Mt. 24:4 π Mt. 24:9-13 π Mt. 24:14 π Lk. 17:26-28 π 2 Ths. 2:3 π Rev. 3:14-22
Jude, the brother of James and the half brother of our Lord Jesus Christ, was thinking one day of the family of Christians and he wanted to write to them a positive, happy letter about all the wonderful blessings of being saved through Jesus Christ. And why not? The blessings and joys of being truly united with Christ are innumerable and inexhaustible! Who would not long to contemplate and enumerate the wonderful things God has done for us through Christ! But there was something of greater importance and urgency which compelled him to write about darker things.
There are some who believe it a denial of faith to acknowledge anything negative. There are others who consider it sin to speak aloud the failures and weaknesses of those who claim to be Christians. Still others act as if the leaders of the local "church" are somehow above error or sin and thus for anyone to speak negatively of them or their methods is divisive. There are those who just know that, because of their many years of studying the Bible and doing the "work of the Lord" for so long, there is no chance of their being deceived or of their being wrong. All of these attitudes are sinful in their origins and are precursors to what Jude wrote about in his short letter to the family of Christ: apostasy.
Apostasy is wrong belief carried to the point that salvation is rejected. It is to believe and practice lies while refusing to come to the light and truth that is Jesus Christ. Apostasy is the culmination of deception and disobedience into rebellion and damnation.
One of the worst lies foisted on believers is the once-saved, always-saved notion. There are far too many Scriptures that speak against that notion for it to be a valid restatement of the Bible's teaching. What is a more accurate rendering of the Bible's teaching is that with simple reverent diligence we can securely abide in Christ and be confidently assured of eternal salvation. But if we, with consistent diligence, resist God and indulge the flesh - even if that means by attending and supporting some "church" - we can just as confidently be assured of eternal damnation. One does not earn salvation by good works but one who has been given new life by God's grace will exhibit a changed life full of good works. One who is abiding in Christ bears much fruit and can expect great rewards; one who is abiding somewhere else can do nothing of eternal value and should expect no rewards except a painful eternity in Hell.
The largest deception is in understanding salvation. Often, we think salvation means to follow certain rituals, attend "church" and act friendly while pursuing all the positive and culturally acceptable goals and desires of self. Lost are any notions of grave danger or of deliverance from such dangers. Biblical salvation through Jesus Christ means that He has rescued us from Hell, death, sin and self. If our salvation experience does not radically alter each of these aspects of our life, then we have not had a salvation experience but are walking in deception. And if all we are doing is letting our self choose which "church" we like the best rather than simply walking with God moment by moment, then we are in the most danger and under the most deception.
There are those who look for a major revival before the rapture of the body of Christ. There are a few who recognize that the people of Christ are in need of a new reformation, some say a transformation, before they can even begin to hope for revival. And yet there are a host of Scriptures which could suggest that the majority will receive neither. ( Mt. 24:4 , 9-13 ; 2 Ths. 2:3 ; Rev. 3:14-22 ; Lk. 17:26-28; top ) Though the gospel will be preached (announced) to the whole world before the end comes ( Mt. 24:14; top ), no indication is given that there will be a large-scale positive response. There are those who claim that the world is experiencing revival even now. Unfortunately, these claims are most often made by those "church" leaders who consider walking forward at an altar call with no change in the life afterward to be a valid salvation experience and by those who tenaciously cling to the once "saved" always saved notions. It is also interesting to note that the body of Christ is undergoing massive changes toward spiritual maturity - something which many "church" leaders and people have prayed for for years. The only problem is those massive changes are very detrimental, even fatal, to normal "church" practices - and now those same people who were praying for changes seem to be the ones who resist the change the most.
If there is any hope for revival it is not to be found in mass "revival" meetings. The first church, under severe persecution and unable to hold mass rallies, changed the world because they believed, received and experienced the truth and power of Jesus Christ. The American/Western "church" can do little but throw money, "church" traditions, mass-media technology and the gospel information at the rest of the world. Whereas Jesus is the God of self-sacrificial love and intimacy, American/Western "churchianity" is the religion of self-service and anonymous sinful living. While the world needs servants to wash their feet, the "church" sends CEOs and hirelings who tell them how to live - CEOs of "churches" and organizations which, spiritually, are more dead than alive and hirelings who perpetuate their CEO's errors and heresies.
The people of Christ need to abandon the false and stifling atmosphere of the "church" building and return to their homes and to the streets to live their Christianity in real-life situations meeting real needs of real people. Until she does so, the blind will continue to lead the blind and the great falling way will become a reality all too soon. While the people of Christ remain in the "church" buildings, their leaders think themselves to be good shepherds of God's flock as they practice authoritarian management techniques from their elevated positions - and the flock thinks themselves faithful to Christ because they attend all the "church" fellowships and functions. A better example of apostasy is not to be found.
"Church" is now big business with mega-"church" incomes (which allow retirement and investment accounts for the professional staff), international ministries and short-term mission trips becoming the standards of the industry. Slim are the possibilities that Americans can forsake the trappings of Vanity Fair and seek a quiet, simple lifestyle in either the U.S. or a foreign nation simply leading others into an intimate and quiet lifestyle characterized by love and godliness. Now we must demonstrate high-powered, high-cost American superiority or we have not communicated the gospel. Once the information has been transmitted and we have gained that immediate "altar-call" response and the folks back home are reading the missionaries' newsletters, why, we have fulfilled the Great Commission! What more could God want from us? What more, indeed!
What is lacking in our relationships with others is the same thing that is lacking in our relationship with God: time. Where we spend our time damningly points to our god. If we must be continually entertained, served, pampered or catered to, or all our time is spent at work to pay for the comforts and luxuries we just have to have, then we truthfully serve only the self-god. If we have little or no time to know and be with the one true God, He is not our God and our self is our god. The same is true of our relationships with others - if we spend little or no time with them in real life situations, there is no possibility of transferring the true gospel to them. The Great Commission requires us to make disciples, not win converts, and that is a process that requires much time.
If the body of Christ is to be anything more than a tiny remnant at Christ's return, she must undergo another painful reformation as tumultuous as the first one in the Middle Ages. She must have her individuals undergo a spiritual journey where they make real, consistent and life-changing contact with the only true God Jesus Christ so that they are increasingly obedient to Him and increasingly reliant upon Him. Everything else is mere deception and apostasy.
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