1 THESSALONIANS 2 = CATECHISM 675, 676, 677

 

THE GREAT APOSTASY

during End Times

 

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NO, NO, THEY CAN’T TAKE THAT AWAY FROM ME

 

 

     Frank Sinatra crooned about a lost love. Ah, but the wonderful memory, “No, no, they can’t take that away from me.” He was an avowed Catholic who married four times. Who was his lost love?

 

            Do you remember the moment when you embraced Jesus as Lord? Pause and consider.

 

            Well, I know I am a born-again believer. And, no, no, they can’t take that away from me. Jesus said of His sheep, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand.[1] Once saved, always saved.

 

            Satan peeled his apple as he considered the wavering souls. Creedo Cat shed fur against his leg. Dogma Dog scanned for sheep to bite. The tenderizer is our Free Will: Choice. It will be a choice cut.

 

            Jesus promised his sheep eternal life. I know I am a sheep. No one, including Satan, can snatch that away from me. Once Saved, Always Saved.

 

            The Sheep and the Goats will line up at the Resurrection for the Last Judgment. “Anyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was thrown into the lake of fire.”[2] Will your name be in the Book of Life?

 

            The Revelation of Jesus Christ to John opens with warnings to churches. As today there were “denominational” differences that Jesus does not condone. To the portion of one who holds true he promises, “I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life.[3] Jesus is preaching to the Church. He is warning those with “unfinished deeds[4] that their names will be blotted. Would Jesus make an idle threat?

 

            Irrelevant. I belong the Church of Philadelphia. “I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut.[5] Once Saved, Always Saved. And furthermore, you doubter, Jesus guaranteed, “I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.[6] I also get a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.

 

            That anyone claims to be a staunch member of the Church of Philadelphia is a Dispensational roll of the dice. Perhaps the timing of that “hour” needs clarification. Which hour? If a day can be as a thousand years, can an hour be as seven years? And Jesus still cautions, “Hold fast to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.[7]

 

            To Philadelphia and other churches Jesus notes their deeds. His word is captured in the Greek “erga” for action, that which is wrought or made, a work. Jesus is not talking about plowing a field or grinding in the office 9 to 5. His focus is in our word “ergonomics” for human engineering. Spread the word. Spread the love to your neighbor. It’s about works of faith for the Kingdom.

 

            The Sower spread the Word, and Jesus said, “Consider, then, the parable of the sower: When anyone hears the message of the kingdom but does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is the seed sown along the path.[8] When you mention the name ‘Jesus’ the woman with a brick in her purse takes a swing at you. She didn’t even like your smile.

 

            “The seed sown on rocky ground is the one who hears the word and promptly receives it with joy. But since he has no root, he remains for only a season. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, he quickly falls away.[9] This woman sets her purse down and spreads her arms to Heaven and shouts Halleluiah. The Joy of the Holy Spirit lifts her spirit. She returns to her friends, and the lady with a brick in her purse clobbers her. She quickly grieves the Holy Spirit and Joy abandons her.[10]

 

The seed sown among the thorns is the one who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful.[11] This Woman came with you to church. She even opened her purse for the offering. She used to come to our Hour of Prayer, but half the time was spent praying for her. She still shows up for our Christmas pageant. Someone called her banker husband a ‘pew potato,’ but they both must be good Christians. Or was there grief? And no deeds of faith?

 

Are those seeds sown among the thorns of the myrrh? We must refuse the myrrh. Ahh, but is smells nice.

 

But the seed sown on good soil is the one who hears the word and understands it. He indeed bears fruit and produces a crop—a hundredfold, sixtyfold, or thirtyfold.[12] Here we are doing deeds for the Kingdom. We hear. We understand. We even volunteered at that homeless shelter where the woman with the brick-loaded purse hangs out.

 

Do I need to volunteer there? No, I am already saved.

 

How many “talents” did Jesus give you?[13] If you have not multiplied your gift might you end in that place with the weeping and gnashing of teeth?

 

The Thief on the Cross had zero-fold opportunities to show works of faith for his gift of Salvation. Someone close by had heard Jesus’ promise the repentant Thief they would be together in Paradise and reported this to Luke.[14] Had he also seen a loving smile through the pain?

 

Today or on our death bed we can express a smile in our heart and soul for God and our neighbors. How might we still express it in works of faith?

 

Most of us do not want to wave “Jesus Saves” signs on street corners, wear fancy robes, remain silent in a monastery, or volunteer in someone’s ghetto. Besides, I gave my life to Jesus, and, God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’"[15] Once saved, always saved.

 

God spoke those words to Moses who repeated them to the Israelites who were about to cross the River Jordan into war. What river is before you today? Paul repeated this promise to the later-day Hebrews preceded by the personal Jordan, “Keep on loving one another as brothers and sisters. Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. Continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering. Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral. Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have.”[16]

 

            These river-crossing directions echo deeds of faith. How might we add personally to the list? Might God forsake you if you choose to not cross the river or retreat from the battle?

 

            I don’t think anyone names their children Ananias or Sapphira anymore. Not if they know what they did. They were born-again sheep where, “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.”[17] Ananias sold a piece of property, and, “Then Peter said, ‘Ananias, how is it that Satan has so filled your heart that you have lied to the Holy Spirit and have kept for yourself some of the money you received for the land? Didn’t it belong to you before it was sold? And after it was sold, wasn’t the money at your disposal? What made you think of doing such a thing? You have not lied just to human beings but to God.’ When Ananias heard this, he fell down and died.”[18] His wife, Sapphira, knew of the conspiracy, and when confronted by Peter she also died. Once saved, now lost.

 

            When you accept Jesus as Lord, take care if you deviate from His footsteps. Perhaps the most dangerous prayer is, “Forgive me Lord for what I am about to do.”

 

            Or worse, you don’t seek forgiveness and turn from what you already did. Do you blame someone else? Lie to yourself and the Holy Spirit that it wasn’t your sin? That lie will make you feel self-righteous. Blame others. I’m good, they’re evil.

 

            How can you accept and internalize God’s grace if you don’t face and chase every trace of blame from your game? Don’t get primeval like Adam.

 

            If I didn’t know it was evil, I wouldn’t have to lied to myself. Those fig leaves never fit right. It’s Adam’s fault.

 

            What I did attracted like that shiny red fruit. I knew it would be tasty. It the fault of the apple of my eye. How can it be my fault?

 

            “It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again.”[19]

           

            These hard words conclude with the lost soul in the thorns and thistles to be later burned. Apostasy now or later brings condemnation. Once Saved, Now Lost.

 

            Soft words follow for the continued faithful, for God has said, “he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.”[20] The good soil is fertilized by God and weeded by your deeds of faith. Will you produce a thirtyfold crop? Go for a hundredfold.

 

            But no one, not even Satan, can snatch us from the hand of God. True. Oh, but look below at the boobs and buns, banks and bucks, revenge and betrayal, and Bible baloney. Relieve that poking thorn. Watch my high dive right off God’s index finger. Dive! Dive! Why is the Holy Spirit staying behind?

 

            In the End Times we have been warned about the Apostasy[21] and the releasing of demons in Woe 1.[22] The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.”[23] Some Believers will abandon the true God and line up with the goats for the Lake of Fire.

 

            Dogma Dog is hungry for a choice cut. Nice choice. ‘Yes, yes, you can take that away from you.’ Dogma Dog welcomes with a bilious bite.

 

            God can’t steer a parked car. Turn the key and get in gear. The Holy Spirit knows your strengths and will make a few suggestions. Produce fruit. You will enjoy it.

 

            Thorns prick us every day,

            So, share God’s love in a mighty way.


 

[1] John 10:28-29.

[2] Revelation 20:15.

[3] Revelation 3:5.

[4] Revelation 3:2.

[5] Revelation 3:8.

[6] Revelation 3:10.

[7] Revelation 3:11.

[8] Matthew 13:18-19.

[9] Matthew 13:20-21.

[10] Ephesians 4:30.

[11] Matthew 13:22.

[12] Matthew 13:23.

[13] Matthew 25:14-28.

[14] Luke 23:39-43.

[15] Deuteronomy 31:6; Hebrews 13:5.

[16] Hebrew 13:1-4.

[17] Acts 5:32.

[18] Acts 6:3-5.

[19] Hebrews 6:4-6.

[20] Hebrews 6:10.

[21] 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

[22] Revelation 9:1-12.

[23] 1 Timothy 4:1.