THE CHURCH AND TRUTH IN THESE PERILOUS TIMES
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
The behavior listed of people in these last days is that of many who identify themselves as Christians. How can these be identified as Christians? Verse 5 explains it; where do you find a “form of Godliness”; in the world? …or in the church and among those who identify themselves a Christians? Obviously Paul was describing behavior of end-time church goers. This clearly marks the warning declared by Paul in verse one above indicating where we are in time. Is there anything else that identifies what is happening to the church in the last days?
2 Thessalonians 2:3 – 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;
The “falling away” that Paul predicted is referred to as “apostasy”. Apostasy is a falling away from the faith, belief, confidence; forsaking the faith; abandoning prior profession and a desertion of the principles of the faith once held. In other words, something has taken the place of foundational principles of the gospel that regulates and motivates Christian life and behavior. The last days before the return of Christ are perilous indeed, even as Jesus warned about it.
Matthew 24:4-5 – And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive man.
Jesus told us that these last days would be filled with preachers and teachers (prophets) who preach error. They would introduce teachings and doctrines that are not truth and based on scripture. They may use scripture, but they either add to it, take away from it, or pervert it. Such preaching and teaching would destroy true faith and belief and turn people aside to false beliefs, doctrines and traditions; thus producing apostasy in the church.
The real problem with apostasy is that it is not recognized by the apostates. They think they are right and accuse others as being in apostasy. The main cause of apostasy in the church is the gradual acceptance of false doctrines and traditions to the point that the errors become the basic core beliefs and practices. It is interesting to recognize that Jesus confronted the same condition with the religious leadership in His day; and that religious leadership opposed Him so greatly that they provoked his crucifixion. So is today any different; look at the warnings of Jesus and the apostle Paul:
Matthew 15:3 – But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?
2 Timothy 4:3-4 – 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.
The state of apostasy in the church was foretold by Paul in other scriptures also:
Acts 20:28-30 – Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.
What is the cause of apostasy? Scripture shows that Jesus along with the apostles Paul, Peter, James and Jude, gave written warnings of the straying away from sound doctrine that would occur in these last days. They each identify the cause as being the loss of TRUTH, a result of deception or lies (lack of truth); the rejecting of truth and preferring to hold onto false doctrines and traditions that man has incorporated into the church.
Matthew 24:11 – And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.
Jesus spoke of leadership, claiming to speak by authority or inspiration from God (thus prophets), that would mislead people because of what became “religious tradition”. Today we have a lot of “religious” tradition and much of it is not based on TRUTH of the Bible, but has been added by man’s false beliefs that have become established traditions of the present day church.
This author refers to this traditional form of the current establishment church as the Institutional Religious System, (the IRS). It is much of the traditional church of today that continues to believe various levels of false doctrines and continues to practice traditions that are not founded on the truth of God’s Word. Again, they mix error in with what scripture says to create these erroneous traditions. The IRS is the church that believes such and currently operates in various degrees of apostasy, yet refuses to recognize it but continues to justify and enforce its false beliefs and practices.
Matthew 15:8-9, 14 – This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. …Let them alone: they be blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch.
Thus we can conclude that there are two churches in the world today. The IRS church that man is building; and the Body of Christ, that Jesus said HE would be building. The IRS is built on errors and a lot of man’s doctrines and traditions while the Body of Christ in built on TRUTH and obedience to Him and His Word.
Matthew 7:15, 21-23 – Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
(Read Matthew 7:15-29 to see that truth and obedience to truth is required to build HIS house, the true church, and it will stand when the storms of life hit it.)
Those who do not hold to the truth but incorporate errors into their beliefs are doomed to suffer the consequences of their errors. Truth with error added to it is no longer truth. Truth is therefore perverted and thus subverted.
2 Thessalonians 2:10-11 – And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:
Truth needs to endure to the end in order to effective.
Matthew 24:13 – But he that shall endure (believing and holding truth) unto the end, the same shall be saved.
Those who resist the errors, false doctrines and traditions that have eventually crept into the church are subject to persecution when they try to identify the errors and restore truth to the church. Yes, true believers experience persecution at the hands of the established church; just look at church history in what the Roman Catholic Church did to those who they suspected of non-conformity to their traditions. (Read Foxe’s Book of Martyrs for a good history lesson on this.)
2 Timothy 3:12 - Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Following are more scriptures on the forewarned cause of apostasy:
1 Timothy 4:1-4 – Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:
Traditional church education by seminary’s and Bible schools does not do any good if PURE TRUTH is not taught; as already mentioned, truth mixed with error IS NO LONGER TRUTH!
2 Timothy 3:7 & 16 – Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. … All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
1 Timothy 6:3-6 – If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings, Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself. But godliness with contentment is great gain.
The result of adding error to truth and producing false doctrines, is that it destroys faith, trust and confidence. It also produces the kind of worldly behavior that was listed in 2 Timothy 3:1-5 at the beginning of this article. As a result OF errors, false doctrines and traditions, faith becomes shipwrecked, cast off and over-thrown.
1 Timothy 1:19 – Holding faith, and a good conscience; which some having put away concerning faith have made shipwreck:
1 Timothy 5:12 – Having damnation, because they have cast off their first faith.
2 Timothy 2:18 – Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.
Those who have labored to teach the truth have labored in vain if people do not hold to TRUTH in the face of today’s malaise of false doctrines and traditions. Paul had this concern for those he ministered to centuries ago:
1 Thessalonians 3:5 – For this cause, when I could no longer forbear, I sent to know your faith, lest by some means the tempter have tempted you, and our labour be in vain.
As mentioned previously, those who have been taught false doctrines and traditions will relentlessly hold on to such errors even when confronted with the truth. Why is this? It’s because people become “secure” in their traditions, even when their traditions are WRONG. They don’t like their “security” threatened with TRUTH. They don’t like to acknowledge that they are wrong and have put their faith in lies. They would rather continue believing a lie then accept the truth and change.
The following is an example of such resistance to truth revealed. It comes from a newsletter published on the web site, EllisSkofield.com. Mr. Skolfield, (whose material this author has read and promoted due to its revealing factualness), states that, “accepting doctrinal reform has never been easy for the Church. Over the years, I’ve visited many Christian chat-rooms, hundreds of churches and even taught in some. Many of those churches have leaders who claim to be Bible prophecy experts. It isn’t so. They are actually “ism” experts: Preter-ism, Dispensational-ism, Historic-ism or some other “ism”. And it’s a tragedy because those “isms” have shut the door to more realistic views of Bible prophecy for over 300 years!!! With “isms” in place, the church never noticed when, after 1967 (when the gentile domination of Jerusalem ended), God actually opened His prophetic books.
He goes on to say, “I’m reminded of one church leader who typifies the problem. When I met this ism-ite, he was just bubbling over with the usual gossip about who the Antichrist might be, when the tribulation was going to start and whether there was going to be a pre, post or mid trib rapture. I asked him if we could go to a blackboard. When there, we opened our Bibles and read:
Behold, I show you a mystery; we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed - 1 Corinthians 15:51-52.
On his blackboard I scratched in all CAPS, LAST TRUMPET, and asked, “You believe the Church will be taken to be with the Lord at the last trumpet, don’t you?” Of course, that’s common knowledge,” he replied, smiling.
“Great, then you also believe there can’t be any trumpets after the last trumpet?” “Sure,” he said a bit weakly; he probably guessed where I was headed.
“Well then,” I said, “If the Church is going to be on earth until the last trumpet, we’re going to be here through the six of the seven trumpets in Revelation.”
“Oh no,” he replies, “the seven trumpets of Revelation are trumpets of judgment and they come after that trumpet in Corinthians.”
Then I asked, “Are you saying trumpets will be blown after the last trumpet? Isn’t that contradicting a plain declaration of Scripture?”
“The last trumpet in Corinthians has nothing to do with the trumpets in Revelation, “ he says with conviction.
“Well then, unless I misunderstand you, what the Bible says is the last trumpet isn’t really the last trumpet.” His view seemed so unlikely I just had to ask, “Is that what you really believe?”
“The last trumpet of 1 Corinthians 15:52 refers to Levitical trumpets only,” he said in his most authoritative voice, “Revelation’s trumpets take place during the Seven-year Tribulation. Everyone knows that.”
“Really? Well, let me see if I’ve got this straight. A trumpet in the New Testament, claiming to the last, only refers to the Old Testament trumpets, even though there are seven more trumpets in the New Testament?” What he was saying was so absurdly irrational I just had to ask, “What kind of exegetical slight-of-hand brought your denomination to that conclusion?”
You see the problem don’t you? Despite its irrationality, this young pastor couldn’t see past his church’s tradition. Now I’m not being critical of this brother and don’t doubt for a moment that he was doing the best he could, but like most Church leaders, regardless of stripe, he could only see the Bible through his doctrinal filter. However, if we believe our God inspired the Bible, shouldn’t we believe what it says whether it fits through our doctrinal filter or not?
Mr. Skolfield tells of other such encounters also where tradition outweighs scripture and he concludes one such event with, “So how do you relate to someone who defends false doctrine when there is Scripture to the contrary?” He says of this effort, “Jim still couldn’t hear truths that didn’t fit his end-time “ism”, even when you could positively prove them to him.”
He goes on to state of his frustrations with those who prefer traditional church dogma to Bible truth, “No blindness is as profoundly dark as the blindness you inflict upon yourself and the established churches are not immune from it. Jesus faced the same problem with the Pharisees of His day. He addressed it by saying, “By your traditions you make the word of God of no effect.” The generally accepted end-time traditions of today are also making the word of God to no effect. God is truth, and how well we serve Him is not determined by how artfully we can defend our traditions, but on how willing we are to seek out and follow the truth. “It seems that most of the churches in America are far more concerned with defending their doctrinal turf than in teaching the truth.”
The above quoted statements are but a small example of how the institutionalized church does more to maintain its institutional doctrines and traditions than to really promote God’s truth.
So much of the evangelical church has been misled by the errors that were initiated by deceivers in the Roman Catholic Church that they now believe false doctrine rather than what the Bible clearly spells out. Much end-time false doctrine has also been reinforced by movies and books on the subject of the rapture and when it occurs so that when confronted with what scripture really says, those who have been brought up in the error refuse to accept the truth; even when it is clearly stated in the Bible as demonstrated by Ellis Skolfield’s experiences.
As previously mentioned, it appears that there are two churches in the world today, the one man is building and dominating, and the one Jesus said He was building; the one in which HE is the Head, not man. The IRS church is the “other” church, and the Body of Christ is the True Church. Unfortunately, some of the Body of Christ is stuck in the “other” church and is still under the influence of false doctrine and carries on with erroneous traditions of man.
Oh that all would seek the truth and turn away from errors, traditions of man and false doctrines. Why is this of such concern to this writer? Jesus is coming for a church W ITHOUT the spots of false doctrines and the wrinkles of the old traditions of man.
Ephesians 5:26-27 – That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.
It is high time for Christians to wake up and clean up:
Romans 13:11-14 – And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.
Notice that this passage mirrors what is written in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 as regarding the behavior of many people in the church and warns against it and calls for repentance.
Revelation 3 describes what appears to be a successful IRS type church. This church at Laodicea obviously was not walking in TRUTH. It was blinded by the world’s view of success, and thus, it was more interested in building itself rather than the Kingdom of God in its people and bringing them into conformity to Christ. In fact, verse 20 says that Jesus was left on the outside and had no access but desiring to come in to reveal truth.
Such a church is where you would find the behavior that Paul described in 2 Timothy 3:1-5. This church obviously had a “form of godliness” but the power that changes lives into Christ-likeness was not present. This church was headed into apostasy and is told that it needs to change. It is also told what is needed in order to make that change. (Note that change means - REPENT.)
Revelation 3:16-19 – So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see. As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
It may be necessary for a true Christian to move out and on to where truth is more important than the IRS’s doctrines and traditions which only promote apostasy. The apostate church will be dealt with according to its control of people due to its errors and false doctrines. Consider the warnings given to the other six churches that Jesus told the apostle John to write to in Revelation 2 and 3. Also consider the warning the Lord gives to His people who are in the other church, (dealing primarily with Rome and her offspring – the typical Protestant Church):
Revelation 18:4-6 – And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.
The purpose and goal of true and pure ministry of and in the Body of Christ is to form Christ in you; that you become the very image of Christ, a true son of God.
Galatians 4:19 – My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,
Ephesians 4:11-13 – And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Colossians 1:27 – To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
So true ministry is to bring all Christians to testify the same thing that Paul stated:
Galatians 2:20 – I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
The Body of Christ is known for its Christ-likeness in character. The apostate church only reproduces the image of the world in its people. The apostate church is known by it character – that which is described in 2 Timothy 3:1-4 as stated at the beginning of this article.
Colossians 2:8 – Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
In these last days we should be seeking truth, not reinforcement of the pet doctrines and traditions of the IRS that only holds people in bondage to what is false and conforming them more to the world than to Christ.
John 8:31-32 – Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
Note: this author can provide a listing of doctrines and traditions that have contributed to the apostasy of the church in these last days; some of which are clearly demonic in nature and have been incorporated into the church from ancient pagan worship. The results of which are openly practiced in the Church today, both Catholic and Protestant, evangelical and traditional mainline. You see, the age of the apostasy actually began centuries ago – it was known as “The Dark Ages” the age when there lacked true spiritual knowledge, back when the light went out but was finally restored in “The Reformation”. This listing will offend the average Christian unless he is willing to look for the truth and embrace it. Traditions are held to very tightly, but the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth will bear witness of only the TRUTH.
John 14:15-17 – If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
John 14:26 – But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 16:7, 13-14 – Nevertheless I tell you the truth; It is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
YE SHALL KNOW THE TRUTH AND THE TRUTH SHALL MAKE YOU FREE