How has the church fallen into such a state of powerless apathy and negative witness? How is it possible that those called to be members of the Body of Christ can fall away into religious Christianity?
The answer, of course, is that we have entered a new prophetic era, one in which God’s people of the New Covenant will fulfill the type and pattern laid down by His apostate people of the Old. The great falling away must take place to prepare the way for the advent of the false Christ as prophesied in the scriptures (see, for example, 2 Thessalonians 2). This apostasy is not falling away from belief in God or the religious activity that gives expression to that belief; it is falling away from the Way, the Truth and the Life; that is, from Christ Jesus Himself.
We are entering the prophetic era known as the end of the season of the gentiles (Luke 21:24). Prophetic eras do not function according to the chronology of the world, which is dominated by planetary motion, but according to the Divine timetable that is only made known in the prophetic scriptures. Thus, God stopped speaking to the Jews 400 years before the Messiah came and ushered in a new prophetic era; so we should not expect the “season of the gentiles” to end on Saturday night and the next prophetic era to begin on Sunday morning!
Instead, we are to be alert or watchful (Matthew 24:42; 25:13) and understand the times by observing the manifestation of spiritual events unfolding in the world. For example, who can doubt that the love of many (for the Word of God) has grown cold, as Jesus prophesied concerning this prophetic era; that many have come in His name and have mislead many; that false prophets have arisen and mislead many; that lawlessness is increased? (Matthew Chapter 24). Lawlessness, in this context, does not mean going through red lights or sticking up banks, but means spiritual lawlessness, which is neglect or abandonment or misuse of the Word of God. Thus, Jesus spoke prophetically to those religious workers who would lay claim to having done great things in His name; “Depart from Me, you workers of lawlessness!” (Matthew 7:23).
The mechanics of the apostasy of Christianity can be observed in two fundamental errors that have become embedded in Christian doctrine and practice.
The first is the notion that people can be recruited into the faith; we have programmes now using all the worldly paraphernalia of marketing technology to recruit people into our churches. Whereas Jesus said that “no-one is able to come to me unless it was having been given to Him from the Father” (John 6:65), anyone can respond to the promotional circus of religious charlatanism and choose Christ for themselves. The Christ they choose, of course, is not the Christ of the Bible, who wants disciples to Himself, not recruits to religious denominationalism.
The second fundamental error is that recruits are taught that it is all a free ride from day one onwards; that Christ has done all and there is nothing for them to do. In one sense this is true; there is nothing anyone can do to save themselves; Jesus has done all in terms of meeting the cost of redemption through His blood sacrifice; this is clearly the promise of scripture. However; “Therefore having these promises, beloved, we should cleanse ourselves from every defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
There is a human side as well as a divine side to God’s promises; we can confidently claim the fulfillment of God’s promises on His part, but we must also recognise His claims upon ourselves that are conditions precedent to our claim upon Him. There is work for us to do; this is the missing ingredient in today’s recruitment theology; the defilements of flesh and spirit that are part of our humanity we have to cleanse ourselves; no-one else can do it for us. This is what sanctification is; cleansing ourselves from our natural character and allowing the nature of God’s Son to be formed in us. If we accept our responsibility, the Holy Spirit will render us assistance; as we seek to bring our mind and spirit into perfect agreement with the Son of God, as we keep our spirit in agreement with His Spirit, He lifts us up by degrees to where He lived; in perfect consecration to the will of the Father.
That’s the true gospel; and all we have to do is surrender to it to access its power unto salvation!