Last Days…Apostasy or Revival?
Lately I’ve been thinking more about the last days. Will there be another “Great Awakening?” Is the Holy Spirit going to revive the church before Jesus returns? Will Christ’s body leave this world with a whimper or a shout? Does the Bible predict there will be a great Last Days revival that sweeps the world before the Second Coming?”
Several years ago I participated, at the late Bill Bright’s prompting, to fast for 40 days for spiritual renewal (revival). I, along with several other pastor friends, and 6 men from our infant church, took the challenge and kept our commitment. That was 1997, we are now in 2018, and some are still praying and preaching for a Last Days Revival. I’m certainly not going to suggest that we do not continue to pray and hope for God to touch down in revival power. Indeed keep praying! Keep hoping! I still pray Isaiah’s great prayer, “Oh, that you would rip open the heavens and descend, make the mountains shudder at your presence—As when a forest catches fire, as when fire makes a pot to boil—To shock your enemies into facing you, make the nations shake in their boots!” (Isaiah 64:1-3 MSG).
We long for and pray for revival in the body of Christ-Where is it? The church seems to be impotent, with a real lack of concern, and a real sense of resistance. The late Leonard Ravenhill writes, “As I said, there are two great reasons we don’t have revival. 1) We’re content to live without it, it’s too costly. 2) We don’t want God to disrupt our status quo” –Why Revival Tarries. The Christian life can only be lived one way, and that’s God’s way!
God’s word predicts an end-time apostasy. “Apostasy,” Greek apostasia, meaning “to stand away.” It is generally defined as “a falling away.” But I believe it is a definite, deliberate stand, it is not an accidental slip or fall. No one stumbles into apostasy, it is a defection from the faith, an act of unpardonable rebellion against God and His truth.
The sin of apostasy results in the abandonment of Christian doctrine and conduct, defiance of an established system or authority; a rebellion; an abandonment or breach of faith, a defection or revolt. Apostasy refers to a departure from known or previously embraced truth. The subject of apostasy has little to do with the condition of the unsaved world, which has always rejected divine truth and therefore has nothing from which to depart. Rather, apostasy pertains to the spiritual temperature within God’s church. While some might think that apostasy relates to some external factor such as whether the economy is up or down, the subject of biblical apostasy relates to internal church conditions.
Christianity is in decline in America! When you examine the cold, hard numbers it is simply impossible to come to any other conclusion. Over the past few decades, the percentage of Christians in America has been steadily declining. This has especially been true among young people. There has been a mass exodus of teens and young adults from our churches. This is backed up by the numbers. For example, a survey taken recently found that nearly 50% of all Americans never think about whether they will go to heaven or not.
Here’s the big question Jesus asks: “When the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8). Will He find the faith? the faith which the Apostles taught?’ Or will there be a falling away from Scriptural truth? “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, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits [c]as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God” (2 Thessalonians 2:3,4).
In the last days there will be great spiritual deception.
False prophets will rise up and deceive many with their false teaching (already happening). Wolves will come in sheep’s clothing (Matthew 7:15), bringing powerful deceptions to “deceive, if possible, even the very elect of God." (Matthew 24:24). Wickedness will abound, causing once on-fire believers to become lukewarm. “So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth” (Revelation 3:16). “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:12 NLT).
•2 John 7, “For many deceivers have gone out into the world who do not confess Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist.
•1 John 2:22, “Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son.”
•1 John 4:3, “…and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.”
There exists a ruler of darkness, a principality of the deadliest order, that has been tolerated by believers for so long that its influence is considered normal for the church. This diabolical entity is the spirit of Antichrist. This spirit stands firmly opposed to any renewal, revival or restoration of the church of Jesus Christ. As his name implies he is simply Anti-or against Christ. And he uses whatever is necessary to keep churches from becoming armed and dangerous and unified for restoration.
Jesus Christ predicted that some would take His name and claim to represent Him, and that those would be the “deceivers.” They would claim to be Christian but would bring a different message and a counterfeit Christianity.
The New Age teaches that Jesus was not and is not the only Christ, nor is He God.
Some may think that everyone means the same thing when they say “Christ.” Christians see Christ as the one and only Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Many New Age writers refer to Christ as spirit. They believe there have been many Christ's, Jesus being only one of many. Do not be deceived! New Agers do not mean the God or the Christ of the Bible. Most New Age teachers hold that mother earth, the sun, moon, and stars, indeed all of nature can be worshiped as God.
•Colossians 2:8-10 (NLT) “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body. So you also are complete through your union with Christ, who is the head over every ruler and authority.”
•Galatians 1:6-8, “I marvel that you are turning away so soon from Him who called you in the grace of Christ, to a different gospel, which is not another; but there are some who trouble you and want to pervert the gospel of Christ. But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed.”
•Matthew 24:4, “And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many” (verses 4,5).
•2 Corinthians 11:13-15, “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light. Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.”
There are four basic hindrances to a real renewal in the body of Christ, the church.
1. Spiritual Adultery and Idolatry:
•1 Corinthians 10:14, “Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry.”
•Galatians 5:20,21,“Idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
•1 John 5:21, “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”
Idolatry is putting anything or anyone in the place that God is to occupy in my life. We love, money, ease, success, and getting our own way! Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” (Mark 12:30,31). And…“Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).
There are three kinds of adultery.
•Exodus 20:14, “You shall not commit adultery.” Proverbs 6:32,33, “But the man who commits adultery is an utter fool, for he destroys himself. He will be wounded and disgraced. His shame will never be erased.”
•1 Corinthians 6:18-20, “Run from sexual sin! No other sin so clearly affects the body as this one does. For sexual immorality is a sin against your own body. Don’t you realize that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit, who lives in you and was given to you by God? You do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price. So you must honor God with your body.”
Mental. To look with lust.
•Matthew 5:27,28 NLT, “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that whoever looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart.”
Spiritual. When the believer is unfaithful to the Lord.
•Jeremiah 3:20 NLT, “But you have been unfaithful to me, you people of Israel! You have been like a faithless wife who leaves her husband. I, the Lord, have spoken.”
•Isaiah 1:21 NLT, “See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers.”
2. Conformity to the world.
•Romans 12:2, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” Acting like lost of this world.
•1 John 2:15-17, “Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—is not of the Father but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.”
•Colossians 3:1-4, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.”
•Colossians 3: 5-7, “So put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Have nothing to do with sexual immorality, impurity, lust, and evil desires. Don’t be greedy, for a greedy person is an idolater, worshiping the things of this world. Because of these sins, the anger of God is coming. You used to do these things when your life was still part of this world.”
•James 4:4 NLT, “You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.”
Worldliness is adapting to the standards and methods of the world. Too many of God's people look and act just like everyone else.
3. Inward pollution and Uncleanness
•Jeremiah 3:2 NLT, “Lift up your eyes to the desolate heights and see: Where have you not lain with men? By the road you have sat for them like an Arabian in the wilderness; and you have polluted the land with your harlotries and your wickedness. Therefore the showers have been withheld, and there has been no latter rain. You have had a harlot’s forehead; you refuse to be ashamed.”
The purity of the church has been violated. With Israel it was outward-with the church it is usually inward. It is not usually adultery, stealing, drugs and drunkenness. It is far more, “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
•Galatians 5:19-21, “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.”
3. Hardness and lack of concern. “You refuse to be ashamed” (Jeremiah 3:3).
The church has become shockproof. When they should be blushing with shame, they are mocking sin, and laughing at those who stand against it...ie: Movies, Television, and the Media in general. Proverbs 14:9, “Fools make a mock at sin…” The word, mock, is “making fun,” or “scoffing” even “laughing” at sin. So, in other words, when we sin we are actually mocking God’s commands to act in a proper way. So when people mock at sin, they are actually mocking God and His Word. The irony here is God’s Word tells us clearly, “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
We want to do what we want to do-regardless of the impact upon those within our frame influence! We should be on our knees in agony over the sins of a world gone crazy. While the world is on its way to an eternity without God or hope, the church, by and large, is asleep.
I’m reminded of Jonah, sleeping in the midst of the storm. “Fearing for their lives, the desperate sailors shouted to their gods for help and threw the cargo overboard to lighten the ship. But all this time Jonah was sound asleep down in the hold. So the captain went down after him (Jonah). ‘How can you sleep at a time like this?’ he shouted. ‘Get up and pray to your god! Maybe he will pay attention to us and spare our lives’” (Jonah 1:5,6 NLT).
The world is calling for the church to come and rescue them from the danger of being lost forever, while she lies at ease in Zion, sleeping! And it seems as th church doesn’t even care!
“Rachel…pleaded with Jacob, “Give me children, or I’ll die!” (Genesis 30:1). That should be the prayer of every believer, and of every church, spiritually speaking, “Lord, give me children…” Listen to Paul’s concern for his people, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off and banished from Christ for the sake of my brethren and instead of them, my natural kinsmen and my fellow countrymen” (Romans 9:3 NLT).
Look at Christianity today.
•Our morals are shameful.
•Our standards of decency are on retreat.
•Our sense of values has become confused.
•Our integrity is questionable.
•Our youth are being neglected and the result is tragic.
•Our divorce rate is scandalous.
•Our unwillingness to accept responsibility has left the church powerless.
What can we do to bring revival, renewal, restoration?
Drastically deal with these sins, ingratitude, pride, irritability, criticism, gossip, resentment, worldliness, unconcern, bitterness, complaining, impure thoughts and lifestyle, putting this life first.
•Expecting the professional clergy to do the work of the ministry. “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables. Therefore, brethren, seek out from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom, whom we may appoint over this business; but we will give ourselves continually to prayer and to the ministry of the word” (Acts 6:2-4).
•Permitting our children to desecrate the house of the Lord by just letting them do their own thing-as they defy and rebel against authority just like Mom and Dad.
•A lack of any real Bible knowledge, and a determination that says I don't want to learn more…one hour on Sunday is plenty…1/7 of my time, 1/10 of my income is all that God requires.
•Lack of any real contact with God in prayer.
•A willingness to let our city go on its miserable descent to Hell without any interference from us.
The only way to renewal in the church is for each of us to take a long look at himself...Are we allowing the spirit of Antichrist to rule and control our lives... D.L. Moody said, “It remains to be seen what God can do with one man totally dedicated to Him...” Who will declare, “I'll be that man.”
Unless otherwise noted, the New King James Version (NKJV) of the Bible was used. Also The New Living Translation (NLT); The King James Version (KJV); and The Message (MSG);
All of Dr. John’s teaching and preaching materials are free for your use, but an acknowledgement would be appreciated: firstname.lastname@example.org