Q. First of all I would like to thank you for a wonderful website. Your answers are very down to earth and easy to understand as well as following scripture to the letter.
My questions are concerning the falling away? referred to by Paul in 2Thessalonians 2:3. What exactly is the falling away? and what is the timing of this in reference to the rapture and tribulation?
I have heard many bible teachers say that this is occurring at this time with many churches trying to redefine the Gospel to a more secular world view. They also site the ecumenical movement back to the Roman Church which has clearly moved away from the simple Gospel written in the Bible. Although the Roman Church had started moving away from the Gospel many centuries ago and this falling away has been going on for as long as the Church has been in existence. Did Paul mean that this would occur just before the end or would increase as the end approached?
I have seen in recent years, teachers who were very Bible based in their teaching, redefine their views to be in line with these so called new approaches and ecumenism in the spreading of the Gospel, men who spent their whole lives dedicated to the tuth suddenly change their minds. Does this mean that the people involved in these things are not saved or were never saved? I am very concerned with these things since Jesus has said that the Father would not let those He has given to Jesus be plucked out of His hand. If this is so than we must be very very close to the time of the end. I can’t see this going on for very much longer. Thank you for your reply.
A. From a timing standpoint, in 2 Thes. 2 Paul identified both the apostasy, or falling away,(v.3) and the removal of the Holy Spirit (v.7) as events that would have to precede the introduction of the anti-Christ, which we know from Matt. 24:15-21 kicks off the Great Tribulation. He gave these two preconditions within the context of signs that the End of the Age has come.
You’re correct in your observation that there’s been a general falling away in progress for some time now, first among the Catholics and then the main line Protestants. But each of these was a long slide followed by a great revival. In the case of the Catholic Church it was the Protestant Reformation that brought revival, and in the case of Protestants it was the Great Awakening in the 1800’s that gave birth to the Evangelicals, Fundamentalists, and Pentecostals. More recently the Jesus movement of the 70’s brought a further deterioration of main line protestant ranks. Each of these cycles brought a resurgence of orthodox belief to the Church.
Now we seem to be going the other direction, with the new movements afoot in the Church being decidedly away from orthodox Christianity. And it is a sad fact that a number of formerly solid pastors and teachers are being seduced by the lure of large audiences and fat offerings that can result from embracing the Seeker Friendly / Emergent Church model. In time the state of their hearts will be revealed as those who are His come back to their First Love.
All told this could be a sign that the Apostasy has come, and that the Church is being stripped of its non-believing element. If so then the Rapture is next.