The Signs of the Times in the Church
In today’s world, we have been witnessing an increasing amount of worldwide troubles that seemingly fit in with what the Prophets, Yeshua ha Messiach (Jesus the Christ), and the writing Apostles told us would be signs of the end of the age. Yeshua told us that there would be:
Wars and rumors of wars
Fear of worldly circumstances
Tribulation of True Followers of Jesus Christ
Offense taken at the Truth resulting in hatred and betrayal
False prophets deceiving many
The love of many will grow cold
Gospel preached to all the nations
Abomination of Desolation (worship of a false god or belief
Destruction in Judea
False signs and wonders
Shortening of days for the Elects’ sake
Possible deception of the Elect
While some aspects of this “list” have yet to come to their full fruition, we in today’s generation have been seeing many of these signs taking place before our eyes in a steadily increasing manner. And the Prophets, Jesus, and the Apostles spoke of other signs in the ecclesia (aka “church”) as well.
Please remember that the use of the word “church” is incorrect in almost every incident where it has been used in the New Testament. The original Greek word that was used was instead “ecclesia,” which means “(those who) have been called out, made separate, and sanctified.” Quite different from “church”, which is a “circle”, a social group that we happen to visit with on Sundays or when convenient. Therefore, I will use the correct term, ecclesia.
Many prophetic ministries exist today that teach their own viewpoints about the list above and their correlation with other Scripture. There is a warning from the Isaiah Scriptures that we who claim to be Children of God and followers of Yeshua should not be concentrating on the conspiracies of this world, nor fearing them, and that we should instead “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the Good Way is,” (Jeremiah 6:16). In this present chapter, I hope to convince the reader that the age of the apostasy in the ecclesia is indeed upon us, and that multitudes of proclaiming believers are in absolute, spiritual jeopardy, and also that neither do many of us believe this, but that we believe we are “rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing” when instead we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Rev. 3:17). In laying out the Scriptural evidences for this condition in today’s ecclesia, I hope to not be of a critical spirit, but instead to cry out a warning to those who claim to believe. My hope also is that I can show through the Scriptures that there are many things we can do to prevent the consequences of not having “oil in our lamps” on that Day.
I know even before writing this that the content is not what many want to hear (I Tim. 4:3), but is for those with an ear to hear (Rev. 2:7,11,17,29; 3:6,13,22). The prophetic words of Yeshua and the writing Apostles are not maybes; they stated that these things would happen. If we ignore the warnings to watch and pray and do not do the things that Yeshua told us to do, we do so to our peril. I, for one, do not wish the circumstances of God’s righteous judgment for disobedience upon any person.
Many people who have prayed to Yeshua ha Messiach for “eternal salvation” (a completely misunderstood concept) do not believe that the instructions and warnings contained in the Scriptures apply to themselves. I know, because I was at one time of a like mind. But please notice this: these very warnings were made to the Jews and to the ecclesia, and not to those who do not claim to believe. These warnings were repeated throughout the Scriptures and the New Testament for our protection against deception and against falling away from the Faith. If we claim to believe the words of Yeshua, the Prophets, and the Apostles, we need to believe their warnings as well. Please keep this in mind as I continue; my purpose is not to “beat up,” but to exhort with God’s Truth to those who believe.
In II Timothy 3:1-7, we are given this following exhortative Truth by the Apostle Paul:
“But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy (un-separate), unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the Truth.”
I had first prayed to “receive Jesus Christ” over 30 years ago. I had worked at being accepted in the church community and had attended church regularly, and eventually became involved in ministry. I participated on the worship team, led home bible studies, evangelized on the streets, and seemingly did “all the right things.” The entire time, however, something inside of me wouldn’t go away. Something, I knew, was missing. I couldn’t “put my finger on it.” My pastor would encourage me, and people would tell me how they admired me. But still, I knew something was “wrong.” Then, after proclaiming to be a christian for almost 24 years, a fiery trial occurred in my life, the result of many years of the exponential “build-up” of a false belief system that I was following. When things finally “hit” me, God was there to show me in His Word that my god was not Him, but instead my god was my desire for self-fulfillment, acceptance, and happiness. Everything was all about me. When I finally saw this, by His Mercy, the above Scripture took on a new light. When I read through it, and then read through it again, I couldn’t deny that all those terrible things applied to myself.
I was a lover of myself; my focus was on my personal happiness. I was a lover of money; my “self-worth” was in my degree of success, my ability to “provide” so that I would be admired and happy. I was a boaster; when I did well for myself, I let people know about it, and when I didn’t, I hid the fact. I was proud; when I accomplished something, I gave myself credit. I was a blasphemer; I attributed things to the Holy Spirit that most likely weren’t His fruit at all. I was disobedient to my parents; because of my childhood I blamed them for many things, and I would use them when it benefited me. I was unthankful; yes, I would politely thank people because it was the right thing to do, and I would thank God for the same reason. But my thankfulness was not reflected in my actions, in unselfishness. I was unholy; because I had “grace,” I was living a life of licentiousness. I would do things I knew were wrong, but I erroneously did so believing I was “covered.” I was unforgiving; I harbored resentments in my heart and justified my actions by them. I was a slanderer; I would say things about others without them being there to defend themselves.
I could continue with this list, but I hope you see the point. When I took this list, and applied it to myself with a point-by-point inspection, I found that I failed miserably. I had a form of godliness, but I was denying the power thereof. I had not crucified my flesh, my self, with the lusts thereof; I had not put on Messiach. How could I then believe that I was His? “For those who do such things will not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.” If Yeshua had come for His ecclesia during that time, I would have been among the many crying out, “Lord, Lord!”
God’s grace (His Holy Spirit) is not permission; it is the convicting work of the Holy Spirit that leads to repentance and the fruit of repentance, the remission of sins. Moreso, it is the manifestation of the power of the presence of God! Many today are under the misunderstanding that God’s grace is the same as His mercy when we commit sin. This is simply not true. God’s grace, His indwelling Spirit, is the power to overcome sin, as Yeshua did and instructs us to do as well. He empowers us to overcome sin if we truly repent and die to ourselves and follow Him and do what He told us to do. But alarmingly, this is increasingly not being taught in the churches today. Instead, it is being taught that we can’t avoid sin, and that we shouldn’t worry about it when we do sin because the blood of Yeshua ha Messiach covers our sin. What is taught in the Word of God, however, is that Yeshua’s Blood cleanses us from our past sins and empowers us to overcome continuing in sin if we truly repent. So why do so many “rest” in the resulting licentiousness of sin covering?
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the Truth, and be turned aside to fables.” (II Tim. 4:3-4)
Will you examine this with me in the Spirit of Truth? How many of us today will “church-hop” until we find a fellowship where the pastor/teacher says the things that we like, and the social structure of the fellowship meets our own desires? We are instructed many times in His Word that we are to be of one accord, of one Faith and one ecclesia, and yet we search until we find a fellowship that agrees with our own perspectives. The truth and personal conviction then takes second place behind what makes us feel fulfilled, and our fulfillment then becomes our god. Our personal comfort, our desire to be happy, takes place over the Love of the Truth. If it meets these “needs”, and makes us feel good, it must be right…
“The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
The love of the truth. It seems, at least to me (and to some others), that this gift of God which we are able to receive, that we must receive, is largely absent, or at least severely diminished in today’s ecclesia. For this reason, many among us reject truthful exhortation as criticism. It is part of the human (sin) nature to want to be comfortable, and many times the Truth makes us uncomfortable, thus making it offensive. The Word tells us that this reluctance to hear the truth will occur within the ecclesia, but again, many of us don’t apply this to ourselves. The reason for this is clear: the truth takes away our self-control. It is our tendency to believe what we want to believe because doing so leaves our ordered lives intact. We don’t want to make uncomfortable changes. So we find a belief system that fits our lives instead of changing our lives to fit the One True Belief System. In order to accomplish this, we must have a variety, or a menu, of teachings to choose from. We “heap unto ourselves” teachers so that we can keep our options open (II Tim. 4:3). If we feel uncomfortable with the teaching we are currently listening to, we have the freedom to choose another teacher, or an entirely new system of belief, that fits our perspective. But Paul makes it clear that there is only one Gospel, and only one doctrine as well.
To understand the terms master (teacher), doctrine (teaching or discipline), and disciple (follower of a particular master, teaching, and doctrine) is vital to our walks as proclaiming believers. A master, or teacher, would in times of old teach a particular doctrine, or teaching, or discipline of living. If one were to follow the master/teacher, they would strive to follow, to adhere to, the teachings of the master as well. If they believed the teachings of the master and followed the teachings and lived their lives accordingly, they would then be called a follower, or disciple. If the student followed the teachings of the master and lived his/her life according to the master’s ways, they would be considered a true disciple. However, if they claimed to be a follower or a disciple of a particular teacher’s doctrine and they did not live according to the doctrine, they would be labeled as hypocrites, or false disciples, or even as liars. The master would set the pattern, or doctrine, and live according to it, and his followers, if they were to remain disciples, would mimic the pattern that the master had set. This concept is prevalent throughout the teachings of Yeshua and the Apostles.
After His resurrection, Yeshua instructed the “eleven disciples” to: “Go, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you.” The Greek word for teach that is used here is matheteuo, which means to disciple. The Greek word for teaching that is used in this application is didasko, which is derived from didaskalos and didaskalia, which refer to the doctrines or teachings of a master. Whenever someone would depart from the teachings, doctrine, and lifestyle of the master, they would no longer be a disciple; they would be following a different master, or doctrine, or way of life.
Today we have thousands of denominations (and “non-denominations”), and probably (I haven’t counted) just as many sects, or cults, that claim to follow the Master, Yeshua ha Messiach. How is it possible that they are all following His Doctrine? Especially since a significant aspect of His Doctrine is that we be of one accord? We have come up with an “answer,” saying that a remnant of each denomination, or doctrine, is a part of the whole true Body of Christ. But how is this possible if we’re all following different doctrines, or methods, or belief systems? How can any of them be the true discipline of the One True Master and His Doctrine?
“For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the Gospel of God?” (I Peter 4:17)
“…there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their destructive ways, because of whom the way of truth will be blasphemed.” (II Peter 2:1-2)
“For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through licentiousness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also is he brought into bondage. For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Yeshua ha Messiach, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.” (II Peter 2:18-21)
Please note and keep in mind that Yeshua, Paul, and Peter are all speaking prophetically to the followers of their day about the future of the ecclesia to come, particularly of the ecclesia in the end times, or last days, and not of the world. And please keep in mind that none of us wants these things to apply to ourselves. I know I don’t! But the prophetic word states that these things will be occurring, and not that they might, and so in the spirit of the truth I must be willing to examine myself and apply what is being said. I do not have permission to dismiss these things as not applying to myself. They are true. So why do so many deny them? How is it that so many believers remain entangled in the pollutions of the world, yet believe that they have liberty because of grace?
Yeshua gave us many warnings to watch and pray and to be not deceived. Are we in today’s world on guard against deception, and particularly self-deception? I know for a fact that it is taught in many churches and sects that if anyone comes to us and tries to convince us of their belief, even that of another “valid denomination,” that we are to be careful so that we won’t be deceived. In other words, “If anyone comes to you and teaches you anything that we have not taught you, don’t listen to them, because you might be deceived.” The problem with this is that 1001 denominations can’t possibly all be right. (I Cor. 1:10-17)
Today there is a false doctrine, or false teaching, occurring that is known as ecumenicism, or inter-faithism. How can I boldly proclaim this to be false? It is quite simple. God said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” Interfaithism teaches that “all roads lead to God” and that all gods are basically the same God. Krishna, Buddha, Allah; they’re all the same. This interfaithism is Satan’s counterfeit of the “One Faith, One Ecclesia, One Baptism” of the One True God. But the Pope and the World Council of Churches and the Dali Lama and the Theosophists (“Lucifer” worshippers) are actually accomplishing what the One Church is supposed to have accomplished; that is, to be of one accord. (There are two excellent books available on this subject, by author Gary Kah. The first is “En Route to Global Occupation,” and the second is “The New World Religion.”) They are marrying ecumenicism with social communism to produce an appealing (to the world) counterfeit of the one accord and Spirit of community in Yeshua. The difference is, we’re called to be of one accord in Yeshua ha Messiach, the Son of the Living God, whereas ecumenicism is aiming to be of one accord in gods with a government of men who follow pantheism as king (the spirit of antichrist). The question to ask, though, is “Why isn’t the True Ecclesia responding in one accord?”
There is a parable of the end-times ecclesia that we know of as the “Parable of the Ten Virgins.” I’d like to examine that for a minute or two if you don’t mind. Please turn to Matthew chapters 24&25 with me.
“Watch, therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming…Then the kingdom of Heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five of them were foolish. Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet Him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ And while they went to buy, the Bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with Him to the wedding; and the door was shut (Rev. 3:8, Luke 13:25). Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ But He answered and said, ‘Assuredly I say to you, I do not know you.’
It would be helpful to the reader at this point to have an understanding of traditional Jewish wedding custom in order to see the very clear points made by Jesus in this parable. I have written out a summary of those customs in the chapter entitled “Belief and Faith.” The point I wish to make here, however, has to do with the terms foolish and wise, and slumbered and slept. First note that they were all virgins who had committed to the marriage covenant, and were waiting for the Bridegroom to come. Also, though, note that Jesus didn’t just say, “they were all sleeping.” This is a quite important distinction. Do you remember Lazarus and the little girl who had died (were “sleeping”)? Keep that in mind, if you would. Now consider that in several Old Testament Scriptures, “slumbering” (complacency) had devastating results (Ecc. 4:5, Proverbs 24:30-34). The Bridegroom, a picture of Yeshua, had been faithful to come for His Bride. The virgins who were foolish were slumbering, apathetic or complacent. The virgins who were “sleeping,” or “dead to self,” or perhaps even martyrs, who had been diligent to keep “oil in their lamps,” were wise.
The Enemy has been very clever in his strategy. He has designed an atmosphere in his world which purpose is to cause us to seek self-comfort, and in this environment he has bred apathy in order to lull both the believer and the unbeliever into a state of slumber. Yeshua warned us with “watch and pray” and “let no man deceive you” and “be not deceived” over and over again, as did the writing Apostles. Unfortunately, many of us are either contentedly unaware, or we are looking for the wrong things. While we warily watch circumstances and people around us, we don’t perceive the “Mack truck” that is bearing down on us on our blind side. Our only means of survival will be to focus totally on Yeshua and the Kingdom and what He said to do, and to take our eyes off the world and worldly things.
While many today proclaim to have our eyes on Yeshua, we continue to “slumber” by seeking contentment in worldly things and we choose a state of mind that remains oblivious to what is occurring around us. We are not watching, and praying, and continuing in the very things Yeshua told us to do to guarantee our survival. I am not making this claim lightly. First, it lines up with what Scripture says will happen. Secondly, in talking with many proclaiming believers, it’s evident that the majority is not aware of the corruption that is escalating in today’s political, social, and religious environments, and even prefer to have it that way. As long as we’re “warm and well-fed,” we’re content not to know the facts. We do not relentlessly pursue a Love of The Truth, but instead we rely on our truths that we are (seemingly) able to maintain and control. Protecting our own interests has become more important than thoroughly examining ourselves in light of the Word of God and His Words.
But how can I make these claims? My friends, only because the Word of God makes the same claims. How many of us today relentlessly continue digging for the Truth on a daily basis, and how many of us lay aside our shovels or only lightly scratch the surface of the Truth once we’ve reached a perceived state of happiness and contentment? Spiritual apathy is a very dangerous condition, and many of us seem unaware that it even exists. Once we have our families and our good jobs and our houses and our two cars and our churches and our other amenities, we feel as though we’ve attained all there is to attain because the deceits of the world tell us so. However, we’re told repeatedly in the Word not to place our reliance in such things. We place ourselves in a state of slumber, and therein lies the danger.
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it…Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:13,14,22,23) “But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’” (Jeremiah 6:16)
“…difficult is the way…and there are few who find it.” Yeshua shows us here that those who reside in a state of ease will not find life. Before we can find a thing, we must first search for it. It’s evident from the text that we cannot rely on our religion or our comfort or our worldly attainments to reach this goal. It’s also evident when comparing this text to that of the ten virgins that the many who cry, “Lord, Lord” are those who knew Him but did not follow His instructions, so He did not know them. They are false disciples and false brides.
I know that all of this is difficult to accept and digest; it was for me as well. As we continue, please consider Paul’s words to the ecclesia in Galatia: “Have I therefore become your enemy because I tell you the Truth?”
It is helpful to see these things in light of the words of our Lord to the Apostle John in His Revelation that is given to us about the seven ecclesias in chapters 2&3. There are considerable comparisons that can be made with what we see in those letters when we apply them to today’s ecclesia and to ourselves personally. There is a consistent theme throughout these letters: “To him who overcomes” and “He who has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says to the ecclesia.” But otherwise, the messages contain numerous discrepancies about what pleases Him and what displeases Him as well as the consequences of each.
When writing to the angel, or messenger, of the ecclesia at Ephesus, He first lists all the “good stuff” they are doing. He says, “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for My name’s sake and have not become weary.” So far, the Ephesus Church looks great! Any fellowship we see doing all these things today would surely be considered a good fellowship of believers. However, Jesus then points something out to them: “Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love (agape’).” Do you remember the words of Paul to the Corinthian Church? “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love (agape’), I am nothing.” Also note that Jesus said that they had left their first love. Now, add to this Jeremiah 6:16-17: “Stand in the ways and see, and ask for the old paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; then you will find rest for your souls. But they said, ‘We will not walk in it.’ Also, I set watchmen over you, saying, ‘Listen to the sound of the trumpet!’ But they said, ‘We will not listen.’” Yeshua continues, “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place – unless you repent.”
They are doing “all the right things,” and they have “grace,” so why the stern warning? It is clearly because they don’t have agape’, the unselfish love of God, the love of the Spirit, the love of the Truth, the love that dies to self and denies self. Though they have all the “good works,” they are nothing without agape’, but it is clear that if they repent and seek out the “old paths, where the good way is” that they will find “rest for their souls.” To overcome self and the world is absolutely necessary in order to eat from the Tree of Life.
The Truth of this can be seen as He addresses the next ecclesia, Smyrna. He says, “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich);” those at Smyrna have clearly died to themselves and overcome the world. There is no admonishment for them, only the exhortation to be “faithful unto death.” They have pursued and found the secret of being rich in heavenly things by seeking and exercising agape’. They have not given over to false religion or a “form of godliness.” They are the “real thing.” And they will not be hurt by the second death. They wait in eagerness for the sound of the trumpet, and they will listen when it is sounded. They have made themselves poor (in this world’s manner) and have thus made themselves rich (in treasures of the Kingdom). “There is one who makes himself rich, yet has nothing; and one who makes himself poor, yet has great riches. Better is a little with the fear of the Lord than great treasure with trouble.” (Proverbs 13:7, 15:16).
In Pergamos we see an interesting thing happening. They are commended for their works, for holding fast to His name, and for not denying the faith even in the midst of martyrdom. “But I have a few things against you, because you have those there who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. Thus (because of this) you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.” Basically, they allow false doctrine to exist among them, as well as leaders who teach it and who allow licentiousness, the “liberty to sin,” to go unchecked. The leaders at this point have set up a worldly hierarchy to preside over their ecclesia, and the ecclesia has allowed it to continue. Notice that this is held against not only the leaders, but against the entire ecclesia. Each one of us is accountable! Also, remember that Balaam did what he did for pay. It is helpful to observe the comments of Peter in II Peter chapter 2, especially verses 15-21, in comparison to what our Lord says here. Also notice that Peter begins chapter 2 with a warning about false teaching in the future church.
At Thyatira, the ecclesia has troubles similar to those of Pergamos, but seemingly from a different source. “That woman Jezebel” teaches and beguiles the ecclesia, while calling herself a prophetess, to commit sexual immorality and to eat things sacrificed to idols. At the risk of the wrath of women everywhere, I must put forth an observation. Feminism, cloaked as “women’s rights,” has become prevalent even in the ecclesia today. There are many reasons for this, one being that the men abused their positions of authority in the Lord and are now paying the price, but nonetheless the resulting conditions continue to escalate. Divorce is rampant in the church community, and it is condoned. Men are told that if we do not want a divorce, that we should heed our wives, which if one takes the time to look, was actually Adam’s “original sin” (“Because you have heeded your wife, and have eaten…). Am I blaming women? No; both men and women are being deceived and are getting entangled in the sins of the deception. We are being taught from pulpits and in “counseling” ministries that we must strive to keep our wives happy with material things if we wish to keep our marriages intact, and also that to do so is more important than to obey the voice of the Lord concerning ministry. But the Word tells us that all who claim to believe are called to ministry.
Especially in the 20th century, Satan has inspired various men (and women) to invent a plethora of worldly goods which were at first considered extravagances, and are now considered “needs.” Men are not considered to be “good providers” if they can’t maintain an income with which to purchase houses and cars, clothes and jewels, washers and dryers, and other “worldly goods.” The result is that when a spouse is not “happy,” they “feel” justified in seeking a divorce. The outcome, as Yeshua pointed out, is sexual immorality. If someone divorces their mate (except perhaps for adultery) and remarries, their sexual relationship is not blessed; it is an abomination. The piece of paper does not make their adultery “okay” in God’s eyes. This theme prevails throughout the entire Word of God. But since “liberty” is taught from many of our pulpits in the guise of grace we see the resulting fruit in the number of broken “christian” marriages.
“And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.” Neither today is the ecclesia repenting of the licentiousness of divorce. Satan’s tactic of feminism is one reason, for the practice of feminism has changed our laws and empowered women (and men) to break a covenant (that no man should tear asunder) that is binding in God’s eyes. Since this power has the ability to absolutely ruin a person’s life, especially the “breadwinner’s” financial life and the woman’s emotional life, it is in today’s society a continuous axe held over the head of many men and women. If they do not please their husband or wife, their lives can be ruined and their children taken from them by “non-contestable” or “no-fault” divorce. The men feel as though they can commit adultery and “get away with it” spiritually because they’re (supposedly) “covered by the Blood.” They should read Proverbs if they think so. The woman may feel that the world’s laws empower her to exercise authority over her husband, or to have a rebellious attitude towards him. After all, if he doesn’t please her, she can discard him and find someone who will. Many men and women are in for a big surprise, as well as those who have taught and condoned such practices. Those who practice such things will not enter into the Kingdom of God.
A by-product of Satan’s strategy is idolatry (also referred to as covetousness). For some people this idolatry is a means, while for others it is an end. We’re taught as we grow up, “to get the pretty girl, impress her with all your worldly stuff.” For women, it’s taught, “to get the guy with all the stuff, you must be pretty.” This ideology is followed in the Church, and justified, every bit as much as it is in the world, especially in the USA. We don’t depend on God to select our mate and keep our marriages intact; we depend on our prosperity to attract the mate that we want, and depend on our prosperity to maintain the marriage. The statistics show this to be true, as well as the fact that it doesn’t work.
We in America often quote our “godly heritage.” The fact is, the Puritans who originally came here did so in order to freely worship their “god,” Calvinism, but by 1776 their ideology was transformed into “the right to pursue happiness,” which is not biblical in the context in which it is written. As a result, capitalism and self-rule have produced not only a materialistic, self-centered society, but a materialistic, self-centered, complacent ecclesia as well. We’ll see more about that when we look at Laodicea.
The Thyatirans were exhorted by Yeshua to overcome and to hold fast, and to not give in to the doctrines of Jezebel. He told them that if they did so, they would be rewarded.
The majority of those at the Church in Sardis are in trouble. They “have a name that (they) are alive, but (they) are dead.” They obviously “(have) a form of godliness, but deny the power thereof.” Yeshua says, “Be watchful, and strengthen the things that remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.” Also, “…hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief…” He also tells them that, “You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.” He concludes by telling them: “He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life.” It is quite clear that there are many who will have their names blotted out.
There is a recurring theme in these letters. Be watchful, repent, hold fast, strengthen, overcome, and listen are repeated throughout. There are rewards for doing so as well as consequences for not doing so. Nowhere is it indicated that we are “saved” once we have prayed the sinner’s prayer. If it were so, He would have said so here.
Philedelphia, like Smyrna, has apparently done well. But they aren’t “there” yet, for He tells them to hold fast, to persevere, and to overcome. The Scriptures are clear that had even Paul, or John, or Peter not continued and remained steadfast to their dying breath, they would not have been delivered. The Truth of this can be found in Ezekiel 18:24-26: “But when a righteous man turns away from his righteousness and commits iniquity, and does according to all the abominations that the wicked man does, shall he live? All the righteousness which he has done shall not be remembered; because of the unfaithfulness of which he is guilty and the sin which he has committed, because of them he shall die…When a righteous man turns away from his righteousness, commits iniquity, and dies in it, it is because of the iniquity which he has done that he dies.” I recommend a thorough, prayerful reading of Ezekiel chapter 18 in its entirety in order to see the Truth that Yeshua is instructing to all of these churches, because it is the Spirit of prophecy, the Spirit of Yeshua ha Messiach, Who is speaking there.
The case of the ecclesia at Laodicea is very grieving, especially when compared to the modern church, and in particular the churches in the USA today. First, allow me to explain that Laodicea is a capitalistic and democratic church. The name Laodicea means, “where the people rule.” They are wealthy and content, and they believe they need nothing. They are the very picture of apathy and complacency. He says that because of this, He will “spew them out of His mouth.” This is the same mouth out of which goes “a sharp two-edged sword.” It is clear that since they are not abiding in His Truth, they are not “covered” by His Blood, for they are “naked.” He pleads with them to repent, telling them that He loves them and for that reason He is chastening them. He also tells them to zealously repent so that they can overcome.
“‘For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,’ says the Lord God. ‘Therefore turn and live!’”
Even wicked Nineveh turned from their sin when confronted with the righteous judgment of the Living God. Jonah didn’t believe they would, and expected only persecution for the message that God gave to him to deliver. But Nineveh, when shown the Truth, did repent, and zealously. When God saw that they had repented and turned from their wickedness He did not destroy them.
God, through His only begotten Son Yeshua ha Messiach, asks but one thing of us: to take Him and His Words to us seriously, and to do them. He pleads with us continuously by His Word to listen and obey, for He knows that only when we do so can He deliver us, and He has no desire for us to perish.
By His Word, God has given us the power to repent and to overcome sin and to obey His Words in order to perform His Works of Righteousness and to continue in it and overcome so that on That Day we can be delivered. If you are reading this, know that you are not saved yet. Many people say of themselves, “I’m saved.” The Word says, “Not yet, you aren’t!” To overcome and to persevere until your final breath is absolutely necessary in order to either awake in His Likeness or to be “changed in the blink of an eye.”
Are you in sin? Get out of it! Are you materialistic? Repent of it! Give it all up for the treasures of the Kingdom! Are you in adultery, either spiritual or physical? Leave it! Those who practice such things shall not enter into the kingdom of God! Purchase your clean and spotless garments! Fill your lamps with oil! Zealously repent as your #1 priority for your very breath and life! Go overboard for God; don’t take “chances” with your eternal soul! All these things Yeshua told us, and made promises to us if we obey.
Don’t think I’m pointing fingers here, because this message is for me as well as for you. I will be judged by the same standard that I am writing about here, and I have no illusions about that. But also know that all will be judged by these standards according to the Word of God!
This message is 2000 years and more old. We must remember that Israel also lost the original message over time, and were warned and encouraged to seek the “old paths where the good way is.” They stopped up their ears and wouldn’t listen, and suffered for it. Did God or Jeremiah want them to suffer when they said these things? No! They were warning them of their impending peril. I am not the only one seeing and hearing these things today. Yes, there are many false prophets who have risen up as prophesied. But God also prophesied that he would raise up watchmen to sound the warning call of His judgment and deliverance. Which am I, false prophet or watchman? I encourage you to go to the Word of God and find out for yourselves. Keep in mind that the messages of the watchmen were rarely either popular or received. Keep in mind also that we must go to The Source to acquire the Love of the Truth before we can see it. When you search through the Scriptures, keep in mind the statement of Jesus in John 9:41. Be willing to be wrong. Make yourselves fools so that you can be made wise. Watch and pray and dig for the Truth zealously and diligently so that God can keep His Promises.
May God richly bless you today in His Spirit and in His Truth, and may He cause the Love and Truth of His Son to shine upon you!