Bible believers, followers of the Lord, are increasingly engaged with scriptural studies of the end times, eschatology. This is a good and vital part of our faith as believers of both the Old and New Testaments were called to watch for the fulfillment of prophecies. The prophets of the Old Testament had their spiritual eyes set upon the coming Messiah and today believers are called to focus on His glorious return. While so many are busy with timetable charts and configurations, few are expounding on the most devastating indicator of these end times. It is prevailing, overwhelming, and prolific enough to undergird every sin and pave the way for other end time events…even ushering in and celebrating the rise of the Antichrist.
“But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days, people will be lovers of themselves…” II Timothy 3:1-5
The cost and consequence of this love of self is rarely truthfully exposed. Self-love corrodes marital foundations as spouses increasingly seek to ‘fulfill themselves’ with selfish pleasures. Youths are encouraged to explore every venue of sexuality without restraint or consequence. Lovers of themselves put themselves before their unborn child, their spouse, their neighbor, and their Maker. From this root of‘love’ springs forth the “lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God – having a form of godliness but denying its power…” (II Timothy 3)
Why should this self-love concern ‘believers’?
“Lovers of self” is foundational to end time apostasy, ‘the great apostasy’, the great falling away. How so?
Through our worship. “Do not love the world” declared the elderly Apostle John but if he were to enter into much of our worship he would see both a love and imitation of the world. The spirit of this world appeals to our flesh and leads us to gratify ourselves in every way. Godly wordage aside, much of the ‘worship’ thronged after in American churches tantalizes our flesh and elates our emotions. This euphoric experience utilizes the same dynamics as a rock concert – invigorating music, strobing lights, even fog machines. Nothing is missing in these massive gatherings except the Holy Spirit.
Through our compromise. If there be lacking in the ‘whole counsel of God’ there is no counsel of God therein. In our ‘love for the world’ we have become like the world, excusing and redefining sin, omitting the preaching of hell, and neglecting the Lord’s admonishment to watch for His return as Judge and King. Not wanting to miss what this world has to offer, many throng to megachurches where the leadership enjoys kingdom living in this world – private jets, elaborate compounds, and extravagant incomes. Worship and church together are formidable and lucrative businesses today and sadly, we are content with euphoric worship and prosperity. Sanctification, a pursuit of holiness which is the crux of our Christian walk, is the most unpopular doctrine of the day.
Through our ecumenicalism. We are surely called to embrace our brethren from every tribe, every nation, and every tongue. We are to love the Body of Christ as we love the Lord Himself. But we are not called to – and strongly cautioned against – embracing every church doctrine, belief, and practice. “Small is the gate, narrow is the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” declared Jesus. However many believe that this gate can surely be widened for the sake of love, to include lifestyles, beliefs, and practices forbidden by the Word of God.
Who are we appeasing in this great movement of ‘togetherness’? Our carnal nature is that which wants to belong, wants to be loved, wants to be affirmed. Churches no longer esteem humility and fear of God but empowerment, success, and celebrity status.
The most devastating sign of the end times is not the sinful state of the world, it’s the worldly state of the church!
The Apostle Paul warned “there will be terrible times” and our only refuge as believers is to trust in the Word of God, His whole counsel and to do so we must know the Word of God. Orderly worship, the singing of hymns, presenting a word of instruction, “devoting themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” describes church life of the early believers, those who had closest proximity to Jesus and the Apostles. There would be nothing to inflame the flesh, no lofty goals to fill giant stadiums, nor slogans to ‘change the world’ for Jesus.
There are perilous days ahead and a grooming underway for a one world church. Christendom will come to a great divide. Do we recognize the Jesus of the Bible where we worship? He is found on one narrow road…
“If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
A church with such followers – even if just two or three are gathered – have the greatest worth as useful vessels for the Kingdom of God if Christ be in their midst.