Before reading this brief study, please read the previous articles in this series,
- The Meaning of Eschatology
- Flashback to the Prophecy of Jesus Christ
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 1
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 2
- The Parable of the Vineyard – Part 3
- The Wedding Feast
- The Temple – Old and New
- The Questions
- The Beginning of Signs
- Misleading Sign 1 – False Messiahs
- Misleading Sign 2 – Wars and Rumours of Wars
- Misleading Sign 3 – Nation against Nation & Kingdom against Kingdom
- Misleading Sign 4 – Famines
- Misleading Sign 5 – Pestilences
- Misleading Sign 6 – Earthquakes
- Misleading Sign 7 – Signs and Disturbances in the Heavens
- Misleading Sign 8 – Persecutions
Matthew 24:10 — “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
Mark 13:12-13 — And brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
Luke 21:16-19 — You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance, you will gain your lives.
The early church was going through horrifying persecution; and thus, was constantly struggling to keep hold of its converts. Many fell away. The apostle Paul was repeatedly faced with betrayal from his followers during that first generation:
2 Timothy 1:15 — “You already know that all who are in Asia turned away and forsook me…”
2 Timothy 4:10 — “For Demas has deserted me for love of this present world and has gone to Thessalonica; Crescens [has gone] to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.”
2 Timothy 4:14 — “Alexander the coppersmith did me much harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.”
JEWS RETURNING TO JUDAISM
Apostasy in the church has always been a problem, a constant struggle and certainly is not limited to today. Many books in the Bible reflect the early Jewish Christians defecting and returning to Judaism:
Galatians 5:4 — You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.
Galatians 3:1-3 — You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
Hebrews 6:4-6 — For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.
1 Timothy 1:19 — keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.
Revelation 2:4 — But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.
Revelation 3:15-17 — “‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
The enemies of the church instilled fear in the early Christians and used betrayal to destroy many believers. Tacitus wrote that Christians turned against fellow Christians. He writes openly about this:
“First those were seized who confessed that they were Christians; and then on their information a vast multitude was convicted and barbarously executed.” [Tacitus, Annals, 14.44]
NOT TO SOME FUTURE GENERATION
The disciples had asked Jesus questions looking down on the temple and the city from the Mount of Olives. Jesus was fore-warning them that there would be a falling away before their city and the temple would be destroyed.
Jesus was not warning some future generations of believers who would be alive in “the last days” of the church age as is inaccurately taught today. He was warning the disciples in that generation who were at that moment living through the last days as the covenant nation.
THE TRUE CHURCH KNOWS IT’S CREATOR
Throughout history, it is factual that the church has been through other periods of decline and apostasy; yet the Lord’s church will not fail in her function and purpose.
The true church knows its creator, originator, and her glorious Head, Jesus Christ, who has “all authority” and “power” as King. She will finally be successful in her assignment to disciple the nations and fill the whole earth with the knowledge of the glory of God.