The last days in the time of the return of our Lord Jesus will be a time of apostasy. We read in 1 Timothy 4:1; “But the Spirit saith expressly, that in latter times some shall fall away from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of demons.” By “doctrines of demons” is evidently meant teachings that evil spirits will promulgate through those men and women who are under their control, such, for example, as the teaching of modern “spiritualism,” which might more properly be termed “demonism.”
The marvelous growth of belief in the “occult” in our days seems to be a fulfillment of this word of prophecy. On every hand men seem to be departing from the faith once delivered to the saints and giving heed to all manner of evil spirits. We are further told by Paul in his second epistle to Timothy that those days shall be “grievous times.” He says, “but know this that in the last days grievous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, haughty, railers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, implacable, slanderers, without self-control, fierce, no lovers of good, traders, headstrong, puffed up, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; holding a form of godliness, but having denied the power thereof” (2 Timothy 5:1-3).
These words present to us a remarkably accurate picture of our own time. If one should take up in detail each item in Paul’s characterization of the last days, he would find it marvelously fulfilled in our own day. This naturally leads many to suppose that the Lord’s coming is very near to hand. However, we should always bear in mind that earnest men of God and students of the Bible have often thought in bygone days that the coming of the Lord was very near. Luther, for example, thought this centuries ago. These men of the past were not mistaken. The return of our Lord was very near. Those who were mistaken were those who thought it so far away that they let it have no effect upon their lives. But at the present time, the multiplied iniquities of our day, the apostasy into damning error and unbelief of many professed and hitherto apparently sincere Christians, and of many professedly evangelical preachers, and of numerous professors of theology in seminaries built at great sacrifice by Orthodox men and women for the promulgation of truth and not for the breeding of error, the increase of lawlessness on the part of great corporations on the one hand and on the part of the oppressed poor on the other hand, the mutterings preceding the storm of wild anarchy that seems likely soon to break, all these things are signs of His coming which may be very near at hand. Men’s hearts are “fainting for fear, and for expectation of the things which are coming on the world” (Luke 21:26).
Many of the greatest statesmen of England, America and Germany have forebodings which they scarcely dared to put in words of what lies just a little way ahead of the nations of the earth. But in such days as these our hearts should not faint nor fear. “When these things begin to come to pass” we should “look up and lift up our heads, because our redemption draweth nigh” (Luke 21:28). The darker the day grows, the nearer at hand is the dawn, and just at the moment when things seem unendurable, the brightest, gladdest day the earth ever saw is breaking.
Excerpted from: The Return of the Lord Jesus by R. A. Torrey, D. D. Copyright 1913
Words of Grace for Strength
Reading Torrey’s description of the apostasy he recognized at the time he wrote the words quoted above, Christians, true followers of Jesus Christ, should recognize how much farther the “church” has fallen into apostasy today. A century has passed since his writing, and with it once godly nations, which at one point contained countless local church bodies, have turned their backs on God because the truth of the gospel is no longer preached from the pulpits in those churches. The spiritualism and occultism which he recognized as invading Christianity in his day, have now so polluted the “church” that the message of the gospel is unrecognizable. The “church” has replaced repentance with tolerance and compromise; sanctification with indulgence and permissiveness; and righteousness with irreverence and outright blasphemy. The false prophets and false teachers which dominate the “church” pulpits today are offenders rather than defenders of the gospel, which are either twisting the Word of God for their own benefit, denying its sufficiency and authority, or ignoring it altogether.
Of the 85% of people in the US who claim to be Christians, research has shown that only 9% affirm a true saving faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior, true biblical Christianity. So in truth the “church” is populated with “Christians” who really are not, because they have no relationship with the one who paid their sin debt at Calvary, Jesus who is the Christ, the son of man and the Son of God, and in fact, very God! Having no relationship with Christ, they certainly are not indwelt by the Holy Spirit, and therefore do not and cannot understand the prophetic Word of God. Therefore, many who populate the “church” today are operating under the false notion that what they “believe” or are “comfortable with,” will assure them a place in heaven without having to repent, confess, and turn away from their sin before God, acknowledging Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.
As troubling as that is, it is not something unexpected, at least from the Lord’s perspective. Look at the Sermon on the Mount when Jesus proclaims to all those who made a false profession, And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Matthew 7:23). Even in the Olivet discourse He states many did not do for Him as they did not do for others (Matthew 25:45). Jesus Himself makes clear that there will be many who either proclaim the Lord or claim to serve Him who will hear the words of the Lord disavowing them and judging them in condemnation. No sadder words could be heard in that time of the Lord’s great majesty and power.
The prophetic words of the apostle Paul in 2 Timothy 5:1-3 have indeed come to fruition. Those things which Christ prophesied would “soon come to pass” in His Olivet discourse in Matthew 24 are indeed doing so. The convergence of all of these End Times prophecies should indeed cause us to “look up and lift up our heads.” While only the Father in heaven knows the “day and hour” (Matthew 24:36) in which Christ will return for His True Church, certainly we are nearer to that day than was Torrey, and exponentially nearer than was Paul.
Those of us who are true followers of Christ in these last days, those of us in the 9%, have a responsibility to be obedient servants of the cross of Christ, proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, with absolutely everyone who will listen. While we are not all called to be Preachers or Teachers, we are all called to be ministers of the gospel. The fact that we see the convergence of End Times prophecy being fulfilled before our very eyes, should be the impetus for a growing urgency within us to do just that. The Rapture of the Church is imminent, and soon to follow that, the return of Jesus Christ in judgment.