When God Sets His Heart on You: Part IV in a Series
Peter also cautioned that false teachers would appear on the scene, bringing "damnable heresies" (2 Peter 2:1).
Paul warned Timothy that a time was coming when some of God’s people "will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth and shall be turned unto fables [so-called mystical truths]" (2 Timothy 4:3–4).
History records that this happened just as Paul had predicted.
After the apostles died — and the generation that sat under their teaching had passed away — a conspiracy of wicked error flooded the church.
Believers were seduced by strange doctrines and science and philosophy eroded the truth of Christ’s gospel.
You may know of such corrupt churches.
Entire denominations today debunk the Virgin Birth and deny Christ’s divinity.
A growing number of bishops and preachers are promoting homosexuality and same-sex marriages.
These churches are apostate, twice dead.
Yet these organizations have nothing to do with the true church of Jesus Christ.
Of them, Christ will say, "I knew ye not."
Some people in these "Ichabod" organizations claim to love the Lord, but if they did they would have nothing to do with that church and would leave rather than partake in any apostasy.
Consider what Paul said of the purity of Christ’s church: "Christ…loved the church, and gave himself for it; that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle…but that it should be holy and without blemish" (Ephesians 5:25–27).
I ask you: what teacher of Christ’s gospel could be so blind as to imagine Christ presenting to the Father a bride dressed in filthy, stained garments?
Can you picture Jesus introducing a bride who’s adorned with unthinkable abominations?
"Here, Father, is my bride, made up of believers whose minds are on the things of this world. They’re lovers of money, deceived by merchandising false prophets."
I don’t believe even the devil could accept such a delusion.
Yet God’s great concern is not apostate churches.
Even apostasies will not be able to kill or destroy the church of Christ.
In spite of these problems, God has everything under control and his mystical, invisible, overcoming church is not dying.
Rather, the river of the Holy Spirit is flowing into the "dead sea" of apostate churches, exposing iniquity and lukewarmness. And it’s causing life to spring up. Those who are turning from apostasy may be but a remnant.
Nevertheless, Jesus has declared: "The fields are ripe for harvest. And there is still time for laborers to go forth."
Nowhere in the Bible does it say the Holy Spirit has fled the scene, leaving behind a withered harvest.
God’s Spirit is still at work, convicting, wooing and drawing the lost to Christ, including those in apostasy.
The cloud of heavenly witnesses would say to us not to look for judgment, not to focus on "holding the fort."
It is still the day of the Holy Spirit, who is waiting to fill every willing vessel.
Pray the Lord of the harvest will raise up workers!
3. God has his heart set on every member of his body on earth.
What does the great cloud of witnesses have to say to you and me?
What does scri pture tell us is their message to fellow overcomers in the body of Christ?
Simply this: "The eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers" (1 Peter 3:12).
In the apostles’ time, Christ-hating powers tried to shut them down.
These powers cursed the Savior and called his resurrection a fraud.
They even made laws forbidding people to speak his name and cast them in jail when they did.
But even the iron bars couldn’t hold the apostles.
The Lord sent his angel to release them (see Acts 5:18–32).
Acts tells us, "The high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name?
"And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine" (5:27–28).
But, filled with the Holy Ghost, the apostles immediately went back to the temple, where they continued giving people the words of life.
The Spirit had told them to go and preach Jesus with fresh fire and power.
They were to ignore those regulations and allow nothing to hinder the pure gospel of the resurrected Christ.
In Europe, a movement is gaining force that seeks to outlaw all preaching about homosexuality or any other sexual promiscuity.
It is an attempt to shut Christ out of society first and eventually in churches.