Some Will Depart from the Faith Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons 1 Timothy 4:1, ESV
According to the words of our Lord Jesus Christ in John 15 the mark of Christian authenticity is abiding or remaining in Him. This is not simply a continual profession of faith, but a remaining faithful to Christ in our orthodox Christian faith. According to Paul, It is a two-fold action of departing from the faith and giving heed to seducingspirits, and doctrines of devils. The Apostle John called the Christian leaders who do this “antichrists.”
All Scripture Is Breathed Out by God You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra—which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:10–13, ESV
Receiving Christ’s Word and becoming like Him in our conduct will unavoidably mean being treated by the world in the way it treated Christ. “I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (John 17:14). The believer is privileged to participate in the fellowship of His suffering (Philippians 3:10), and it is only as we are willing to bear His reproach and suffer for His sake that we are promised that we will reign with Him (2 Timothy 2:12). Jesus Himself was blasphemously accused of being demon-possessed. They hated Him without a cause (John 15:25). The believer, like Christ, must be willing to be misunderstood and have his good works maligned. Since our best efforts in serving Christ are mingled with sin and human imperfection, it should come as no surprise that our motives and behavior will be misinterpreted because of our forthright identification with Him. “All who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). A mark of the world is to call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20).
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, and shrewd in their own sight! Isaiah 5:20–21, ESV
In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God Ephesians 6:16–17, ESV
I have noticed that some of those who should be contending earnestly for the faith spend way too much time either defending themselves from these sorts of attacks or they are being consumed with nit picking with others to the point of distraction. I am in no way suggesting that all professing Christians should be automatically considered our brethren, however, if the faith of a brother or sister in Christ is solidly grounded in Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, justification by faith alone, and Sola Scriptura, then I am most certainly not going to contend with them over things that the Bible does not make clear enough for that. We must contend for the essentials, the non-negotiable parts of our faith only. On the other hand ecumenicalism is always out there and ready for us to make the foolish mistake to compromise.
“Strive to enter through the narrow door. For many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’ In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom of God but you yourselves cast out. And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. And behold, some are last who will be first, and some are first who will be last.” Luke 13:24–30, ESV
Many who believe they are Christians are not. They have a form of righteousness, but it is not the righteousness born from above. It is self-righteousness. One group that contended with John the Baptist, our Lord Jesus Christ and His disciples, was the Pharisees. Who hasn’t heard believers accusing other believers of being Pharisees? These accusations are usually thrown at people who are stricter than the accuser in their judgments of saved and lost. The Liberal calls a person who judges on the basis of regeneration as the only evidence of saving faith as being a Pharisee. The mainstream church-goer calls all fundamentalists Pharisees. The antinomian calls those who preach Lordship salvation Pharisees.
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” 1 Kings 18:17–19, ESV
There was a time when the English and American cultures were defined by a “Christian world view.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the “Remnant” of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, Secular Humanists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.
The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom.
And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, “Now on the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. It shall be for you a time of holy convocation, and you shall afflict yourselves and present a food offering to the LORD. And you shall not do any work on that very day, for it is a Day of Atonement, to make atonement for you before the LORD your God. For whoever is not afflicted on that very day shall be cut off from his people. And whoever does any work on that very day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall not do any work. It is a statute forever throughout your generations in all your dwelling places. It shall be to you a Sabbath of solemn rest, and you shall afflict yourselves. On the ninth day of the month beginning at evening, from evening to evening shall you keep your Sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26–32, ESV
As I write this, it is about 4 days until the Jewish Passover 2014. It was over 2000 years ago just before Passover on the Jewish calendar that our Lord Jesus Christ was arrested, tried, and crucified. In Christian Doctrinal Orthodoxy we believe that at the Cross of Christ, at His crucifixion, His death made atonement for a specific people given to Him by God the Father. He became their propitiation. Please carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. Do you see the serious emphasis God places on the need for His people’s atonement? What is this atonement? Biblical atonement is the act of God canceling the debt of His people’s sin. Without it God’s wrath against their sin could not be appeased.
And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” Genesis 2:16–17, ESV
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. Genesis 3:6, ESV
“By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” Genesis 3:19, ESV
God commanded Adam to eat from every tree of the Garden of Eden except from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. He told Adam that if he did eat of it that he would surely die. In the next chapter we find Eve beguiled by the Serpent’s wiles to look upon that tree and desire it for food to become wise. She took of it and ate then gave some to Adam. God then encountered them as they hid from him since their eyes were now opened because they now knew good from evil. They had lost their innocence. Their vertical relationship with God was now broken. Their ability to commune with Him was no longer there. Why?
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14–16, ESV
While Joel and Victoria Osteen believe that our Lord’s command to let your light shine before others in the passage above is to prosper and show everyone how God is blessing you, this is not what He was talking about at all. We are not to be conformed to this world, we are to be unified with our brothers and sisters in Christ while not being yoked to professing Christians who are not genuine, and we are to lay up our treasure in heaven not here on earth. Living like this makes one stand out because it is a way of life that is conformed to God and His ways, which are not the ways of the world. This will get the attention of the unregenerate.
But the righteousness based on faith says, “Do not say in your heart, ‘Who will ascend into heaven?’” (that is, to bring Christ down) or “‘Who will descend into the abyss?’” (that is, to bring Christ up from the dead). But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” Romans 10:6–11, ESV
We are engulfed at this time in the 2014 in what John MacArthur dubbed The Truth War and it is an ugly thing. Those attempting to dismantle Biblical truth and reform it to their own philosophies use tactics that could best be termed as deceitful and hypocritical. They accuse without any substance to their attacks. Their entire focus seems to be to muddy the waters and cast doubt using verbiage designed to discourage the warriors of the truth while confusing everyone else. Now I ask you, who does that sound like? Of course, it is our enemy who is behind this. He is a liar and a murderer. Those who serve him are spiritually blind and have been deceived. Our enemy is quite clever in that he attacks the truth from every conceivable angle and platform. Some of his minions are atheists. Others are pagans. Others are professing Christians, but they are not the genuine article. There are hundreds of different forms of Christianity, but there is only one true faith. The religion of genuine Christianity teaches that Christians are saved by justification by Gods grace alone through faith alone. However, there are hundreds of false prophets who have invaded the visible Church who teach vastly different false doctrines. However, there is one common denominator in them all. They teach in one form or another that salvation belongs to them because they have done something that has earned them recognition as Christians or as the emergents say these days, “followers of Jesus.”
Πᾶσα ψυχὴ ἐξουσίαις ὑπερεχούσαις ὑποτασσέσθω. οὐ γὰρ ἔστιν ἐξουσία εἰ μὴ ὑπὸ θεοῦ, αἱ δὲ οὖσαι ὑπὸ θεοῦ τεταγμέναι εἰσίν. ὥστε ὁ ἀντιτασσόμενος τῇ ἐξουσίᾳ τῇ τοῦ θεοῦ διαταγῇ ἀνθέστηκεν, οἱ δὲ ἀνθεστηκότες ἑαυτοῖς κρίμα λήμψονται. οἱ γὰρ ἄρχοντες οὐκ εἰσὶν φόβος τῷ ἀγαθῷ ἔργῳ ἀλλὰ τῷ κακῷ. θέλεις δὲ μὴ φοβεῖσθαι τὴν ἐξουσίαν· τὸ ἀγαθὸν ποίει, καὶ ἕξεις ἔπαινον ἐξ αὐτῆς· θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν σοὶ εἰς τὸ ἀγαθόν. ἐὰν δὲ τὸ κακὸν ποιῇς, φοβοῦ· οὐ γὰρ εἰκῇ τὴν μάχαιραν φορεῖ· θεοῦ γὰρ διάκονός ἐστιν ἔκδικος εἰς ὀργὴν τῷ τὸ κακὸν πράσσοντι. διὸ ἀνάγκη ὑποτάσσεσθαι, οὐ μόνον διὰ τὴν ὀργὴν ἀλλὰ καὶ διὰ τὴν συνείδησιν. διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ φόρους τελεῖτε· λειτουργοὶ γὰρ θεοῦ εἰσιν εἰς αὐτὸ τοῦτο προσκαρτεροῦντες. ἀπόδοτε πᾶσιν τὰς ὀφειλάς, τῷ τὸν φόρον τὸν φόρον, τῷ τὸ τέλος τὸ τέλος, τῷ τὸν φόβον τὸν φόβον, τῷ τὴν τιμὴν τὴν τιμήν. Romans 13:1–7, NA28
Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Romans 13:1–7, ESV
God is the sovereign ruler of the Universe. All of creation is subject to Him. He is the one who hung the Earth on nothing and set boundaries of the seas. He is the one who established the authority system that governs the peoples of the Earth. Is it okay for Christians to participate in Civil Disobedience then? Should the Church rule over government or should the government rule over the Church? God has setup the correct order of things.
The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?” Ezekiel 13:1–7, ESV
A false prophet is one who claims to teach the truth from God and His Word, but who actually teaches from the counsel of his or her own heart. God is forever unchanging. He is immutable. His ways never change. His standards never change. At the time of Ezekiel, the kingdom of Judah had become consumed with idolatry. The people mixed Temple worship of YHWH with the worst forms of idol worship. They had taken on the culture and religion of the nations around them. Their culture had become pluralized. They were no longer a separate and unique people from the rest of the nations. The mechanism in people that powers this is compromise. The standard for God’s people has always been to be eternally focused with God in control. Compromise always moves God’s people to make decisions that are temporally focused, but, on the other hand, obedience to God is always counter to the demands of culture and the temporal.
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25, ESV
God’s Kingdom is real. It is not completely fulfilled in this world. It exists in the hearts of His people here, but in eternity, it is totally manifest. God is transcendent. He is not affected in any way by His creation, the Universe. However, He is also imminent in that He sent His beloved son as a Man to become the New Adam. He did this to start the process of developing Kingdom Life in this world. Our Lord’s atoning work on the Cross purchased His people by His blood. All those believe and repent as God effectually calls them. They are regenerated. This changes them forever. They become like unto their Lord. The Kingdom of God becomes manifest in their lives as the old man remains, but is displaced over time through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit. We await the return of our Lord to fulfill His Kingdom. In the meantime we must learn how to conform ourselves to Kingdom Life in this world. In Matthew 6:1–7:12 our Lord sets forth principles for spirituality in religious life, everyday life, and community relationships.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace. Romans 6:1–14, ESV
The Doctrine of Regeneration tells Christians that the life they live now will not be as it once was, but will take on the characteristics of regeneration. The Christian is a new creation. The attributes of this pertain to spiritual quality rather than physical substance, however, the evidence of it will become manifest in how the Christian walks through each day and deals with the circumstances of life.
ὥστε εἴ τις ἐν Χριστῷ, καινὴ κτίσις· τὰ ἀρχαῖα παρῆλθεν, ἰδοὺ γέγονεν καινά. 2 Corinthians 5:17, NA28
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation; the old things passed away, behold he has become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17, translated from the NA28 Greek text
When Christ comes into your life, your life changes. God’s Word everywhere declares that a change is automatic when someone truly believes. However, this is not entirely a passive thing. There is something called walking in repentance that is our part. I am sure all of you know someone or you may have personal testimony pertaining to struggling with sin or sins for years that seemed to cling very close and no matter what freedom from the sin(s) seemed like chains in prison. However we are commanded to be not sin like that aren’t we?
God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” Exodus 3:14, ESV
Sacred Scripture or the Bible, which is the living Word of God, His communication to His people, is not just a collection of writings or a simply a history. The Holy Spirit not only indwells Christians he also indwells Sacred Scripture. When believers read and study the Word of God, The Holy Spirit works through it to accomplish spiritual, eternal work within them. God communicates with His people primarily through His Word. One of the main goals in this is God’s revelation of Himself to those who love Him.
Jesus Christ is the interpretive key to Sacred Scripture. Any other hermeneutic will lead people into various forms of heresy or unbelief. If anyone has ever debated a Jehovah Witness apologist or a Morman apologist or an Islamic apologist then you know how difficult it can be to address their complete misunderstanding of who Jesus Christ is and what His role is all things pertaining to our faith and creation. However, if we do view all of scripture from this key, it enables us to see clearly the utter depravity of fallen man because it imparts this to us via God’s Word by the Holy Spirit working in our consciences and minds. We see that the Gospel is not what most of us have conceived of as we have listened to some preacher’s water-down version of it. No, we see that Christ is the center and purpose of all creation and that the Word of God clearly shows us God’s plan of redemption of those chosen before the foundation of the World.
Israel said, “Why did you treat me so badly as to tell the man that you had another brother?” Genesis 43:5–6, ESV
Unforgiveness is poison for the Soul as it ensnares those who refuse to forgive by binding them into the prison of bitterness. This world is not a peaceful, easy, benign place. It is fallen. The world system is the product of Man’s rebellion against God. There is war. There is crime. There is oppression. People wrong other people. They place their wants and desires and perceived needs ahead of the wants and desires of others. The world system is marked by people pursuing their own no matter who gets hurt. The Christian is called to respond to the hurts and wrongs done to them in a vastly different way from the ways of the world.
You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:4, ESV
Compromise is a term the world system likes. In fact, the world system as we know it in our time runs on rails greased by compromise. Even though the U.S. Constitution protects the right of free speech to its citizens, the political correctness movement is doing all it can to squelch or smother the expression of “opinion” that is contrary to what it deems as inoffensive. It appears that the right of the easily offended is more protected than the right of those who speak the truth and live by it. All flavors of liberal Christianity, for example, teach that it is wrong to preach the complete Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. Why? It is divisive. It is exclusive. It offends. Instead, leaders with those various groups teach that we should only preach things that bring people together. Another difference between orthodox Christianity and the liberals has to do with separation from the world system. We teach what the Bible teaches, that is, Christians must not be friends of or part of the world system because those who are actually prove that they are an enemy of God. On the other hand, the liberals consistently teach that repentance is no big deal and all sorts of sins condemned in the Bible are not grounds for separation from the local body of believers.
Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. 2 Timothy 3:12–13, ESV
The Christian has been called by God to serve the Lord Jesus as His bondservant (δουλος). This role of bondservant also includes being His obedient disciple and valiant warrior. I grew up in an era in which there just was not much turmoil in the churches I was part of. The Pastor was considered the one who should take moral stands on issues and proclaim the truth to those in darkness, but the rest of the folks in the church did not consider themselves soldiers of Christ Jesus except when they sang songs such as Onward Christian Soldiers. However, times have changed. There are some preachers these days that deserve a proclamation of “woe” such as this one from the Prophet Isaiah.
Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20, ESV
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1 Corinthians 1:20, ESV
I moved my writing ministry to Possessing the Treasure in 2006. Not long after that Ken Silva asked me to come on board the Christian Research Network team. It was during that period that there were some monumental battles with a group of people dedicated to shutting us down.
The Doctrine of Unconditional Election is not for sissies. What I mean by that is if we adhere to this doctrine then we had better be ready for those in unbelief to attack us with their broadsides and accusations. It seems that every Pelagian out there, whether full blown Pelagian or semi-Pelagian or Arminian, is convinced that Man is not dead in his or her trespasses and sins and is fully able to elect God or not. Of course, none of their arguments hold any water because they are derived either from man-centered philosophy or from Bible verses taken out of context (eisegesis). On the other hand, the Doctrines of Grace are all completely Biblical and are based entirely in Holy Scripture expositions done exegetically.
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you heard was coming and now is in the world already. Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error. 1 John 4:1–6, ESV
It is one thing to confess Christ or profess to be a Christian and quite another to live and walk before the face of God within that confession or profession in obedience to God and His Word. There are so many in our time who claim to be Christians, but whose lives are marked by them speaking and living according to the world and its ways. I, like many of you, have become very perplexed when certain Christian leaders who profess all the right things are then seen to fellowship with those who are obvious apostates or heretics. If we are not careful and properly focused in our devotion, which is the definition of godliness, we can become discouraged because we are looking to men rather than our Saviour for the proper way to walk, minister, and confront false doctrine.
The aim of our charge is love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. Certain persons, by swerving from these, have wandered away into vain discussion, desiring to be teachers of the law, without understanding either what they are saying or the things about which they make confident assertions. Now we know that the law is good, if one uses it lawfully, understanding this, that the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners, for the unholy and profane, for those who strike their fathers and mothers, for murderers, the sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine, in accordance with the gospel of the glory of the blessed God with which I have been entrusted. 1 Timothy 1:5–11 ESV
Carefully read the passage I placed at the top of this post. What is the aim of the charge of a true discipler? It is to produce the good fruit of of love that issues from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith. That is the good fruit of genuine prophet of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. On the other hand, our Lord Himself told us in His Sermon on the Mount how to discern whether a prophet was false or not.
I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive. For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. Romans 16:17–19, ESV
The visible church is overrun with false teachers and their doctrines. There is a mindset in the Church right now that is actually part of the problem in that it ostracizes and attempts to isolate and silence those who, in their obedience as watchmen, reveal the truth about certain false teachers and why their doctrines are unbiblical. Some of these wolves in sheep’s clothing are very popular in the visible church to the point that their supporters are more than willing to “give them a pass” when they err biblically because they have been ministered to by them in the past. However, this very thing simply promotes the environment for “tolerance” of error. This mindset contains a lie that those who discern these things, warn the body, and expose the false teachers and their doctrines, are the ones being divisive, unloving, and unChristlike. Thankfully, we still have God’s Word, and in it, we learn that we must always be on guard against false and deceptive teaching. One of the helpful things it teaches us in this battle is the knowledge of the believer’s new identity in Christ. This knowledge helps us resist the arguments of false teachers as we walk before the face of God for His glory alone.
“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. Then two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left. Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Matthew 24:36–44, ESV
Jesus Christ is returning to this earth. However, if you look at the havoc the enemy is causing in the visible Church in our time it would appear that many, if not most, professing Christians are unconcerned about it. When certain Christian leaders can dismiss clear teachings from God’s Word and replace them with what the unregenerate want to hear then we must know that they do not believe that what the Word of God teaches us is literal in any sense of the word. Instead, they go on about in their lasciviousness in utter disregard for what awaits those who are guilty of making light of the direct commands of God. However, our Lord made it very clear in His Word that He was returning and with Him He will bring both reward and judgment.
This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.” For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 2 Peter 3:1–7, ESV
My own experience has been that there are a great number of professing Christians who fall into this role of ‘scoffer.’ They may not intentionally do it, but they still have the mindset that ‘all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’ The Greek word Peter used here that is translated ‘scoffers’ is ἐμπαίκτης or empaiktēs. This word describes one who derides and is by implication a false teacher. He or she is a mocker and a scoffer. Think of those so-called Bible scholars in our time who do all they can to cast doubt on the inerrancy of scripture and the deity of Christ. Think of men like Bart Ehrman author of the book Misquoting Jesus. Peter qualifies his description of these scoffers by telling us that they do this as they follow their own sinful desires. These scoffers desire is to live in sin with impunity. This drives them to deride biblical truth as well as those who are bound to it and believe it. The ‘last days’ that Peter refers to started at Pentecost and continue through our day. We are in ‘this age’ and await the ‘age to come.’