“And of the children of Issachar, which were men that had understanding of the times….”
— 1 Chronicles:12:32
As many of you know who subscribe to this newsletter, one important objective of The Berean Call is to help equip the upcoming generation of believers so that they might be steadfast and fruitful in the faith. We believe that to be biblically steadfast, a believer must have the ability to discern truth from error as he or she begins to understand and live out the teachings and practices given in Scripture.
Foundational to biblical steadfastness is a love for and diligence in studying God’s Word. Without that foundation, a believer will lean upon his own ideas about what is true. Proverbs warns us about this because although it may seem right it will inevitably separate us from the truth of Scripture (Proverbs:14:12; 16:25). So all of us, young or old, mature or new to the faith, who profess to know Christ and desire to follow Him, cannot do that very thing unless we know what constitutes following Him. Jesus made that quite clear in John:8:31-32: “…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.” God’s Word, which is the truth, reveals His instructions for life.
We can only understand the times in which we live by heeding the warnings given in Scripture by our omniscient God who alone knows the future. We are told that as the days draw near to the return of Jesus Christ, evil will increase in the world, a situation that will also manifest itself in Christendom. Who could deny that reality today? We are told that evil will escalate in preparation for the development of the religion and the kingdom of the Antichrist. Jesus characterized such times with the warning that we are to “Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many” (Matthew:24:4-5).
Until the Lord removes the church in the Rapture, all who follow Christ will be subjected to increasing deception. Believers will find themselves confronting mounting pressures that will challenge their steadfastness in the faith. There will be tremendous persecutions and treacherous seductions that will constitute what Scripture declares is the end-times apostasy. This is made abundantly clear in Scripture.
The Bible also gives the underlying reason why the church will be, perhaps even to a great degree, affected by the deception and seduction of the apostasy—because the church itself will turn from the Word of God: “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 Timothy:4:3-4). “…Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke:18:8). It seems that Jude changed the direction of what he had originally intended to write as the Holy Spirit moved him to deliver a warning to the church regarding impending deception: “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 3-4). The Apostle Paul gave a similar warning in Acts:20:28-31: “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. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears.” Paul notes that the “latter times” seduction will involve “seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils”: “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” (1 Timothy:4:1-2).
Those are just a few of the verses that indicate what lies ahead, and it’s certainly not going to be a walk in the park. The world is being prepared for God’s judgment. God told Abram that He would give his descendants the Promised Land—but not just yet. They were to wait until the “iniquity of the Amorites” (i.e., those occupying the land) would reach the point (400 years later) when their sins were “full.” At that time, God would use Israel to judge them. Similarly, the world, under the power of the god of this world (Satan), is progressively being prepared by him to follow the Antichrist and will, at the apex of its iniquity, reap God’s judgment.
Is there any good news in that scenario? Absolutely! The Lord will return for all true believers in Him prior to the Tribulation to take them to heaven. Not so, however, for those who reject Christ. Their rebellion will cause them to suffer the wrath of God in a tribulation never before experienced by mankind. Should the Lord tarry regarding His return for His bride in the Rapture, and as the apostasy increases, the born-again believer will be faced with increasing seductions, persecutions, and even martyrdom. Christians in the West, who haven’t experienced these extremes before, will likely face moral and financial testing of their faith that may be more difficult to endure than even the threat of persecution and death. So, where’s the good news in this prior to the Rapture?
Scripture tells us “where sin abounded, grace did much more abound” (Romans:5:20). Jesus supplies that grace, which He told Paul was sufficient for his trial. He also said that He will never leave us nor forsake us. Additionally, every believer has been sealed with the Holy Spirit (Ephesians:4:30), the One who equips and enables us to be steadfast in the faith. The Holy Spirit is also called the Comforter, which, in the context of John 14-16 means “one who strengthens.” So all of this and a great deal more God has provided for every trial of life. But there is a condition for receiving what God has provided. Our hearts must be willing to diligently study God’s Word both to learn of it and to obey it.
We are at a time in history in which we find the greatest number of Bibles ever available, yet biblical illiteracy is rampant. According to Scripture, we can expect that collectively. Yet, every individual believer has the opportunity to receive what God has provided in His Word in order that he or she might be strengthened in the faith. This is God’s “spiritual prevention program” in the face of rising apostasy, and it is a message that we must send to the upcoming generation. TBC