What is the Convergence Factor, and why is it important to understanding our times?
One of our speakers was Dr. Ron Rhodes, the president of Reasoning from the Scriptures Ministries. He's a prolific author of more than 60 books. He holds a doctorate in systematic theology from Dallas Theological Seminary, and he specializes in the field of Apologetics. He also serves as an adjunct professor at several seminaries. Dr. Rhodes' topic at our conference was "The Sign of Apostasy" (watch).
A Different Jesus
I'm going to be talking about the epidemic of apostasy.
I want to tell you a story about a young couple. They went to a movie in the middle of the day, and as they drove off there was somebody watching the house. A robber goes around to the back of the house and he breaks a window. While he's crawling in the back window, he then hears this voice from a parrot saying, "I see you, and Jesus sees you." Well, it didn't bother the man, so he kept on breaking his way in. He's two-thirds of the way in and the parrot says again, "I see you, and Jesus sees you."
Finally, the robber is all the way in the house. The guys stands up, and as he brushes all the glass off himself, the parrot says, "I see you, and Jesus sees you. Attack Jesus!" This Doberman Pincher named Jesus roars across the room and mauls the guy. The guy dives out the window, and nobody has ever seen him again. Now that's a different Jesus.
I would like to suggest to you that this dog Jesus is not as bad as the Jesus of apostasy. You see, I say that because you can heal from a dog bite. But, if you believe in a counterfeit Jesus who preaches a counterfeit Gospel, then you've got a counterfeit salvation. It simply comes down to that, and that's just as easy to understand as can be.
The Convergence Factor
Apostasy is a rich word in the Greek. It carries the idea of a departure or a falling away, a forsaking of the truth, a defection from the truth, a revolt from the truth, and a swerving away from the truth.
Listen now, the signs of the times are so critically important. They are prophetic events that point towards the end times. They let us know that we are living in the season of the Lord's return. You might consider the signs to be Intel in advance. Powerful nations have intelligent agencies like the CIA. So too does the Bible provides us with God's Intel in advance, and He does so with signs.
The signs of the times are multiple. Categorizations include Israel and the technical signs. There are the national signs like all the nations building up to gang up on Israel, such as the Muslim nations and Russia. We've got religious and moral signs, some of which I'm going to talk about as related to apostasy. Then you've got earth and sky signs and other cosmic phenomenon.
I'm not going to touch on all of those signs, but I am going to say that apostasy fits into the larger picture of the signs of our times. You see, it would be significant if just one of these signs was coming to pass. It'd more significant still if two of these signs were coming to pass. But, the fact is, we've got multiple prophetic signs that are converging in our day. It's what I call the "convergence factor" and that leads us to believe that we are indeed living in the season of the Lord's return.
Here's the thing, we need to be thoughtful observers of the times. Remember the ancient Jews. The ancient Jews should have recognized that Jesus was the divine Messiah. Back in Isaiah we are told that when the Messiah comes on the scene the blind will see and the deaf will hear and the lame will walk. What happened when Jesus came on the scene? The blind could see, the deaf could hear, and the lame could walk. The Jewish leaders naturally should have been able to see the signs of the times, but they were blind to them. They could tell the weather was going bad by looking at the sky, but they couldn't discern the signs of the times.
We should not make the same mistake as the ancient Jewish leaders. There are many signs of the times pointing toward the Second Coming of Christ and the events that lead up to the Rapture. What we want to do is make sure that we're not ignorant of those. We want to understand what the Bible says about the signs that lead up to the Rapture so that we're prepared. That's what my study will be all about.
I firstly want to be careful here in saying Jesus is coming soon, because no one knows the day or the hour. Christ Himself told us that. No one knows the day or the hour, but we can know the general season of the Lord's return.
I secondly insist that we take a biblical approach. I've seen a lot of very sensational things said concerning the signs of the times where people read things into the Bible things that aren't there. We must take a Biblical approach on all of this topic.
I'm reminded of that second grade girl who came home from Sunday school one day. She was so excited about what she had learned. Her daddy asked her, "What did you learn in Sunday school?" The little girl replied, "Oh, Daddy, it was just so great, because you see, God created Adam first. Then God saw that it was not good for Adam to be alone, so God put Adam to sleep and took out his brains and made a woman out of them." And all the women said — Amen! No, that's not in the Bible. That's in Second Allusions 3. No, we must remain biblical.
My goal in this lesson briefly will be fourfold. First, I want to talk about the biblical bases for end time apostasy. Second, I want to give you specific examples of apostasy in our day. Third, I want to look at statistics that reveal the severity of the problem. And then finally, I want to close briefly with an exhortation.
In the second segment of Dr. Ron Rhodes teaching on apostasy as an end times sign, he will explain the character, or lack thereof, of the empty religion of the final days.