Friday, 8 August 2014

The Fourth Apostasy

Globalism - Ecumenism

Pete Garcia

''Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.'' (1 Timothy 4:1-4 NKJV)

After having been released by the Medo-Persian King Cyrus, the Jews under Joshua and Zerrubabel began returning to Jerusalem around 538-37 BC.  By the time Jesus was born in Bethlehem, some 500 years later, the rebuilt Jewish temple and the whole city had been fully operational for centuries.  Aside from a three year period in which Antiochus Epiphanes terrorized Jerusalem, each successive Gentile Empire (Persian, Greek, Roman) allowed the Jews to keep their temple and their worship intact.  Fair to say, their religion was firmly entrenched by the time Christ came.

So why wasn’t their crowd thronging the manger where Christ was born? Why didn’t Herod’s priests break out into joyous exaltation at the news by the wise men when seeking the One ‘born king of the Jews’? Why wasn’t Jesus followed by the leading Rabbis from his early childhood onward?  Why was Jesus unknown outside of Galilee and Nazareth?

John the Baptist seemingly recognized Him as He approached him to be baptized, even calling Him the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”  So why did he later ask when imprisoned, “are you really the Christ, or should we wait for another?”

Jesus performed miracles, but then told those not to call Him the Messiah.  When He had huge crowds, He gave some of His harshest messages, often laden with parables, which could not be understood by the masses.  When He was around His disciples, He allowed them to recognize Him as the “Son of the living God”, but He shunned all the Messiah worship from the crowds.  The only day in which He publicly allowed them to openly worship Him as the Messiah, was on Palm Sunday, which should have been the one day they recognized Him for who He really was.

It was exactly 173,880 days (or 483 years) from the day King Artaxerxes gave the commandment to Nehemiah to go and rebuild the city and the walls of Jerusalem.  This meant that only Jesus could be the One who could fulfill the role of a Promised King.  And knowing what lie ahead, instead of rejoicing over Jerusalem, He wept.

Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it, saying, “If you had known, even you, especially in this your day, the things that make for your peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment around you, surround you and close you in on every side, and level you, and your children within you, to the ground; and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44

In less than a week, Jesus would be betrayed, arrested, falsely accused, beaten, spat upon, whipped bloody, mocked, tortured, and crucified between two thieves.  The Jews demanded it, the Romans accommodated it, the guards relished in it, and the sky darkened and the ground shook upon the greatest travesty the world had ever known.

The all-powerful God who created man out of dust, and spoke the universe into existence by His sheer will, humbled Himself and allowed His creation to brutalize Him to an agonizing death on a cross made of wood, from the very trees He created out of nothing.  His disciples were scattered, His family and friends demoralized, and His enemies rejoiced.

Yet, on the third day, He rose again, conquering death and hell in the process, and forever freeing sinful man from the perfect demands, of a perfect Law, he could never possibly keep.  He died for the sins of mankind, and traded His own perfect righteousness, for our shameful sinfulness.

Some call it the most lopsided, and unfair deal in all of human history.  Yet, He did it willingly, so that any man or woman who wanted, could also obtain the righteousness of God by heeding the drawing of the Holy Spirit and placing their faith and trust into Jesus’s death, burial, and resurrection.  That same Holy Spirit who drew, then also eternally sealed the believer until the Day of Redemption…guaranteeing Salvation despite our continual unfaithfulness.

In the Old Testament, God had entered into a covenant with the Israelites, at Mt. Sinai, (1500-1400BC) in which they would be His people, and He would be their God, as long as they kept their end of the bargain up. [Exodus 19:1-7]  But our Scripture records, three distinct periods, in which Israel’s apostate behavior reached a culmination point:

By Hosea’s day (755-710BC), the Northern Kingdom (Israel) had fallen into deep apostasy, and God allowed their enemy (the Assyrians) to conquer and carry them off into a lost history.  See also  2 Kings 17:21-23
By Jeremiah’s day (627-570BC), the Southern Kingdom (Judah) had also fallen into apostasy, and God allowed their enemy, the Babylonians, to carry them off into 70 years of enslavement.
By AD33, the Jews had committed the greatest apostasy, by murdering their own Messiah, and God allowed the Romans to be His instrument of their destruction.  In 70AD, they killed more than a million Jews, destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, and sending the Jews into 2,000 years of diaspora.
The Fourth Apostasy

Hinting by way of question as to the length of time between the first coming and the second, Jesus asked the question ‘…Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8)  He already knew the answer to the question, but was conveying that Christianity’s ebb and flow would have to happen, until a point was reached, in which this body too, seemed to be at a culminating point.  It would seem as if Christ would never return…and many would turn away from the true faith and follow after whatever the world was selling.

The slide into apostasy was a gradual, yet consistent one.  An element of the apostate has always been present since the beginning, but in the latter times, it would pick up momentum.  Where true, Biblical Christianity once stood, is now being increasingly replaced by catchy slogans and marketing campaigns designed to increase attendance and generate an obscene cash flow. Where doctrinal truths are set aside to accommodate the masses.

Instead of portraying the Gospel that saves, they present a highly commercialized, highly filtered, and utterly lukewarm (as not to offend) ‘gospel’ that teaches: all love and no judgment, all blessing and no repentance and turns the focus to self, instead of being on Christ, ignores or perverts the prophetic Scripture, and teaches the “kingdom is now”.

The Apostle Paul speaks to this in various places (2 Tim 3:1-9; Gal. 1:8-9; 1 Tim 4:1) as does Peter (2 Peter 2:1-22, 3:17), Jude (1-25), the writer of Hebrews (6:4-6), and also Jesus Himself (Rev. 3:14-22).

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 Thess 2:3

The last and final falling away, (apostasia) is a de-Christianizing of Christianity.  It removes the exclusivity of salvation through Christ alone, and injects salvation by works and/or promotes a Universalist salvation, in which all paths lead to God.

Although a complete falling away cannot occur this side of the Rapture (see Matthew 16:18-19), we can see modern Christendom trending heavily that way now.  The push is to unite all of Christianity together under the banner of ecumenicalism…led by the “original” universal church in Rome under the Pope.  The Charismatics, Prosperity preachers, and Emergent church devotee’s seem already onboard with this.  Their goal is to stifle dissent as being divisive.  And although it’s not an overwhelming problem at the moment, it is growing.

The Bible records that Christendom in the world does not progressively get better, but gets worse.  The last church age is not one of global conquest for Christ, but an abhorrent Laodicean church who is lukewarm and repulsive to Christ so much so, that He vomits them from His mouth.  Although true Christianity cannot be completely overcome this side of the Rapture, we see that once the Rapture does occur, what remains of Christendom will quickly slide into that final, global religion headed by the False Prophet and the Antichrist.

Assessment

Despite all the craziness going on in the world, why should this matter to us today?  Because I believe in the coming months and possibly years, the true Church, or what remains of it, will be put under immense political, economic, religious, and societal pressure to conform, to embrace religious multiculturalism and ecumenicalism.

Many pastors and denominations are even now laying down as to avoid the intense criticism and pressure the media, social networks, and activist have already brought to bear on them.  Major denominations are already refusing to come out and take a strong stance against homosexual clergy and marriages within their own ranks.  True, there will be pockets of ‘spiritual’ resistance who refuse to conform to this new, evolved Christianity-‘lite’, but these are considered well outside of the mainstream conversation, and are ignored, and relegated as Westboro Baptist-types.

What remains of the true Church, should the Lord tarry, will have to consist of an underground network of home churches as currently exists in places like China and the Middle East.

Currently, religious freedom in the United States is largely becoming a fa├žade, which only applies to everyone…except for the born-again Christian.  And the whole world will line up behind the famous, the subject matter experts, the media mouthpieces, the polls, and the academic types who say that Christianity needs to evolve in order to stay relevant.  (Apparently, this standard does not apply to Islam)   But these famous people, these enlightened leaders will continue to point the blame at the true Christian, and state were it not for these hateful bigots who still cling to their ‘guns and their bibles’, the world would be a better place.

But what does Christ have to say?

“I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept My word, and have not denied My name…Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.   Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown. Revelation 3:8-10

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