Difficult Times Will Come

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NASB

“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, slanderers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness although they have denied its power; avoid such people as these.”

We are definitely living in the last days before the return of Christ. I have never seen a time in my life quite like what I am seeing now, but not just in the world, but in the majority of the gatherings of the church, too, at least here in America where I live.

I don’t know exactly when the moral and spiritual decline began in evangelical Christianity, but I have seen evidence of it throughout my life, but not nearly as severe as what I have witnessed these past twenty years.

Beginning in 1999 I began to see how so many churches in my community, across denominations, were all following the same marketing strategies for how to grow their churches (businesses). They were all following the same man, and his teachings, which seemed highly unusual to me.

Then, I began to notice how worship services were being turned into stage productions for the entertainment of the people in order to draw in large crowds of people from the world. And pastors were turning into actors, comedians, and entertainers, too. And movie clips were being shown, too.

Some of these pastors, who once taught repentance, were now following the marketing books instead of the Scriptures, so they were diluting the gospel message to make it more appealing to human flesh. So “I sinned” was replaced with “I messed up.” Repentance no longer was mentioned or required. Lifestyles were not required to be altered, either.

Most of these churches had the appearance of righteousness in that they still taught the Scriptures, even though often taken out of context, and they still talked about Jesus and his sacrifice for our sins so that we could be forgiven our sins and go to heaven when we die. And they still sang songs of worship to God, though some of those were questionable.

But the church was no longer the body of Christ getting together for teaching, prayer, fellowship and the breaking of bread (communion).

I am not saying they didn’t do these things, but that the teaching began to be watered down and in accord with marketing books, not according to the whole counsel of God.

Prayer meetings began to fade away into the distant past, though some church congregations still have them. Fellowships were not really about Jesus, but about eating a lot of food and having worldly conversations not much different from those making no profession of faith in Christ. And taking communion seemed more mechanical than spiritual.

The focus changed from ministering to the body of Christ (Rom 12; 1 Co 12; Eph 4) to meeting the felt needs of the people of the world and to bringing into the gatherings of the church as many people from the world as they could attract to their gatherings. So now “church” was a mixed bag.

The gospel went from being taught according to Scripture to totally obliterating the truth of the gospel in a span of those twenty + years. Not every congregation has “sold out” to the world, mind you, but it appears the majority have, and this is why we are seeing such turmoil and moral decline in our nations, because the church stopped being the salt and light.

So, instead of teaching that we must die with Christ to sin and live to him and to his righteousness, it appears the majority, at least across America, are now teaching a mere profession of faith in Jesus regardless of how one lives his/her life from that moment forward. And so, we have many professers of faith in Jesus Christ who are still living in slavery to sin.

2 Timothy 3:12-15 NASB

“Indeed, all who want to live in a godly way in Christ Jesus will be persecuted. But evil people and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. You, however, continue in the things you have learned and become convinced of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the sacred writings which are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.”

The other side of this moral and spiritual decline in the church, and the church now marketing itself to the world using worldly and even ungodly means and methods, is that those who are still holding to the truth of the gospel are now being persecuted within the gatherings of the church.

For now, what is evil is being referred to as good, and what is good is now being referred to as what is evil. For the modern gospel of today teaches that we don’t have to repent of our sins or obey the Lord or submit to him as Lord, for they call that works-based salvation, which is bad.

So, what they are saying is that it is wrong (evil) to repent of sin, to obey the Lord, and to submit to him as Lord, while it is good to make a profession of faith in Jesus Christ and to refuse to submit to Christ as Lord, to obey him, and to forsake one’s sins. Thus, it is good to profess faith in Jesus and to keep living in sin, they say.

So, if you are one who is still teaching the whole counsel of God as Jesus taught, and as Paul and the other apostles taught, you are probably being called all sorts of names, including “bigot,” “prideful,” “self-righteous,” “judgmental,” “hypocrite,” “legalist,” and the like.

You may even have been kicked out of “church” fellowships or invited to leave because you “don’t fit,” which is true. We don’t fit in with the worldly fleshly church, which is why the Lord has called us to come out from her and to be separate so we don’t share in her sins or in her punishment, for her sins are piled high to heaven (Rev 18).

But we are not to let such persecution as this (or worse) to dishearten and to discourage us. We must continue in the things we have learned from the Spirit of God through the Word of God, which we have become convinced of. And we must keep living and keep sharing and teaching the true gospel, and we must keep exposing the lies for what they are, too.

2 Timothy 3:16-17 NASB

“All Scripture is inspired by God and beneficial for teaching, for rebuke, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man or woman of God may be fully capable, equipped for every good work.”

It is God who transforms us, who conforms us to his likeness, and who turns us from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that we might receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Jesus Christ (Ac 26:18; Rom 6:1-23; Eph 4:17-24).

And it is the Word of God via the Spirit of God which teaches and instructs us in holy and godly living, and which warns us against going the wrong way, and which shows us the right way to go so that we can walk in it. So, we need to hold fast to the Word of God and we must not let other humans discourage us from obeying the truth. And God will bless us.

Why Are You Afraid?

An Original Work / December 5, 2013
Based off Various Scriptures

Do not be afraid.
Your Lord is always by your side.
Serve the Lord in righteousness
Before Him all your days.

Those who hate the light
Will not come to the Lord.
They fear their deeds
Might be noticed.
So, they hate the light,
And they embrace the night.

Do not be afraid,
Although your enemy attacks.
Dare to share your testimony
Of God’s saving grace.

Do not fear their threats,
But honor Christ, your Lord.
Be prepared to give an answer
For the hope you have,
With gentleness; respect.

Why are you afraid?
For all that’s hidden will be shown.
What I tell you, speak in daylight.
Let the truth be known.

Do not be afraid
Of those who’ll take your life.
Fear the Lord with understanding.
Trust Him with your life,
And give not up to strife.

Do not be afraid.
Take courage, it is I, your Lord.
Bow before Me; now adore Me.
Oh, why do you doubt?

Listen to the Lord.
Get up, and bear His name!
Run and tell the world He loves them.
Jesus came to save.
Give Him your all today.

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