The Falling Away
By Terry James
One particular prophetic signal is among the most powerful that points to the fact that we are at the end of the age, yet it goes relatively unobserved. Its power is found in its deceptive nature. We are right in the middle of this spiritual senses-debilitating prophetic reality. Here’s where we find its foretelling:
“Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition” (2 Thes. 2:10-3).
The great Apostle Paul was prophesying that Christians of the church age will be gathered to Christ in the rapture (1 Cor. 15:52; 1 Thes. 4:6-7). This “day of Christ,” Paul was telling those of his time, had not taken place, as some feared. Nor will it take place, he wrote, until the “falling away” first happens, which ultimately will lead to the son of perdition being revealed to the world.
The Greek term for “falling away” here, is apostasia –from which the English appropriates the word "apostasy." There is coming, this means, a departure from the thing Antichrist both imitates and is totally against. What is that?
The spirit of Antichrist, as well as the final and most terrible tyrant on earth, who will be the Antichrist, will oppose Jesus Christ and the Lord’s purpose for coming to Planet Earth. I propose that the apostasy Paul was talking about was in the process of coming to pass while John, the one through whom Jesus gave the Revelation, wrote:
“Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world.” (1 Jn. 4:1-3).
So, the apostasia had already begun in John’s time. But it is prophetically scheduled to get much worse. Again, from what, in particular, are Paul and John telling us there will be this apostasy, this departure, this falling away? The departure will take place, denying that Christ has come in the flesh. Jesus said He came for a specific purpose: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10).
This brings my thoughts to Dr. Jerry Falwell, who went to his reward Tuesday, May 15, 2007. Also, I must think a bit upon Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and others who attract the throngs at their mega church-arenas in these closing days of the church age. I’m aware of the can of worms such thought opens. But, it must be said. So, here goes.
Many, maybe even most, news reporters and pundits--it was obvious to me—were barely able to contain their disdain for Jerry Falwell, upon announcing his death, and subsequently analyzing his life. One reporter for CNN allowed, for example, an avowed atheist to articulate his hatred for Falwell, not disagreeing with the man when he called Falwell a “little toad,” and worse. The same reporter then gave Franklin Graham one-tenth the time, and seemed frantic to get Graham off the air, when the son of Billy Graham used the moment to point to Falwell’s faithfulness to preaching and teaching salvation by Christ alone –that Jesus is the only way to God the Father and to Heaven following death.
The same network –and all other major networks—routinely castigated Falwell in life. They continue to do so in his passing. Their anger stems, one can certainly infer, from the politically incorrect stances Falwell took against abortion, homosexuality, and other popular causes of the political and religious left. However, it is the Liberty University founder’s stand for Christ as the only way to salvation that got him into the most trouble with these same haters of truth found in God’s Word, the Bible.
CNN talk host Larry King and others are always quick to embrace Rick Warren, Joel Osteen, and others who would rather talk about unity and purpose, and the basic goodness of mankind. The frothiness of their message is soothing relief to itching ears, just as the Apostle Paul wrote would be the case as time of the end nears:
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Tim. 4:3-4).
There will be in the last days, Paul wrote, those who will come preaching and teaching falsehoods--falsehoods that include today half-truths. These half-truths that proclaim God is love and that He will welcome everyone –no matter his or her different belief systems--into Heaven with Him upon passing from this life are lies from the father of lies. These same purveyors of the half-truths don’t tell people what God says in His Word about sin. Sin –which each and everyone of us is born into, and commits, because of our fallen nature, demands a cure. That cure required that God’s Son, Jesus Christ, come to shed His blood on the cross at Calvary as sacrifice so we can be redeemed, or brought into God’s family for eternity. Without His shed blood for sin, there is no remission for the soul-destroying disease called sin (Heb. 9:22).
I listened to Mr. Osteen this past Sunday, and in the considerable minutes I spent listening, I never once heard him mention sin. More telling, I never once heard him mention the name of Jesus Christ. He said “God” quite a lot, but never once, the name of Christ.
Jesus represents a very narrow way. As a matter of fact, Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life, and no one comes to God the Father, but by Jesus Christ (Jn. 14:6).
The falling away from this truth that is taking place in these last moments of the age of grace is something Jerry Falwell pointed out –eloquently, but bluntly, and unequivocally. For this he was hated, as is the real Jesus of the Word of God.
Jerry Falwell understood well Jesus' words about what will be the world’s attitude toward those who adhere to the truth that Jesus is the narrow –the only—way to Heaven:
“If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also” (Jn. 15:18-20).
It is incumbent upon us who name the holy name of Jesus Christ to not be part of the falling away, the apostasy, that will grow exponentially from now until Christ returns.