By Nathan Jones
Could the record number of churches falling into apostasy be a sign of the end times?
On Saturday, April 9, 2011, I was interviewed by host Brian Thomas of the Blessings to Israel Ministries Saturday podcast show. During the hour long interview we took a look at twelve major end times signs in an attempt to raise the awareness of people concerning the numerous things going on in the world currently, how they relate to Bible prophecy, and the imminent return of Jesus Christ.
#4) Apostasy in the Church
Brian Thomas: Let's talk about apostasy in the Church, something sadly unfortunate that no Christian should find any delight in happening. The Apostle Paul said in 2 Thessalonians 2:3, "Let no one deceive you by any means for that day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition." Paul was talking here about the falling away of the church, the apostasy in the church. Have we arrived at this end times sign?
Nathan Jones: When we consider that the leading "evangelical" of our time period is Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church who can write a book that teaches there's no one going to Hell and that God will allow everybody into Heaven and there is no punishment for our rebellion against God, then we know without a shadow of a doubt that the church is in serious, serious trouble.
The Church has become so seeker sensitive, and that can be a good thing in that we want unbelievers to come to know Jesus as their Savior, but we have ended up chasing the believers right out of their churches. We have filled our churches with unbelievers and now are putting unbelievers into the church pulpits. These new church leaders are not saved. They have no fruits of the Spirit. They have no signs in their lives that show that they are saved.
These unbelievers in the pulpits keep writing their apostate books and they keep leading their apostate churches saying every kind of doctrine that has nothing to do with the Bible whatsoever. They teach their own flavor of universalism with its belief that everybody will get to Heaven and that all paths lead to God. This teaching is clearly not true nor biblical because Jesus said in John 14:6, "I am the way, the truth and the life no one comes to the Father except through me." Universalism is the leading teaching of apostates. They believe that Jesus isn't the only way to Heaven and that Jesus isn't the Son of God. It's a terrible heresy to say that Jesus' death on the cross is not enough to get us into Heaven and that we can get ourselves into Heaven. It is the lie straight from Satan in the Garden of Eden.
We are definitely seeing more apostasy in the church today. Second Timothy 4:3 says, "For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, instead to suit their own desires they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear." Well, that is exactly what we are seeing today. We now have a great number of people who are saying they are Christians, but they are surrounding themselves with teachers that only tell them what they want to hear and not what the Bible is teaching.
We can go into Revelation 2-3 and read about the Seven Churches. These are seven literal churches Jesus addressed that were in Asia Minor at the time, and they also represent seven eras within church history from the Apostles time going out and starting the churches to today which is clearly the final phase of Church History. This final phase of Church History is defined by the Church of Laodicea. It is the apathetic church. It is the church that thinks it's wealthy and that it's got it all together. We today think we've got it all together, but Jesus says we are naked, poor and blind, and we need to return to Christ. If we don't, Jesus says He will spit us out. There would be just no reason to keep us around because we are lukewarm and bad to His taste with our empty doctrines and egos, and we just don't have it all together whatsoever.
The explosive growth of apostasy is a big sign particularly demonstrated by the Western Church. I've got to say a lot of people get down on the Church today because of our apathy and apostasy that has overtaken us, but on the positive side there are some good spiritual signs. So many people are getting saved around the world. I have an associate who travels down to Asia and to Africa a lot and he says that there are so many people getting saved, especially in Africa. So many Africans are turning against Islam causing the Islamic clerics to be quite scared. They are holding conventions and saying, "Hey, we've got a big problem here. People are converting like crazy to Christianity." So, the Gospel is still marching on and there is still a great need for people to turn to Jesus. But, overall, we are seeing especially in the Western world the decline of the Church here over apostasy and false teaching.
Brian Thomas: I'm so glad you mentioned Rob Bell who really just breaks my heart seeing the type of message that he's putting out there. I think so many of us need to be voices to counter what he is teaching because you are right, he is putting out the message that everybody gets saved, and we know that simply isn't true. The Bible makes it very clear that universalism is not true. What is the purpose of our entire lives here if in the end everyone is saved? No, that is just a great heresy.
Nathan Jones: On some television and radio programs they for various reasons don't want you to name names, but if we are going to talk about apostasy then we have to point out just who these apostate teachers are and what they are teaching. People need to look out for them and be aware. I believe the Lord wants us to make sure that we point out apostasy as Paul did all the time when he said things like, "Don't listen to this guy. He is teaching you something wrong." We have to point out that guys like Rob Bell and some of Rick Warren's teachings which are just totally false teachings. They've got it wrong because they're not using the Bible and the Holy Spirit to guide what they're sharing.
Acceptance of Homosexuality
Brian Thomas: Right! I want to share something that happened last year concerning another case of apostasy in the Church. An article that I was reading stated that on January 3, 2010, a gay couple walked out of the Greater Mount Calvary Holy Church service in Washington, D.C. The reason they walked out was to protest the pastor's statement of, "Sex is only pleasing to God in the marriage bed, and the marriage bed is [for] a man and a woman." Of course, we know as Christians that this pastor was exactly right in what he was stating, but as a result this gay couple decided to walk out in protest, and sadly they found a church in which this type of thing is accepted. They found a church called Covenant Baptist Church which bills itself as a LGBT affirming congregation, which means the pastor supports same-sex marriage. If anyone is not familiar with LGBT, it stands for "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender." This is a group that really promotes and pushes the whole homosexual agenda. And so, this is just another example of where we see apostasy flourishing.
I have to ask myself this question, "How can any pastor of a church who knows their Scripture and sees that right in the Bible it speaks against homosexuality, yet bill itself as a church that accepts same-sex marriage?" And yet, we are seeing this very thing popping up all over the country.
Nathan Jones: Just go to whosoever.org. It's a homosexual website that promotes the teaching that Christians can be homosexuals and also be Christians. This points right back to the end times sign of increasing immorality that is consuming the earth. We know this teaching is not of the Bible and so is therefore a lie. For example, Jesus in Revelation 22:15 described those outside of Heaven in the very end of time who were dwelling in Hell. Why they are in Hell is because they never accepted Jesus. Jesus described them as, "Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral..." Homosexuality in the Bible is said to be sexually immoral. The sexually immoral are lumped in with, "the murders, the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices falsehood."
God never says, "You can continue to live in immorality and rebellion against me and at the same time you can be saved and forgiven by me." It just doesn't work that way. When we turn to Jesus, when we ask for forgiveness of our sins, it is for forgiveness for all of our sins and not what sins we think are sins and are not sins.
The Bible says that any sex outside of marriage is sexual immorality. The Bible is not particularly picking on the people who are homosexuals, but includes the people who are sleeping around. It is talking about the adulterers as well, and if there is any sin that the Bible talks about the most, it certainly is adultery. These are the very sins the Lord says that are keeping you separated from Him. You just cannot hold onto your sexual immorality and still be a child of God.
Homosexuality being acceptable in the Church is a huge apostasy that is spreading and is affecting every denomination. While it used to be just the Episcopalians who were the ones who obsessing over this, now the debate is taking over the Lutheran churches, the Baptist and pretty much every other denomination. The reason for this is because the denominational leaders and even the pastors are not into the Word enough to understand exactly what the Word teaches on this subject. Or, they don't take the Bible as the inerrant Word of God to begin with and so they pick and choose what they want to believe.
So, yes, apostasy in the Church is just to my amazement right now growing in leaps and bounds. It results in a made up religion. We can't even call these people Christians anymore, because they are making up their religion as they go.
Brian Thomas: I just want to state for anyone who wants to argue for these things, 1 Corinthians 6:9-10 states that homosexuality is a sin and those people will not enter the Kingdom of God. Living that lifestyle and having that unrepentant sin and with churches accepting it goes right along with what 1 Timothy 4:1 teaches, that this is nothing but a doctrine of the Devil to accept homosexuality.
God knows what is good for us and He knows what is bad for us. He knows what destroys us. Again, like you were saying, it's not about picking on anyone in particular who engages in sexual immorality like the homosexuals and the adulterers, but God knows this destroys us and so He is looking out for our own good and for what's in our best interest. It is so important for people to understand that.
Nathan Jones: That's exactly right! I think sometimes as Christians we get so offended by that particular kind of sin that we react to these people in an unloving manner. I was getting a haircut a few years back and the lady asked me what I did for a living. I told her I was a reverend or evangelist and since we don't have a church to pastor we kind of just pastor everybody we come across. She replied that she didn't like God because she was a homosexual. She's a lesbian. And, do you know what I did? Instead of jumping out of my chair and saying "forget you" and running out like what is usually the common reaction with most Christians, I had the great opportunity to share the Gospel with her. Well, she had some really interesting views of God and salvation. I finally got down to the brass tacks of it is all that without repentance we are still under God's wrath as John 3:36 tells us. So, no matter if she is a homosexual, or a liar, or an adultery, or any kind of sinner, if we don't ask for Jesus' forgiveness of our sins and flee those sins and turn to Christ then we are not obeying Jesus. How then can we believe that we will live in Heaven with Him forever if we won't obey Him in the smallest things that He asks us to do?
The next two end times signs we'll look at is the emergence of nuclear weapons and warfare.