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Since You Were Gone… - Pete Garcia - http://www.omegaletter.com/articles/articles.asp?ArticleID=8060
They say that in relationships, absence makes the heart grow fonder. In regards to religion, I think the opposite could be said…absence makes the heart go wander.
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” And Aaron said to them, “Break off the golden earrings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people broke off the golden earrings which were in their ears, and brought them to Aaron. Exodus 32:1-3
Everyone should be somewhat familiar with the story of the Israelites and the golden calf. But if you’re not, then take a gander at Exodus 32-33. Moses, having going up to Mt. Sinai, remained there for forty days and forty nights. After he left, the people began to wonder how long he would be gone and pretty soon, the wondering turned into grumbling, which then led to wandering, as they began to search for something to replace and fill their spiritual leadership vacuum. Even though they had been miraculously and divinely rescued from 400 years of Egyptian bondage, they still wanted something tangible to see and touch. I guess some habits are hard to break. Now fast forward 1,400 years to Paul’s exhortation to the church leaders in Ephesus…
For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears. Acts 20:29-31
The Apostle Paul understood very well, that in his absence, men would come in and begin to draw away people after their own teachings. He understood that maintaining the simplicity, and purity of the true Gospel, was one that the shepherds of God’s flock would continuously strive to maintain, simply because of the fallen nature of the world we live in. And so it was that prior to the fall of Jerusalem in AD70 that the Judaizers would follow Paul around teaching a message that mixed the law back into grace, thus creating ‘another’ gospel. Much of his letters to the Galatians and Hebrews were written to specifically deal with this. Paul issues his strongest condemnation for those who pervert the gospel, calling them anathema, or damned. (Gal. 1:9-11) Now fast forward a decade or so to the half-brother of Jesus Christ, Jude.
Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. For certain men have crept in unnoticed, who long ago were marked out for this condemnation, ungodly men, who turn the grace of our God into lewdness and deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ. Jude 1:3-4
Jude, in his short, one chapter letter, had much to say about these apostates that Paul had warned us about in Acts 20. He would go on to use three examples of apostates, and three examples of apostasy that had plagued mankind since Adam and Eve. These were those who had:
These are spots in your love feasts, while they feast with you without fear, serving only themselves. They are clouds without water, carried about by the winds; late autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, pulled up by the roots; raging waves of the sea, foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever. Jude 1:12-13
Around the same time, the Apostle John would speak of the antichrist spirit which was already manifesting in his day. Essentially, the antichrist spirit meant denying the divine nature of the man Jesus Christ, and all who promoted this, were antichrist. (1 John 2:22-23; 2 John 1:7-11) And so much of our New Testament is written in fact, to deal with apostasy and heresy that was already manifesting in the apostles day. In fact, much of the writings from the Early Church Fathers (100-300AD) were written specifically to deal with certain heresies that arose during their days, such as
And thus, history has borne out the numerous heresies and apostasies that has invaded the church from the first century onward.
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. Matt. 24:3-5
One of the greatest advantages we now have in the 21st century, is that we can look back at the history of man through digital technology, and see all the examples that have played out over the history of mankind here on earth. But given the fallen nature of mankind, we seem doomed to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over. And since Christ ascended, the church of Christ has continuously had to contend earnestly for the faith. Fast forward 20 centuries to our day.
Of all generations, we should be the most enlightened and prepared, given all the access to scriptural writings and historical information at our fingertips. We should be able to spot the cultic, heretical movements a mile away, since they are all just the same lie, repackaged over and over. But such is not the case. The post-modern Christian denominations primarily in the west, are sound asleep. How do I know this? Because in a supposedly predominantly “Christian” nation, abortion has been on demand since 1974. The US has become and remains the top exporter and consumer of pornography in the world. Violence and corruption racks our cities. Our entertainment industry often times puts the ancient Roman coliseums to shame.
Sadly, some of the most dangerous theological and spiritual books out there in the marketplace of ideas, are found in Christian bookstores. Just walk into your local Christian bookstore, and you can more than likely find numerous New Age, cultic, and occult books on the shelves pretending to be Christian. Books like “Jesus Calling” by Sarah Young, “The Shack” by William Young, “A Course in Miracles” by Helen Schucman, and “Love Wins” by Rob Bell are some just to name a few.
But Satan doesn’t have to promote the subtle nuances of new age mysticism, or even the extremes of Satanism to lead people astray. Satan need only twist the truth a little, to get you going down the wrong path. Given our vantage point, Satan has flooded the marketplace with so much disinformation, that the believer today has a fairly difficult time deciphering what is legit and what is not amidst the clamor and distractions that fill our lives. Some of the most dangerous and effective lies he’s been able to market over the last two thousand years, both depart from scriptural teachings, and simply add confusion to the nature of our faith…and these are not even considered ‘heresies’ by most of today’s modern denominations;
Heretical sects, apostate movements, and pseudo-“Christian” cults become that way, because they derive their authority from something other than the Holy Bible. Within the Emergent Church and Charismatic movements, they often derive their authority from experiences. They may rewrite their authority to align with their beliefs (Jehovah Witness). They may derive a specific interpretation from a person such as the Pope (Roman Catholics), a ‘prophet’ Joseph Smith (LDS) or ‘prophetess’ such as Ellen G. White (Seventh Day Adventist).
Regardless, their authority comes from somewhere other than the totality of Holy Scripture. Once they depart from the authority of scripture alone, and scriptures are solidly Pre-Tribulational, then there necessitates a departure (apostasy) from the true, eschatological position. These groups then thrive on being the exclusive owners of ‘secret knowledge’ and that they alone, are the ‘chosen’. Besides, an imminent, Pre-Tribulational view of Christ’s return for the Church, kills both the ‘secret knowledge’ and ‘chosen’ ideas dead in the water, so a Pre-Trib Rapture view is usually the first thing they do away with.
A Pre-Tribulational view maintains the following, which wreak havoc on cultic ideologies;
So while it has been 2,000 years since Christ departed from the earth, we know, that because God is faithful, that He will return. (John 14:1-3) We know that because God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23:19) and because God holds His own word above all else (Psalm 138:2; John 17:6) and will not violate His own principles to deviate from the plan He has set in motion. (Isaiah 46:9-10)
So consider that Jesus said that no man would know the day or the hour of His return. Now consider what Paul said, courtesy of the Holy Spirit…that we (Christians who were awake and watching) would know or recognize the season of the Lord’s return. (1 Thess. 5:1-9) Most churches today have taken their focus off of Christ’s return, and have been busy managing their herds of golden calves. Instead of focusing on the world and all its woes, Christ commanded us to watch for Him, and be ready for when He returns. (Mark 13:35-37)
So while we can't know specifically when Christ will return for His Church, we can know generally because of the convergence of signs which Scriptures foretold would be present right before His return.
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.... 2 Peter 1:19