The ENDURING Church
April 13, 2003
Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved. (NLT)
When Jesus was talking about sin running rampant, He (of course) was talking about these last days. You may think things seem to be as bad as they can get now, but believe me, times are going to go from worse to worse as far as sin is concerned. In the verses just prior to verse 12, Jesus was talking about the persecution that would be coming to the Body of Christ in these last days:
The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world. But all this will be only the beginning of the horrors to come. Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because of your allegiance to me. And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. (NLT)
Jesus said that when we see the signs of "kingdoms" proclaiming "war against each other", when there will be "famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world", these things are only the BEGINNING of "the horrors to come."
As God is refining His Church and preparing her to be that bride without "spot or wrinkle or any such thing", there is going to come upon the Church a GLORY that the Devil HATES! That is why the Lord warns prophetically, that we will then also be "arrested, persecuted, and (even) KILLED!" I don't know what you think, but this sounds like the Book of Acts all over again?
There is another thing that Jesus pointed out that will be peculiar about this time, "many will turn AWAY from me." The Apostle Paul said that concerning the Second Coming of the Lord, " that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first." (II Th 2:3; NKJ)
Another translation says, " that day will not come until there is a great rebellion against God." Why will this rebellion take place? Why will believers fall from the faith and no longer desire to serve God? Why will they turn away from Him and betray and hate their fellow brothers and sisters in Christ? They are going to shout lies and all kinds of profanities about the Christian Church, even over news broadcasts, worldwide. They are going to use every present media possible to publish lies against the Church to discourage people from becoming believers and following Christ. A lot of these will be the ones who have fallen away! They will do the most damage and make the most damaging attacks against the Christians. They will be double agents, like Judas. Working on the inside of the Church under the guise of being a follower only to betray them and hand them over to the media that wants to destroy all credibility in our genuine ministry service to God.
It is because of the coming tribulations and persecution to the Body of Christ that they will leave us. The holier we walk, the more Satan hates us. The more he hates us, the hotter the fire gets! That is why Jesus said that in these last days, "the love of many will grow cold." The Lord is not here referring to those who backslide, but He is speaking of a people who have a condition more severe. The Apostle Peter says it this way, " It would be better if they had never (intimately) known the right way to live than to know it and then reject the holy commandments that were given to them." (2 Pet 2:21)
What the Lord and Peter are referring to are those who are worse than those who backslide. The Lord says He is married to the backslider and desires for them to return home, but these people are taking their disobedience one step farther by committing apostasy. A believer who becomes and apostate is one who is a traitor, a deserter, a turncoat, a defector, a betrayer, and a spy or a double agent. They pretend to be Christians on the outside, but when the fire comes to reveal their true colors, you find out that they are actually double agents professing the Lord with their mouths, but serving the Devil with their hearts. They have no ENDURING POWER in them!!!
2 Pet 2:20
And when people escape from the wicked ways of the world by learning (intimately knowing) about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and then get tangled up with sin and become its slave again, they are worse off than before. (NLT)
Before Christ comes for His Church, there will be an increase of trials and tribulations to refine and to test the hearts of believers, and then we will see who really is and who really isn't trusting and believing in the Lord! 2 Peter 2:13 and Jude 1:12 referring to these people as "spots and blemishes" and "spots in your love feasts". One of the ways God is going to remove the spots and blemishes from His Church is not only by sanctifying the Saints from within, but also by removing those who are not deeply rooted in LOVE!
"... and when the sun was risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." (ASV)
The sun of God's Glory is going to rise within His Church, and if you are not deeply rooted in the Love of the Lord Jesus Christ, you will not have the nourishment from the water and the soil necessary to sustain your walk with Him, and the result will be that those who have no root in their Christian Love Walk will "wither away."
But I am not writing this letter so that you can wither away, but to warn all of us of the coming persecutions, trials, and tribulation that are coming to the Church to refine her. One of the fruits of your love walk with God is that you will go on with Him, NO MATTER WHAT! No matter how hard the trial, no matter how hot the fire, you simply refuse to leave your Love and your Master! You reply with Peter, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." (John 6:68)
"So the servants of the owner came and said to him, 'Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?' "He said to them, 'An enemy has done this.' The servants said to him, 'Do you want us then to go and gather them up?' "But he said, 'No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. 'Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, "First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn."'"
The tares (apostate believers sown in the Church by Satan) are growing up with the wheat (enduring believers), but the Word of the Lord says that at harvest time, God will FIRST gather or separate the tares (apostates) and bind them in bundles to burn them, and then He will gather the wheat (enduring sons & daughters) into the barn! So one of the definite signs of the Lord's soon return for His Church will be this GREAT FALLING AWAY taking place, which has not taken place yet. The tares are now still growing up with the wheat. If they are uprooted too soon, the Lord says that the wheat will be uprooted also. The Lord is waiting for the wheat (true believers) to mature and get deeper roots, so that when the tares are uprooted, the wheat will still remain. Also, if the wheat does come up with the tares at the time of harvest, the wheat's time in the Earth will have been completed, the wheat will be full grown and have all the grain it needs to prove its fruitfulness. It will be fully matured.
When the wheat and tares are young and in the beginning stages of their growth, in the natural they look very similar. It is very hard to tell them apart until harvest time when the fruit begins to develop on the wheat. When the wheat is full grown, you can see the fruitful grain, but on the tares, there will be no fruitful grain. God is in the process of maturing the fruitfulness of His Church by maturing our character by causing us to GROW UP and endure our fires and trials like grown men and women of God without complaining, but completely trusting in Him! He is putting us in the refiner's fire to purify us, but we must endure and allow enough time for the complete process of melting down the precious metal and the mixed metals (the alloys or impurities, the things that are not of God), so that the things that are not of God can rise to the surface in order for them to be removed from us. The fire has to be hot enough and it has to burn long enough if we want holiness completed in us and impurities burned out of us!
When the Lord says He is returning for a Bride without spot or blemish, He is saying that He is coming back for the remnant of believers who will not betray Him, a people whose love will not grow cold, but they will love and serve Him NO MATTER WHAT! He is coming back for an enduring Church! He is coming back for those "who endure to the end"! He is not coming back for a generation of quitters or a generation full of apostates and double agents who will sell Him out to avoid persecution and trials. He is coming back for a remnant. There are many in the Church that are like tares planted in churches by the Devil, growing up with the Saints. But God is going to purify His Church and remove those spots and blemishes.
I Jn 2:19-20
They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have continued (ENDURED) with us; but they went out that they might be made manifest, that none of them were of us. But you are not like that, for the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and all of you know the truth (intimately through enduring obedience).
I know I have been talking a lot about FIRE lately, but God wants to do a work in His Church and in our lives. We like it when we talk about the Lord baptizing with the Holy Spirit, but that is only half of what that verse really says. The Word of the Lord actually says, "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit AND FIRE."
When we are baptized, that means the Holy Spirit is in and around us, like an empty glass submerged into a pitcher. There is water inside the cup and outside the cup. Well, it is the same with the baptism of fire, their is fire on the inside of the cup and trials that come from the outside, but the end result is the same, YOU WILL BE MADE PURE! Do you want to shrink away from the fire and have your love for the Lord grow cold, or do you want to endure the fire and make it to the end of your salvation?
Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. But those who endure to the end will be saved (sanctified, purified, and made whole). (NLT)