One of the things that will be seen prior to and leading up to the return of Jesus Christ is called, "the apostasy." We read of it in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-3. Paul spoke of it as he reassured Christians in his day that Jesus had not yet come back. One of the things associated with His return would be this apostasy. Here is what he said,
"Now we request you, brethren, with regard to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, that you not be quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction," (2 Thessalonians 2:1-3, NASB - emphasis mine)
Apostasy is defined this way at Dictionary.com - "a total departure from one's faith and the principles of it."
We, unfortunately, have been watching this apostasy take shape in this generation for years. The Christian church has walked away from many of its principles - and fundamental beliefs. The liberal theologians of the 20th century assaulted just about every fundamental of the faith, starting with the inerrancy of the Bible and ending with a rejection of things like the virgin birth of Christ, His substitutionary atoning death, and the exclusivity of Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation. All these things are clearly affirmed in Scripture - and yet they have been dumped by liberals for several generations.
As the sexual revolution has gained adherents in its rebellion against biblical morality, first heterosexual immorality was embraced (sex outside of a monogamous, heterosexual marriage relationship) then over time homosexuality was no longer considered sin. Now just about any kind of perversion is considered normal as our world devolves into its end-times rebellion against God.
One group that had stood with classic Christianity in many of these battles was the Roman Catholic Church and her various popes. But with the current pope, things are changing rapidly and radically. Recently Pope Francis wrote a long open letter to the founder of La Republica newpaper, Eugenio Scalfari, in which he has stated that non-believers would be forgiven by God if they followed their consciences. Here Pope Francis redefined sin as follows, "Sin, even for those who have no faith, exists when people disobey their conscience." Therefore - if an atheist follows his own conscience, he is not guilty of sin against God.
This redefinition of what God requires for us to be forgiven - and to enter heaven is nothing short of breathtaking! This most recent statement comes on the heels of Pope Francis' statement about homosexuality in July when he said, "If someone is gay and is looking for the Lord, who am I to judge him?"
One commentator on these radical statements by the Pope responded by saying, "Francis is still a conservative. But what this is all about is him seeking to have a more meaningful dialogue with the world." Mr. Scalfari said in a joyful response to the Pope's letter that his comments were, "further evidence of his ability and desire to overcome barriers in dialgue with all."
What we are watching is not a dialogue with the world - but a capitulation to its immorality and contrary positions to the Bible and what it says. One might think that the Pope may be in need of a dialogue with God - and some additional moments spent in Bible study. One wonders if he has recently read either Psalm 53:1 or Psalm 14:1 which reads, "The fool has said in his heart, 'There is no God.'" It might serve him well also to re-read Romans 1:18-35 as well when it comes to the issue of immorality in the realms of human sexuality.
For years I've wondered about the Roman Catholic Church in the end times. The reason for this has been their staunch stance for biblical morality over the years. I've also wondered about how they would fare in regard to a stance about the place the person of Jesus Christ has in salvation (even though I disagree with what they teach on this matter). The recent statements of Pope Francis have put the Roman Catholic Church far more in line with "the apostasy" than ever before. Who would have envisioned that Catholicism would step away from their fundamental moral stance - or embrace a theology that gives atheists a place in heaven without repenting of their atheism? Certainly not me! But this only makes me more aware that all that God has said continues to come to pass right before my eyes.
How do these recent developments relate to the second coming of Jesus Christ? I only know that they continue to be preparation for the world at His coming. As far as where I stand on the timing of Christ's return - I continue to stand on the Bible's affirmation that no one knows the day or the hour. I also stand on the fact that the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ can return at any moment - and - that we should be ready to meet God right now. What we see with these kind of things is the "signs of the times." Just as someone would look and see gathering storm clouds and know that a storm is near - so we should see such events and know, just as the Bible affirms, that He is near - right at the door.
Are you ready to meet Him today?
NOTE: By the way, just in case there are those who read this who are confused on such issues - the atheist can receive God's mercy and forgiveness - but only if he repents of his foolishness in denying God's existance. When he has done this he will need to repent and put his faith in Jesus Christ and His death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead - which is the ONLY payment God accepts for sin. The sin of which I speak is the way the atheist has disobeyed God's laws and commandments (which, by the way, are found in His inerrant revelation to us, the Bible). Also, just in case there is confusion, both heterosexual sex outside of marriage as well as all homosexual sex is sin in God's sight, as affirmed by His Word in Romans 1:18-35. God affirms sex within a heterosexual marriage relationship only.