Interpretation of

The Great Apostasy

Continuation 2

By

Lee Y. Martin, Ph.D
©2002

 

The Great Apostasy Prophesied
 

In Paul's second letter to the Thessalonians, he admonished them not to be deceived by any means - not by an evil spirit, nor by word of mouth, nor by a falsely written letter as if from him [2:2,3]. This should caution all Christians to carefully check out any 'new' revelation spoken by a "new breed" of prophets (their terminology). I personally have found teachings, which do not align with Scripture. How do they handle that? They say that they are receiving from the spirit world 'advanced' truths not found in God's Word. We are told that since doctrine divides, we should lay aside doctrine for the sake of unity. Yet, paradoxically, to lay aside doctrine because it is divisive is a doctrine in itself! How can we keep the gospel pure if we lay its doctrines aside in order to welcome other beliefs?

  2 Timothy 4:3-4
 

3 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;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

It is hard to see where to draw the line, which is why we must studiously study the Word. Believers who do not accept their new truths will be cursed and even killed, they say. Is this what Jesus meant when He said that at the end "…because iniquity shall abound, the ('agape') love of many shall wax cold" [Matthew 24:12]? If their new doctrines are derived from prophetic revelations, who is to say that the added heresies of the book of Mormon, Jehovah's Witnesses, Christian Science, Seventh Day Adventists, et al. are not just as genuine as these 'new revelations'? Somewhere there has to be a line drawn, a yardstick that everyone accepts if unity means anything at all. But, if applicable for all, it has to be the lowest common denominator, which is the bottom line in hell if the Bible is accurate. I for one will stick with the time tested Word of God in its entirety as my benchmark, not adding to it nor diminishing from it [Deuteronomy 4:2] so as to preserve its purity.

Having cautioned the Thessalonians about heresy, Paul reminds them that not too long ago he told them about the coming of the Lord and our gathering together unto him [2:1]. He reminded them in his first letter regarding this teaching that believers would meet the Lord in the clouds, in the air, in a rapturous departure from this world [1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:9]. He explains all this before reminding them that he had informed them while he was with them about the endtime lawless man of sin who would ruthlessly rule the world for a short period. The rapture teaching was to give them comfort in the fact that they could expect to be deported to heaven before the 'Awesome Days' of the tribulation. Paul told them "…God hath not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ" [1 Thessalonians 5:9]. The impact of the promise is that we would be delivered from this ruthless man's agenda. Armed with this knowledge, believers are to "comfort (them)selves together, and edify one another…" [5:11].

 

The Falling Away

Paul now gives them the sign when this awful man would appear. First would come a great apostasy. "The falling away" would come first and that son of perdition would be revealed on the heels of its completion. At his appearance, you would know that the day of the Lord had been activated. The day of the Lord starts out with darkness as all days do in Hebrew custom. This will be the blackest of nights because it will usher in the birth pangs of a new age, the Kingdom Age. It will take seven years to bring in this baby. It will not be easy. No labor pains are easy. The pains get worse and worse just like evil men and seducers wax worse and worse right on up until the climax of the age. We have already addressed the climactic events of the tribulation period in the vision "Climax of the Ages". Jesus sent this prophecy to forewarn His bride that it is getting close and not to get caught up in the deception of the day which has apostatized much of the church from the faith once delivered - the premillennial rapture of the church. Jesus' bride must concentrate on repentance and making herself ready for our Lord's return to seize her out of here. Are you excited? I am only because I am anxious to see Jesus. I have no desire to stay around here and be a conqueror or become a martyr. I'm doing what Jesus said to do, which is to "(w)atch…and pray always, that (I) may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass…" [Luke 21:36].

To understand fully the extent of the warnings given in this tripartite oracle, one has to know that there is a definite time for this falling away from truth to occur. The definite article preceding the words 'falling away' denotes a particular departure. Some translations render it 'the rebellion' or 'the departure'. The departure and the man of sin's appearance must coincide. It is assumed that it will take some time for the full separation to happen. But at some point, the divorce will have been established. There is a good chance that it will consummate when the United Religions Initiative convinces the ecumenical church it needs to merge with the rest of the religions for the sake of peace and safety. The Greek word for 'falling away' is 'apostasia' [Strong NT: 646] meaning something separative, to divorce, to forsake, a defection from truth. All of these have rendered the word. The word itself means to stand off from, i.e., not to partake of something. Literally, then, it means to forsake or defect from truth. The only other time it is used in Scripture is where Paul was accused of separating - 'apostasia' - from the law of Moses [Acts 21:21]. He did in fact depart from the law. Similarly, Paul is saying that at the endtime, the church will have officially departed from truth and apostatized, and when it does, the stage is set for the Antichrist to appear. He will not necessarily be against Christ (the meaning of the prefix 'anti') but he comes instead of Christ (another meaning of 'anti').

The prophecy of the "Great Apostasy", like Jude's prophetic warning that false teachers in the church in his day were causing it to apostatize, is our Lord's gracious warning to His bride not to be deceived by this current departure from truth. Truth is not truth if it is half-truth. Admixture spoils purity. A mixed message is the deception satan is after because he does not want to destroy Christianity, he wants to take it over and become worshipped as its Christ. In the Olivet discourse in the book of Matthew regarding the endtime, Jesus warns the disciples not to be deceived 4 times. His first words were: "Take heed that ye be not deceived" [24:4]. In the book of Mark, the corresponding Olivet discourse to Matthew 24 is chapter 13, and in it Jesus admonishes His disciples to 'take heed' 4 times, and to 'watch' 4 times, with the idea that you must take care not to be caught off guard. Something sinister is afoot.

 

 

The Great Divide

 
 
In the prophecy to Jeannette, Jesus said:
 

"Hear! Oh Church for what I am about to say. I will put my finger into the great divide. The great apostasy is coming within seconds. For the cloud and the fire will be poured out upon the church, and the earth will rock and reel upon its axis. The terror will be night into the night and the day without a sun."

 

Notice that Jesus said the great apostasy is coming; hence it is not here yet. Praise God! We have a few seconds left to repent and repair the temple.Since believers are temples of God, everything depends upon what the church does. Will she repent or not? Will she cast off the "fiery garments of satan and his angels who have lusted for God's sheep?"The implication is that many garments of the sheepfold are spotted by the world, the flesh, and the devil. The Spirit has shown me that a large percentage of the church has bitten into the juicy fruit of expediency. If it works, do it. Church growth is dependent on using what works. Forget about the destiny of souls; whatever gets people into the pews, use it. Most of what happens in the church appeals to the soul. It takes Bible discernment to distinguish between the soul and the spirit [Hebrews 4:12], but a low priority has been attached to studying Scripture. Careless piety and a slipshod attitude regarding the purity of doctrinal correctness have caused many teachers to handle the Word of God deceitfully [cp. 2 Corinthians 4:2] to promote their own agenda. Does this make them false teachers? Pragmatism and holiness are strange bedfellows, for the end does not justify the means.

Jesus said in this oracle that He was going to "pour out the cloud and the fire upon the church", thus we see that it is the church causing God's indignation to flare-up. One expects unbelievers to act on behalf of the devil but not the church. The church is supposed to be holy, humble, honest, and pure. But we cannot envision that it is blessings that will be poured out upon the church because He said the earth would be stunned by the outpouring making it wobble. Since the symbols of the Holy Spirit are used, the cloud and the fire, Jesus is probably indicating that the Spirit will be the power source for bringing into manifestation the holy wrath of God. In addition, the words of this prophecy correlate with the terror portrayed in the "Climax of the Ages" visions. As goes the church, so goes the world.

 

The Move from Philadelphia to Laodicea

It would not be possible to give an accurate interpretation of this vision without bringing up the Laodiceans since they are a picture of the church in its final state of apostasy [Revelation 3:14-22]. In the last several prophetic interpretations, the Philadelphians were noted as having been risen up in order to get the gospel out to a lost and dying world - and it did. Jesus honored their faithfulness by not bringing any accusations against them as He did to all other churches in the historical parade excepting Smyrna, the assembly of martyrs for Jesus' name. In protecting freedom to travel by sea or air, America, namesake of the Philadelphians, has gotten the job done. In saying this, we are not discounting other nations' missionary efforts. Rather we only want to allege that the USA has been the backbone of the effort to evangelize the world with a pure gospel, and regrettably, it is also responsible for the rise of the misguided, if not infamous, Laodiceans. Furthermore, the vision entitled "USA Prophecy" disclosed the timing when the Philadelphian mandate was activated, and this vision about "The Great Apostasy" reveals that its mandate is quickly coming to closure.

Being God, Jesus is able to shut the evangelical open door of the Philadelphian church and lock it, since He holds the key of David [Revelation 3:7], i.e., the key that unlocks the doors of the Diaspora deportments so that David's promised everlasting Kingdom can be restored. Jesus is just about ready to shut the Philadelphian open door because for the most part, they have broken covenant with God and changed names. They are following another Jesus [cp. 2 Corinthians 11:2-4]. So long as they guarded Jesus' Word (ref. Bible-changers and cultists), kept it pure (ref. post-denominationalists and ecumenicalists), and not denied His name (ref. universalists and modernists), they could count on being supernaturally protected from outside influences that would subvert their freedom to get out a pure gospel. Having let down their guard, Americans are consequently losing freedoms because of the threat of terrorism. Why is this happening? I submit that it is because this last Philadelphian generation has produced the Laodicean lie. It has separated from God and joined the global society. It has not contended for a pure faith. Lastly, because America has denied the Lord as her covenanted foundation, removing Him from our schools and blaspheming Him in public arenas, God is responding in kind to our apostatizing by closing the door to His Philadelphian church. Our freedoms, our safety, and our prosperity are on the line. God does not need us; but Oh! How we need Him!

By not diligently guarding His Word and keeping it pure, we have put ourselves at risk for judgment.

 

 

The Tanited Gospel

On the one hand, unauthorized self-appointed textual critics who interpret and paraphrase God's Word, calling it a translation, have revised the Bible. It is important to understand that a revision is not a revelation, and the Bible is God's self-revelation. On the other hand, leaders who label themselves as the ministers of new revelations, unveiling 'new' truths through prophecy, have demoted God's holy divinely written Word to a par, and even below par, with their resurrected discarded old doctrines. Supposedly, their army of generals will guide heads of states in a new world order which they erect by following the myriad of prophets' 'ongoing' revelations of truth; and they will do it via an ecclesiastical organizational system comparable to the Roman Catholic magisterium. Sounds sort of like what Jeremiah reported about just before the fall of the Southern Kingdom of Israel:

  Jeremiah 5:30-31
 

30 A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land;
31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?

In the end, they were taken captive and dispersed throughout the world. They chose to follow the prophets who prophesied "smooth things" [Isaiah 30:10]. They told them that they would not fall by the sword nor become slaves. Jeremiah warned them that they were following the wrong voice, but they would not listen. Even today, we hear smooth talk about the church taking over the world, setting up the Kingdom for Jesus, and ruling it for Him before He can come back to earth. This teaching destroys hope for an imminent rapture to go be where the Lord is as He promised [John 14:1-3]. Furthermore, anyone who takes exception to the 'truth' of this plan (I speak tongue-in-cheek), like Catholicism, will be excommunicated at best and is at risk for elimination from earth at worst. This is a sample of the new breed of prophets' 'new truths'. Praise God; let us hope we really are eliminated - via rapture. Heaven is the home of God's family. The Kingdom of believers is in heaven not on earth. There is a misconstrued conceptualization that the Kingdom of Heaven is going to be here on earth. How can it be a Kingdom of Heaven and be on earth? The Kingdom to come on earth from which Jesus will rule the world in the Millennium is the restored Kingdom of Israel promised to David and his genetic descendants. This Millennial Kingdom of rest covers the whole earth. All surviving nations of the tribulational holocaust will pay tribute to Israel and homage to the King of Kings. The Israeli Kingdom will be the mountain that covers the earth as Daniel prophesied. Being Jewish, Jesus will rule this Kingdom from Jerusalem with His resurrected grandfather David as His vice regent. Further, He will rule it with the help of His bride, the overcoming believers of the church, but their domicile will be heavenly Zion.

There is a group of Christians who teach that the church has replaced Israel and God has no more use for her. All the Old Testament promises now belong to spiritual Israel composed of Gentiles. This is called Replacement Theology. The church, they say, has replaced Israel. Does that make God a liar when He promised never to completely do away with the nation of Israel [Jeremiah 31:35-37; 33:26; Romans 11:1,2; et al.]? Are they the ones Jesus spoke about in the Philadelphian church "…who say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie…" [Revelation 3:9]? Is this the Laodicean lie, the false spirit that Jesus is upset with in the prophecy we are interpreting? And, how did the church accomplish the chameleon effect of changing its name from Philadelphia to Laodicea? Space does not permit lengthy discourse on the causes leading to the problem of the Philadelphian church at risk of deportation to heaven. But let me give a succinct answer because it speaks to the reason Jesus put His finger in the great divide in the vision.

 

 

The Church's March to Judgment

Because satan could not prevail against the church by wiping it out [Matthew 16:18], he had to change tactics in order to reach his goal of being worshipped as God. He Christianized the Roman Empire through Constantine, and in order to keep peace among his heathen subjects, he brought in pagan customs for worship alongside the pure gospel and through admixture, corrupted the doctrines of Christ. Satan got good mileage out of this tactic. Next he tried to eliminate the Bible via sundry methods and found out it was impossible; so he changed his strategy again. He prompted ambitious men to write their own version of the Bible, and Boy! Was this a winner! If a head-on assault does not work, use subversion. Infiltrate and confuse the ranks. After the printing press was invented, the Word of God received an astounding number of revisions making it ever more difficult to find the right road to heaven. Many of the road signs have been changed, added to, or deleted altogether. The NIV has deleted approximately 75,000 words that the KJV uses. With so many road signs missing, how can a traveler find his way to heaven?

Just about the time satan had unified the monetary system in Europe and was gaining control of the world through an Illuminati conspiracy in the 1770s, God trumps his hand with His own plan and in 1776 raises up His Philadelphian church in America. For 200 years satan was frustrated by the Monroe Doctrine that hampered his encroachment into the Western Hemisphere. Thus the Philadelphian church prospered and thrived under the mighty Arm of the Lord's protection.

During this period of free access to the Bible in America, without harassment from governments or religious magisteriums, the Philadelphians learned how to unleash God's power, bind satan and his imps, and enter the secreted Kingdom of Heaven which Jesus said was at hand and available. Unconsciously but providentially, the United States had cut a covenant with God in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as the new nation based her Constitution on Biblical precepts. In response, God honored America by naming His beloved 6th church in His eternal archive of churches after Philadelphia, the place where Americans cut her covenant with Him. With God's protection and direction, the Philadelphians learned how to effectively use the sword of the Lord, His Word, to bind and loose the devil. He had a battle on his hand this time because he met resistance everywhere in trying to infiltrate America. He has found it much easier in countries where the Bible has not been readily accessible. So long as we keep putting "In God We Trust" on our money, and so long as we continue to respect 'Old Glory' by pledging allegiance to our red-threaded flag that represents "one nation under God", we give cause for God to hearken to the penitent cries of His true church. Let us pray for another real revival in America that will clean up our house and turn people back to their covenanted roots so the hand of judgment can be postponed.

As the Philadelphians became ever more astute in controlling the devil, he found that he was powerless to prevent wave after wave of revivals and spiritual movements. No matter how hard he tried, he could not subvert the work of missionary outreaches throughout the world. God was literally 'over'-seeing the work and the windows of heaven were opened. The rains came the money came, and people went to the fields. Satan could not make headway revising God's Word because being an holographic book, Jesus is literally found on every single page. Therefore, he changed his tactics again.

Since he was powerless to keep the Philadelphians from prospering because of God's blessings (shades of Balaam), he decided to cause them to stumble through greed, lust, and covetousness - the way of Balaam! He enticed believers to strain at every Scripture to find a way to use it to enhance one's pocketbook. Madison Avenue tactics were brought in to bring in the money. Ever-increasing riches developed pride and a mindset that the Philadelphians were invincible 'little gods'. Power lust along with approbation lust has blinded the Philadelphians to God's plans. They want a Kingdom now so they can rule now as a corporate surrogate Jesus. They intend to become 'Manifested Sons of God' who lord it over the rest of the world.

The problem with wealth is that it usually ends up controlling the possessor as the parable of the rich young ruler demonstrates. The more prosperous the church has become, the more powerful and prideful it has become. Self-satisfied believers enjoy their riches and the power it brings, and this results with them imagining themselves as unconquerable super spiritual Christians. Some have even promoted the idea that since we have Jesus' name, are "…rich, and increased with goods", we do not need His presence, and in fact, "have need of nothing" anymore [Revelation 3:17]. With this mindset, these transformed church people had to devise a theology to support their ideology - and thus Dominionism and the Laodicean church was born.

 

 

The Laodicean Apostasy

The word Laodicea is a combination of two words. 'Laos' is the Greek for a people - a group of people in general. It is different from 'demos', which means one's own knit together group such as a democracy. 'Dicea' comes from 'dike' meaning a right as self-evident; hence, it has to do with justice as a principle. The major difference between 'laos' and 'demos' is that if one is a member of a people in general, he or she loses identity whereas a democracy is typically one ethnic group having a common and distinctive cultural heritage. This is important to understanding why the last church was named Laodicea. The mix of people in this church does not adhere to commonly held doctrines. Their cultural identity is gone. Denominational barriers separating believers are being removed, which has created a climate of permissiveness, perhaps the greatest factor characterizing their existence. Being neutralized through tolerance, each person's personal belief system is valid, and hence, user-friendly churches lacking the fire of Holy Ghost power are the assemblies of choice. Everyone does what he thinks is right in his own eyes [Judges 21:25], and most believers consider it a 'justifiable right'. Truly, the Laodiceans are a motley group of lukewarm nonconformists whom Jesus said He would vomit up rather than receive their patronization in name only.

As the unification movement gains momentum, Christian distinctives will fade and ultimately disappear for the sake of peaceful coexistence. This Greek city was a wealthy banking center in John's day of around 600,000 people. Since it was known to be very prosperous, in order to reflect the choice of Laodicea to demonstrate spiritual truth, wherever this last-days church is located, it has to be very wealthy and prosperous. Could there be any better place than the United States of America? Nonetheless, God showed us on September 11th what He thinks about this renegade church in America when He exposed her mercantile center as shame. Given that the metamorphosis of the Philadelphian church into the Laodicean one takes place in the USA, there are ominous implications for America. When He addressed the church's angel in the Bible, Jesus called Himself "…the Amen, the faithful and true witness…" [3:14]. He was establishing the truth of the fact that this church would be the last one because 'Amen' is commonly used last when speaking or praying to God. It means "in truth" or "I believe it". Thus, we can 'Amen' with Jesus who testified 'in truth' that this is the final church in the Church Age. When this church's sanction is gone, the Age is over. Then comes the Millennial Rule of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords for a thousand years on earth.

 

 

The Laodicean Exhortation

No commendation was made about this church indicating its serious backslidden condition.Jesus revealed its weakness as greed, covetousness, and blindness about what really counts with God. The Laodiceans seem depersonalized and appear to have lost sight of the real meaning of life - human relationships rather than self-serving ambitious agendas. Could we say they are mesmerized with idolatry and mammon because Jesus cautions them about being blind, poor, and naked, and do not even know how wretched and miserable they are. Because He loves them even though they are way out of line, He pleads with them to repent. This is one of the few times the "phileo" Greek word for love is used in the Bible. It means brotherly love indicating that they must have had at one time a blood covenant with Jesus making them a part of God's family. 'Phileo' is the word for a personal warm relationship with someone who is a dear friend - someone having cut a 'covenant of strong friendship'.4 'Agape' love is the most commonly used word in the New Testament and connotes an impersonal love that depends entirely on the character of the one doing the loving. This is the God-kind of love.

We see Jesus, therefore, appealing to His covenanted people to come out of this wayward money-hungry church. Wealth can be a trap and can deceive a person into thinking he is acquiring money for good works, when in point of fact, that person may never have been born again and his motivations are ulterior. He is relying on his good works to save him. It is difficult to see the depravity of the heart when all is well and you have need of nothing. Jesus does not lie, so we ought not turn our heads away from the chastisement listed here. Something serious is about to happen. This church represents the apostasy that has come upon God's people. Apostatizing has happened without the Laodiceans even being aware that they are backslidden, undone, and heading in the wrong direction. That's serious folks. For this reason God has been using various extreme measures to get the attention of America and through her that of the whole church world that tribulation is just around the corner. Stay alert, look up, and do not be blinded.


(Please click below on Continuation 3 of Interpretation: The Great Apostasy)

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1
Confer "Climax of the Ages" for the meaning of this.('Agape')
 

 

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The Sermon on the Mount Carl Bloch, 1890 Free Christ Images.org

 

 

 

 

Credit:

1. All graphics and web design by jlvetter, ©1997- 2013, unless otherwise noted.

2. Background music: Quiet

3. Church Painting: Watercolour Paintings Exhibition by Jacqueline Agius Art In Malta.com

 

Update: Thursday, August 15, 2013 7:21 PM