The Great Falling Away is Here: a Sign of End Times
There is no question that as we enter the 21st century there has been a great “falling away” from the faith. Over the past century there has indeed been a great falling away from the faith – starting with the rise of Darwinism at the turn of the century, and progressing on with the rise of secular humanism, Communism, and atheism in the twentieth century.
The sign given by the Apostle reads:
2 Thess 2:3 “Let no one deceive you by any means; for
that day will not come unless the falling away comes first…”
According to Got Questions,org, The Greek word translated “rebellion” or “falling away” in verse 3 is apostasia, from which we get the English word apostasy. It refers to a general defection from the true God, the Bible, and the Christian faith. Every age has its defectors, but the falling away began with the fall of Russia and Eastern Europe to Communism in 1918, the fall of China to Maoism in the 1940s, and has continued in the western nations (U.S. and Europe) in the 20th century with the growth of atheism and materialism. Some say that we are now living in a “Post Christian” era today. In other words, we have already “fallen away” from the faith.
Jesus warned the disciples concerning the final days in Matthew 24:10–12:
“At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other,
and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold.”
These are the characteristics of the great apostasy of the end times:
- There will be a deception that will go out to many, particular people in the church. That they are safe and secure in their civilized societies, that they can take comfort in their riches.
- Many will be deceived, not only by false prophets and false Christs, but by the deceitfulness of riches. The End Times church will become in effect the church of Laodicea, spoken about in the book of Revelation in the Bible (see below on the end times church of Laodicea).
- Because of this deception, and because of increasing persecution of the church (which also will take place – see below for more), many will “fall away from the faith“, believing themselves to be secure because of their riches, and not will to endure persecution for the sake of Christ.
Following Europe, the Falling Away in the U.S. is Already Underway
According to a study down by the Pew Research Center in October of 2019, the religious landscape of the United States continues to change at a rapid clip. In Pew Research Center telephone surveys conducted in 2018 and 2019,
- 65% of American adults describe themselves as Christians when asked about their religion, down 12 percentage points over the past decade
- Meanwhile, the religiously unaffiliated share of the population, consisting of people who describe their religious identity as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular,” now stands at 26%, up from 17% in 2009.
The data shows a wide gap between older Americans (Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation) and Millennials in their levels of religious affiliation and attendance.
- More than eight-in-ten members of the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) describe themselves as Christians (84%), as do three-quarters of Baby Boomers (76%).
- In stark contrast, only half of Millennials (49%) describe themselves as Christians; four-in-ten are religious “nones,” and one-in-ten Millennials identify with non-Christian faiths.
Only about one-in-three Millennials say they attend religious services at least once or twice a month. Roughly two-thirds of Millennials (64%) attend worship services a few times a year or less often, including about four-in-ten who say they seldom or never go. Indeed, there are as many Millennials who say they “never” attend religious services (22%) as there are who say they go at least once a week (22%).
The trends are clear – the U.S. (following the path of Europe) is steadily becoming less Christian and less religiously observant as the share of adults who are not religious grows.
It is clear the “great falling away” is happening in OUR LIFETIME, and at this very moment in 2020.
Coronavirus (Covid-19) Resulting in 1/5 of Church Goers Falling Away in the U.S….
An article in The Christian Post, dated August 26, 2020 reports that as many as 1 in 5 church congregations may close as a result of the Coronavirus. The article points out:
- Although many churches are now re-opening, “there are a lot less people coming”
- Many of the church attendees did not feel that the “relationships” were as deep as they thought
- Donations are being affected, since attendees are not seeing the “value” that they were expecting from church attendance
What is really at the core of the dropping attendance? About 1/5 of the attendees were apparently going to church to “get something” from the pastor or the service, They are attending church as if it were an entertainment service – one that should give them something of value – a “feel good” experience. As opposed to being there to worship God, giving thanks for His love, care, and provision, and to fellowship with other believers.
Is it possible that the Lord is using the Coronavirus to separate the “goats from the sheep”? To determine who really loves the Lord, and fellowship with other believers, and puts God FIRST in their life amidst trial and tribulation – as opposed to loving the world, and the things of the world? I believe that God is testing churchgoers with the Coronavirus pandemic – to find out which are “lukewarm”, which are cold, and which one are on fire for Jesus. Coming out of this we will see those that continue in the faith to be really committed believers. People that put God first above all else, and are willing to go the mile to serve Him, and others in the church. Those that fall away are doing their part to fulfill this prophecy of “the great falling away” – and will have shown that they prefer trips to the beach, their favorite take out, or sleeping in late as opposed to a love for Jesus.
The Seven Churches in the Book of Revelation
The Apostle John, while he was on the island of Patmos around 90 AD, wrote these words in the prophetic book of Revelation. Jesus is speaking to John about some churches bodies in general, but also about the final and last church on the earth, before His return:
“I know your works; you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either cold or hot.
So, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot,
I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”—Revelation 3:15–16
The church of Laodicea is the last of seven churches addressed in Revelation. The seven churches addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelation represent:
- Seven actual churches that existed at the time that John the Apostle was writing Revelation, inspired by the Holy Spirit
- Seven “types” of churches that have existed all through the ages, since the church was established by Jesus before His resurrection and ascention to the Father
- Seven stages that the church would pass through as it existed over the course of 2,000 years
- The seven churches were (at the time of John) seven actual churches in what is now the land of Turkey. They also represent a given church at any time in church histroy (some churches are lukewarm, like Laodicea; others are suffering persecution, like Smyrna, etc.) But these seven church ALSO represent seven periods or ages in the history of the church. Briefly, they can be listed as follows:
(1) Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7) – the church that had forsaken its first love (2:4).
(2) Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11) – the church that would suffer persecution (2:10).
(3) Pergamum (Revelation 2:12-17) – the church that needed to repent (2:16).
(4) Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29) – the church that had a false prophetess (2:20).
(5) Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6) – the church that had fallen asleep (3:2).
(6) Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13) – the church that had endured patiently (3:10).
(7) Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22) – the church with the lukewarm faith (3:16).< = the church in End Times (today’s church)
The Last Church of Laodicea – How it Matches with Today’s Church
This harsh pronouncement suggests that the Christians at Laodicea—located in modern Turkey—wavered in their commitments to the Christian faith. What were the key characteristics of the Laodicean church, and how well do they match with today’s church?
They were a wealthy church
Laodicea was a wealthy city during the Roman period. Not only was Laodicea located on major trade routes that connected it to important cities like Ephesus, Smyrna and Sardis, but also it was a center of textile production and banking. The church of Laodicea is noted as thinking themselves to be wealthy, self-sufficient, and in need of nothing:
Rev 3:17 – “Because you say, I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’—and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked”.
In reality, this last church has become corrupted by the deceitfulness of riches, and is
- Wretched and miserable – lacking the joy of the Lord
- Poor spiritually, although the church and its members are riches in possessions and material things
- Spiritually blind, walking in darkness, so that they will not be able to see the Day approaching, and be ready for the Lord’s return
- Naked, in the sense that they are not replying on the Lamb, and the garment of salvation that He provide all those who place their trust in Him
They were dealing with an Emperor who declared Himself a god, and demanded worship
The Book of Revelation was penned during the Roman emperor Domitian’s reign (r. 81–96 C.E.). Domitian was notorious for being the first Roman emperor who declared himself a god while still alive. This affronted Christians, Jews and the Roman Senate alike. The Christians at Laodicea were also affected by Domitian’s decrees.
- They were wealthy, and forced to choose – would they take the “mark of the beast” and worship Caesar to maintain their wealth?
- Or refuse, not be able to buy/sell, and face persecution of and the lost of their worldly wealth.
Their response to this persecution—which even involved their ability to buy and sell—is what caused the author of Revelation to call them “lukewarm.” They were a compromising church. not willing to take a STAND and face persecution for their faith,
Are we seeing this same lukewarm, wavering church of Laodicea today? Yes – absolutely.
- Most churches in the U.S and Europe are “wealthy“ by world standards. Because of their reliance on the economic system in which they exist, monetary and physical wealth, buildings, and a cushy life style, they have become soft and are willing to compromise with whatever the state demands.
- Governments are classifying churches as “non-essential” activities, and demanding that they cease gathering together – essentially worshiping the state, rather than worshiping God.
- We are not seeing the manifestation of the Anti-Christ yet, but that is soon coming. Already in some countries, particularly in China, the state is tearing down church buildings, demanding that people worship their Great Leader instead. The Anti-Christ will soon appear on the world stage, once the one-world-government is formed to reset the economy and unify the nations.
- The church is being forced to choose – will we obey Caesar, or God?
- Because they are lukewarm, many churches have closed their doors, in response to city, county and state “orders” not to gather, pray, worship or even sing to the Lord.
- Only a few are defying the state, and remaining open, and they are beginning to face arrest and persecution. See https://disrn.com/news/la-county-reportedly-threatens-pastor-john-macarthur-with-fines-arrest-after-church-holds-in-person-services
While the Church is Falling Away in the West, it is Exploding Elsewhere
Jesus said that He would establish His Church, and that “the gates of Hell will not prevail against it” (Matt 16:18):
And that is exactly what is happening. Although the world is under the domination of the Evil one, and he is attempting to close the churches in the U.S. and Europe, the ‘gates of hell” will not prevail against the Lord’s church. Where there is an approaching darkness, the light of the world – the Church – shines ever more brightly. Why? Because the church is NOT a building. it is a transcendent global body of believers in Jesus
Christ, who is the Head of the Church. The enemy and the powers of darkness think they can close church buildings and thus close the church. But they couldn’t be more wrong. When you do that, the church springs up even more strongly in places you couldn’t imagine.
While the great “falling away” happened first in Russia and Eastern Europe, China with the advent of Communism, in the Middle East with Muslim dictatorships, and in other closed societies, and while it progresses in the U.S., and Europe, millions are still placing their faith and trust in Jesus Christ in Africa, China, and even in places like Iran in the Middle East.
As it says in the book of Matthew, one of the signs prior to the Day of the Lord is that the gospel must be preached to all nations, and “then the end will come”:
Matt 24:14: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world
as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”
This could not have happened until today. In the past, news traveled slow, and was very labor intensive. To carry word of the good news of Jesus, missionaries had to travel by foot, boat, or best case plan, in order to reach far off places around the world.
We live in a world today where the gospel – the good news of Jesus the Messiah – is going out round the clock into ALL the world via satellite TV, Internet, email, WhatsApp, Facebook, and match other channels. Cellular towers are everywhere, even in the most under-developed countries. People in all nations, people of all tongues, people of all tribes are hearing the gospel, and responding in HUGE numbers in China, Africa, and the Middle East.
So while the the Great Falling Away is happening in the western developed world, there is also a great out powering of the Holy Spirit in other parts of the world. From the Pew Research Center:
- Although Europe and the Americas still are home to a majority of the world’s Christians (63%), that share is much lower than it was in 1910 (93%). And the proportion of Europeans and Americans who are Christian has dropped from 95% in 1910 to 76% in 2010 in Europe as a whole, and from 96% to 86% in the Americas as a whole. (this is evidence of a great Falling Away).
- At the same time, Christianity has grown enormously in sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle east, and in the Asia-Pacific region,
where there were relatively few Christians at the beginning of the 20th century. The share of the population that is Christian in sub-Saharan Africa climbed from 9% in 1910 to 63% in 2010, while in the Asia-Pacific region it rose from 3% to 7%.
Millions are receiving Christ in other parts of the world, and becoming part of His body the Church. Strangely enough, the church is growing FASTEST in areas of the world where the gospel was never heard, or where there is heavy persecution.
- Iran has world’s ‘fastest-growing church,’ with an average annual rate of 5.2%. A 2015 study estimates between 100,000 and 500,000 believers Christians from a Muslim background living in Iran, most of them evangelical Christians. Despite no buildings, no legal status, no formal governmental organization, people are coming to Jesus like never before – and it’s church is mostly led by women. View the documentary
- The fast-growing church in China: Officially an atheist nation and a place where the government shutters some Christian churches, China is on course to become home to more Christians than any country in the world by 2030. Christianity is reportedly the fastest growing religion in China with average annual rate of 7%
- Africa: Christianity has been growing rapidly in Africa. For instance, in 1900, there were only 8.7 million adherents of Christianity; now there are 390 million, and it is expected that by 2025 there will be 600 million Christians in Africa!
We are presently coming to the close of the “times of the Gentiles”, which began nearly 2,000 years ago with the birth of the church. Prior to the Tribulation period (the Day of the Lord), these times will come to a closure, and God will be dealing again directly with the re-born nation of Israel. When the number of believers is complete, then “the times of the Gentiles” will be fulfilled, and the world will enter the Tribulation Period – that “Day of the Lord” spoken of in the Bible in the book of Daniel, other books of the Old Testament, and in the book of Revelation, where God will judge a rebellious world for its wickedness.
Conclusion – Is Your Lamp Lit, and are You Ready for Christ’s Return?
The message is clear: the great Falling Away” from the faith is in full swing, and persecution is already happening throughout much of the world. The Evil one knows his time is short, and he is preparing his forces to destroy the world of nations, its economy, and form a on-world government, with an Anti-Christ at its head
Jesus said “watch”, and be ready. The Angel that appeared to Daniel told him to understand the signs of the End Times.
Already the world has been placed in a global “lock down” due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the economies of the world have lost trillions. Millions have been thrown out of work, and the global economy is in serious trouble. Peple are being forced to stay at home, wear masks, and obey orders that violate basic human rights. Governments are increasing persecution of the church, and demanding that people stop worshiping God and begin worship their system of government and their leader (as in Communist China). In the U.S. and in Europe this is also happening, but more indirectly – churches are being forced to close due to the imagined risk of people meeting in a building – even if socially distant, and wearing masks. The persecution is real, and growing, and you and I will have to choose – will you serve the one-world-system, the coming Anti-Christ? Or will you serve the real Christ Jesus, who will come again to put an end to the Tribulation that will come upon the earth.
Repent, and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ to be healed and saved. Good works won’t save you, since even our best works are as “filthy rags” to a Holy God. Other gods won’t save, as there is only one true, all powerful, all mighty God who exists in a complex unity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. the Father, the Alpha, the Creator; the Son who gave His life for human kind, the Redeemer and Image of the invisible God; and the Holy Spirit, the person that fills each believer who accepts Jesus, empowering them to live a godly life. Jesus can heal you of any pestilence! Place your trust and faith in Him!
Turn to the Lord and recognize Him as the ultimate authority above everything else. Know that in the midst of all this turmoil, you can have HOPE. You were made for a purpose, and your daily walk with Jesus will help you come to realize His purpose in your life and fulfill it. If you don’t have a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, you can! Give Jesus a chance! Don’t put it off. Allow Him to come into your life and make you “a new creation”! You have nothing to loose everything to gain. Here is a link to Billy Graham’s web site that can show you how you can invite Jesus into your life and be the creation He has always intended you to be …
Take Me to Steps to Peace With God ==> http://www.billygraham.org/SH_StepsToPeace.asp
Go Questions.org – Will there be a great apostasy during the end times? https://www.gotquestions.org/great-apostasy.html
Pew Research Center, Oct 17, 2019 – https://www.pewforum.org/2019/10/17/in-u-s-decline-of-christianity-continues-at-rapid-pace/
Biblical Archaeology, March 23, 2020 – The Church of Laodicea in the Bible and Archaeology. – https://www.biblicalarchaeology.org/daily/biblical-sites-places/biblical-archaeology-sites/church-of-laodicea-in-the-bible-and-archaeology/
New York Times, Jan 12 2018 – Chinese Police Dynamite Christian Megachurch, By https://www.nytimes.com/2018/01/12/world/asia/china-church-dynamite.html
Pew Research Center – https://www.pewforum.org/2011/12/19/global-christianity-exec/
Fox News – Iran has world’s ‘fastest-growing church,’ despite no buildings – and it’s mostly led by women: documentary. – https://www.foxnews.com/faith-values/worlds-fastest-growing-church-women-documentary-film
Wikipedia – Christian Population Growth – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_population_growth#:~:text=Christianity%20is%20reportedly%20the%20fastest,most%20of%20them%20evangelical%20Christians.
Christiaan Post – 8-26-20 – 1 in 5 churches facing permanent closure within 18 months due to COVID-19 shutdowns: Barna pres.Link: https://www.christianpost.com/news/1-in-5-churches-face-closure-within-18-months-due-to-covid-19-shutdowns-barna-president.html?uid=04ac10dafa