WAKE UP MESSAGE TO THE CHURCH

This sermon was preached in 2015. It was an important wake up message to the church and it is still relevant for churches today. The message really challenged the congregation to be courageous and to live and share the Gospel, despite the consequences. wherever and with whomsoever they could.

It is now 2021 and look what has happened in the world and in the church. We have to ask ourselves, how widely was this message delivered? Sadly, I would have to say very few churches heard this message. The world has got darker at an exponential rate. Much of the church has compromised with the world. We are in the prophesied last days.

You need to know that what is happening in the world is not taking God by surprise. He is still in control and Bible prophecy reveals that His plan for His world is right on track. Jesus said, in the last days before His return there would be a great falling away in the church. The world would become increasingly godless and as a consequence lawless. This we are seeing but I am sure James Robison is still doing his utmost to galvanise the church into action. We need to be doing the same wherever and with whomsoever.

CHRISTIANITY WITHOUT CHRIST

Have we arrived at a Christianity without Christ? Find out with guest Dennis Pollock and Tim Moore of the Lamb & Lion Ministries evangelism team as they provide their Prophetic Perspectives.

Lamb & Lion Ministries was founded in 1980 by Dr David Reagan as a non-denominational, independent ministry. The Ministry does not seek to convert people to any particular church. Rather, it seeks to lift up Jesus and draw people to Him as Lord and Saviour.

The Ministry was established for the purpose of proclaiming the soon return of Jesus. We do not believe it is possible to know the date when Jesus will return. But we do believe it is possible to know the season of the Lord’s return, and it is our conviction that we are living in that season. As all of my followers know this is also my calling.

Clergy of Europe’s largest Lutheran denomination declare their churches are trans-inclusive fulfilling end times prophecy

Hundreds of clergy, staff and congregants of the Church of Sweden, Europe’s largest Lutheran denomination, have declared in an open letter that it is now a trans-inclusive institution.

“We write to you from a church that is also trans,” reads a line from the letter, titled “Personal Letter to You Who are Trans,” posted on a dioceses website and addressed to trans-identifying people who serve and attend the church, Summit News reported.

Signed by around 1,000 priests, deacons and members and published on the official website of the Västerås diocese, the letter also seeks to explain how the church could be described as trans.

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Sweden’s flag is seen near the Stockholm Cathedral in Gamla Stan or the Old Town district of Stockholm, Sweden, June 9, 2010. 

However in 2017, the denomination had already told clergy that they needed to start using gender-neutral language when referring to God, and avoid masculine terms such as “He” and “Lord.” so this letter is not something new. The church had already departed from Biblical values many years ago and are suffering the consequences of that decision. For example, in 2009, the left-leaning Swedish Church voted in favor of blessing same-sex marriages and elected Eva Brunne, the world’s first openly lesbian bishop.

Many of the members have been leaving the religion in record numbers. In 2018, insiders said the denomination was expected to lose over 1 million members over the following 10 years.

Sputnik News at the time translated the official Members in Motion report from the denomination, which found out that 85,848 Swedes left the Church in 2016, followed by 93,093 members in 2017.

The Bible the Lutheran church has rejected prophesies that prior to Jesus return much of the church will fall away and compromise with the world’s values. If only they could see, that by their actions, they are fulfilling this prophecy.

THE LORD IS ALWAYS AT WORK PARTICULARLY IN CRISIS SITUATIONS

Lord is always at work. In fact, it is specifically in the midst of catastrophe, crisis, and the times when it seems as though the Lord is most absent that He is actually most active. Learning to see gospel opportunities when many others only see crisis is not a skill that comes naturally. Yet it is a skill that the body of Christ must learn. The closer we get to Jesus return the more we are going to see crisis situations and catastrophes. The Bible is clear, the last seven years of history prior to Jesus return will entail Christians going through tribulation and great tribulation in the second half of the 70th Week of Daniel. We are fortunate that God has given us many prophecies concerning His Second Coming so that the church can prepare and even use the prophesied events as part of our evangelism efforts.

Is the church preparing for this period?

We are told that there is a great falling away in the church in the last days. Sadly, we see that happening in our day with much of the church compromising with the world on issues such as gay marriage, homosexuality and other LGBTQ issues.

The catastrophes of history have not been meaningless. God’s plan was that in the fullness of time, He would reveal the hero of the story who would make sense of all the suffering mankind has endured throughout the ages. From the chaos is revealed a mystery of unimaginable grace from God to His creation. More than has ever been given out, by way of indescribable human suffering, God has taken upon Himself in the person of His Son. The promised Deliverer finally came, and His tragedy was greater than any catastrophe to ever befall mankind, for God made “him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).

Before the first human disaster ever struck, God determined that He Himself would bear all of the suffering of man’s failures on Himself when He would come and die on a wooden cross. If we are tempted to think it has been unfair that God would orchestrate catastrophe in human affairs, can we still remain uncertain in light of this truth?

Quotes taken from the book, The Mystery of Catastrophe: Understanding God’s Redemptive Purposes for the Global Disasters of the Last Days by Joel Richardson and Nathan Graves  (Kindle Locations 119-121). WinePress Media. Kindle Edition.

 

PROPHESIED END TIMES APOSTATE CHURCH

The Scottish Episcopal Church voted to redefine marriage to include same-sex couples, becoming the first major U.K. church to break from the Anglican majority, which defines marriage as a union between one man and one woman.

However, Church of England says it will recognise marriages of transgender worshippers.

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The marriage of worshippers who transition to a different gender will still be valid, the Church of England has said. The position extends only to worshippers who were in an opposite-sex relationship at the time of their marriage, it clarified. The clarification was made in response to a question asked by Prudence Dailey, churchwarden of St Michael at the North Gate, Oxford, ahead of the General Synod in York. The written reply acknowledging this position was from the Bishop of Newcastle, Christine Hardman.

Episcopal Church in the USA:  In 2015, the church’s 78th triennial General Convention passed resolutions allowing the blessing of same-sex marriages and approved two official liturgies to bless such unions. It ordains women and LGBT people to the priesthood, the diaconate, and the episcopate. In 2003, Gene Robinson became the first openly gay person ordained as a bishop.

The Presbyterian Church USA allows same-sex marriage (2014), and ordains openly LGBT members in committed relationships as teaching elders (clergy), and ruling elders (elders elected to serve on the Session).

United Church of Christ: The national settings of the UCC have historically favoured liberal views on social issues, such as civil rightsLGBT rightswomen’s rights, and abortion.

Affirming Pentecostal Church International (APCI) is a Pentecostal denomination. It was founded December 5, 2010 in Indianapolis, Indiana. It is currently the largest LGBT -affirming Pentecostal organisation in the World.

Some Good News to report:

United Methodist Church: By a vote of 438-384, delegates from around the world attending the United Church’s General Conference in St. Louis reinforced a United Methodist Church policy established in 1972 stating that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” Sadly, almost 50% of the delegates don’t believe God’s word.

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PROPHESIED APOSTASY – CONFIRMED BY STATISTICS FROM BARNA RESEARCH

David Barton, a well-respected Christian historian revealed the following information on the Strang Report by Stephen Strang of Charisma Media. The Podcast was entitled:

Insight Into America’s Christian History with David Barton

In the USA, the Barna Group recently put three massive polls in the field on Christian values and beliefs. The results were staggering… 72% of churches and senior pastors do not agree with the Bible and do not agree with its teachings.”

The survey was conducted among 384,000 churches and senior pastors. Only 28% of American Christians actually believe the Bible is true and agree with its teachings. To make matters worse, among those 28% that believe the Bible is true and agree with its teachings, Barton says, 97% say the Bible speaks directly to hot-button political topics today. But those same people said they refused to preach about those issues because they were political.

“That puts us at 2.8% of pastors addressing what the Bible addresses if it’s also in the news,” Barton says. “Now that’s a problem. We also have a problem when only 14% of Christians read the Bible every day. … And only 9% of Christians have a biblical worldview. … So we’re looking at a nation that doesn’t think biblically.”

This modern trend of unbiblical thinking stands in stark contrast to the common mindset during our nation’s founding, Barton says.

“When you look at the founding of America on the side that was the really biblical side, they were very covenantal as a people, and they believed in covenants,” he says. “As John Winthrop said, ‘If you deal treacherously with God in this endeavour, you’ll bring judgement.’ … And they viewed their contracts as covenants. As a matter of fact, that’s why the longest-lasting treaty back in history was between Pilgrims and the Wampanaugs. And it wasn’t the Pilgrims who broke the treaty; it was the Wampanaugs who broke it.”

In this way, Barton explains, the Bible-minded colonists of early America acted like Israel. Israel had a covenant with God that could not change. That’s how these early colonial Americans viewed their national covenant with God.

“We’re now in a place described three times in the Bible where everyone did what was right in their own eyes,” he says. “[They say,] ‘I can choose my identity if I want.’ … So we now have 92 legally recognised identities in America. … So I would say that it’s not ‘Where’s God?’ It’s ‘Where’s God’s people and why have they stopped studying His Word and why do they no longer believe what He said?’

Exactly what we are seeing playing out in the world is revealed in God’s Word. The Pharisees and Sadducee’s did not discern the time of Jesus first coming despite the three hundred plus prophecies and likewise despite the many more prophecies of Jesus second coming much of the church is oblivious to the truth therein.

Paul describes the events preceding the Day of the Lord (Jesus second coming): “Let no one deceive you by any means for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition.” 2 Thessalonians 2:3

Jesus describing the end times tribulation: ” Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved.” Matthew 24:9-13

CHURCH IN THE END TIMES

“Realise this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.” (2 Timothy 3:1-9)

NOTE WELL: “holding to a form of godliness although they denied its power.” That line is not a description of the world; it is of a faithless, powerless, fruitless church! The light went out in the Church and the world got dark.

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“If the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:23)

One of the most destructive lies preached in many churches today is “In the last days the church will get brighter and brighter while the world gets darker and darker!

God’s word does reveal good news about the end times darkness and one of my favourite Scriptures in this regard is in Isaiah.

“Arise, shine; for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. For behold, darkness will cover the earth and deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you and His glory will appear upon you. Nations will come to your light, and kings to the brightness
of your rising.” (Isaiah 60:1-3)

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16

We need to consider how we can serve others in extraordinary ways. How can we do ordinary things in extraordinary ways? Perhaps for business people, it is how you serve your customers. Workers how you go the extra mile for your boss, so that he asks you why you are doing it, and as a result you have the honour of bringing glory and honour to your heavenly Father.

Maybe this will light up the darkness, illuminate cities and shift atmospheres? Might it be that meeting the simple, felt needs of our cities in extraordinary ways is what will drag communities out of the cesspool of despair into the wellspring of hope?  I believe it will! Jesus told us “this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14

 

PROPHESIED APOSTASY IN THE LAST DAYS

Anglican ambassador to the Vatican says Jesus did not physically rise from the dead.

After Dr. John Shepherd was appointed as the new representative to Rome last week, a 2008 Easter sermon resurfaced in which he said: “It’s important for Christians to be set free from the idea that the resurrection was an extraordinary physical event, which restored to life Jesus’s original earthly body. The resurrection of Jesus ought not to be seen in physical terms, but as a new spiritual reality.”

Shepherd, who was Dean of Perth from 1990 to 2014, will be central to discussions with the Pope and will act as the de facto ambassador for the Archbishop, the Church of England, and other Anglican churches around the world. Shepherd was appointed after the previous ambassador, Archbishop Bernard Ntahoturi, resigned following accusations of sexual misconduct.

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Those that backed Shepherd included Anglican Archbishop of Perth, Kay Goldsworthy, she criticised people for making “statements of concern” about a sermon from 11 years ago, the West Australian reports.

“If that happened to every preacher in the Church we would all be in trouble, frankly,” she said. “There is a statement that people have picked out, whoever the people are, and have sort of wanted to make some example of. I am not sure what they wanted to achieve.

What do Dr John Shepherd and Archbishop Kay Goldsworthy do with the following Scripture.

” Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable. 1 Corinthians 15:12

We are indeed in the “last days” and judgement of His church as prophesied in Revelation will come upon them “as a thief, and you will not know the hour I will come”.

I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead. Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God. Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore, if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you. Revelation 3:1-3

Note: We are to watch, to be alert to the days we are in, to be courageous and outspoken for the truth of God’s word. It is obvious that those that seek positions of leadership in the denominational churches, in the main, are looking for approval from the world and earthly rewards.

LAODICEAN CHURCH – LAST DAYS CHURCH

Many of us have read Jesus’ letter to the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22 and have rightly understood it to describe the end-times church—the church as we see it in the West today.

We are rich and seemingly do not need a thing, when in fact, we are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. As a result, we are under the discipline of the Lord but are unable to recognise it. Like the frog being cooked in the slowly heated kettle of water, many are unaware of God’s judgement and chastisement because we spend little time pursuing Him, listening to His voice and receiving discernment and wisdom from Him.

Instead we demand to be entertained and flock to superstar leaders who “tickle our ears” (2 Timothy 4:3-4) with false doctrine, unbelief and a grossly misplaced focus of worship. Because of our compromise and complacency, we have become powerless and are in darkness.

Materialism, an independent spirit, pride and gross immoralities are typical rather than atypical in a huge swath of those who consider themselves to be a part of the body of Christ.

There is considerably more than a hint of sexual immorality and impurity inside the church today. This should alarm us, considering Ephesians 5:5: “no sexually immoral or impure person, or one who is greedy, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.” As Solomon said in Proverbs 8:13a: “The fear of the Lord is to hate evil.”

The Holy Spirit exhorts believers in Ephesians 5:11-12: “And do not have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness; instead, expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of those things which are done by them in secret.”

Today, homosexual behaviour, the sexual abuse of minors, adultery, promiscuity, the use of pornography and all forms of fornication are rampant among clergy and other so-called believers. Even among those who do not commit such detestable practices, a huge swath of the shepherds of the flock do little to nothing to call people to holiness or to equip the church to minister to sexually bound and broken people. And what is worse, many wink, nod and even encourage those who practice immorality. In truth, there is no fear of the Lord (Proverbs 8:13a, Romans 3:18). In truth, we have corrupted the biblical understanding of grace in order to excuse lawlessness.

“[Although they] know the righteous requirement of God, that those who commit such things are worthy of death. They not only do them, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them” (Romans 1:32).

It is important to understand that doing nothing in the face of gross immorality in the church is tantamount to tacit approval in the eyes of those who commit such sins. Yet so many ignore God’s command found in 1 Corinthians 5:13b: “Put away from among yourselves that wicked person” lest their blood be on your hands. (Ezekiel 3:18c, 33:7-9; Acts 20:26-31).

As Jesus warned the hypocritical shepherds of His day, ”

Woe to you, blind guides … Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! … You cleanse the outside … but inside [you] are full of extortion and greed” (Matthew 23:16a, 23a, 25b).

The most egregious example of this during the last 50 years is those who molest children and teens and those who protect such predators, even sending them out among the flock to practice their evil trade on more victims. This is indeed an unspeakable evil.

For example, recent scandals have uncovered child predators in the Catholic Church as well as prelates who protect them. This should be a wake-up call to us all! And yet, such predators are sometimes elevated to the highest ranks of the clergy by those who are aware of their crimes. And worse still, many of these known sex criminals are secretly moved to other parts of the country to perpetuate the human carnage by destroying the lives of even more children.

Image result for pictures of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick being charged

Silence is itself an appalling crime in this matter. When Pope Francis was recently exposed by the highly respected Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano (who had everything to lose and nothing to gain by this exposure), for covering up the sex crimes of Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the pope’s response was to refuse comment—a response that lost him all credibility among the Catholic faithful and observers worldwide. Pope Benedict had previously imposed sanctions on McCarrick over the same charges but to date, Pope Francis has not scheduled a canonical trial in the matter.

Where is the concern for the victims whose lives have been forever scarred? Even the various dioceses that house records that could corroborate the accusations against McCarrick and other abusers have refused to open their archives for examination.

One impressive exception to the cover-up in the Catholic Church is the Catholic TV network, EWTN, especially the reporting of Raymond Arroyo on ThWorld Over Live. Considering the fact that EWTN has since its inception been the most faithful and supportive media voice for the Roman Catholic Church and the Vatican, their honesty in exposing this corruption at the highest levels is most impressive.

Sadly, however, a recent request by Robert Bennett, former head of the highly experienced lay panel, (the bishop’s National Review Board), that investigated the last Catholic sex abuse scandal in 2002, asking for the board to be reinstated so that this latest clergy sex abuse crisis can be investigated, has been ignored by this silent pope.

Bennett requested permission from the pope (through Cardinal DiNardo) to create a “lay independent inquiry board” in light of the bishop’s refusal to open up their diocesan records and considering the inability of church clerics to properly respond to any sex abuse crisis. Understandably, there is outrage by Catholic laypeople to the way things have been mishandled by the church, as well as a great sense of betrayal by those who have been sexually abused by clergy.

In a move that shocked and surprised everyone, Pope Francis was recently charged by Archbishop Vigano of defending practising homosexual clergy who have committed the bulk of the serious sex crimes against minors and adults. It is well-known that Pope Francis reinstated Rev. Julio Grassi in Buenos Aires (after Pope Benedict had removed him from ministry) until Grassi had finally been sent to prison for his sex crimes against minors. The pope also stopped the investigation of sex abuse allegations against Cardinal Cormac Murphy O’Connor, which “World Over” host Raymond Arroyo pointed out was tantamount to undercutting mercy and justice for the victims of the abuse.

Cardinal Muller recently pointed out that despite the Vatican’s refusal to do so, “the only justice for the victims is that the perpetrator must be dismissed from the clerical state. If you are a good shepherd, you cannot ruin the sheep,” he added.

According to numerous reports, the former prefect of the congregation for the doctrine of faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, was removed from office in 2017 by the current pope because he was not merciful enough to sexual abusers. Cardinal Muller’s response to that charge on a recent broadcast of The World Over Live was that such as claim is a misunderstanding of the priorities of biblical mercy, which should first and foremost be extended to the victims.

State attorneys general that have begun investigations into clerical abuses in the Catholic Church have uncovered tens of thousands of instances of sexual abuse of minors in each state that they have examined. Not surprisingly, tens of thousands of abuse cases have also been discovered in Europe and other continents. And yet the church continues to stonewall those same authorities who are trying to put a stop to these unspeakable crimes and bring justice to the victims.

The focus of the Roman Catholic Church, (as well as Protestant churches found to protect child abusers and to cover up clerical crimes), has been to defend the “machine” at all costs. Empty public spectacles of sorrow and declarations of concern for the victims have been a sham in light of the cover-ups and in light of the priority given to protecting the coffers, the leaders and the business of the church.

Where is the mercy? Where is the justice? Where is the ministry of healing for the victims? Where is the genuine sorrow for them? It is an atrocity that victims have been forced by the church to battle against lawyers for the slightest hint of admission of guilt, and for compensation for the lifetime of pain and therapeutic help produced by the predator priests and cover-up prelates.

The Protestant church is also filled with denials by abusers, cover-ups by churches, resistance by church lawyers to admit guilt and to appropriately compensate victims. They are, in effect, tying millstones around the necks of the victims and throwing them into the sea (see Luke 17:1-2).

Catholic Bishop Robert Morlino recently wrote that one of the problems faced by the church today is that we have lost our hatred of sin. He points out that Proverbs 8:13 says that the fear of the Lord is the hatred of evil, or sin. Morlino added, “Things are seriously wrong, and the church needs to respond and do our part.” He then called for a systematic investigation of the files of every Catholic diocese.

The Bible is clear regarding the commission of sexual sin and those who encourage it. The apostle Peter called such people false prophets and false teachers whose condemnation and destruction has been long hanging over them. He writes:

They shall receive the wages of unrighteousness. They count it a pleasure to carouse in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes who revel in their own deception while they carouse together with you. They have eyes full of adultery that cannot cease from sin. They entice unstable souls. … These men are wells without water and clouds that are carried by a storm, for whom the gloom of darkness has been reserved forever. . … for … they entice by the lusts of the flesh and by depravity those who barely escaped from those who live in error. Although they promise them freedom, they themselves are slaves of corruption … if after they have escaped the defilement of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and they are again entangled in them and are overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning. For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness than to have known it and then turn back from the holy commandment that was delivered to them (2 Peter 2:13-14, 17b, 18b, 19a, 20-21).

And to those in the church who tolerate such immorality, Jesus declares,

Look! I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds. I will put her children to death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the hearts and minds. I will give to each one of you according to your deeds. … To him who overcomes and keeps My works to the end, I will give authority over the nations— (Revelation. 2:22-23, 26).

Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatever a man sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life” (Galatians 6:7-8).

Truly, our modern “Laodicean” church has lost its fear of God and its hatred of evil.

But what of grace, you may ask? Let’s let the apostle Paul answer that question:

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may increase? God forbid! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? … For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. … For if you live according to the flesh, you will die, but if through the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live (Romans 6:1-2, 23; 8:13-14).

So again I say, “Awake, you who sleep, arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Ephesians 5:14b)

This abbreviated article by David Kyle Foster was in Charisma News  . He is the CEO of Pure Passion Media.

APPALLING END-TIMES APOSTASY

As these last days intensify the spiritual battle, let us predetermine that no matter what we face we will not reject our faith nor renounce Jesus Christ as the Son of God, who lived, died, and is coming again for those who confess him and believe in Him (Rom. 10:9-11) as our Saviour and Lord. Let us encourage one another to keep the commandments of God and our testimony of faith in Jesus the Christ (Rev. 2:13; 12:17; 14:12).

This article by Gary Curtis from Charisma News on the Roman Catholic Church, indicates that many amongst the faithful, recognise that the unfolding horrific sex scandals and cover ups in the leadership, are prophesied “end times” events revealed in the Catholic Catechism and Scripture. Great teaching from Jude.

Victims of clerical sex abuse and their relatives reacted as Attorney General Josh Shapiro discussed the grand jury report at a news conference in Harrisburg.Credit Matt Rourke/Associated Press

“The Roman Catholic Church is going through another season of sexual scandals, appalling cover-ups and indefensible hypocrisy. Last month’s salacious Grand Jury report in Pennsylvania, revealed 300 clergy and church officials in 1,000 child-abuse cases, this scandal may trace to the very Vatican, itself. It is reported that the root of this tragic series of revelations is active, aggressive homosexuality, apparently practised by some church leaders and candidates.

The disappointment, discouragement and disillusionment of faithful adherents has grown to unprecedented new levels. Some church officials have even publicly questioned if this may be the “final trial” in the end-times, which they have studied in Scripture and taught about in catechisms and seminaries.

The Catholic catechism confirms a major, future heresy in the church: “Before Christ’s second coming the Church must pass through a final trial that will shake the faith of many believers…in the form of a religious deception which will be one of apostasy” (CCC 675).

The apostle Paul told the believers in Thessalonica that the season of God’s wrath (Rev. 6:12-17), known prophetically throughout the Old Testament as the Day of the Lord, won’t come until “a falling away comes first (2 Thess. 2:3).” The Greek word used is apostasia, and means a defection, rejection or rebellion against God. It is preceded in the original text with a definite article, “the,” stressing a specific apostasy, as taught by Jesus in Matthew 24.

Paul’s first letter to the saints in that Gentile church explained that God has not destined believers to incur His end-times wrath (1 Thess. 5:9) “but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Someone has clarified it, saying “He did not select us to condemn us.” Whether we are still alive or dead physically at Christ’s appearing, true believers will spiritually live together with Him and share His life eternally (v.10).

The short, 25-verse epistle of St. Jude appeals to those who were truly “called by God” (v. 1) to “contend for the faith which was once delivered to the saints (v. 3).” It is focused on urging them to discern the false teachers and leaders among them who were immoral, covetous, proud and divisive. These false leaders are actually “ungodly men, who pervert the grace of our God into immorality (v. 4 b).” There are several lessons we can learn from this small, instructive, and timely epistle.

  1. Religious authorities may actually “pervert the grace of our God into immorality” and thereby derail the faith of many, victimising others by their own debauchery and perversion. The Greek word for “immorality” here is aselgeia and usually implies sexual licentiousness. It is found in a list of vices, together with other words for sexual immorality like orgies, adultery and fornication (see Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:19-21). Those who practice such works of the flesh will be unable to “inherit the kingdom of God” (Gal. 5:21).
  2. The apostate religious leaders in Jude’s day not only destroyed their own morals but also their minds and status with God. Instead of living with the destiny of the highest order of God’s creation, they reverted to animal instincts, acting on unrestrained sexual impulses. Ordained to represent man to God, their licentious lifestyles corrupted their character and natural gifts (Jude 10). Jude related poetically about their empty and wasted lives: “[they] care only for themselves. They are clouds without water, carried along by winds; autumn trees without fruit, twice dead, uprooted; raging waves of the sea, which are foaming up their own shame; wandering stars for whom the gloom of darkness has been kept forever (12b-13).”
  3. The only things which will stand in the face of the onslaught of apostasy in the last days will be the preservation of truth and morality by submitting to the teachings of the apostles. Verse 15 begins a series of warnings and exhortations. Jude warns that our Lord is coming to execute judgement and convince or convict the godless of their wicked ways and words. “In the last days there will be scoffers who will walk after their own ungodly desires. These are the men who cause divisions, sensual, devoid of the Spirit (vv. 18-19).” Being “devoid of the Spirit,” their motivations and methods are worldly-minded or humanistic.
  4. We need to maintain our personal, spiritual disciplines and devotion, while we continue to “contend earnestly for the faith” in this polluted and godless world. Jude exhorts us to “…build yourselves up in your most hold faith. Pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in the love of God while you are waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, which leads to eternal life (vv. 20, 21).” We are humanly weak in the face of spiritually-apostate opposition. But the gap can be overcome if we draw wisdom and strength from the Holy Spirit. Paul teaches us that the Spirit brings both clarity and courage, for “the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses, for we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groaning too deep for words” (Rom. 8:26). Paul taught the Corinthians about praying in a Spirit-initiated, unknown tongue to enable them (and us) to communicate effectively with God and edify ourselves in the process (1 Cor. 14:2-4). This private prayer language leads us into the “mind of the Spirit,” as He intercedes for us “according to the will of God (Rom. 8:27).”
  5. Jude reminds us that these last days provide us with even more mission and ministry. We may face opposition within the church and even persecution from these defectors from the faith and we must use discernment as we continue to “contend earnestly for the faith.” Jude encourages us to “keep ourselves in the love of God (v.21) and try to convince those who “deny the only Lord God and our Lord Jesus Christ” of the truth with God-given compassion and concern, “pulling them out of the fire, hating even the garment stained by the flesh (v. 23).”
  6. Jude concludes this epistle with a memorable benediction, reminding the readers that our eternal God is “able to keep you from falling.” This word “falling” is translated from the Greek word aptaistos and is often used to describe a surefooted horse that does not stumble. It teaches us here that God is able to keep us from stumbling into doctrinal error or unintentional sin. (See Ps. 66:9 and 121:3.)