Apostasy Characterizes The Last Days

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth (2 Tim 3:1-7; ESV)

According to the New Testament we have been in “the last days” for a long time (Acts 2:17; Heb 1:2; James 5:3; 2 Pet 3:3). They began with Jesus’ ascension and will conclude with his return. According to Paul, inter-adventual life is marked by a series of things, one of which is apostasy.

There will always be those who are ever looking for the next thing. Some of them have been hurt by the church. Perhaps they have been raised in dark, angry, gospel-less, congregations, burdened by arbitrary, man-made laws (Col 2:21). Others despair of shallow, broadly evangelical Christianity which is so feeling-focused that the substance of the faith (Christ) is lost.

There will be, however, those who are never satisfied. They are unsettled. First they were evangelicals, the “Reformed,” then this, then that, and now they are something else. This lot is ever “learning” but never arriving.

Jude characterizes such people as

…hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever (Jude 1:12-13; ESV).

This, I think, is particularly true of those who have teaching authority in the church, those who are seeking an audience, a following. Scripture does not speak thus about sheep who wander. They are to be sought gently and patiently. Teachers, however, who wander from one thing to the next— particularly those who wander away from the gospel and who lead others to do the same—they fall under the judgment articulated by Paul and Jude.

Dear Christian, do not be scandalized when you see public figures mocking Christ, his gospel, and his church. Contra the postmillennial story, this a mark of this age. Jesus is still on his throne: “He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision” (Ps 2:4; ESV). The apostates who mock shall have their day before the risen Christ.

Pray for them, that God would soften their hearts and open their eyes and draw them to himself. as long as it is called today there is still time (Heb 3:13). By no means follow them into destruction. Do not be foolish. God is patient (2 Pet 3:9) but he will not be mocked.

©R. Scott Clark. All Rights Reserved.


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  1. Thank you Scott, I appreciate having this brought to my attention. I trust you can answer my question below.

    Contained within 2 Tim 3:1-7, your opening passage, is the phrase, ‘having the appearance of godliness’.

    Does that phrase stand alone as yet another evidence of the last days, as an addition to the tragic list beforehand, or, do those people with the ‘appearance of godliness’ exhibit the catalogue of preceding behaviours?

    Thank you,
    Peter Johnson, Australia.

    • Peter,

      Yes, there are those who have a merely external relation to the covenant of grace. They participate outwardly but haven’t yet apprehended its substance, Christ, sola gratia, sola fide. These sometimes depart.

    • Riaan,

      The post millennialists anticipate a future golden age resulting from the spread of the gospel. Such a vision is hard to square with the way the NT characterizes the inter-adventual period. Check out the Heidelcast series on eschatology. It’s in the resources.

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