwide persecution and global genocide. Yet even today, anti-Semitic propaganda underscores our society, and many Christians are being influenced with its ungodly effects. What a devilish perversion for Christians to persecute their Jewish roots! If you allow the bitter roots of anti-Semitism to take hold of your heart in these precursory days, when the day of temptation comes upon the whole earth you will be swept away with the forcefulness of its delusion. Remember Martin Luther, who fell prey into this very error. You must have the mind of Christ towards these people, even though "concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the Fathers' sakes." May we as Christians bless the Jews until the very end. “Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” (Hebrews 12:14-15)

7. Preoccupation with signs and wonders“An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign.” (Matthew 12:39) While I am a sincere believer in the gifts of the Holy Spirit, I have observed an erroneous frame of mind that often accompanies people within these theological circles. Many Christians have elevated the authority of miracles and experiences above the authority and counsel of the written Word of God. This sensationalism is how so many false teachings are started (consider Mormonism and Islam). Experiences must be tested with Scripture. Paul warned the Thessalonians that the coming Lawless One would awe the world with overwhelming displays of signs and wonders that will deceive many: “Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders.” (2 Thessalonians 2:9) Those who will not be drawn away by the influence of this deception will be those who uphold the authority of Scripture above all else and who espouse themselves unwaveringly to the faithful oracles of God. “Teach me, O LORD, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.” (Psalm 119:33)

8. Spiritual naivety “When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.” (John 8:44) Adolf Hitler wrote, “In the primitive simplicity of the minds of people, they more readily fall victims to the big lie than the small lie… It would never come into their heads to fabricate colossal untruths, and they would not believe that others could have the impudence to distort the truth so infamously.” (Mein Kampf, Vol. 1; Chap. 10) Is this not the conspiracy of Satan himself? I have met many naïve Christians who assert that no one would be so foolish as believe that the antichrist is the ‘this same Jesus’ of Scripture, but these do not know the supernatural nature of the power of deception. “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” (Ephesians 6:12) Was not “Christian” Germany swept off their feet by Hitler who caused them to do the unthinkable?

9. Following the majority“And [he] causeth the earth and them that dwell therein to worship the beast.” (Revelation 13:12) Scripture tells us that, presently, the whole world lies in wickedness, and that Satan is actively deceiving the nations of the earth, bringing them under the subjection of his will. However, when the time is fully come, and the seventieth week is at last about to begin, Satan, that old serpent the devil, will be cast down to earth for his final and darkest hour. “Woe to the inhabitants of the earth and of the sea! for the devil is come down unto you, having great wrath, because he knoweth that he hath but a short time.” (Revelation 12:12) At that time the vast majority of people on the earth will fall victim to deception and worship the beast who sets himself up in the temple as God. Because of how enormously influential such a massive worldwide paradigm shift that will be, millions of people will collapse under pressure and be swept along in the popular current. True believers must prepare themselves for severe isolation and rejection from the entire world. “Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name's sake.” (Matthew 24:9) Many Christians cannot handle being a little different today! How quickly will those fall who are ashamed of the name of Jesus and unequally yoked with the world! “For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Revelation 18:3-4)

10. Love of money“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark.” (Revelation 13:17) One of the defining characteristics of the coming tribulation period is the institution of what Revelation calls “the mark of the beast”; a mark concocted by the devil himself which enables those who receive it to buy and sell merchandise and consequently disables anyone who does not receive it from buying and selling anything at all. In this way antichrist will gather to himself the multitudes like a magnet. Out of economic necessity men and women will crowd the inoculation stations anxious to receive the mark, for mankind has allowed itself to become totally dependent upon the financial systems of this world. In Mark chapter 10, a rich young ruler came to Jesus on his knees asking, “What shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” (for he was an avid keeper of the commandments since the days of his youth). But Jesus told him to go, sell all that he had, and come follow Him. At this, the rich young ruler went away sad because he was bound by the love of money and could not part ways with his possessions. “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21) Those people who have set their hearts upon the treasures of this earth will not be prepared to pay the price of following Jesus when the time for abandonment is come. Then how appropriate will Jesus’ words be in those days: “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat; neither for the body, what ye shall put on. The life is more than meat, and the body is more than raiment. Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? And which of you with taking thought can add to his stature one cubit? If ye then be not able to do that thing which is least, why take ye thought for the rest? Consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. If then God so clothe the grass, which is today in the field, and tomorrow is cast into the oven; how much more will he clothe you, O ye of little faith? And seek not ye what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink, neither be ye of doubtful mind. For all these things do the nations of the world seek after: and your Father knoweth that ye have need of these things. But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Luke 12:22-31)

11. False Doctrine“These things I have spoken unto you, that ye should be not offended.” (John 16:1) There shall be such a major theological shaking in the last days that whole hosts of "Christians" shall depart from the faith because of the ultimate end that certain false doctrines will finally achieve. Jesus told us before hand that this was going to happen; namely, that false teachers would come in among the flock and deceive many. These wolves have one purpose in mind: to steal, kill and destroy. Even Paul declared, “For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” (Acts 20:29-31) Once again the exhortation is to watch, and also to hold fast to that which was originally delivered by the apostles of Christ. Today, many churches are being drawn away from Christianity’s apostolic foundations by deceptive words and cleverness of speech. “Let no man deceive you by any means!” False teachings are covered over with Biblical half-truths and orthodox terminology, but we must learn to distinguish good from evil. Here are some examples of such false doctrines that are spreading today:

-Pretribulationism (the “secret rapture”)
-Darbyism (also called Dispensationalism)
-Preterism (Jesus has already returned)
-Once Saved Always Saved (as opposed to the Perseverance of the Saints)
-Replacement Theology (the Jews are no longer God’s chosen people)
-Cessationism (the gifts of the Spirit have ceased)
-Postmillennialism (Reconstructionism; Manifest Sons of God)

These doctrines are designed to strip you of your armor and make you unready in order to cause you to fall away when the day of evil comes. I plead with you, beloved… earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints! "Take heed unto thyself, and unto thy doctrine! For in doing so thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee." “But now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.” (Hebrews 12:26-27)

12. Fear“Men’s hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth.” (Luke 21:26) Perhaps the greatest of all obstacles people have concerning future tribulation and the affairs of the end is fearfulness, for who can deny the alarming and frightening nature of the prophecies shown forth to us in the Scriptures? The most common response to these sober matters is for people to simply ignore them altogether as a means of false security and comfort. This is why so many Christians are apathetic toward eschatology, but this is just the strategy of Satan, and this is not the disposition the Father wants His children to have! “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” (2 Timothy 1:7) We are not to fear the wrath of man, nor are we to fear the rage of the devil, for greater is He that is within us than he that is within the world! What if Christ was too afraid to climb the place of the Skull and shed His precious blood at Calvary for you? What if the apostles were too afraid to risk their lives and preach the Gospel to every creature as Jesus commanded? What if those heroic saints recanted their faith in Jesus for fear of the lions or of losing their heads? God forbid! The historical banner of the Church of Jesus Christ is dyed red with the blood of martyrs throughout all generations: Shall our generation fail to lift it up one last time?

“For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel's, the same shall save it.”
(Mark 8:35) Those who succumb to the fear of the sword will find themselves denying the Lord Jesus Christ and forfeiting their very souls. In trying to preserve their lives they will only end up losing them. “As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him.” (Amos 5:19) Such will be the days of deception. Oh, to be faithful even to the end! Our essential victory must not be self-preservation but Christ-glorification; truly this is the high calling of a Christian. I have often said that Stephen was a dead man long before he was martyred. He had already died to his old self-life and therefore had nothing to lose when the stones were raised against him. In this same way every disciple of Christ is called to be a martyr. If you do not take up your cross now, and mortify your flesh now, there is no reason to believe you will be prepared to do so in the time of tribulation. “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” (Revelation 12:11)


HE THAT OVERCOMETH

"He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels." (Revelation 3:5)

It is my prayer that by these examining these grounds you would see that the possibility of Biblical last days deception is a very factual reality; a reality that would rouse you to begin preparing your heart for the road of tribulation that is before us. This is not a word to instill fear in you, but a rallying cry for the Body of Christ to arm itself with the spiritual weapons that God has provided for our confrontation with the forces of evil. "Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand." (Ephesians 6:11-13) In obedience and trust, we shall find in Christ the faith and the courage to stand against the enemy and defeat him in the day of temptation.

When Jesus Christ died upon the cross He made the ultimate sacrifice; He surrendered His will to the will of the Father and suffered death at the hands of wicked men. He who knew no sin became sin for us, and in laying down His life He completely destroyed the works of the devil, disarmed principalities and powers, make a public spectacle of them, won the victory over sin and overcame the world.

Because Christ destroyed the works of the devil, we who believe shall destroy the works of the devil. Because Christ won the victory over sin, we who believe shall win the victory over sin. Because Christ overcame the world, we who believe shall overcome the world. "For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4) Faith in what Jesus has already done is how we shall always triumph over every test and every trial. Let us, as many as take heed, hold fast to our profession and demonstrate that victory wherever we are: over the world, over the flesh and over the devil.

Take heed, watch, pray. Are you prepared for the coming deception?

"These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world." (John 16:33)

3 comments:

repent canada said...

Brother I look forward to reading this. I just listened to an incredible sermon called "How To Escape Deception" by Zac Poonen whn I was working. It looks like this article parallels that message quite abit.

bless you Eli

Anonymous said...

Boy, good message, Brother.

The words written here are things that have been heavily on my mind throughout my christian walk, and seeing this has helped me to realize that I may still deal with some of these issues, but God can help me in dealing with it.

God bless you, Eli


Justin

Margie said...

Appreciate your exhortation, "Are you prepared for the coming deception?" It's a flood and increasing. All those things are presently with us, especially Anti-Semitism". God's grace will sufficiently give us overcoming strength to get through the days coming.

One note: We are all in great need for truth today. Isaiah 59:14 And Judgment is turned away backward, and justice standeth afar off: for truth is fallen in the street, and equity (fairness) cannot enter.

But Jesus who is TRUTH will direct our path.