The Bible predicts apostasy. Everone agrees that it is happening now. No one thinks it is happening in their church, even with their pastors. But, it is.
As blasphemous as this sounds, if you are honest enough to look at what is preached in today's churches, you will see the difference between our time and that of the apostles.
Let's look at a list from a site called Carm (Christian Apologetics & Research Ministry) that contains 24 verses in the Bible that refer to apostasy:
"Your own wickedness will correct you, and your apostasies will reprove you. Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter for you to forsake the LORD your God, and the dread of Me is not in you," declares the Lord GOD of hosts." (NASB)
1 Tim 1:18-19
18"This command I entrust to you, Timothy, my son, in accordance with the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you fight the good fight, 19 keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith." (NASB)
6"Then the LORD said to me in the days of Josiah the king, "Have you seen what faithless Israel did? She went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and she was a harlot there. 7 "I thought, 'After she has done all these things she will return to Me'; but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. 8 "And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also. 9 "Because of the lightness of her harlotry, she polluted the land and committed adultery with stones and trees." (NASB)
1 Tim 4:19
"But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons," (NASB)
"Therefore a lion from the forest will slay them. A wolf of the deserts will destroy them. A leopard is watching their cities. Everyone who goes out of them will be torn in pieces, because their transgressions are many, their apostasies are numerous." (NASB)
2 Timothy 3:1-5
1"But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. 2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3 unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these," (NASB)
"For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many." (NASB)
2 Timothy 4:3-4
3"For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, 4 and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths." (NASB)
9"Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name. 10 At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. 11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." (NASB)
"Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God." (NASB)
Many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He!' and will mislead many. (NASB)
4"For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame." (NASB)
"Those on the rocky soil are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no firm root; they believe for a while, and in time of temptation fall away." (NASB)
"For if we go on sinning willfully after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins." (NASB)
"And He said, "See to it that you are not misled; for many will come in My name, saying, 'I am He,' and, 'The time is near.' Do not go after them." (NASB)
2 Peter 2:1-3
1"But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves. 2 Many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be maligned; 3 and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep." (NASB)
"As a result of this many of His disciples withdrew and were not walking with Him anymore." (NASB)
2 Peter 3:3-4
3"Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts, 4 and saying, "Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it was from the beginning of creation." (NASB)
"I am amazed that you are so quickly deserting Him who called you by the grace of Christ, for a different gospel; 7 which is really not another; only there are some who are disturbing you and want to distort the gospel of Christ." (NASB)
2 Peter 3:17
"You therefore, beloved, knowing this beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness." (NASB)
"But it was because of the false brethren secretly brought in, who had sneaked in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus, in order to bring us into bondage." (NASB)
1 John 2:19
"They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, so that it would be shown that they all are not of us." (NASB)
2 Thessalonians 2:3
"Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," (NASB)
"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write to you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. 4 For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ." (NASB)
"But, they aren't talking about me..."
Again, everyone who reads these verses applies them to everyone else, and doesn't look at what they believe themselves when compared to the actual words of the Bible. What is taught in our churches is designed to keep people there in the pews, not necessarily to keep them in God's will. Yes, really. Staying in God's will and following Jesus (one and the same thing) is the only way to salvation (Matthew 7:21
21"Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven."
In most churches, your pastor is not your friend, and you can tell him I said so. This is not just a statement designed to get your attention - or that of your pastor. Well, it is, sort of, but it is designed only to get you and him to find out the truth of what the Bible actually says. Your pastor, knowingly or unknowingly, is teaching something he was taught in seminary and has very likely never questioned it because of the "brilliant and spiritual" giants who were his professors. In my experience, some pastors even recognize that this error is a fact, and voluntarily continue without investigation because "their church worships a different way than that". (see the page on this called Holidays for real-life examples)
My wife and I were just watching the John Hagee program on television. Mr. Hagee's son, Matthew, was delivering a message called something like "Who would follow this guy?". The message was about the current apostasy and the preparations we are inadvertently making for the success of the Antichrist. During the sermon, he said that those who do not follow Christ are going to fall right into the trap of the antichrist because they are absorbed in the "me-ism" of today. Though it's pretty clear we are not talking about the same thing in the same way, Matthew Hagee's statements are right on target and agree with the statements you read here. However, we each make the same statements with completely different meanings.
What is this "me-ism" he mentions? A 2008 book by Michael Horton called Christless Christianity recently caught my attention as it addresses this very concept. Horton describes a phenomenon in today's "Christian" churches that have one thing in common - self. The focus of the pastors today seems to be on the successful life you can achieve now if you just follow their instructions - and send them a check or buy their latest book. This all takes away from the goal we Christians are supposed to have - accepting the gift of Christ on our behalf, sharing that with the world, and focusing on giving glory to the Father. This points toward work already done for us - not toward work we can do to earn it.
"That's just for people who don't have Jesus in their hearts."
If you doubt this, just listen to the people who deny the claim above. They will tell you that you can't question their faith because they "have Jesus in their heart". They don't want to listen to the Bible commands or the pastor who claims that Jesus died a horrible death to pay our debt. They have the "warm and fuzzy" Jesus in their heart, He tells them what they need to know, and that's all they need. If He tells them to do something the Bible tells us not to do, then the Bible is wrong or someone interprets it wrong. "My Jesus loves me.", they say. "He would tell me if I am doing wrong."
OK, but is it the Jesus described as Judge and Lord in the Bible, or a soft, cuddly version you have made up? (James 5:9
9 Don't grumble against one another, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged. The Judge is standing at the door!
, Acts 10:42
42 He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.
, 2 Corinthians 5:10
10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.
, Acts 17:31
For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to everyone by raising him from the dead.
, as well as Matt 19:28, John 5:22,27, John 8:26, Rom 2:16, 2 Tim 4:8, Rev 19:11 and many others.) If we get to decide who Jesus is, then we take God out of the picture.
"But I love pastor Hagee!"
The message of the New Testament writers was that we should follow God's laws, follow the path of Jesus, love your neighbor as yourself, and hold on to the truth until the very end. That was the same as the words of the message of Matthew Hagee today - but not his practice. This is what the pastors of today all say, and they are right in what they say. But in the same way that Jesus meant when He spoke in Matthew 23:3
So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.
, these pastors do not practice what they preach, and they teach the congregation not to practice what the first century writers taught. Yeah, yeah, I can hear you yelling, "What !?" from all the way over here.
So, what does the pastor teach?
The New Testament writers taught the Sabbath, no pagan touches in your worship, recognize the sacrifice of Christ, and to follow God's feasts - at least the ones that pertain to us. "No! We don't have to keep the feasts!", you say? Who was Paul speaking to in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8
1 It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father's wife. 2 And you are proud! Shouldn't you rather have gone into mourning and have put out of your fellowship the man who has been doing this? 3 For my part, even though I am not physically present, I am with you in spirit. As one who is present with you in this way, I have already passed judgment in the name of our Lord Jesus on the one who has been doing this. 4 So when you are assembled and I am with you in spirit, and the power of our Lord Jesus is present, 5 hand this man over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved on the day of the Lord.
6 Your boasting is not good. Don't you know that a little yeast leavens the whole batch of dough? 7 Get rid of the old yeast, so that you may be a new unleavened batch - as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. (emphasis mine)
? That congregation was mostly Gentiles with some believing Jews, so his message of exercising judgment and keeping the Feast (this one was Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread) was to all of them. But, most of today's pastors also advocate ignoring the keeping of the Sabbath, advocate celebrating Easter and Christmas, tell their congregation to ignore God's law, and work their way to salvation by giving money.
So, when these pastors say to follow God, they mean for you to follow what they have told the people God wants - not what the Bible, His word, says He wants. And, here's one that will get me in trouble, but it must be said: Most of them do not teach all the commands of God, nor even describe the real Jesus. (see 2 Timothy 4:3
For the time will come when people 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.
What does this have to do with apostasy?
Apostasy is a falling away from God. That means simply no longer following what God has been trying to teach the people of the earth since the very beginning. And, this is not just the Israelites, as Adam, Noah, and Abraham were not Israelites. How have we typically responded? By telling God to go fly a kite and just proceeding our own way.
"We don't say or do that!"
Yeah, yeah, here come the objections already. But look around you, and think about what Jesus said in Matthew 24:11-12
11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. (NASB)
. What!?! Lawlessness? I usually use the NIV for quoting, but the NASB correctly translates the Greek word "anomian" as lawlessness. Why would Jesus use a word like that, speaking of the future, if we are no longer going to be under any law? Can you honestly say that so many churches that believe opposite things will all be "saved"? How many true churches do you think Jesus has, anyway?
Remember that only two of the seven churches of John's day (that's less than 29%) mentioned in Revelation had no complaints against them, and they held fast to faith and God's word without changes. At least, that's the way it was 2000 years ago, but most of today's churches are nowhere near the practices of these two successful church congregations. That 29% is representative of a much smaller group of churches today. Most of today's truest practicing churches are the very small ones that few agree with because they are too strict, so they "must be wrong". But, the true measure of a congregation is how close they stay to the actual word of Christ and His Father.
"That can't be right!"
Of the 2.5 billion "Christians" in today's congregations around the world, 99% practice exactly the way God said not to do. That includes 1.3 billion Catholics, which is more than half of the 2.5 billion, and is only one of the 34,000 denominations (from Quora) in the world that ignore the commands of God's word. The total number of Bible-following denomination members is roughly 25 million, including Seventh-day Adventists, and other adherents (from Wikipedia). Even many of the Adventists celebrate the pagan holiday of Christmas along with the rest of the world. Have you done the math yet? That is only 1%, and probably less than that, of the "Christian" population that mostly adheres to the Bible for its guidance! That's ONE percent, and even some of them have some anti-God practices. How does your church match up to the two churches without complaint? Are you sure? By what measure?
OK, so who will have their love grow cold?
These who "believe" are the only ones who have a love that can "grow cold". This gives the benefit of the doubt to people who call themselves "Christian", but do not follow the Bible. They say they believe, and they do believe in some sort of modified, gentler, kinder version of Christ, but even that will grow cold in the "end times". That means that most "believers" (99%) will lose real faith, if they had it to begin with, or at least the faith that they do profess. They will have "a form of godliness" (2 Timothy 3:5
having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with such people.
), but will not know what they worship (John 4:22
You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews.
), will not follow God's will and His law (Matthew 24:11-12
11 Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold. (NASB)
), will become lawless, and forget that salvation is from the Jews. That salvation comes from the Jewish Messiah and what the Messianic Jews know and practice, which is a knowledge of the will of God and faith in the Messiah, Jesus.
Apostasy is already everywhere
That practice of holding on to what is false is apostasy because it is not staying with the word of God. There are many arguments that will take beliefs from people. One example is a book by John Shelby Spong called Why Christianity Must Change or Die. Mr. Spong, a Bishop in the Episcopal Church, questions everything from creation to faith in Christ and presents some very persuasive arguments about how man has created God rather than the other way around. One whose faith is weak or one who is dissatisfied with the worldly results of his faith may be persuaded to accept these arguments and fall away.
That is exactly what Paul was talking about in 2 Thessalonians 2:8 - 12
8And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will overthrow with the breath of his mouth and destroy by the splendor of his coming. 9The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with how Satan works. He will use all sorts of displays of power through signs and wonders that serve the lie, 10and all the ways that wickedness deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. 11For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie 12and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.
. That is also what will make it easy for the Antichrist. He won't have to persuade people to do anything against God - most will already be against Him in belief and practice - and their pastors will bear much of the fault.
Yes, even in your church
Don't just call me crazy and walk away indignant, ask your pastor. Ask him about Easter and the warnings in the Bible about worshiping God using the way of the pagans. Ask him to explain the meaning of Deuteronomy 12:4
You must not worship the LORD your God in their way. (NIV)
, Deuteronomy 12:30-31
30 "and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnareds by inquiring about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.' 31 You must not worship the Lord your God in their way, because in worshiping their gods, they do all kinds of detestable things the Lord hates. They even burn their sons and daughters in the fire as sacrifices to their gods." (NIV)
, and Jeremiah 10:1-4
1 Hear what the Lord says to you, people of Israel. 2This is what the Lord says:
"Do not learn the ways of the nations
or be terrified by signs in the heavens,
though the nations are terrified by them.
3For the practices of the peoples are worthless;
they cut a tree out of the forest,
and a craftsman shapes it with his chisel.
4They adorn it with silver and gold;
they fasten it with hammer and nails
so it will not totter." (NIV)
. Ask him where and when Christmas originated. Ask him, if he doesn't keep the Sabbath, why not? Not keeping the only day God made Holy is wrong by His standards, even if the pastor worships on Sunday (which, in itself, is not wrong). Ask him when Sunday worship instead of Sabbath-keeping started and when God actually said to no longer keep His Holy day.
If he tells you to read Acts 20:7
7On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.
, then he does not understand the Jewish culture of the Old Testament and the practices at the time of Paul (more on this on the page called Sabbath/Sunday). They were celebrating an end-of-the-Sabbath ceremony shortly after sundown called Havdalah, as they had for centuries. And, if he tells you that God no longer cares if we worship the way of the pagans with our "Holidays", or whether or not we respect the things He made holy, then you should probably find another church that obeys God. If you care to disagree and would like to defend your stand, contact us. We don't have to publish the results if you don't want, but at least stand up for your beliefs.
The mark of the beast
For those who already do what God says not to do, with their pastor's blessing, then anything the Antichrist asks them to do will not be objectionable if it does not interfere with their revised form of "worship". And if they are already moving (or have moved) away from God, how hard will it be for them to take the mark and follow him? Think about it. Do you know what the real mark will be? Revelation 13:18
This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man. That number is 666.
only indicates the number of the beast - not necessarily his mark. It could be his name.
What might get you to take the mark?
What if his name is John Cross? Just for the sake of argument, what would you do if you were asked to take the mark of the cross as a way for you to be able to buy and sell in the end times? Do you know that there is no confirmation in the Bible (as written in the original language) that Jesus died on a cross?
Go ahead, check, but look beyond the English translations to the originals. The word translated in most English bibles as "cross" was actually the Greek word "stauros" designating a "stake or pole" - not a cross. So, if you take the sign of the cross as the mark of the beast, you will feel good about it because "everyone" believes that the cross represents Jesus, but you will be absolutely going against God. You can see more of what I mean on the page called Christian Cross. Far fetched? Maybe, but what if...
Be ready to test everything
While I'm not a fan of the excessive reverence with which the Adventists have treated the writings of Ellen G. White, there is a quote from one of her books called The Great Controversy that seems particularly appropriate to this discussion:
The last great delusion is soon to open before us. Antichrist is to perform his marvelous works in our sight. So closely will the counterfeit resemble the true that it will be impossible to distinguish between them except by the Holy Scriptures. By their testimony every statement and every miracle must be tested.
-Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy
If you are one of those who is certain that your belief is the right one, just realize that there is a church across the street that is just as certain that you are wrong. Their faith is just as strong as yours. Check your facts against the real Word and make sure they fit together without contradiction. Isn't your eternal fate worth a closer look?
How will you know?
If we don't know what the mark of the beast will be, how will we know not to take it? Think about it. If Jesus Himself said "most people's love will grow cold" in Matthew 24:11-12
11" Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many. 12 Because lawlessness is increased, most people's love will grow cold." (NASB)
, how else are we supposed to take that? That means that at least 6 out of 10 "Christians" will be affected - and according to the statistics above, maybe far more than that! Are you sure it's only the other churches? How do you find out for sure - should you ask your pastor? There is only one sure way - read the word of God for what it says, preferrably in the original language of the writings. If you are not sure, ask for justification. Just make sure the justification does not cause contradictions with the word of God.
Please, this is not intended to be mean-spirited. Your pastor knows what is meant here. This entire website is dedicated to asking people to be certain of what they believe, especially if it is something they are told rather than something they verified on their own. And, if your pastor gives you some hullaballoo about how "you have to be highly educated to understand the real meaning of the Bible", then what about those poor, dumb carpenters and fishermen from the days of the Apostles? Heaven help us...
A final point by Jesus's own words:
1... "Things that cause people to stumble are bound to come, but woe to anyone through whom they come." (Luke 17:1)
7 And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? 8 I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth? (Luke 18:7-8, emphasis added).
Have you made sure that you are one of the chosen ones with the faith He will seek? Are you sure? If you have the same faith as "most" of the "Christians" in the world, you might want to do a little checking.
Disagree? Find an error? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and give us your view.