To understand the Latter Days of the Church we should look at 2 Timothy 3. This entire chapter is worth studying for the student of prophecy who desires to be discerning in the end times, to the glory of God! Timothy shows us three characteristics of the Church in the last days. We need to be effective preachers of the gospel, missionaries, teachers and dynamic servants of our soon coming Bridegroom. Understanding these three characteristics of the last days Church will help us to effectively fulfill God’s call for us. But, before you begin reading below, first may I suggest you pray and then carefully read through 2 Timothy 3.
I. The Perilous Times (3:1) The Bible predicts that the “last days” will be “perilous times” for Christians who are true to the faith. They will see awful developments in the Church that will cause many to be led astray into error. The purity of the Christian life will be compromised by immoral behavior. Activities and lifestyles that were once renounced by Christians will be tolerated and even embraced as truly enlightened. There can be little doubt that we are now in the latter days of the Church Age. The more the Word of God is ignored in teaching, ministry and public life in these days, the more we are seeing that there are new dangers that Christians should be aware of. For example, American leaders in politics and religion are ignoring the real threat of Islamic Jihadist teachings that are flooding the internet. Young and impressionable men and women are reading these toxic doctrines and some are even plotting attacks against American people. We have seen this recently in the Boston Bombings and in the plots that have recently been uncovered in Canada. Christians should know their Bibles and their faith and be able to defend what they believe. Also, they should be able to tell others the wonderful way of salvation through Jesus Christ, the Son of God and our only Savior.
II. The Perverted Traitors (3:2-13) Look carefully at the attitudes that prevail in the Church and society in the latter days. Paul warns Timothy that men and women of the latter days will have 20 specific and fleshly characteristics which will produce perilous times which will affect the entire culture for evil. “For men shall be…” (2-5) 1. Lovers of themselves 2. lovers of money- Jesus said: “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.” (Matthew 6:24, NET) The global dept we see today is the result of the love for wealth in America and the other nations that have forgotten God. –3) boasters, –4) proud, –5) blasphemers- The Greek: “blasphemoi” means “abusive and evil speaking” –6.) disobedient to parents, –7) unthankful, –8) unholy, –9) unloving Jesus predicted that in the last days: “And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold,”(Matthew 24:12) –10) unforgiving, –11) slanderers, –12) without self-control, –13) brutal, –14) despisers of good,–15) traitors, they will be like Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus (Luke 6:16), –16) headstrong, –17) haughty, or conceited, –18) Lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, –19) having a form of godliness, –20) but, denying the power of godliness, that is, denying the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit. This will be a denial of a living relationship with Jesus Christ. The Church will trust its own methods, plans and wealth rather than have a real dependence on the power and authority of Jesus Christ and His Word, the Bible. This will be the way of the Church of Laodicea of the last days, lukewarm with Jesus outside the door and knocking to be allowed into His own Church. Yet they will refuse to welcome the true Son of God into their fellowship. It will be the Babylonian global church of the latter days. It will consist of a fellowship of demons (Revelation 3:14-19; Revelation 18:3).
Notice Paul’s instruction to Timothy and to those of the latter days, “from such turn away.” (5), For these apostates will think nothing of boldly sneaking (“creep”) into homes and “make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. (6-7) False teaching is always connected with immorality in the Bible. Today, much false teaching is coming through women who aspire to be on the same level with men as pastors which is forbidden (see 1 Timothy 2:11-15). The apostasy of the latter days will come through the defiant and demonic efforts of both “men” and women “of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith.”(8)
We can think of “men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith” such as Charles Taze Russel, inventor of the false doctrines of the Jehovah’s Witnesses cult. Another is Joseph Smith, who rejected sound Bible doctrine and claimed to have a special vision of an angel called Moroni. He created a cult of the Mormons, founded upon many fictions, among which is the claim that God was once a man who became a god, and Lucifer and Jesus were brothers. I will name one more of the many hundreds that could be named: Mary Baker Eddy, the inventor of the demonic myth of Christian Science. All three of these that I have named wrote their own authoritative additions to the Bible. Why did they write these? Because they knew the Bible would not support their heretical teachings. Again, these are among many of the latter days false prophets who are “men (and women) of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith.”
III. The Persevering Teacher (3:10-13) Paul says to Timothy, “But you have carefully followed my doctrine, manner of life, purpose, faith, longsuffering, love, perseverance, persecutions, afflictions.” (10) Paul’s desire is for Timothy, and all pastors and believers of the latter days, to be willing to “suffer persecution.” (12) A clear distinguishing mark of the latter days apostasy of the Church will be the rapid increase of the presence of “evil men and impostors,” who will “grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived.”(13) “The Greek word for ‘impostors’ is goes (only here in the New Testament), which originally meant ‘A wailer, howler,’ and then ‘a juggler, enchanter’–‘because incantations used to be uttered in a kind of howl:’ –and so finally ‘a deceiver, impostor (‘swindler, cheat’) Such men are ‘deceiving and being deceived.’ Having been deceived by false teachers, they are now deceiving others.” (Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 11, p. 409)
The presence of impostors in the latter-day Church will certainly increase the discomfort of Christians who will take a stand for truth against the trends of their day. Many will harass and mock Christians, pastors, missionaries, teachers and churches who preach God’s truth and live for the Lord. More and more, church staff members, teachers in schools and missionaries in the field, will lose their jobs because of their unwillingness to violate the Bible. But they will stand faithful, as many are today, by the power of Jesus Christ, no matter how unpopular it is.
Jesus said: “Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:32-33) Are you willing to live for the Lord no matter how many among your friends, your church or denomination are compromising the things of God?
Paul told Timothy: “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…(14) “All scripture is given by inspiration (God breathed) of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (15) Notice how Timothy, and we, “must continue” faithfully in the truth of the Christian faith as it is revealed in God’s perfect Word, the Holy Scriptures. Notice also how complete the Bible is for all, providing everything a man or woman of God needs to live a victorious and dynamic life in honor of our Savior, Jesus Christ. How can you live a fuller Christian life in these latter days of growing apostasy, by trusting God and His Word more completely each day.
In these latter days many are downplaying the importance of believing that the entire Bible is the inspired, and therefore, perfect Word of God. The Greek word for “inspired” is theopneustos; theo=God, pneustos=breathed. When people deny that the Bible is entirely “God-breathed,” then they will be open to other religious writings such as the Muslim Koran or the writings of Hinduism, or the mystical writings of Contemplative Spirituality or New Age. These are merely of men, and even of Satan. No other writing on earth can claim to be God-breathed as does the Bible! All others give the wrong idea about God and Jesus Christ. The Bible is God’s only book on the earth that is the very Word of God! This is what “inspiration” truly means! One Bible note states: “Thus God not only inspired the authors who wrote the words of the Bible, but He also inspires those who read it with a heart of faith.” (NKJ Study Bible, p.2059) Stay faithful to God’s Word in these latter days. Be a witness for Jesus Christ to lead others to a saving knowledge of Him until you hear that “upward call of God in Christ Jesus,” when He returns.