When we have the discernment that Jesus spoke about to know the "signs of the times" (Matt. 16:3), it becomes clear we are living in the last days. In fact, there are several key signs that bring us to this conclusion.
- The regathering of Israel into their own land
- The surging apostasy
- The coming Middle East peace
- The reuniting of the Roman Empire (East, West, both?)
For the church today, the most important of these prophetic signs is the rising tide of apostasy or defection from God and the Christian faith. We see this happening almost daily within the ranks of the church. As we have already discussed, apostasy means to "depart, revolt, or forsake. It is a deliberate defection from a formerly held religious position." Apostasy doesn't necessarily mean a total rejection of God or the authority of His Scripture. Apostasy can come in stages. It usually begins with a defection from a section of Scripture or a specific teaching that is incompatible with the current cultural church mood. Some examples are the issue of homosexuality, divorce, women pastors, abortion, or a myriad of other issues that divide the Body today. And once a small defection takes place, full-blown apostasy is not far behind.
But this shouldn't surprise us. After all, Jesus said in Matthew 24 the greatest sign of His return was deception. And He warned His disciples about that deception four times (Matt. 24:4, 5,11, 24). He even went so far as to say the deception at the end would be so great that, if it was possible, even the elect would be deceived (Matt. 24:24). And the elect includes Peter, Paul, James and John, Martin Luther, D.L. Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Graham, and you and me. That's a sobering thought that should not be taken lightly.
So what can we do to prepare for the coming apostasy?
The Apostasy is Coming
Or, how do we prevent falling prey to the deception that will only get greater as the Day approaches? Great question. You must know what you believe, and why. You must personally experience God for who He is. You cannot ride on the coattails of another’s faith. Your faith must be your own. And you must understand how overwhelmingly powerful the deception will be in the end times and be prepared.
Ask yourself the following questions: Has God ever revealed Himself to you in an unmistakable fashion that left no doubt? Has He ever revealed Himself to you through His Word? If so, what was that experience like? How did it change your view of Scripture? Do you hunger for more of Him? Has that hunger led you to read more of His Word? And if not, why?
Once you begin to understand the power of His Word and the wisdom He gives you through His Word, what the world offers is nothing more than pocket change. You, through Him, have more wisdom than the talking heads on CNN. You have more understanding than those who make acceptance speeches at the Academy Awards and spend that time telling you how to live. You are the dwelling place of God Himself, in the Person of the Holy Spirit, which makes you a living sanctuary of the Presence of God.
Tell me what the world has that you don't. Exactly. Nuthin'!
The following is a study on How to Prepare for the Coming Apostasy and 1 Corinthians 2.