Summary: a topical sermon about the end time apostasy before the coming of the Lord.
Living in the Last days: The great Apostasy
Introduction: As we look at another sign of the end of days is apostasy, many in the church will fall away and become apostates. There will be a great wave of people leaving the church in the last days. I recently read an article from the UK Telegraph that reads “Belgium's dwindling churches to be converted into mosques.' If that isn't sad enough it will get worse in the last days. Another article from the Huffington Post Religon site shows pictures of churches completely abandoned from Pensylvania to Macedonia, from Michigan to Belgium from Ireland, to France, from Cambodia to Indiana. Once beautiful church buildings just rotting away in total abandonment. This is a present physical sign of a future spiritual reality: Apostasy
“So if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don't fall.” - I Cor. 10:12
There have always been times when people flock in and out of the church. Joe Paterno said “You're never as good as you think you are when you win; and you're never as bad as you think you are when you lose.” We shouldn't get too hopeful when there are many nor get too discouraged when there are few. We should be determined to follow Jesus at all cost, no matter the size of the crowd around us. Churches can be like gardens, it grows in one season but dies in the next, then repeats the process again later. But what a blessing it is for a pastor to hold a congregation week after week, season after season, year after year. There have been many times when some have turned from the faith but would come back later. Apostasy is nothing new to the church. We have seen it before and we will see it again. But the end time apostasy is unique. We learn that some day, MANY will turn from the faith. There must be something distinct about this apostasy, that would set it apart as a sign of the last days.
So let's look at the Lord's prophecy of the coming apostasy in the last days.
I. Prophecy of Apostasy (Matthew 24:10)
In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus what would be the sign of his coming at the end of days. He said in verse 10 that there would be apostasy. “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other.” - Mt 24:10 The word 'Apostasy' comes from the Greek word 'Apostasia'. 'Apo' – revolt and 'histasthai' – to stand. To revolt against a previous stand; A stand in position, in principle, or in faith. In short it is a defection, a desertion. The word 'apostasy' is rarely found in the English Bible (Jer. 2:19; 5:6, Heb. 6:6) But the act of apostasy is frequently found in the Bible. Israel had a history of continual apostasy. They would turn away from God who had redeemed them out of Egypt, and then they followed false gods. And unfortunately this turning away has continued throughout the ages.
Many before our generation thought the Lord would come in their day, in fact even the Thessalonian church during the disciples day did as well, but the apostle warns them - “Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a “falling away first,” and that man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” -2 Thessalonians 2:3
He assures them that until they see that great falling away, first, they shouldn't expect the coming of the Lord. But when we do; We know this is a sign of living in the last days.
A Christian website: churchleaders.com records that while pollsters record that 40% of Americans attend church. The reality doesn't match the polling. Why the disparity? They claim it is due to the 'halo effect' – that is those being polled don't want to report the truth that they don't attend church regularly so they exaggerate their church attendance. The true numbers are actually less than half of what is polled. Less than 20% of Americans regularly attend church. They also note that church attendance in America is declining. And that if current trends continue by 2050 (if the Lord should tarry) the percentage of the population attending church will be almost half of what it was in 1990 (20.4% to 11.7%)
Today's 'great falling away' is more of a fading away – a family may come in and in the heat of their new zeal they attend every service faithfully, but soon they find their faith cooling, missing a Wednesday night here and one there, then the cares of this world creep in, and they miss an occasional Sunday and eventually their attendance is reduced to a Sunday every 3 months, and finally you are lucky to even see them at Easter or Christmas and before you know it they are gone altogether.