Welcome to the weekend, fellow sojourners! As we sail through our series, America, Israel and the Church, I want to tarry another day on the topic of false Christs, false teachers and false prophets. We unmasked some of them in yesterday’s post (and even more in yesterday’s “Headlines“), indicating how they have infiltrated our society. So be sure to check those one out before diving into today’s discussion.
- According to 1 Timothy 1:1, who is our hope? What is the significance of that to you?
- The passage in Titus 2 tells us that God’s grace has brought us salvation. Given that great gift, how are we to live, according to verses 12-13?
- According to Titus 2:14, what has He done for us, and what is the fruit of it?
As Bible students, we know our hope is in Jesus Christ! He is the ONLY hope for us and the world in which we live, and we have that Blessed Hope only because He was gracious enough to give us salvation and prepare us for good deeds, even when the stormy sea rages around us. That Hope endures, so hold tight to it!
Unfortunately, some put their hope in false Christs, false teachers or false prophets, and when they fail to come through all hope is lost. Scripture tells us there will be a falling away of Christians from the faith. It is known as apostasy.
4 But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, 2 by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron.~1 Timothy 4:1-2
Not everything that happens in the church is of the church. As noted yesterday, some churches are teaching false theology and false doctrine. Other churches are living in fear, rather than power, love and self-discipline. Fear is not of God! (2 Timothy 1:7 NLT) Still others have given up freedom and liberty, granted in America by our forefathers who established them upon Biblical principles. When false teaching, fear and lack of freedom and liberty abound, our churches are rendered useless. Thus, is it any wonder we are seeing apostasy (falling away from the faith) happen now?
Churches that stand firmly on the Word of God will face trials. Yet, those who do not stand firmly on the Word of God will likely not face significant trials. Why? Partly because there is an agenda behind churches who don’t proclaim Christ , Him crucified and risen again! They serve an evil purpose and are controlled by evil-seekers. (More about that in this afternoon’s “Headlines” post.)
There is lots of talk in our nation and in our churches about “unity.” It is an admirable idea, assuming unity is around Biblical principles and not around forced agreement! After all, Psalm 133:1 says, Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to live together in unity! Indeed, the Biblical principle of “unity” is good. For each passage below, consider the Biblical teaching about unity among believers:
That is the Biblical definition of unity. Unity is not the absence of opposition (as seems to be the definition handed down to us by our government today), but rather striving for the good of one another. False teaching does not bring about good for anyone, so be keenly sensitive to the still small voice of God and the alarm in your conscience when it goes off! Don’t ignore the signs.
So, what will you do when this all hits home and the church as we know it comes under significant fire? What happens when apostasy creeps in further still? Will you live in fear, or will you see it as a time of refining? For believers firmly grounded in the Word of God, and steadfastly looking to Him as our Blessed Hope, this is the most exciting time in our lifetime! It is time for the church to be refined and that’s what fire does! It is a time of stretching which, throughout history, has caused the body of Christ to come out stronger. We must simply harness the refining power, and God’s Word has something to say about that:
Take a look at James 4:1-4.
- According to verse 2, how should be view trials?
- According to verses 3-4, how do we reach the stage of being made perfect and lacking in nothing?
- Can you imagine “lacking in nothing!” What might that look like spiritually? What difference might it make in your life?
John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him,” yet the moment we say, “Draw me close, Lord,” He does! He is there through the refining process, willing and waiting to draw us close to Him. Though the church (body of Christ) may face trials and difficulties, God’s promise is that He will draw close, and He will never leave us nor forsake us! (Hebrews 13:5)
Be encouraged, believing friends! God’s got this!
Stay tuned…we’ll continue sailing into the deep, discovering encouragement from God’s Word along the way!