Paul's letters to Timothy are the
instructions from a mentor to a young pastor, one of the first
ever, and contain advice on what to do and how to do it, as well
as what not to do.
It's the kind of thing you'd expect given the relationship.
But for no apparent reason Paul tucked
several warnings about the end times into various places in his
are things Paul knew Timothy wouldn't have to deal with because
he clearly described them as characteristics of the Latter Days.
We'll take them each in turn.
1 Timothy 4:1-2
The Spirit clearly says that in later
times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits
and things taught by demons.
Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose
consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.
When I read this one I always think of
certain televangelists who espouse a perversion of the
They know what they're teaching is a compilation of half truths
and outright lies, so in effect they're twisting God's word to
steal from their followers.
And without the least bit of shame they enjoy the
lifestyles of the rich and famous at the expense of their
contributors who, according to some reports, come primarily from
the bottom 25% of the economic scale.
Taking advantage of their followers' lack
of Bible knowledge and their misguided desire for a more
abundant life , these predators foist one get rich quick scheme
after another on their desperate flocks, bilking them out of the
few discretionary dollars they have and leaving them worse off
in the bargain. And
they do it in the name of God.
It makes you wonder what He'll say to them come judgment
But the prosperity teachers aren't the only
ones in this category.
There are others who teach things they know are contrary
to what the Bible says.
Some of these things come under the heading of
conditional salvation, grace plus works, partial rapture, and
other false teaching that can steal the joy of your salvation
and rob you of your certainty.
Their objective is to imprison you within boundaries of
rules they themselves can't follow.
Read Colossians 2:8-23 for Paul's opinion on these
modern day legalists.
Then there are those who either treat the
prophecies of our time as if they were all accomplished in
history, or as if they're never going to be accomplished because
they're all allegorical.
These teachers also know what they're saying can't be
reconciled with Scripture, but they ask you to believe it
anyway, trusting in their superior intellect or advanced
education instead of your own common sense.
They take passages that can be clearly understood just as
they're written by anyone with an average intellect and make
them hopelessly confusing by violating the rules of context,
and making that which is real into something symbolic.
2 Timothy 3:1-5
But mark this: There will be terrible
times in the last days.
People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money,
boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents,
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. Have nothing to do with them.
Just as you become convinced that Paul is
describing the unbelieving world in our time and are vigorously
nodding your head in agreement, he says that these people have a
form of godliness but deny its power.
Then you realize he was writing about those believers in
name only, who spend 6 ½ days each week living lives
indistinguishable from unbelievers, grabbing all they can get
from our material world by any means necessary while
contributing little or nothing to the work of the Kingdom.
These people lead two lives, the one they're serious
about, and the one that's just for show.
Guess which is which.
Paul was not blind to the behavior of these
people, nor was this the only time he warned us to stay from
them. Listen to what
he told the Corinthians.
I have written you in my letter not to
associate with sexually immoral people
- not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral,
or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you
would have to leave this world.
But now I am writing you
that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a
brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a
slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even
eat (1 Cor. 5:9-11).
Notice he said “anyone who calls himself a
brother” instead of “anyone who is a brother.”
I think he was doubting that someone who behaves in this
manner could have been saved in the first place.
2 Timothy 4:3-4
For the time will come when men will not
put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires,
they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say
what their itching ears want to hear.
They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn
aside to myths.
Here the focus is on the emerging church
movement in all its various forms. In business schools, students
learn to develop strategies based on a driving force.
One such driving force is the market. A market driven
strategy requires the business enterprise to focus on what they
perceive to be the wants and needs of their target customers and
adapt themselves to meet these needs in a more effective way.
predicting the growing need for a religious organization
that could meet the needs of a self centered, self sufficient
generation, the leaders of the emerging church movement
developed such a strategy.
They took the focus off God and put it on the
Entertainment replaced worship, philosophy replaced theology,
and good works replaced victorious living.
Borrowing a phrase from Dominion Theology
they began calling it “bringing Heaven to Earth” to make it
sound more appealing to their idealistic target market.
Little do their followers realize that for believers,
these good works will be burned up in the fire (1 Cor.
3:14-15), and for unbelievers they'll be woefully
insufficient for entry into the kingdom (John 3:3).
God has His own strategy for bringing Heaven to Earth and
it doesn't include the emerging church. Commenting on their
works in his letter to
Laodicea, Jesus said, “I know your
deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either
one or the other!
So, because you are
lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my
mouth.” (Rev. 3:15-16) They're excited about the
great entertainment, the stimulating talk, and the
good works, but not about the Lord.
Irrespective of that, both the seats and
the coffers soon filled, signs that their market driven strategy
was working, and for many the emerging church was soon the place
to be. This was
especially true for those who had become bored with traditional
Church and wanted a place where they could feel good and do good
with no messages about sin and salvation to convict them.
The gospel was not missed in its absence.
Besides, “All of our attempts to define the
right form of the Gospel are just human interpretations,” the
movement's leaders claim.
“We must avoid a naive or excessive confidence in any
telling of the Gospel story, since no articulation of the gospel
today can presume to be exactly identical to the original
meaning Christ and the apostles proclaimed.”
In a sense, they're saying since its impossible to know
what the Gospel story really is we shouldn't put too much faith
Learning about the rapidly approaching End
Times and the need to be ready for it has also been skipped.
Instead, the “excessive” study of prophecy is called a
distraction from the real work of the Church.
These things were done by design, since the goal is to
have non-believers make up at least half of the congregation.
The market is much bigger that way and the non-believers help
move the believers away from theological absolutes, like the
need to be born again and the importance of prophecy.
In the next verse Jesus offered additional
criticism. “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and
do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are
wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Rev. 3:17)
His letter to the Church in Laodicea contains no commendation
for their works and offers no escape from the end times
judgments, just a plea to be allowed back into their midst (Rev.
But Wait There's More
Over fourteen years earlier in his second
letter to the Thessalonians Paul had first warned us about the
apostasy of the latter days, calling it one of the signs
that would mark the end of the age.
In 2 Thes. 2:1 Paul began to address their
questions about two events, the (2nd) coming of our
Lord, and our being gathered to Him (the rapture). He was
responding to information they had received saying the day of
the Lord had already come. He told them not to worry because
several things had to happen first.
Paul didn't go into things like the
regathering of Israel, the beginning of Daniel's 70th
Week, or the building of a
had not been dispersed yet, and the
Temple was still standing.
He focused on events that are more gentile in nature.
A careful reading of 2 Thes. 2:3-8
shows the order in which he said these things would take place.
He said the apostasy would happen first (verse 3), then
the rapture of the Church when the Holy Spirit is taken out of
the way (verse 7), and finally the revealing of the anti-Christ
and the 2nd Coming (verse 8). (If you don't read this
passage carefully, you could become confused by Paul's mention
of the anti-Christ in verses 3-4.
But verse 8 clearly places the official unveiling of the
anti-Christ after the removal of the
Even a casual observation shows that we're well into the
time of the first sign.
What should be our reaction to this?
First is to remember that God's Word said this would
happen so there's no point in bemoaning the fact that it's
we should be encouraged to know the end of the Age is getting
closer. Jesus said
the true Church would become weaker and less influential as the
end approaches (Rev. 3:8).
As the world moves further and further from God, those of
us who follow Him will naturally feel less comfortable and be
less welcome here.
If you live in the United States, stop confusing your
country with your church. No believer outside the US makes this mistake, and the fact
is the Church has neither a home nor a land on Earth.
Our citizenship is in Heaven (Phil. 3:20) and we
look for a city whose architect and builder is God (Hebr.
No matter where we live in the world we
have to remember that we're aliens here and our visit is about
over. Soon we'll be going home where we belong.
In the mean time we have to stop depending
on organized religion to meet our needs.
In some places the Church is being forced underground.
In others we're going willingly.
But either way the gulf between religion and the Church
is growing wider by the day.
If you can't find a God worshiping, Bible
teaching church where you live, don't settle for what you can
get. Gather a small
group of like minded believers and worship at home. Paul and
Timothy didn't have a huge bureaucracy behind them.
They didn't have million dollar buildings or
professionally designed programs.
They didn't even have the New Testament.
Yet they found a way to worship God, and to help others
do the same.
Stop supporting groups who are trying to
bring Heaven to Earth and start sending your treasure to Heaven.
I could tell you stories all day along about what God can do
with a hand full of people He can trust. Ask the Lord to
identify a need for you to meet in His name and then work in His
strength to meet it.
Apart from Him nothing you do has any value to the Kingdom (John
Dig into prophecy.
It's the single biggest topic in the Bible and more is
written about our life and times than any other period in
history. Know what
you believe and why you believe it.
Do these things and you can make the time
we have left the most rewarding and enjoyable time you've ever
known. You can almost hear the Footsteps Of The Messiah.