Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, not to be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of Christ had come. 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,
2 Thessalonians 2:1-3 NKJV
I think most of us have experienced the feeling of heartbreak when a relationship that meant so much to us breaks apart. I'm sure we can all relate to our first attempts at dating or making a commitment to someone else and having it fail and then trying to deal with the pain that results. Of course, in my own experience, that usually happened just when I thought everything was going well and the future looked bright.
The most painful example of that was a relationship I had with a girl from my hometown who was attending a Bible college in another city. Whenever she came home we would spend time together getting to know each other, and attend church participating in the college age activities there. So imagine my surprise to discover, just as I thought things were really going well, that she had another “friend” at college that she was in a relationship with too. I will never forget the feeling I had watching her walk away from my car after we had talked about our feelings and knowing deep inside it was the last time I would ever see her.
Although many may be familiar with this passage from Paul's letter to the Thessalonians, they may not be fully aware of just what Paul is telling us here about what we can expect to occur within the body of Christ in the days leading up to the beginning of the tribulation. In verse three, it is translated “the falling away”, but in the Greek it comes from the word apostasia, which means simply to turn away or forsake. Now when I look at that my thoughts immediately return to the events of that day when I watched someone I cared so much about walk away, and wonder about how deeply hurt God will be as He watches people who have claimed to love Him do the very same thing.
I believe this is one of the major signs of the approaching end of the Church Age, and one that may often be overlooked as believers tend to focus on events that many would classify as catastrophic, or earth shaking. So today I would like to share my thoughts on three things I think the Bible makes clear will occur within the church body in the days leading up to the beginning of the period of time we call the tribulation.
1. Many true Christians will become lukewarm.
"I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot. "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'--and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked--
Revelation 3:15-17 NKJV
I think the telling phrase here is “have need of nothing”, because in a sense, it gives us a clue as to the real attitude these believers have. These are those who go to church but have absolutely no passion for their relationship with God. They believe they have all they “need”, and there isn't anything more the church can do for them! Because they are satisfied, they are probably indifferent to the needs of those around them, don't really pray because they have no “needs”, and never take the time to look in the mirror and examine themselves because they are content with the way things are.
Examine yourselves [as to] whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?--unless indeed you are disqualified.
2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV
2. False Christians will turn away and rebel.
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, [because] they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn [their] ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 NKJV
False Christians are those who gave the impression they were believers, but in their hearts have never made the choice to accept the salvation offered by Jesus' sacrifice and ask Him to come into their hearts and submit to His will for their lives. They will reject the authority of the Word of God and the standards written in it and will instead “rewrite” God's laws to conform to their own standards. In effect, they are uncomfortable with what they might consider “restrictive” or “intolerant” so they begin to look for others who believe the same with the result being churches where the Word is never taught. Instead of a body being convicted of sin leading to repentance and acknowledging the power of God to change, you have a body accepting anything and denying the power of God, which ultimately will lead to death.
having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!
2 Timothy 3:5 NKJV
3. Committed Christians will move “all in” for Christ.
Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you."
2 Corinthians 6:17 NKJV
We have made the point before that as true believers seeing the day approaching, our response should be to “kick into overdrive” and do as much as we can before our time is up. As we observe the church today and see the apostasy foretold by Paul unfolding right in front of our eyes, our response must be to become even more bold and share the news of Christ's sacrifice with an unbelieving world. We must examine our lives in light of God's Word and look for ways we can improve how we talk, how we walk, and what more we can do in the time we have left. The darker the world becomes as the apostasy grows, the brighter our light will shine if we choose to let it.
"Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Matthew 5:16 NKJV
As believers, we have entered into a relationship with God the Father through His Son Jesus Christ. The time has come to ask ourselves if we are committed to the relationship, or just coasting along taking what we can get for our own enjoyment. After all He has done for us, don't you think it's time we give back and move all in? What difference could it make if we all made the choice to live sold out for Christ?